Cornwall & The South: Pt 50 – Aldbourne, Wilts

Our last stop on the way home was the beautiful little village of Aldbourne in Wiltshire, once the scene of a shootout between UNIT Soldiers, and an Alien Gargoyle…

Aldbourne:

Status: Wiltshire Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 15/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Village Green, The Blue Boar, St Michael’s Church, Market Cross etc

Aldbourne was only a quick stop on our long journey home, and I must confess to being a bit of a nerd here, as we only stopped as the BBC filmed a five part, 1971 serial of Doctor Who, called the Daemons starring Jon Pertwee, in the village.

We had arrived in the centre of the village green, one of the main settings for the story, which heavily utilised the Church of St Michael as a backdrop. The original St Michael’s was built by the Normans in the 12th century, and was later rebuilt around 1220 following a devastating fire. In 1460 a new Tower at the West end was built by Richard Goddard, replacing a Tower built decades before in the centre of the Nave.

It is an incredible looking building, towering over what is really quite a small village for such a large Church. It’s inclusion generated much controversy in Doctor Who, as a very accurate model of the Church was blown up at the end of the story. It was so accurate, it led some viewers to think the BBC had actually blown up a village Church just for television!!

In the centre of the Village Green sits the medieval Market Cross. The cross on the top was replaced in 1764, and has been deliberately angled like a “Gnomon”, the triangle on a sundial which is used to cast the shadow. Originally a Market would have been held in the Green, with fresh produce being sold from local farms.

In The Daemons, an ancient alien called Azal was discovered in a spaceship buried under a large mound on the outskirts of the village. He appeared three times to decide humanity’s fate, with the Doctor asking him to leave, and his nemesis the Master trying to take control of Earth for himself. Azal was defeated by an act of kindness by the Doctor’s assistant Jo, and he self destructed, taking the Church with it. Happily in real life the Church is intact, forming a great backdrop to the village.

A shoot out between the UNIT Troops and Bok the Gargoyle, animated by Azal took place on the Green and in the Churchyard, creating some of the series most memorable scenes.

Looking over the wall, the villagers under the control of the Master, who was masquerading as the new Vicar attacked the Doctor, and UNIT attacked Bok, climbing up into the Churchyard with a Bazooka!

The Churchyard is elevated above the rest of the Green, giving a great view out across the beautiful brick buildings which line it. Most date from either the 17th or 18th centuries, and I imagine this view has rarely changed over the last few hundred years.

The East side of the Green is bounded by the “Blue Boar Inn”, a lovely old pub which opened in 1822. It would also play a major part in the Daemons…

Renamed the “Cloven Hoof” for the duration of filming, the Doctor & Co stayed here whilst they dealt with the Master and Azal.

The village remembers its time on the big screen, and in 2015 a sign for the Cloven Hoof was put up outside to recognise this.

Before we left, I couldn’t resist setting up a little scene from the Daemons myself.

Featuring Bok the Gargoyle, with the Master in his reverend disguise, facing off against the Doctor and the Brigadier…

Anyway, our Summer Holiday of 2015 was over, but we had more adventures to come, so stay tuned to see one of the many places we went next…

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