Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - February 2010

Wednesday 24th February - Initial Coincidence

A request from PH at the PH for help identifying addresses in the village set me off. First I adapted my Chit-Chat delivery list, but that was too cumbersome. I sent it to PH anyway to tide him over. Meanwhile D had little work so he was dragged in to help. I thought we could adapt the simple village map he made me for the "Village Tour" chapter in my book, and it did look promising for a while, but D ran out of steam. Being more tenacious I didn't.

PH's problem is that when someone calls in the PH to ask for directions to a house, being unfamiliar with Chitterne he can't help them as most village dwellings are named, not numbered. Our roads are the opposite; they are mostly not named, just numbered. He thought a map would help. I tried putting all the dwelling names on one map, but the map would have had to be enormous for the names to be legible, especially around the Back Lane/Green/Bidden Lane area. So I abandoned that idea and in the end divided the map into 3 sections with an index. I'm quite pleased with the result except the booklet is A4 as I failed to find a way of reducing it to A5 size. Still, I enjoyed doing it, and succeeding. Hopefully it will do the trick.

More signs of Spring. Several families of cattle with new additions caught by D's camera near Breakheart Bottom today.

Friday 19th February - Oram Discovered

DW has come up trumps and discovered who Oram is in Oram's Grave! (See map above and blog of 8th Feb below; the map is a section of the 1912 1-inch Ordnance Survey map). I am amazed. For me it has been one of the great unanswered questions about Chitterne, since I became interested over 10 years ago. One that I failed to follow up on. One that I made rash assumptions about in my Chitterne book and got gently hauled over the coals for by SH at the Record Office. In the book I'd repeated what Rev. Canner had said in his History of Chitterne, ie. that Elizabeth White had seen Oram buried.

SH proved that Elizabeth White (nee Windsor) could not have witnessed the burial of Oram in about 1805, as no such suicide appeared in the Coroner's Bills near that time. The nearest one was of Daniel Harding in 1810. Elizabeth Windsor was born in 1797 and would have been 13 when Daniel Harding was buried so that is a possibility.

Then along came DW whose g.g.g.grandfather's brother, James White, married the Elizabeth Windsor in question, hence his interest in Oram's Grave. Now DW has found the name Oram in the Wiltshire Coroner's Bills for 1768:-

#591. 25 July 1768 - James Oram: hanged himself; felo de se (an act of suicide) 12 miles 1.9s.

So there it is! A mystery no more. Except...who was James Oram? On adding him to my database of Chitterne folk I find no other Orams listed, so was he from somewhere else? In history there are always more questions, and alterations to make to the online history of the village.

Happy he, who with bright regard looks back upon his father's fathers, who with joy recounts their deeds of grace, and in himself, values the latest link in the fair chain of noble sequence.
Thanks to DW for this quote attributed to Goethe and many more thanks for unearthing Oram!

Wednesday 17th February - Spring at Last?

This winter is so long that today's sunshine was as welcome as rain after a drought. Out came the camera hungrily seeking any sign that winter might be ending.

The snowdrops and aconites I expected, but was surprised to see buds on the japonica. And to think I tried to kill it many times when we first came here, in my ignorance. Luckily it won the fight and I allowed it to grow. Now every year it brings beautiful coral pink blossoms, which I'm sure I don't deserve.

The sun even brought out Mr and Mrs Blackbird, who were house-hunting. "Shall we rent this year dear, or build our own do you think?"

Monday 8th February - Oram's Grave

Had an order for my book by post from a gent who is related to the Elizabeth White of the Oram's Grave story recounted by Rev. Canner in his History of Chitterne. The story goes thus: An eye witness, Elizabeth White (formerly Windsor and whose baptism is recorded in the Register 5 March 1797) told her neighbour that when she was a child she was returning home with her father from Salisbury and saw a commotion arising from the burial of the man Oram. Her father told her not to be afraid and let her watch the burial. The man was a suicide and according to custom and law was buried at the parish boundary (between Chitterne and Maddington) by the people of Chitterne. He is said to have hung himself due to disappointment in love. A stake was driven through his body and he was buried without any funeral service so it was not registered in the parish books.

The photo above is of the site of Oram's Grave where two tracks intersect on the Chitterne/Maddington boundary. The old track from Chitterne to Salisbury is much chewed up by green roaders. The other track from Codford to Maddington, marked by the finger post on the right, crosses from right to left on the photo and is barely visible.

Since I recounted this tale in my book an archivist friend has searched the records for signs of Oram's encounter with the coroner, who must by law have been informed, without success. An intriguing story. Now along comes DW who tells me that Elizabeth Windsor later married his great great great grandfather's brother, James White, and that he, DW, will look further into the conundrum. I wait with bated breath!

Latest from DW who went to the Record Office: "I have been unable to find the marriage of James White to Elizabeth, so am beginning to wonder if I might have guessed at it, or received information from somewhere else that I didn't check !! So it may well have been a different Elizabeth White that saw Oram's grave. I will have to keep searching for James' marriage to find the surname of the Elizabeth he married." Ah. well!
Later from DW: "Sorry if I confused you, have just read your blog, and I believe Elizabeth Windsor DID marry my g g g grandfathers brother James. 25 Feb 1825 at Chitterne. It's just that it couldn't have been Oram that she saw!"

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