Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - September 2010

Wednesday 29th September 2010 - Wills

The end of summer usually heralds the start of the researching season and end of summer this year is no different. Several pieces of research have come my way recently. Lucky me. First was the will of Edward Michell dated 24th May 1659. This is a very significant document because Edward was one of, if not the very first, Michell to live in Chitterne. For those of you unaware: later Michells left their mark by way of a host of memorials (to be seen in the church entrance lobby); a large underground vault in All Saints graveyard; Chitterne House; the endowment of a chantry etc.

To get back to Edward. He was a Justice of the Peace for the county and was signatory to the joining of the two Chitterne parishes as regards births, marriages and deaths, on 10th January 1653. From the will we learn that he leased Morgan's Farm for a good number of years in his own name and that of his eldest son Charles before making it over in trust to another JP, William Yorke, and John Mitchell. Morgan's, named after the generations of that family who were tenants of the nuns of Lacock, was in Chitterne St Mary, but where? I have seen it described as a capital messuage so it must have been a fairly large farm that formerly belonged to Lacock Abbey. Maybe one day we will know, as with Edward's other holding, a tenement called Prickloes (at least that's what I think it says!). If anyone recognises this name please let me know because I've never come across it before.

Another interesting thing about Edward is that he was married to Joan Danvers of Baynton, whose relatives signed the death warrant of King Charles I and subsequently forfeited their estates after the restoration of Charles II, including their estate in Chitterne.

Next came a pile of transcribed wills of the Compton family, some of them concerning Chitterne Comptons of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Compton family were farmers and took over, more or less, as tenant farmers on the Lacock Abbey lands where the Morgans left off. I am still ploughing my way through these wills, adding relevant information to my Compton notes, not so easy with complicated families, what with cousins marrying each other and all the wives seeming to be called Elizabeth. Not that I am ungrateful, it's just that one will at a time is easier to deal with.

Saturday 11th September 2010 - Kings Head For Sale

Changes happen in Chitterne whether I'm in the mood to report them or not. The latest is that our pub has been put up for sale by the owner Enterprise Inns. The price is 225,000, a bargain by any measure, house or pub. Talk about deja vue though, we have been through this before. Enterprise have owned the Kings Head since 2002, if my memory serves, and before them it was owned by Gibbs Mew and before them by Ushers. The last few years it has been limping along, always just avoiding threatened closure, or even succumbing to it a couple of times. It's plain that it can't survive with just the villagers for customers. The lack of farm workers needing to slake their thirst at the end of a hard day, the smoking ban, the drink/drive rules, the cheap liquor available at supermarkets (don't get me started on supermarkets...a major bee in my bonnet), all share the blame for the demise of village pubs. Passing motorists aren't reliable either, most of them just want to get to work or get home, not stop for a pint. So that only leaves becoming a venue which draws customers in by reputation for....good food is the obvious one. But, here's the rub, who among us is still going to be able to afford to eat out soon?

Comment: Sad to hear that the pub is for sale again, it really does need a "unique selling point".. Not much idea what that might be though.. Walking or bicycle tours maybe? camping ground? Hmm... JR

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