Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - March 2009

Wednesday 25th March - Piggy Neighbours

Meet Spotty, Flashy, Curly and Mini-Spot the pigs. Well, that's what I call them. I don't know their proper names. They appear by special request of a friend of mine, who thought they sounded interesting. They are special pigs, rare breeds is the correct term I guess, that live in the village. With their attention-seeking hirsute looks (no, Flashy hasn't been at the henna bottle) they are used to the limelight because, besides breeding from them, their owners use them to illustrate one-day seminars on pig-keeping.

The pig-keeping courses are held in the village hall and have really taken off. Would-be pig-keepers come from all over the British Isles and even beyond to attend and the courses are filled well in advance. It's amazing when you consider the doldrums that the farming industry seemed to be in a few years ago, and now look what a little entreprenurial spirit has achieved.

Comment: Remarkable pigs. We have Jimmy Docherty's Rare Breed farm up the road from here, but I think your piggies are more decorative. Reminds me of when i taught at the adolescent Psychiatric Unit - the kids regularly used to paint the pigs on the adjacent farm. gg

Thursday 19th March - House Matters

More sorting out happening this week, this time with the house and garden. It must be that spring feeling. About 30 years ago we planted 3 ash trees on our furthest boundary, where our garden abuts Glebe Farm land. The ash trees thrived and gradually towered over the garden casting much shade in summer, where shade was not required so they have to go. Two men have made short work of them and the logs will heat our daughter's home eventually. The dead branch sneaking into the far left of the first photograph belongs to a much sadder case: an old chestnut tree (in the second photo) that our children once loved to climb.

It had a fat low branch that swept and dipped along the boundary, perfect for sitting astride, and a good many more low branches with footholds too. Now it has died, lost most of its branches and has to come down. Except, the eagle-eyed tree surgeon spotted a hole in the trunk that he suspects might be a bat hole. We think its a woodpecker hole, whatever, it has to be inspected by the bat-sniffer before the poor old tree can be felled. Yes, really, I am assured by the tree man that he has someone who can sniff the presence of bats. We have always had bats at the Round House, even inside the house, but mostly they live in the roof space of the stable and entertain us with their swoopings and circlings around the lawn at dusk on summer evenings, so why would they abandon their cosy home for an old dead tree? And our bird table has often been visited by a greater spotted woodpecker this winter, so who can say?

Bill the builder also arrived today to fix the roof where a missing slate had resulted in rotten sarking boards under the eaves. He's a brave man because he agreed to do this job without scaffolding, saying "I'll be all right." You may think that it's nothing, easily done, but not when you consider how close our house is to a busy road. See the third photo. The ingenuity of the man amazes, he'd even made his own traffic signs when unable to hire any at the hire centre! He was all right and the job got done without a hitch. Although he had a few qualms when a team of local authority workers drove slowly by towing sets of traffic lights they were about to set up a hundred yards away. Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they saw Bill's signs!

Friday 13th March - Getting Sorted

The walls flanking the entrance to the sportsfield from St Mary's Close collapsed last year and are now being repaired. St Mary's Close used to be a pig farm, part of Clump Farm, and the sportsfield was once the site of a grand house so the wall between the two has probably stood there for many a long year. That corner of the sportsfield is low-lying and damp at this time of year, which doesn't help, but won't we soon be smart!

Something is happening at the King's Head. The empty pub was deluged with water after pipes burst in the freeze. Now a large skip in front of the pub is being filled with furniture and carpets. Does this mean we are to get a new landlord?

This week KM, Australia, very kindly sent me a copy of his book on the Michells and JW, Surrey, sent me some information about the elusive Milborne family. The Michell book runs to 17 generations starting from John Michell in the 15th century; through Ralph Fenton Michell who emigrated to Australia and founded the Australian Michell families, to the present. The interesting members are: Rev. John Michell (1724-1793) of Maperton, Somerset who in 1784 was the "first person to describe a black hole" and Charles Henry Michell (1845-1931) of Whaddon, Somerset, a suspected British Secret Service agent. Michell family luck, which saved our own Robert Michell from the fall of a stack of ten chimneys on to his bed when he was in it in 1763, also preserved Helen Michell's son Fred from drowning in the Thetis submarine disaster in 1939, when he was one of only four survivors.

The Milborne family now have couple of first names, thanks to JW. Sir Thomas Milborne and his son Henry. Two pieces to start the Milborne jig-saw puzzle, good corner pieces. I believe the house that once stood on the sportsfield was the Milbornes house, the manor house of All Saints parish, known as Great House. Will I ever be able to prove this?

Saturday 7th March - Mission not Impossible

I had a good deal of fun wearing my detective hat today. I had a phone call last evening from a woman who had bought a second-hand book and found it contained some old family photographs, which she wanted to return to the owner if she possibly could. The book was inscribed with a name and 'Chitterne'. She had googled Chitterne and found me on the village website, hence the phone call. Lucky there is only one Chitterne in the whole of the United Kingdom, less hassle for googlers. I recognised the name in the book, it was a woman always known locally as Mrs NE, who was still living in Chitterne when we first came here 30-odd years ago, but who had soon moved away. She was an elderly widow back then so I knew she would not still be alive now. The caller asked did I know if Mrs NE had any living relatives. I didn't know but offered to find out, my antennae were already twitching in anticipation of the search, as, had I bought the book and found the photos, I would have done exactly the same.

First I rang DT, a friend in the village who had been here longer than I. DT remembered that Mrs NE had a daughter, who had been tragically killed in a road accident, and a son who was in the Navy. This last piece of information proved to be useful in my subsequent internet search. gave me the names of 3 people with the surname NE. It's not quite as unique a name as Chitterne but almost. Two of the names were women. I concentrated on the man, but refused to pay money to get his address. Instead I googled his name and struck lucky. His name appeared with RN attached to it on one site, and further on he turned up in the minutes of Parish Council meetings for a village in Oxfordshire. I switched to, entered his full name and Oxon and bingo! There was his full address and phone number. I phoned him right away as any delay would set doubts in motion. I jumped straight in with my question: "Are you related to Mrs NE who used to live in Chitterne, Wiltshire?" Yes, he was related to Mrs NE, he was her son, the only one of her 3 children left. I explained who I was and the reason for the call. He was a little reticent at first - too may cold callers these days - but later on he reminisced about the people he remembered from his time in the village. I confirmed his address, told him to expect some old family photographs in the post and emailed the caller with his address. Mission accomplished.

Comment: so you and Tom cruise have two things in common gg

Wednesday 4th March - Willed Out

JW came through with the promised wills and I have since spent time bent over them with my trusty magnifier. This is the oldest, the will dated 1568 of Walter Tymbury of South Brewham, just over the border in Somerset. He was a tenant of the Flower's land in Chitterne St Mary.

In this section he says that he is to be buried in his own parish of Brewham, unless he dies in Chitterne St Mary, when he is to be buried in the church there. He gives and bequeaths two oxen to his daughter's son Osmunde Nyxon and so on. The calligraphy is beautiful, like a piece of art. However did the Elizabethans achieve this much control with a sharpened quill and a pot of ink?

This next portion of will is John Flower's of Chitterne, dated 1592, with the double ff at the beginning of fflower. Quite a different hand to Walter Tymbury's will; this one has less heavy strokes, but still just as good to look at.

I have discovered from these wills that the Flower family (overlords of the Tymburys) leased land in both Chitterne St Mary and Chitterne All Saints. This particular John Flower asks to be buried in Chitterne All saints, or "Chitterne All Hallowes," and actually names the farms he leases there: Mylborne's and Morgan's. Unfortunately there is no clue given to their location. He leaves all the farms to his nephew John Flower, son of Thomas Flower, as he has no sons of his own, and then to nephew John Flower, son of John Flower, should the first nephew die, and so on for several pages naming all the nephews in turn. Then the same procedure is followed to deal with his lands in Chitterne Saint Mary, naming all the nephews again. His nieces are left 20 each at the end of the will, they obviously aren't expected to run farms.

The John Flowers are a problem. Each generation has its John Flower, and it multiplies as all John's brothers have a John Flower too. So I'm still not clear about the descendancy of the many John Flowers and I seem to have acquired yet another three to add to my database, making 7 in all. In fact, I am suffering from a surfeit of John Flowers.

Comment: I wondered if you knew why the 2 wills had different beginnings Indet nore amen and In the name of god the father, do they mean the same? gg
Yes, they do mean the same, it reads: In dei nore amen. I don't understand latin and couldn't find this phrase in my reference books but some of the other wills JW sent say: In Dei nomine Amen, which is more obvious. I don't know why they differ, just the whim of the scribe I guess. S

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