|Cheddington can be found high up in the
chalk backbone of the North Dorset Downs. This is where two rivers
originate, the River Parrett flows north entering the county of Somerset
to the west of Pipplepen Farm, in the parish of North Perrott while the
most easterly river is the Axe which begins as a small stream and runs
through the Axe valley for many miles passing through the old Roman town
Winyards Gap is a cutting at the northern end of the village and this originates from the Anglo Saxon word "Wyneheard" and just below an old earthwork is the Winyards Gap Inn where armies marched through the gap and it was through here that King Charles marched through in 1644.
The village also has a memorial erected in memory of hte 43rd (Wessex) Division of the Dorsetshire Regiment, sadly now almagamated into other infantry units, and the memorial is an exact replica of one that stands on Hill 112 in Caen, Normandy where the regiment fought in July 1944.
The Gap though has a more sinister tale to tell as on New Years Day in 1752 an 18 year old girl who was in service in London called Elizabeth Canning disappeared. A month passed before she returned home in a terrible state and made accusations that Susannah Wells a brothel keep and Mary Squire who was a gyspy had kept her prisoner in a house that was known as being a brothel. This also involved Henry Fielding who wrote Tom Jones and Amelia and was known to be a bit of a rebel towards social events etc. Fielding was said to have drummed up support for the poor girl and a Quack doctor called John Hill then began a campaign against her.
Squires insisted that she and her family were travilling in Dorset that January and had stayed at the Winyards Gap Inn which was then known as the Three Horseshoes and she is also said to have stated that he had also stayed at South Perrot a nearby village.
After a lengthy trial the case was proved against the two women who were sentenced that Squires was to hang, but the story does not finish here, for Sir Crispin Gascoyne who was the Lord Mayor of London at this time spent a considerable amount of time checking out here alibi and he managed to get her a pardon, maybe it might have been because he was the Master of the Brewer Company and could pull a few strings will never be proved. But Elizabeth Canning also did not escape the courts and was later accused of perjury and found guilty and was awarded seven years in a penal colony. But what of Susannah Wells you ask? She had alreadby been sentenced to being branded by hot irons and the sentence carried out.