Local history - ancient and recent
As well as Avebury and Stonehenge, this part of Wiltshire has one of the densest populations of megalithic monuments in the British Isles, and the village is a good place to start exploring.
There are the remains of Roman villas in the area, and some of them are still (officially) secret. These must have shared history with the Roman town of Cunetio, only 5Km away. This is now know as Mildenhall (properly pronounced "Mine-all", whatever Tony Robinson might say), which was recently explored by the Time Team (series 17, episode 7).
Ogbourne through the ages in recorded history
The Ogbourne Chronicals explain a little of the origins of the Ogbourne village names and the connection with the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin in Normandy. But do stick to the "Saxon" orthodozy explanations. A more radical explanation is offered in Og What?.
Close to Ogbourne St.Andrew is the centre of the Western Marlborough Circle. The centre of the Eastern Marlborough Circle is close to Temple Farm in Rockley. In the twelfth century Temple Farm was given to the Knights Templar, who respected and preserved ancient knowledge.
Some trees in the area are even older than the villages. Savernake Forest has the greatest collection of ancient trees (especially oaks) in the whole of Europe.
In the 1800's. the population of the Ogbourne villages was in decline. Mechanisation had reduced the number of people needed on farms, and many families moved or emigrated. Now, some of their descendants come to stay with us to search for ancestors or relatives still living in the area. If you are hunting for long-lost ancestors, the Ogbourne Village Genoelogy page is an excellent place to start. The archives held in County Hall at Trowbridge, Church Records and the Historic Manuscript Commission may be useful as well.
The National Monuments Records Centre is just a short journey away on the Great Western site in Swindon, which is also the home of the Steam Museum (next to the Designer Outlet village). You can still find real working steam at the Didcot Railway Centre.
Ogbourne St.George used to have a railway station on Swindon's other railway. Sad to say, that's long gone now, but the route of the railway is now an excellent cycle path from Chisledon to Marlborough.
Sorley's Signpost: On the track to Mildenhall (pronounced Minehall), there is a poignant little curiosity, a memorial stone to the First World War poet Charles Sorley that simply says "1895 - 1915 CHS". It is tucked beside the signpost at the five-way junction of the Roman Road and the lane down to Rabley Wood. The stone was for some time on display in the Imperial War Museum, but has now been put back in its original setting. The original signpost (c.1913) was passed by Sorley on his walks on the Marlborough downs.
During the Second World War there was an army camp just outside the village. There were also airfields nearby at Ramsbury and Membury, used most actively prior to the Normandy landings.
In modern times, Membury has become significant again, not only as a motorway services but also a location for Dr Who who seems to spend a lot of time in this part of the universe.
If you look closely in one garden near The Sanctuary, you can see two of the previous Dr. Who's sitting quietly, enjoying the sun.
More links: Expert Tours | Follies | Marlborough Circles | Wiltshire Heritage