Shepherds Hut restored by John ErringtonOnce a relic rotting on the Downs, made redundant as mechanised farming techniques began to invade the traditional lifestyle of the sheep herder on Wiltshire’s rambling grasslands, and shepherds found that Land Rovers, other 4x4s and Quad Bikes meant that they didn’t have to live out with their sheep, a restored shepherd’s hut is rapidly becoming a desirable addition to a garden, as a summerhouse, garden office or even as ‘glamping’ accommodation.
John Errington, a retired farm manager from Wanborough was aware of many of these sad once-proud mobile homes and made a decision to bring them back to a condition which far exceeded that of the original which once graced the Downs as accommodation for the Wiltshire shepherd.
The earliest shepherd’s huts can be traced back to around the fifteenth century. Sheep were very valuable and provided one of the main sources of income in those days. These first shepherds huts would have been very basic covered carts.
Gradually the sophistication developed, incorporating seating, bedding and a stove for warmth, but still pretty rudimentary although a welcome haven for the shepherd looking after the flock grazing on the vast expanses of Wiltshire’s Downs far away from the farm or nearest village.
John’s restored huts date back to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
Most huts were made locally to their use and although all huts were basically the same, individual variations did occur. These are mainly where the door is situated. some at the front and some at the back. Window placement also varies depending on who made the hut or the purchasing shepherd’s requirements. The major differences were in appearance with some constructed from corrugated iron whilst others were clad in wooden boards.
All of John’s restored huts will be in pristine condition with all major components replaced or restored to a standard better than they were when new. An example is one hut recovered from just outside Salisbury which was in very poor condition when found. Over the years the wooden part of the axles had rotted away and had been replaced with railway sleepers (not mobile an more). New oak axles were the first step in the restoration, followed by a new floor, whilst the inside sides and ceiling were able to be recovered and restored as was the structural frame and floor supports.
A new stove was fitted to the restored hut which was insulated thoroughly as part of the process of bringing it back to life, and it now features a drop down table, two windows (with curtains) and a day seat which converts to a bed.
John can provide a restored hut to order. Some he can source and restore to the specification of the news owner, some can be purchased in an already-restored state, or some can be supplied in an unrestored state for John to bring back into a desirable and usable condition.
Or, if you already have a Shepherds Hut that is in poor or original condition and in need of restoration, get in touch with John as he will be able to transform it to whatever condition and or design that you may wish.
One of John's restored Huts is now sited at the Three Trees Farm Shop & Cafe, on the A346 at Chiseldon.
Dining areaSeat that converts to a bedWood stove for heating and cookingRestored but original wheels
Lissa Gibbins and Helen SheehanA new businesses established by a pair of writers and proofreaders sees the life story of clients turned into a printed and bound biography.
Great Bedwyn-based Lissa Gibbins and Helen Sheehan formed Aide Memoire to record the memories of older people for future generations.
Once written, memoirs can be illustrated with photographs, maps, and family trees.
The aim for each of the memoirs written by Aide Memoire is for the voice of the client to shine through their book.
Already they are picking up commissions locally, and further afield.
“Clients want to record their memoirs for all sorts of reasons but, for the most part, the key driver is a desire to pass something meaningful on to their children,” said Lissa.
“This desire goes both ways. We have often found that it is the children’s love of their parents’ stories that inspires them to seek the help of Aide Memoire.”
Through a series of weekly or fortnightly interviews Lissa and Helen record and then write up the stories.
These interviews – lasting a maximum of two hours at a time – generally take place in the client’s own home, and always somewhere that is relaxed and comfortable.
And to record the interviews, the authors have an ingenious tool at their disposal: a recording pen and notebook system that allows the interviewer also uses it to jot down key words, while recording a full transcript of the conversation.
They call it The Magic Pen.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the interviewee to talk about their past, their personal stories and the events that define them,” said Helen.
“Our clients universally enjoy this part of the memoir process, finding it both cathartic and invigorating.”
Rehearsals for the Marlborough Dance Festival finaleThe theme of this year’s Marlborough Dance Festival was songs from film and TV - but to the blessed relief of parents there was no Let It Go from the Disney's ubiquitous hit Frozen.
Instead, 16 dance troupes from 13 schools took the audience at Theatre on the Hill through two 90-minute performances of history of Hollywood, from Calamity Jane and Half a Sixpence to Harry Potter and 2016’s hit animation Sing on Saturday.
After a cockney knees-up from Chilton Foliat’s Consider Yourself, from Oliver!, the audience were treated to a dance by the youngest performers, as Marlborough St Mary’s infants interpreted Tommy Steele’s Flash, Bang, Wallop from Half a Sixpence, featuring a bunch of cheeky jokes they won’t understand until they’re much older.
Easton Royal donned checked shirts and cowboy boots for the theme from Footloose, and there was more of the same from St Katharine’s, who performed The Deadwood Stage from Calamity Jane.
Oare Primary urged the audience to Rock Around the Clock, while Ogbourne Primary went Ghostbusting, with some very scary makeup, and Burbage Primary took us Singin’ in the Rain.
Great Bedwyn brought the theme from Fame back to the St John’s stage, and Shalbourne Primary School channelled Bollywood for Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire.
There was plenty of animal print for Aldbourne Lower School’s Lion King medley, and Preshute Primary turned 21 dancers into a dragon for Something Wild from the 2016 reboot of Pete’s Dragon.
Marlborough St Mary’s juniors gave us one of two interpretations of the Harry Potter theme. Year 9 girls from St John’s also chose the franchise for their ribbon-twirling performance inspired by The Quidditch Match, while St John’s Marlborough boys performed zombie-inspired breakdance to a pounding dance beat.
Full marks to the youngster from Baydon Primary School, who introduced the flamenco Malagueña Salerosa from Kill Bill Vol 2 in Spanish, and to Aldbourne Upper School, who incorporated basketball dribbling into their baller and cheerleader inspired medley from High School Musical.
Finally the entire cast of more than 200 boys and girls joined together to perform Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande’s Faith from last year’s Sing – a routine they’d only had a couple of hours to practise.
Six weeks of rehearsals paid off for all the performers who, when they weren’t on stage, were clapping and toe-tapping along to the routines of the other schools. And there wasn’t an Anna or a Queen Elsa in sight.