Oram's Grave

This is the name given to a tumulus at the intersection of two old tracks on the downs, the track from Salisbury to Warminster with that of Maddington to Codford. The spot is on the boundary of Maddington and Chitterne St Mary.

1912 Ordnance Survey 1-inch series

James Oram hanged himself 25 July 1768, it is thought due to disappointment in love. The Wiltshire Coroner's Bills show that the coroner attended and charged 1.9shillings for the 12 miles he had travelled. Oram's body was buried by the people of Chitterne at this spot, which has retained Oram's name but may have been used since for the burial of suicides.

The story of one such suicide and subsequent burial are known from the account told by a witness and relayed via her neighbour to a local Vicar. The witness, Elizabeth White (nee Windsor, born 1797) was returning home from Salisbury with her father when they came across the burial in progress at this spot. Her father told her, "her maunt be vraughten at what she saw for they wouldn't hurt she" and so she watched the man being buried.

It was the custom, at the time, for suicides to be buried by the people of the village outside the boundary. A stake was driven through the body and there was no funeral service, nor was the burial registered, so the exact date is not known, but it is thought to have happened in about 1805. The only mention of a suicide at Chitterne in the coroner's records near this time is that of Daniel Harding of Chitterne All Saints who committed suicide by hanging himself on 28 August 1810.

I am indebted to David White who discovered the name of Oram and his date of death in the Coroner's Bills.

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