Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - June 2010

Monday 28th June 2010 - Swopping with Ferdy

Yesterday it was village fete day and Ferdinand Mount, who had written the Guardian article about his childhood experience of elections in Chitterne, had been invited to open it this year. I was keen to meet him, since he wrote me that kind letter back in April, (see Blown Away 13th April blog). Who wouldn't? NH introduced us and we shook hands. He immediately said he had his copy of Chitterne, a Wiltshire Village in his car and would I sign it for him. I had thought to bring my copy of his Cold Cream to the fete for just the same purpose, but then had left it behind, so after the opening it was fetched and we had an exchange signing.

Saturday 19th June 2010 - The Monte Hospital Opens

Today new Chitterne residents R & LS threw open the doors of their company to the public at new premises at the Ginger Piggery, Boyton, in the Wylye Valley. The business goes by the name of The Monte Hospital Ltd. Where Monte refers to a classic Lancia car called the Monte Carlo, and Hospital refers to spare parts and advice for two rare cars: the Lancia Monte Carlo and the Lancia Scorpion. TMH serves a niche market as only 1500 Monte Carlos still exist and according to the website this is the only outlet that caters for their needs.

As RS said: "A new rare breed has arrived at the Ginger Piggery." The Ginger Piggery breeds rare Tamworth pigs so The Monte Hospital fits right in, not exactly breeding cars but making sure they continue to run. We might add that a pair of new entrepreneurs have arrived in Chitterne, to join the many others who already live here. What would all those old farming families in the past have made of that?!

Wednesday 16th June 2010 - Chitterne House Query

An interesting query popped up in my email folder yesterday. It came from an fine art gallery in York. They asked if I could identify a house pictured in an early 19th century watercolour painting they were researching. It was not immediately obvious from the painted image which house this was. But there were other clues including an old label on the back of the frame which stated that it was the residence of the Rev. William Bond of Tyneham when he was rector of Chitterne. That statement threw me a little because as far as I am aware there have never been rectors at Chitterne, only vicars and curates. Another clue on the back was a sale advert for the house from about the 1920s they guessed. This was lucky as it included a small photograph which I could identify as the back view of Chitterne House.

From my notes I discovered that William Bond lived in Chitterne in the 1790's, at least, his children were baptised here between 1795 and 1799. He had married Jane Biggs from nearby Stockton in 1794. Chitterne House was still owned by the Michell family at that time so William and family must have rented it from them. Richard Hayward bought the Chitterne House estate from the Michells later, in 1830.

The happy conclusion to this tale is that V and RP have purchased the painting from the York gallery, so it will shortly return whence it came.

Comment: 08/07/2010, I've seen the watercolour now and nowhere on the old label does it mention "rector". It says William Bond was curate at Chitterne. Another much smaller label identifies the picture as having been part of the late Laura Ashley's collection. SR

Tuesday 8th June 2010 - Kneeler Project

A merry band of women are stitching new kneelers for our village church in honour of the 150th anniversary of its consecration on 4th November 1862. The idea is the brainchild of Sarah Gooch, and the beautiful designs, based on decoration in the church, have been worked out by Ann Moody. The colours are earthy: rusty reds, a deep gold and two blues, bringing medieval church decoration to mind. Last I heard there were 21 of us stitchers, including me.

I was unsure whether to stitch or not when first asked. Would a kneeler stitched by a non-believer be acceptable? It was, and when I saw the designs I very much wanted to join in.

Wednesday 2nd June 2010 - Ela and William Feature

Countess Ela of Salisbury, whose family held Chitterne after the Battle of Hastings until it was given to Lacock Abbey in 1246/47, and her husband William Longespee, the Earl of Salisbury, both feature in Elizabeth Chadwick's new book: To Defy a King. The book is set in the time of King John and spans the years from 1204 - 1218. The main character is Mahelt Marshall, eldest daughter of William Marshall, chief advisor to the king, who marries Hugh Bigod, half-brother of William Longespee. Longespee is also King John's half brother, they share the same father, Henry II, but whereas John's mother was Henry's wife, Longespee's mother was Henry's mistress Ida de Tosney who was also Hugh's mother.

Elizabeth Chadwick is famous for the meticulous research underlying her brilliantly evocative medieval novels. When researching William Longespee for an earlier book she discovered that his mother was Ida de Tosney, not Rosamund Clifford as previously thought, and kindly emailed me to tell me that the information on the Chitterne history pages was out of date. I was astounded to hear from one of my favourite authors and very grateful. Since reading this latest book, which I heartily recommend, I have updated the Ela pages once more. If you want to know what England would have been like in Ela's time, read the book.

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