Annie Compton

When Ann Compton died in 1931, aged 91, the Warminster Journal described her as "A unique Chitterne character" and "England's Oldest Councillor".

The Local Government Act of 1894 had vested control of the village under the new Warminster Rural District Council. Of its 25 members, Ann Compton, who represented Chitterne St. Mary, was the only woman. She was one of only 140 lady councillors in England and Wales. Her role as a councillor also made her a member of the Board of Guardians of the Warminster Workhouse. Serving with her were Miss Maxfield and Lady Pelly, elected from the Warminster Parish. These indomitable ladies were 3 of only 875 Women Guardians, out of a total in England and Wales of 29 000.

The name of Compton appears for many centuries in the parish records, but Ann seems to be the last of her line in the village of Chitterne. She is buried with her parents, George and Elizabeth, and a sister, Elizabeth Mary, in the churchyard of St. Mary's.

Often referred to as Annie, she was still serving on the Board of Guardians when it was disbanded in 1930 and attended the final meeting in Warminster at the age of 90. At that time, she was living in Bridge Cottage, which later became known as the Bridge Cafe, seen on the right in this old photograph, next to the King's Head Public House.

The following is an extract from the account of her death and funeral from the Warminster Journal dated Friday 16th January 1931:

THE PASSING OF MISS ANN COMPTON
A UNIQUE CHITTERNE CHARACTER
In her 92nd year, Miss Ann Compton passed away at Chitterne on Sunday....She was a link between the Early Victorian age and the Modern Age and she was always proud of the great character that brought fame to England in her childhood days. Miss Compton was a striking personality with remarkable gifts ....One of the good "old-fashioned school", Miss Compton was a human "land-mark" in Chitterne for generations whose advice was often sought and who was regarded as everybody's friend....She had one brother who farmed at Glebe Farm, Chitterne and two sisters - Mrs Mark Wallis, of Stapleford, and Mrs Guy, of London.

Miss Compton devoted nealry forty years of her life in the interest of the community....When Miss Compton first became a councillor, mode of transport was not quite as comfortable as the modern system, and it is recorded that on occasions she has walked nine miles to attend the Board meetings at Warminster. For many years, she walked three miles to Codford Station en route to the council meetings, and then walked the same three miles home in the evening.... a striking contrast to the type of character that is in the majority today.... Perhaps but few of the present generation knew that Miss Compton....was a staunch Liberal in politics....(she) once lived away from Chitterne, for a short period - when she was a school teacher in London - (and) had for some years entertained many villagers to tea on the occasion of her birthday. She was well read in history, and always proud of the history of Chitterne....

PW

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