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Throop

Written by Jane Courtier


East of Brianstpuddle, by about 3/4 of a mile, lies the hamlet of Throop. Leaving Briantspuddle behind you the road follows the course of the river through open meadows; the first houses you come across were originally a pair of farm workers' cottages built in the 1950s. Opposite the cottages is a piece of land known as Bat Willow Nurseries, now used for horses but in its past for market gardening and smallholding. The willows still grow alongside the River Piddle, which forms the site's northern boundary. Over the years many applications have been made for a dwelling to be built on this site but the local council has steadfastly refused permission. The stable block, however, sneaked through by default when the council failed to take action against it in sufficient time!

The track to the left immediately past Bat Willow leads over Red Bridge towards Kite Hill; continue straight on and you will come to another track leading to Turners Puddle. Down this unmade road is the Glebe House, at one time the home of the rector of Turners Puddle church. In the early 1800s this was Reverend William Ettrick, who hired a local woman called Susan Woodrowe to work in the house and garden at a rate of 1 shilling a day. A series of misfortunes then befell the rector's family "farm animals went lame or died of mystery illnesses; crops failed, and the Rector's newborn son fell prey to a "peculiar and most vexatious illness....like a Demonical Possession". Reverend Ettrick and his wife became convinced that Susan Woodrowe was to blame, attributing all their problems to "the vile witchcraft of a bad neighbour...a hag and reputed witch....an ill-looking and worse-tempered wretch. We have now traced home to her the whole of the Miseries and Misfortunes that have fallen so thick and heavy on us ever since her first engagement. After several months of increasing troubles, Susan Woodrowe was given "a sharp and final discharge from ever being employed by me any more" and the rector declares in his diary "I was once incredulous about the power of Witchcraft, but have no doubts remaining".

Leaving Susan's reputed malevolent powers behind us and retracing our steps to the road, on the left we find Piper's Cottage - first on the left in the photograph - a typical thatched longhouse which in the old days would have housed the family in one half and the livestock in the rest (an early form of central heating!) Next to Piper's Cottage are two houses which were originally built as one dwelling in the late 1600s, the house of a prosperous yeoman who could afford a heated parlour for genteel entertaining. It was converted to two dwellings many years ago, however, with a long procession of rather more humble agricultural labourers as its occupants.

On the opposite side of the road is Throop House, for many years the main farmhouse of the village. The brick front and tiled roof was a Victorian gentrification of the earlier cob and thatch construction which can still be seen at the rear. Next to Throop House is Well Cottage. Not the only well in the village but certainly more visible than most, being in the front garden rather than at the back. The little house next door, called The Owl Box, was until recently a small barn belonging to Well Cottage and used as a garage.

Opposite Well Cottage is Starmoor, originally a bungalow built in the 1940s in a meadow of that name, and above Starmoor is Throop Farm, built as a pair of farmworkers' houses by Sir Ernest Debenham as part of his great agricultural experiment.



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