MOBILE PHONE USERS WILL OBTAIN A BETTER EXPERIENCE IF ROTATED TO HORIZONTAL
Michael Tighe has produced a guide to the historical roads around Mere - see below. A printed version of this paper is available for little cost in the Mere Information Centre in the library. Proceeds of the sales go to the Friends of St Michaels Church
ROADS OF MERE
the Roman came to Rye, or out to Severn strode,
rolling English drunkard made the rolling English Road.
reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire.
understanding of British history may have been at fault in that there were no
English in the country when the Romans came, but he neatly sums up the nature
of the pre-XVIIIc English road system as it is typified round Mere.
It is hard for us to imagine to-day the difficulties which faced the
would be traveller a mere three centuries ago, and in particular the complete
absence of really hard-surfaced roads appropriate for wheeled traffic.
Though much was made in legal terms of “the King’s Highway” and
its policing, central government assumed no responsibility for its upkeep, and
the maintenance of roads was entirely in the hands of the individual parishes
and their rate payers who were most unwilling to saddle themselves
with the expense of road making for the benefit of outsider users.
In any study of local roads we have to bear in mind that they were
created and maintained by local communities with no access to outside funding.
important fact often overlooked is that until at least the XVIIc there was
only minimal wheeled traffic on the so-called roads of Britain - the horse
either ridden or pack-carrying was the basic form of transport.
Those places within reach of the coast or of navigable rivers relied on
waterborne transport for the carriage of all bulk produce, be it corn, coal or
cloth. Mere was about
as ill-served as could be in this respect - 35 miles from the coast, whether
to the South or to the Bristol Channel, and even further from any inland
waterway. Roads generally
were barely passable, maintenance being at the mercy of the local parish
authorities, themselves in practice a continuation of the pre-Reformation
vestries, on whom the responsibility, including the power to enforce
parishioners to give a number of days labour on the roads, either in person or
by paid proxy, had been placed by Elizabethan statutes - it is not surprising
that this was fairly ineffectual.
Examination of the probate inventories of Mere residents of the
XVI/XVII centuries does not so far reveal any local resident owning a wheeled
vehicle other than a farm cart. For
instance, Thomas Aubrey of Chaddenwyke, who died in 1635 left assets of £136,
a rich estate for the time; he was required to have a “light Horse” fully
caparisoned available to fulfil his militia responsibilities, but in addition
to this horse merely had one wagon and two wheels for other farm uses.
Michael Down, of Edge Bridge, who died in 1683, had a thriving business
making edge tools, which involved the transport of coal from the Somerset coal
fields to Mere, the collection of scrap iron, and the delivery of spades,
scythes &c over quite a wide area, owned just four horses and a number of
pack saddles. In
these circumstances we can assume that the local road network was of poor
quality, and this was to obtain until the mid-XVIIIc.
Stage Coach, popularised by Dickens, has become a symbol of an era, and has
long been a feature of Christmas cards and story books, but it is not always
appreciated that that era was a comparatively short one, starting with the
establishment of turnpike trusts in the early XVIIIc and ending with the
arrival of railways a mere century later.
Another 150 years would see the advent of the motorway and the
conversion of the A303 to a dual carriageway!
When Celia Fiennes of Newton Tony kept a journal of her travels around
England from 1685 to 1698, she
travelled sometimes on horseback and at others in a “chariot“ with four
horses and her maid. More
significantly, she managed to arrange her itinerary so that she could descend
on friends and relations, and does not seem to have relied on inns.
In 1686 she passed through Mere and gives us the earliest tourist
account of the remains of the Castle.
In the 1780’s another intrepid traveller, John Byng, later Viscount
Torrington, also passed this way, but annoyingly makes no mention of Mere;
this omission is the more regretful in that he travelled solo on
horseback, staying at inns, on which he made occasional caustic comments.
It would have been nice to have a contemporary account of the local
what do we know about the history of our local road system?
Going back to the earliest known tracks, it happens that we have in
Mere a classic example of the underlying truth of Chesterton’s verse, albeit
the track concerned is straight as an arrow, to the extent that many local
people still persist in referring to it as “the Roman Road”!
fact, no Roman road ever passed through the parish of Mere; the important
trading route from the Mendip lead mines to the South East is thought to have
crossed the infant river Wylie at Kingston Deverill.
Another road ran from Bath to Badbury Rings and on to Poole Harbour,
but a long stretch of its track across West Wiltshire and South Somerset was
not identified for many years, though the late G.B.Berry
claimed to have traced this missing stretch, passing close
to Willoughby Hedge and to the West of Pertwood.
Substantial Roman remains are conspicuously absent in the Mere area,
and there is no indication of prolonged Roman influence; however, one has to
remember that all too often the absence of physical archaeological evidence
may only reflect an absence of past
before the arrival of the Romans, however, the track which now leaves the A303
at Willoughby Hedge and runs across Mere Down and Whitesheet towards
Kilmington formed part of the pre-historic network of ridgeway tracks which
allowed primitive man to roam much of the country without crossing the almost
impenetrable river valleys. Such
tracks in some cases were pragmatically adopted by the Romans, provided they
pointed the right way, but many of those not so taken over continued in use by
the indigenous population, and remained so right through to the age of the
turnpike and stage coach. Our
trackway, possibly running from the coast at Seaton to Canterbury, and known
variously as the Hard Way or the Harrow Way, is an example of this continuous
considering the earlier history of such ridgeway tracks - and indeed of all
roads - it is important not to over-emphasise the amount of long-distance
traffic they carried; life was
mainly lived on a local basis.
Westwards from the parting of the ways above Charnage Hill the track of this
ancient road is clear to us, the pattern of roads arriving at Willoughby Hedge
from the East is confusing, thanks to the overlay of later turnpike and motor
roads. It seems most likely
that our track followed the line of the present A303 as far as Chicklade
Bottom, where at one time stood the New Inn; from that point it would have
struck out across the Downs, through Grovely Wood towards Wilton, as the Ox
Drove. It is highly likely that it
formed part of the long drovers’ route by which cattle were driven from the
West of England to London. Its
alignment and direction hint that it could well have carried the stock known
in early days to have been ferried from South Wales to the Somerset coast for
the London trade, and it is highly probable that the Eastward course could
have crossed the Avon at Ford and thence followed the
present A30 line across the Hampshire Downs through Stockbridge where
an inn to this day carries a legend in Welsh aimed at the drovers.
centuries, we have no reliable indication of what other tracks and roads were
in use, though we know them to have been primitive.
The more settled political climate after 1688, and general economic
growth, combined with the inventiveness and enterprise which was to lead to
both Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, threw an increasing load upon
this poorly maintained network, just at the time when trade growth and
improving technology had led to the production of faster and more efficient
coaches and wagons which called for improved road surfaces.
Their needs produced the system of Turnpike Trusts, under which groups
of local gentry and business men obtained Parliamentary approval for the
establishment of Trusts empowered in effect to take over certain stretches of
road and to improve and maintain them, usually for a term of twenty-one years.
This obviously required a considerable capital investment by the
Trustees, who were in return given the right to erect gates and to charge
tolls for the use of the roads.
to this time our road from Willoughby Hedge to Kilmington had continued in use
through the centuries as a through route, whether from Salisbury or the
Amesbury direction, through to Bruton and the South West effectively
by-passing Mere. Interestingly,
a few miles to the South a similar ridgeway ran almost in parallel from
Salisbury to Shaftesbury and thence on to Exeter and the South West - the
precursor of to-days’ A30, as our route foreshadowed the A303.
Both of these routes were to be abandoned on the creation of the
turnpikes, in favour of valley routes passing through towns and villages
- and both of them at one
point or another bore the name of Ox Drove, recalling their earlier use.
were lonely roads - not one house or cottage between Hindon and the Red Lion
at Kilmington. This latter
Inn was obviously established to take advantage of the first point for many
miles where the road dropped down from the bare hills, and where it crossed
the local route from Mere to Frome. On
the opposite corner of the crossroads was a smithy, which did not finally
close until the mid 1960’s - inn
and smithy would have served travellers both on the road over the downs and
also on the N/S route. On
early maps, up to and including the 1886 6”OS, at the point on Mere Down
where the Warminster road crosses the old road on the North side of the old
road appears a building marked “Hut”; such amenities appeared at intervals
along the old roads in such sparsely inhabited country - the forerunners of
our “Little Chefs”, they could well have originally catered for the needs
of the drovers, whose daily mileage, restricted to a pace which would not
cause loss of weight in their charges, would have been modest.
ridgeways’ long use from early days until the XIXc as drove ways for the
movement of flocks and herds of sheep and cattle was recognised in the 1812
Enclosure Award for Mere, when the stretch of road across Mere Down &
Whitesheet, already abandoned for years in face of the new turnpike, was
ordered to be set out as a public carriage road with a width of fifty feet.
All the other public roads specified in the Award were of a width of
only thirty feet, apart from the turnpikes which were allowed forty feet.
This width obviously was to allow for the special needs of driven
flocks and to give them access to wayside herbage.
In the years after WWII some encroachments occurred,
and in 1971 the highway authority re-marked the bounds of the road to
the original fifty feet after a number of public protests.
Mere itself the main road pattern consisted of an East/West axis on the line
of Salisbury and Castle Streets, linked to the South by two routes, one from
Boar Street to Shaftesbury and the other from Dead Maid Quarry to Gillingham.
From these radiated lanes and paths giving access to other
areas of the town and to the outlying areas of the parish; with traffic being
only on either foot or horseback the resulting tracks only needed to be narrow
to be serviceable, and alleyways such as Dark Lane and Church Lane, impassable
to motor traffic, survive to remind us of this.
In a rural area such as Mere, survival of the ancient network of paths
and tracks has been high, and many paths which are no longer of economic
importance retain their status as public rights of way despite only occasional
use by the dedicated walker. Over
the centuries there have been many changes, mainly unrecorded, but in a few
cases observations by T.H.Baker, arising from his discussions with old
residents, tell us of routes altered or abandoned.
most significant change in road patterns occurred in 1756.
On April 7th of that year, Richard Willoughby, till recently owner of
the manor and estate of West Knoyle, wrote to Joshua Cox, agent to Henry Hoare
of Stourhead, advising him of the previous day’s meeting that he had chaired
of the Trustees appointed to put into action the Act establishing the
Wincanton Turnpike Trust; he sought Hoare‘s support - and an initial loan of
£500, which no doubt was forthcoming.
had sold the whole estate, owned by his family for two centuries to Hoare in
1735, but twenty years later he is still writing from there, and referring to
a well-known landmark as “my hedge”. Significantly
he does not write to Hoare as a neighbour but to his agent in London.
He hopes for Hoare’s advance as a good example to other local people
“for our great Dependence is on Mr. Hoare’s Protection of the Bill. I
shall apply to Mr. Beckford and others for the same purpose”.
Act for the new turnpike [290 Geo II c49] established the Trust for four
Eighteen Mile stone near Willoughby Hedge in East[sic] Knoyle
- Mere - Wincanton - Charlton Horethorne -
Willoughby Hedge - West end of
Long Lane in Kilmington.
Wincanton - Sherborne turnpike
cross gate on Castle Hill on road
a new road through Bourton across Zeals Common at Queen Oak, a road from
Charlton Horethorne to Seven Wells, and another from Zeals Green to Maiden
Bradley were added.
the Trust continued to have responsibility for the old road across Whitesheet
but it fell into disuse, and its establishment was to have significant
importance for the prosperity and development of Mere, bringing commercial
traffic off the Downs into the town.
new road to be established under the Act was in effect to run along the pre
1960’s line of the present day A303 through Mere and Wincanton, in effect
abandoning the old way across Mere Down and on towards Bruton.
The first toll-gate, Willoughby said, was to be “at the East end of
my Hedge”, i.e. where to-day
stands the Willoughby Hedge Little Chef, and he had promised to build “in
the next month” a proper house, 20 feet by 14 feet, for the gate keeper
there, to be habitable by Michaelmas, by which time it was hoped to have
enough of the road completed to justify fixing up the Gate and demanding the
Tolls. Would that 21st
Century works could be accomplished so easily!
A weighbridge was incorporated in this gate; in a MS note Miss Joyce
Rutter noted that during road works for widening the A303 the foundations of
the toll house were found. It
is interesting that in August 1910 there was offered at auction by the
Executors of John Walton “a cottage and garden at Willoughby Hedge”; there
is a conspicuous absence of any such cottage today, so had Walton bought the
toll cottage as a possibly poor investment? The remaining gates were to be on
either side of Wincanton, with another “at the Cross Road leading to
Charlton & Sparkford”; no provision was made for any gate at Mere
justification for the starting point for the new road was that the road from
Salisbury to this point had already been turnpiked by the Fisherton Turnpike
Trust, responsible for the roads from Salisbury to Heytesbury and towards
Devizes as well as this one from Salisbury via Hindon.
It is apparent that around 1750 the old ridge road across the Down had
been turnpiked, as milestones giving the distance from Salisbury survive along
the stretch of it bearing that date. These
stones are of a different pattern from those of the Fisherton Trust, and were
presumably erected by an earlier Trust, though enquiry so far has not been
able to establish its name; it is unfortunate that few records survive of so
many Trusts. Early Ordnance
Survey maps show the line of these milestones continuing across the present
B3092 to Kilmington Common, over the ridge at Alfred's Tower and through
Hardway to Redlynch, near Bruton, but these do not appear to have survived;
thorough searches for them by G.R.Berry and others in the 1960’s failed to
find any trace.
always dangerous to rely on the survival of milestones; as a result of the
wholesale removal of milestones for security reasons in 1940; many got lost
altogether, and others may not have been erected exactly in the original
position. Even some of those
existing to-day have evidence of being post 1945 replacements.
What does appear from Berry’s researches is that the sequence of
these stones would seem to be a continuation of others to the East along the
original line of the prehistoric track, from Willoughby Hedge to Wilton
through Groveley Wood, where the odd surviving milestone also bears the 1750
date. Like the Mere Down road, this one was superseded by the turnpike through
Dinton and Hindon. One thing
remains a mystery - which Trust or Trusts were responsible for setting up
these milestones over 250 years ago?
By 1824 it seems clear that the old road over the Down had been
abandoned, as in “Paterson’s Roads”
the traveller for Bruton &c is routed down to Mere and
via Zeals to Kilmington.
mystery is the course of the original Hardway, and the turnpike which replaced
it, after crossing the Bruton road at the Red Lion inn.
Some milestones have been seen in the past along the road from there to
Alfreds Tower, but seem to have disappeared.
The logical reading of the orientation of existing roads Westwards from
the Tower is that the route went down Kingsettle Hill and by way of the road
still called “Hardway” to Redlynch, but from there on the route is a
matter of conjecture. However,
from Redlynch House a clearly defined track runs due Eastward, straight as a
die, for three miles before turning NE and climbing the Selwood ridge.
The strange thing is that this track has two milestones giving the
distance from Redlynch House, and stranger still, at the point where it
crosses the lane running from Brewham to Charlton Musgrave stands a farmhouse
“Coachroad Farm”. However,
this is a problem best left to a Somerset historian!
maps survive indicating what roads existed from Willoughby Hedge to Mere
before 1756, so we do not know to what extent the turnpike merely upgraded
existing roads or what were completely new routes.
Sometimes it is possible to deduce from later maps when an entirely new
route for a turnpike has been taken, by detecting a continuity of field
boundaries underneath its line, but so much of this one was originally on
unenclosed land that this option is not open to us.
On a pre-enclosure map of Duchy land there is some indication of a such
an effect at what is now White Road, where the turnpike ran across the area
known as “Bowling Green”, which confirms other indications, such as the
straightness of this stretch, that the length from near the present Fire
Station down to the Old Brewery was a new creation.
However, a note by T.H.Baker [see below] seems to imply the existence
of an earlier road.
doubt must be thrown on a statement by Baker
that in 1891 “he was told by James Cowley of Warminster
Hollow, then a very old man, that his father who had died a few years back
aged over 90” had worked at the making of the new road from Mr. Borrodaile’s
[i.e.. Castle Hill House, now beneath the by-pass] to the Brewery”.
This cannot have been at the first making of the road, but may have
been in 1824 when tenders were invited for the improving of a portion of the
road “by filling up the Hollow, cutting off Angles and widening the Bridge
and Road from the gate of Mr. White‘s farmyard to a close called Bowling
Green”. This must surely have
been merely a tidying-up; not only
is the present line shown on Andrew & Drury’s 1773 map, but it appears
quite clearly on the Enclosure Award map of 1821.
continued to say that the road had previously gone down Old Hollow, and then
up Steep Street, across Manor Road and then along the North side of
Castle Hill. No map shows
any road, path, or track which would support the last part of the statement;
the first part fits in with the suggestion made in “The Story of Mere”
that “the road for coaches and wagons was down Old Hollow, up Steep Street
and probably across Bishops Corner”, presumably into the Square at Waltons’
Corner. One only has to look
at Old Hollow to think it most unlikely that the builders of the Turnpike
would have included such a hazard in their new road!
It is surely more likely that there were problems of flooding &c at
Lander’s bridge, which led to the temporary use of this route till the
repairs had been carried out.
doubts have been expressed as to whether the road down Charnage Hill to Mere
was an existing one improved by the Trust, or a new creation.
However on June 16th 1755 an advertisement appeared in the Salisbury
Journal for the sale or lease of the Castle Inn, “good and commodious,
pleasantly situated on the High-Road from London to Taunton and Exeter”
. It is stated to
be very convenient for entertaining of fat or lean cattle, and it is clear
from the wording that the road was a main route before the turnpike.
The inn is known to have stood at the junction between the Turnpike,
which it obviously antedated, and the Warminster Road.
It was eventually bought by Isaiah Maggs Jupe who built a large
Victorian House adjoining for his own occupation, keeping the old inn as a
small house nearby. These were the
only buildings which needed to be demolished a century later to make room for
the by-pass, which went right through the site.
is certain is that the opening of the new road brought new life to the town.
In May 1763 Edward Davis of the Angel Inn proudly announced his acquisition of
a new 4-wheel post chaise, with horses for hire, and three years later John
Perman of the Ship advertised a similar vehicle for hire, complete with a
careful driver to any part of England! By
1810 John Harding’s old house in the Square had reverted to its earlier use
as an inn, the White Hart, and in 1830 six coaches on routes between
Barnstaple and Exeter and London delivered passengers and changed horses in
Mere in the middle of the night.
trustees found it necessary to set up additional gates to deal with the
traffic; in 1818 a side gate was erected at Zeals Green to catch traffic from
the road to Bonham & Stourton [and thus from the Bruton/Frome area] and in
1845 the Parish Meeting objected to the establishment of a gate in Warminster
Road. We do not know
what notice was taken of this objection, but by the 1851 census Edward Young,
a 30 year old tailor, appeared as also being gatekeeper at Warminster Road.
Some light is thrown on this additional gate by a reference in one of T.H.Baker’s MS notebooks [vii] :- “At the bottom of Warminster Hollow where the direction post now stands was erected about the year 1855 a small brick house of one storey with two rooms for the gate-keeper who took the tolls here collected for the Turnpike Trust which came to an end in 1875, after which it was pulled down. When this house was built a portion of the bank of Mr.Jupe’s field was cut away to make room for the house and the skeleton of a man was discovered buried a short depth below the surface. Before this house was built a wooden hut occupied its place a few years where the gatekeeper stayed during the day going to his house to sleep. This hut was not in existence many years. It was put there together with the gate to stop the coal hauliers from evading the toll at Stourton gate, which stood at the four cross roads at the top of Crab Lane, and at Norton Gate, which stood between Norton Ferris and Maiden Bradley. After the Warminster Hollow was improved by Uriah Cross when he was waywarden [he farmed Mere Down up to 1844 Ed.]these men never used this road to escape paying tolls.”
Baker’s dating must be slightly adrift, as the 1851 census records gatekeeper Young and his wife as present on the census night, so by that time they had made their home there. Presumably the gate was situated at the corner of the two roads, by the “Castle” inn, at the point now under the flyover at the start of the by-pass.
first sight it seems surprising that it had taken so long to control the
entrance to the turnpike of traffic from the Warminster Road, which one would
have thought a long established North/South
route. However, during a visit by
Wincanton Field Club in August 1892, led by T.H.Baker, he refers to the “road
which has been made passable for vehicles since the beginning of this century;
previously it was only a track to the Deverells, the road to Warminster
generally used for traffic being by Willoughby Hedge, Pertwood & Lords
Hill”, i.e. the present A350. This
remark is interesting in that it also confirms the existence of the
pre-turnpike road from Mere to Willoughby Hedge.
the same talk Baker describes “The Quarry”, presumably the Chalk Pit on
the W. side of the road, plot 1386 on the Enclosure Award map at the point
where the modern OS map shows “Earthwork“, as having at a depth of some 20
feet a six-foot seam of cream coloured chalk “in good repute for road making”
appearing beneath the upper white chalk.
He goes on to refer to crossing “the old road from Sarum to the West
of England now almost disused. Up
to the opening of the South
Western Railway thousands of Devon
steers travelled over this road to fairs in the Eastern Counties and tens of
thousands of sheep” for the various fairs besides those sent fortnightly to
Salisbury Market and the regular contingent of carts carrying calves &c
from Somerset. He
specifically refers to Mere Down Hut, which presumably must still have been
would seem that the only major alteration to the route to be taken by the new
turnpike was that already discussed above to replace the old road over Mere
Down. To the West of the
town there is every indication that the new road followed the line of existing
ones; a factor here is that is nearly all the land to be traversed had been
enclosed for a long time previously.
is often assumed that fatal road accidents are peculiar to the advent of the
internal combustion engine. In
fact accidents to horse drawn vehicles were far from unknown and were quite
regularly reported in the local press.
The most common seems to have been the driver, or a passenger or
hanger-on, falling off a cart and ending up with the wheels passing over him;
sometimes a suggestion of intoxication follows the verdict.
In 1838 John Larkham, the local solicitor, fell from his carriage in
Castle Street and was killed instantly.
prosperity brought by the turnpike was not to last.
In 1859 the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway opened its station at
Gillingham and the pattern of transport changed almost overnight. All over the
country stage coach routes were being abandoned, and now the short ride in one
of the twice daily horse buses, operated by the railway company, that soon
started running brought Mere within the span of a far shorter and more
comfortable journey. Within a very
few years the shrinkage in trade had led to the closure of both the Swan and
the White Hart Inns. Not many
years later the turnpike trusts were not renewed, the gates were removed, and
the maintenance of all the roads was handed over to the waywardens and in 1894
to the newly constituted R.D.Cs. For
the rest of the century surfacing was in the local stone, quarried at Dead
Maid Quarry, which had opened in 1811, with gravel coming from the Grove
estate at Grab Lane. This coincided with the opening of the Union Workhouse,
where the stone was broken down to smaller sizes by the “casual” inmates.
The fact that Mere stone was very soft and not suitable for heavy wear
did not matter until the early XXc, when the motor car, with pneumatic tyres
which tore up the surface, appeared;
previously the iron tyres which every vehicle had used consolidated the
surface, rather than wearing it, provided they were reasonably wide.
the start of the motoring age the main road from London to the South-West was
that now known as the A30 through Shaftesbury and for a long time Mere
remained something of a backwater. It
is significant that on the first 1/4” Ordnance Survey map aimed at
motorists, the road through Chicklade is only shown as a minor road, with the
main road going on to Hindon; even as late as 1930 the 1” map shows the
present A303 as a minor road. It
was not to be until after WWII that the Ministry of Transport changed their
emphasis and gave priority to the A303 over the A30.
By the 1960’s the weight of traffic through the town was such that
Mere became a notorious blackspot on the route to the West; it was not until
there had been two demolitions of property at pinch points in Castle Street
and the Square resulting in the loss of old and interesting buildings that
finally Mere was by-passed.
1821 Enclosure Award, with its accompanying map, is an invaluable source of
information on the road network of Mere at that time.
Prior to Enclosure the greatest part of the roads locally had traversed
the open fields and commons. The
arable open fields were all individually delineated and traffic was not
allowed to impinge on the cultivated areas, so that the roads through them,
and through the areas of old enclosure, had to follow a fixed route.
Over the commons however, and to some extent over pasture land, the
road line was not delineated.
With the lack of maintenance already described, these tracks tended to
become nearly impassable, and there was nothing to stop traffic moving over to
one side or the other. The
Award finally laid down the exact line for all the roads and footpaths,
together with their width, and the pattern remains on the landscape to this
day. The major roads
were described as “public carriage roads”.
A large number of other roads, usually narrower, were to be “private
carriage roads”, access roads to the owners of lands served; some of them
were even given the landowners’ names as their title - e.g. “Lander’s
Road”. Most of these
designations have lapsed, and some of the roads themselves have disappeared on
the amalgamation of holdings.
A number of footpaths were also provided
- as with the roads, these usually recognised long standing rights of
far as can be ascertained only one other road through the parish was turnpiked;
the rest remained as local routes maintained [or neglected] by the parish
routes can be regarded as roads leading to other communities, rather than mere
local tracks -
those to Warminster by way of Mere Down, to Gillingham, and to
The road up Warminster Hollow by way of the lynchets and Bare Knap
followed the same course as now through the open fields until their enclosure
as pasture or corn land, and then went on over the downs past Mere Down Farm
and down into the Wylie Valley. The
gradients up the side of the downs must have been too steep to make
comfortable going, and the road cannot have been greatly used.
However, as quoted above, in 1892 T.H.Baker,
described the Warminster Hollow road as only having been made passable
for vehicles in the early XIXc, it previously only having been a track to the
both the Enclosure Award and Tithe Award Maps show a building in the triangle
between the road and the old road to Willoughby Hedge, called on the Tithe Map
“the Hut”. It cannot by then
have been put to its original use, and was probably a farm worker’s cottage;
later Down House was built on the site.
is probably the Shaftesbury road which was at one time of greatest use, and
was eventually to be turnpiked. An
indication of its ancient use as a through route is to be found in the 1540’s
Itinerary of John Leland
, who obviously took it on his way back North from his tour
through Dorset, passing through Gillingham Forest to Mere.
This road left the Market Place by way of Boar Street and Pettridge
Lane - the history of this part of the town will be discussed in another Paper
in this series. At
Edge Bridge it left the bounds of the original town and assumed the name of
Clements Lane, presumably named after the family known to have owned land at
this point in mediaeval times - this lane continued Westwards as Swainsford
Road, now Woodlands Road, with the Shaftesbury Road branching off to the
South. The road up to
this point has assumed considerable importance in recent years, partly as a
result of the growth in residential development South of Mere, but more on
account of the greatly increased traffic dependant on The Hill Brush Company,
who built their factory at the junction of Clements Lane and Shaftesbury Road
in the 1930’s and whose trade has grown steadily ever since.
the Lawn cross roads, in Dorset some 2 miles South of the town, a cast-iron
mile plate giving the distance of 5 miles to Shaftesbury survives; of the
other five markers which appear as late as the 1903 revision of the 1“ OS
map only two, in Motcombe, survive, both overgrown in hedges.
They explicitly show the distance from Shaftesbury Town Hall, though in
one case the last two words are painted out.
Hardly any reference can be found to a turnpike trust covering this
route, which Professor Good
presumes, possibly on the absence of evidence to the
contrary, to have been part of the Wincanton Trust.
We now know that it does not appear amongst those included in the 1756
Act, and the entirely different style of the mileposts suggests the
probability of the road having been the responsibility of one of the
Shaftesbury Trusts. Just short of
the junction of the road from Clements Lane the 1821 Enclosure Award map shows
a gate across the road, with the legend “Clements Gate”. Neither the 1821
map nor the 1848 Tithe Map shows any building beside the gate, though if it
had been a turnpike gate provision for a gatekeeper would have been expected.
Moreover, the gate seems to
have been positioned to cover also Clements Lane and the road to Woodlands and
Swainsford, which certainly were never turnpiked.
It seems most likely that the purpose of the gate was to contain
cattle; pre-enclosure both the roads went through open common pastureland, and
it was not uncommon for such roads to be gated on the outskirts of settlements
to keep the commoners’ cattle out.
1821 Award provided for a “public carriage road of the breadth of forty feet
[in contrast to the thirty feet allowed for ordinary roads] being the
line of the present Turnpike Road leading from Mere to Shaftesbury, beginning
at Clements Gate and extending Southwards over Whitemarsh and Whitehill
Commons to its entrance into the parish of Gillingham at the North East corner
of Hazlehold Close and from the said Close over the east end of
that part of Whitehill Common which is in the parish of Gillingham to
the South East extremity of the said Common, which said road is described by
the name of Shaftesbury Road”.
Shaftesbury Road still shows evidence of its pre-enclosure history to this
day. It is noticeable that for
most of the way out to the parish [& county] boundary on either side of
the road is a fairly narrow strip, some 50 to 100 feet deep, which as far out
as White Hill has been developed residentially, in the odd case pre enclosure,
largely post 1950, and occasionally in between.
Such building is upon the narrow common grazing land along this road,
forming the White Marsh and White Hill Commons, which were enclosed under the
1821 Act. Various
small slices of these Commons were allocated to landowners and farmers in lieu
of the rights which they had over the open fields and commons and over the
ensuing couple of centuries have either been amalgamated with other lands or
disposed of for development.
In those places where the boundaries do not fit this premise, almost
invariably it is found that the land involved had been enclosed much earlier.
half dozen of cottages appear on the roadside on the Enclosure Map, on plots
which were not affected by the Award, as they were already in individual
ownership and occupation at that time, although clearly by their layout they
were originally on the Common; the
inference is that these were examples of earlier “squatting”, recognised
by the Manor as purpestures. 1835
Richard Sutton Brine and his two sons brought an action for trespass against
the Overseers in respect of a plot of land on which they had earlier erected a
hovel and as a result claimed ownership of a piece of ground, but it was
proved that they had only been there since after the enclosure plots were
marked out, so their action failed, leaving Brine to go to prison for
non-payment of the legal costs involved in the case.
stretch of the Shaftesbury Road
running from the Clements Lane junction to White Hill is known as “The
Causeway”. The origin of this
name is not known - it was certainly used by the enumerator of the 1851
Census, implying that it was common usage at the time.
The word usually connotes a road or path artificially raised above the
level of the surrounding land where the latter is waterlogged or liable to
flooding, and one would expect physical evidence of such work;
at Maud Heath’s Causeway near Chippenham for instance a footpath is
carried on a raised embankment for several miles.
No such work can be traced here, and indeed the line of this road runs
on the highest, and best drained, course that could be found, with little
chance of flooding. A
possible hypothesis is that here the word denotes that the road has been
artificially made up, rather than being just an unmarked track over the common
grazing land. As early as
1758 a deed
describes the field “Addymead” West of the road near
Chance Cottage as “situate between the Two Bridges called the Lambrook”;
these small bridges - in fact little more than culverts - can be
identified to-day, but the two branches of the stream they cross are very
insignificant and drain a very small area.
They must be regarded as strong evidence of the road having been
properly made up.
White Hill three local lanes lead off. One
to the West runs down to Hinks
Mill, and then meets Woodlands Road, the continuation of Clements Lane running
to the hamlet of Huntingford; it is significant that the line of this Hinks
Mill Lane is continued Eastwards by a footpath
which runs for a couple of miles cross-country to Park Corner - a
suggestion of a long established trackway.
Of the two lanes leading Eastward from Whitehill, one doubles back to
Limpers Hill and Burton, while the other, delightfully called Wet Lane, leads
South-East towards Mere Park, and the Knoyles.
after Whitehill the road crosses the
corner of the enclosed Whitehill Common, and then passes into Dorset, at just
the point where the Gillingham Commons marched with those of Mere and were
enclosed at the same time. The
Mere Enclosure Award included a substantial slice of the Common lying South of
the present County/Parish boundary, including the portion allotted to the
Churchwardens for the Forest Charity and that set aside as grazing rights for
those entitled to leasing rights. The
farm now known as Two Counties Farm, a post enclosure creation, lies on the
present boundary, but the area shown in 1821 as part of Mere included the
small settlement Forest Deer. It
is of interest that Good
quotes an 1867 history of Motcombe by Lady Theodora
Grosvenor who refers to several houses on the road, just within Dorset, one of
which was at that time “an isolated and dilapidated inn called The Forest
other road of importance leading out of Mere is that to Gillingham, which left
the Wincanton turnpike to the West of the town opposite Dead Maid Quarry, and
for a short length originally cut across the open pasture land of Bramble
[nowadays Bramley] Furlong, enclosed under the 1821 Award.
Pre-enclosure this left a triangular 5 acre plot called Picked Piece;
at this point the road met the line of the original boundary between the
manors of Mere and Zeals - now the parish boundary - and turned sharply to
follow it for the next half mile, after which it ran more or less straight
across Mappledore Hill Common, and then across Gillingham’s Commons to
Enclosure Award established this as a 30 feet wide public carriage road “branching
out of the Wincanton Turnpike” at Dead Maid
and “extending South Westward to Wood Lane”
and then going South over Mappledore Common “to the South side
thereof where it unites with a newly made road in the parish of Gillingham”,
i.e. the road made up on the enclosure of Gillingham’s commons.
On the award map the stretch of the road
from the South end of Picked Piece running along the edge of pasture
land then enclosed for about 1/4 mile is designated “Wood Lane” before
becoming Gillingham Road. The divergence of the road, leaving the five acre
triangle is strange. Andrews &
Drury, 1773, appear to show the road going straight ahead but the scale is so
small that this interpretation is not reliable; however it seems likely that
the divergence already existed. The
actual award refers to “Pikes Piece”, as part of nine allotments
made to the Dean in respect of various open lands owned by him and leased to
the Grove family - i.e. part of the Parsonage lands.
The present parish, and old manorial, boundary, which coincides with
the line of this road Southwards, continues to the North-West on exactly the
same alignment up to the point where
it reaches Stourton, passing East of North Wood, which still exists, and West
of Deverill Longwood, now the site of Wood Farm.
Did the earlier lane, which may have been little more than a footpath,
originally continue along this line, probably up to Kilmington?
It is significant that the Enclosure Award created the “Stourton
Pathway”, six feet wide, on a track parallel to the boundary but a short
distance to the East of it. To
this day there is a public right of way along this latter path, which
continues unbroken up to Search Farm and then up to the Red Lion corner where
the old ridgeway route crosses the road to Maiden Bradley.
The appellation “Wood” Lane probably refers to the fact that the
continuation leads to Nor Wood, a fairly large wood on the South side of Zeals
Knoll. One suggestion for the
diversion is the obstacle that the opening of Dead Maids Quarry put in the way
of the Northward route.
late as the Tithe Map of 1848 there was no approach from the Gillingham Road
to Zeals House, and the South Lodge with its drive must have been built
between then and the 1880’s. On
the other hand a cottage and garden on the corner of Picked Piece do appear
between Enclosure and 1848, and called Woodland Cottage on the 1891 6“ OS.
to the point where the Zeals House Drive meets the road it passes through
pasture land and lands enclosed much earlier.
From there Southwards, however, it ran across the very extensive
Mappledore Common, parcelled up in 1821 into a number of rectilinear fields,
bounded by thorn hedges in most cases still clearly identifiable to-day.
The present road to Wolverton was designated
a public carriage road, running from the Gillingham Road across the
Common and then along the North
side of the Ark Common
to “Wolverton Gate”. This
latter gate was shown as at the East end of Wolverton village, and so far from
the turnpike that it could not have been a toll gate, but rather one to
contain cattle onto the Common.
was made for two private carriage roads, twenty feet wide, running off
to the East of the road. The
first, Mappledore Road, remains to-day as an unmade farm road running from the
Gillingham Road down to West Swainsford Farm, not a public right of way.
The second road, a field to the South, is the present public highway,
connecting Swainsford Road to the Gillingham road; it is dead straight,
showing its artificial origin.
It would seem that it was adopted as a highway later in the XIXc, as
being a commonly used route. Mappledore
Hill Farm, opposite the West end of this road, was built on the former common
land between 1848 and 1880.
the private carriage roads is Deverill Longwood Road, running from Deans’
Close to an area called Lawn, by Deverill Longwood and the present Wood Farm
- the present Manor Road. This
was allowed the surprising width of forty feet;
the reason for this is that at the Longwood end it was joined by The
Drove, running up to the North East with an initial width of sixty feet
widening to a hundred feet where it entered the downs, and continued to meet
the ridgeway. This
must have been to allow for access to the downland and to the droveways by
flocks. It is probably an
indication either that the ridgeway was still in use at that time, or that
there was still strong folk memory of such a use; Mere would have been well
situated as an access point to the drove road from the Blackmore Vale area.
from the by-pass and the various new housing developments there have been
virtually no changes in the road pattern since it was established by the
turnpike and the Enclosure Award.
One striking exception to this is at the Zeals end of the old parish of
Mere. The Enclosure
Award shows opposite the main entrance to Zeals House a track branching off
the turnpike and running North, referred to as Broom Foot Way;
this in fact is the present B3092,
now running North to Stourton and beyond , and then merely a footpath.
By the late XIXc this track had become Crab, or Grab, Lane, and, about
half way to Stourton, turned due West to
go to Bonham, rather than proceeding North to Stourton;
at the turning earlier OS maps show a quarry, and a footpath towards
Stourton. Crab Lane crossed at
right angles what was then the road from Zeals to Stourton, Bell Lane, leaving
Zeals at the East end of the village, which had been turnpiked as the Bruton
road. This position obtained
until 1940, when the airfield built at Zeals blocked Bell Lane;
the present gently curving road to Stourton
was then built to skirt the airfield, at first on the line of the Broom
foot way, and then boldly across country.
After the closure of the airfield after WWII Bell Lane was re-opened,
but is now merely a quiet by-way, with the B3092 not rejoining the original
road till a couple of hundred yards to the North of the village.
of the short “private carriage ways” authorised by the Award have not
survived, presumably because, for instance, like “Lander’s Road” running
off Mill Lane, they were provided to give access to the lands of one
particular frontager who either owned, or later acquired other neighbouring
land and was able to merge the road into his land.
Hurle Scene Road, later to acquire the delightful name of Pettycoat
Lane, survives as a public footpath running from the original vicarage
Westward and runs through the
modern greenhouses and on to the Gillingham Road.
Some others have since 1821 become of greater local importance and are
now public rights of way. The
Award established, or recognised, several quite long public footways, such as
the Gillingham footway from near the Church across the Meads and the former
commons to the parish boundary and
the Stourton footway from the West end of Long Hill to Zeals Knoll, and all
have survived as rights of way to this day.
Perhaps this is the point at which the stalwart work in recent years of
the Parish Council and of a small group of walkers in keeping the public
footpaths open and passable should be acknowledged.
recorded some interesting memories of elderly locals about changes in the
local road system. In 1891
he quotes John Wilton, then 84, who had retired from his
wheelwright business at Burton, as recalling when the road from Charnage and
Barrow Street ran through Burton Lane Copse [this has not yet been
identified]. From this copse a road, which was gated by Phillips the farmer to
keep the public out, ran through to the turnpike at Charnage Limeklin.
From Burton the road “entered the river”, and was the highway to
Mere Mill by way of Holwell and to Water Street and the town by way of Ivymead.
These routes appear on the Enclosure Award Map as Burton Footway..
Elsewhere Baker refers to this as having been the route which Mere
people used when taking their corn to be ground at West Knoyle Windmill;
presumably this was cheaper than the easier option of going to Mere Mill.
The windmill has long since disappeared, but its site is readily
identifiable, as it has been established that it was a post-mill whose builder
had taken advantage of the mound of a prehistoric tumulus to raise the
structure to catch the wind. Long
after the collapse of the mill, the tumulus was excavated and the mill use
1847 at Hindon Petty Sessions some local ratepayers challenged the accounts of
the Parish Surveyors, who had
repaired the road leading to Manor Farm, where the present farm buildings had
recently been erected by the Duchy in place of those in North Street.
Presumably they considered it to be a private road, to be maintained by the
landowner, but they lost their case.
often overlooked addition to road use occurred in the XIXc; the first
reference to it locally was in 1863, with the report of the inquest on
Frederick Heath who had fallen from the back of his son’s “velocipede”
in Grab Lane and died two days later
of course was in the very early
days of cycling, which by the end of the century was to become a very popular
activity, particularly when eventually road surfaces were improved.
Not only did it give greater mobility to the vast majority who were
horseless, but it opened up the countryside as a place of recreation.
It was probably this new market which led to the opening of a “Temperance”
Hotel in part of the Angel Inn premises, and another in Castle Street.
The front wall of Jeans’ Electrical shop in Salisbury Street still
carries the enamel plaque of the National Cycling Union from the days when
Jim Welch, who had learnt his engineering skills in Swindon, set up his
cycle shop in the first decade of the XXc.
saw the introduction of registration of motor vehicles.
At first the responsibility for the system was placed on County
Councils, and in 2005 Wiltshire Record Society published a transcript by
Ian Hicks of the registrations from 1903 to 1914 which gives an insight
into early motoring in the county
naturally the luxury vehicles of the Hoares of Stourhead and the
Sebag-Montefioris of Zeals House catch the eye, it is the more workaday
vehicles that are of importance to us. For the first few years there were more
registrations of motor cycles than of cars - the Mitchell family of Manor and
Park Farms obviously having been particular afficionados of the motor bike.
Right up to August 1914 Dr. F.B.Rutter had relied on a series of motor
cycles, but he then acquired an 8hp Enfield 2 seater light car
invention of the motor car and the rapid growth of its traffic brought many
changes in its train. The new
machines needed skilled maintenance.
Blacksmiths, who of course had been of great importance in pre-motor
days both in building and servicing the carts and carriages as well as acting
as farriers to keep the horses on the road, were well equipped
to fulfil this role. The
first garage in Mere was almost certainly that of Whitmarshes in Castle
Street, where they had had their forge for many years; recognised early by the
AA, the business was only brought to an end in 1967 - ironically by the growth
of traffic leading to the demolition of its premises.
Cowley‘s Central Garage in the Square, close by the Temperance Hotel,
was the successor to another cycle engineer, Enos Cowley, who had a shop in
Salisbury Street, and who was the first registered owner of many of the motor
cycles pre 1914, presumably as the dealer supplying them .
Waltons, the Mere department store, at first hesitated to cater for the
motorist, but eventually installed two petrol pumps outside their furniture
shop in the old Triangle building, which also fell to the demands of 1960’s
road widening. They also
catered for the motorist at their premises in the old Union building in Castle
Street, which later became Hoare’s garage, which finally closed in 2003.
Welch seems to have moved away from the cycle trade and to have spotted the
possibilities presented by the car; in 1906 a twin cylinder 10hp Daimler was
registered as a public conveyance in the name of Welch & Williams of the
Motor Works, Mere, to be followed in 1907 by a 22hp Daimler, so he provided a
bus and taxi service. His cycle
shop developed into a garage in more suitable quarters at Landers Bridge and
the business continued there until the 1980’s . The site has since been
completely cleared to form the garden of the earlier house on the East side of
the stream - in the early days the forecourt, with its access to the stream,
made a suitable refuelling point for steam lorries which continued in use till
of these garages have closed over the years, but one remains.
The Talbot Inn, which has now reverted to its original title of The
George, was for many years owned and run by members of the Norris family, who
also brewed there. They obviously
catered for the motorist, and early in the XXc the landlord’s son set up a
garage in Salisbury Street opposite Dewes House; it was named Talbot Garage,
commemorating the link with the family business, and the trademark of the
Talbot dog was adopted. In
1929 Frederick J.Chalke, son of a blacksmith at Corsley, came to Mere, lodging
at what was then Curtis’ fishmongery in Salisbury Street.
He took over the garage and yard and rented them from Norris, and set
up on his own, employing just one boy, Jim Hollis, and retaining the Talbot
name. Cyclists still formed part
of the market, and an NCU plaque, similar to that on Jeans shop,
hung for a long time on the “rat-trap” bond brick wall flanking the
entrance to the yard. The
family remained in rented accommodation until 1937 when they bought the brick
house behind the garage in North Street.
Beside the garage was the shop of Bob Jeans, the baker,
which was bought in 1944 and eventually the business expanded into the
neighbouring coal yard of Taylor & Sons.
In the 1950’s Welch’s
Landers Bridge garage was bought. The
next expansion was the purchase a year or so later of the old Victoria Hall in
the Square, which for some years had to be rented out for dances &c, as
the premises were subject to a covenant against use in retail trade.
This was eventually lifted, and the hall adapted for use as a car
salesroom, which continued till the end of the 1980’s when the building was
sold for conversion to a supermarket.
The company’s growth has continued,
with branches in Wincanton, Warminster, Yeovil and Gillingham,
and employing a staff of over 100.
difference from the early days is that no longer is the petrol pump an
essential feature of every garage. There
may be something ironic in the fact that the nearest filling station for the
Mere motorist now is at Willoughby Hedge, where the turnpike first started; it
was once owned by Chalkes.
continual growth of road traffic through the second half of the XXc brought
serious problems to Mere, which over the years acquired the unenviable
reputation of being one of the most notorious traffic jams on the road to the
West. Two ineffectual attempts
were made to resolve the problem in the 1960’s to remove bottlenecks - the
demolition of the mediaeval Triangle building, and of the range of buildings
on the Castle Street frontage of the George Inn site, but in fact the
narrowness of the streets on either side of these obstacles continued as an
obstruction. The Castle
Street site was at first left as an open space, and referred to as The Green.
Human memory is short, and when a mere 20 years later houses were
erected there was an outcry at the
loss of a traditional green!
Whitehall accepted the inevitable and in 1972 plans were prepared for a
dual-carriageway by-pass to the North of the town, from Warminster Hollow to
the entrance to Zeals House, and construction was completed in 1979, the only
casualty being the demolition of Castle House.
In the early 1990’s a further by-pass of Zeals and Bourton connected
the Mere by-pass with that of Wincanton, providing an unbroken dual carriage
way as far as Sparkford. Since
then, plans to continue this standard of road Eastward, eliminating the
notoriously dangerous Charnage Hill, have been casualties of spending cuts.
At the same time pressure on local authority budgets has resulted in
neglect of some of the minor roads of the parish , which carry loads far in
excess of their original design, with foreseeable problems.
study has so far been confined basically to the roads and footpaths used by
the locals or those of commercial use.
Over the centuries there were two types of road user who have left
little mark on the landscape and who, by virtue of being at the bottom of the
social order, have little or no written record, but in their time could not
have been ignored.
first such group are the “travelling” community, which embraced both the
full “Romany” gypsy and also the “didikois”, who on the face of it led
the same nomad life as the gipsies, but lacked the latter’s tribal history
and family loyalties. Both
subsisted on seasonal casual work and trading, but the farming economy of the
Mere area, and the poor employment prospects locally did not offer them much
encouragement to linger. When they
did pass through the area, however, they needed to have some sort of site on
which they could settle with their vans and assorted horses, dogs and children
while exploiting what opportunities there were.
One traditional site they used was on Horsington Lane, at the extreme
South of the parish, on a lane carved out of the original commons at the time
of the 1820 Enclosure. The
old style gipsies are rarely seen in Mere to-day, though it has been suggested
that there are local families whose origins go back to Romanies who settled
locally. Their successors, the “New
Age” travellers, following a similar nomadic life, but in a more mechanised
way, are seen from time to time, particularly in mid-summer making their way
from Stonehenge to their spiritual home at Glastonbury.
other road user, not seen these days, appears throughout history - the tramp
or vagrant roaming the country.
In Tudor days strolling players and actors were classed as “rogues
and vagabonds” and were liable to be pushed on to the next parish with or
without a whipping; in deserving cases the overseers might make a small
donation to see them on their way. Until
the establishment of Union workhouses no provision was made for accommodating
the vagrant, but in the early XIXc these workhouses all had “casual wards”,
where tramps had a night’s lodging paid for by a few hours manual labour
before being put back on the road to walk to the next “spike”, as the
casual wards were known. This
system lasted well into living memory, and in the early 1930’s unemployed
men walking the country in search of work were all too frequent.
Mere Union Workhouse in Castle Street must have seen hundreds of such
unfortunates over the years, but the casual tramp has been a rare sight since
the establishment of the Welfare Society after WWII.
the building of the Unions tramps and vagrants had to take their chance of
finding suitable spots to spend the night, and usually these resting places
cannot be identified. However,
an area of rough pasture, separate from the neighbouring arable fields, on the
NE side of the present A303 at the bottom of Charnage Hill [OS 844332], at one
time bore the name of “Beggars Bushes”, and was referred to by T.H.Baker
in reply to an enquiry
as to the origin of this and similar place names.
He dismissed the suggestion that it was a corruption of “badgers”
and advanced the theory that it
could have been a spot favoured by gipsies.
More recently, enquiries of local people have drawn a blank, apart from
one octogenarian who thought it was Badgers on the ground that there
was a large sett there, and another who said the old shepherds
called it Badders or Baddies.
This latter rather points to it having been the resort of vagrants -
generally speaking the countryman differentiated between them and gipsies.
there can be no certainty, it seems probable that this rough patch, on the
parish boundary between Mere and West Knoyle, and on the track leading down to
Mere which was later turnpiked, was a well known tramps’ haven, whose use
has been remembered over the centuries by this name, long after the ending of
the system which led to it.
late XXc produced two of its own sites nearby linked to the road, which were
the current replacements for the old Mere Down Hut.
In the narrow wedge of land between the A303 and the B3089, the old
turnpike to Wilton and Salisbury, has
been built a petrol station, and beside it a “Little Chef”, selling
refreshment to the passing traveller.
This latter, however, does not attract the driver of the long distance
lorry - even in the relaxed XXIc social distinctions persist.
As a result, half a mile to the West a convenient lay-by affords a
site, with parking, for a mobile snack-bar, which is steadily patronised by
the HGV drivers, and indeed by a number of private drivers.
To this facility a practical local authority has added, and maintains,
public conveniences. Perhaps
it is rather apt that this layby was created during the road improvement near
a very old barn at just the spot marked on older maps as “Old Willoughby
Hedge”, the parting of the ways in 1756!
A Lost Roman Road, Bernard Berry, 1963
WSRO........... [Stourhead papers.
Papers of G.R.Berry deposited at Devizes Museum
Paterson’s Roads, Edward Mogg, London, 17th Edition 1824, pp49
His MS notes, property of Mere church, vol.2 p.396
I am indebted to Robert Jago, archivist at WSRO for drawing my
attention to this
Somerset RO, transcribed by Patricia Westwood, p48.
Chandler’s edition1998, p142 - [5/110 in original]
Old Roads of Dorset, Ronald Good 1966 p149
op. cit. p 94
op. cit. vol.2 p.306
Paper 14, p346
vol 58, 2006
Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries vol iii, p 275, 1898.