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Collingbourne Kingston Concise History
This parish history by John Chandler is taken from his books 'Marlborough and Eastern Wiltshire' (Hobnob Press, 2001, £20.00, ISBN 0 946418 07 1) and 'Devizes and Central Wiltshire' (Hobnob Press, 2003, £20.00, ISBN 0 946418 16 0). The books are the first two of a projected series of seven, under the series title 'Wiltshire: a History of its Landscape and People', which together will offer short histories of every parish in Wiltshire, including the areas now within Swindon Borough. The text included here is the author's copyright and should not be further reproduced for publication without his consent. There may be minor textual variants between the text posted here and the published version.
Dr Chandler will be happy to supply hardback copies of either Marlborough and Eastern Wiltshire, which includes histories of 34 parishes in eastern Wiltshire (from Tidworth in the south to Aldbourne in the north and Avebury in the west), with illustrations and maps, or Devizes and Central Wiltshire, which includes histories of 42 parishes in central Wiltshire, with illustrations and maps, for £20 each post free. He can be contacted: by email: John Chandler ; by post: c/o 8 Lock Warehouse, Severn Road, Gloucester GL1 2GA.
Collingbourne Kingston is a parish on the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain and approximately 14 km south, south east of Marlborough. It contained four small villages, Collingbourne Kingston, Aughton, Brunton and Sunton, and a part of Cadley hamlet. In 1934 the parish was reduced from 2,995 hectares to 2,915 when Sunton and the part of Cadley were transferred to Collingbourne Ducis. In 1987 it was further reduced to 2,018 hectares when all the land in the south-east part surrounding Sunton Heath, plus a small area in the south-west running from West Hill down to Snail Down, were also transferred to Collingbourne Ducis.
The parish lies mainly in the upper Bourne valley, and the name Collingbourne, referring to the bourne as 'the stream of Cola's people', suggests that it was an area of early settlement. Suffixes were added to the name Collingbourne to distinguish the two parishes. Kingston means 'the King's holding', referring to Domesday Book. The village of Aughton takes its name from Aeffe, the owner of it in the mid 10th century. Brunton was originally Burhampton, the 'hamtun by the burgh'; although it is not clear to what burgh reference is made. Sunton was Southampton, 'the south hamtun' in contrast to Brunton in the north.
The whole parish lies on chalk. The Bourne, which frequently dries out, flows from north to south across the middle of it and has deposited gravel. Clay-with-flints overlies the chalk on high ground in the eastern half of the parish. In several places the parish boundary follows ridges and dry valleys, and on the south it mostly follows field boundaries, but sometimes cuts across a field.
There are several sites of archaeological interest. Oldhat barrow and a second barrow to the south are both on the western parish boundary. Godsbury, on the boundary with Burbage, is an Iron-Age enclosure measuring 1.5 acres; an enclosure of similar date and size lies on Aughton Down and one of similar size on Fairmile Down. There is also a barrow near Summer Down Farm and another enclosure on the eastern parish boundary near Heath Copse.
Three of the five manors within the modern parish boundary were in the hands of the Seymour family by 1547. In 1544 the Crown granted Collingbourne Kingston manor to Edward Seymour, who was created Duke of Somerset in 1547. From then until c.1929 it descended in the Seymour, Bruce, Brudenell, and Brudenell-Bruce families. The manor was then divided into two and sold as Manor Farm and Parsonage Farm. In 1982 Manor Farm was divided in half and became Manor Farm and Summerdown Farm. Aughton Manor was also sold c.1929; some of the land was added to Manor Farm and the rest became Aughton House Farm. Lastly, Dormer Manor was also sold c.1929 as part of Brunton Farm.
Chadderton Farm was sold to Thomas Brudenell, Lord Bruce, in 1765. It then merged with Collingbourne Kingston Manor. Brunton manor, which was the largest portion of Collingbourne Valence Manor, passed through many families before it was finally bought in 1824 by Charles Brudenell-Bruce.
The village has one church and one chapel. The parish church of St. Mary dates from the 12th century, if not before. Major restoration work was undertaken in 1861. The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1819 and remained open until 1985.
There are some fine examples of vernacular architecture in the village; a mixture of old and modern, some of brick, others timber-framed and thatched. Unfortunately the atmosphere is somewhat spoilt by the volume of heavy traffic using the main road that passes through the village. Many of the attractive houses and cottages date from the 17th century.
Manor Farm was originally the manor house of the village and its large size still shows this. The present building is mainly 17th century with 18th century work in brick. It has a substantial yard with outbuildings, including a timber barn built in the late 16th century and a cart shed dating from the 18th century. Inside the farmhouse, there used to be large bread ovens that could bake bread for the whole village.
Kingston had its own village school until 1978, after which the children had to travel to neighbouring Ducis. The attractive Victorian school building is now a successful licensed restaurant called The Old School House.
Working life in the Collingbournes was dominated by agriculture. Most men and boys were either employed on a farm or in industries associated with farming. The villagers also had the shops they needed for their daily lives. The 1851 census shows that there was a grocer at Aughton. There was a second grocer at Brunton who was also a woodman. Two occupations were not unusual; this was often necessary to enable a man to earn a living. A farmer at Aughton was also a baker. There are ten entries on the census for farms. The smallest farm was just 134 acres and employed five labourers; the largest was 1,000 acres employing 39 men and women.
The 1875 Kelly's Directory for Wiltshire carries listings for blacksmiths, grocers and drapers, shopkeepers, farmers, a tailor, carpenter and postmaster. Most villages remained largely self sufficient until the Second World War. At the centre of the Kingston community were the village post office and the two pubs. The post office, which was also the village shop and bakery, stood in the middle of the High Street. For many years it was run by the Gilbert family. The shop survived until the end of the 20th century, when, sadly, like many village shops, it was unable to compete with supermarkets. The shop is now a private house.
The oldest of the two pubs, and the one that is still open, is The Barleycorn. It is built of red brick and dates from the early 19th century. This pub has had at least four names; starting as The Cleaver, it was also the Collingbourne Kingston Inn and the Kingston Hotel. Opposite the post office stood The Windmill Inn; this is now a private house.
The 1901 census shows very little change in the pattern of employment, although a few men worked on the railway. The 1939 trade directory includes listings for the Kingston Hotel, a builder and a race horse trainer. There was also a 'cycle dealer, wireless engineer and agent for Belling and Lee aerial system'.
At the time of the Domesday survey the population of Collingbourne Kingston was approximately 300-350 people; neighbouring Ducis had 100 more. By the time of the first census in 1801, Kingston's population was 731 while that of Ducis was only 457. Kingston remained a bigger village than Ducis until 1950. It reached its population peak in 1841 when the figure was 933. It dropped by 200 between 1861 and 1881; this coincides with the agricultural depression which began in 1870. Over the next 30 years 400,000 farming jobs in England were lost, as farmers battled with the weather, disease and cheap imports. Men were forced to move their families to the towns to look for work. They may have moved to Marlborough or possibly over the border into neighbouring Hampshire. The population continued to drop gradually until 1961. By 2001 it was 456, just 60 people more than 1961.
There was no workhouse for the poor in the village but the overseers provided regular outdoor relief. In 1802 £650 was spent relieving almost 20% of the population. A survey of clergy housing that was carried out in 1812 noted that the vicarage was a ruin, but the parish officers rented it to house paupers. To quote the survey, 'two miserable families inhabit the kitchen, exposed to the air, and their lives are in danger every day'. In 1835 Collingbourne became part of the Pewsey Poor Law Union, and its destitute villagers would have gone to the workhouse at Pewsey.
In 1890 there were two charities providing blankets and coal for elderly paupers. In 1904, 81 people received these gifts plus a small amount of money. In 1994 the income from the two bequests was almost £100 and seven people each received £10. A third charity was from money given in 1895 to maintain a family's memorial windows in the church. Any money left over was to be given to the poor and it was usually given to a clothing club to distribute.
In 1929 the Savernake estate, which included most of the land and properties in Kingston, was broken up and sold by the Marquess of Ailesbury. Land at Aughton and Brunton was sold to Arthur Hosier, who was responsible for inventing the movable milking bail where the 'dairy' was taken to the cows in the field. The third generation of the Hosier family still continue to farm successfully and are generous supporters of village activities.
A number of new houses have been built in the 20th century. The village was extended south by new detached houses built mainly on the west side of the road. Thirty eight council houses and bungalows were built as Ham Close and Cuckoo Pen Close in the 1930s and 1960s.
The Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway was built beside the Bourne and opened in 1882. Cadley station in Collingbourne Ducis stood a little south of Sunton village. A halt immediately north-east of Collingbourne Kingston church was opened in 1932. The line was unfortunately closed by Dr Beeching in 1961.
The population of Kingston almost halved between 1901 and 1961, losing nearly 100 people each decade. The picture is quite different in neighbouring Ducis, where after the boundary changes in 1934 the population continued to rise steadily until in 2001 it had more than doubled its size in 100 years.
Sadly, the village has now lost most of its local services. In 1939 there were two grocers, a Post Office, shopkeeper, two pubs, a school, church and chapel. The church and The Barleycorn pub are all that remain. The village does, however, have a thriving village hall. It was built in 1937 to replace an earlier wooden building that was destroyed by fire. It was the centre of the community's social life, hosting dances, amateur dramatics, socials and indoor sports. The same building is still well used today by many groups, including cubs and brownies, line dancing and a mother and toddler group. The village website shows Collingbourne Kingston to be an active community with lots of activities for its residents to be involved in. There is a gardening club, WI, youth club, line dancing, coffee club, cricket, bowls, twinning association, scouts, beavers, brownies and cubs. A quote on the village hall page of the website emphasizes how important it is for a small village to work together in order to maintain a thriving community.