Chiseldon takes its name from the Saxon phrase ‘Ceoseldene’ – meaning ‘stony valley’. The Washpool, a triangular wooded valley, still lies at the heart of the village today. Common land in medieval times, the Washpool became part of the Burderop Estate in 1780. The stream was regularly dammed, to create a small pool, and livestock was brought down from the surrounding hillsides to be washed there – giving the valley its modern name.
Over the years the area slowly became neglected and was frequented by fly-tippers. So, in 2006, a group of villagers approached the Parish Council which agreed to lease the Washpool from Burderop for a period of thirty years. Working with the Parish Council and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, the villagers set up the Washpool Area Restoration Project (WARP) and work to reclaim the site began.
Once the rubbish and overgrown vegetation had been removed, fencing, hedging, gates, wildlife ponds and boardwalks were installed, and the area was officially re-opened by the Mayor of Swindon in 2009.
Thanks to the efforts of WARP’s volunteers, the Washpool is now a valuable refuge for local wildlife and a beauty spot for everyone to enjoy. The project even has its own flock of sheep which is restoring the chalk downland on one side of the site.
WARP runs bi-monthly Conservation Days to maintain the valley. Everyone is welcome to attend, even if it’s just for half an hour, and no experience is required. Tools and cake are provided!
The Conservation Days for 2018 will run between 10 am and around 2 pm on:
Sunday 20 May
Sunday 15 July
Sunday 16 September
Sunday 18 November
You can find out more about WARP in the Ridgeway Bell or via the Group’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WashpoolARP/
You can also contact them via email at: email@example.com