Our Village

We like to think our village is exceptional, one of the ancient settlements in the rolling downs of Wiltshire and Dorset. Described by the author Jan Morris as ‘the sweet stone village of Berwick’. Berwick St John lies in the shadow of Winklebury Hill, a historic Saxon hill fort. The heart of our village is the Cross, the junction of four narrow lanes, at the centre of which stands the welcoming Talbot pub and focus of village life. Follow any of these lanes and a visitor is led to one of the four farms which surround our village. But before leaving the Cross, a visitor passes our noble bus shelter revealing stone memorials to the present Queen’s Coronation and the Millennium. What makes our village so special are the folk who live and work in Berwick St John. Our ancient Church and the thriving Village Hall are frequent magnets for gatherings of village people wishing to celebrate special occasions, as is the Cross in the summer. A Fete is held each summer in the garden of one of our large houses, a magnificent Country Steam Fayre is held on one of the farms every two years and we have recently started a bi-annual music festival. The fact that these events are so well attended is testament to the warmth and affection held for our village of Berwick St John.

Those who live here in Berwick know how precious our village is, and in a special way share this delight with others, passing the time of day or night with natural goodwill when they meet.

Our village is blessed with many talents, and is the home of a master farrier, a master plasterer, a master saddler, a master mason, silver and goldsmith, master restorer of vintage living vans an internationally renowned sound designer, and a dedicated organist and musician. This is just a sample of the pool of talent we encounter everyday but it is the dedication and drive that makes Berwick such a vibrant community. This website is an introduction to our village. We wish visitors to discover the wealth of events and activities to be found in Berwick St John and learn about the magnificent countryside and wildlife that surrounds this small but very special place in rural England.

Clubs and Groups

Village Hall

News update on the village hall.

First of all a big thank you to Viscountess Rothermere for the very kind donation to the Village Hall from the Ferne Gardens Open Day. We would also like to thank the PCC for their kind donation from the Fete.

On Saturday 4th October at 7pm, David Waters (Great Bustard fame), will be giving a talk on his time in the Police Force in aid of the Hall. Please keep an eye out for posters.

Date of next Committee meeting is Monday 29th September all are welcome to attend.

Have you seen our new lights yet? They are really bright so you can see to read at last, but can be dimmed for more intimate occasions! There is something going on in the Hall every month so, if you are planning an event, be quick as the diary is filling up fast.

 

A note from our chairman

If anyone is interested, we are looking for new blood to come along and join us, as we have a couple of vacancies on the Committee. So if anyone is interested please give me a call on 01747 828024. Gordon has retired after many years of help and commitment and none of us is getting any younger.

The history behind the Berwick St John Memorial Hall and hire details.

The Land that the hall is built on was gifted to the village in 1929 by the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton. Since then there have been three Halls on this site, the present one replaced an old nissen Hut. In the 1970s a few villagers got together and raised funds to build a new hall by hosting harvest festival dances etc. The community later applied to the council for a grant but where told that the next village down the valley was getting the money as they were in desperate need of a new hall. The story is still told that one Sunday morning a group of villagers equipped with sledge hammers, tractors and ropes pulled the old Hut down, cleared the site leaving a concrete slab. The chairman called the council on Monday and told them that we should have the grant as we no longer had a hall. After some persuasion the man from the council said he would visit and to his surprise NO HALL. We got the grant.

 

In 1998 Berwick decided to refurbish the hall and again the community stepped up to the challenge. We raised enough money from events in the village and various grants to re roof the hall, put in a new kitchen with all mod cons, extensions on the side for a meeting room, bar and store, a patio area and play ground. We now have a Youth Club, Keep fit, Pilates, Toddler group and numerous other events held in our wonderful Hall.

Details of charge structure for Berwick St John Village Hall

Contact details:

To book the Hall please contact Kevin Meade

2 Hop Gardens, Luke Street, Berwick St John, Shaftesbury, SP7 OHJ

Tel: 01747 828024.

Or email: jkcmeade@btinternet.com

Please note all bookings should be made via the phone.

Capacity:

120 Restaurant

150 Close seated

175 Dancing

Facilities:

The main hall has a curtained stage, kitchen, committee room, bar, patio, play area and all areas are disabled friendly.

50 soft seated chairs + 100 plastic chairs

Tables; 14, 6′x3′, 10, 3×3′, and 5, 12′x3′ and 1, 10′x3′ trestle tables

Kitchen:

2 cookers, fridge, freezer, microwave, warming cabinet, movable serving tables.

Place settings for 120 + assorted serving utensils etc

Bar:

The is a serving hatch in the main hall, fridge,120 wine glasses + numerous assorted beer, shorts and mixer glasses.

Committee Room:

Carpeted, seats approx 20

Village Hall Hire Charges :

All of the Hall: £13.50 per hour

Meeting Room: £6.00 per Hour

All day Hire/ Weddings etc. £200.00

120 place settings for Dinner: £0.10 per item.

Outside functions: Chairs £2.00 per 10, Tables £ 2.00 each

There are no charges to set up before the event or to clear up afterwards. All we ask is that hirers take their rubbish home and leave the building as they found it. To book the Hall please contact Kevin Meade Tel: 01747 828024 or email: kcmeade@btinternet.com

If alcohol is to be sold a license can be obtained from Salisbury District Council.

Please note: No naked flames are allowed on the premises.

Vlllage Hall AGM

Chairman Kevin Meade (828024) Vice Chairman Michael Milburn (01722 780263)

The AGM was held on Monday the 4th March and it was proposed that the hall committee should stand en block.

Chairman / Bookings Clerk Kevin Meade

Deputy Chairman Michael Milburn

Treasurer Richard Hall

Minutes Secretary Julia Hall

Other members: Mary Sparkes, Bridget Marks, Angela Bridges, Pat Avrell, Marina Meade, Frank Meade, Meryon Bridges and Tony Bell

Gordon Marks stood down and was thanked for all his work over the many years with the village hall.

Parish Council

Our parish meetings are held quarterly, but ad hoc meetings to discuss interim issues of importance or planning applications are arranged when necessary.

 

The major focus for the Parish Council in recent years has been further development of the Parish Field as the recreational heart of the village. Grants have been secured for the fencing of the field and the installation of a shed. These projects have now completed. Some hard standing parking is also planned in due course. A football pitch will follow a successful change of use application (ongoing) and money has been secured towards the cost of the equipment required.

The field is available at a nominal cost or even FREE for members of the local community wishing to use the facility for events and/or overflow parking in support of village occasions. The field offers excellent standalone space for events, but can of course also be used to compliment Berwick St John’s fantastic Church and Village Hall facilities . For a detailed tariff and any enquiries, please contact Gordon Marks on 01747 828631. The PC strongly encourages the use of the site and will certainly welcome suggestions, help, or input on how the site might further be used or developed. Contact a local councillor to give your ideas or offers of assistance.

Parish Council Members:

Chairman Robert Carter 828820

Parish Council Clerk: Mrs C Churchill
1 Tower Farm Cottages
Quidhampton
Salisbury
SP2 9AA
01722 743027

berwickstjohnpc@btinternet.com

Sarah Keyse

Angela Bridges

Phil Gready

Kevin Meade

Tony Bell

Gordon Marks

Please feel free to contact any of them if you need to.

Flood Warden

Tony Bell has kindly taken on the role of the Parish Flood Warden.

Banks and hedges

The Parish Council would like to remind all residents that it is their responsibility to maintain the hedges and watercourses that fall on their boundary. If anyone has any questions regarding the cutting of hedges or their responsibilities for water courses and banks they should contact the Parish Clerk or Council Chairman.

Playground

The turf work has been completed, Wicksteed have been informed the site is ready for them to install the equipment and confirmed an installation date of the week commencing 18th August. However, there has been a problem and this date has been put back. The work will be done as soon as possible.

Parish Field

The field has been topped and the Parish Council are looking into purchasing a second-hand gang mower.

Defibrillator and First Aid

Berwick St John PC will be looking into the cost of First Aid training. It was agreed not to pursue the purchase of a defibrillator at this time.

New Village Policeman

The village has a new policeman, Greg Fergusson and he has sent this report:

I am in my 23rd year of service with Wiltshire and during that period I have split my time between nearly a decade in uniform roles and the rest in more specialised crime roles; most recently I was a Special Branch officer. The wide variety of roles I have preformed has given me a breadth of experience in most forms of police work and in working with other agencies and partners. I have not been in uniform for some time so there will be a period of bedding in or finding my feet, but I’m a relatively quick learner so there shouldn’t be too many issues. I live locally and I am committed to the role for as long as the community want me or the organisation are prepared to let me stay.

Please feel free to email me Greg.Fergusson@wiltshire.pnn.police.uk.

Next Parish Council meeting will be held on Monday September 22nd, 7.30pm in the Village Hall. Members of the public are welcome at the beginning of the meeting if they have questions on Parish matters.

Introduction to our new Parish Council

Sarah Keyse

I’m Sarah Keyse and I moved to Berwick St John in 1996 which feels like a lifetime ago, but in fact it accounts for just a third of my life although for me this has easily been the nicest third. Having previously lived in towns and cities in the South of England, I truly appreciate the beauty, tranquillity and community spirit of this Parish which made me, like many others so very welcome. I am proud to call Berwick St John my home and hope and intend that it stays my home for ever .
Having participated in Berwick’s various events, I was keen to become more actively involved. As well as the Parish Council which I was encouraged to join around 2006, I took part in the Parish Plan project, and I have been involved with the Farmyard Nativities and the Berwick Festivals from their inception. As part of the biennial Festival I have been charged with producing a ‘theatrical’ event in our Church, and out of the Grand Historical Pageant back in the Summer of 2007, BAD (Berwick Amateur Dramatic) Company was born. Our various productions continue to provide enjoyable and memorable occasions when the Village can come together, and I am currently working on the opening night production for the 2013 Festival in September which I hope will continue this run of success!
As a keen lover of history, I am also delighted to have been at the forefront of a number of commemorative events in the Village including two Jubilee Celebrations (the last spanning three days), two VE/VJ Day Commemorative parties and our Trafalgar Bicentennial Celebration.
I also have a full time job providing compliance advice to Financial Services firms and when not travelling around the Country, I am able to work from home which has ensured that I can take a full part in our numerous Village activities, including my commitment to the Parish Council.

Philip Gready

I have lived at Higher Bridmore for 30 years and work in and around the Dorset/Wiltshire area as a Chartered Surveyor. I have been Agent to the Rushmore Estate since 1982. I am married to Maggie, a local Doctor, and we have three sons all in their 20′s.

That part of the parish to the south of the Ox Drove forms a significant part of the whole and contains about a third of the total population. If elected I feel I am well placed to represent them and to contribute to the wider needs and issues facing the village through the Parish Council. I strongly support the local community, the Church, the Pub and the Youth Club of which I am Chairman.

Tony Bell

“if you don’t know who I am by now, you never will, Im just making up the numbers”

Kevin Meade

I was born in Berwick in 1958 and my Mother was born here.My wife Julie and I live in Luke Street and have a son Charlie who is at Sparsholt College studying Countryside management and Game keeping.
Although I have lived in Berwick all my life, I have travelled extensively to a varied amount of countries and continents, mostly to do with work, Australia, Finland ,Canada, Europe.
Over the years I have invented several pieces of Agricultural machinery, which along with a partner, we now manufacture these in Berwick. At present we export to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Eastern Europe, Norway and the Netherlands.
I have been a councillor for over 16 years and Chairman of the Village hall since 1998.
I have been involved with the Country Fayre since 1989.
I lived in the Talbot pub for a few years and more recently I helped out when Pete was ill.
I helped to set up the Allotments and with Bonfire Nights.
I have a lot of local knowledge that is occasionally called upon.

Gordon Marks

I believe that myself, Bridget and our two boys (men now) have reached the point that we have become accepted as villagers, after some 40 years of trying! It helped only moving here from Ebbesbourne Wake.�
I have been a carpenter and joiner in the building trade since school days, running my own business for 45 years and offering woodwork assistance to local residents in my “spare time”. Age is catching up with me and pending retirement is looking promising but busy with five grandchildren.
We both, care for this lovely village grateful and are pleased to be enthusiastically invited to contribute towards the running of village events. In doing so I have been an elected parish councillor for 25 years, the last 5 as chairman.�
The Country Fayre is of course another major village event that we as a community should be so proud of, I am a Director and the Show Treasurer, and part of the on-site construction team. This is an amazing event to be involved with and the rewards to the local hospital are tremendous. For many years I have also been a member of the Village Hall Committee, and I take an active roll in the setting up of the Church Fete.
In the summer we both like to take off in our motorhome, to the coast to enjoy walking, and visiting historic buildings. I do like to promote the craftsmanship of the past.
My aims for the coming term of parish council office would be to see the parish field with a suitable playing area, the upgrade to the playground equipment in the village and to make better use of the car parking at the village hall. I hope the younger age groups in the village become more involved and feel needed this is something we should all work towards.

Robert Carter

I have lived in Berwick St John since 1987 and grew up in the chalke valley in Broad Chalke. I am an approved electrician and work for a local company. My wife Anne and children Elizabeth and Simon grew up in the village. My hobbies are gardening, reading, bell ringing and sea fishing when I get the time. I also enjoy the occasional trip out in my Austin 7 when the weather is fine.
Over the years I have been involved in fundraising for the village hall and playground, and my electrical experience is often called upon for village events and residents emergencies. I am currently enjoying teaching and sharing my campanology skills in the village church. I am also a director of the Berwick St John Country Fayre which I have been involved in since its conception, and play a key role in the construction team.

Angela Bridges

I’ve lived in Berwick for more than ten years and teach two days a week at Hanford School, Child Okeford.
I’m on the Village Hall Committee, the Link Scheme Committee and have just taken over as editor of the Bulletin. I’ve been on the Parochial Church Council for some time and am a Lay Pastoral Assistant, taking some services and helping out in the parish.
I’d like in the future to establish a scheme of ‘First Responders’; trained first aiders who can help out in a situation before the emergency services arrive. I’ve seen this work very effectively in other country areas.
Berwick is an extraordinary and wonderful place to live. We are small in numbers but we all pull together to put on events like the Country Fayre, the Pantomime and the Nativity Play. I know I’m very lucky to be part of this community and I’d like to give something back by serving as a Parish Councillor

Village history

Berwick is a small village on the Wiltshire, Dorset border. To help provide an insight into the history of our village we thought it would be interesting to publish a few historic articles and accounts written about our village.

An article taken from the Tisbury Rural Deanery Magazine January 1961.

“During the year 1961 the church, as it now stands, becomes 100 years old. The parish itself is an ancient one, and from 955 to the Reformation belonged to the abbey of Wilton, being acquired by the Pembroke family at the Dissolution of the monasteries. The Earl of Pembroke is still the formal patron of the church. Amongst very old farms or estates which continue their uninterrupted existence are Easton Farm, Upton Farm, Upper and Lower Bridmore, Ashcombe and Rushmore. The manors of Easton Bassett, Upton and Bridmore, for much of the middle ages belonged to the Lucy family; it is known that Sir Robert Lucy died in Berwick in 1261, and the thirteenth-century effigy of a knight in the north transept may well commemorate him. The manor of Bridmore has been divided into two since the reign of Edward I. It is quite likely that it derives its name from Britmar, who in the Domesday Book is the tenant of Wardour. There is a Britmore Farm in the parish of Donhead St. Andrew. Numerous other families are known to have held these various farms and manors, such as the Groves and the Shelleys. Chapel Farm was, until quite recently, part of Donhead St. Andrew, with a chapel-at-ease. In an eighteenth century register at Donhead there is a note in the then rector`s hand, stating that his Easton parishioners now hear service at Berwick St. John, as the chapel has been ruined beyond repair during the late Civil Wars. One or two fragments of this chapel are thought to have existed until a few years ago, but a careful search in the immediate vicinity has revealed no trace of them. It is probable that the stones of this old chapel are now built into the walls of the farm buildings.”

An article taken from a Western Gazette report dated January 9th 1931

“Scenes taken from village history formed part of an entertaining programme given on Friday and Saturday at Berwick St. John in aid of Church funds. They were presented entirely by local people. The production of this pageantry was undertaken by Mrs Dineley and suggestions as to suitable scenes for presentation, with historical facts came from the Rev. W. Goodchild, formerly rector of Berwick St. John, and a well known antiquary. By kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, the performances were given in the hall of the Ferne Estate Yard. This building was illuminated electrically, a fact which enabled Mr Mark Dineley, who prepared all the stage properties, to arrange some very effective lighting. All the scenes depicted some specific incident in Berwick`s history, and the last, which told of the origin of Berwick`s nightly curfew bell, has an unbroken link with the present day. People in the village and adjacent villages, took a keen interest in the production, and on both Friday and Saturday there were crowded audiences. As the curtain rose, a modern boy and girl (Master George and Miss Rosa Arnold) were complaining that Berwick was a dull old place, where nothing ever happened. From an alcove stepped a courtly figure in silken knee-breeches and powdered wig (Mrs B. Parham) who announced himself to be Charles Bowles, the historian author of the “History of the Chalke Valley”. He reproved the children for their statement and bade them wait with him while he would show them some incidents which had occurred in their village in past ages.

Romano British Life

The first episode was set on Winklebury Hill about the year 200 AD, and during the time of the Roman occupation. The wife of a Romano British farmer (Mrs M Burge), clothed in coarse hopsack, was discussing with her son (Mr J Burge) clad in a knee length tunic and sandals, with a skin about his shoulders, the expected arrival of the Roman tax gatherer. The son told her that he had lost the best cow while he was taking the herd to water at the dam in Donhead. Further conversation was cut short by the arrival of the tax gatherer (Mr C Hiscock) and his escourt, a magnificently caparisoned soldier (Mr A Lane) who was armed with a spear. The tax gatherer, dressed in a flowing white robe which reached to the ground, and bare headed, demanded of the old woman, the best cow, and the usual measure of corn and honey. On being told that the best cow was lost, he said that the second best cow should be sent, and as he left with his escourt, the old woman shook her fist at the departing figures. She told her son to take the goods to the Roman camp as decided, and added, in a fierce whisper, that if he could not lose the second best cow before he got there, he was no son of hers! “See what the people of Berwick had to endure”, Bowles told the children. “Their Roman overlords certainly built dams so that the herds might drink, and made roads, but heavy dues were expected, and I doubt not, that even in times of bad harvests the taxes had to be paid in full, while the poor depressed Britons existed as best they could, on the little, if any, that remained”. As the curtain fell, a choir of local people sang “Oh, who will o`er the downs so free”.

Church Rebuilt

The next episode was laid in the church of Saint John at Berwick. Sometime in the years 1520 – 30. Three monks from Glastonbury Abbey, (Mrs J Smart, Mrs A Lane and Miss K Foot) clad in brown habits and cowls, carried into the church three bells, and the works of a great clock, which were the contribution to the newly built church, of Richard Beere, the Abbot of Glastonbury. A village maiden (Miss K Bartlett) watched the proceedings with more than usual interest, and when Brother Richard was temporarily left by his colleagues, she ran to him, pinned a rose to his habit, and kissed him. The choir sang, “Ring Out Sweet Bells”. Bowles told the children that if they pretended a little, Brother Richard came back some years later, when the great Abbeys had been broken up and freed from monkish vows, married the village girl, settled down in Berwick, and made clocks.

Monmouth`s Flight

The third epistle told of the flight of the Duke of Monmouth, after his defeat at Sedgemoor in 1686, and it was laid in Monmouth`s Lane, Berwick, which takes it`s name from the incident. The lane is situated between Berwick and Alvediston, and leads southwards to the downs. The Duke of Monmouth (Mrs C Foot) and Lord Grey (Mrs Jacobs) were seen traversing the lane in the night, guided in their flight by Halliday, a Gillingham boy (Miss Mary Hannam). Grey prevailed on Monmouth to hide his sword, on the grounds that it`s retention might tend to establish his identity, and hardly had this been done, when footsteps were heard approaching, and the trio disappeared. A poacher (Miss Betty Hannam) appeared, looking about him, and discovered the hastily discarded sword, and took possession of it, with the remark that he could sell it to the mummers. The musical number for this was, “All through the night”. Bowles said to the children, “Monmouth hid his sword in that lane just as you have seen, and the poacher found it soon afterwards. He sold it to the mummers and they used it in their plays for years and years. It is now in the Bristol museum. Monmouth never got away though. They caught him on the Chase, over the hill.”

Berwick`s Curfew

The incident which led to the ringing of the nightly curfew bell in Berwick was the subject of the final episode. The scene being laid on the Oxdrove at the top of Easton Hollow sometime between 1658 and 1720. John Gane (Miss P Bradley) was seen stranded in the fog on top of the downs, having completely lost his sense of direction. The clock of the Berwick church, striking the hour of ten told him the direction of the village, to which he was eventually able to make his way in safety. He was welcomed by Mrs Gane (Miss E Abbot) and their children (Misses F Smart and L Emm), and related to them the story of his adventure, registering a vow that the bell of the church should be rung every night during the winter months, to guide belated wayfarers. “Ring the Bell Watchman”, was sung by the choir (leader Mr R Foot). Bowles told his little listeners that they were making history today, just as surely as the people he had shown them.

Enthusiasm at the final curtain there was prolonged applause, and when the performers appeared together on the stage, there were numerous calls for Mr Mark Dineley, who, however, did not appear. In addition to the pageant, a sketch entitled “Impossible Perkins”, was given on Friday afternoon by Miss E Dunstan, Miss M Sargeant, and Miss P Bridle, and on Saturday evening, a little comedy, “Quits”, was presented in excellent style by Miss C Farquharson and Miss P Adsell. Vocal items were given by Miss C Farquharson, Mr P Lyden and Mr F W Pullen (who also led community singing with Miss M D Cox at the piano. The choir which took part in the pageant, was accompanied at the piano by Mrs Webb. At the close of Saturday`s performance,the rector (Rev G Harris) expressed his gratitude to Mrs Dineley for her excellent presentations, of so unusual an entertainment. It was so good, he said, to see the life of their village, as it had been , in the past ages. Many people, perhaps had learned things that they did not know before, and he believed that the educational value of the production could not be over estimated. He was indeed grateful to Mrs Dineley and all who had been associated with her. At the Rector`s call, hearty cheers were given.”

Notes on Winklebury Hill, from, “The Iron Age and its Hillforts” (1971)
Copied from Linda Renoth’s school notebooks by her daughter Rosa Denton, both genuine Berwick residents…

“Above Berwick St. John a track runs along the hilltop from north to south. Winklebury occupies the northern 5 ha(?) of a steep sided promontory whose edges are defended by a single rampart and ditch. The neck of the spur is cut off by two straight stretches of rampart and ditch, set obliquely to each other, which an entrance between. Midway along the interior of the fort is a slighter curved line of defence running from east to west, with an entrance gap towards the eastern end. Close study of the earthworks by Richard Faeces has shown that they represent three stages of construction, and each apparently unfinished. He considers that the two straight ditches across the speller, that are irregular in height and appearance, represent the first construction by a gang of labourers. Later, a defence around the crest of the spur was begun, but again not completed. Dumps of material can still be observed lying within the rampart line. The final attempt was to construct the smaller circular enclosure at the top of the spur. There is an entrance at the north, carrying a farm track. Excavations by Pitt-Rivers in 1881-2 recognized two periods of construction, one with storage pits belonging to the Iron Age, and another to the Belgic period, when additional defences were commenced.”

An interesting book has been published by an author in the village entitled, ‘The Biography of a Country Church’ and is available at £5.00 (plus postage) from Winklebury Publications, Berwick St John, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 0EY