The Legend of the Wiltshire Moonrakers
Five hundred years ago, when the Moonraker manor house was born, Dutch and Flemish merchants had headquarters in Swindon, attracted there by the high profit obtained from the wool trade.
But there was a problem! The merchant’s favourite tipple was French brandy and Dutch gin, which carried a heavy import duty. The solution for Wiltshiremen seemed obvious… they would smuggle in barrels of the spirits and avoid the import duty.
By the mid-sixteenth century they had established a smuggling operation that would run for more than 200 years. The barrels of spirit were landed in quiet coves on the Hampshire coast and brought up to swindon by night. The barrels were hidden during the day in church crypts or in village ponds where the green weed concealed the barrels beautifully.
One cold and still night, many moons ago, the Wiltshire smugglers nearly got caught…
They were raking their barrels out of the village pond when they were surprised by a patrol of excise men.
The smugglers thought quickly and pointed to the moon’s reflection in the pond and told the officials that they were trying to rake in the cheese. The excise men, thinking they were simple local folk, laughed at them and went on their way. The Moonrakers had the last laugh over a tipple…
And the legend of the Wiltshire Moonrakers was born!