Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - June 2012

Sunday 24th June 2012 - Chitterne v. Herm

I've been on holiday this last week to an island the size of Chitterne, which has no cars, no lorries and no motorbikes. Imagine Chitterne with no traffic; with meandering sandy paths instead of busy roads, with azure blue sea instead of fields of corn and with the cries of seagulls overhead instead of the cackling of rooks and jackdaws, and there you have Herm Island, which measures only one and a half miles long by half a mile wide, but packs a hefty punch if you're looking for peace and quiet.

I couldn't help but compare the two. And comparisons there were aplenty, ranging from history to pheasants. I was astounded to see pheasants pecking at seaweed on the beach! Pheasants, partridges, swans, rabbits and deer, were introduced by Sir Thomas Leighton when the island became a game reserve for the Governors of Guernsey in Elizabethan times. Only rabbits and pheasants remain.

Historically Herm was once the home of monks of the Augustinian order, the same order as the nuns who once owned a lot of Chitterne. William the Conqueror gave Herm to the Augustinians of Cherbourg, just as he gave Chitterne to the family who were later Earls of Salisbury.

There are tile-topped walls; a quarry, (for granite admittedly not chalk); a pretty little chapel dedicated to Saint Tugual and a sportsfield with a well-kept wicket. Aberdeen Angus and Guernsey cattle are being raised for breeding and an old set of stocks for shoeing oxen still exist! I wonder if Polden & Feltham ever shod an ox!

Unlike Chitterne, Herm Island is not part of the UK, nor a member of the EU and has no VAT. It is a Channel Island and part of the British Isles. If you think it sounds like an ideal place to retire to, don't. There are no retired people on Herm and no unemployed. The right of residence goes with the job.

I plan to write a longer version of this comparison later and I'll post its whereabouts here.

Wednesday 6th June 2012 - Celebrations 2

Wow! You've got to hand it to the current lot of oragnisers in the village, they really can put on a good show. The Jubilee Party in the sportsfield was a roaring success. I would say the majority of the inhabitants of Chitterne were there, all in good spirits and a lot of them dancing their socks off.

The happy atmosphere continued later in the pub for the Jubilee Quiz. 80 souls tried to fit inside the King's Head and find seats. A few late arrivals even had to return home to fetch picnic chairs! A record 17 teams competed and Lindsey's questions were just perfect. They made us think but were not too hard for tired partygoers.

One of the highlights of the day for me was climbing the church belltower to see the bells that I've written about but never clocked eyes on before. The oldest, and still in use, is over 600 years old and once hung in old Chitterne St Mary's Church belltower. John Barbur of Salisbury cast it, probably before the end of the 14th century, since his will was written in 1403. Just amazing!

If I get my act together there will be more pictures of the other bells, the church clock mechanism and the view from the tower on the Bellringers page of later.

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