The Old Rectory Wiltshire

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The Old Rectory

Coulston

Westbury

Wiltshire BA13 4NY

 

Telephone: 01380 830 930

Mobile: 07818 261 612

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The House

Time stands still in The Old Rectory, a charming and quintessential Georgian country house with bags of character. The house is perfectly proportioned and has large, original sash windows letting in masses of light. The built-in niches house antique furniture and art and roaring log fires in the stone and marble fireplaces (mainly for effect as the house is centrally heated throughout) create a warm and cosy atmosphere.

The kitchen of the house has beams dating back to around 1600 but the rectory as it stands was put together around 1780. It belonged to the church till the late 1930‘ies and was home to generations of rectors of the quaint Norman church St Thomas of Canterbury just up the footpath.

 

Battles, murders and ghosts

The whole area is steeped in history. It was probably here that KIng Alfred the Great won a decisive battle against the Danes at the Battle of Ethandun (Helle who is Danish is not quite sure she wants to remember that particular bit of English history!).

On an iron age hill fortress a white horse was cut into the hillside in 1778. Some sources say that it replaced a much older horse which was cut to commemorate King Alfred’s victory.

 

The church in Coulston is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The grave of Francis Saville Kent - an almost four-year-old boy who was said to have been murdered his by sixteen-year-old half-sister in 1860 - is in the churchyard. However, the theory later appeared that the sister was not guilty but that her father, a known adulterer who was having an affair with the toddler's nursemaid, killed the child in a fit of rage while interrupted. Many were suspicious of the father from the start, including the novelist Charles Dickens who took an interest in the case. The murder has attracted a lot of attention over the years, lately a Swedish Television team visited to make a feature for viewers of a summer series about English Murders.

 

And there might have been another murder this one at The Old Rectory. People having lived and worked in Coulston their entire life tell the story that a young girl (about 16 years of age?) who lived in The Old Rectory found out that her father (the rector) had an affair with the nursery maid. The father, fearful that the daughter would tell his wife, killed his daughter whose ghost is said to have been seen on the balcony and in rooms in the eastern part of the house. However, when we bought the house, we were told that there was a gravestone in the dirt floor in the cellar. Two scottish brothers came in to help us sort out the cellar and we told them to carefully remove the gravestone as we didn’t want it damaged. When we came home, the gravestone had come out but a corner was broken off. One of the brothers who could see we were sad about this explained that the reason for this was that he had had to take the gravestone out on his own. “Why?”, we asked. “Well”, he said, “My brother wouldn’t touch that gravestone. You know how you told us about the ghost you have in the house. Ever since then we have joked about it and we always called the ghost Mary. And guess what name was on that gravestone. Mary!”

 

We have to say that neither we nor any of our visitors have ever seen or felt the presence of a ghost. And everybody coming to the house always comments on the friendly atmosphere it has.

About the House and Area

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