Cholderton, Wiltshire. A small village in the Bourne Valley, nine miles or so north east of Salisbury. A pretty place, it always puts me in mind of being the kind of place people come to swoon over country homes on shows like ‘Escape to the Country’.

As well as being easy on the eye, Cholderton is a lovely example of an historic Wiltshire village. It is keeper of a church, manor house, a farming estate and layers of history connecting them.

The Village Church & Church Lane

I love a good church and a good church yard. Cholderton delivers beautifully on both and throws in an impressive church yard gate for good measure. All of which is tucked away down a quaint little track, aptly named Church Lane.

Could we just take a moment to appreciate the pretty cottages and approach to the Church of St Nicholas?

And then at the end of the lane, the gate. A lychgate, I think. A common feature of British rural churches, this one particularly lovely. Beautifully maintained and quite fancy with cutouts and metal adornments. A statement gate.

The church itself, an imposing beauty. There was once two churches on the site, side by side. In the 1841 Reverend Thomas Mozley has his wife Harriet laid the foundation stone for a new church. They also met most of the cost of building it. No easy task for them, read some of their story here.

Sadly, the church itself was closed. I’d have liked a peek inside but that will keep for another day. I did find a little mystery at the door, more on that later.

The Graveyard of St Nicholas, Cholderton

There is something charming about an English country graveyard. Especially in the almost-Spring sunshine with clusters of snowdrops all about. This one, a real beauty with some fascinating features.

You’re never far from a military connection in Wiltshire. This gravestone caught my eye, with it’s army related emblem. The final resting place of Lt Colonel Rupert Stephens of the Royal Green Jackets. He lived to 86 and was buried here in 1970.

A quick calculation of maths and history has me thinking Lt Colonel Stephens had quite the career. The Green jackets were an infantry regiment who deployed in the days when going overseas meant action, not just mobility.

His stone is getting harder to read with age. It didn’t look regularly tended. His epitaph read, ‘A man of infinite…‘ but I couldn’t read the last word. Courage? Honour? Patience?

The Stephens Family Mausoleum

Remembering the family that really created Cholderton as it stands. Much of the villages historical wealth and current purpose comes from agriculture, and it was the Stephens family that planted the seeds.

Henry Charles Stephens (1841 – 1918) made his fortune in the ink industry giving him the nick name ‘Inky’, but a love of horticulture and agriculture led him to create the Cholderton estate. He developed an interest in advancing Victorian farming and rare breeds, a connection which endures at the neighbouring Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm.

Stands to reason that such a prominent local family would have a special spot in the churchyard. The Stephens Mausoleum – quite elaborate, a fair amount of detailing and a sloping stone roof- sits to the rear of the church. Enclosed by a wrought iron fence, it’s definitely a statement piece in such a rural setting.

To one side, a listing of those remembered here, ending with Alice Alethea Stephens 1898- 1993.

On the other, a crest. Impossible to read the words, but the bird is quite phoenix-like. Remember that, it’s an interesting point when it comes to another bit of local history.

In a prominent position nearer the church, this fenced in, ivy clad beauty complete with a crest. It stands in memory of one Archibald Frederic Paxton. He seems to have been a man of means, dividing his time between London and a country home at Cholderton House. Another military connection with a mention of service with Light Dragoons.

This memorial seems cared for, the stone clean and legible. It certainly stands out and links neatly to…

Cholderton House

Driving through the village, it’s impossible to miss the large manor house. With pretty brick work and rows of windows, it’s an eye catching beauty. Built in the late 1600’s for a wealthy Salisbury merchant, the manor was extended in subsequent centuries into what can be seen today.

Well, almost. Remember that I mentioned the bird on the Stephens family crest looking phoenix like? The bird that rises from the ashes would make a fitting emblem for Cholderton House.

In 2012 a fire swept through the manor, damaging all three floors and the roof. The building could have been lost, but a decision was made to, ‘repair, reinstate and match’. The result is astonishing, you’d be hard pressed to know you weren’t looking at the original home. Cholderton House rose from the ashes, literally.

Cholderton Farm Cafe

Exploring requires refreshments, usually of the coffee and cake variety. Cholderton Farm Cafe is part of the original Cholderton estate and is owned by the great-grandson of ‘Inky’ Stephens.

It’s a welcoming place, serving hot drinks, sandwiches and traditional cream teas as well as a range of locally produced meat and produce. Also home to some gorgeous historic farm features.

I think Cholderton is a Wiltshire gem. Highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area, use postcode SP4 0DR to find the farm shop.

And Finally…

A little mystery. I spotted these markings by the church doors. Any ideas on what they are or what they mean?

Answers on a postcard. Actually stamps are expensive and Royal Mail a bit unreliable. Best guesses or shared knowledge in the comments, please?

Helen x.

35 thoughts

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Cholderton is lovely, thanks for coming along Marion.

  1. I can’t help with your puzzle, but I have enjoyed this very pleasant walk with you through a lovely village. Keep the tours coming!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you Margaret, always a pleasure to have you along! Lots more Wiltshire bits coming, our time here is coming to a close so I’m trying to see and enjoy it all.

      1. That’s when you start getting to know a home area – when it’s almost too late!

    1. Hi Helen; he said he replied and the message he received said his document was liked but it’s not appeared. Did it slip into spam? He blogs as the curious archaeologist

      1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

        I think I’ve approved it now so it should be in the comments. I received some less than lovely comments a while ago and played around with the settings, the result being that I seem to dodge spam and unpleasantness, but some welcome comments stuck aswell!

    2. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you!

  2. They look like elaborate versions of a ‘daisy wheel’ an ancient protective symbol. These are often found in and on old buildings, including churches.
    Why it would have been carved by a church door l have no idea.

  3. They look like elaborate versions of a ‘daisy wheel’ an ancient protective symbol. These are often found in and on old buildings including churches.

    I posted this reply from my phone but it doesn’t seem to have made it’s way to the blog.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Oh thank you for that- would someone from the church have placed them there deliberately, then? I wonder what they thought they needed protecting from. (This is much more interesting than the last time I spotted an unknown symbol, it turned out to be nothing more than an ordnance survey thing. Something about sea level)

      1. You get quite a few protective symbols on the outside of the church, after all that it where wickedness is.
        As for why it is on the jamb of the church door, this was a very important place. A lot of activity went on by the door or in the porch. It was an important public space,

      2. The ‘daisy wheel’ was a popular device that found its way into churches on many occasions, and was sometimes used in place of an equal armed cross.
        However I think in this case it is because the carving is in the door jamb. The church door or porch was a very important place for the village. It was a public place, in the open, and whose location would be known to everybody. As well as the location for activities connected with the church, such as the distribution of charities, secular activities such as commercial contracts, payment of debts, anything where a witness might be needed, often took there.
        For this reason people often hung around the door for some time and a neat carving might be the result. As it had a vaguely religious meaning it wasn’t frowned on whilst others would have been.

  4. Loved your post. I remember the church in my gran’s village in Hertfordshire having a similar gate.

    I agree about Royal Mail … but sorry can’t help about the markings

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’m hoping to find out what they are, they seemed very deliberate. Shall post back if I do!

      1. That sounds like the kind of thing that would hold my attention too

  5. Wonderful post. I really love lichgates and this one is particularly beautiful, as are the cottages that line Church Lane. Like you I have a soft spot for churches and churchyards, not to mention wandering around graveyards looking for interesting tombstones. A piece of someone’s story if possible. I might be repeating myself from an earlier comment, forgive me. It’s a shame that the last word in the inscription on Stephens’ grave is now illegible. Cholderton is a gem, you are right. I would love to visit.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Leighton. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, its worth making an effort to get off the well worn Salisbury-Stonehenge trail. There are so many interesting villages scattered about.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I do love a pretty thatch roof, Wiltshire does pretty little homes very well!

  6. That lane of thatched cottages definitely wins in the most attractive approach to a church category. Very picturesque indeed. Lovely to see the snowdrops in the churchyard and the coffee and cake stop looks good.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Was so pleased to spot the snowdrops, they’ve been later this year down here. A lovely sign Spring is coming!

  7. What a beautiful little village, I really need to put it on my list 🙂

  8. I really don’t know Wiltshire, except through your eyes, Helen, but that’ll do nicely. Such a lovely church lane, and that lychgate is a beauty. Top it off with snowdrops and everyone’s happy.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Jo. I wasn’t sure when Mr THL came home with a posting order for Wiltshire, but it’s been a good one!

  9. England certainly does Quaint villages, lovely read Helen

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you so much, appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  10. lovely place. maybe just old times graffitti?

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think it sort of was, graffitti designed to bring protection. It seemed cared for, part of the character of the church.

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