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Discover the hidden delights of Wiltshire. 

Our members represent a rich community of independent local businesses providing quality and unique products and experiences.

Find local artisan food & drink, original products, art, local shops, events, local accommodation & experiences.

  • Pythouse Kitchen Garden Café & Shop

    Many of today’s visitor’s to the Pythouse Kitchen Garden remember running around the Victorian walled garden as children...»

  • Kathryn Spreadbury Designs

    Kathryn Spreadbury’s original hand-painted teapots, mugs, vases and bowls are bold, fun and bright. ...»

  • Jacqui Melhuish

    Jacqui came to ceramics through an unusual route, training first as a graphic designer and then taking a degree in illustration...»

  • Sticks & Stones

    Sticks and Stones is a stylish, lifestyle shop wrapped around a cosy and relaxed café alongside the Woodborough Garden Centre, ...»

  • Love Food

    Lucinda Bevan is a nutritional therapist with a keen interest in the brain. She runs lively and informative nutritional cookery demonstrations...»

  • Overtown Manor

    Overtown Manor is a unique Bed and Breakfast. Situated just minutes from the M4 at Swindon it couldn’t be easier to reach. ...»

  • Marlborough College Summer School

    In 1978, thanks to an air traffic controller’s strike, the presenters from the BBC “Holiday” programme had to cancel their planned trip to Spain...»

Something for everyone

Sam Bertram

31 March 2015

My children have both been to Marlborough College Summer School and every day they come back with big grins on their faces and tales of all the fun they’ve had – whether it’s canoeing or sliding down an inflatable slide covered in bubbles. When you walk around the impressive grounds you can hear the sound of laughter from people having a fabulous time. Many families and individuals feel so well looked after and have so much fun, that they’ve been coming to enjoy the fantastic courses on offer since it began in 1975. You often see grandparents meeting up with their grandchildren for lunch, or enjoying a cup of tea and a treat in the marquee at the end of the day. It’s the largest of its kind and there’s nothing else that caters for all ages in so many different areas. This year it’s extended to 4 weeks for the first time (12th July to 8th August) so customers have an even wider range of courses and opportunity to enjoy them. The types of courses you can enjoy are endless. There are…. Arts & Crafts, Landscape & Architecture, Literature & Creative Writing, History, Art History and Culture, Music, Dance & film, Science and Technology, Body & Mind, Life skills & Outdoor pursuits & Sport and varied and entertaining courses for children.  Need I say more – there’s something for everyone. The most popular courses are History & Cookery but it does vary and Ukulele for beginners is already full, closely followed by metal-detecting! Originally the Summer School was run by a few staff part-time but now it has a dedicated team of 5 and many more during the Summer School itself. They have recently been joined by new Director John Blake whose previous experience includes Chelsea Flower Show and Ascot Racecourse. The Summer School helps raise much needed funds for bursaries and upkeep of the Marlborough College Estate.  There are lots of local regulars as well as Londoners but it also draws customers from countries such as Spain, France, America and China. There’s plenty of accommodation at the college with meals in the Norwood Hall, as well as some lovely local accommodation options nearby. Some people love to stay in the dormitories as they get the feel of what living in a boarding school must be like, and if you stay at the College it’s easy to stay and enjoy a drink with friends in the evening in the Court. The lovely High street with its independent shops and cafes is right on your doorstep as well as access to all the College’s amazing sporting facilities. There are some fabulous new courses this year. For those who dream of hitting gold, or finding a Roman artefact in their garden, metal detecting is proving a massive hit. There’s a Learn to Brew Course, a Teddy Bear making course from the lady who made the Teddy Bears for Downton Abbey, and Dance Fusion for teenagers run by 3 incredible dance teachers. For 9-12 year olds Summer Baking looks at different recipes and a new goalkeeping course is perfect for football enthusiasts. The Gala performances form part of the evening entertainment and have also extended this year to include Tuesdays as well as Fridays.  There’s a range of acts from Jazz artist Courtney Pine, Cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber, political figure Giles Brandreth to an Abba Tribute band.  It’s first class entertainment that can be enjoyed by Summer School attendees as well as local residents who just want to take advantage of the shows on offer. There’s no better way to enjoy the long summer days but places are booking up fast so get in quick….. www.summerschool.co.uk


A modern day Long Barrow

Tim Daw

27 February 2015

Building a Long Barrow, a brand new Neolithic chambered tomb in Wiltshire, why? As the press, radio and television have reported on my project this is the question that I’m always getting asked. I have lived and worked all my life in the middle of Wiltshire surrounded by the immense monuments and subtler earthen shapes of an earlier time, where every field is a palimpsest of forgotten lives. I now work at most famous of them all, Stonehenge and spend much of my time explaining, thinking and talking prehistory. Our knowledge of life before written histories comes from what they left behind and the dead and their monuments  are a large part of that. We identify cultures largely by the way they treated their dead, their changing funereal practices. As they moved from excarnation to cremation to burial and back again we postulate huge cultural changes and shifts. But we are living through a time of immense change of how we treat our deceased and our grief, and yet our culture and society are only gently changing. Within the reign of our Queen, without invasion or catastrophe, we have changed from the darkly formal funeral to more celebratory cremations as the norm,  and we now have a huge variety of funereal practices. I'm not sure what this tells us about how our culture is changing but I think it does provide an opportunity to offer different options to the bereaved. So it was not completely unexpected that an idle pub conversation, over a pint, lead to; "Wouldn't it be great to be buried in a barrow, just as our forefathers were". And like most such discussions nothing came of it. But at different times and in different places the problem of what to with our relatives' ashes was raised. Some people have a clear idea of where to catter them, but many don't.  One crisp winter morning I was walking around my farm and I came to the top of a gentle rise and looked across the valley to the sun rising in the distance. The Pewsey Vale was almost silent under a low lying mist, with just tops of trees and a church spire visible. And I thought "I wouldn't mind spending eternity here". By the time I had walked home the idea of a barrow aligned to the winter sunrise, a working barrow, a columbarium for people to use for their ashes had been formed. But could I build it, would people want to use it, what about planning permission, would it be legal, there were so many questions.  I didn't want the Long Barrow to just be for the romantic pagans of Wessex, I felt there were a lot of more conventional people of my age who weren't strongly religious, but were not completely without a feeling for something mystical and slightly spiritual. People who want to connect with a culture, with our land and nature. People who instinctively choose organic, natural, traditional, restrained, you know the type. But more importantly people wanted a place to return to, to remember, to commemorate their loved ones. And if the reader will excuse me, for many of us the municipal cremetorium fails as somewhere we feel comfortable, somewhere the deceased would have felt at home. I used social media, mainly Facebook, to build a community of interested people who provided support and feedback. It also built a relationship with local media companies who could monitor progress. The idea of providing niches for the public within the barrow seemed to interest a lot of people, the feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive, so I spent a year getting planning permission. I think by consulting widely before applying we had gained community acceptance and we didn't have a single objection to the plans, even though it is a green field site in an AONB. There was a wobble when Building Control mused on the need for fire escapes and hand rails, but with some prompting they decided it was a "structure" not a "building" and so was outside their remit. The news of the planning permission appeared in The Times where Martin and Geraint from Riverdale Stone saw it. They approached me and told me it had to be built in natural stone using traditional methods and that they were the people to do it. So they built it, we started building it with a ceremonial turf cutting on 20th Dec 2013 and had an official opening on 21st Sept 2014 – nine months the facade is of large local Sarsen boulders with the interior of limestone walls and corbeled roofs. It is stunning. We had articles in all the major newspapers and on local television and radio and the interest has been phenomenal. There are 340 niches in the Long Barrow, most of them are a standard size which are designed for a pair of urns but will take up to about six. The niches are designed to be sealed with a memorial stone.  The rest of the niches are smaller, either suitable for one or two urns; they have all been reserved, in fact nearly three quarters of all the niches have been reserved .  More details are at www.thelongbarrow.com or find us on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelongbarrow/   


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