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Wylye, Wiltshire, England

John is a retired librarian who writes articles based on material gleaned mainly from obscure books and journals.

Teapot Street, Wylye

Teapot Street, Wylye

Wylye is a small village about ten miles northwest of Salisbury, Wiltshire, in southern England. The river that flows through the village is the River Wylye, a Celtic name that is the origin of “Wil” in Wilton, the town a few miles downstream from which the county of Wiltshire took its name.

Evidence that this area has been inhabited and cultivated from ancient times was confirmed in 2012 by the discovery, close to the village, of the Wylye Hoard, consisting of 41 copper-based objects that date from the Bronze Age. The hoard can be seen in the Salisbury Museum.

During Roman times the Wylye Valley was an important food source for the legions. Extensive grain pits have been excavated at Bilbury Farm, a mile from the village. Edible snails can still be found in the Wyle Valley; these are the descendants of snails originally imported by the Romans.

A Brave Post-Boy

The village is a bridging point of the River Wylye, although in earlier times there was a ford here. When a stagecoach, back in the 18th century, tried to cross the ford when the river was running high, it overturned and a post-boy, whose task was to blow a horn to announce the arrival of the coach at its various stopping points, rescued several passengers but was himself drowned. A lead statue of the post-boy, blowing his horn, was erected in the river close to the village mill, to commemorate his bravery and sacrifice.

New Roofs

Many of the older cottages in the village are typical of this area in having been built from Chilmark stone and flint, and with mullioned windows – i.e. divided into separate panes by stone uprights. However, few of the houses in the main street have thatched roofs, which might have been expected. This is because of a fire in 1924 which started at a farm in the village and was fanned by a strong wind so that all the thatched roofs were lost. The replacement roofs were made from fire-resistant tiles or slates, although some more recent owners have reverted to traditional thatch.

The oldest cottage, which dates from the 14th century, is Wylands Cottage which was originally two adjoining cottages, one of stone and the other of timber. It has a massive gable and steep red-tiled roof.

Waylands Cottage

Waylands Cottage

Whose Tomb?

The Church of St Mary the Virgin was largely rebuilt in 1846 on the site of a 13th century building. The tower, which is 15th century, survived the Victorian restoration. The richly carved oak pulpit dates from 1628.

In the churchyard is a large tomb surrounded by wrought-iron railings, which visitors might think contains the remains of a local dignitary. However, this is not the case, according to tradition. The story that is usually told is that a man named Popjay commissioned the tomb for his mother and sister. Before it was finished, Popjay left the village without having paid for the work. The rector decided to fund the work himself and it was his own remains that eventually occupied it.

Next to the church is the Bell Inn. Hanging above the fireplace can be seen the 19th century bell clappers from the church.

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Wylye Church

Wylye Church

Popjay's Tomb

Popjay's Tomb

Bell Inn, Wylye

Bell Inn, Wylye


Dave Langston on November 27, 2019:

Just moved into this village. A lot of history with the railway too if you ever want to do a part 2 John ;-)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 23, 2019:

Teapot Street is an interesting name for a road! The photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing the information about England.

John Welford (author) from Barlestone, Leicestershire on September 23, 2019:

I would like to make it clear that the photos are not by me. I have credited the sources, all the photos having been made available via Geograph.

Lorna Lamon on September 23, 2019:

I love the history attached to this beautiful village, and I can imagine a lovely log fire in the Bell Inn. Beautiful photos.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 23, 2019:

Wylye looks a quaint little village. I've never been to Wiltshire before. It's an interesting story about Popjay's tomb.

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