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Home > Wiltshire > Winterslow > Pheasant Hotel

Pheasant Hotel

Picture source: Roger Ford

The Pheasant Hotel was situated on London Road. This 17th century coaching inn was previously known as The Winterslow Hut. Now converted to residential use.
The above served as an off-base RAF officer’s mess during WW2, accommodating night-fighter crews from the Middle Wallop base. In his book ‘Night Fighter’, radar operator CF Rawnsley wrote: The officers of the squadron were moved out of the Mess on the station and installed in a fine old coaching inn some six miles away on the road to Salisbury. The Pheasant, or Winterslow Hut, to give it its old coaching name, had been modernised with central heating and adequate plumbing without spoiling its quiet, mellowed charm...’.
In March 1942, returning from a long and uneventful night-time patrol, the pilot of Rawnsley’s aircraft (the famous John ‘Cats-Eyes’ Cunningham) decided to make a low pass over the hotel: ‘We crossed the coast and all the time the light was becoming stronger. Then we were passing Salisbury, already stirring uneasily, the smoke of the early fires curling up slowly through the mist which clung to the river and hung heavy over the rooftops. Above it, the balloons glistened like airborne dew-drops in the first rays of the sun. John picked up the black ribbon of the Andover road and held down the Beaufighter in a long, shallow dive. “Let’s see if there’s anyone up yet at The Pheasant,” he said. There was mischief in his voice. The off-duty flight had had a party there last night and they would probably be sleeping late. The aircraft was gathering speed as the road came closer. The fork of Lobscombe corner was ahead and the roof of The Pheasant was in the gun-sight. Down we went and the telegraph poles were flashing past just below the window. John said: “I can’t see anybody about; it must have been a good party.” With a tile-lifting roar we skimmed over the roof, zoomed over the crest of the hill and dived for the circuit of the aerodrome; and as we did so I thought of a dozen hang-overs in The Pheasant, leaping from the pillows and then painfully subsiding.’
Ronnie Hayes (October 2018)

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