Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

1788 ; Long life in Child Okeford

Child Okeford in the newspapers. A series of stories about a previous generation of villagers as related in the newspapers of the time.[photo by Markus Winkler @

1778 – There are now living in Child Okeford Wiltshire [sic] six persons in good health whose ages amount to five hundred and thirty years.”

The oldest mention of Child Okeford in the newspapers that we can find comes from 1788 and would appear that Child Okeford was an exceptional place to live. How accurate it is not known especially as it places the village in Wiltshire. Many societies have stories of mythical times and places when life was generally ‘better’ and the people long lived, if not immortal. For the Greeks it was Hyperboria, a land to the North of where the North wind blew from, and for James Hilton, author of ‘Lost Horizon’, it was in Tibet; for a while the place he invented became the commonest house name in the country – ‘Shangri-la’. 18th century Child Okeford might also have been such a place. The average age of these six villagers was 88 yr’s. Although the statistics might be a bit dubious the fact remains that the average age of the six eldest villagers in each of the censuses taken between 1841 and 1921 was lower – just 83 yr’s.

Almost certainly the six eldest villagers today would exceed that number – if only we knew who they were? Are there any volunteers to stand up and be counted? Why 18th century Child Okeford was so longed lived is not known but perhaps stories of Shangri-la are not quite as apocryphal as we might think.