"The Inn On Marlborough Downs"
The shingle walls of the Waggon and Horses in Beckhampton were unfortunately built from smashed stones from the Avebury stone circle in 1669, before any value was perceived in such things, when it began life as a house.
Dickens featured this "inn on Marlborough Downs" in The Bagman's Story from The Pickwick Papers, having travelled the road in 1835:
"One winter's evening, about five o'clock, just as it began to grow dusk, a man in a gig might have been seen urging his tired horse along the road which leads across Marlborough Downs, in the direction of Bristol. I say he might have been seen, and I have no doubt he would have been, if anybody but a blind man had happened to pass that way; but the weather was so bad, and the night so cold and wet, that nothing was out but the water, and so the traveller jogged along in the middle of the road, lonesome and dreary enough...
"Whether the vixenish mare was sufficiently well acquainted with the tones of Tom's voice to comprehend his meaning, or whether she found it colder standing still than moving on, of course I can't say. But I can say that Tom had no sooner finished speaking, than she pricked up her ears, and started forward at a speed which made the clay-coloured gig rattle until you would have supposed every one of the red spokes were going to fly out on the turf of Marlborough Downs; and even Tom, whip as he was, couldn't stop or check her pace, until she drew up of her own accord, before a roadside inn on the right-hand side of the way, about half a quarter of a mile from the end of the Downs. 'Tom cast a hasty glance at the upper part of the house she threw the reins to the hostler, and stuck the whip in the box. It was a strange old place, built of a kind of shingle, inlaid, as it were, with cross-beams, with gabled-opped windows projecting completely over the pathway, and a low door with a dark porch, and a couple of steep steps leading down into the house, instead of the modern fashion of half a dozen shallow ones leading up to it. It was a comfortable-looking place though, for there was a strong, cheerful light in the bar window, which shed a bright ray across the road, and even lighted up the hedge on the other side..."
In Dickens' time, the inn may not have had its present name as it has been known in the past as The Bear and as the Hare and Hounds, but it was then an important stop off on the coaching route from London to Bath. Horses would get re-shoed in the smithy at the inn while the waggoners supped some ale and freshened up. Today it has a reputation for fine Wadworth 6X straight from the wood, a good food menu and views of Silbury Hill from the beer garden.
Lens: Pentax 12-24mm
Avebury Stone #1
Avebury Stone #2