Friday, 5 September 2008
Lying to the west of Salisbury in the Nadder Valley is the tiny village of Compton Chamberlayne. A couple of dozen houses and a church in a wooded coombe to the north of the A30 road that runs from Salisbury to Shaftesbury. During the First World War troops were encamped in the fields nearby to the south east before heading off the the carnage of the trenches. Some from Australia, didn't make it that far but died of illness and were buried in the village graveyard.
I suppose if you are to die, a grave in this peaceful part of Wiltshire, your grave site flanked by a traditional cottage must be preferable to anonymity of a grave among thousands near the battlefield. Troops carved an outline of their homeland in the turf of the downland on the other side of the A30 and can be seen here
The village church nestles on the side of a slope next to 'the big house' of the village; it was constructed during the 13th century, at about the same as the cathedral at Salisbury.
Grave stones lean as if tired of their hundreds of years standing under the yew. They have not yet suffered the indignity of being reset and tidied by the health and safety crowd.
If you head north towards Baverstock, along a valley laid out as parkland, you will come to an old bridge over the Nadder, the river, coloured by recent rains and well stocked with fat trout, heading off to join the Avon at Salisbury.
The old bridge with its 'kickstone', so shaped and positioned to 'kick' the wheel of a cart over away from the parapet of the wall so that the capping stones are not displaced and knocked ito the river