The Avenue, Little Durnford
This is The Avenue from the East Lodge gate of Little Durnford House north east to Keepers Cottage. The pictures show it when it was a gated farm track and Shepherds Cottage was next to Keepers Cottage. These were important workers as the shoot and the sheep brought in income. In the days of the floated water meadows system, sheep had to be moved to the arable land every night and returned every morning. Shepherds were buried holding a twist of wool so that any church attendances missed would be forgiven at Heaven’s Gate. The Avenue predates the 19th C Keepers and Shepherd cottages and carried on past the track now adopted by Monarch’s Way. Up till the early 19th C it used to continue on north east across Salterton Down to meet Four Mile Hill south of Highpost on the road to Amesbury. A track still exists from Field Barn. The Avenue crosses the track that goes north to the cottages (now the single Keepers Cottage) and south as the Town Path right of way to Old and New Sarum (past a newer Shepherds Corner). The path from the River Avon, past Little Durnford Home Farm and House and along The Avenue to Monarch’s Way is a public right of way.
The estate was held by the Young(e) family from the 16th C family till they sold it to Edward Hinxman in 1795. It passed on to his son, then grandson, then great grandson, all Edwards, till widow Charlotte sold it in 1896 to Matthew Devenish. The Misses Hinxman lived in the Hermitage. Longhedge farm was part of the estate and son Henry Devenish lived there for a while before moving back to Little Durnford House on his father Matthew’s death in 1913. His daughter Dorothy was born at Longhedge Farm a year before and recalls The Avenue became overgrown in WWII and that the keeper of Keepers Cottage, Mr Kyte and some German POWs cleared it.
The Earl of Chichester bought the estate in 1966 (the Pelham family).
Devenish, Dorothy. 1948 “A Wiltshire Home. A Study of Little Durnford”. Published Batsford. The Photographs (one showing her father Henry) of the Avenue are taken from this book.
Kelly’s Directories for Durnford 1903, 1907, 1911
A P Baggs, Jane Freeman and Janet H Stevenson, 'Parishes: Durnford', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 15, Amesbury Hundred, Branch and Dole Hundred, ed. D A Crowley (London, 1995), pp. 79-93. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol15/pp79-93 [accessed 19 October 2020].
The Andrews and Dury Map of Wilshire 1773 showing the full 18th C length of the Avenue
A Plaque in the Devenish Nature Reserve, which can be reached via the Avenue, reads:
THE DEVENISH WOODS
In memory of
Matthew Henry Whitty Devenish 1841 to 1913
Henry Noel Devenish 1874 to 1934
Dorothy Grace Whitty Bradshaw nee Devenish 1912 to 1991
who were long time residents of Little Durnford
“We always called it somewhat parochially the Hilltop. On the Hilltop
were a number of little spinneys.. each… had its own individuality..”
from A Wiltshire Home, a Study of Little Durnford by Dorothy Devenish
Donated by Peter Martin Devenish Bradshaw 1995
Local History Group
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