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Villagers Welcome New Arrivals at The Farmyard in Grittleton

Little has changed in Grittleton in the last 150-odd years – the pretty Cotswold stone houses, the beautiful Church of St Mary and the road that winds through the village all look pretty much as they did two centuries ago.

So the addition of The Farmyard, Stonewood Homes’ new neighbourhood of 13 homes, including six converted from historic farm buildings and seven purpose-built new homes, is fairly significant. Aside some infilling of the odd house here and there, it will be the biggest influx of new residents in and beyond living memory.

The village is six miles north of Chippenham and, like many villages in Wiltshire, is more or less self-contained with its own social and sporting life quite independent of any attractions the bigger towns nearby might hold, and the newcomers will find plenty to entertain them.

Grittleton has its own cricket, golf and tennis clubs while the village hall and recreation field are used for five-a-side football, netball, Pilates, yoga and Zumba.

Residents Stewart and Fiona Dobson moved to Grittleton in 1986 and say the age range is what makes the village a lively place. “There have been phases when there have been young children here and phases when there aren’t,” says Stewart. “Part of the buzz at the moment is because it is one of those phases when there are.”

Their cottage, which was once the local stores, is just opposite The Farmyard and the couple have been watching work there with interest. “What excites us about this development is that it will be the most dramatic thing to have happened here since Grittleton House was extended by Joseph Neeld in the mid-1850s,” says Stewart.

“It’s such a friendly village and we know whoever moves in will immediately feel welcome. It’s a very pretty village and from the moment we drove in we fell in love with it,” says Fiona.

Villagers always come together to celebrate landmark events, such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee when a marquee was filled with more than 300 people to enjoy cream teas, a silent auction, and music.

Another crowd-pleaser is the bi-annual pantomime which involves 25 cast and 75 backstage and support roles but still plays to houses of 80. Plans are already afoot for the next production in November, Beauty and the Beast.

The centre of village life remains The Neeld Arms. “It’s always pretty busy and it’s a good place to catch up with what’s going on,” says Stewart. The pub closed in the early 90s when its owner tried to de-license it but a village campaign won the day.

The community spirit encapsulated by support for village events was never more in evidence than during the pandemic, when neighbours volunteered to collect shopping for older people living by themselves. “No one felt left alone, there was always somebody to chat to people,” says Fiona.

“We kept in touch with one another all the way through to the day the pub re-opened, and that was a great day,” recalls Stewart.

The couple say The Farmyard’s new residents will soon feel at home. “What is very appealing about this development is that it will almost be like a village within a village and everyone will get to know their neighbours very quickly,” says Stewart. “What we’d like to say to anyone moving in is ‘you are most welcome’.”

Fiona adds: “The site, which used by part of Manor Farm, is lovely and much bigger than we realised. I think the people who move in are going to love living here.”

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