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Compton Hut

Compton Hut

 

What remains of Compton Hut – one roof-tile was all we found – is on the old road from Shaftesbury to Salisbury, or from Shaston to Sarum if you prefer.  It’s sometimes called “The Shaston Drove”.  “Hut” was the term for an inn in Wessex.

 

 

We started on White Sheet Hill where it diverges from the modern road at 934240.  The first half of the walk to Fovant Hut, an entirely modern building (002266), has spectacular views (#1) but it reminded me of roads in the middle of France that lead from nowhere much to nowhere in particular.  I didn't have the feeling of continuous use throughout the ages. The second half, from Fovant Hut on, is almost the same, but with fewer views because of the tall hedgerows (#2).

 

(But, how misguided I am.  Ann Cole has told me that it was a herepaeth: meaning it was fit for an army or band - OE here - of at least 35 men to use if they wished to do so.  It is also alluded to in several "charter boundaries", which marked out the limits of an estate or parish, dating from c. AD 940 to 970.  So fairly heavy usage for over a thousand years!)

 

 

Then, unexpectedly, we reached the Hut, or the site of it, anyway (047287).   It was cathedral-like: tall pines and maples soared upwards and beneath them was a lonely darkness.  But somehow you could almost feel and smell the ghosts still waiting to be served.  It has a flavour of tragedy about it and is strangely moving (#3-5).

 

 

The Hut featured in The Police Gazette1 of 8th July 1774: several men from Broad Chalke, three of them named, broke into the cellar and stole “thirty gallons of strong beer, eight cheeses and eight bushels of malt”.  Thomas Gould, the landlord, offered one guinea reward for information leading to a conviction.  The descriptions that follow are amusing: “William Jesper [has] his own hair...talks very thick and has very rotten teeth before...James Mitchell...his own black curled hair, down look...very thick lips and talks very thick...”

 

 

The Hut was unoccupied by 1882, when gipsies broke in and slept in the beds: they had made a hole in the wall to get in!

 

 

1 The Police Gazette and Hue and Cry was originally a weekly newspaper produced by the Home Office from 1772 to publish notice of wanted criminals.

Compton Hut image 1
Swallowcliff Down
Compton Hut image 2
The Way to CH
Compton Hut image 3
Pines at CH
Compton Hut image 4
Underneath..
Compton Hut image 5
Not a stone left