A Royal Progress down Kings Road

How wonderful to record a new book written about Market Lavington and Easterton. Local character, artist and museum volunteer, Pat Stacpoole has written an account of the road he has lived on for many a year – Kings Road. This road is in both of our parishes and for many the first surprise will be to know that the name has no royal meaning. Pat’s writing shows a great deal of love of the local countryside. As a bonus, you get two of his paintings on the front and back cover.

A copy can be read at Market Lavington Museum

Let’s start here with the front.

A lovely new book about Kings Road in Market Lavington. and Easterton It can be read at Market Lavington Museum.

A lovely new book about Kings Road in Market Lavington. and Easterton It can be read at Market Lavington Museum.

Now, Pat’s own introduction.

This is the story of Kings Road, a Wiltshire lane that pretends to be a road. It goes from nowhere very special to nowhere else very special. Nothing dramatic has ever happened here. No great houses built, no battles fought and no kings have passed this way but, in its own small way, it has been a tiny vein through which the life blood of England has flowed. Its history is not even recorded in the fine village museum in Market Lavington, and, as it is on the parish boundary, it is not shown on the magnificent tapestry of the village made to celebrate the Millennium.

Along and across its narrow twisting way have passed shepherds and their flocks, a highwaymen and toll gate keepers, soldiers returning from the wars, jam makers, worshippers, railway builders and humble dog walkers. The gentle history of England sleeps here.

Those of us who live on or near the road enjoy the tranquillity of Wiltshire. It was not always thus. John Foster writing to a friend in 1790 described Market Lavington as “A place notorious for wickedness for miles around, with bull baiting, dog fighting, depravity of manners, pugilistic encounters, drunkenness and profanity. Thank Heavens we are (geographically too) above all this now.

Kings Road runs from Easterton up to a green sand ridge to join the road from Market Lavington to Devizes. Narrow and single tracked for most of the way, it sprouts even smaller lanes, rough, muddy and mostly cul de sacs. An unremarkable strip of English countryside, except to those who live there and love it, Kings Road’s only obvious distinction is the magnificent views it gives. To the north and west the Avon Vale stretches out towards Westbury, to the Mendips and infinitely beyond. To the south the escarpment, the line of the 7000 year old Ridgeway from Urchfont to Joan a’Gore, makes a shore line for the waves of clouds which flow across wild Salisbury Plain.

And finally, the poignant back cover.

The books back cover shows Windmill Lane - one of those old ways that lead off Kings Road

The books back cover shows Windmill Lane – one of those old ways that lead off Kings Road

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