Totney Corner to Kingsdown House

Now on moving around the very sharp corner was the first cottage that was built on the down side of this lower road from the Chapel to the Prospect.  This was a very interesting walk in yard with stone steps and wooden gate so the yard was well built up from the roadway.  Now there were three cottages built in the yard.  Two that seemed to be rather old and these two faced the road, but one tall cottage that was facing towards Kingsdown House only seemed to have one bedroom upstairs and just one living room downstairs with just a wash house built on the back.  Now very close and almost joining the yard of the three cottages was the fourth cottage that had its own gate and entrance private to these people living in the yard.  It did seem that the four cottages had a stone wall built all around them giving each cottage a lovely sized garden on the Sloping steep bank that went right up to the flatness of the Down itself.  All the four gardens being so steep was terraced and it was just like large steps all the way up. The growing crops were grown on the flats of each step and I suppose that the people living there got used to their gardens being the way they was.


The people living in this fourth cottage that had their own entrance etc., was Mr. and Mrs. Horsell and they had two daughters more or less grown up to what I was.  I did remember a Dolly Horsell and that Dolly had a sister and also another ­young girl was brought up by Mr. and Mrs. George Horsell and her name was Edith Hart and was more my own age. Mr. George Horsell worked at a stone wharf near to Corham railway station and went on a train from Box railway station daily to prepare the white Bath stone for the bankers masons to work on.  It was this white Bath stone that so many men got a living from.  Many worked in the stone quarries and in wintertime would only see daylight at weekends.  Now returning back into the little yard of the three cottages, two that faced the road and the tall one bedroomed one facing Kingsdown House I do remember a Alice Hibbard on her wedding day to a sailor moving into this tall cottage, but later Alice moved to Bath.

In the larger cottage of the two that was facing the road lived a Mr. and Mrs. Jack Pinnock.  Mr. Pinnock was a big man of six feet tall and he also worked in the stone quarries of Kingsdown and at Monkton Farleigh where it seemed that Mr. Jack Pinnock was born, and one of the things he could really remember was being christened at Monkton Farleigh church and when pensions of ten shillings a week for just working men when they had reached seventy years of age.  The wives got nothing. Mr. Jack Pinnock that could not read or write went on working. Then some kind friend felt sure that Mr. Jack Pinnock must be gone the seventy mark and the only date they had to go by was the date of Mr. Jack's christening in the records of Monkton Farleigh church, because in early days all the children of a family was christened together on the same day and Jack, being the oldest could have been twelve years old.  That was Mr. Jack Pinnock's own words.

Mr. Jack Pinnock had lived in that one house for many years at Totney so I got to understand from the time of his marriage to the first lady to become Mrs. Pinnock and I do remember Mr. Jack Pinnock getting married for the last time In 1911 for I went to some sort of reception with my Dad and mother and it was held in a cottage of Mrs. Petty's that they rented for a short time in Wormcliffe Lane and next door to the cottage I was born In on February 1906.  The next move for Mr. Jack Pinnock and his new wife that was at least 20 years younger than Jack was a move to the first of the three cottages two doors from Mr. and Mrs. Roger Archer that lived on the end of the three.  But a year or so went by and then to the delight of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Pinnock there came the chance of moving back round to the old cottage in that yard at Totney and lived on in happiness the rest of their lives for they were really a very happy pair at all times.

In the very early days when Mr. Jack Pinnock lived with his first wife there was a story of how the first Mrs. Pinnock did like a glass of stout from time to time but not so often having any money, but a way was found for Mr. Jack Pinnock really did grow some wonderful spring cabbage and so nice and early too.  Mr. Pinnock himself cut a few of these lovely cabbages, so Mrs. Pinnock thought why dont she herself cut one or two and lots of people around would buy them from her and with the money she would buy a glass or two of the stout she liked so very much.  All was going well until Mr. Jack Pinnock, when home at the weekend had noticed that these cabbages were going.  It was all so very strange because it was only his footmarks that was in the garden.  What Mrs. Pinnock had done was to put her feet into Jack's boots.  It could have been Jack's Sunday boots but they were Jack's size.  A job well done?  


  After leaving the Pinnock's yard and the Horsell's Cottage and walk on towards Kingsdown House, on the right hand side of the road was a very wide grass bank of the Down of no buildings.  Then there was another walled-in part of the Down and that stonewall really was the boundary of many cottages. But the first cottage on its own was the first cottage one came to after Horsells Cottage and it stood on the bank quite a long way from the roadside and the cottage faced the road with a nice view towards Colerne.  This cottage with a large garden in the front and a path leading to a gate in the wall for to get on the road.  Now this is around 1916 and the war was on and in this cottage lived Mrs. Frank Dancey and their baby boy, Billy Dancey who many people got to know when Bill grew up. Mr. Frank Dancey was a soldier in the war in 1916.  Most people will remember Mrs. Frank Dancey for she was one of the daughters out of the four daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Gane who was carter for farmer Ford of the Kingsdown Farm, then called the Gridiron.  Mr. Jack Gane had work on that same farm all his working life and was a real good worker and could do every job and was an expert In driving one of the first binders that became invented to cut and tie the bundles of corn as it went through the binding machine while Mr. Jack Gane was driving two of these large horses in his charge.  My brother Fred that was 15 years older than me did work on Gridiron Farm and got to know Mr. Jack Gane so well.  Mr. Gane was born in a cottage on Kingsdown right near to the cottage that his daughter lived In as Mrs. Frank Dancey in 1916.  The cottage where Mr. Jack Gane was born were no longer there in 1916, but nice to know where he was born

Mr. Jack Gane's first job was at Ashley Farm, but we must remember that boys in Mr. Gane's young days went to work at 9 years old, around 11 years of age young Jack Gane did join the Army like many young men did and Jack for a time was in the Fourth Wilts at Devizes.  But the Army was not for him and it was Jack's grandmother that managed to buy Jack out which was done in those days if you had the money.

Now of those cottages that the wall was built around that was the neighbours of Mrs. Frank Dancey in the time of the war 1916.  Next cottage was Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins living there with their daughter Dolly Wilkins and their son, Bill Wilkins, who was a cripple and had to wear iron leg supports most of his life.  Bill Wilkins could not go to school like other boys and girls.  But Bill did learn to play the piano by ear and Bill could and did play all the tunes of all the songs of that time and often Bill played the Swan Inn piano. There will be many people around that remember Bill Wilkins working on Prospect Farm for the well known Molly Ford the lady that really helped many Kingsdown people in so many ways, and Molly Ford, being the owner of the long row of cottages of The Prospect was able to help so many people in finding a home and, of course, the rents were low.

Before running away from the cottage of the home of Dolly and Bill Wilkins and their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins, I must point out there was another cottage quite near but not joined In any way and the family that lived in this very cottage was a Mr. and Mrs. George Watts.  Mr. George Watts was the cowman on Gridiron Farm of about 12 milking cows and it was a very special job for this milk was taken to Kingsdown House twice each day morning and evening to supply the many people living there. Mr. and Mrs. George Watts had four children that were all so much older than me. There were Dot Watts that gave up everything to become housekeeper for her parents when Mrs. Watts, Dot's mother became an Invalid and was never able to walk in the later part of her life ever again. The next sister down from Dot was a very Jolly girl, Chris Watts, and became a servant at Kingsdown House so was able to get home often to help Dot her sister who always had their mother to look after, and Chris, like Dot, never did marry.  Now next to Chris was born a brother that was always called Bill Watts and that poor chap was born with so many things wrong with him, yet he grew up to be a happy sort of a chap, walking, Bill flopped along and Bill's speech was so very poor no one was too sure what he was saying. Other older boys on Kingsdown taught Bill one or two swear words that Bill seemed to speak more plainly. There was the fourth child born to Mr. and Mrs. George Watts and that was a girl and her name was Hettie Watts and on growing up found herself a job in service with gentry at a big house over at Bradford-on-Avon and In later years did get married and had two children, but Hettie and her husband and family always lived on at Bradford-on-Avon and was happy.

Now If we will now return to Kingsdown and the cottages of Dolly and Bill Wilkins home and the Watts' cottage next door and walk up through their two gardens that went on up to the boundary stone wall that was on the Down and most of these people did have a gateway from their gardens to get out on the Downs, and just a little way from there was a nice little pretty cottage of two bedrooms and two down and washhouse etc. Now that cottage was always known as Down Cottage owing to being built so close to the Down itself. The first person I remember living in Down Cottage was   a Mr. Horsell.  I think his name was Henry, and a brother to George Horsell. This Mr. Henry Horsell was always smartly dressed and seemed to have a nice clean job to go to.  I don't seem to remember a Mrs. Horsell ever but no doubt there was a lady in his life.  I do know this Mr. Horsell to his friends was always referred to as Bungle Horsell so I often wondered if he was a barman in a hotel perhaps because all barrows of beer had a bung in them to control the flow of the beer coming out of the tap.  Now a day came and Mr. Henry Horsell was moving out of Down Cottage.  I am not sure If Mr. Henry Horsell  (Bungle) was the owner of Down Cottage or not, but it was bought by Mr. John Brookes of Kingsdown Post Office and shop and bakery, and Mr. John Brookes with his own hands did so much work to brighten up the whole of Down Cottage.  A new copper was fitted in the wash house for a start and a sun porch was built on the front of the cottage, all so very nice Down Cottage became when finished and in a very short time some rather nice people came there to live, maybe they had come from Bath.  No one was sure but their names turned out to be Mr. and Mrs. Horton and became great happy friends of Kingsdown people and spent the rest of their lives living happily at Down Cottage and Molly Ford was a friend to the Hortons right to the last.  Molly Ford visited them daily and saw to their needs.  Molly Ford spent her life helping others.  Now leaving Down Cottage and to follow the boundary stonewall down to the road there was one more cottage and rather nice tucked back inside the boundary wall with a nice front garden of roses and many flowers.  I got to know these people living there in 1918 when I took bread around with horse and cart for Mr. Brookes and these people in the cottage were Mr. and Mrs. Joe Hancock, but no relation to the other Hancocks that lived on Kingsdown in those same days of early days of 1900 when everyone knew their neighbour.

Now we are so near to the Down boundary wall of the cottages of Dolly and Bill Wilkins and their neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. George Watts and their four children, Dot and Chris, Bill and Hettie.  Farmer Ford of Gridiron Farm had got Mr. George Watts to move into the rather large cottage built very near to the Farm House and all the family was so very happy to have more and larger rooms to live in.  Bill Watts was able to do many jobs on the farm like cleaning the mangolds before they were fed to the sheep and cows and Bill became a very good shepherd in minding a flock of Mr. Ford's sheep out on the Downs for many hours every day.

Many happy years passed and no one ever thinks that one day it will end, but of course all good things do end some time or other and when this came and Mr. and Mrs. George Watts had passed away, it must have been Bill Watts to feel the blow of leaving Kingsdown more than anyone of the family.  Some persons in trying to soften the blow of Bill leaving Kingsdown and his home, put it in Bill's head that Bill would be going to work with steam trains and that was every school boy's dream of being a driver of a large steam train one day.  Bill Watts of course was taken to the very large building of the Workhouse at Chippenham, Wiltshire.  Us younger boys than Bill Watts was, really did miss seeing Bill around on the Down of old Kingsdown so after about three months had passed by, a Jack Ford that was three years older than myself got me to go with him to Chippenham one Sunday afternoon to see if we could see Bill Watts. We rode our rather old bikes to get there, near about 12 miles ride.  Jack Ford rang the front door bell.  The time now was around 4 o'clock.  Some one came to answer the doorbell and we were told to wait outside.  In a very short time and a gentleman came and Bill Watts was with him and the gentleman said to Bill: do you know these boys and Bill said Jack Ford and Vic Painter in his mumbled voice, so the four of us just stood around for a good half hour.  Bill Watts seemed to be very happy and Bill was dressed nicely and Bill's boots all shined up and, of course, Bill really did look so clean and well cared for and happy and Chippenham Workhouse was Bill Watts' home until he died, which don't seem so many years ago really.

There have been so many changes around the Downs of Kingsdown since the days of the Watts family, and many more houses and cottages built and a good many of the old cottages that we had known so well have been pulled down and other houses built in their place, no more paraffin oil lamps needed any more or the candle and candlestick at bed time.

The postal address of Kingsdown, Box, Chippenham, Wiltshire for at least a hundred years have been known almost world wide For Kingsdown House became one of the very best nursing homes for the very rich people of the land that had mental trouble.  In fact Kingsdown House was called an asylum and it was run by a Doctor Mac Bryant who had a large staff of high-class nurses of both male and female also doctors on hand, and of course, there were a very large staff of servant girls and the very best cooks and kitchen maids. There were so many that were employed at Kingsdown House. At 8 o'clock each evening the servant girls was always allowed out until 10 o'clock.  Girls that had their homes near were able to have time at home with mother. But you may ask what did all those other girls do until it was time for them to be back in at 10pm sharp.  Well the truth was there were more boys around than there were girls standing around by the letterbox that was always in the wall at the top of the well known road Doctor's Hill.  Those boys were mostly boys that really lived at Colerne and would find their way to Kingsdown house by walking the short cuts across the fields, wet or fine, these young men would be waiting for the young servant girls, and many over the many years did marry the young men of Colerne and made Colerne their home for life.

Now the name Doctor's Hill was always a question that was asked.  Did the name Doctor get used because of the trees that grew on the grass bank of Doctor's Hill?  The Alderberry trees that grew very fine like bunches of little small fir cones that lots of people would gather and take home and boil the cones that made a tea drink to become a medicine for good health.

Kingsdown House was Dr Mac Bryant's private home for him and his family and what a special looking house it was with such a grand entrance, a very large door that had special carvings that made the whole front of the house so very rich and very large windows on front of the building with a very large gold looking clock for every passerby to see the time of day.  The house stood back off the road with high railings with entrance gates so nicely made and the whole front yard was of grand tiles all expertly laid like a royal palace.  The road right in front of Kingsdown House was much wider than other roads of Kingsdown and across this wide stretch of road was a long strong built stone wall of six feet high and a fence of railings on the top of the wall also and behind the fence was planted shrubs of laurels to hide away a waggon and horse track.  

This horse and waggon track was a right of way from Prospect Farm over to Gridiron Farm with loads of hay and corn at all times of any working day so the laurels were planted to hide away the passing farm waggons from Kingsdown House.  No one passing Kingsdown House could see anything of all those massive buildings that was spread out on acres of fields that ran down behind Kingsdown House.  A very high wall was built from Kingsdown House to follow the road on towards Prospect. There was one door in the wall that must have led to those large kitchens where all the meals were cooked for the massives of people that lived in these large buildings. This one and only door that was in the wall we often saw Mr. George Watts with the cans of milk waiting for someone from inside to come and unlock the door for Mr. Watts to carry the milk into the kitchen twice each day.  


At the end of this long high wall was some lovely built stables and a coach house and stable yard.  There was a very small window with iron bars but the only thing I remember seeing through that little window was a pet donkey all alone in this large stable eating hay.  There were endless men that had jobs in maintaining all the many buildings.  They say there were workshops in the grounds for carpenters and plumbers and builders and of course gardeners and groundsmen and even the sealed and locked mailbag was fetched from Box Post Office by a security man each morning.  There must have been all sorts of offices.  There was one cottage that was built that belonged to Kingsdown House and this cottage was built on the corner of the Down near to the Golf course but on private ground that belonged to Dr Mac Bryant that had an engine house that pumped spring water to Kingsdown House.

It was a Mr. Hayward and his wife and a daughter, Gladys Hayward that lived at this rather pretty cottage that stood well back off of the roadside and the whole garden was a mass of flowers and there were also two large greenhouses that may have had tomatoes growing in them.  People used to say Mr.­ Hayward was a gardener for Dr Mac Bryant but we know different. Gladys Hayward was 12 or 14 years older than me and Gladys went to Chippenham High School and on growing up was married to a Box village postman, Fred Redwood, and they set up home in a bungalow near to Town's End, Hazelbury Hill.  A very large field near Hayward's cottage, a man with the name of Mr. Diaper and a man of great experience of being a market gardener was a grower of vegetables for many years for Dr Mac Bryant and I understood Mr. Diaper did live in one of Prospect cottages that was rented from Molly Ford's father in those early days of 1900 and later.

Victor Painter 1998  

Growing up in Kingsdown.

The Down to Maisie Gay's

The Fletcher's to Granny Hawkins's

The Petty's

The Petty's to the Chapel

The Chapel to the Salmon's

The Salmon's to Totney Corner

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