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.
The civil parish of Calne Without was only created in 1890 and covered all the outlying parts of the ancient parish of Calne. These included (1841 population in parenthesis to give an idea of comparative size) the tithings of Blackland (73), Calstone (219), Stock (328), Stockley (175), Studley (550 - including much of Derry Hill and Sandy Lane), Whetham (200), Whitley (15), and the liberty of Bowood (68). This area made up about one third of the area of Calne Hundred and, in Saxon times, was owned by the King. The western part, including Studley, Bowood and Whetham were part of the royal forest of Chippenham. The King had held this estate in the 10th century, and probably much earlier, but by 1086 much of it had been granted to others.
Prior to this there was major settlement here in the Roman period, probably taking over from Iron Age British dwellings. The London to Bath Roman road forms the southern boundary of the parish and Verlucio, at Sandy Lane, was a trading centre or posting station on this road. Villas have been found at Bowood, Studley and to the east of Sandy Lane (Nuthills Villa). From this it would seem that there were substantial farming estates based upon those villas. Romano-British houses have also been found at Studley and to the north of Calne on the Lyneham road. Other finds include Romano-British pottery at Calstone and Whetham Farm, and coins at Derry Hill. For the period this must have been a well-populated landscape, within easy reach of Bath and close to a well built road.
Saxon settlements grew up at all the tithings mentioned above. These were probably based on farms and some would have been quite small. At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) there were four estates not owned by the King, but for the estates he still retained (Blackland, Stock, Stockley, Studley and Whetham), no details were provided unfortunately. The major settlement that was privately held was Calstone, in three estates. On these three there was sufficient land for nine plough teams and there were four mills. The population is given as one villein, 19 bordars, 34 cocsez and five serfs. Apart from the serfs the numbers definitely refer to heads of household only and using modern interpretation of these figures we can estimate a population of between 220 and 240, which is similar in size to the population in 1841. The only other estate for which there are details in Whitley where there was land for two plough teams and the population was between 24 and 30.
In the Middle Ages the major settlements were at Blackland, Calstone, Stock, Stockley, Studley, Whetham and Whitley and while the area in the west, later the liberty of Bowood, remained wooded, farming was based on the open field system throughout the rest of the area. Land was gradually enclosed and much settlement was in scattered farmsteads, particularly in the Stock and Stockley areas. By the 18th century there were hamlets at Broad's Green, Mannings Hill, Ratford, Sandy Lane and Cuff's Corner, along with may more isolated farms and small pockets of settlement. In the 19th century settlement became nucleated at Derry Hill to the south at the early site of Studley. In 1840 the church was built at Derry Hill, close to Bowood, instead of in the ancient settlement of Studley. In 1810 the Wilts and Berks Canal was opened to the west of the parish with a link to Calne that followed the course of the river Marden. The Calne branch line from Chippenham through the western part of the parish was opened in 1863 and remained open for freight until 1963, and for passengers until 1965.
In the 20th century there have been extensive housing developments at Derry Hill and in the north of Stock, on the southern edge of Calne, but the remaining area has very few new houses and remains very much a rural community.
Before looking at the settlements in more detail we will take a brief look at the topography of the whole area. Geologically the beds run south-west to north-east, from Oxford Clay on the edge of the parish at the foot of Derry Hill to the chalk downs at Calstone Wellington. There is clay in the valley of the Marden and its western tributaries, cutting into the Corallian Grit of the areas of Studley, Derry Hill, Whetham and Ratford. To the south-west and east of this is Coral Rag, (Sandy Lane, Whitley, and part of Bowood Park). Beversbrook and the Abberd Brook are on Kimmeridge Clay while much of Stock, Stockley, Blackland and Theobald's Green are on Gault. A narrow strip of Upper Greensand divides this from the Lower Chalk of much of Calstone Wellington. There are small amounts of Middle and Upper Chalk on Oldbury Hill, where the parish borders Cherhill.
Therefore the land rises steadily from the west. from around 60 metres to the west of Derry Hill and Studley to 120 metres at Calstone Church and 229 metres at Oldbury. There is much variation and undulation within this and a number of river valleys. The Marden is the major river with a tributary rising at Broad's Green, flowing north through Bowood where a large ornamental lake has been created, and then joining the main river and flowing north-west to the north of Studley. There are many tributaries including Cowage Brook and Fisher's Brook from the north-east, while the Abberd Brook and River's Brook flow westwards through Calne. The Marden itself rises in Ranscombe Bottom and flows westwards through Calstone, where it provided power for several mills, and Calne.
This estate has been closely connected with Calne and Calstone throughout its history, lying as it does between the two with the present London to Bristol road as its northern boundary. The river Marden flows north-westwards across its land. It is likely that a small settlement was planted here on a small area of Lower Greensand. This consisted of a church, manor house and mill and interestingly there is still a church, manor house and mill here although only the church retains parts of the original building. By the 13th century Blackland Farm existed on a defensive moated site and by 1377 there were 41 poll tax payers (people aged over 14 years). However it has been estimated that in 1428 there were fewer than ten households and from the 15th century to 1900 the area was little populated.
For several centuries there were open fields with meadow land and lowland pasture, with only a small amount of woodland. Much of the land was worked from farms in Calstone, although there were also some in Blackland itself. By the 17th century all meadows and lowland pasture had been enclosed and in the mid 17th century buildings were erected on an inhospitable area of waste at Tibboll's (Theobald's) Green. It is likely that the original settlement around the manor house and church was moved in the 18th century when Blackland House was built around 1761. Certainly by the 18th century there were houses along Blackland Street. In the 1840s most land here was down to meadow and pasture. New Blackland Farm was built on the early moated site in 1863.
Blackland Mill is probably on the site of the 13th century mill and seems always to have been a corn mill. It was rebuilt c.1800 to provide a mill, mill house and detached granary. Milling ceased between 1915 and 1920 but continued from then until 1982 when the mill was restored. From 1983 to 1993 wholemeal flour was milled here until milling finally ceased. It was one of the last mills in the area to close, after milling flour on the site for over 800 years. Land at Blackland Mill was used as a stud farm from 1909 to 1973 and between 1928 and 1953 this was owned by racehorse trainer Fred Darling from Beckhampton.
This area was part of Chippenham Forest and belonged to the crown from Saxon times until the Middle Ages. It was created a liberty, which meant that it was outside the Sheriff's jurisdiction. Around 1618 this part of the forest was enclosed by the King to make Bowood Park. It was retained by the crown until 1727 when it was bought by the tenant, Sir Orlando Bridgeman. He built the original Bowood House, which was acquired by Richard Long, his principal creditor in 1739. He sold it, in 1754, to John Petty, the Lord Shelburne, who was created Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784.
Bowood House (1727) replaced Lower Lodge, which was described as old in 1650. The new house was of two and a half storeys, built of stone and had two wings. It was fairly plain and after 1754 Lord Shelburne asked the architect Henry Keene to rebuild and extend it. This he did in a Baroque style on an H plan and he faced the south front in ashlar. After the death of Lord Shelburne in 1761 work was carried on to the designs of Robert Adam, until 1770. There were further extensive alterations and additions with two new ranges, the orangery, library, a menagerie and the Diocletian wing. The family were statesmen, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne negotiated peace with America when he was Prime Minister (1782-3). The 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne had a wide range of interests including literature, art, architecture, the sciences and travel and his guests at Bowood included Dr. Joseph Priestley, Talleyrand, Jeremy Bentham, Lord Macaulay, Maria Edgeworth and the Irish poet and songwriter Tom Moore, who lived nearby at Bromham.
In 1823 the four bays of the house's central wing was converted to a chapel by C. R. Cockerell and the extensive library was redecorated from 1821-4. The main house had now become known as the Big House and the east wing as the Little House. Alterations and additions to these continued from the 18th century through to the 19th century. In 1955 the Big House and buildings linking it to the Little House and the Diocletian wing were demolished, thus making the house far more manageable for the 20th century. The Little House was converted to a self-contained house and many of the fittings from the Big House were reused. Part of the house has been open to the public since 1975 and by 1992 a shop, restaurant, adventure playground, garden centre and golf club had been created.
The Park is of 940 acres and was landscaped in the 18th century by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. There has been much other work carried out in the grounds including the formal garden around the house in 1818, and the Italianate Garden in 1857. Many lodges and estate buildings were put up in the 19th century and a school was set up in the grounds and funded by the family until 1892.
From the name Calstone it is possible that this area was settled from Calne (Calne's tun). Much of the estate lies on chalk land in an ancient landscape, with the Iron Age hill fort of Oldbury Castle on the Cherhill boundary and the Wansdyke to the east. The population at Domesday (1086) was in the region of 220-240 and there were four mills on the river Marden. There were extensive open fields and downland pastures in medieval times and these must have been productive farms. There was a church on the estate called Blunt's by 1301. The Black Death seems to have hit this community badly and in 1348 the families of one third of the tenants and 40% of the cottars were wiped out. The water mills ceased, as there was no one to run them. In 1377 there were 79 poll tax payers (people over 14) and so the population had declined considerably from the 11th century.
A recovery was made and a cloth industry began with a mill, probably Lower Mill, working as a fulling mill by 1475. It later continued as part cloth, part corn, mill until c.1784 when it reverted to corn. Another mill, probably Upper Mill was a fulling mill by 1563. During the Middle Ages there were several manorial farms and smaller farmsteads and the scattered nature of settlement then has probably been a feature of the community since the 13th century. These scattered farms are linked to the east-west road by small roads and lanes. The major road is the north-south Calne to Devizes road that has not really influenced settlement here. Many of the existing farmhouses are built on early sites and Spray's farm was so called by the 16th century. In 1778 there were ten farmsteads mainly near the east-west road. Watercress has been grown here since medieval times.
The estate was owned by the Ducket family from 1579 to 1764, after which it was purchased by the Earl of Shelburne. It remained part of the Bowood estate until after the Second World War when it was sold to the Maundrell family. In the 17th century the Green family were famous as makers of dew ponds. The Civil War came to this quiet corner in the 1640s when the Manor House, owned by the Royalist Ducket family, was burned down.
By the 18th century Upper Mill was a cloth mill with Henry Fry listed as a clothier of Calstone and in the early 18th century there were four fulling mills on the Marden and its tributaries. Around 1786 Upper Mill was rebuilt as a paper mill and continued to work as such until c.1860; it was demolished in 1882. Lower Mill also made paper from 1814. In 1843 there were still three working mills here and about 25 cottages and houses. From the early 19th century to the early 20th century the Green family made whitening (for painting walls etc.) from crushed chalk at a site near South Farm.
A few happenings during the 19th century included:-
1859 A violent storm uprooted 148 trees in Blackland Park in three minutes. There was much other damage to buildings and trees.
1860 A new school was built to the west of Manor Farm.
1882 A reservoir was made for damming the Marden, to supply drinking water to Calne.
By 1883 a house and reading room were built at the road junction to the south of Spray's Farm.
Some of the last working oxen in Wiltshire worked at Calstone on Manor Farm. The last team of three worked at ploughing in 1908, after which they were sold for £73.5.0d (£73.25p). During the 20th century many horses were bred and raised in Calstone including Pinza, the Derby winner of 1952. In 1962 the school closed and in 1992 the last flour was milled. Spray's Mill was demolished in the late 20th century. At the end of the century farming is a mixture of arable, sheep, dairying and horses.
Derry Hill is the modern settlement that has grown out of the ancient settlement of Studley. In the 18th century there were three lines of settlement along the London to Bristol road at, or near, the north-west corner of Bowood Park. These bore the names of Rag Lane, Red Hill (the present Derry Hill) and Derry Hill (which was in Pewsham parish). The cottages along Rag Lane and on Red Hill were possible squatters' cottages. The old London to Bristol road turned left after the Soho Inn, along what is now Church Road, to join the Devizes road and then descended Old Derry Hill. The modern section, avoiding the hill, was built between 1787 and 1810 and is now the A4. There were only a few cottages and houses in the area now known as Derry Hill in the 17th and 18th century. Most houses here now are of the 19th and 20th century, with some 19th century ones built on 18th century house sites. The Shelburne Arms was here by 1810 and by 1838 was known as the Lansdowne Arms. A non-conformist chapel was built in 1814, Christchurch in 1840 and a school in 1843. The Golden Gate was built c.1841 and in1843 the old Lansdowne Arms was replaced by the present building. The church, school and Gate changed the character of this area and it became a more nucleated settlement around these foci. In 1878 street lighting was installed. The main development has taken place since the 1970s when about 220 houses were built between the old road, leading to the Devizes road, and the present A4. To cope with this the school has been extended and, in 2000, a new village hall was built.
The Roman road runs to the south of the present village and the Roman settlement of Verlucio was in this area. The name Sandy Lane, the village is on Lower Greensand, was in use in 1675 and the White Hart, at the southern end was open in 1674. It probably closed after 1764 when the Bath road, which had passed through here on its way to Lacock, was re-routed. The site is now occupied by an 18th century house. The George was open in 1728, and there was probably an earlier inn here. It has a date on it of 1720 and was re-fronted in the 19th century. The Black Horse was opened after 1728 but burned down in 1749.
The earliest existing houses date from the 18th century and are in the main village street, with three in Back Lane, the former main route from the east. They are of stone and thatch. In the early 19th century the picturesque lodge to Bowood House plus six cottages and pairs of cottages were built of ironstone with thatched roofs. A few other cottages and houses appeared in the 19th century. The Providence Baptist chapel was built in 1817 and the wooden mission church of St. Nicholas in 1892. There were only two new houses in the 20th century, one of which was the police house.
Stock and Stockley
These are two adjacent areas of scattered settlements and farmsteads between the southern boundary of the town of Calne and the Roman road that forms the southern boundary of Calne Without. It is most likely that the area was colonised from Calne with farms built on pastureland. Development has been along three roads; Stockley Lane in the east, the A3102 to the west, and the road from Studley to the A3102. There is a large triangle between these roads that was once common pastureland. By 1728 there were about 26 farmsteads, including six within the triangle of land. Nearly all the houses have been farmsteads or farm cottages and most people in the area were connected with farming until well into the 20th century. More houses have been built in the latter half of the 20th century. Stock, to the north was largely enclosed from the mid 17th century. By the late 20th century land to the north had been used for housing on the southern edge of Calne. Stockley, in the south, had many small farmsteads and still remains largely agricultural.
An ancient track, the Lydeway between Salisbury and Bristol, skirted the hill here and there was probably some early form of settlement. There was certainly Roman villas and Romano-British settlement in the area. Studley itself is mentioned in deeds in 1175 and 1196, and was closely associated with Stanley Abbey, in Bremhill parish, until its dissolution in 1540. Villagers are likely to have used the church at the abbey; after 1540 they had a much longer journey to Bremhill until a church was built at Derry Hill in 1840. It is likely that assarts (clearings) were made in the forest by the 12th century and more recent settlement grew from those. Because of the forested nature of the area settlements have always been scattered. There was a manor house in 1240, the 18th century manor house is probably on the same site, and it is possible that a fulling mill existed in the early 13th century at the start of a local cloth industry. One was standing in 1602 and by the middle of the 17th century Hassell's Mill on the river Marden was replaced by New Mill. This was converted to a corn mill in 1728 and continued working until the mid 20th century, being demolished in 1962.
The oldest surviving cottages are 17th century ones of stone and thatch in Studley Lane and elsewhere. In the 18th century or earlier cottages were built on wasteland on the verges of Norley and Studley Lanes. Between 1773 and 1800 the manor house was demolished and replaced by Studley House Farm, while also in the late 18th century Buck Hill House was built, replacing the principal house of a small estate. To the east, on the estate called Rumsey's, Rumsey House was built in 1800 and the former principal house, to the north of the road became Rumsey Farmhouse. The Black Dog Inn, which gave its name to the hill, was open in 1745 and 1848, but not later, while the Rose and Crown, renamed the Soho Inn by 1830, was open in 1761.
There was further building throughout the 19th century, chiefly along the roads and lanes, and a non-conformist chapel was built at the north end of Studley Lane in 1855. Both the Calne branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal and the Calne railway branch line were built through Studley in the 19th century. More houses appeared in the 20th century, including two estate houses in 1926, four pairs of council houses in 1930, and another four pairs in 1951. This has remained a scattered community from Studley Corner, west of the village, to Studley Bridge, in the east. It is largely agricultural with grassland, arable and woodland. The houses had no mains drainage, gas or electricity until after the Second World War.
On the site of the former railway bridge over the eastern part of Black Dog Hill a steel footbridge, suspended from a bow string truss, was built in 1999-2000.
Whetham and Cuff's Corner
This is the area to the east of Sandy Lane and to the west of Whetham Stream. It was mainly a wooded area and settlement probably began with assarts (clearings) in the forest. It was held by the Fynemore family from the early 13th century and there was a manor house here by 1409. The land was gradually cleared and meadow, pasture, arable and woodland were created by the early 17th century as land had been enclosed in 1618. There was a mill, to the north east of Whetham House, but this was demolished in 1817. There was a settlement at Cuff's Corner by 1709 and by 1728 a small farmstead and about 12 cottages (probably squatters') existed. All, except the farmstead, had been removed by 1817, probably in the 1790s when the old road from Calne to Sandy Lane via Cuff's Corner went out of use when the route of the Bath road was altered.
The present Whetham House dates from the 17th century and had extensive formal grounds laid out in the late 17th century and early 18th century. There was a vineyard at Whetham House in the 18th century and Whetham Farmhouse was rebuilt in the 1830s or 1840s. A separate estate was called Nuttall's or Nuthall Farm from the late 14th century. The present Nuthall Farm was standing in 1728.
The manufacture of manure from blood started at Whetham before 1880 in buildings to the east of Hayfield Copse, and had probably ceased by 1903. At the southern end of Sandy lane there was a sawmill from the late 19th century through to the late 20th century. By the end of the 20th century most land was given over to sheep farming.
This settlement lay to the north of Calne towards Beversbrook, between Cowage Brook and Fishers' Brook. There was a small settlement here in 1086 and probably a village in the Middle Ages. The village was on or near the site of Upper Whitley Farm and there was possibly a chapel here in the 14th century. The village disappeared and all land was enclosed by 1728, mostly as meadow or pasture, while there were only two farms in the settlement by 1778. Upper Whitley Farm was rebuilt in the mid 20th century while Lower Whitley Farm was demolished and a new one built on the same site in 1989. At the opening of the 20th century beef cattle, arable and dairy farming predominate in the area.