The Evolution of Roads in the Parish of Burbage
From a historical record perspective, these 50 years saw the publication of the two most important maps in the village's long history - an Inclosure Award Map and the Tithe Award Map. It was also during this period that the Ordnance Survey produced its first edition for Wiltshire so henceforth our knowledge of Burbage's road layout becomes much more certain. However, before considering these great works, let us look at three commercially published maps.
MAP 5 - Andrew & Dury 1810
The 1810 edition of Andrew & Dury's map not only corrected the errors of the original edition but also brought it up to date by including the newly dug canal. Gone are East Horns, Granton and Woolfall but the road system remains the same.
MAP 6 - Greenwood 1820
The map provides a wealth of information but of note are the roads in and around Southgrove, Wolfhall and Terrace Hill. Notice how the Forest Drove had actually become part of 12 o'clock Drive.
The beginning of the 19th century also saw the publication of "A New Map of the County of Wilts." by C. Smith of London. Being of much smaller scale than Andrews & Dury (upon which it may have been based), the 1821 edition shows some interesting changes in the area and the smaller scale allows the roads to be rationalised and classified as Postal Roads, Great Roads and Cross Roads. It is therefore reasonable to assume that at least the first two classifications were public highways. The first notable change is the reduced area of the Forest which is emparked. The Cross Road on its north western boundary is Three Oak Hill Drive (which passes the column) and its continuation to Knowle and the modern A4 is consistent with a map in the Savernake Archives at the Wiltshire & Swindon Records Office which shows it as a through road between Ramsbury and Wootton Rivers. The short Cross Road connecting with it at the northern point of the Park is Holt Pound (see above) which the aforementioned map has as part of the main road from Great Bedwyn to Marlborough. To the south of the Park can be seen the drove along Durley Hill and its westward extension along Lye Lane.
MAP 7 - C. Smith 1821
The turnpike is shown as a Postal Road but, interestingly, the only Great Road shown in the parish is that described above as going from Marr Green to Great Bedwyn via East Sands and Suddene Farm. The Cross Road shown from Eastcourt to Grafton seems to follow the course of the current footpath via the cricket pitch and Scout Hut and until recent years this was indeed wide enough to drive a horse and cart along. The other item of note is that the course of the canal includes a tunnel from Crofton to Brimslade. Presumably this was included after looking at the earlier deposited plans for the original intention was to construct such a tunnel however the cost was prohibitive and so we ended up with a short tunnel, Wilton Water and Crofton Pump Station (as shown by Andrew & Dury's in 1818). It is strange that this error had not been corrected and incorporated in this 1821 edition of the map.
The Ordnance Survey undertook three distinct phases before committing its work to the engraver. For Wiltshire, the initial survey and the main triangulation work was begun in 1793. Then, in the early 1800s, more detailed triangulation allowed the landmarks to be precisely located before finally, in 1807 - 1811 a detailed topographical survey was undertaken. We know from the surviving drawing produced during this last phase that Burbage was surveyed in 1808 although the Marlborough & Everleigh Turnpike was evidently re-surveyed in 1816.
David & Charles, the publishers, have reprinted the resultant one-inch maps and their sheet 77, "Devizes", covers Burbage. Although they are taken from much later editions which include many Victorian Railways, the basic topographical detail is from the 1808 survey and so makes fascinating reading and its purchase is highly recommended.
The map was undoubtedly the result of the last survey of the village prior to the final enclosure and given the cost and amount of time that went into its making, it is worthy of study.
MAP 8 - The First Ordnance Survey Map of Wiltshire, 1808-1824
In the south, note the unfenced tracks around "Crowdown Clump" and the roads to both the east and west of Southgrove - that to the west and which heads north east, is the one cited above as being obstructed in 1725. To the west of the village note the short track off the Pewsey Road which is Little Lane (see below) and the lane connecting Bowden farm with the Ram Alley to Easton Road (now a footpath). To the east both of the aforementioned main routes to Crofton can be clearly seen. The route via Suddene (marked "Sutton") is the same as on Smith's; i.e. it utilises the current drive to the farm. The shading shows that the Dark Lane route is clearly following a ridge and also of note is the track connecting it to Suddene Farm which is now a footpath. To the north along Lye Hill and Terrace Hill the effect the Marlborough Railway had on Durley Hatch Drove, Lye Hill Drove / Love Lane and Forest Drove can clearly be seen (see part 2). Note also the pattern of the tracks through the forest especially that from Wootton River along Three Oak Hill to Knowle and the course of the main route from Bedwyn to Marlborough via Holt Pound (to the west of "Bedwin Common").
Within the village most of the paths are shown: Blackman's Lane, Long Drove, Annetts Lane and, for the first time, the course of the footpath from the British Legion to the Post Office. At Stibb there is a track connecting it to Pipers Lane and The Cottage Road, both of which have now gone.
The map shows one final important feature, that of the area of the parish still lying as open fields. Although the following description of the 1824 Inclosure Award details many roads in the parish, the only ones, or parts of ones, actually created lay across these open fields. The open fields and the unfenced roads which went through them are at "Burbage Common" (Steep Common in the Act), Harepath, Marr Green and Short Heath Commons (which form the triangle to the south of Seymore Pond), and on Burbage Down which lies south of the turnpike as far as "Godsbury". To this can be added the waste lands to the west of the turnpike, next to Goldenlands.
And so we come to the Act which concluded the formulation of the road layout in the parish and enclosed the remaining commons and heaths. Although it only covered a small part of the parish it was more than just a mopping up exercise. The Act not only listed land exchanges but extinguished common rights in the forest, and, more importantly, left us with a map. This gives us the opportunity to recap on the parish's road system.
MAP 9 - The 1824 Inclosure Award
Details From The 1824 Inclosure Award
The Marlborough and Everleigh Turnpike (M&ET) was authorised by parliament in 1762. It goes from north to south through the parish and used, as we have seen, an already existing ancient route. Most of its course is still in use today forming the A346 from Leigh Hill, the High Street and then the A338 southwards from Seymore. Its northern toll house was situated to the north of the Ram Alley crossroads and was demolished some years ago in anticipation of the bypass extending across the canal and railway. Sadly, the southern toll house which was situated to the south of Goldenlands House was demolished only a few years ago and its site used to erect a modern house. In the latter years there was also a third booth in the parish which was situated at Stibb, in one of the cottages which lie near the start of the modern Savernake Road.
A short distance beyond Goldenlands House the main road now turns sharply towards Southgrove Farm but the original turnpike continued straight to Everleigh along the lane that is today signposted as a byway. The Turnpike Trust sought to improve the travellers' lot by obtaining authorisation in 1831 for a new stretch of turnpike (the modern A338 passed Southgrove Farm) which would avoid the arduous crossing of Salisbury Plain.
The Down End Road left the M&ET at the southern boundary of the parish and proceeded to follow the latter in an easterly direction before proceeding to Collingbourne Kingston. This road follows at least part of the course of the ancient Wael Weg mentioned above in the Anglo-Saxon Charters and was also shown on the pre-enclosure maps.
The Milestone Road left the M&ET at the field boundary just north of the chalk pit and headed uphill in a westerly direction to join the parish boundary which it then followed. Where the boundary turns to the north the road's route is followed today by a bridleway to the point where the latter turns eastwards away from the parish boundary. The description of its northwards continuation along the boundary is "into an ancient Road or driftway called The Bishops Way" which was shown on the Inclosure Act Map as terminating before the Pewsey road but older maps quoted in the Wiltshire Archaeological Society's Magazine (see above) have this road continuing through Bowden Farm and ending at Ram Alley. The complete route is itself a classic ridgeway which would be much favoured by travellers during the winter months. The delightfully named Laffey Land Lane (Luffey Land in the 1844 Tithe Award) connected the end of The Bishops Way to Short Heath Road and the former can still be traced today, albeit as a private farm track. The map shows it as continuing westwards towards Easton Royal where it would connect with the drove roads coming down from Easton Hill. This link road, I believe, was called Bishop's Walk and was still in use in 1920. Modern travellers along The Short Heath Road (the tarmac road which goes from the "S" bends on the A338 to the Westcourt crossroads) will be aware of the signposted bridleway known as The Little Wheat Hill Drove which connects with the bridleway mentioned above. The Act describes it as a "Private Carriage Road and driftway ... extending over Short Heath Common .... into the ancient Wheat Hill Drove".
The Westcourt crossroads was the meeting place for The Small Heath Road, The Easton Road, Westcot Road and The Harepath Road, the latter terminating where the northern side of the old triangle met the High Street. The Grafton Road began as the southern side of this triangle and continued only as far as the signposted bridleway opposite Seymour Cottages. The continuation to the parish boundary (the modern A338) was called Kinwardstone Drove and it was a minor road at this time as the main Oxford to Salisbury traffic used the turnpike from Hungerford via the Nags Head,Fair Mile and Collingbourne Shears. The aforementioned bridleway at Seymour Cottages was The Great Mon Heath Drove who's onwards route to Brunton and Collingbourne is today incorrectly designated as a footpath after leaving our parish. The Little Mon Heath Drove left the M&ET midway between Marr Green and the "S" bends then preceded south easterly, parallel to its big brother - its course is still visible today.
As described above, until recent times, the main route from the heart of the village to Crofton and Great Bedwyn went via Suddene Farm and not by way of Wolfhall. It left Eastcourt via Fir Green Lane to its junction with East Sands Lane. No name was recorded for the eastwards continuation to Sudden Cottage and the old parish boundary but the 1891 census implies that it was still Fir Green Lane. Possibly this mystery can be solved by a conveyance in 1845 which referred to East Sands Lane as Sudden Drove Way. It would be reasonable to assume that this name applied to the continuation to the old parish boundary. It is also worth recording that in the early 18th century the Eastcourt end of Fir Green Lane was referred to in another conveyance as Virgin Lane. To complicate matters further, the Rev. Sands claimed in the Parish Magazine [February 1917 edition] that one of the previous incumbents claimed that it had also once been referred to as Fair Green Lane which, he says, was possibly a corruption of Furze Green Lane.
Opposite the modern Smithy Lane the road to Westcourt was known as Cross Lane or alternatively, in 1853, as Tasker's Lane and ended about 50 feet before the modern bypass bridge. Here it joined Pipers Lane which led down to the fishponds at Ram Alley along an alignment which is similar to the modern bypass. After about 100 yards Coxes Lane (so called in 1853 but unnamed on the Inclosure map) headed due west to connect with Westcot Road near Little Westcourt. The northern part of Pipers Lane still exists today as a combination of bridleway and private farm tracks. The continuation passed the fishponds to the road was once again called Westcot Road (although it was referred to as still being Pipers Lane in 1853) and from the junction, Ram Alley Lane went westwards while and The Easton Road led to the Marlborough & Everleigh Turnpike.
The initial part of the road which today connects the old Savernake Forest Hotel to the A346 was called The Lower Marsh Road and only served the adjacent fields. It was deliberately extended in the 1876 Hillary Quarter Sessions to serve the recently opened Savernake hotel and railway station thus saving travellers from having to use the more circuitous route via Stibb along the modern Savernake Road(previously Station Road) which was then known as The Durley Road.
Prior to the building of the bypass, there was a signposted bridleway immediately after the last house on the western side of Marlborough Road. This was called The Cottage Road and led to a small holding known as The Hollow. It was demolished some time ago (1950s?) to make way for the long awaited bypass.
North of the canal, much of the modern parish lay within the bounds of the Savernake Forest which was then extra-parochial however as the Inclosure Award Map was drawn before the coming of the railways, this left a strip of land which had its own small network of lanes whose fate would have be determined during the construction of two railways to Marlborough (see part 2). After crossing the canal at Burbage Wharf there was two roads which led into the forest. The first, and most westerly, was the Marlborough & Everleigh Turnpike while the second was The Forest Drove (Burroughs Lane in 1722) which, by this time, initially followed the northern bank of the canal in an easterly direction before heading due north into the forest. However the earlier maps above show that the building of the canal necessitated this initial eastwards extension as it had previously run parallel to the M&ET from the tollhouse. What in 1722 had been know as Durley Hatch Drove has become Lye Lane and left The Forest Drove to headed eastwards to Durley Road at the top of Durley Hill. Also reaching Durley Road at this point was (and still is) Love Walk (referred to on O.S. maps since 1900 as Lover's Walk but in 1722 was referred to as Lye Hill Drove). This is a ridge route connecting Durley Hill with the forest. Its onwards extension to the east was slightly below the ridge and its course can still be traced through the field whereas the 1843 Tithe Award Map shows it as following the actual ridge. This route is not named on either map (was it Cock Road?) but probably formed part of the drove route which connected the Marlborough Downs escarpment to Great Bedwyn and then continued on to Berkshire. Ken Watts in "Droving in Wiltshire" (1990) records "in the 1960s a local resident of great age recalled that in his father's time this was the route taken by flocks on the drove from Cirencester to Weyhill Fair". Probably the strongest evidence to substantiate this claim actually comes from the text of the 1823 Inclosure Award which also describes land exchanges. The ownership of one of the plots mentioned in the 1724 Quarter Sessions as bordering on Burroughs Lane (later Forest Drove) passed into the marquis's ownership and it is described as having a northern boundary of "an ancient drove or [sheep] walk called Love Walk". I hope that this does not shatter the illusions of those who believe that its modern name has romantic connections.
In addition to the above a number of other lanes are referred to in the text of the Award because they formed boundaries to plots of previously enclosed land. Of these, three are worthy of mention. The "ancient road Little Lane left the modern Pewsey Road west of the Westcourt Crossroads and headed north, parallel to Westcourt Road. Although it may have been created during the 1596 enclosures to serve the adjacent fields, it could also have been the remnant of one of the ancient north south droves which merged at Ram Alley. Although unnamed, the western end of the modern Jockey Lane, adjacent to the Hunt Kennels, is described as an "ancient road or way from the ancient road through Westcott over an ancient enclosure of the late John Clark called Way Ground". The field's name implies that the road was of some importance and as the eastern end of Jockey Lane is also shown on the map, it suggests that there was a through route, possibly connecting Westcourt to the church. The final track is also unnamed and was probably no more that an accommodation track created during the 1722 enclosure to allow a landowner to gain access to his field which was surrounded by the Marquis's land. It left the Durley Road at the bend opposite 13 Savernake Road through the gate used today by a footpath. However, once in the field, this "ancient roadway" went due east to a field.
Thus the Inclosure Award Map gives us our first detailed look at the village's road network but as only part of the parish was affected by the act we have no definitive statement about status of those clearly shown but not named as they were not lying adjacent to the new or exchanged enclosures. The Act "created" five Public Carriage Roads among the previously open commons: The Easton Road, The Westcott Road, The Short Heath Road, The Harepath Road and The Grafton Road. There are also seven Private Carriage Roads and Driftways "created" but for the first four they were simply short stretches through the enclosures to connect onto existing ancient tracks. The next two were laid out over open downland across land where there had previously been droves so this leaves The Cottage Road as the only possible truly private road (although it is shown on Andrews & Dury and the O.S. Map, and later became a bridleway). It is probable that the classification of "public" or "private" status simply referred to where the responsibility for maintenance lay (a very important issue in those days) and have nothing to do with access. The so called "private" roads are: The Lower Marsh Road (leading into "the ancient Lower Marsh Drove"), The Great Mon Heath Road (leading into "the ancient Mon Heath Drove"), The Little Mon Heath Drove (leading into "the ancient Little Mon Heath Drove"), The Little Wheat Hill Drove (leading into "the ancient Wheat Hill Drove"), The Milestone Road, The Down End Road and The Cottage Road.
What of the other roads shown on the map? The inference is that they were existing highways which is borne out by most of them still being right of ways of one sort or another. Of the other roads, especially around Southgrove, there is other evidence in existence which points to these once being highways of some importance. Indeed, at the time of writing (2008), the north/south track shown on the parish's eastern border is currently designated as either a footpath or a bridleway but an application to have it re-instated at a road (byway) is being processed by Wiltshire County Council. The evidence supporting this track's true status is very strong (including acts of parliament) and if approved would reinstate the link between West Grafton with Collingbourne Kingston.
MAP 10 - The 1843 Tithe Award
By its very nature, the Tithe Award dealt with land and property in the parish and made little reference to tracks and lanes which connected the then quite separate hamlets of Stibb, Westcourt (Westcot), Eastcourt (Eastcot) and Seymour to Burbage. East Sands did not exist as a settlement at this time and can be viewed as a Victorian "New Town", being built in the 1860s. The Tithe Award Map was drawn in 1843 and supplies us with an incredible amount of data. Although it does not name any of the roads it does, by its colour coding, show where they are. This was necessary because roads were exempt from the payment of tithes and so while landowners may wish to have everything classified as a road, the tithe owners (in Burbage the Marquis of Ailesbury leased the Great Tithes and the vicar owned the lesser tithes) made sure that only bona fida roads were so marked. Despite the passing of over 20 years, there is an amazing correlation between the road networks shown on the Inclosure Award Map and the Tithe Award Map with the lanes on Durley Hill being the only area of deviation.
Although the roads are not named it is possible to deduce some of them from the adjacent field names. These include Long Drove, Common Lane (that part of the modern Eastcourt Road to the south of Eastcourt) and Annetts Lane (the track opposite Barnfield, which is today signposted as a footpath and more usually known today as Chandler's Lane.
Map 10 is taken from the Victoria History of Wiltshire, volume 15, and whilst mainly based on the Tithe Award map, it also includes details from other sources. The main discrepancy is that in 1843 there was no road through Eastcourt other than via Eastcourt Road (see part 2).
©Colin Younger 2008