Saint Andrew’s, Ditchampton, John Chandler

 
Annotated copy of the Victoria History of Wiltshire, vol. 6, p. 31, in the History Centre’s library.

Annotated copy of the Victoria History of Wiltshire, vol. 6, p. 31, in the History Centre’s library.

Have you ever discovered a mistake in a standard reference book and been tempted to annotate the library’s copy to correct it? The regulations probably forbid it, but it can be quite helpful to other researchers. The Victoria History of Wiltshire (vol.6, p.31) tells us that, ‘the church of St Andrew, Ditchampton …seems to have been in Wilton itself, within the angle of the junction of West and South Street’ [adjacent, therefore, to the junction known as Four Corners]. But this, as I discovered for myself, and then (crestfallen) found that some anonymous annotator using one of the History Centre’s copies was already aware, is not true.

Wessex Archaeology last winter excavated a site for housing development beside Netherwells Lane, at the St John’s Hospital end of West Street, Wilton, where they discovered (inter alia) remains of an early–mid Saxon building, medieval pits and a number of human burials, which were initially believed to be all post-medieval. I was asked to research the documentary history of the site, and quickly found, from the 1860 enclosure map and other Pembroke estate maps and surveys, that a garden on the site was known as St Andrews Litten. Leases of the 18th century and earlier (in WSA 2057/S37) are more explicit: ‘all that little garden plot in Wilton lying near St Andrews church’. So good was the Pembrokes’ record-keeping that it was an easy matter to trace the descent of the property back, tenant by tenant, to our society’s publication volume 9 (1953), Eric Kerridge’s edition of the 1631-2 survey (it is p.84, no. 284), and with a small leap of faith back to the 1565 survey edited by Straton for the Roxburghe Club (vol. 1, 182). I checked the original of this and found marginal additions (not in the printed edition) which helped to confirm the link. This in turn identified part of the site as a tenement then held by the rector of St Andrew’s, which had formerly belonged to Bradenstoke Priory. It is almost certainly one of those owned by the priory from c.1190 until the dissolution, and included in Vera London’s edition of the cartulary (which this society published as vol. 35 in 1979: see nos. 312, etc).

Wilton enclosure map, 1860. Parcel 13a is described on the award as a garden ‘called St Andrews Litten’.

Wilton enclosure map, 1860. Parcel 13a is described on the award as a garden ‘called St Andrews Litten’.

The link with St Andrew’s church and churchyard established, the archaeologists were able to reinterpret the site. Although the church itself went out of use and was demolished after its parish was united with another in 1564, burials continued in its churchyard until the 17th century. Furthermore the remains of a wall running along the back of the excavated area were now identified as part of St Andrew’s church itself. The position and orientation corresponded with that of a curving wall further east, encountered during an earlier archaeological watching brief on a nearby site, to suggest a small apsidal building, presumably the medieval church of St Andrew, Ditchampton.

The excavation raises interesting questions about the origins and topography of Saxon Wilton, and its relationship to its so-called ‘suburbs’ , which will be addressed when a report is published in due course in WANHM. Meanwhile (apart from demonstrating in this note one of the practical applications of our society’s volumes) I feel that I must point out that, if you are planning to ‘gloss’ books in the History Centre library, do try to get your facts right. It was the Wilton enclosure award (EA 179) which named the plot ‘St Andrew’s Litten’, not the tithe apportionment (T/A) – there it is simply described as ‘garden’.

Note: My thanks to Caroline Budd and Phil Andrews of Wessex Archaeology for commissioning the research, and for permission to report it here; also to Archstone Lifestyle Homes Ltd, on whose behalf the archaeological work was undertaken.