The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

[The reader will find many observations of this nature, and on analogous subjects, in the manuscript, which it has not been thought desirable to print.  Among the rest are several pages from John Norden’s “Surveyor’s Dialogue”, containing advice and directions respecting agriculture, of which Aubrey says, “though they are not of Wiltshire, they will do no hurt here; and, if my countrymen know it not, I wish they might learn”. — J. B.]

The wheate and bread of this county, especially South Wilts, is but indifferent; that of the Vale of White Horse is excellent.  King Charles ii. when he lay at Salisbury, in his progresse, complained that he found there neither good bread nor good beer.  But for the latter, ’twas the fault of the brewer not to boil it well; for the water and the mault there are as good as any in England.

The improvement by cinque-foile, which now spreads much in the stone-brash lands, was first used at North Wraxhall by Nicholas Hall, who came from Dundery in Somersetshire, about the yeare 1650.

George Johnson, Esq. counsellour-at-law, did improve some of his estate at Bowdon-parke, by marling, from 6d. an acre to 25sh.  He did lay three hundred loades of blew marle upon an acre.

Sir William Basset, of Claverdoun, hath made the best vinyard that I have heard of in England.  He sayes that the Navarre grape is the best for our climate, and that the eastern sunn does most comfort the vine, by putting off the cold.  Mr. Jo.  Ash, of Teffont Ewyas, has a pretty vineyard of about six acres, made anno 1665.  Sir Walter Erneley, Baronet, told me, a little before he died, that he was making one at Stert, I thinke, neer the Devizes.

The improvement of watering meadows began at Wyley, about 1635, about which time, I remember, we began to use them at Chalke.  Watering of meadows about Marleburgh and so to Hungerford was, I remember, about 1646, and Mr. John Bayly, of Bishop’s Down, near Salisbury, about the same time made his great improvements by watering there by St. Thomas’s Bridge.  This is as old as the Romans; e.g.  Virgil, “Claudite jam rivos, pueri, sat prata biberunt”.  Mr. Jo.  Evelyn told me that out of Varro, Cato, and Columella are to be extracted all good rules of husbandry; and he wishes that a good collection or extraction were made out of them.

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The Natural History of Wiltshire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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