Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - March 2010

Thursday 25th March - Deep Connections

In the course of updating the Round House History website I added a new page on the origin of the house and more information on the "round end" page. The reasons for adding a Regency style extension to a plain little cottage has nagged at me for a while. The wet weather gave me the perfect excuse to look into it. Locally the Round House is said to have been made the way it is to satisfy the need of a sea-faring man for a ship-shaped house. I already knew that the round end had been added about 1814/15, when Charles Morris, ex-seafarer, took over the house lease.

I started looking. It was one of those research days when everything fell into place. I discovered that architects in the Regency period were very keen on using the new cement based stucco rendering to create follies, mock castles and anything circular. The same article pointed out that it was also the time of the "Nelson Cult" which "permeated every aspect of Regency life" - Bingo. Charles Morris was said by some to have served with Nelson at Trafalagar, although this has never been proved, in fact he appears to have been dismissed from the Navy, but that doesn't stop him being a fan of the dead hero.

I wasn't sure, then or now, if a lease-holder would be allowed to add a large extension to the property he or she was leasing. Or would it be up to the owner of the house to undertake major alterations? This is the only part that was unclear. So I thought to check on what the owner might like. The owner in 1814/15 was Paul Cobb Methuen of Corsham. I found this great portrait of him by Joshua Reynolds, handsome looking chap, not sure about the satin garb though...and discovered he was a patron of John Nash one of the Regency architects most famous for the aforementioned follies etc. So that settled it in my mind.

But the "roll" didn't end there. The icing on the cake was Paul Cobb Methuen's wife. She turns out to have been the daughter of the 3rd Baronet of Benacre Hall, ancestor of our own resident 14th Baronet! Just goes to show, as I always said, Chitterne connections run deep, very, very deep.

Saturday 20th March - Lark Rise Found

This week a second person mentioned Lark Rise to Candleford in the same breath as the Chitterne book, so as Lark Rise had passed me by, I thought I'd better get a copy and read it for myself. Sure enough, even within the first four pages, so many similarities jumped out at me it was uncanny. I suppose the mention of the use of 'housen' for the plural of house; the turnpike road; strings of horses being exercised; most of the folk working on the land etc., which appear in both books, go with the territory. After all Oxfordshire is not that far from Wiltshire, but what really got me were the identical metaphors. The description of cornfields 'rippling' like a 'sea of dark gold' was the first. I'm not sure if I used this metaphor in the book but it's certainly on the home page of the Chitterne website and has been for the past 9 years. Second, the description of one cottage as 'turning its back on its neighbours' which is how I've described Chitterne Lodge. Very weird.

Yesterday I heard from CG about a meet-up she had with never-before-met near relatives as a result of an introduction I'd facilitated. NC had called at the Round House a week or so back to buy my book, and to ask about the Found family. Along with a copy of the book I'd given him a copy of my database notes on the Founds and mentioned CG in the village, who's mother was a Found. He said he'd like to meet her so I rang her later - why didn't I do this when he was here? I'm such a dimbo, it just didn't occur to me - and gave him her phone number. This was the meeting CG was talking about. NC had come up from Southampton with his mother and sister to visit her the previous day and they had all enjoyed the exchange very much. CG said she could tell they were Founds the moment she met them and she was amazed at the resemblance between NC and her grandfather, which she could point out with the help of her old family photographs. They had much to discuss as CG had spent her childhood in Southampton and she was able to tell them about more mutual relatives in Southampton they had never met. This news just rounded off my week nicely.

Friday 12th March - Two Burials and Too Many Orams

Two unusual Chitterne burials have been discovered at the History Centre by DW and kindly sent to me. The first burial was that of Thomas Morgan, a claydigger, who it appears was killed when the clay pit he was digging in collapsed on him in 1711. This is interesting because it's the first example of a record of someone actually digging clay at Chitterne. In case you haven't read the story on my history pages or in my book, briefly it goes like this: There is an unusual deposit of very fine white clay on the top of one of the local chalk hills, now known as Clay Pit Hill. In the 17th century this clay was found to be excellent for making tobacco pipes and in 1651 the lord of the Manor of Chitterne St Mary licenced the digging of 30 wagon loads of it for just that purpose. So, 50 years later, here we have Thomas Morgan losing his life in the course of digging clay possibly for pipe manufacturers at Amesbury. Thomas' body was brought down and buried in the graveyard at Chitterne St Mary on 2nd November 1711.

The second unusual burial discovered in the records by DW is that of little Mary Tibbs on 20th March 1767. Mary's burial is unusual because her body was buried in someone else's grave, that of Samuel Sainsbury, landlord of the White Hart, at the same time as his body was interred. This happened sometimes in those days when the family of the deceased was too poor to pay for a separate burial. Mary Tibbs' mother was a widow so this was most probably the reason for burying her child in another's grave at Chitterne St Mary.

DW is still hot on the trail of James Oram's origins. See previous blogs: 8th & 19th Feb. Searches of local records for Maddington, Imber, Heytesbury, Bishopstrow, Codford St Peter, Codford St Mary, Upton Lovell, Upton Scudamore and Norton Bavant proved fruitless. However, a search of Upavon records gave the opposite result! DW found these possible candidates, James Orams were baptised at Upavon in:
1709 son of James and Susannah
1713 son of James
1723 son of Thomas and Jane
1735 son of William
1748 son of Roger and Susannah

A surfeit of James Orams! At least it looks as though he has found the area where our James originated. History research really is glorified detective work.

Monday 8th March - Little Lambs

This settles it. Spring lambs have arrived and the sun has been shining for a few days so dare we hope that winter is over? These lambs, at first quite unconcerned with the camera, suddenly took to their heels - do lambs have heels - took to their hooves and scampered off after Mum.

One little lamb is blissfully unaware of the camera, with eyes closed, face lifted, it basks in heat of the spring sunshine. We all know how that feels after such a winter as we've had.

Friday 5th March - Nesting Humans

You know Spring is really here when the birds start nesting. The same thing applies to humans, at least it seems that way in the village as various building projects get underway. At Townsend The Red House is undergoing a facelift before its new occupants move in later this month. G and K aren't new to Chitterne but they must have been fiercely tugged by that old Chitterne magnetism that keeps drawing people back because they only left last year. It's good to see them back again.

In Back Road the conversion of some old Chitterne Farm buildings into a bungalow is gathering pace. The foundations are about to be built upon.

This week another site notice was spotted in Back Lane, for a three-bedroomed detached house and double garage to be built on land behind the church. A plan of the proposed dwelling names the architect as B. Wyatt, which immediately alerted my fascination for coincidences, as a T.H. Wyatt was the architect of the church itself.

At our end of the village work has started at last on the new farm manager's house for Valley Farm.

Of course with the news that The Manor is to be sold comes the thought that much bigger projects may be just over the horizon. It's as if everyone has come out of hibernation; it must be the sun. D has had 3 requests for CAD work in as many days and I can see that I shall soon have to modify my map of dwellings mentioned last blog.

Good news for Chitterne folk: Ocado are now delivering to our area.

PS: The powers that be saw fit to refuse permission for the house in Back Lane. Shame, when new homes are so much needed and it was only one house after all.

PPS I understand that new houses are not to be encouraged in Chitterne because we have no facilities and would therefore have to drive to shop; visit the doctor, dentist etc.

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