Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - May 2013

Wednesday 29th May 2013 - Dowsing St Mary's

Last Sunday a team of dowsers from the Wyvern Dowsing Group of Royal Wootten Bassett dowsed St Mary's Churchyard. They were looking for the original footprint of the building and anything else that showed up. Thanks to CH I have copies of the photographs they took. I don't know anything about dowsing so I'll let CH describe what they found:

"We used flags to map out what we found but there are layers of stuff there from several remodels. J had the feeling that this was a really old religious site, which was backed up a bit when someone found a worked flint. Working in tandem, two people getting the same results at the same time, showed a doorway on each side with 3 steps marked out in red flags, and a square building jutting out on the slope down from the edge of the Chapel which is just a trench now. Walls were in blue flags and water in white flags. We also used chalk where we ran out of colours! There is a 12 feet wide energy line going through the altar and out through the wall where it goes through a spiral of energy. This seems to be the same pattern as all churches have. We had a smashing day, the landscape itself was totally glorious and we would have liked to have spent longer."

This photo shows the nave part of the original church and how much wider it was than the chancel. The blue flags show the outside and inside of the walls, but at the farm side there were bits sticking out 12-18inches that they thought were small buttresses.

This photo shows where the main part of the church ended.

This one shows the trench mentioned and site of a square building. Ch again: "The red flags between the church and Birch Cottage should have gone round in a square but we ran out of red flags and chalked it instead. I think the anomally of the square wall seems to be the tower! The line of water, white flags, went downhill as did the energy line going through the church."

Steps, possibly to the original main door, and the slight buttress at the ends of the walls.

Another view of the steps.

More steps found on the other side of the chancel.

Monday 20th May 2013 - Glebe House

I met two sets of visitors to the village last week whose ancestors coincidentally had both lived in Glebe House. Samuel Foyle lived there in 1871, 1881 and probably died there in 1891, and PC Robert Morgan, the village bobby, lived there in 1901 and 1911, according to the censuses, but had moved to the dedicated Police House at Woodbine Cottages before 1925.

Glebe House wasn't always a farmhouse. A document dating from 1650 states that the lands belonging to the church (the glebe) had no dwelling house associated with them. But that's not to say that the house wasn't built after 1650 as a farmhouse. The Wallis family certainly used it as the farmhouse for Glebe Farm when they farmed both that farm and The Manor, but the house was called Holmcroft in those days. It only became known as Glebe Farmhouse after it was separated from the farm and was sold. When the new farmhouse for Glebe Farm was built at the beginning of this century, that became Glebe Farmhouse, and the old Glebe Farmhouse became Glebe House. There was still some confusion recently when estate agents erected their For Sale signboard outside the wrong house!!

Tuesday 7th May 2013 - Meeting the Descendant of Ela of Salisbury

Yesterday I met SH, the woman who is descended from William Longespee and Ela of Salisbury mentioned in my earlier blog dated 26 January 2013. SH is a member of the Medieval Siege Society and she was at Old Sarum taking part in an event they were putting on over the weekend called "Siege!" This event involved troops of men and women authentically dressed as people of the year 1470, who enacted scenes from the time of the Wars of the Roses.

I was unsure how I would find SH amongst so many Siege Society members, and so many encampments. But, thanks to serendipity once again, the second person I asked turned out to be the woman in charge of the very household I sought, the Harrington Household based in Staffordshire. The next minute I was looking at the face of someone related to Ela, Countess of Salisbury, and William Longespee, the illegitimate son of King Henry II. Quite unbelievable and quite momentous!

SH's household were displaying various items of armour and weaponry of medieval design. The helmets were incredibly heavy, so were the swords. Soldiers of that time must have been extremely fit to have been able to fight encumbered by all that weight. SH also joins in the mock battles and gets bruised and pierced skin as a result. She showed us a collar of chain mail she had made to protect her throat after a particularly scary cut on her collar bone.

Then SH showed us a shield she is painting which incudes her own coat of arms, made up of the Longespee group of lions and later descendants devices.

Ela's forefathers, later earls of Salisbury, had been custodians of Old Sarum since William the Conqueror's time and SH said she had been excited all weekend at being at the place where her ancestors once lived. She had hoped to go the the cathedral in the city to see William Longespee's tomb, but had not had time.

It was a day I won't forget for a long time.

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