Historical Overview of Lacock

Lacock is a village in Wiltshire, 3 miles from the town of Chippenham. The village is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust, and attracts many visitors by virtue of its unspoiled appearance. Most of the houses are 18th century or earlier in construction. There is a 14th century tithe barn, a medieval church, and an inn dating from the 15th century and an 18th century lock-up.

The village has been used as a film and television set, notably for the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. Close by is Lacock Abbey, also owned by the National Trust, who market the Abbey and the village together as "Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum & Village

The history of Lacock Village is very much linked to that of the Abbey. The village dates back to the 13th century. Lacock developed a thriving wool industry during the Middle Ages. Together with the Abbey, the village was given to the National Trust in 1944 by Matilda Talbot.



It was a clear day in the early summer of 1925 as Sqn. Ldr. Insall sat at the controls of his Sopwith Snipe and watched the countryside slip past below him. The experienced flyer, who had been awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in the Great War, was familiar with the gentle rolling farmland and as he approached the vast 520 metre circle of the Neolithic earthworks at Durrington Walls, he casually glanced at the recently ploughed remains of several disc barrows which had been almost obliterated by decades of farming. One particular barrow in Dough Covert caught his eye as it appeared to differ from the others because he could make out a number of white spots or holes inside the circle. He glanced to the west and, noticing the resemblance of Stonehenge, visible two miles away, to that of the barrow below him, he immeditely decided to pay close attention to this peculiarity on all his future flights over the area.

The days lengthened into summer and by June the darker patches of the crop marks confirmed the presence of an earlier soil disturbance undetectable from ground level. This was obviously worthy of further investigation, especially as the Squadron Leader's subsequent aerial photography showed that there were indeed circles of holes or pits in the chalk.

Excavations were carried out over the following three years by the Wiltshire archaeological team of Mr and Mrs B H Cunnington and, by 1928, a clearer picture of what was there began to emerge. The site was very similar to that of Stonehenge, as the astute Insall had already observed, in that it was slightly oval configuration with its axis approximately in line with Midsummer sunrise. It consisted of an outer ditch and bank some 76 metre (250 feet) in diameter enclosing several concentric circles of holes, originally intended for timber posts long since disappeared. Unlike Stonehenge, there was no central alter stone although this particular circle had a much more macabre centerpiece.

One and a half metres from the actual centre, the skeleton of a child of about three years of age was exhumed from the chalk, its skull cleaved open in what was almost a predetermined act. This according to experts, is one of the very few pieces of evidence of human sacrifice in prehistoric Britain.
Further investigation showed that the monument, dated at 2300BC, was older than parts of the Stonehenge complex. For the want of a better name the investigators christened the new discovery 'Woodhenge', as this title seemed so appropriate it was adopted permanently.

Woodhenge is signposted from the A345 road just north of Amesbury. Admission and parking is free

Stonehenge - Leave it be

The Man who Bought Stonehenge On September 21st 1915 a man walked into a property sale in the Palace Theatre in Salisbury Wiltshire and came out later £6,600 the poorer but the owner of Stonehenge. He was to be the last man to own Stonehenge in a line of owners stretching back to the nuns of Amesbury Abbey and even beyond. In December 1540 Henry VIII took the Abbey and its land, some 20,000 acres including Stonehenge, and gave them to Edward Seymour Earl of Hertford and later Duke of Somerset, to Lord Carleton and then to the Marquis of Queensbury, patron of John Gay who wrote The Beggar's Opera at Amesbury. The Antrobus Family bought the estate in 1824. In the opening months of the Great War Edmund Antrobus, the heir to the baronetcy, was killed serving in the Grenadier Guards and his father, Sir Cosmo, decided to sell the estate. The sale was put in the hands of Messrs Knight, Frank and Rutley and in the catalogue there appeared -
"Lot 15. Stonehenge with about 30 acres, 2 rods, 37 perches of adjoining downland"

It was to be the first and last occasion on which the monument would be up for auction, although in 1901 an earlier Antrobus, Sir Edmund, had offered it to the Government for £50,000, an offer that was rejected.
The new owner was Mr. Cecil Chubb of Bemerton Lodge, near Salisbury. Although now a wealthy man, he was of humble origin. He was born on March 14th 1876 in Shrewton, a village four miles west of Stonehenge, where his father was the village saddler. He learned his "3 Rs" (Reading Writing and Arithmetic) at the village school and continued his education at Bishop Wordworth's School in Salisbury. After a brief period as a student teacher at that school he went to Christ's College in Cambridge and took a double first in Science and Law, leaving with Master of Arts and Bachelor of Law degrees. In 1902 he married Mary Finch whose uncle, Dr Corbin Finch, owned Fisherton House Asylum in Salisbury, now the Old Manor Hospital.

Cecil Chubb became the proprietor of the Asylum and widened his interest to become a successful racehorse owner and breeder of Shorthorn cattle.

It was his interest in Stonehenge as a local boy that led him to attend the sale. He had no intention of bidding "but while I was in the room I thought a Salisbury man ought to buy it and that is how it was done". He remained its owner for three years and then, on October the 26th 1918, he formally handed it over to Sir Alfred Mond the First Commissioner of Works, who received it as a gift on behalf of the nation. In handing it over Cecil Chubb made two conditions. One was that the gate money, about £360 a year, should go to the Red Cross for the rest of the war. The second was that there should be free admission during normal opening hours for the residents of Shrewton (his native parish), Netheravon (his father's birthplace), Durrington (whence his mother came) and Amesbury in which parish Stonehenge stands. This privilege was later widened to include all the parishes of the former Amesbury Rural District and still in force today.

The son of the Shrewton saddler became Sir Cecil Chubb, Baronet, in 1919, and his Arms feature a trilithon representing Stonehenge. He died on September 22nd 1934

Dirty Dishes

Thank God for dirty dishes,
They have a tale to tell,
While some folks are going hungry,
It shows we are eating well.
So when the sink is piled up,
Don't even make a fuss,
'Cause by that stack of evidence
God's truely good to us.