Parishes Magazine – December 2021


The church was beautifully decorated and it we were delighted to welcome so many people from the five villages of the Lower Wyle and Till Valley and members of the Royal British Legion representing each of our villages.  Many stayed on for coffee and biscuits at the Old Rectory afterwards and it was lovely to be able to make the most of the unseasonably warm weather outside.


With so many leaves still on the trees, it was agreed to postpone clearing the leaves until December.

We are enormously grateful to Jeff Thomas who mows, strims and keeps the churchyard immaculate throughout the year and asks for nothing in return.  Clearing the leaves is a huge task and last year we had a great turn-out of volunteers and a fun time was had by all.  There will be a working party again this year, on Sunday 5thDecember from 11.00am to clear up the leaves in the churchyard.  Many hands make light work:  come and join in – even if you can only come for half an hour, we would be very grateful.  Refreshments will be provided(Gwen’s cakes are legendary!).


Following this popular event last year, we will be holding another workshop to make Christmas wreaths on Saturday 4th December.  Frames, wire and decorations will be provided (please bring your own foliage).  It will be held at the Old Rectory, outside but under cover, as last year.  Please let Olivia know if you’d like to comeplaces are limited and there will be three hour slots available from 10.00-11.30am; 1.002.30pm and 4.00-5.30pm.  Refreshments will be provided.  We are asking for a donation this year, to cover our costs.


Angie is running a workshop in the Village Hub on Saturday 11th December at 3pm to make edible Christmas-themed treats – cupcakes, decorating cookies and lots of other delicious things!  This is aimed at the children in the village, but all are welcome!  Please contact Angie for more information 07812 382071.


We will be carol singing round the village again this year on Saturday 18th December.  This is in place of a Christmas service and was very popular last year with a fantastic turn-out:  a wonderful opportunity for the whole village to get together and we hope the Holtbys’ sheep and chicken might make another appearance!  We will meet in the pub car park at 4.55pm.  We will be asking for volunteers to do the readings and would love the children to take part again as they did last year, dressed up as characters from the Nativity and reading their parts.  We will finish at the church with mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls.  Please let Olivia know if you’d like to join in.



The VPS have been busy putting together packs of craft activities for children.  These were really popular last year and sold out very quickly.  They are filled with lots of wonderful things to keep children busy over the holidays and really good value.  More details will be on the Village Facebook page.


On Christmas Eve at 6pm local time people are asked to come outside and ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread the Christmas Spirit and to help Santa fly his sleigh. It aims to create a wave of bells across the world, will be a lovely memory for the children and community and we can end 2021 with a bit of magic, hope and togetherness.


We are delighted to announce that the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust (WHCT) has awarded a grant to St Peter’s of £3,000 towards the cost of repairing the leaking roof.  With this very generous grant added to the amount Jonathan has raised from his sponsored walk (currently £8,259), we can now go ahead with the most urgent repairs and Phase 1 of the works needed to keep the church open.  If you haven’t yet sponsored Jonathan, please do consider giving a donation  We still need to raise a further £30K to carry out repairs inside, including £8K to improve the heating (which everyone agrees is a top priority!).  


The creation of the “Village Hub” has provided a place for the whole community to meet and a place where everyone in the village is welcome.  The Book Club and Meet Make and Mend are using this every month and Parish Council and VPS meetings are also being held here.  There are plans to hold monthly Coffee Morningsand Film Nights and further details will be announced shortly (also keep an eye out on the Facebook page). If anyone has any further ideas on events which might be hosted at the Village Hub, do please contact Olivia or Teresa.  Bookings can be made by contacting A new sign for the gate has been ordered and should be up shortly.  We are now buying equipment with the £5,000 Community Fund grant: first on the list was two new plug-in radiators, so the Snug will be cosy and warm for groups meeting during the winter months.


We meet on the last Tuesday of each month.  The autumn garland is now complete and looks wonderful hanging up in the Snug.  Great team effort!  The next meeting is Tuesday 30th November at 7.30pm.


Our book for this month was “This is going to Hurt” by Adam Kay, comedian and former junior doctor, written in the form of a diary, after 97hour weeks, sleepless nights and missed week-ends, it provides a brutally frank, but very funny account of what life is like for those on the front line of the NHS.  Highly recommended!  The Book Club meets next on 22nd December to chat about “Tinsel” by Sibeal Pounder.


Look out for new Christmas-related books, CDs, and DVDs and for both children and adults to get you in the festive mood and enjoy on the colder days.  Please feel free to come and browse, donate or take away books.


Thank you very much to Andy Shuttleworth for providing this month’s Village History:

The Military Manoeuvres of August 1910

It isn’t all that surprising that Winterbourne Stoke has a long association with the Army, but it has a particular importance to those of us with links to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)Whilst the Army had a Medical Officer in peace and war from as long ago as 1660, medical care was organised along regimental lines and was basic, to say the leastThings improved a bit over the years, particularly under Wellington during the Peninsular WarsHowever, things soon went downhill again, as the medics were treated pretty badly by the rest of the ArmyThis was only resolved following the direct intervention of Parliament, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and others in the 1890s and the creation of the RAMC in 1898.  No sooner were they formed than the Corps were off into action during the Boer War.  Lots of lessons were learned and following the end of the Boer War in 1902, the RAMC and the rest of the Army tried to improve the level of care for the woundedThis brings us to the military manoeuvres of August 1910, which involved one of the first, if not the first, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) exercises.

A largely imaginary invader was supposed to have landed in Dorset and sent a small force (White Army) northwards.  It was intercepted at Yarnbury Castle by the (real) Brown Army where battle ensuedEach man had 150 rounds of blank ammunition to make a bit of noise and add to the realismDuring the course of the battle, umpires attached labels to the uniforms of those deemed to be wounded, which described their injuries and said whether they could be removed sitting (in a cart) or on a stretcher.   As they fell on the battlefield, the wounded were given basic treatment by the regimental stretcher bearers using the field dressings that all troops now carriedThe bearer division of three field ambulance units then took charge and moved the wounded by horse-drawn cart to a tented aid post in between Winterbourne Stoke and ShrewtonCasualties, over 2,000 during the course of the 3day battle, were eventually moved out of the village and on to a clearing hospital in Tidworth ParkBrown Army won and White Army retreated to Codford

August 1910 was a very hot month and messing around in battle-dress was pretty unpleasant, so the stretcher cases were quite pleased to be carried off the field of battle by their mates and many expected a smashing meal when they got back to the tents in the village.  That worked out well for some, but many had their tags marked to say they had notional internal injuries and literally had their cards marked as “nil by mouth”Let’s just say they were a bit miffed to find that food and water was withheld for quite some time!

All humour aside, these manoeuvres taught the RAMC many valuable lessons that, sadly, had to be used in anger only four short years laterMaj-Gen Sir Henry Rawlinson, who directed the manoeuvres, also learned some valuable tactical lessons, including that the movement of the field ambulances could betray the intentions of divisional commanders to the enemyLessons learned from the games played in the fields around Winterbourne Stoke undoubtedly saved lives in WWI and have done so ever since. 

Winterbourne Stoke entries

Olivia Dutton collates the news from Winterbourne Stoke to submit to the Parish Magazine.  Please contact her on 01980 621247/07760 618078 or  The deadline for going to print is noon of 16thof the month, so please make sure to send it to her by 14th of each month.

Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council