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Church Lane

Church Lane, in the middle of the village, was one of the two roads linking Bemerton with Salisbury, via the Wilton Road.   For a time, the lane was also known as Old Church Lane to reflect its proximity to the old church of St Andrew rather than new church of St John.   In 1838, the land on the east side of Church Lane - between St Andrews Church and the Wilton Road - was described as “a very valuable enclosure of meadow land and small plantation known as Church Lane Close.”  The land was let to Reverend Baker who, as curate, was living in the Rectory at the time.  Development occurred over many years in four unconnected phases:


Phase 1

The earliest properties in Church Lane were Myrtle Cottage and Swiss Cottage (now called Cherbury) on the west side of the lane.   Myrtle Cottage appears on a map of 1773 and Swiss Cottage was built in the latter half of the 19th century.

Phase 2

The cottages on the lower east side, which make up 19-37 Church Lane, formed the second phase.  They were built in 1863 although No 37 appears to have been added as an afterthought, given the different style of the front façade. These cottages have always been referred to as Church Lane properties, except the last cottage, which became known as No 3 Herbert Villas when the final two properties were added as part of Phase 3.

Phase 3

In 1872, Admiral John Fulford - who lived in Riversfield, Lower Road - gave land adjacent to St Andrew’s churchyard to the Rector, Wellesley Pole Piggot, for the support of the new St John’s Church.  This piece of land was part of Church Lane Close and included a swathe of  the adjacent garden of Riversfield House.  A map surveyed in 1875 shows the terrace of cottages (now 19-37 Church Lane) had been extended to provide an additional, double-fronted property, with glasshouses attached to the rear.  However, the 1881 census makes no reference to this being a residential property, suggesting the extension may have been regarded as part of the Rectory rather than Church Lane.  By 1891, when the next census was conducted, the extended area was treated as a single house, providing accommodation for the Rector's butler, when the property was known as East Villa.  By 1901, the extension had been configured to provide two cottages, initially known as Herbert Villas.


Phase 4

1-17 Church Lane, or New Buildings as they were known, formed the fourth phase of development and were built before 1891.  They were named to distinguish them from the earlier buildings at the lower end of the lane.  Although originally a meadow and orchard, the area became a claypit and brickworks at the end of the 19th century.  The builder is believed to have been the last owner of the brickworks, William Whitehorn, whose son sold the houses along with the brickyard to the Rector, Canon Warre, in 1898.   The houses were built at a lower level to Church Lane, on one of the excavated clay pits, when the brickworks ceased operations.  Canon Warre sold the houses by auction in 1904.

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