VICTOR PAINTERS KINGSDOWN MEMORIES
At the southern end of the Cotswold Hills, four miles to the east of Bath, high on the slopes above the By Brook lies the village of Kingsdown. Just inside Wiltshire, Kingsdown is an unusual village that is made up from a linear straggle of houses along a lane that runs round the hillside for over a mile. Above the lane the hilltop is dominated by woods that conceal old quarry workings, it was from these that some of the stone used in the construction of the village came from. Also hidden by trees is the Down that gave the village its name, long ago there was a hilltop camp here, this area later became the common, then at the end of the 19th century it was turned into a golf course. Crossing the Down and the middle of the golf course is the Old London Turnpike road that ran from Bath, via Bathford along the valley and up past the Swan, then on across the Down to Corsham. Below the lane fields run down to the By Brook, the railway, new London road and the hamlet of Ashley.
Victor Painter was born here in 1906 and spent most of his life in the village, in his later years he decided to put on paper, memories of his life in Kingsdown at the start of the 20th Century. Kingsdown Memories is a direct copy warts and all of Victors memoirs, it gives us a unique and fascinating glimpse into life in rural Wiltshire almost one hundred years ago.
VICTOR PAINTER 1919
I have tried to include a photo of each cottage mentioned, however due to demolition, alterations, renaming and not being able to work out which cottage was mentioned, some photos are missing and others could be in the wrong part of text, this hopefully will get corrected as time allows.
Kingsdown today no longer has a chapel or any shops, the nearest being in Bathford or Box, only the Swan Inn and the Golf Club survive into the 21st. century. The Golf Course still dominates the top of the hill, but the edge of the Down has become a jungle and nearly all the viewpoints are now blocked by trees, perhaps one day someone will take a saw and return the hillside back to the downland that it should be. On a nice day Kingsdown is well worth walking around, try the walk below, there are good views towards Bath, quiet lanes and tracks, lovely cottages and at the end of your walk visit the Swan Inn for a quick libation.
Starting at the bottom left hand side of the map heading east: first is the county bend and Ashley Wood House on the left hand side, then Kingsdown Road heads off to the left. After a quarter of a mile Wormcliffe Lane turns off down to the left and Kingsdown Road heads up a short steep hill to the chapel. At the chapel, Swan Hill joins from the right, after 75 metres is the Firs and the Old Post Office. The road continues on along the hillside with houses on the left and woods on the right until Totney Corner, not long ago you could sit on the bench or sit on the edge of the down and enjoy fantastic views, now all you get to see are the trees. This area of the hill is subsiding and the road is now closed making this a quiet area for a walk. Just before Kingsdown House, Doctors Hill heads off down to the left towards Ashley. On along the road past Prospect Cottages on the right you come to a junction where you can turn left and head for the small hamlets of Henley and Longsplatt. Turning right here takes you on to the Golf Course, follow the footpaths or turn right at the main road and after a quarter of a mile you arrive at the Swan. The hill where the Swan is built is also subsiding and the Inn is chained to the bedrock across the road, have a meal and look at the tools once used in the quarry across the road or on a nice day sit in the garden and enjoy the views.
Thanks are due to Nick Anderson, once co owner of the Swan for contacting and collecting all the memoirs, Victors family for allowing me to put up this web page and Paul De'Ath for the old postcards of Kingsdown.
If you have any old photographs or postcards of the area and think they could go on to the site then please contact me. As time allows we will hopefully put up more of Victors letters on the village.
Growing up in Kingsdown.
The Down to Maisie Gay's
The Fletcher's to Granny Hawkins's
The Petty's to the Chapel
The Chapel to the Salmon's
The Salmon's to Totney Corner
Totney Corner to Kingsdown House