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Facts

WILTSHIRE

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FUN FACTS

Wiltshire is the 13th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Wiltshire has the 34th highest population in England.
Wiltshire is in 38th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. There are just 3 towns in England which are allowed to use the prefix "royal". One is Royal Leamington Spa which was granted the right in 1838 after a visit by Queen Victoria. The second is Royal Tunbridge Wells, granted in 1909 by Edward VII and the third is Royal Wootton Bassett granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2011.

    Wootton Bassett is a small market town in Wiltshire with a population of about 11,000 people. From 2007 the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan were flown into the nearby RAF base at Lyneham and then driven to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. In the summer of that year the local members of the Royal British Legion decided to formally show their respect as the hearses drove through Wootton Bassett. Soon there were often crowds of over 1,000 people lining the streets.

    RAF Lyneham closed in September 2011 and from that date the planes landed at RAF Brize Norton and the journey to the hospital no longer went through Wootton Bassett. In March 2011 the Queen granted royal patronage to the town in thanks for the support the people had given to the military. The honour was officially given in a ceremony on 16th October 2011 and, as you can see, it is a very rare award.

  3. Wiltshire Eats
  4. Lardy Cake has been popular in Wiltshire for many years. It is also known locally as "'Shaley Cake" and "Lardy Johns" but I need to tell you I have no idea why it has these other two names.

    The main ingredients of the cake are lard, dough and sugar so I do know why it is called lardy cake.

    It was traditionally served hot with your afternoon tea on Saturdays and Sunday and you would spread butter on to your slice. In olden days though Lardy cakes were mainly for special occasions as sugar and dried fruits were considered luxuries.

    Follow our recipe on the video and enjoy your moment of luxury.

  5. Wiltshire VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Wiltshire in the last 100 years:-
    Billie Piper (Actor), David Mitchell (Comedian), James Blunt (Singer/Songwriter), Jazmin Carlin (Swimmer), Jeremy Corbyn (Politician), Isabelle Allen (Actor) and Joe Sugg (YouTuber, Actor, Presenter).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Wiltshire has quite a few Stone Age stone circles, the most famous of which is probably Stonehenge. However, just down the road from Stonehenge is Avebury henge and stone circles, with an "s" at the end and possible more interesting and therefore a bit more weird than Stonehenge. As with so many of these stone circles, no one is really sure why they were built but at Avebury there is the added weird touch in that some of the village of Avebury and indeed the village pub, lie within the outer circle.

    Avebury is a henge, a type of monument consisting of a large circular bank with an internal ditch. The henge is not perfectly circular and measures 347.4 metres (380 yards) in diameter. Inside that is an outer stone circle with a diameter of 331.6 metres (1,088 feet). This is England's largest stone circle, probably built about 500 years after the henge. It is believed that there were originally 98 standing stones, known as sarsens. The stones varied in height between 3.6 metres (12 feet) and 4.2 metres (14 feet). Toward the middle of the monument are two additional, separate stone circles. The northern inner ring is 98 metres (322 feet) in diameter, but only two of its four standing stones remain upright. The southern inner ring was 108 metres (354 feet) in diameter before its destruction in the 18th century. The remaining sections of its arc now lie beneath the village buildings.

    There is also an avenue of paired stones which leads from the southeastern entrance of the henge; and traces of a second avenue going from the western entrance. In the Middle Ages the stones may have been associated with pagan and devil worship and many were either buried or destroyed. Later building and agricultural improvements led to others being removed. How the site looks today owes much to a man called Alexander Keiller, who bought the site and cleared away buildings and re-erected many stones in the late 1930s.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. Longleat is an English Stately home. It has been owned by the Thynn family since the late sixteenth century. The Thynn family have, since 1789 (or dix sept cent quatre-vingt-neuf for my French readers as it's quite an important date for them) held the title of the Marquis of Bath. None of these things is why it is in this section.

    That reason is because in 1966 the family opened the first drive-through Safari Park outside Africa. It is home today to over 500 animals including lions, giraffes, monkeys, rhinoceros, tigers and wolves. In 2011 they added six cheetahs. The lions of Longleat are perhaps the most well-known and cubs have been born at Longleat during the years the park has been open.

    The Safari Drive-through can take up to 3 hours and is possibly the centrepiece of the Park but there are many other attractions. There is the East African Reserve which has zebras, ostriches, wildebeest and ring-tailed lemurs. You can take a cruise around the lake which was once the home to Nico, the oldest gorilla in Europe until his death aged 56 in 2018. There is also the Monkey Temple, nearby some red pandas, and the animal adventure section.

    Aside from animals, the Longleat hedge maze is thought to be the world's longest with 1.69 miles of pathways and made using 16,000 English yew trees. And to finish there is a narrow gauge railway but it was the very first drive-through safari park outside Africa that happened here in 1966.



  11. Richard Remembers
  12. Wiltshire is not coastal so has never been a direct part of my previous 3 journeys. However I have driven into and out of Wiltshire on my numerous trips down to Cornwall. In fact, due to the sometimes very heavy congestion on the A303, which used to be my chosen route to the south-west, I have possibly spent slightly more time in Wiltshire than I intended.

    I am also of an age where I have visited Stonehenge before the number of visitors were restricted and footpaths laid to try to control erosion. I believe this occurred in 1978 and I was there in 1974. What do you mean did I help build it? How dare you?

    I have also seen, while driving through Wiltshire, some of the dozen or so white horses which have been dug into the chalk hills. Only eight remain today and the best, and oldest in Wiltshire, is the one on Westbury Hill, Bratton Down. It appeared in 1878, possible replacing an older one. These horses, and other figures, are made by cutting deep into a hillside and creating chalk trenches which stand out against the natural landscape.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The jay is a member of the crow family, actually the most colourful member of that family. However they can be quite difficult to spot as they are very shy woodland birds and they don't often come out from the cover of the trees. They have a loud screaming call, usually given when they are flying. Their feathers are all sorts of colours including, black, blue, brown, cream, pink and purple. They have a white patch on their bums. Their leg colour is brown and pink and their beak is black, of medium length, powerful and chunky.

    Jays eat nuts, seeds and insects but they love acorns. In the autumn you may see them collecting acorns and burying them to then find later in the year. There are 170,000 territories of breeding jays in the UK. You can find them in most parts of England and they live in woods and parks and mature gardens. They're not silly so they like to live near oak trees for a good supply of acorns.

    Jays are about 35 cms in length and have a wingspan of 52 to 58 cms. They weigh between 140 and 190 grams.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Wiltshire check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020