The Wallis Family

The Wallis's have lived in Chitterne since the 17th century and in the Manor house of Chitterne St Mary for over 150 years.

The family tradition says that the first Wallis, a gentleman, arrived in the village around 1635 and then disappeared! Then, around 1670, a second Wallis, a wheelwright and carpenter, arrived and settled at Well Cottage in Bidden Lane. He was the ancestor of the Chitterne Wallis family.

From my own brief research I found a John Wallis, and a William Wallis both leasing land and property in Chitterne in the 1750's from Norton Powlett (Paulet), the owner. John, said to be from Amport near Andover in Hampshire in 1752 and William (origin unknown) in 1755. John had a son also called John, but William became the favoured family name given to the eldest son of each generation.

During the 19th century, two such eldest sons called William each had a wife called Mary, leading to plenty of confusion for researchers, but nowadays each eldest son is known by his second name, a definite improvement! Eldest sons of the family are also christened with a third name, Buckeridge. This is given to seal the gift of a place reserved at St John's College, Oxford (should the son be sufficiently academic), bestowed by Bishop Buckeridge of Ely, an ancestor and one of the founders of that college.

Later the family became brewers and maltsters, landlords of the local public house, the King's Head, and grew their own barley. A 1910 tax made malting uneconomic and from that time the family concentrated on farming.

In 1851 William Wallis rented the Manor and 460 acres of land from Lord Long, who then owned most of Chitterne. This William, and his wife Mary (nee White), had 17 children and it was said at the time that there were enough Wallis's and Bazells (a family with 13 children from Clump Farm nearby), to make a football team. Inevitably, in an isolated village like Chitterne, the Wallis family became connected to other local farming families through marriage. The three I know of are, Eliza Wallis and John Titt (of Elm Farm - see John Wallis Titt); Emily Lavington (of Clump Farm) and George Wallis; and Louisa Compton (whose brother farmed Glebe Farm) and Mark Wallis.

At the end of the first World War Frederick Wallis took up a mortgage to buy the Manor and land from Lord Long. The mortgage was not paid off until Frederick's son Victor's time.

Coronation Dinner 1911 in Wallis's Barn

Today the Manor stands on high ground overlooking the old parish of Chitterne St Mary. It is a beautiful 17th century red brick house with stone-mullioned windows, stone tiled roof and a heavy, riveted oak front door. The house used to be in the plan of an H, but the right side wing was demolished in the 19th century. There is purported to be a tunnel running from the Manor's cellars to the site of another old house, now demolished, that once stood on the present day village Sportsfield.

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