Tuesday, 8 April 2014

G is for Great Wishford

Here are today's local dialect words.  Do you know what gannick means?  What, or who, is a Gramfer?  What are griggles?  the answers will be at the end of this post.
Today we have travelled south-east to the village of Great Wishford and an example of social history.  We need to journey back to the turn of the 19th century to see the  combined impact of the Industrial Revolution and the effects of the Napoleonic blockades on the price of wheat and the cost of a loaf of bread.  The villagers of Great Wishford were particularly hard hit by the rising cost of bread so the local baker published his prices, in stone tablets on the churchyard wall, to show that he was charging a fair price.
This practice of publishing the prices was apparently widespread but this is the only example where the prices have been grouped together and retained over such a long period of time.
You can see the bread stones on the wall, next to the traffic sign.
The church itself contains some fascinating items.  The following image shows the Armada Chest, which is reputed to have been taken from a wreck of the 1588 Spanish Armada but is now thought to actually be English workmanship dating to about 1600.  In the bottom right-hand corner of the image you can see the edge of a red rug which is covering what remains of the memorial brasses of Thomas Bonham (who died in 1473) and his wife Edith (who died in 1469) and their nine children which are said to have included septuplets.
Next there is the wooden, horse-drawn Parish Fire Engine which was bought by the Church Wardens in 1728 for £33. 3s. 0d - that is 3 years after the design was first patented and 6 years before New York purchased a similar machine!  It was an extremely expensive purchase for such a small village and remained in use until the 1920s.

Finally there are two plaques which detail bequests to aid the poor of the parish, provide apprenticeships for poor boys and, in the second image, provide for training of 20 poor boys and 20 poor girls.

On May 29th every year the villagers of Great Wishford observe Oak Apple Day when they claim their ancient right (dating back to the Middle Ages) to collect wood from the nearly Grovely Woods.  The events of Oak Apple Day include gathering oak branches from the woods at dawn, a village breakfast and then a ceremony in Salisbury Cathedral.  The villages dance outside the Cathedral then move inside to claim their rights by shouting  "Grovely, Grovely, Grovely and all Grovely" - apparently the charter only requires three 'Grovelys' but tradition requires four; "three for the charter and one for us"!!  The ceremony is followed by a meal and other events in the village in Oak Apple Field. The ceremony usually features on the local TV news programme.

Grovely Woods has another, more gruesome, claim to fame.  It involves four Danish sisters named Handsel who had moved to the Wilton area (about 3 miles from Great Wishford) in 1737, a date which unfortunately for them, coincided with an outbreak of smallpox that killed over 100 people. The locals blamed the Handsel sisters for this, accusing them of witchcraft and being in league with the devil.  Mob rule saw them dragged from their home and murdered in Grovely Wood.  They were buried a little way apart from each other so that they could not conspire against their murderers after death.  There are now four gnarled beach trees which are supposed to represent the sisters although it is not clear whether they were planted to mark the graves or simply grew there to remind the villagers of their unlawful murder.  There have been reports of sighting of the sisters in the woods.

Earlier this year a campaign was lauched to try to get the old dialect word, 'Ganderflanking', included into the Oxford English Dictionary.  It means 'aimless messing around' and originates from Wiltshire, although is no longer in regular use. 

In support of the campaign, the word was used in the House of Commons by Robert Buckland, the MP for South Swindon.


Here are the answers to the dialect words: 
  • gannick - to mess about, to play the fool.
  • Gramfer - Grandfather
  • griggles - small apples
 Hope to see you again tomorrow for the letter H.


  1. Great pictures and very interesting history! I really enjoyed looking through your posts :)
    Thanks for visiting!

  2. I want to go there so bad! I hope I can someday and meet you! Wouldn't that be fun.=) It looks beautiful! http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/