Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to be a major feature of our lives for some time ahead.  The situation is evolving rapidly and anything we write is likely to be out of date within a matter of days, if not hours.  Consequently, the best source of advice for villagers is that which is being provided by the Government.

This advice can be found here on the UK Government website.

The site carries links to such things as:

NHS advice to patients;

FCO Travel advice;

Stay-at-home/Self-isolation/Lockdown Guidance

NHS Advice for health professionals;

Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases and Risk in the UK.

No doubt this information will evolve over the coming weeks and months


75th Anniversary of VE Day

“My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.”

So began Winston Churchill’s speech on the 8th May 1945 from the balcony of the Ministry of Health.  You can listen to part of the speech on the pages of the International Churchill Society.

On the 75th anniversary of VE Day we remember with gratitude and respect the brave men and women who fought for our freedoms. To those who gave so much, we thank you.
It’s with sadness that we cannot share that sense of national gratitude in a village celebration today, but we can still remember privately.  You might want to read the words of Edmund Blunden, writing about the end of the war in Europe in his poem, “V Day”, published for the first time today.  There are sentiments in the poem that still ring very true today in the face of our current challenge.

Don’t Delay Seeking Medical Help Because Of Coronavirus

People living in Wiltshire are being advised not to let worries about coronavirus stop them asking for medical help for themselves or their children if they become ill, have a serious accident or have a concern about their health.
They are also being warned that not seeking medical help for symptoms that could be the early warning signs of serious conditions such as cancer could be putting lives at risk.
The warning comes as new data shows a considerable drop in the number of people coming forward to ask their GP for help and advice during the coronavirus outbreak.
Recent statistics show that, in Bath alone, the total number of weekly referrals from GPs to the Royal United Hospital have fallen from around 2,000 at the beginning of March to 300 at the end of April.
In Swindon, the average number of patients being sent by their GP to the Great Western Hospital for further investigations into symptoms that suggest cancer each week has dropped by more than 200 to 80.
Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director at BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG, said the statistics made for worrying reading because the drop in numbers “is not because people are not experiencing symptoms.”
“While it may seem that coronavirus has put a stop to most aspects of everyday life, the one thing it hasn’t stopped is what’s going on inside our bodies,” she says. “Now more than ever, we need to pay attention to anything that isn’t normal and seek help early on.
“For example, if you notice blood when going to the toilet, or if you’ve found a lump that wasn’t there previously, or if you’ve just noticed something odd that is causing you to worry, you need to speak to your GP.
“Should the symptom be the early warning sign of something serious like cancer, that delay in seeking help could have serious implications for how successful possible treatments may be.”
Although GP practices across the region have adopted new ways of working, such as establishing isolated clinics for potential coronavirus patients, the practices themselves are still open to offer care, treatment, advice and peace-of-mind.
The same also goes for emergency departments at the three hospitals in Bath, Swindon and Salisbury, all of which continue to be open 24 hours a day for people with a genuine and life-threatening health concern.
Additionally, all healthcare facilities in the region, as well as those elsewhere in the country, have put in place stringent infection control measures to ensure that the risk of contracting coronavirus while visiting a hospital or GP surgery remains low.
• Details of which services continue to open, as well as how to get in contact, can be found online by visiting
• For information about local hospital services visit, or
• Further information on how to stay well throughout the coronavirus outbreak can be found at

An Easter Message from the Rector

Dear Friends,

We are celebrating a very different Easter this year. Instead of sharing the joy as a community we are forced to share it with those we live with or on our own isolated behind our front doors. This is tough!

It has been a joy to see all the villages of the Benefice respond to this time of trial in such a positive way. Jesus asked, “who is my neighbour?” Well, in supporting each other, in the teams of volunteers collecting prescriptions or buying food and in the text messages, Facebook and WhatsApp groups this question has been answered. The Easter message is one of hope and expectation. In these difficult days we can take the hope and expectation of the empty tomb to support us through these difficult days and weeks. The light always shines after the dark. That is also the Easter message.

May I and the whole Benefice wish you, your families, friends and neighbours near and far a very happy Easter.

Blessings and stay safe


Flood Warning: Environment Agency Update

The Environment Agency has just (Noon 19th February 2020) updated the Flood Warning for the River Till.

Flooding is expected – immediate action required

The groundwater levels in the Tilshead borehole are currently at 99.5 mAOD and slowly rising following the recent rainfall. We believe there is a possibility of flooding for Tilshead, Orcheston, Shrewton, Winterborne Stoke, Berwick St James and Stapleford. Residents are continued to be advised to prepare property flood resilience measures and ensure that pumps are working where they have been installed. Flooding of roads and fields is possible. Residents may experience inundation of septic tanks and sewer systems. The Met Office forecast over the next few days is for more rainfall, so we can expect groundwater levels to continue to rise.

Onboard and Online: Flood Warning Now in Force – Groundwater Flooding For The River Till

Whilst not wishing to cause unnecessary alarm, please be aware that the Environment Agency has now issued a Flood Warning for the River Till.  This is the level above the Flood Alert that we have been under since late December 2019.  Please check with your neighbours that they are aware of this Flood Warning.

The Environment Agency have said:

Flooding is expected – immediate action required.

The groundwater levels in the Tilshead borehole are currently at 98.7 mAOD and rising, due to the persistent heavy rainfall from Storm Dennis. Residents are advised to prepare property resilience measures and ensure that pumps are working where they have been installed. Flooding of roads and fields is possible. Residents may experience inundation of septic tanks and sewer systems. The Met Office forecast over the next few days is for brighter spells with some showers. We are closely monitoring the groundwater situation.”

Please note that since this warning was issued, the water level in the Tilshead Borehole has risen to 98.99m AOD.  That’s back to the level it was on 1st February 2020 overnight.

Some Snippets From the Community Forum

The latest in the series of Community Forum meetings was held at Antrobus House, Amesbury on 12th February 2020. A number of interesting points were made and we are reporting these now as some are of current interest. We will publish or link to the formal minutes of the meeting when published, along with any presentation material that Highways England provides.

National Infrastructure

Jim Claydon, the Independent Chair of the forum noted that the decision, by the Secretary of State, on the Development Consent Order for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick (Stonehenge) scheme is still expected by no later than 02/04/2020. That said, he observed that there were 7 outstanding DCO applications on national infrastructure projects immediately prior to the election, no doubt impacted by the usual parliamentary purdah. These were

2 road proposals
1 airport
2 wind farms
1 nuclear power station

One of the delayed road schemes is the Sparkford section of the overall A303 scheme where the decision was due on 12th December 2019. The Planning Inspectorate have observed that a “Statement to Parliament setting a new deadline for a decision will be made once Parliament is in session.

The Chairman suggested that Angus Walker, a leading blogger on national infrastructure projects, is convinced that any DCO decisions due after 12/03/2020 will be delivered on time.

Highways England pointed out that one major road scheme associated with the A303 schemes has been given the green light and that is the DCO for the A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross Development in Cornwall. It is worth readers taking a look at the Secretary of State’s decision letter (here) as it gives a flavour of what we might expect.

Local Surveys

Highways England will be carrying out what they call a “pavement survey” in Winterbourne Stoke overnight on March 2nd to 3rd 2020 from 20:00 to 05:00. What they mean is that they will be using a specialised vehicle, similar to the one shown, to measure the depth and condition of the road surface and its underlying structure.

This is likely to involve single lane working and may necessitate traffic control measures whilst it takes place.

Survey work is also going to take place around Countess Roundabout overnight between March 16th and March 19th 2020.

(This information will be disseminated on the Parish Council website, the noticeboard and the Notifications Group asap)

World Heritage Site Studies

The meeting was updated on the progress of the two studies being undertaken by Arup on behalf of the World Heritage Site Committee

Sadly, the Connected Communities project will not consider the Yarnbury Castle crossing of the A303 – hardly a surprise as Highways England has been adamantly against doing anything to this part of the A303, despite the likely increase in usage and consequent increase in the risk to pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians that the scheme will bring.

The studies, whose development we have reported on previously, will report by the end of March and we would hope to make those reports available to all.


We are going to be publishing and linking to an awful lot of material over the next few years relating to the way the public can engage with the archaeology that will emerge from the road-building project. A lot of this will be funded, at least in the early stages, by monies from the overall cost of the scheme. There were a few interesting snippets.

So far, there have been 462 hours of magnetometer and ground-penetrating radar surveys.

They’ve dug 1700 1m x 1m test pits and 440 2m x 50m trenches.

These have revealed a lot of interesting new finds but three stand-out in particular, a cluster of round barrows on the left-hand side of Winterbourne Stoke Hill, close to where the byway crosses the A303 from Hill Farm Cottages.

The second is what is believed to be a Roman bathhouse that lies behind the Travelodge in Amesbury and close to the river.

Third is a crouch-burial near the Winterbourne Stoke Clump, just off the A303 to the east of Longbarrow Roundabout. One wag at the meeting questioned whether it was really the remains of a motorist taken short in the adjacent A303 lay-by.

We raised one key question relating to the archaeology – given the prominence of the WHS, was it simply going to focus on yet more of the neolithic, given that history did not begin and end with the building of the Stonehenge landscape! What about the things that happened there over the last 5,000 years including the more modern history of WW1 including the Stonehenge RFC/RAF aerodrome and the Plains Railways. We had expected a bit of a kick-back from the archaeologists, but they seemed delighted that this point had been raised. They assured the meeting that the funding from Highways England would be used to make the most of the new archaeology that is found during construction, irrespective of what period it comes from.


A parishioner, Mr West, raised the issue of the safety of the current Longbarrow Roundabout; in particular, the road markings which encourage vehicles to take dangerous routes across it. This issue has been raised regularly with Highways England over the last 2-3 years and, despite two revisions, Highways England seems unable or unwilling to correct the situation.  Whilst we have little confidence that Highways England will resolve the situation on this occasion, it was encouraging to have two parishioners present at the meeting.

Highways England were asked (yet again!) to remove their safety barrier and broken equipment casing from alongside the A303 next to the pedestrian crossing.

We drew Highways England’s attention to the fact that Winterbourne Stoke can disappear entirely from digital mapping (Satnavs) when the A303 diversionary route is put into effect, as it was a couple of weeks ago following the serious accident to the west of the village. Basically, once the A303 is flagged as closed, the digital systems can’t find any open route into the village, or through it – even if the crash is nowhere near us. If you enter a Winterbourne Stoke postcode or address into your satnav (this definitely applies to TomTom systems – we are unsure about Google maps) under these circumstances, you simply get a blank screen with the message “Destination not reachable”. You don’t even get a map to show you places nearby as the Satnav doesn’t know where the village is! A very good reason to keep a road map in the car, even if you never use it. Wiltshire Police have also been informed of this issue.

You can keep up to date with the Community Forum activities by visiting the Facebook page.

Onboard and Online: Environment Agency Updates Flood Alerts For The Village

The Environment Agency updated the Flood Alert for the River Wylye and its tributaries (these include the River Till) at 11:52am on Sunday 29 December 2019.  Since then, with no rainfall, the river level has dropped a few inches and inundated land is now reappearing to the south of the village.


“Groundwater levels are rising in boreholes across Salisbury Plain in response to recent prolonged heavy rain. A few days of more settled weather is forecast though levels are continuing to rise further in response to recent rainfall. Reports indicate that properties are pumping and sewage systems could be impacted and roads affected. We encourage residents with pumps and other property resilience measures to put them in place and ensure they are working. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update this message as the situation changes.”

We will provide further updates in due course.

Onboard and Online: Flood Alert in Force Now For River Wylye and Tributaries(ie the River Till)

The Environment Agency has just released the following:

Flooding is possible – be prepared

River levels have risen at the South Newton river gauge as a result of recent heavy rainfall and the ground being saturated. Consequently, flooding of roads and farmland is possible for the next few days. We believe there is a possibility of flooding for the tributaries between Norton Ferris and Wilton Flooding of properties is not forecast at this point. The next few days looks unsettled and further rainfall is expected. We are closely monitoring the situation and our incident response staff are clearing weed screens. Please stay aware in case further warnings are issued. This message will be updated when the situation changes.

This information was last updated at