Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - November 2009

Saturday 28th November - Publicity

The traffic speed protest has been reported in three local newspapers and caught the eye of SB the man behind the new Warminster-Web site. is now linked to Warminster-Web on its News and Leisure pages and Warminster-Web has a link to us on its Clubs page and a short report and photo of our protest on its home page. Take a look at Warminster-Web here

It may be my imagination but do I detect that some vehicles passing our house are going slightly slower? A large proportion of the folk who pass through must come from the local area, and therefore have had access to the Warminster Journal, or the Wiltshire Times or the Salisbury Journal even. Are their consciences pricked as they pass the Chitterne sign? And how long will it last?

This week I at last received a reply concerning the John Wallis Titt page that appeared on another website without permission. I had almost given up hope that anything would be done, but no, I am promised that I will be credited as author, and I hope that Dewey Museum will be credited as source of the photo. Just a small victory for principles.

Friday 20th November - Speed Protest

Today was our protest day against the speed of traffic through our village. Villagers met up outside the Village Hall with horses, dogs and bicycles to gather banners made by the working party before protesting at the road junction.

The section of the B390 that passes through the village was turned into a slalom course by strategic parking of vehicles at intervals on the highway. Two canine protesters.

We got a mixed reception from the motorists. Some were wholeheartedly behind us and waved their approval, some scowled, and some speeded up. A couple of traffic policemen stopped and asked who was leading the protest. They said they would have a word with a task force who are targetting traffic speeding blackspots and equipping beleaguered homeowners with hand-held speed cameras to catch persistent offenders. This idea was music to our ears, which were beginning to feel the cold. We broke up as dusk fell, leaving our banners propped up alongside the road to keep warning the drivers.

Monday 16th November - Bonfire and Fireworks

The village bonfire and fireworks were postponed from last Friday till last night, Sunday, thank goodness. A wise move considering the weather on Friday night. But the bonfire, which was ready for lighting Friday, got dowsed with rain and lashed by wind over the weekend. This did not bode well for last night. Sure enough it took a lot of cajoling and fuel before it finally succumbed and burned.

The fireworks on the other hand were magnificent! A non-stop glittering display of aerial pyrotechnics that drew gasps of oohs and aahs from the villagers, and even slowed down the traffic on the B390 for a while. Thank you PP and sons, you did us proud and it was well worth waiting for.

Sunday 15th November - Two Churches and an M.P.

We have permission to survey Glebe Farm at Chitterne for the Wiltshire Buildings Record Farmstead Project. It's a small farm now, but as it's name suggests it was church land originally, and much larger. ML the farmer tells me the only bit still owned by the church is the corner of the field across the lane next to our house. When his father WL ran the farm it included a stockyard and barn on the site now occupied by Birch Cottage, next to the King's Head. WL sold this site and the barn was pulled down. ML said it was in a very poor state, but he remembers de-beaking chickens in it many years ago. Besides the brick and weatherboard barn there was a four-bay open cow house; a tiled cart stable for 5 horses with a loose box, a dust house and a span-roof tiled shed. Now that lot would have been worth recording. The only parts left today are the cob wall in front of the property and the brick side wall. The pic above shows the site outlined in red on an old photo of about 1910.

I've had an interesting exchange with AL this last week about the baptists. She is writing a book about the history of the English poor, featuring the Light family of Shrewton. Her great great grandfather Henry Light preached to Chitterne baptists for 20 years or so from 1858, before Frank Maidment's time, so she was interested to hear if I had any earlier baptist history. I was only able to offer her a family tale from Jacob Smith who, it is said, converted to the baptists after he heard of a dedicated preacher who walked from Shrewton and back twice on Sundays to preach to the Chitterne baptists. I am pretty sure that Henry Light was that inspiring man. As sometime happens AL gave me more than I gave her. I will quote her: "My note from the Zion Baptist Chapel Church (Shrewton) book: 'June 23 1862 twenty-seven persons were dismissed with many prayers' to Chitterne to help settle the church there. The Baptist Union Handbook for 1868 gives the church at Chitterne as "settled" (established) in 1867 when it had fourteen members and twenty scholars (ie. adults, and sometimes children, who had yet to be re-baptised and become full members of the church). But Henry Light had been preaching there since 1858, (he is given as the official minister 1873 onwards once the church was settled), he was probably just gathering in converts and then walking back to Zion where he lived (Shrewton)."

Another find this week, thanks to PW, was discovering the Right Honourable Walter Hume Long M.P. living at Chitterne Lodge in 1903. This from Coates' Directory for Warminster & District for that year. Well, well. He also had a house at Ennismore Gardens, south west London, presumably for when he was in parliament. I wonder if he had an allowance for a second home?

Saturday 7th November - Farmstead Project

Wiltshire Buildings Record are aiming to record all the farmsteads in Wiltshire. My friend P and I volunteered our help, and our husbands as photographers, last October, and last weekend we went on our first training day at a "time-warp" farm at Hullavington. The farmer had been retired some time and the farm sits unused and little altered since its heyday (ha!) The features of the cotswold limestone buildings were pointed out by an expert on the subject as we toured the farm. It was fascinating and I learnt a lot. Some features related to farms in Chitterne, where I'm hoping to do my recording. P had already recorded a farm at Longbridge Deverill but D and I had yet to be given permission to record our choice.

After lunch in a pub we were given one farm building to practise on. P and I got the nag's stable. The photo shows the front of it. Unlike the rest of the farm, some renovation work had been started on this building. It had a new tiled roof and newly painted doors and window frames. Inside it was still untouched, but the cobbled floor covering had been removed rendering the drainage hole useless and the saddle post and tack hook too high to reach. From marks left on the walls of the horse stalls, and the hole in the hay-loft above, you could see where the feeding trough and hay rack had once been. The beams holding up the hay-loft were oak with stopped ends, which were new to me. It means that the chamfers on the beams end with a bit of fancy decoration, in this case simple raised oblong lumps. We found some carved graffiti on one stall end-post, a capital letter E, sadly we forgot to photo it.

On arriving home fired up we decided to give up on our first choice farm and try for another in Chitterne. So this week I phoned the second farm, spoke to the farmer's wife and the idea was enthusiastically received. Hopefully we are off. In anticipation I looked up some old maps and records at the History Centre and at first sight it looks as if it might be a little complicated! I can so far find no farmhouse, and the farm cottages always associated with this farm are not mentioned. I'll report on our progress in future blogs.

It's hard not to get sidetracked on these occasions as all Chitterne history interests me, and I must pass on one sidetrack: on the old tithe map of 1842 I found an old farmhouse on the site of the pig farm that was once part of Clump Farm and is now St Marys Close. George Parham was the occupier. Now I'm wondering if part of the old wall between the Close and the sportsfield near number 2 was part of the farmhouse wall.

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