Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Burton near Mere.

The Mill Pool, Burton

A quiet amble along the footpath from Burton to Mere.
Ashfield Water flowing into the Mill Pool above an old mill.

Mill Wheel Burton

The iron water wheel, stationary and allowing free energy to flow away.

The outflow from the mill.

Old bridge over the mill outflow

shallows downstream from the mill

Crystal clear spring water on its way to join Shreen Water then to the River Stour and the sea at Christchurch.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Teffont, not famous....

First primroses, late January.

The first primroses of the year push through the dead leaves to add to the landscape. It is difficult to state anything famous about Teffont, it's a pretty place though, perhaps that is fame enough.

Chalk stream shallow and clean

Enjoy while you can; no doubt within a decade the open space on the stream bank will be built on, another fake old house for another fake old countryman newcomer perhaps.

Grotesque hedge, Teffont Evias

In the stream are native brown trout, small but fighting fit. Make a quiet approach and you may spot one lying doggo alongside a drift of weed, more likely you will catch a flash of movement as it dashes upstream.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Fonthill Park.

Spring is on the way, snowdrops at Fonthill

Fonthill Park was laid out by the Beckfords, a lake was formed by creating a dam across a feeder stream to the River Nadder. This area was landscaped, planted and laid out to give the classical 'English Landscape'
To the north of the lake as you approach Fonthill Bishop there is a gatehouse to the park in the form of an arch. The arch is still a dwelling and must be one of the most desirable properties in England.

The lake is for the most part fringed with trees, mature beech trees dip their branches into the water and provide nesting sites for water birds such as the Coot or Moorhen. As a child in the 'hungry fifties' when most working class kids never seemed to have enough to eat, there was a good meal available at the risk of a wetting. The trick is to climb the tree, shin down the branch, take some eggs and return trying all the time to avoid falling in or breaking the eggs. They standard method of preventing breakage was to carry the egg in the mouth. The eggs were boiled in water dipped from the lake in an old OXO tin; delicious, flavoursome and nutritious free-range fare for growing lads and lasses. More adventurous types were known to supplement the meal with a fish course of grilled fresh trout ( perhaps that should read poached trout).

Fonthill Park has a more recent history as a military camp area during WWII, American troops were stationed here and many beech trees in the area bore the initials of these temporary visitors carved into their bark.
All road junctions near the park were paved with granite cobbles or concrete to withstand the slewing of the tank tracks as the tanks turned; the evidence of this is under the modern road surface and will give future archaeologists something to ponder. An area at the top of the lane from the lake at its junction with the Hindon-Tisbury road is extensively paved, now almost obscured by the encroachment of nature and is known locally as Tank Park.

Anyone researching their family history in this area will find transcripts of census returns and marriages from 1625 to 1837 here.

For other local and Wiltshire parishes follow links on the Parish Directory of The Wiltshire OPC Project

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Hindon, once important.

Looking north towards Hindon, late January

Hindon, now a small village once was a 'rotten borough' and sent two Members to Parliament. The votes were negotiable in those days before the secret ballot and were paid for; copious quantities of beer and wine usually did the trick. In 1812, local character William Beckford ( of which more will be said in other posts ) managed to spend the very considerable sum of £2,641.8s.4d to get elected.
The ploughed area behind the church steeple once was the site of a fair, at which cattle were sold. (14,000+ in a week I have read) Cattle arrived by means of drover's roads over the downs; Hindon is near the intersection of these ancient roads. The roads had generous verges which allowed the cattle to graze along the way. The presence of Scots Pine trees alongside the road or track is a good indicator of an ancient drover's road.

old drovers road, very wide verge and Scots Pine trees.

The photograph above is a drover's road near a place called by locals, confusingly, 'One Mile Up Two Mile Down'; to explain..... a down is an area of upland, this ridge of upland is about two miles long running from Hindon to Willoughby Hedge ( on the A303 ). The place photographed is reckoned to be one mile from Hindon.... hence the name.
In the old records for East Knoyle, the adjacent parish, there is a mention of a farmer called Willoughby, who presumably planted a hedge, and is now immortalised by a filling station, Little Chef and a services lay-by at a place known now as Willoughby Hedge.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Wiltshire scenes 1

View from the top of Whitesheet Hill, Mere.

Pythouse, West Tisbury; scene of early industrial action.

From Wingreen Hill looking north over South West Wiltshire.