Roads and Paths
Fovant roads as they were in the 18th Century are shown on the adjacent map. This map is based on the one accompanying the Enclosure Awards of 1787 and can be seen in more detail by clicking on it. (note that Turnpike roads are treated separately)
Many of the roads shown on the map still exist, either as village roads or as other Rights of Way and in 1928 Dr Clay described their history.
He thought that Green Drove was probably an extension of the Sigewine’s Dyke that we last met in the Anglo-Saxon Charter. Its continuation now becomes Catherine Ford Hill, passing Sandy Hollow, to continue northwards across the River Nadder and then straight on as the modern road to Wylye, with the Early Iron Age encampments of Wick Ball, Bilbury and finally Yarnburgh on it flanks.
Formerly, Dean Lane continued southwards across the present A30 to the foot of the downs and then up the slope to Fovant Hut. . This is now just a footpath. In the other direction it merged into Sutton Road and Church Lane and ended at Manor Farm, just below the church. Nowadays a footpath leaves Church Lane to cross the stream and follow the line of the old bridleway to Teffont Mill.
A bridle way leaves the Tisbury Road, as Schoolhouse Lane and runs through Touching Head Copse southwards to cross the present A30 at Scotland Buildings and on to the foot of the downs. The Fovant Enclosure Awards of 1797 called this the Limbway and scheduled it as ‘part of the road leading from the north part of the village to Ebbesbourne Wake’.
From the A30 it becomes a road, sometimes called The Hollow-way , which climbs the downs and bears left about 100 yards short of the crest. To the right, a track ran to the turnpike gate at Fovant Hut, then across the Old Turnpike to Ebbesborne Wake.
The left fork, now the present road, continues over the crest, skirts Fifield Ashes on the east, and so on to Fifield Bavant. and the western fork, no longer viable, ran to the turnpike gate at Fovant Hut, then across the Old Turnpike to White’s Hedge to become the road to Ebbesbourne Wake.
At the foot of the downs, where Limbway becomes The Hollow-way, a road, easier of ascent branches due west and then runs a semicircular course to meet the Old Turnpike to the west of Fovant Hut.
There was also at the foot of the downs another branch road, running in a south-easterly direction up the slope, over the crest and down to the village of Broad Chalke. This is now a byway.
The Enclosure Awards mentioned ‘A private carriage road for the use of the owner and occupiers of land in the new Commonfields’ which ran ‘due south from the new turnpike road at a point due south of Heathery Down Copse.’
Two other private carriage roads, parallel to the ‘new turnpike road’, ran due west from Limbway and divided the Commonfields into 3 equal portions.
This runs from the War Memorial to The Elms crossing, and then becomes Moor Hill Road, which climbs the lower part of the hill before turning north-westwards to cross the parish boundary at Long’s Farm. At its turn, it sends a branch, a byway, westwards to Sutton Mandeville. This byway is called Hole Lane. The weeping ash trees by the watercress beds were planted in 1854. The last smuggler in Fovant, named Goodfellow, lived in a house by the side of the stream 50 yards west of the mill.
The names of other roads have been forgotten, but this is how Dr Clay remembered them in 1928. Many of the field names that he mentioned have also been forgotten, but they can be found on the Enclosure Award maps .
The maps of 1787 and 1811 show a branch road at the bottom of Catherine Ford Hill running due east under Compton Woods to link up with a road called Horseshoe Lane . On the opposite side of Catherine Ford Hill, but higher up the slope, another road branched westwards in the direction of Teffont Mill.
The map of 1787 shows a Mansion Lane leading from the bridge over the stream in front of the Manor House, made between 1773 and 1787, to meet the present Dinton Road at the top of Mill Lane. Another road, Leatler Lane , ran from the bridge to Main’s Corner (the sharp corner on the road to Dinton) and on as the present road. In 1811 Mansion Lane was still a highway, but Leatler Lane had become a footpath.
About 150 yards east of Main’s Corner, Nightingale Lane , (which in 2005 is the road leading down to the sewage treatment plant), was a highway down to Folly Bridge. The same road was sometimes called Nun’s Walk.
Another road called Green Drove (there were at least two of them) ran between double hedgerows in a north-westerly direction from the Dinton–Fovant road, skirting Nightingale’s Great Main, to meet the Fovant–Teffont Mill path at Folly Bridge. It branched at its junction here, one branch going in a northerly direction to cross the river at the site of the first small bridge below the hatches, and so ended in the field.
Wood Lane ran due west from the bottom of Catherine’s Ford Hill to end in the wood near the field known as Old Russell’s and, in the opposite direction, a road ran along the north edge of Fovant Wood to Compton Chamberlayne.
Middle Hill Drove ran from the middle of Catherine’s Ford Hill due east, along the south edge of Summer Ground and then down the east side of it.
Tanner’s Lane was a road running due east from the middle of the Green Drove.
A bridleway was shown as running from Witt’s orchard southwards to the foot of the downs, where it turned to the southwest and ascended the slope, to make a junction with the top of the present eastern branch of the end of Limbway. This bridleway is still in existence.
Cricketers’ (or Crickety) Steps began at the foot of the downs at the end of the above bridleway.
It has been said that they were cut by workmen from Ebbesbourne Wake who worked at Fovant and Compton Chamberlayne, and that it saved them a long detour down the Turnpike and up the Limbway road. Another account, and more likely the correct one, is that they were cut by Fovant shepherds who had frequently to climb the downs to tend their sheep.
Dr Clay was told by a very old man that, according to his grandmother, the women living in the upper part of the village used to go up these steps to reach the patch of land, called the Poor Gorse, situated on top of the downs to the west of the eastern arm of Limbway. There they cut faggots of “Fuzz” or gorse for their bread ovens.
Despite an extensive search, the ‘steps’ could not be distinguished in 2002.
Click on the links below to find more information on surrounding roads and paths, past and present: