Wednesday 25th August 2010 - Wilton House
Before Monday I had never visited Wilton House, merely 15 miles or so down the road towards Salisbury. We visited the adventure playground when the children were small, yes, but not the house. I was very impressed; it's beautiful and so well looked after.
I liked the views and the grounds too. The palladian style bridge adds just the right amount of interest to the gentle scenery around the River Nadder. I couldn't help comparing Wilton with Longleat. I am much more familiar with Longleat, where the scenery plays second fiddle to the commercial aspect of stately home management, unless you are viewing from Heaven's Gate or the Lodge Gates. At Wilton the house is unencumbered by modern buildings, except for the restaurant and adventure playground, both well hidden by trees and some way away. Longleat is much larger of course, and probably costs more to upkeep, but there is a sort of seedy fairground feeling at the back of the house. But then, variety is the spice of life!
I loved the beautiful Victorian boathouse with its twisted supports painted in such an unusual but effective colour.
Friday 20th August 2010 - Hall Pictures
I was asked quite a while ago to organise some new pictures for the Village Hall using old photographs of Chitterne with captions. Quite a while ago. It was one of those projects that didn't gel in my mind straight away, so it had been put on the back burner several times while metamorphosing into something that I could work with. Originally the captions were to be longer, more detailed and based on the local history articles I contributed to Chit-Chat. But the main impetus to complete came when I realised I could reproduce copies of the originals at home on the new Canon photograph printer D acquired to print his own photographs. A framing deal made with DW, picture framer of Warminster, helped and now the project's finished and ten new pictures have been hung on the hall walls.
I saw the pictures in situ for the first time today and I'm pleased with the result. They are a mixture of village scenes and groups of villagers, on the assumption that visitors might be glad to find an ancestor's photograph as well as get an idea of the way Chitterne looked years ago. It was sheer luck that the green mounts match with the green picture rails and skirtings in the hall as I'd forgotten they were green when choosing the mount colours.
Tuesday 10th August 2010 - Village Bees
For a good number of years I have been buying village honey from beekeeper RF. Bees have been kept at number 98, his home, for over 100 years. RF took over from his aunt Nora, who was still beekeeping the summer before she died aged 88 in 1984. She had been tending the bees, alongside her sister Esme, since she was 15 years old. Esme died aged 77 in 1970. Their elder sister Beryl didn't tend the bees but cleaned and prepared the honey jars and equipment. Beryl died aged 92 in 1977. One year Nora said she would give up her bees. RF offered to help her if they kept one or two hives, and that's how he came to take over after Nora's death. He has been beekeeping ever since.
The taste of the honey depends largely on the plants visited by the bees. RF keeps his garden full of all kinds of shrubs that bees like, but they visit the nearby fields as well. You can certainly tell from the subsequent honey when the local farmers have been growing lots of rape.
The bees at 98 are not the only ones producing local honey. A much larger concern based at Swanage in Dorset manages a number of hives scattered around the south, among them some sited on the village outskirts, Tilshead side, on MoD land. The bees from these hives are much more likely to visit wild flowers than cultivated ones or crops, and the resulting honey has always been the most prized. If you want to try this honey, it is sold at Salisbury market on Longley's bacon and cheese stall and called Field honey. Field being the apt name of the people, not the place where the honey comes from. How you can tell which jars contain honey made in Chitterne is going to be a problem.
Monday 2nd August 2010 - Manor Sold
The Manor at Chitterne came under the auctioneer's hammer at Devizes on Thursday evening. I was not at the auction but I understand that it sold for about £750,000. The two barns and stable were not sold as they did not reach the reserve price. The two fields alongside the Hollow (the old road to Warminster) were bought by a local farmer for £88,000 and £50,000 respectively.