The Amesbury Turnpike Trust

The Amesbury Turnpike Trust was set up following an Act of Parliament dated 1761, to deal with the poor state of the roads. It meant that the upkeep of the road would be paid for by the user rather than the landowner whose land it crossed. Tolls would be collected from travellers on the turnpiked road at certain points along its length. Often turnpike cottages were built to house the tollkeeper, with windows that allowed him to see the road and travellers on it, in both directions. The trustees, headed by the Duke of Queensberry from Amesbury, met regularly to oversee the operation and the dispersal of the tolls.

The road ran from Amesbury to Heytesbury. Chitterne was on the Amesbury to Ansty Hill section. There was no turnpike cottage in the village but tolls were collected in Chitterne until the early 19th century at a toll booth thought to have been in the grounds of Elm Farm, (see further research below).

The turnpike gates stood on the boundary between the two parishes of Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary, where the B390 meets the C22 from Tilshead. The road would have been much narrower there in the 18th century than it is now, and the barrier extended across the width of the Chitterne Brook, as well as the road, to catch those travellers who might try to avoid paying the toll by going through the water!

C19th map showing the position of the turnpike gates across the
road (brown) and brook (blue), with the associated toll booth (red) at
the south end. The present day sportsfield is at the top of the map.

By 1823 Chitterne's tolls were amalgamated with those of Heytesbury and by 1825 with Amesbury too. In 1871 the trust was disbanded and the effects sold off.

Investigation into the Supposed Toll Booth at Elm Farm by Rod Shipley

Exhibit A: Elm Farm on the near left c.1900

Exhibit A is a copy of an old postcard of Tim Churchill's. Fortunately it just about shows the end of the front wall of Elm farm, plus (as I'm sure you've noticed) what appears to be a thatched roof with a dormer window over a tall cob wall immediately to the right of the farmhouse.

Exhibit B: April 2010

Exhibit B is a picture taken by Linda this afternoon which shows the same scene today. I've resized both pictures so they are the same size and resolution.

Exhibit C

Exhibit C is Exhibit B with the cob wall and thatched roof from Exhibit A superimposed on it. Not such a bad match, is it? And it makes the most likely candidate for the toll house to be the thatched cottage behind the cob wall, facing onto Bidden Lane. The back gate of the cottage at the bottom left of the wall aligns with the side gate that's there today. That would also fit with the property numbered 120 on the Parish map above.

Exhibit D

Just for completeness, Exhibit D is the original picture with today's front wall and gate superimposed. It confirms that the scaling is about right and also that the gate in the 'old' pic is not the one we have now.....

Thank you Rod and Linda for a great piece of detective work, and thanks to Tim for the photo. SR