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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > Steeple Ashton’s best-kept village secret

St Mary's church, Steeple Ashton

St Mary's church, Steeple Ashton

Steeple Ashton’s best-kept village secret

Despite a growing emphasis on news, Points West has always reflected the beauty of the region’s cities, towns and villages that help define the West Country and shape its character.

In 1969 Jonathan Dimbleby, the brother of David and son of Richard, reported from Steeple Ashton near Trowbridge to discover the secret behind the community’s Best Kept Village award.

Longs Arms, Steeple Ashton

Longs Arms, Steeple Ashton

Known for its ‘wool-town’ status, Steeple Ashton continues to trade on its historical good looks – from the old-world charm of the cottages and houses surrounding the village green, to the intriguing ‘blindhouse’, and the grandeur of its parish church.

The one thing that Dimbleby’s film shows is how little the village has changed. 

While many of our West Country communities have been altered beyond all recognition, this film provides proof that some things are well-worth preserving.

And may be it is this unchanging longevity that prompted the judges to honour Steeple Ashton with the award “Best Kept Wiltshire Village” in 1969 – after all, such awards are not given out solely on the fact that someone got up early one morning to cut the grass and sweep away the litter.

In this film from Points West broadcast on 24th October 1969, Jonathan Dimbleby is seen talking to local residents about their thoughts on Steeple Ashton, as well as collecting filmed evidence of the village’s undeniable beauty.

Jonathan Dimbleby

However, despite a feeling that time has stood still in this West Wiltshire village there are, in fact, some important hidden changes. 

According to the website “Information Britain”, Steeple Ashton’s lock-up no longer holds drunks and vagrants but now houses the lawn mower used to cut the village green.

So now we know the true secret behind their Best Kept Village status.  Perhaps someone should let Jonathan Dimbleby know!

Click on the 'Play archive film' link at the top of the right hand side box.


  • Use the right hand links to other local Where I Live sites to see more archive film from Points West. 

last updated: 22/01/2009 at 10:51
created: 01/11/2005

Have Your Say

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Janet Martlew
My husband, myself and our two daughters had a beautiful week here in June 09, our summer. Friendly people, lovely village, great food in the pub also.

John F Young
Steeple Ashton and the magnificent Church and steeple its name derives from my Great Grand mother was born there a Mary Ann Young formerly Sims and lived in Fore Street Steeple Ashton. she moved to South London about 1850.

Brenda Marian Cox nee Reed
My husband's COX ancestors came Edington then were of Steeple Ashton, It is a lovely place.

William B. Nash
Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire, England keeps coming up as the place my great grandfather was born and lived before migrating to the Americas. Although the film is almost 40 years-old, it has motivated me to take a break from my home in Barçelona and visit the area. . . soon.

Colleen Marsden
I am an Australian who first visited Steeple Ashton in 1974 and stayed with the Franklins. I was simply enthalled by the village and its history. I have loved it ever since anf have fond memories of my many visits.

Susan Virgin
Lovely to see the village in all its former glory. I well remember delivering milk with my father Godfrey Smith - this film brought back very happy memories. I should like to see more!

Ann Pritchard
Steeple Ashton has been ruined by interlopers, weekend cottages and the fact that the true village people could not afford the houses being built, they are of the type that are for the wealthy only. My family roots with the village have been traced back to the 1500's of which there was a book made by Dr Le mar Berrett of Salt lake City Utah America. It destroys me to see what a yuppy centre that my village has now become. There are few true villagers from families of long standing who's many generations have been born there. This feeling of desperation drove me to write poetry on the subject. One such begins, Oh my beloved village, what have they done to you. Gone are the people I once knew. Walk down your streets now and recieve a cold stare. Pass by people with nose in the air. Oh you developers you spread a cruel hand. When you came and built on all vacant land. And so it goes on. It truly saddens me to see what the place has now become.

Helen Marchant
I'm voting for this one.

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