Introduction to the History
The name Shipton Bellinger conjures up the kind of traditional English village, perhaps in the Cotswolds or in Devon, that tourists delight to visit. Such villages are often centred on an important Manor, or maybe a castle, the home of some noble Lord perhaps, whose ancestors had played an important role in our island history. In other such villages, there may have been a vital bridge across a well known river, or an old coaching inn on a main road from London.
Alas, Shipton has none of these things: no big families, no river crossing, no main route from London. It is simply home for, and loved by, many: just an everyday ''working village'', although not without its picturesque parts, tucked away on the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain. Before the age of the car it was only connected by primitive roads, little more than tracks in some cases, which led across the downs to other villages, the water mills on the Avon and to the major centres of Salisbury, Weyhill and Andover. It is only in recent years that the north-south A338 road has become a major route for traffic from the north and Midlands to South Coast resorts and the New Forest.
Archaeological excavation points to habitation of the immediate area from the earliest times. Even in recorded history the village was little more than a hamlet whose inhabitants had to eke out a living on the poor soil, which is hardly six inches deep above the chalk in places. Shipton could never have been classed as fertile farmland. With only a winterbourne for a stream, flowing, if at all, from January to April, life must have been hard. Sheep farming had been the major livelihood for centuries and indeed the Saxon words Sceap Tun (sheep farm) form the basis of the village name. Little changed until the Enclosure Acts of the early 19th century altered the pattern of farming, but the scale of the village nevertheless remained the same. It was only with the advent of the Military, at the end of the last century, that Shipton began to grow to its present size.
The Parish is like a little finger of Hampshire thrust into Wiltshire, the boundary to the North, West and South being also the County boundary. At the time of writing, however, future connections with Hampshire are in doubt. Wiltshire has made a claim to the Boundaries Commission for the Parish to be brought under their administration. Still, Shipton is used to divided loyalties, for it has been Salisbury to which villagers have traditionally gone for commerce and markets, whilst administrative and ecclesiastical matters have been dealt with by Andover or Winchester.
[TB: in 1999 Shipton still remains in Hampshire, the parish of South Tidworth immediately to it's north having been incorporated into Wiltshire as alluded to above. After 2003 Shipton was combined into a new local ward, that of Penton Bellinger, and moved into the County Ward of Andover West. From a central government viewpoint we are in Hampshire North-West... more details can be found on the Elected Representatives page.]
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