History of the Village of Pitton

Pitton and the surrounding area has a long history from the earliest time of settlement. A skeleton unearthed on The Green in 1958 was dated as belonging to the era of Stonehenge. There was a long barrow behind Earlswood and another on the hill approaching Winterslow. A Roman-British cemetery was excavated near the Salisbury road showing evidence of burials and cremations and the Roman Road from Winterslow to Old Sarum forms our Parish boundary for a short distance; there is also the site of a Roman villa between Pitton and Farley.

‘Pitton’ is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon personal name Pitta or Putta – the Hawk. It is likely that this implied this was the place where Anglo-Saxon nobles kept their hawks, as throughout the Middle Ages Pitton was a forest village, with close associations with Clarendon Palace.

15th century Willow Cottage

Willow cottage dates from the 15th century (above)

In written archives, Pitton is first mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon document in 841AD. The King gave land at Pitton to William de Viring in 1327, no doubt for services to the royal estate at Clarendon. There were many royal visits to the Palace and deer park at Clarendon from Norman times until the end of the 15th century but by the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the Palace was a ruin. At Ivychurch (Alderbury) there was an Abbey of Augustinian canons and the Abbott had 20 acres at Pitton, possibly for providing services at Pitton Church. The Close, now a small area used for children’s recreation, was once called Abbott’s Close and may be the remains of this land.

Pitton in 1880

Pitton, circa 1880 (above)

Throughout the Middle Ages, Pitton and Farley were both chapelries of the parish of Alderbury, a few miles to the southwest. In 1649 it was proposed to create a new and separate parish of Pitton and Farley, but it wasn’t until 1874 that this eventually happened.

Until the late 1920’s many of the men from Pitton found employment in the woods of Clarendon. The line of existing footpaths makes one realise today how far those men had to walk in order to earn their ‘daily bread’. It was at this time, too, that Pitton was the home of an important wagon building and wheelwright business well known throughout the district for its fine craftsmanship.

Peartree Cottage 1924

Pear Tree Cottage 1929 (above)

At one time Pitton and Farley were both owned by the Earl of Ilchester, who also held estates in Dorset. He sold the two villages in 1912, which gave an opportunity for many tenant farmers to own land in their own right. Some of the old sale maps and schedules still survive and make interesting reading.