Local author Terry Grace gives a fascinating social history of Winterslow and how the fate of a destitute and dying hilltop Wiltshire village was turned around by one man, in his latest book.

Life in rural England in the latter half of the 19th century had become extremely hard, due in no small part to the Inclosures Act.

In simple terms, this meant that the labourers who might once have worked a smallholding and had use of common ground for cattle grazing and other agricultural pursuits, found themselves working for the owners of larger farms for a pittance.

It seems that Winterslow and some neighbouring villages were hardest hit by this act and by the disregard of the wealthy landowners.

In January of 1846, The Morning Advertiser (London) sent their own correspondent to see some of the poverty in the rural areas of the south.

He wrote an article entitled “Winterslow, in Wiltshire - deplorable destitution”, describing how villagers were living in “miserable hovels” owned by St John’s College Oxford.

In 1892, Major Robert Poore of Old Lodge, turned around the fortunes of the villagers when he purchased a farm at Winterslow and divided it into small holdings, offering these to the workers on easy payments.

After only a few years many of the villagers were making profit on these holdings and also building houses on them.

This ambitious scheme, together with the introduction of a spinning and weaving industry by Poore’s wife, was to turn this village from near extinction into the thriving community that it has become today.

This story and other history including the famous truffle hunters, the history of Old Lodge, the Winterslow theatre make this book a must for lovers of local history.

The book Winterslow “a most intelligent village” is available at The History Bookshop next to Fisherton Mill, Salisbury, and also online at eBay.co.uk. All proceeds to local charities.