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ANSTY VILLAGE, WILTSHIRE

Ansty Village in winter.

Ansty village with a population of around 112 (2020 estimate), is a small settlement of some 56 households and a civil parish in South Wiltshire. The village is just north of the A30 road between Shaftesbury, and Salisbury. The parish includes the tiny hamlet of Ansty Coombe.

The parish is surrounded by attractive countryside including chalk downland, greensand terraces and rolling landscapes forming a backdrop to deep set valleys or coombes. No wonder then, that the whole area forms part of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Ansty was designated a conservation area in 1975 and in the 1990s the village was further designated as a ‘Special Restraint Area’ which meant great care had to be taken to avoid any planning proposals that might cause a detraction from the established outstanding character and quality of this rural village.

Ansty has a long and exciting history with agricultural roots stretching back to Saxon times (and even earlier). The village is well-wooded with a rabbit warren of narrow lanes, stone cottages with thatched roofs, and a medieval pond with willow trees completing a delightful vista.

Buildings of note include St James Church, dating from 1230, and the Commandery building both with links to Knights Hospitallers and the Manor of Ansty, along with a famous Maypole which still attracts a large following every May Day as villagers endeavor to keep the old traditions alive.

From 1594 the whole of the parish of Ansty became part of the nearby Wardour Estate owned by the Arundell family – until much of their land and property was sold off in 1946 to pay death duties.

From then on Ansty rapidly lost its deeply conservative agricultural roots and its century’s old family network as the former estate workers moved elsewhere for employment. In recent times has Ansty has become a very desirable place for families and professional people to retire.

In 2019, Ansty Village won the ‘Best Kept Village’ competition sponsored by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) for the third time in as many decades and in 2020 we came creditable 3rd in the CPRE BKV Laurence Kitching Award for the ‘winner of winners’ in the small village category.