Sunday 2 July 1989

Three Wylye Valley Villages

Sunday 2nd July 1989. Twenty members of Warminster History Society visited three Wylye Valley villages - Tytherington, Corton and Sherrington - for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Their guide was member Danny Howell, who has written several books about the area's history.
Tytherington was the first stop, with its thatched cottages and two farms. In 1980 Sir Francis Holmes A'Court, of the Heytesbury Estate, sold the farms to Legal and General Insurance Ltd., who bought them as an investment.
A hundred years ago the population of Tytherington was about 150, much greater than today. There were many more cottages in the village, although most would have been only crude affairs with mud walls and thatched roofs. Some of these cottages were situated east of the village street, between St. James' Church and Littlecroft.
Milestone Cottage, at the western end of Tytherington, is mid-17th century and is built of rubble stone with square panelled timber framing, and a thatched roof. The west part was rebuilt in 1747 and features a datestone "TA 1747" below the first floor casement window.
The milepost which gives the cottage its name is made of iron and was cast by Carson and Miller at the Wiltshire Foundry, East Street, Warminster, in 1840. Its legend reads "Warminster Town Hall 4 miles, Chilmark 6 miles." In days gone by a road connected Tytherington with Chilmark, where there was an important stone quarry.
While in Tytherington members took the opportunity to view the dovecote built in 1810 at Church Farm, and also Ashby's Cottage, Dyallpits, the Bacon and Tea Tree, and the Church. By this time an hour had passed and everyone decided to move further east to Corton.
The Fane Hall at Corton was formerly the Church Of England National School. It was built in 1872 and was the gift of Sir E.D. Fane for the children of Boyton. The deed of gift makes a reference to the manufacturer's children, a link with the former cloth factory at Upton Lovell on the opposite side of the river Wylye.
The County Council wanted to close the School in 1923 but residents and scholars rallied around the headmistress Miss Shaw. The Council lost their case but the school only stayed open for another ten years. The building then reverted to Major Fane's estate and he offered it to Corton for use a clubroom for a yearly rent of one shilling.
Sundial Farmhouse dates from the late 17th century but was altered 100 years later. It is built of limestone and rubble stone, has a tiled roof, and features a pedimented porch on doric columns. The sundial above the door records "Tempus fugit" (time flies), the date 1775 and  the initials RWS. The drawing room inside the house has a marble fireplace and an 18th century landscape painted on the wall.
The Dove Inn at Corton was formerly known as the New Inn. A previous inn there was also called the New Inn but it caught fire one night in September 1889. The landlord, Mr Soloman, was roused from his sleep by smoke and escaped via a window with a couple of apple-pickers who were staying at the inn. The whole village was stirred and someone ran to Warminster to get the fire brigade. The firemen could not find a horse to tow the tender and a Warminster man, Mr Butcher, loaned them his steed. Captain Burchall Helme of Bishopstrow  House despatched his tender as well. By the time the brigade arrived the whole of the building was gutted. It was made entirely of wood with chalk walls and was said to be 300 years old. It was a Lamb Brewery, Frome, house.
Other points of interest in Corton included a "hat and boots" wall, White Horse House, the former Royal Oak Inn, the old Baptist Chapel, the former Baptist Hall; and the Church of England Chapel now converted into a private residence.
The members last port of call was Sherrington, which takes its name from "Sharenton", meaning a watery farmstead. The quality of the spring water and efficient cultivation made for successful watercress growing in the village.
Sherrington cress owes much of its fame to the Case family, who succeeded brothers Tom and Fred Imber as the leaseholders of the beds from the Boyton Estate. The first cress growers at Sherrington were Londoners who established the beds in the late 19th century. The last cress producer at Sherrington was Jack Hurd, from Hill Deverill, but new EEC regulations put paid to the use of Sherrington beds about 1970.
The leisurely stroll about the village included members' observations and comments on Cress Cottage, the Old Rectory Cottage, the Norman castle mound, and the church which is dedicated to the Middle Eastern sauints Cosmos and Damian. The footbridge over the river Wylye, next to the ford, allowed everyone to appreciate the beauty of what is one of the finest chalkland trout streams in south-west England.
Sherrington Mill, north of the river, is now a desirable residence. It occupies the site of one of two water mills owned by the Lamberts in the 17th century. In 1885 Mr. E.D. Fane, of Boyton Manor, bought a field near the Mill, which contained several springs, with the idea of supplying water to Boyton. He had the water raised by a powerful pump, worked by the water wheel at Sherrington Mill. A two inch pipe laid by John Wallis Titt and Co., of Warminster, carried the water to the highest point on the Boyton Estate, from where it was fed by gravity to supply the farms and houses of Boyton.
The walkers ended their enjoyable afternoon by calling at Linda Beagley's house in Sherrington where tea and cakes were served.
Warminster And District Archive magazine, No.4.