Welcome to the Rudloe and environs website.


Here you will find news, articles and photos of an area that straddles the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire.


Contributions in the form of articles or photos are welcome. Even those with completely contrary views to mine!


Thanks to the website builder 1&1 and Rob Brown for the original idea.


Rudloescene now, in January 2014, has a sister, academic rather than anarchic, website about Box history here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/

It contains thoroughly professional, well-researched articles about Box and its people.


Contact rudloescene through the 'Contact' page.


New cemetery driveway being laid in July 2017

Matt Anderson of Box had the 'encounter' pictured below on the A4 by the Northey Arms on 28th February 2024. He believes that the sheep were headed for Jamie's Farm at Ditteridge. 

5th April 2023 - a Box Parish Neighbourhood Plan drop-in event is to be held at the Dandelion Cafe in Leafy Lane on Tuesday, 11th April from 10:00 to 13:30.This is an informal event where there will be a variety of display boards available, linked to the development of  Box Parish Neighbourhood Plan, for people to read and comment on.  The BPNP Steering Group consists of Box parish councillors and voluntary members; both will be available to answer questions and provide additional information. Further information about the event is shown below (and in the .pdf file further below):

Parish Neighbourhood Plan drop-in event [...]
Adobe Acrobat document [197.4 KB]

5th January 2023 - the Box People and Places website has a particular webpage here:  http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/protecting-heritage.html that requests people to identify sites in Box, Rudloe and other areas in the parish which are considered to be 'important'. The aim is to establish a complete (as far as possible) catalogue of sites of note in order to afford their protection. The existing list here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/historic-buildings-listing.html includes such apparently inconsequential things as old milestones and I know some of you (rudloescene readers) have spent some time restoring at least one milestone in the area (Bradford Road, 100 miles to Hyde Park Corner) so please contact BP&P with your nominations.


Significant infrastructure lies underground in Box Parish and elsewhere. Unfortunately, much that could not only have been listed but could have been opened as 'attractions' (tourist or informed individuals or groups) has been lost. Nick McCamley, the noted author, opened the former Monkton Farleigh ammunition depot (the largest in Europe) as a tourist attraction some years ago. I don't know the full story but, apparently, the MoD pulled the rug from under his feet and sold off the site whereupon much of the historic infrastructure was ripped out.


Similarly, David Pollard (RIP) the author of the definitive book on Bath stone, Digging Bath Stone (Lightmoor Press, £50!) sent the following plea to Wiltshire Council planning officers in relation to the development of the Copenacre site:


The Copenacre site has two former vertical haulage shafts into the quarry below, the earlier one of c1826  is almost certainly capped with a concrete slab.  The other shaft dates from the 1830s or 1840s.  This shaft is magnificent, easily the best surviving shaft in the whole Bath stone district, it preserves features of its quarry use such as deep grooves where the hoisting rope has cut into the rock.  At the bottom the shaft measures about 16 feet by 20 feet but narrows higher up.  In 1942 or thereabouts an electric lift was installed in the shaft.  The shaft and its winch house does not belong to the applicant.  This concrete winch house structure appears to be proposed for demolition, my concern is that the rubble will be tipped down the shaft and another interesting piece of history will be ruined and lost.  
I would like to suggest that the east lift winch house be left in situ, the cost would be negligible.  However if this can't be done then no materials or waste should be allowed to fall down the shaft during demolition and capping of the shaft.  The shaft is a significant part of Wiltshire's industrial archaeology. 

Whilst neither the Monkton Farleigh site or Copenacre is in Box Parish, I would hope that these examples illustrate the importance of historic underground infrastructure. A definitive list of quarry infrastructure in Box Parish and elsewhere is maintained by Mendip Cave Registry. An example of their inventory may be found here: https://www.mcra.org.uk/registry/sitedetails.php?id=1481 which shows sites returned from a search key of 'Boxfields Quarry'; there are scores of other listings (some may be seen at the bottom right of the returned webpage - 'Other Sites Within 500m'. 

13th September 2021. If 'one' submits a contact form to Box NATS (Box Archaeological and Natural History Society), the following response is received: 'Thank you. Your information has been submitted. We will contact you shortly.' Why then, does the rudloescene reader suppose, that no response has been received to the following message sent on 3rd September which relates to the Box NATS article 'A walk along the By Brook' published in the September 2021 edition of Box Parish Magazine: 'With regard to Susan Hatton's article 'A walk along the By Brook' (with the Box NATS logo) in the September edition of Box Parish Magazine, perhaps Ms Hatton could elucidate ... 
Which wild flowers have "increased after only a few months" through the erection of a (300m) fence? Given that this fence has "demonstrated naturalisation and re-wilding", would Ms Hatton and Box NATS recommend that the whole length of the By Brook (and, indeed, other rivers) be fenced off? The 'fence' part of the article would appear to be little more than advocacy for the landowner(s) involved with the erection of the fence which, in my humble opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with protection of flora (or fauna) but is simply an expression of ownership. The old chestnut 'Red sky at night, get off my land' (or river in this case) comes to mind.'

It is surprising that a scientific organisation should advance notions that are clearly illogical and unscientific. The idea that spring and summer growth of plants here (or anywhere) is related to the erection of a fence is preposterous. We walked along this section of the By Brook yesterday, 12th September, between Box and Drewett's Mill and found that plants had grown everywhere (apologies for such a vacuous statement). Photos follow ...

The sign in the Bond's garden enjoins 'No swimming, boating or noise' - what do we see in their shed but ... a boat.
Blimey, prolific growth in an unfenced section of the By Brook just upstream from the fenced section. How would Box NATS explain this?
Clearly, the swans are avoiding the the supposed 'conservation area' as there is a 'no swimming' edict in place there (vigourous growth here too)
Remarkable that we have prolific growth here without the benefit of a fence
Here, without the help of a fence, we have, inter alia, horsemint on the near bank and a glacier of water-starwort on the far bank
Gor blimey, not a fence in sight and the reedmace, amongst other flora, is abundant here
No fence here but young alders abound on the bank
How has this fleabane (Pulicaria) managed to become so bounteous without the aid of a fence?
Purple loosestrife and hemp agrimony, amongst others, growing without the aid of a fence
The abundant, unfenced By Brook banks upstream of the supposed 'conservation area'
If (IF!) the farmer/landowners/By Brook Conservation Group were really concerned about protecting the riverbank then surely this is one of the areas, a few hundred yards upstream of the 'conservation area', that should have been protected from 'poaching'
Here is another 'poached' area which illustrates that the concerted actions of the landowners (Bond, Steinbeck, the farmer) along with BBCG and Box NATS have nothing whatsoever to do with conservation but relate to the affirmation of ownership 'rights'

20th May 2021 - 'the' new fence along a 300-metre stretch of the By Brook upstream of Box village has had villagers shaken and stirred. The post and mesh fence is topped with barbed wire which has caused further displeasure amongst locals.

So why the picture from the Hartham Estate woodland? 'Wildlife Area' is a euphemism which, if truth be told, should say 'Area for raising and subsequent shooting of imported (usually) pheasants for sport (and profit)'. This is an example of the disinformation which permeates our lives. I can't resist mentioning the 'Take Back Control' lie of the Brexit lobby. Just today (see date above), a headline in the national papers says 'Another big British name falls to US private equity' which refers to the US takeover of the long-established firm John Laing. So, what does this have to do with the new fence along the By Brook?

Each end of the fence carries a sign declaring 'CONSERVATION AREA' (which, as you may see, has been defaced and the words 'NOT A' added). This area has been so designated by a local coterie calling themselves the By Brook Conservation Group (BBCG). There has, apparently, been no response to the question (asked through social media) what it is, in this particular place, they purport to conserve.

If there are representatives of a protected species here (such as otters - otters have been seen downstream recently) then the BBCG may have reason in not divulging this information to the general public but wildlife organisations, such as the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, should be aware of any protected species here, and they are not. There is no obvious evidence of any species of interest whether flora or fauna in this particular, short stretch of river. Indeed, for most of its length the By Brook is unfenced and is home to many fascinating species such as kingfishers, grey wagtails and herons. The galleries below illustrate the unfenced, species-rich By Brook from Castle Combe to Bathford.

As may be seen from the galleries of photos taken between Castle Combe/Ford and Box/Shockerwick/Bathford, the By Brook remains unfenced for virtually all of its length and what a fine riparian landscape it is. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) does have a plan in place called Project PEBBLE, launched in 2019, for the protection and enhancement of the By Brook and its environment but WWT has said "This fencing is not connected to us at all".


Cattle poaching can be problematic with regard to riparian flora and sedimentation but there is no evidence of any poaching in this section of the river. Indeed, the reports By Brook Project Phase 1 (2013/14) from the Environment Agency and By Brook Restoration Report (2015) from the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, whilst mentioning poaching at locations upstream, make no mention of it here. These reports are, by the way, definitive documents on the state of the river and may be found in the .pdf files below.

Adobe Acrobat document [5.5 MB]
Adobe Acrobat document [13.4 MB]

And talking of definitive documents, The Bristol Avon by D. E. Tucker (Millstream Books) with the subtitle 'Fish, Freshwater Life & Fishing' is principally about fish and fishing on the Avon and its tributaries (including the By Brook) but has interesting sections on the underlying geology, habitats and life beneath the surface.

So, what is the significance of this 300-metre stretch? The land to the south side of the river here forms part of the lands of houses Tunnel Throw (the Bonds) and Oak House (Mr Steinbeck). From the sign at the foot of the Tunnel Throw garden, it appears that the Bonds, at least, wish to assert their right of ownership of the river (Government guidance on ownership of watercourses states 'You normally own a stretch of watercourse on the boundary of your land, up to its centre') through the enigmatic, so-called BBCG. The sign, which includes the flag of Wiltshire, says:

'AREA of Natural Wildlife, Birds - Mammals - Reptiles, It is their home, Please Respect the Country Code. No Swimming, Boating or Noise. Enjoy this wonderful footpath'.

Mrs Bond avidly feeds the wildlife (swans, ducks) here and clearly enjoys her riparian patch. But we see that her stretch is no different, wildlife-wise, from any other part of the river. I therefore refer back to the introductory paragraph regarding euphemisms - this is no more a 'Conservation Area' than any other stretch of the river and it is rather galling to be instructed to "Enjoy the wonderful footpath". One does not 'enjoy a footpath' but the landscapes that the footpath traverses; at this point of the Macmillan Way, the landscape now resembles Stalag Luft 300.

10th August 2019 - Courtney Tracy (Shaftesbury) Otter Hunt met at (perhaps was hosted by) Saltbox Farm close to Drewetts Mill. This information was gleaned through the Facebook (aaaaaaaargh ... I've mentioned that word) pages of Bath Hunt Saboteurs, Bristol Hunt Saboteurs, Weymouth Hunt Saboteurs and numerous other 'Sabs' organisations. I found it hard, at first, to get my head around the fact that there was such a thing as an otter hunt and that it was operating in this area, however a DuckDuckGo (alternative to Google) search revealed its existence through records in the National Archives no less - see National Archives link (the records are held at the Swindon & Wiltshire History Centre). As the otter is now a protected species, the hounds are now designated 'minkhounds' and can discern the difference between different animal species (tongue in cheek of course).


Naughtily, I have taken the following text (further text and photographs may also be found) from one of the hunt saboteur organisation's Facebook pages:

We saw their vehicles heading to the meet at Salt Box Farm, Drewetts Mill, Colerne. Along with hosting illegal bloodsports, this farm supplies Tesco, Muller and Arla. Please consider this when doing your shopping! We watched the hunt unbox the hounds and head to a nearby brook, well known for having a healthy otter population, so Sabs straight away entered the fields to put a stop to the fun and ensure that no animals where harmed. 

The hunt were predictably aggressive and blocked Sabs paths and tried to hit them with sticks & pushing & shoving.

A stand off ensued whilst more & more police arrived - around 10 vehicles & 12+ police attended in total. After around 2 hours the hunt advised the police they were packing up & going home - without having entered the river.

Sabs remained in the vicinity for a few hours to ensure this was the case & later got confirmation the hound van was indeed back at the kennels.


From this and other reports, it seems that the Wiltshire Police presence was significant - 10 vehicles is certainly significant in an organisation that has lost 250 officers since 2010 (2017 figures). So why would such a prominent policing event not be mentioned on the Wiltshire Police website or on its Facebook page? This appears to be a policy decision as the agencies of the law have never prosecuted the illegal, often secret, hunting activities of the landowning farmers, gentry and nouveaux riches along with associated blockheads.


Wiltshire Police's response to my request for a report on the matter, particularly the number of officers and vehicles deployed, was as follows:

At around 11am on Saturday (10/08/19) we were made aware of possible tensions between a local hunt and hunt saboteurs in the Box area. Officers attended at various points to make themselves known to both parties, to advise them of the law and to observe activity. No offences were committed and no arrests were made. Sorry, we wouldn't comment on how many officers attended.

The following picture from Bath Hunt Saboteurs of (part of) the police presence gives some indication of the scale of the police operation.

Box Parish Meeting - 17th April 2018. The following open letter to all Box parishioners from David Wright explains the whys and wherefores of the coming Parish Meeting. You (the Box parishioner) should make every effort to attend for the reasons given by David (contact at dave.wright533@tiscali.co.uk) in the letter which follows ...


Box Parish Meeting 17 April 2018


Please come along to the Box Parish Meeting which is scheduled to be held in the Box Pavilion at 1900 hours on Tuesday 17 April.


This is your opportunity to raise issues and vote for changes that could influence and shape the management of the Box Parish precept and encourage Box PC to become more transparent in its governance.


Parish Meetings are quite distinct from meetings of the Parish Council, although the two are often confused.


The confusion arises for several reasons:


· if present, the Chairman of the Parish Council must chair the Parish Meeting;

· the Clerk to the Parish Council organises and takes the minutes of the Parish Meeting;

· the Annual Parish Meeting often takes place on the same evening as the AGM of the Parish Council.


Some of the differences are as follows:


· Any person on the Electoral Register of the Parish is entitled to speak at a Parish Meeting, at a meeting of the Parish Council members of the Public may speak only at the Chairman’s discretion.

· With the exception of the Chairman, Councillors rank the same as other members of the Electorate.

· Agendas for Parish Council meetings must be published three days ahead of the meeting, for Parish Meetings a skeleton Agenda is usually published ahead of the meeting, but often items are added up to and even during the meeting.

· Only Councillors may request items to be placed on the Agenda of a Parish Council Meeting whereas any member of the Electorate may do so at a Parish Meeting.

· Any matter pertinent to the parish may be discussed at a Parish Meeting, whereas at a Parish Council meeting subjects for discussion should be limited to those matter on which the Council has the power to act (conferred by various Acts of Parliament).

· The Press and general public have a right to attend Parish Meetings, but anyone not on the Electoral Register of the Parish is “stranger” and does not have the right to vote.


In a summary:


A Parish Meeting is a meeting of the people of the parish.

A Parish Council Meeting is a meeting of the Parish Councillors.


I wish to raise the following proposals for the Box PC Parish Meeting scheduled for 17 Apr 2018


· Box PC to develop a suite of Asset/Conservation Management Plans that describe the activities and resources required to conserve and maintain the Box parish assets (Box Hill Common, Lovar Water Gardens, Cemetery, etc); in order that an appropriate budget can be set and the Precept determined in accordance with the Good Councillors Guide (page 45).

· Box PC publish the Asset/Conservation Management Plans on the Box PC Web site by 1 Dec 2018 in order that the parishioners can review and reflect on the Asset/Conservation Management plans.

· Box PC publish the details of how the Financial 'Reserves' are 'Committed' against each Asset/Conservation Management Plan on the Box PC web site by 1 Dec 2018 in order to provide transparency and enable to the parishioners understand how the precept is set.

· Box PC to use the Box PC Annual General Meeting (AGM) currently scheduled for 31 May 2018 to publish a detailed report describing progress against the 'Action Plan’ described in the Box Community Plan (2013-2020); in order that the Box parishioners can understand how Box PC are implementing their views and requirements.



Please come along and have your say, this is our chance to influence what services are provided in our local area.


David Wright

14 Kidston Way


SN13 0J

Parish boundary change proposals - May 2015

The map shows a substantial area to the east of the B3109 that is proposed to be swallowed up by Corsham. The area will include:
  • The estate of 88 houses proposed by Hannick opposite Corsham Woodland School (Box Highlands)
  • The commercial estate proposed by the Masrich pension scheme adjacent to the Hannick speculation
  • Fiveways Industrial Estate
  • The Links and Piggeries estates
  • The under-construction Corsham Science Park (adjacent to Fiveways Industrial Estate)
  • Part of MoD Basil Hill
  • The BT old Post Office/telephone exchange site at the corner of Park Lane and Westwells Road
  • The proposed estate of 180 houses (and perhaps some commerce) on the ex-RAF Rudloe No 2 site
  • Hawthorn Post Office
  • The former Flamingo Club (development proposed here)
  • The numerous, substantial buildings of Ark Data on the former Spring Quarry site
  • MoD land between Rudloe Fiveways and Thorneypits
  • The old Thorneypits hostel site which contains the Spring Quarry West substation operated by Southern Electric
  • And, strangely, the 'wedge' of Manor Farm land sandwiched between Wadswick Green and Kingsmoor Wood

The 'poster' below, from Box Parish Council, is a 'call to arms' for parishioners to make their views known to Wiltshire Council by 20th May 2016. Box People and Places has published a  very professional piece on the subject which can be found through the 'button' below. The piece includes some marvellous photos (ho ho).

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© Paul Turner