Affectionately known as The Moonies by regular customers and locals, the pub’s distinctive name is the stuff of legend.

It refers to the famous Wiltshire myth of the Moonrakers, which goes back to a time when smuggling was widespread in the county.

Wiltshire is well placed to allow secret smuggling routes between the south coast and customers in central England.

The folk story goes that in 1791 a group of smugglers had hidden illegal barrels of French brandy from customs officers in a village pond.

Their presence around the pool one moonlit night caught the attention of the tax men, who waited nearby to catch them.

The smugglers were trying to get the brandy out using rakes when they were apprehended.

They managed to convince the officials they had been pawing at the surface of the pond with the rakes, and were simple-minded enough to be trying to rake the moon’s reflection.

Some versions of the tale say they pointed to the moon’s reflection in the pond and told the tax men they were trying to rake in a round cheese.

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Legend has it the revenue officials were fooled into thinking the smugglers were simple country folk, laughed at them and went on their way.

Little did they know these ‘village fools’ had the last laugh.

The prominent sign outside The Moonies today depicts the original Moonrakers, which has also become a nickname for all people who live in Wiltshire since then.

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