24 August 2022: To Chilton Foliat
This morning my wife and I walked all the way up the drive into Littlecote House, where we are staying for a few days. At the top of the drive we turned left along the road towards Hungerford, which is surprisingly busy.
We continued along the road until we reached the footpath sign pointing north towards Chilton Foliat. We took the footpath and stopped for a while on the bridge over the River Kennet, which is one of the most beautiful spots I know. The river was running clearly but was only about a foot deep, although it is fairly broad at this point. We didn’t see any fish but we did see four female mallards. My wife said she also saw a coot but I missed that.
After the footbridge the path leads through the intriguingly named Stew Close to come out on the B4192 immediately west of Chilton Foliat. On previous occasions we have stopped for lunch at The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat but today we only went as far as the church. After sitting in the church for a while we made our way back to Littlecote House for a snack lunch in our room.
After lunch we had a stroll round the grounds, going down to look at the trout stream (which doesn’t appear to have any fish now) and then walking to the famous Littlecote Mosaic. This is said to be the finest Roman mosaic pavement in the whole of England. After the Romans left it was undiscovered until the 1700s. A few years later it was buried again and only rediscovered in the 1960s. Warners built a protective wooden colour over it. It has recently been painstakingly cleaned, so the colours are more vibrant than they were when we first saw it but perhaps not a vibrant as they were originally. The main section of the mosaic portrays Orpheus and the current theory is that it was the pavement in a temple to the Roman god Bacchus.
The foundations of the Roman villa have now been exposed, giving a good idea of its size and layout. A medieval village was built on the site but now little evidence of this remains.
We had dinner in the hotel’s Popham Restaurant before returning to our room.