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Biddestone


Biddestone (ST 87 73) is an outstandingly pretty village on the Welsh drovers’ route from Yatton Keynell to Marlborough.  It is now home to many writers, apparently. 


What particularly intrigued me was “The Pool” (#1,2).  Pwll is a Welsh word, the English for ‘pond’.  Richard Moore-Colyer in his famous book “Welsh Cattle Drovers” highlights the use of the word in Priors Marston, Warwickshire (p.155) and writes that pit or pond would be the expected term in England.  The owners of Pool Farmhouse in Biddestone have said they will look at their deeds to find evidence of Welsh ownership. 


Ah!  The excitement of the trail…


On the southern edge of the village is The Biddestone Arms, originally The White Hart.  (The green door in #3 belongs to White Hart Cottage.)  There were plenty of inns in B. but drovers usually chose the one on the edge of a village so their stock wouldn't be mixed up with local herds.


The road to Chippenham was a pleasant but unexciting walk, until we came to an ancient-looking pine at Middlehill Cottage, where the road had wide verges (#4).  The combination made us think that MC could have been a drovers’ inn, so we knocked on the door.


The cheerful & charming owner did not appear to mind being gatecrashed at all.  He had never heard of the inn possibility but was determined to show us the holy well behind the house called “Dauber’s Font” (#5).  Gatecrashers determined to see DF were frequent, apparently. 


Anyway, thank you, Tony, for injecting such fun into our stay in the area.  You “made our day”, we decided later as we mulled over the walk on our return.


(The road goes on to cross the A4 at Chequers Farm, obviously an old inn, then widens considerably as it goes around Chippenham on its way to Notton and Reybridge.  KG Watts (“The drove Roads of Wiltshire”) talks of a ‘wide lane with old oaks’.  I’m ashamed to say we never took photos of that bit…)

Biddestone image 1
The Pool...
Biddestone image 2
Popular Spot...
Biddestone image 3
The White Hart...
Biddestone image 4
The Inn?
Biddestone image 5
The Holy Well