The Parish of Minety is situated 8.5 km from Malmesbury and approximately 13 km from Swindon.
Parish boundaries to the north, east and south follow watercourses. Braydon Forest (mostly cut down by the 17th century; only small localised woods and copses survive) and Ravensroost Wood lie to the south east. The topography is flat and the soil is Oxford clay (locally known as Minety Clay). The north of the parish has terraces from the River Thames and alluvial soil can be found at Swill Brook towards Lower Moor.
Possible early Iron Age currency bars have been found in northwest Upper Minety. A Roman brick and tile kiln of around the late 1st century A.D. has been discovered near the parish boundary with Crudwell. Pottery was produced in the parish from A.D. 75 until at least the 16th century. In the Middle Ages it was called ‘Minety Ware’ and has been found in Old Town, Swindon and Bulkington. Osbourne’s Farm was dedicated to pottery production.
The name Minety comes from ‘mintie’ or ‘mintiea’ (mint stream). There was a small steam a little to the west of the village. John Aubrey wrote ‘At Mintie is an abundance of wild mint’. The name was spelled Mintih, Mintig, Minty (844), Minti, Mynti, Mynty (12th century), Minthi , Menthi, Munte, Minitide, Minety (13th century) and Mynetye (1552).
The Malmesbury to Cricklade Road runs through Minety and was the main coach route from Bristol to Oxford and London. It was turnpiked in 1755/6 to 1876. The Common turnpike stood at the junction of Malmesbury Road and Silver Street. It was demolished to make way for housing in the 1990s. The Minety Station turnpike (now called Swiss Cottage) was on Malmesbury Road to the east. There was an ‘Old Tollhouse’ at the junction on Flisteridge. Another may have been located at Wilts Row. Smaller roads link Upper Minety to Hankerton, Crudwell and Oaksey. Before its enclosure in 1813 material for road repair came from Charlton Common. After this date a stone and gravel pit was found at Shade’s Farm, near the Ashton Keynes border. Flistridge road runs to the east connecting Upper and Lower Minety. At Lower Minety the road branches to the north to Sawyers Hill and then on through Lower Moor to Ashton Keynes. Before the Railway arrived the road through Lower Minety ran towards Cricklade but now the main road runs through Lower Minety and turns south east down Silver Street (Station Road).
The area was a detached part of the Royal Manor of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Part of Braydon Forest held the hunting rights exclusively for the Royal Manor. This meant it was situated in the Hundred of Crowthorne and Minety, except for the Church, the Rectory, a 40acre piece of land and row of houses called ‘Wiltshire Row’ which were in Wiltshire. The Great Reform Act of 1832 and Detached Parishes Act of 1844 led to all of Minety coming into Wiltshire. In 1884, 95acres was transferred from the parish of Oaksey. In 1888 the parish was covered 1528 hectares; 218 hectares of land south of Derry Brook was added from Cricklade St Sampson in 1984. Minety moved to the Malmesbury Hundred in 1844 and from 1872-1974 it was in the Malmesbury Rural District. After this it became part of the North Wilts District.
Ethelwulf, King of the West Saxons, granted land to Malmesbury Abbey in 844. In the early 1100s Henry I gave Minety to Cirencester Abbey. The Abbey’s rights were confirmed by Richard I and the abbots’ acquired more land in the 13th and 14th centuries. There were disputes between the Crown and the Abbey over taxing tenants during this time (in 1313 there were 48 households of taxpayers, in 1327-29, 1546-18). After the Dissolution the Cirencester Abbey estate were given to Edmund Bridges and became Minety Manor. By 1792 the property had been passed down to Joseph Pitt and in 1842 the Manor was sold to Joseph Randolf. Later in the 19th century some of the land was sold to the Reverend John Edwards, Vicar of Minety.
The Church, Rectory Estate and the parcel of land with it was held by Malmesbury Abbey in 1190. In 1270 the estate was turned over to the Bishops of the Salisbury Diocese and in 1848 it was passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Due to its Royal ownership, Minety was under forest law in the 13th century. In the mid 1200s it was one of the vills summoned to attend a forest inquisition. In 1361-77 the Justice of the Forests south of Trent visited Wiltshire each year and presided over a forest court held at Minety. In 1362 a constable of Minety procured victuals for the Black Prince.
By the mid 13th century Minety encompassed approximately one tenth of Braydon Forest. Richard I allowed parishioners to collect green and dry wood and allowed pannage for pigs and other animals. At this time the Forest provided cover for robberies; a serving man from Minety was accused of robbing the Abbot of Malmesbury’s reeve. In 1312, 48 households owned 60 cows, 674 sheep, 44 horses and 38 pigs which grazed in the parish. In the 16th century cows, sheep and pigs grazed on common pasture. Land north of Derry Brook was called Minety Common in c.1632. Braden was dissaforested in 1630 by Charles I to gain income to pay off debts accrued when refusing to call Parliament to session (who would have voted him funds).
Minety Common is situated in the south of the parish. The common pasture of Minety Moor between Minety and Ashton Keynes was used for grazing in autumn and winter. Even as early as the 17th century land owners had begun to assert their rights to enclose common land within the parish. In 1634 Nicholas Pleydell owned farmland which was once part of Braydon Forest. In 1637 George Bridges claimed his improvements of waste land were hindered by his tenant’s rights. There were violent protests but by 1651 he had enclosed c.600 acres of purlieu of Braydon Forest. The areas of common between Minety and Ashton Keynes/Oaksey changed in 1778 and 1884 respectively. The practice continued into the 18th century and an 1811 Act of Parliament enclosed 72 acres (one fifth) of the remaining common land. Major landowners became the holders of South Moor, Lower Moor, Sawyers Hill, The Common, Flistridge Lane and Tickling Corner in 1813. New farms sprang up on the enclosed land; Common Farm, South Farm and New House on Minety Common.
Meadows could be found at Swillbrook to the north and in Hawksbrook there was a water meadow called Westham. Most of these were given to the Abbey by free tenants over the years. Others were called Wellmead, Brugham and Salemead. Part of Hawksbrook can be found between the woods of Huly and La Sterte. Before the Dissolution tenants made hay for their landlords on meadows called The Acres, Broadmead, Pyeham, Courtleose and Oaksey Meadow. The Manor’s tenants had feeding rights in 1639 which lay between Oaksey and Minety parishes, later called Lammas Mead. There was a Steward’s Mead in 1758. Distillery Meadows were once part of Braydon Forest but now belong to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. The Swillbrook Lakes were meadows which were dug out for gravel in the 1960s. They are now part of the Cotswold Water Park and a nature reserve.
The Browning Oak (Brownockhill) Plantation in 1591 was situated to the south west of Lower Minety. In 1838 75 acres of the parish were woodland. In 1871 the Flisteridge plantation contained 11 acres of oak and young larch. By 1873 93 acres were classed as woods, coppices and plantations. In the early 20th century herb gatherers used the woods to collect medicinal herbs which they then sold to pharmaceutical companies. By 2007 the woodland to the west was Flistridge Wood, Oaksey Nursery and Maskelyne’s Copse. To the south were Wait’s Wood and Old Copse on the Braydon Hall Estate).
In the 18th century rent from poor land at Moor Ground, Swillbrook Ground and Joachim’s house and orchard were given to the poor, along with any money raised by the church collection. In 1813 an additional piece of land was given as poor land to make up for the loss of common rights. £71 of charity money was used to build a parish workhouse and garden between Tellings Farm and Field Farm. From 1838 the poor of the parish were sent to the Union Workhouse at Malmesbury instead. The old Minety workhouse later became ‘Moor Cottages’. In the late 19th century £30 - £40 of charity money was distributed at Christmas to the second poor. In 1905 charity was given to 42 men and 14 women. In the mid 1970s around 60 applications were received for poor relief but by the early 21st century it was under 10. The parish council were trustees for, among others, the allotment field opposite Silver Street School, Joachim’s field in the grounds of Minety House, Moor Cottages, the Parish Pound and Vicarage Farm.
Tenants cultivated arable land in the 13th century and in 1342 land was being cleared for farming. The majority of farming has been pastoral until the mid 20th century; the soil was unsuitable for arable until mechanical techniques were able to bring about this change. In 1838 15 acres was arable and most land was required as pasture to feed cows and pigs for the growing population of railway workers. At around 1870 sheep were predominant and cattle declined. The traditional practice of cheese production changed toward liquid milk deliveries to urban areas by rail. In 1894 still only 20 acres of land was utilised for arable. In 1910 the parish contained 1,190 cattle and 338 pigs. In the 20th century poultry houses were built on the east of Silver Street and in the 1970s south of the Hankerton Road. The site was bought by Poultry First in 1992 and by 2006 most farm houses had been sold as private homes.
The building stone used for the majority of the buildings in Minety is rubble stone, with slate roofs. Higher status properties received ashlar dressings.
Ashton Keynes Road: Moor Farmhouse - Early 17th century farmhouse of rubble with concrete lintels and a gabled stone slate roof. An L-shaped plan with a large inglenook fireplace. Telling’s Farmhouse - 18th century farmhouse with 19th century alterations of squared and coarsed rubble with a gabled stone slate roof. There is a central gabled porch with weatherboarding.
Askew Bridge: Askew Bridge House - Early 18th century detached house of rubble stone and ashlar dressings with a later 18th century addition of dressed stone. It has a slate roof and platbands. The house takes its name from the nearby railway bridge. There is a 5 bay range barn to the west of the house, also 18th century. A clock can be found below the eaves in the central gable and there are three s-shaped iron ties.
The Green: Minety House is an early 19th century house of squared and coarsed rubble and blocked ashlar dressings with early 20th century additions. It has an L-shaped plan and hipped stone slate roofs. There are platbands to the 19th century block. The interior includes a 19th century staircase, the remainder being from the 1920s, including a panelled ground floor room in the left-hand wing. It was built up by the Maskyre family. Subsequent owners were the Keene’s and Perry-Keene’s. The estate in 1879 included pleasure grounds, wooded park land, five farms including Church, Flistridge, Osbourne’s Woodwards, and a late 20th century house re-named Minety Park.
The Moor: 17th century farmhouse with later additions and alterations. Rubble stone with some render and dressed stone quoins. Later additions are of squared and coarsed dressed stone. It has an irregular L-shaped plan with a stone slate roof. There is an early 17th century dog-legged staircase and stone flags in the lobby.
Oaksey Road: Lyngrove farmhouse – 17th century core with 18th century re-ordering. Squared and coarsed rubble with timber lintels and a stone slate roof. An L-shaped plan with a rear service wing with a staircase tower in the angle.
The Mansells: detached house with ‘EP / 1656’ on the lintel of the main door (probably for Edward Pleydell) with later additions (one dated ‘WO / 1899’ for William Oliver). Of squared and coarsed rubble with some render, half-timbering and some roughcast, stone dressings and stone slate roofs. Irregular H-shaped plan with central 1656 core wing. There is also a U-shaped south east front with 1700 range. The interior has 15th century timber traceries ceilings in the ground floor room to the north-west and various panelling throughout the ground floor rooms by William Oliver. The house has an inglenook fireplace in the left-hand rear room and moulded beams and a cornice. There is an early 18th century barn to the west with a timber box-frame structure, weatherboarding and a stone slate roof. It has 5 bays and is T-shaped. There is a ridge saddle stone and copper weathercock. Inside is an original butt-purlin, collar and tie-beam roof and stone flagstones. The house was built on the site of medieval buildings. It was probably named after a family of tenants as in 1706 with John Mansell.
Upper Minety: St. Leonard’s Church is 15th century but was restored in 1896. The fabric is of squared and coursed rubble with stone dressings, ashlar copings, battlements and lead roofs. Inside the four-bay north arcade has Tudor arches and there are 15th century tie beam roofs to the nave and aisle. The Vicarage House had originally been built at the site of the Church car park until 1842. It had been in a poor state of repair in the 1550s. In the 1670s the house and gardens were near the churchyard. A new Vicarage was built in the 1840s and altered in 1867. It became a private residence in the late 20th century.
Lower Minety grew up after the railway station opened. New houses and cottages of brick were built along Station Road on the east side of Silver Street. The west side was developed in the 189’s. By 1898 Silver Street was described as a hamlet with cottages, farmsteads and businesses. There is a Strict Baptist Chapel on Sawyers Hill with a rubble stone front, brick sides and a tablet in the gable inscribed ‘Peculiar Baptist Chapel rebuilt in 1862’. A Methodist Chapel could also be found on the hill. Twentieth century housing was built at Lower Minety and at Charlie’s Field on the east side of Silver Street. Between 1918 and 1939 council housing was built for rural workers at Upper Minety. By 1939 there were approximately 170 houses in Upper and Lower Minety combined. There used to be a Police Station in Upper Minety until c.1935; it is now a private house. In the 1950s development took place in the Sawyers Hill area off Silver Street. By the later 20th century more housing was built in both Upper and Lower Minety. In 1991 a local government questionnaire asked if there was a divide between Upper and Lower Minety with the response ‘WE ARE MINETY’.
The Rectory estate was leased to the Read family. It was sold by order of Parliament in 1649 but was returned to the diocese after the Restoration. In the 1670s the estate was made up of the parsonage house, land which had been taken out of the churchyard, 44 acres of tenement land called ‘Reads’ and several small houses with gardens. The estate was leased to the Calley Family in the 18th and 19th centuries. By 1867 it was sold to William Perry Keene of Minety House. The Rectory House stood on a moated site close to Hovington House. It was rebuilt in the 19th century by Mr Moore. Mr Moore changed the name to St. Leonard’s Hall but in 1935 it was re-named Hovington House by Captain G. Hovington Raimes.
A plaque in the hall of Braydon House states that it was built by George Pitt in 1751. The House belonged to Joseph Keene Senior in c.1800. The estate included Waits Wood and Old Copse. In 1854 the estate included land which became part of Distillery Farm. By 1903 it was the home of Herbert Horatio Nelson, Viscount Trafalgar who died there in 1905. In 1925 the estate included woodlands, sporting ground and pasture. It later became Braydon Hall. In 1773 Pound House stood on the site and was associated with the pound for stray animals to the north. Parts of the house seem to have been used for the later Braydon House which was called Pound House again in 1810, returning to its original name in 1813. In 1854 it had 10 bedrooms and was called ‘in the centre of the finest fox-hunting country in Europe’. By 1923 there was a pleasure ground and park. Henry Hibberd bought the Braydon Hall Estate in 1856. He set up the ‘Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Agricultural Distillery Company’ with William Keene a year later. They refined sugar from beet and turned it into alcohol. They built a house and distillery but the business failed and it was sold off in 1873. In 1898 it became known as Distillery Farm. More recently it became a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve called Distillery Meadows.
Before the First World War the owner of Shade’s Farm bought a house in Hankerton and re-erected it on the opposite side of the road. It was called ‘Grange Farm’. It was of a two storey flat pack type design, of 1860-80 and had T-shaped timber frame clad in corrugated iron with an inner matchboard lining. The space in between was filled with sawdust. It was replaced in 2007 by a new farmhouse.
A water mill was situated at the west end of Chapel Lane. You can still see the hollows of the leat. The adjacent land was Mill Pond Ground in 1813. Approximately 1 kilometre North West is Great Windmill Ground (associated with Windmill House in 1788).
In 1848 there were three inns, two of which were on the Malmesbury to Cricklade Road. The Red Lion (later the Posting House) was on the junction of Silver Street and The Common crossroads. The Old Red Lion was a Stroud Brewery house in 1898 and was a private house in 1983. The New Red Lion was operated by Luce & Co. of Malmesbury in 1898. From the late 19th century it was called the Turnpike. The Turnpike Pub was a reminder of the turnpike roads, created locally in 1755. There were three toll cottages in Minety. It has been said that the local doctor in the early part of the century used to jump his horse over the toll gave and avoid paying the toll. The Railway Hotel, later called the White Horse, is now the Vale of the White Horse. It was a purpose built station inn near the railway station and had been built by 1853. It was three stories high with a floor for travellers at the top, a ‘navvies’ (workmen’s) floor below and goods storage at the bottom. In 1898 it was owned by Cripp’s Brewery of Cirencester. In the 1970s it became a hotel. The Old Inn can be found to the south of the Parish Church and was built in the 17th century with later re-fronting and refenestration. It has squared and coursed rubble stone, ashlar windows, slate roofs and is of an L-shaped plan. The Inn was known as Church House. In 1789 it was called the Carpenter’s Arms. Parish Administration was conducted at the Old Inn; in 1838 landowners’ discussed the commutation of tithes. It was also used for public auctions. The building has 17th century origins and is now a private house. Public houses were also used for the public meetings of various clubs in the 1930s, only AGMs were held in the Village Hall (unless the group was too large to fit into a pub!).
In 1847 the Vicar and Churchwardens gave a parcel of glebe land south of the churchyard to the parish. St. Leonard’s National School (which included a schoolmaster’s house) was built in 1848. The school was finally closed in 1968 and was a private residence by 1983. In 1875 a school and teacher’s house was built at the junction of Silver Street and Flistridge Road. It was called the Minety Silver Street National School and was built to solve the problem of overcrowding at St. Leonard’s School at that time. This school also closed in 1968. A new school which incorporated both old ones opened at the Sawyers Mill site in 1969 called the Minety Church of England Primary School. The site had previously been used as allotments. School children (including evacuees) helped tend them during the Second World War.
The Railway line and station at Minety opened in 1841 and was part of the former Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway which runs northwest from Swindon to Kemble and Cirencester. The building of the railway lead to an increase in the local population from 585 in 1831 to 736 in 1841. It became part of the GWR in 1844. The station changed its name to the Minety and Ashton Keynes Station in 1905. There were cattle and milk loading facilities there. Land for dealing with landslips was bought in 1932. A warehouse was built in 1936 and the station was closed in 1964.
E.E. Taylor and Son established a printing works in Silver Street in 1884. It published a local business directory and in 1975 ‘Taylor’s Directory’ was the largest local employer. In 1900 local businesses included a drapers, oil and ammunition retailer, insurance broker, stationer, post office and grocer. A lending library had existed since the early 1900s and by 1939 was based at St. Leonard’s School. The blacksmith, Mr Stratford, had his workshop in Chapel Lane until the 1930s. By 1939 there were two garages, a wheelwright, two shops, butcher, baker, carpenter, builder, blacksmith, cobbler, printer, timber merchant, haulier, Wilts. Gazette Office, physician and surgeon (Wed & Sat), coal merchant, police station, undertaker and harness maker. In 1961 a mobile shop also visited twice a week and most villagers worked in Swindon. In 1964 there were deliveries by a fishmonger and a butcher which had ended by 1981. There was a hauliers firm by 1975. In the 1980/90s there were shops, a post office, and a garage. There were workshops for carpenters and sawyers at Lower Moor below Sawyers Hill. Home Farm had a small area of pasture which became the Home Farm Business Centre in the late 20th century. Minety had post services in 1848 and the telephone arrived in 1934. Mains water supply arrived in 1936-7 and mains sewerage in the 1960s. The Upper Minety post office closed in the late 20th century.
Ninety one men from the parish served in World War 1. During World War 2 a dummy airdrome was built on the Moor, north of Ashton Keynes Road, just south of the Swill Brook. Search lights were put up in Minety Park, but were moved to the south coast in 1941. The small camp that was left became a prisoner of war camp, sited in the field known as ‘Great Park’. It housed Italian POWs. In 1942 many were allowed to be billeted on local farms and were put to work there. German POWs arrived later. There was a Royal Observer Corps listening post in Mr Read’s field next to the Silver Street School. An ex-WD nissen hut from Cricklade was re-erected near Minety Station as a British Legion HQ and the roads surrounding the village were closed off to store army reserve vehicles. Troop movements occurred in or through the village during World War 2, especially at night. Troops would often camp overnight in Mr Sutton’s field, opposite his shop and bakery. The slaughterhouse at Mr Read’s contained an army communication post. Dances were held at the Minety village Hall. The part of the railway by the signal box was the place where military vehicles were unloaded and moved up to the vehicle park on the Malmesbury Road.
In August 1939 100 evacuees arrived at Minety Station. They all came from one school and arrived with their teachers. They were sent to Minety, Crudwell, Oaksey and Charlton. The Village Hall was used as a school for the evacuees. The Minety Home Guard belonged to the 2nd Wiltshire Battalion whose Headquarters were in Malmesbury. The Company Commander for Minety (where there were two Platoons) was Major Snelling who lived at Lower Moor Farm. Parades and drill were taken in the Minety Station yard. There was a room at the New Red Lion, accessed from outside, which served as the Home Guard Headquarters. Training was carried out in the woods by Braydon Hall and in the ‘Old Park’, between Malmesbury Road and The Common. Two Tiger Moths landed at land between the Derry Brook and Minety Common. They had become lost and after talking to the locals and getting their bearings they were on their way again! Unfortunately other crews were not so lucky; a Halifax bomber crashed into Oaksey Wood killing all on board. The spot is marked by a plaque on the tree. An Oxford plane flew too low over Braydon pond in 1945, touched some telephone wires and crashed into the Webb’s farmhouse, killing two crew members. There were also crash landings near Braydon Manor and Ravensroost Farm, amongst others.
Minety football club had established itself by 1923. By 1939 there was a cricket club who played on a private field. In 1974 the parish council bought a recreation field west of Silver Street. In 1987 a new sports pavilion was built on the playing fields with help from volunteers. In the early 1980s the parishioners played rugby, football, hockey and there were tennis courts.
The Braydon Hall Park was used for the Minety summer show. There was an ‘ankle competition’ in 1923! In 1960 the British Legion held their 12th summer show there. In the 192’s Havilah Miles gave land at Hornbury Hill for a parish hall. It was opened in 1930. Redevelopment was planned in 1954. A new village hall was finally built in 1967 after a donation from Maria Jonas and the Community Council for Wiltshire. It was used for the Minety Players and Pantomime Club.
During the 1980s there was a playgroup, boys’ brigade, guides, brownies, bell ringers, hand bell ringers, W.I. , Church Guild, Mothers’ Union, Over 60’s club, British Legion, Minety Playing Fields Association and a Minety Community Bus. As at 2007 The W.I., Minety, Ashton Keynes and Leigh Mothers’ Union, St. Leonard’s Church Hand bell ringers and many others were still operational.