The Wilton Estate Sale
Much of the parish belonged to successive Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery from the Wilton Estate. However, following the death of the 14th Earl (Sidney Herbert), the Estate was severely hit by death duties and was forced to sell property in several outlying villages, including Fovant, Broadchalke and Wishford. A public auction was held on 27 August 1919 and the Fovant sale consisted of 89 lots (approximately 2,067 acres). The sale particulars show that the Fovant estate included dairy farms, smallholdings, cottages, allotments and several potential building sites.
The sale particulars provide valuable information about many of the houses we can see in the village today. For example, West Farm was described as a dairy and sheep farm of approximately 584 acres. The sale included withy beds, West Farm House with seven bedrooms, a pair of cottages, Scotland Buildings and Fovant Hut. At the time of the sale, the farm was let to Mr H. Hitchings. Buildings half-way up Green Drove, part of East Farm, were described as, ‘a modern homestead’ comprising: north range, with root house, cooling house, wagon lodge, double cow house to tie twelve cows; east range, comprising of a cow house to tie fourteen cows; and west range, with space for seventeen cows. East Farm was sold with part of Fovant Down and Chiselbury Camp. The farmhouse was described as a ‘well-built stone and tiled residence standing in a good position having a south and west aspect overlooking the village [sic] and Fovant Downs.’ The house was made up of five bedrooms with six attic bedrooms.
Other sale particulars are available to view at the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office. In 1910, the lease on Fishponds (now The Rectory) was sold on behalf of James Futcher. The house was described as a ‘newly erected detached residence with garden and tennis court.’ The Old Rectory, Church Lane, which was sold in 1949 with fifteen acres, was described as of stone construction with a tiled roof. The front elevation is late 17th or early 18th century and the rear portion dates to Tudor times. The Manor House, also on Church Lane, was sold in 1972 by the widow of Dr R.C.C. Clay. The front of the house is described as mid-16th century and the rear as 18th century. It was used as a doctor’s surgery from around 1850.