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Aldbourne (Wiltshire)

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Village situated northeast of Marlborough in Wiltshire, England.

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      26.04.2011 12:05
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      A beautiful Wiltshire village with an added attraction for Doctor Who fans!

      Aldbourne is a very picturesque village in Wiltshire. I have visited there twice so far, once was about eight years ago and the most recent time was a couple of weeks ago, where we spent the Friday evening and the whole of Saturday at Aldbourne.

      For Doctor Who fans (like us!), it is well-known as 'Devil's End' - the location used for the 1971 story The Daemons starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Roger Delgado as The Master. This remains one of the most popular stories with fans and we attended the event called The Daemons at 40, which saw eleven cast and crew returning to the location to talk about filming the story. Sadly, some of the main people involved have since died (Jon Pertwee, Roger Delgado, the Brigadier - Nicholas Courtney and the writer Barry Letts notably), but those who came to this 2011 event included Katy Manning, John Levene (UNIT's Sgt Benton), Richard Franklin (UNIT's Mike Yates), Terrance Dicks plus Damaris Hayman (Miss Hawthorne) and the director Christopher Barry - the latter two now into their eighties.

      My fiancé and I decided to get engaged while we were at Aldbourne, as it is such a beautiful location. We picked a lovely spot up by the church, where you can see miles of countryside and it is just beautiful.

      Aldbourne isn't a very big village; you can easily walk round most of it, though parts are quite hilly. The centre point of the village is the village green, which was utilised in Doctor Who effectively. For The Daemons at 40, the local Morris men performed some routines, including four of the men who had been in the programme dancing! The village green was used a lot while we were there and the day after there was a big village fete there with food and stalls. There seems to be an excellent community spirit in Aldbourne.

      There are two pubs there - The Crown and The Blue Boar. The Crown is just out of the centre, near the lake and has a small area for parking. We ate here on the Saturday and the barman was very friendly, preparing a Ploughman's lunch for us, even though it was out of hours for their usual meals. They also have a lovely dog there that came to sit by me and have a cuddle.

      The Blue Boar is right near the village green and this pub was the one used as The Cloven Hoof in Doctor Who. Behind the bar, it still has a card with Jon Pertwee and Bessie (the car) filming in Aldbourne in 1971. The village is obviously proud of its part in Doctor Who history and the locals are often happy to talk about it, with many of the older ones full of tales of when the filming was happening and general gossip about the cast.

      The Blue Boar is an old-fashioned pub, small with low beamed ceilings and a restaurant at the back. On the weekend we went, they had a beer festival and it seemed as if the whole village was out there. Luckily, there are benches outside the pub and they had put up tents, though didn't need them as the weather was gorgeous.

      The houses are very pretty in the village and in keeping with the character of the place. Most of the small shops are set back on streets away from the centre. You could certainly spend a day here and find enough to see and do, plus eat and drink at the pubs, but I suspect it would be a dull place for any teenager to live. Actually, we noted we saw hardly any teens the entire time we were there, just a few at the bus stop. It is certainly more suited to young children and older people, as it is an idyllic village and I would expect crime to be very low, as it is one of those places where everyone seems to know everyone else.

      On top of the hill, behind the village green, is the church - again this was used a lot on Doctor Who. In fact, the first time we went round the churchyard years ago, the man tending the grass was the same one who had been doing the job during The Daemons and he was full of stories from when the BBC descended on the village!

      The church is the Church of St Michael and has parts that can be dated back to 1200. It is architecturally stunning and beautiful to photograph, especially in different weathers and at different times of day. Its gothic style makes it look particularly sinister and imposing at dusk, so you can easily understand why it was used for a frightening Doctor Who story.

      There's a nice little primary school near to the church, a Post Office and a lot of farm land. The Daemons at 40 event was held in the school and it is well-kept with a nice hall and playground.

      Aldbourne is around six miles north-east of Marlborough. It is only a quick drive from Swindon anyway, as we had to stay overnight in Swindon, as there is limited overnight accommodation in Aldbourne itself. (The pubs have some rooms, but you may need to book early and you're best ringing them, as they don't seem to answer emails.)

      Aldbourne has a thriving social life, albeit of the scouts and homemade cake sale kind of thing. You can check out the upcoming attractions at the village website -

      http://aldbourne.net/

      It also has some lovely images of the village and a link to some photos of the Daemons at 40 event and some archive footage from the 1971 filming.

      Incidentally, internet access in Aldbourne is rather hit and miss. We all had times when our mobile phones failed to get a signal and our Wi-Fi connections went down. In the end, I found a place to stand where everything worked and kept returning to it, if I wanted to use the internet. Very Devil's End indeed!!

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