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Wiltshire Community History

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Woodborough

This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773


Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham



From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810


Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.


Map of the Civil Parish of Woodborough:

Map of the Civil Parish of Woodborough

1890s
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


From the Ordnance Survey 1890s revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.


Thumbnail History:

Woodborough lies mainly in the Vale of Pewsey on land sloping from north east to south east, and, with the exception of low lying areas near the many streams, which flow into the Christchurch Avon, the land is mostly arable and pasture. The parish is situated 7 miles from Devizes and 3.5 miles from Pewsey and until recently included the canal hamlet of Honey Street. Covering an area of 1,023 acres it has mainly upper greensand outcrops with chalk outcrops to the north. The streams to the south and west form the boundary whilst in the north for a small section the boundary follows the ancient Ridgeway.

There is little evidence of ancient settlement in the area, though some Romano-British finds have been made near Honey Street. In 1086 the population of the whole estate is likely to have been between 80 and 100 people. It was a fairly valuable estate that also had a mill. In 1377 there were 37 poll tax payers (aged over 14 years) in the settlement, but by the 16th century the only person liable for tax was the rector. The parish seems to have remained static until the 19th century. In 1801 the population was 326 and had risen to over 400 by 1861. The population were possibly swelled by temporary residents, men working on the construction of the Great Western Railway. In 1891 the number had risen to 424, but since this time there has been a steady decline and the 1971 census registered only 270.

A section of the Kennet and Avon Canal crossed the parish by 1807, with the whole canal completed in 1810. A wharf was built at Honey Street by 1811, the main cargo landed being coal which was carried by narrow boat from the Somerset coalfields. Honey Street became a hub for the various cargoes landed there, to be distributed to the hinterland. Passenger barges also plied the canal.

The extension of the Berkshire and Hampshire railway into the parish opened in 1862 with Woodborough station situated in Beechingstoke parish. The railway made travel to Devizes easy and comparatively quicker, leading to the demise of the canal usage. By 1900 a rail extension to Westbury gave easy access to London. The dairy products from the area were transported by rail as wider markets became accessible. Woodborough station closed in 1966.

There are 4 main settlements in the parish, the largest, to the south west of the church consists of several large farmhouses and the Manor House, with, to the west, the Methodist chapel and the Rectory. In this area are several thatched cottages from the 17th century. To the south of Church Lane are a group of 18th century cottages, with 20th century social housing opposite the rectory.

The second area, known as Little Woodborough, is about half a mile to the west, at the junction of the Avebury-Amesbury-Pewsey roads. In this area were the village smithy and the Rose and Crown. In the 18th century the Swanborough Hundred Court, after meeting at Swanborough Tump, frequently adjourned to the Rose and Crown. Following the arrival of the railway, a new section of the Avebury-Amesbury road was diverted further east and Little Woodborough declined. By 1915 the Rose and Crown had become a temperance hotel, but was demolished shortly after this date.

The third settlement grew at the junction of the new junction of the Amesbury-Avebury-Pewsey road and the Station Hotel was built in the early 20th century.

The Honey Street settlement, now in Alton parish, expanded with the arrival of the canal, and the building of the wharf, and as commerce developed so the settlement grew. In 1854 the wharf buildings were destroyed by fire, but were rebuilt. The local landmark, the chimney, was constructed in 1859 and by 1871 the settlement had a Workmen's Hall. Church services were held in the hall, but by the mid 20th century the hall was derelict. The settlement is served by the Barge Inn which is listed in a trade directory of 1848, and although part of the hamlet, the inn is in the parish of Stanton St. Bernard.

Several manors have been listed in the village over time, but they have been divided and amalgamated over the centuries. In 1086 a portion of Woodborough was held by Robert, son of Gerald, but by the 14th century it had become part of the estate of the Earls of Warwick, however it was granted to Robert Hide by Elizabeth I. One portion was held by Reynold Rivers in 1208, a second by Thomas de Erle, in 1242 a portion was held by Galieno of Turville and a further by Henry de Helvington in 1258. Woodborough Farm or Manor was held by the Button family during the mid 16th century, but after the death of William Button in 1654/5 the manor descended to the Walker-Heneage family who sold it in 1862 to the Earl of Normanton whose descendents sold it in 1917 The house attached to Woodborough farm, 200 yards south west of the church was called the Manor House. A small manor was held by Sir Adam de la Forde in 1307. By 20th century this was included in the Woodborough manor.

As indicated the village had depended on agriculture through the ages, in the 16th/17th centuries there were four or five large demesne farms, by the late 18th century three large farms. There is possible evidence, found in 1839, of an earlier brick making trade. In the mid 18th century traders listed are three shoe makers, a collar maker, a saddler and a harness maker. After the arrival of the canal, barges were built at Honey Street and a steam driven saw mill operated on the wharf in the late 1850s. Wood, coal and slate were imported and were supplied from the wharf by Messrs. Robbins, Lane and Pinnegar. Chemical fertilizers were pioneered and manufactured at a site to the south of the canal by Ebenezer Lane who was the son-in-law of Mr. Robbins. As the use of the canal declined so did the industries in Honey Street. The saw mill, now powered by electricity remained on site and the buildings on the north were occupied by a rag processing company. The mill which was situated at the west of the parish was no longer in use in 1868.

Woodborough parish church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is first mentioned in 1258 when the advowson was disputed. It has an ashlar 12th century nave and chancel, the bell house is possibly 14th century, the porch 18th century and the chancel was re-built around 1818 Two houses were registered as dissenters meeting places. The Methodist chapel, built in 1820 had seating for 134 people, including 32 in the gallery. In 1851 the average attendance was 90 - 100. The chapel closed in 1970.

In the 1960s and 1970s Woodborough was well known for its tulip fields and many acres were given over to growing tulip and daffodil bulbs. Today Nursery Farm is the Woodborough Garden Centre with an extensive range of plants, a coffee shop and restaurant, and other facilities.

Concise History: Wiltshire: A History of its Landscape and PeopleThis community has been included in John Chandler's on-going series and the full text is available here.
CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Emailcustomercare@wiltshire.gov.uk
 
Parish CouncilWoodborough Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailm.kinderman57@btinternet.com
 

Churches: Information on both current and disused churches and chapels.

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Population 1801 - 2011

Photographs: If images have been added for this community they are available here.: We hold a collection of over 50,000 photographs of places in Wiltshire in the County Local Studies Library. These may be viewed at this library and copies of out of copyright material may be purchased. We can search for a picture of a building or event if you e-mail us with details.

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The Victoria History of Wiltshire (opens in new window) is a partnership between local authorities and the Institute of Historical Research at London University. The History of Wiltshire is now the largest county history in the country and is still growing. The volumes are divided between general and topographical with Volumes One to Five covering subjects such as prehistory, ecclesiastical, economic and political history. The Volumes from Six onwards are topographical and will ultimately provide a comprehensive and systematic history of every single town and parish in the county.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

Newspapers from 1738: These newspapers covered this community at different times. Newspaper titles in bold text are either the ones you should check first for information about this community.

 

Maps: listed are maps on which you can find this community. All maps are Ordnance Survey maps.

 

Archaeological Sites: A Sites and Monuments Record (opens new window) is maintained by the County Archaeology Service and covers some 20,000 sites. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society was formed in 1853 and have been publishing an annual journal since 1854. The journal contains both substantial articles and shorter notes on archaeological excavations, finds, museum objects, local history, genealogy and natural history.

Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Woodborough

Folk Biographies from Woodborough

Folk Plays from Woodborough

History of Buildings: The collections of the Wiltshire Buildings Record are housed in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings, listed as being of architectural or historical importance is 21. There are no Grade I buildings, and no Grade II* buildings.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

Local Authors: There could be an author who was born or has lived in this community.

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Registration Districts: If you want to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate you can contact the local registrar.

 

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