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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > Day Out: The Vale of Pewsey

'Day Out' opening titles

'Day Out' opening titles

Day Out: The Vale of Pewsey

Watch a BBC West programme made in 1984, whose presenter spends a day exploring the hillsides, villages and waterways which comprise the Vale of Pewsey.

'Day Out' was a BBC West region television programme which ran for a number of series between 1977-1988.

Each half-hour episode saw one of the presenters - Derek Jones, Gwyn Richards or Barry Paine pay a visit to a different town in the South West - explore parts of interest, and reflect upon the area's history.

In terms of historical research, each programme is as valid today as when it was made. And it's fascinating to see how the many Wiltshire locations they visited then looked in the late 70s to early 80s.

Presenter Barry Paine on the Kennet & Avon Canal

Presenter Barry Paine on the Kennet & Avon Canal

Broadcast on 4th September 1984 was an edition of the programme which centred on the great Vale of Pewsey, situated in the Kennet district of Wiltshire.

Presenter Barry Paine begins his journey by taking a narrowboat trip down the Kennet & Avon Canal which cuts a swathe through the heart of the Vale.

The boat stops at Wootton Rivers in order to pass through the canal lock. Whilst there, Paine finds time to talk to the lock-keeper Ken Taylor and later take a stroll around Wootton Rivers itself.

As he continues his journey via narrowboat, the next stop is at Pewsey Wharf. In Pewsey village centre, Paine observes the statue of King Alfred which stands proudly at the crossroads and is a reminder that the King once owned Pewsey and much of the surrounding area.

Paine and Morris Nichol at Pewsey White Horse

Paine and Morris Nichol at Pewsey White Horse

Paine also visits Pewsey White Horse, cut into Pewsey Hill in 1937. Local resident Morris Nichol meets Paine at the chalk figure to reminisce of the time the Volunteer Pewsey Fire Brigade came to create it.

Continuing his journey on the canal, Paine's third port of call is at Charlton St Peter. There he tells the story of one of its most famous sons - Stephen Duck, the Thresher Poet.

The great man began a tradition that lives on in the village to this day - the commemorative Duck Feast, held annually at the Charlton Cat pub in the village.

To find out more, Paine strolls the leafy lanes of Charlton St Peter with the man in charge of the Feast - Bill Fowl (known as the 'Chief Duck'), who explains the tradition.

Paine and the pew in the Church of Mary the Virgin

Paine and the pew in the Church of Mary the Virgin

Finally, Paine's day out in the Vale of Pewsey comes to an end when he reaches Bishops Cannings. Here he visits the Church of St Mary the Virgin. The church houses an unusual item of furniture, part of which dates back to the 15th century.

It's a meditation pew which expects the user to dwell upon some rather depressing moral maxims such as 'be mindful that thou shalt die'.

However, Paine ends his journey on a more cheery note, with a quote from 19th century journalist William Cobbett.

He wrote in his diary of a day out in the area; "Great as my expectations... these were more than fulfilled. Here I am then just going to bed, having spent as pleasant a day as I've ever spent in my life."

Day Out: The Vale of Pewsey' is a fascinating programme which delves deep into the history of some of Wiltshire's most well-known places of beauty. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in the county's rich historical heritage or who has ever lived in, or visited the area.

last updated: 23/08/2008 at 10:14
created: 07/08/2008

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Anthony Chapman
Delighted to come across this not least because I regarded Barry Paine as having one of the best voices for radio and 'voice-overs' in the realm of nature and the environment. It's a lovely area which I enjoyed in my youth (1950-60s) when having family holidays on a farm beneath the Marlborough Downs. Also my ancestors were yeoman farmers in the vale up to the mid nineteenth century (Urchfont, Patney and Bishop's Cannings particularly). So glad you put this online.

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