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Donhead St. Andrew

This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.

Map of the Civil Parish of Donhead St. Andrew:

Map of the Civil Parish of Donhead St. Andrew

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.

Thumbnail History:

Donhead St. Andrew lies 5km east of Shaftesbury in south east Wiltshire. The parish was part of the Salisbury District Council between 1974 and 2009.

Recent evidence has shown that the name Donhead is the Saxon word for 'the head of the Downs'. Other explanations have been 'dun-heafdan' (head or top of the town) or 'don-heafod' (head of the Don).Originally the parish was joined with neighbouring Donhead St. Mary and formed a single parish called Donhead, but by c.1200 Donhead St. Andrew was almost certainly a single parish with a church of its own.

The suffix of 'St. Andrew' was used by 1240. In the 17th century the parish was called Lower or Nether Donhead. Its church and settlement surrounding it were on the other side of the river and in close proximity to Donhead St. Mary.

The parish is situated in the Vale of Wardour and the highest point is at White Sheet Hill to the east, where chalk outcrops. Upper Greensand covers most of the parish, as at St. Bartholomew's Hill on the border with Semley. The River Nadder flows northwards across the west of the parish and includes a small amount of alluvial deposits. Calcareous sand and limestone of the Portland Beds can be found to the north of the parish.

Only a small amount of evidence for prehistoric activity can be found in the parish. This includes a Celtic ditch which straddles the boundary with Berwick St. John; it is perhaps the Brydinga Dic named in the later 11th century. The Ox Drove track over Win Green was first used by the Beaker people carrying Cornish tin to the channel ports and lead carriers going from the Mendips to Old Sarum.

In Roman times the water table was higher and much of the area around Donhead St. Andrew was swamp, except for the parts called West End and Whitesheet Hill. The area of Nowers Copse would also have been swamp free and was undoubtedly used as a 'safe retreat'. Roman cultivations in the neighbourhood of the Roman road may explain why the Donhead area seems so prosperous in Saxon times; the land could have been cultivated without having to clear much forest.

The main London to Exeter Road came over White Sheet Hill and followed the present road to Shaftesbury in 1675. This 'Herepath' road was turnpiked westwards in 1753 and disturnpiked in 1877. The east was turnpiked in 1762. The road from Barford St. Martin to White Sheet Hill was turnpiked in 1788 and disturnpiked in 1864. The coach road from Salisbury via the race course which runs over Whitesheet Hill was used by mail coaches; the value of the contents carried became high. The highwaymen took advantage of the isolated position of the road and so a bridge was built across the river Nadder at Barford St. Martin and continued along the line of the A30 to provide a safer route. St. Bartholomew's Street linked Donhead St. Andrew and Semley villages in 1886. It became Green Lane south east of the church. Hernsham Street (c.1807), Pigstrough Lane (1661), linked St. Bartholomew's Street and Scotts Hill. New Road was created in the later 18th century, and the south part was called West End Lane from 1886. Fortis Hill, Dengrove Hill, and Shepherds Lane linked the parish to Donhead St. Mary in 1886. The names of Whitesands Cross and Sands Lane refer to the white chalk hills of the area. The lanes which linked the other settlements in the parish in 1768 can be seen as roads or tracks in the late 20th century. The Ox Drove Ridgeway which marks the boundary with Berwick St. John was given to The National Trust in 1958 as a path to Win Green.

In the later 11th century the parish borders were marked to Tisbury by a stream and with Semley following a ridge. The border with Donhead St. Mary bisects the Lower Berry Court Farm farmhouse and that with Tisbury runs through the old Wardour castle, suggesting they were created after these properties were built. More land around old Wardour Castle may have been part of Donhead St. Andrew in the Middle Ages than when the boundary was first mapped in 1768. Donhead St. Andrew also held land in Donhead St. Mary, and vice versa; this was rectified by an Act of 1882 and an order of 1884. The area of land held by the parish was reduced by 692 acres to 2,848 acres. In the early to mid 20th century Donhead St. Andrew was known as 'Lower Donhead' and Donhead St. Mary as 'Higher Donhead', mostly because there were two separate rectors for the churches.

King Alfred granted the parish of Donhead to Shaftesbury Abbey in 871-7. He held court at Wardour in a wooden castle. In 1066 and 1086 the land which later became Donhead St. Andrew parish was in the 40 hide estate still held by the abbey. After the dissolution the land was granted by the Crown to Sir Thomas Arundell in 1544. In 1768 the parish was made up of 1,606a which included 14 farms, some of whom were called Park Gate, Dengrove, Goulds, West End, Collins, Home and Mansfield. Berry Court was a demesne farm whose land in the parish included Berry Wood Copse and Privett Copse with some meadow west of Ferne brook. In 1839 new farms called Glove (later Arundell) and Lower Mill appeared.

The land of Wardour manor in the parish was made up of parkland for red and fallow deer in the early 17th century. In the early 18th century the land was also used for cattle pastures and mown for hay. The five ponds were partly embanked in the 18th century and further landscaping in the park took place in the later 18th century. Most of the park remained as woodland but the rest was turned to agriculture at this time. In 1768 the parkland surrounding Wardour Castle included 344 acres in the parish of Donhead St. Andrew. By 1839 it had risen to 619 acres. The park descended as part of the Wardour Estate until c.1946. Park Gate Farm which had 200 acres inside the park and about 270 acres of woodland were retained by R. J. A. Arundell. A broad area of woodland which also goes into the Parish of Ansty follows the contours of the southern end of the park. Part of the park was used for agriculture from the 18th century.

Woodland accounted for 315 acres in 1839, mostly situated around the parkland south west of old Wardour castle. More could be found in Berry Wood Copse. Wardour meant 'look-out bank' in Saxon times. The name Newers Copse meant 'the bank' in Saxon times, and Barker's Hill was 'birch bank'. Barker's Hill is the Saxon 'beor-co-ran' (dwelling the on stronghold) and is separated from Tittle Path Hill in the parish of Donhead St. Mary by a ditch. In 1985 138 acres of woodland were leased to the Forestry Commission and about124 acres were used for commercial forestry.

In 1225 tenants in the parish held oxen, sheep and cows. Part of the open fields in Donhead St. Andrew at this time may have existed between the Salisbury-Shaftesbury Road and the White Sheet Hill. There was also common pasture in the north part of Donhead St. Andrew. The open fields had been inclosed by c.1575, when 14 farms existed in the parish. All had inclosures of arable, meadow and pasture. These were the same as existed in the 18th century. Over 1,000 acres of land was arable during 1838-76; more land was laid to pasture after this date. By 1916 only about 420 acres was arable. Cows prevailed over sheep. Farms expanded slightly between 1906 and 1916. Watercress beds were laid on a tributary of the Nadder south east of Dengrove Farm between 1900 and 1914. It was revived c.1944 by H. Lawrence & Sons who bought the beds in 1948. The Williamsons bought these and those fed by Ferne brook (established c.1900) in 1973 and continued to cultivate there into the end of the 20th century, if not beyond.

The chief crop was wheat in the late 19th century but this was replaced by oats in the early 20th century. The rest of the arable yield in the late 19th century was for root crops, especially turnips and suedes. The inhabitants of Donhead St Andrew also kept their own pigs in the 1930s and it was said that the local gentry had a great interest in pigs before the First World War.

The court leets held in the parish usually looked at cases of overcharging by millers and badly maintained roads. In 1694 the way wardens were asked to survey the gates between Donhead St. Andrew and Semley Common, and to repair the road across White Sheet Hill in 1717.

The Bowles' Charity was used to establish and help run the village school. After its closure the fund was used to give donations to Semley School instead. In 1840 a third of the income from Phillipa Groves bequest of £1,000 was used to provide a clothing club in Donhead St. Andrew. The income continued to be used into the 1950s but in 1985 no distribution had been made for several years. John, Baron of Arundell, left an eleemosynary (relating to alms giving) charity in 1945 of which poor people in Donhead St. Andrew were entitled to a share.

Smallpox affected the community of Donhead St. Andrew and in the 18th century payment was given to those families affected. In June 1799 all paupers were inoculated against the disease.

A church house lodged paupers between 1699 and 1714. In 1768 the workhouse could be found east of West End Lane at its junction with St. Bartholomew's Street. Expenditure on the poor increased from £22 to £85 yearly between 1654 and 1744. In 1803, 67 paupers were relieved; 26 of those were in the workhouse. Part of the expenditure in the 1820s was to employ a parish surgeon. The parish was included in the Tisbury poor-law union in 1835 and after this the workhouse was sold.

In the later 18th century buildings stood near the church but the largest proportion of the growth followed the east and west sides of the lane north east and beside Hernsham Street. By the late 19th century the village had spread north-westwards along St. Bartholomew's Street. Donhead St. Andrew only developed what could be described as a centre in the second half of the twentieth century. Most buildings are made of local limestone and some have thatched roofs.

Parkgate Farmhouse is 17th century, altered in the mid 19th century. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof, an L-plan shape with a central baffle entry.

On Hernsham Street can be found Leigh Court, a 16th and 17th century farmhouse, altered in the 1930s by the Collett family. The core probably represents the remains of a late medieval house. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof. Leigh Court was noted as a manor house by R. Colt Hoare in 'Modern Wiltshire', 1829, and is the second oldest vernacular building in the Donheads. It belonged to the Leigh family as early as 1412. There is also a former barn, also altered in the 1930s. A detached cottage c.1700 can also be found in the street. 'Armourers' is of dressed limestone with a thatched roof.

At Milkwell there is a detached early 18th century cottage, again of limestone and with a thatched roof. It has an L-plan and is a 'good example of a little altered stone-built cottage in this parish'.

Pig Trough Lane is the site of a late 17th century cottage, extended in the 20th century. It is of dressed limestone with a tile roof and a central gabled stone porch with a square block sundial and stone benches within.

On Pound Lane is the 15th century Lower Berry Court Farmhouse which is partly in the parish. It was altered in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries and is made up of dressed limestone and rubblestone with a thatched roof. It is a six bay hall house with a service wing. The interior dates from the 16th and 17th centuries and still retains a medieval roof but the solar range was remodelled. It is a good example of a late medieval hall house and was owned by the Abbess of Shaftesbury until the Dissolution when it became the property of the Arundells of Wardour until the 1930s. As the parish boundary ran through the middle of the house and petty sessions could be held for both parishes in one room! It was also used for payment of tithes.

The Church of St. Andrew in St. Bartholomew's Street is Anglican and contains 12th, 14th and 15th century architecture. It was restored in the 19th century. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof and there are medieval floor tiles in the interior along with 19th century pews.

Beauchamp House (seen on the OS maps as Hill House) was the rectory until the 1950s but is now a private house. It was built in 1892 by C.E. Ponting and paid for by H. Chapman of Donhead House. The bricks are of Flemish Bond and there are limestone dressings with a tiled hipped roof. The interior includes original joinery.

Donhead House was also once the rectory but is now the training centre for the Brewer's Society. It was built in the early 18th century and was altered in 1892 for Horace Chapman, probably by C.E. Ponting. It was enlarged in the early 20th century for James Pender. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof and is L-shaped. There was a new range attached in the late 19th century. The interior has some original 18th century fittings. The house was converted from the rectory to a private residence in 1891 when Beauchamp House was built. Anthony Eden lived at Donhead House for a year following the Suez Crisis of 1956. The house was also owned by the Brewers Society Rank Hovis McDougal as a training college for experimental farming. It became a private house in 1990.

There are also two 18th century detached cottages in The Street, both of dressed limestone with thatched roofs.

A school was built north east of the church in 1835, endowed from the Bowles' Charity. These buildings were replaced in 1880. The school was closed in 1970 and since 1977 has been owned by the Henrietta Barnett School for Girls, Hampstead, who use it as a rural studies centre.

Arundell Farmhouse on the Shaftesbury Road was once a coaching inn but is now a farmhouse, built in the early 19th century. It has a brick front with stone quoins and a Welsh slate hipped roof, of square plan with a rear service wing, one of which includes a former brewhouse. It was formerly called the Glove Inn and horses that had negotiated the steep Whitesheet Hill were changed there. A new lower road was made in c.1775. A friendly society met there in 1803 and the pub burnt down in 1810. It must have been rebuilt by 1812 when the Groves family from Ferne House in Donhead St. Mary came for Boxing Day Balls to meet with neighbours there. A Victorian Society met there in 1839 when it was called the Arundell Arms. Petty sessions were held there in 1848 but it closed as an inn in 1906.

Thorne House was a farmhouse but is now a detached house of late 17th century date, altered in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof and has an H-plan with a rear former barn range. It still retained its thatched roof in the late 20th century.

Wardour Park is partly in the parish of Tisbury. The castle is now a ruin, built in the 1390s for John, the fifth Lord Lovel. It was remodelled in the 1570s for Sir Matthew Arundell by Robert Smythson. It is of limestone ashlar and has a hexagonal plan with projecting towers flanking the north entrance. The hexagonal courtyard is enclosed. The south west wall was completely destroyed together with parts of the west and south west walls. The courtyard interior holds a classical doorway of the 1570s. There are also vaulted undercrofts and an entrance passage below. Other apartments including the Lord's chamber were in ranges to the west and south. The castle was partly destroyed during the Civil War sieges of 1643 and 1644, replaced by James Paine's Wardour castle in 1776 when the bailey was laid out as pleasure gardens. It was considered one of the best properties in the county at the time. A grotto was built in 1792 by Josiah Lane of Tisbury. Richard Woods was employed between 1764 and 1771, and Capability Brown from 1773. There were two deer parks, one for red and another for fallow deer. Parliamentary forces were the first to besiege Wardour Castle during the Civil War. Lady Arundell held it 'gallantly' but was forced to surrender and became a prisoner in Shaftesbury. "The Lady Arundell refused to deliver up the Castle, and bravely replied.… they bring up the cannon within musket shot and begin the battery and continue it from the Wednesday to the Monday following". The Parliamentary forces were then besieged for over a year.

Old Wardour House is a detached house of 17th and 18th century date, of limestone ashlar with a tiled roof and also has a former stable block. The house is reputed to have been occupied by the Arundells following the destruction of Old Wardour Castle and the building of the new Wardour Castle. Attached to the rear of Old Wardour House is a late 17th century summerhouse of limestone ashlar with a tiled roof. Attached to the right is the shell of the 17th century stables. It is one of a set of buildings built against the south wall of the Old Wardour Castle bailey.

At Pond Close there is a detached cottage of late 17th century, altered in the mid 19th century. It is of dressed limestone with a Welsh slate roof and has an integral outshut. It was the former keeper's cottage for the Wardour Estate.

St. Andrew's Cottage in West End is a detached house of the mid 18th century. It has dressed limestone walls and is of an L-shaped plan with a thatched roof. The garden walls were built in the 18th century and there are 18th and 19th century iron gates.

West End farmhouse is now a detached house, built around 1700. It is of dressed limestone with a late 19th century rear wing. It ceased to be a farmhouse in 1932.

The New Inn (now The Forester) became a restaurant in the early 1980s. At the turn of the twentieth century a dining room/hall was added which also served as the village hall. The Castle Inn was built during the 19th century at the bottom of the two brook hills. In the early 20th century the publican was an ex-policeman who used to keep goats and hens at the back. The pub became a private house in 1965.

Some new houses were built behind the church (on what was Donhead House Farm) in the 1990s. The area opposite The Forester and just over the Cross Bridges was developed too. Anther estate can be found at Wardour and there is a hamlet to the east along Sands Lane.

Shaftesbury abbey held the settlement at Ferne (by Walter le Dispenser) before 1256 and in 1256 by Walter of Middlemarsh who at that time granted it to Philip of Ferne. Robert of Ferne and Philip of Ferne held 80 and 60 sheep respectively. In 1235 Philip was one of those freemen of Donhead to be granted pasture rights in the northern commons of Donhead St. Mary. The Brockway family held it from 1450-1561 when the first William Grove bought it. By 1686 most of the farmland of Ferne manor was arable and downland with a smaller percentage as meadow, cow pasture and copses. A string of five ponds were constructed before 1753, fed by the Nadder tributaries. In 1768 the land was worked from Ferne House. After this most of the land was laid to pasture for Ferne House which in the early 20th century consisted of woods and a small percentage of plantations. The Hampshire Down sheep were sold c.1897. In the 19th century land around Ferne House was imparked. The parkland was reduced in the 1950s when some became part of Higher Berry Court. In 1985 the park contained 175 acres of pasture and woods which were leased to Higher Berry Court Farm and Dengrove Farm.

Ferne House was built in 1811 on the site of a previous house. The gate piers to the park survive on Berwick Road and were put up in the 18th century. They also have 19th century wooden gates. It was owned by the Grove family from the 16th to the 19th century. Harriet Grove was in love with her cousin, the poet Shelley, who was a visitor to Ferne. Her parents disapproved! It remained with the family until 1902 when it was sold to the Hamiltons. Lady Hamilton was well known for looking after stray cats and dogs during World War II. After 1951 the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society owned the property. It was later owned by an animal sanctuary that couldn't afford the upkeep. In the mid 20th century the house was mostly shut up and the gardens were a wilderness. It was demolished in the later 20th century.

Easton Bassett was also part of Shaftesbury abbey's Donhead estate in the 10th century. It became part of the parish of Berwick St. John in 1884.

In 1086 the parish of Donhead had eight mills; presumably some of these were situated along the river Nadder at Donhead St. Andrew. West End Mill is a water mill with an attached house of early 18th century date. It is of dressed limestone and has a tiled roof. The former miller's house has an integral outshut and the dry mill race was still there in the late 20th century. The interior houses the machinery in situ which consists of a cast iron water wheel with paddles in a closed mill race; the gearing wheels and two millstones are on the ground floor. It was a working mill until 1939. There was a mill known as Rickett's Mill in the parish in the 1950s; it was previously known as Sharp's Mill. Donhead Mill can be found on the Tisbury Road. It was wrongly shown on the OS map as Lower Mill; the water mill and house, have workshops attached to the rear. It was built in the mid 18th century and altered in the 19th and 20th century. It is of dressed limestone with a tiled roof, has an L-plan and an integral outshut to the house. The mill retains part of the cast iron water wheel with the lettering 'ES Hindley of Bourton, Dorset, 1887'. One millstone is retained in situ on the ground floor. Kelloways Mill could be found below St. Andrew's church. A brickyard opened north of Scotts Hill in 1839 and continued into the late 19th century. Between 1839 and 1886 the quarrying of chalk and lime took place south of the old road running up White Sheet Hill. The quarry stood at 9 acres in 1946 when it had already become disused.

There were 607 inhabitants in the parish in 1801. The population fell to 535 by 1811 but increased rapidly to 900 in 1841. The population fell again in the later 19th century, partly due to the boundary changes, and through the 20th century until in 1981 a low point of 381 was reached. By 2001 the population had risen to 430.

The 1881 Census gives an idea of the people working within the community: there were carpenters, a mason, gardeners, a chimney sweep in Barker's Street, a horse breaker, carpenter and dressmaker who lived in Barkers Hill. Stone masons and a dress maker were in Pigs Trough Lane. A miller and dressmaker lived in Brick Yard. Mill Lane had a lot of brick makers, a grocer, two blacksmiths, a dressmaker, miller, innkeeper, tailor, shoemaker and a thatcher who was also the parish clerk. There was also a groom and a veterinary surgeon. The inhabitants of Scott's Hill were a brick labourer, a brick and tile maker and again, a dressmaker. South Hill had a carter and Hernshaw Street had two stone masons and a warrener. In Water Street there was a police constable, a grocer and shoemaker, a carter, gardener and a shepherd. There were also many agricultural labourers and a few farmers in the parish.

In the 20th century the farmyard of Mansfield Farm in Mill Lane was used by Dewey's Transport who hauled coal and various goods from Tisbury Station. Soon the number and size of the lorries became too great for the village lanes and so they relocated to the old airfield at Henstridge. The Mansfield Farm estate was 7 acres in 1938. It was broken up in 1974. The Dewey brothers were also the parish blacksmiths. The area they occupied was later used for housing. There was a Post Office and Stores in the village; it closed down in the 1980s. During the 1920s to 1940s tradesmen including a baker and grocer visited house to house to get orders.

There was a 'chocolate bus' c.1930 which went from Barkers Hill to Shaftesbury every day. It also went to Tisbury in time to meet the 9 o'clock train. It was run by the Donhead transport company but was bought out by the Wilts and Dorset Motor services in 1936.

There was a Post Office and Telephone Exchange at Brookwater.

In the early 1930s there was great debate around a civil engineer's suggestion as to whether the springs should be gathered together in a dam or reservoir to be piped nearer to homes. The required money could be borrowed from the Government and the next generation would have to pay it back. The author of the book on Donhead St. Andrew advises us 'What will it matter to us if our grandchildren stamp on our graves and revile our mouldering bones? We shall not hear them'. The meeting at the village hall voted against unlimited water. One inhabitant told the others 'In zummer-time, when anybody do want a woish 'most every day, water be scarce, and winter-time, when a veller don't want a woish no more'n once a week, there's water all over the pleace. Water' he concluded 'is all very well in its pleace, but I doan't hold wi' so much water'.

By the early 20th century the village had branches of the Ancient Order of Foresters and The Oddfellows Societies. The whist drive was very important in the early to mid 20th century, 'If a fellow pensioner inadvertently falls into a threshing machine and emerges requiring an artificial limb, we arrange a whist drive'. Or when the church bells require new bell ropes, we arrange a whist drive. When a new widow requires some sympathy, a whist drive is arranged to buy her a new mangle… The wonderful thing about a whist drive, so we are told, is that it not only the most effective means of raising money, but it also brings people together with much social equality'. Other means of raising money for charity were concerts, dances and jumble sales. In the 1930s the Emancipated Women's Guild met. Activities included 'scientific and intellectual research', some of which included weight guessing and the 'battle of the bulbs'; each member received a daffodil bulb in the autumn and 'after that it is a matter of sheer pluck'! There were also lectures. The group sang 'Jerusalem' and so must have been very much like the W.I. The Pig Club in the 1930s held a Pig Club Supper. The Ladies Sewing Guild was active in the 1930s and, among other things, made shirts for poor children. One of the sons of the owner of Fern House started a cricket club in the 1930s.

There were char-a-banc outings; everyone met at The Cross and had a trip to the Dorset coast which included a meal at a restaurant for some and a visit to Woolworths!

The summer fete was held in a private park in the 1930s. There were brass trumpets playing, sideshows, tents of temperance, guessing the weight of the cake, bowling for a pig. A Dr. Barnardo's fete was held at Ferne; there were rides on Shetland ponies.

During World War II Donhead House was used by the Red Cross for convalescent soldiers. Mansfield farmhouse was let out by the Arundell family to the Red Cross as a house for convalescent soldiers too, but after the war its condition was so poor it was pulled down. It could be found over the bridge towards Beauchamp House. A swimming pool stands there now. A bomb exploded at Barkers Hill and a big oil bomb went off in some allotment gardens too.

CouncilWiltshire Council
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Parish CouncilDonhead St. Andrew Parish Council
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Parish Emaildonheadstandrewpc@gmail.com

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Folk Songs from Donhead St. Andrew

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Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings, listed as being of architectural or historical interest is 31. There is 1 Grade I building, Old Wardour Castle, and 3 Grade II* buildings, Lower Berry Court Farmhouse, Church of St. Andrew and the walls of the Bailey of Old Wardour Castle.

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