There is no clear division between ancient and modern, rather they overlap as one evolves into another. That being so, it is difficult to define the term ‘modern’ in relation to what we might call our later houses. However, there are questions we could ask ourselves, the answers to which might help to establish a rough dating procedure for later Fovant houses:
Q. When was brick first used for village buildings?
A. Probably during the first half of the 20th century when a brick, tile and pottery works was established south east of the nearby village of Dinton.
Q. A rash of village building took place in the early 1920s. Why?
A. (1) The then Earl of Pembroke sold off property and land in several villages – one of which was Fovant. The sale catalogue, dated August 1919, gives details of building sites.
A. (2) The closure of the 1914–18 camps at Fovant led to a sale of building materials that was deemed surplus to military requirement. An advertisement in the Salisbury Journal told of ‘…a sale of dismantled hut timber, corrugated iron, and a selected assortment of floorboards, doors, windows, and various timbers…’
Village builders took maximum advantage of this conjunction of land and building materials sales. One of these local builders, Frank Read, bought ‘two and a third acres of land for £10’ from his brother who had bid successfully for a larger parcel of land at the Pembroke Sale. Later Frank Read attended the Camp Dispersal Sale where he not only bought building materials but also purchased a small army hut. He then built, for himself, the first bungalow in Fovant, The Croft in Tisbury Road, and erected the hut alongside the bungalow for use as his business premises. According to John Coombes, one of his workmen, Frank Read ‘designed the bungalow himself on a sheet of paper ’ .
Perhaps it was because Frank Read then had his own building workshop that he was able to extend his building activities. Be that as it may, in 1924 he built Spring Gardens, for the then headmistress of our school, and Southlands for his brother – both on the Tisbury Road . He followed these in 1930 with Ty Cariad, Foresters and Westdene on the Dinton Road , for his sisters. Another Fovant builder, Tom Bracher, also using materials from the camps, built five small bungalows along the Shaftesbury Road for the farm workers of John Combes of East Farm. Apart from Spring Gardens, built by Frank Read, all the dwellings erected by these two local men are bungalows. Furthermore, with the exception of one of the five bungalows along Shaftesbury Road, which having fallen into disrepair was demolished and replaced in the 1980s, all are still in occupation.
Thereafter village building was largely taken over by ‘outside’ builders who may well have also taken advantage of the opportunity to buy land at the Pembroke Sale. Consequently the incidence of village house building increased rapidly, resulting in a positive rash of new properties throughout the village – many of which were bungalows. House building in the village undoubtedly marked time during the Second World War, but took off again with the installation of mains water in 1950 and public sewerage in 1962
Although confined not only by its topography but also by a housing policy which did not permit building beyond its boundaries, plus the limited amount of land available for development, the village still managed to expand. This growth was achieved through a process known as ‘infilling’ – the placing of new buildings between existing houses.
Today, although building land is at something of a premium, expansion of a kind still continues via the use of ‘backfilling’, although care is taken to ensure that development does not intrude above the skyline. Great efforts are also made to harmonise the building materials of the new with the old, resulting in an interesting mix of the ancient and modern.
Click on the links below to find more information on Fovant house names and the effect of the Earl of Pembroke sale in 1919: