Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hindon to Old Wardour (Wessex Ridgeway [Wiltshire] 9)

Hindon High Street

The continuing saga of the Wiltshire section of the Wessex Ridgeway. We set off from Hindon under a clear blue sky and walked down the High St to head gradually uphill over open country in a westerly direction. We bore left and reach the splendidly names Oddways Hanging at the corner of a vast field. In the shade, the ground underfoot was still frozen.

We followed a winding sunken path through the wood, wondering if it had developed naturally or had perhaps been deliberately hollowed out. The OS map shows a disused pit, so perhaps mining was a factor

We continued across fields along the same line and then took a sharp left so that we were now heading south east towards the small settlement of Newtown. After crossing a road, we headed up a quite steep hill passing a pond marked on the map as Abbot's Pond - maybe a medieval fish pond. We continued climbing along the edge of a wood to reach a trig point at 214m.

Now we descended into Newtown noting two or three houses with cross markings - we speculated that they may once have been the Abbot's barns. But which Abbot? Merv pointed out that we were not far south of Fonthill Abbey, so perhaps that was it. As we left Newtown, we admired this tasteful chapel conversion.

Soon we had a beautiful view towards Manor Farm and the village of East Hatch.

We meandered our way across fields to reach Wardour and walk through the grounds of New Wardour Castle.

It was designed by James Paine for the 8th Lord Arundell and completed in 1774 and is the largest Georgian house in Wiltshire (Pevsner). The facade we saw is rather severe, the one on the other side is much grander with columns and a large pediment. The house was a girls school from 1961 to 1990 and was bought by Jasper Conran in 2010 (Wikipedia).

I noticed the chapel on the right of the facade - stained glass gave it away. It is known as All Saints Chapel, Wardour and was enlarged in 1788 to the designs of Sir John Soane. It is a Roman Catholic chapel and is still in use.

We walked across the former park which still has its trees but seems to have been converted to agricultural use towards Old Wardour Castle. Licence to crenelate was granted in 1393 and the castle was modernised by Sir Matthew Arundell in 1578. It was "slighted" (i.e. made unusable) after the Civil War like many others e.g. Corfe or Donnington. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn't get a better idea of what it looks like.

Nearby, is Cresswell's Pond, a rather lovely lake which looked very pleasing in the morning sunlight before we we started the walk.

Conditions: Cold and bright.

Distance: 6 miles.

Map: Explorer 143 (Warminster & Trowbridge) and 118 (Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase).

Rating: four stars. A lovely walk.

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