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Enford 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.
Enford is found in the south of Wiltshire, on the north east corner of the Salisbury Plain. It is almost 15 miles directly north of Salisbury itself and seven miles south of Pewsey. The Avon flows southwards through the middle of the parish. The name Enford derives from Enedford and Enedforde, from the Saxon word “Ened” meaning “Duck.”
The parish of Enford contains Enford village, and in addition, includes the areas and hamlets of Compton, Fifield, East Chisenbury, West Chisenbury, Littlecott, New Town, Longstreet and Coombe. These were considered separate settlements and were taxed independently until the 16th century.
The area surrounding Enford is Upper Chalk, but the line of settlements that grew up here are on narrow strips of gravel. The River Avon runs through the parish, dividing it into two chalk bluffs rising to create a valley. The higher slopes were traditionally used for sheep grazing while the lower were used for arable farming. The slopes rise to 152 metres on the extreme west and east of the parish. To the north west of the parish, near to West Chisenbury, another tributary of the Avon once created a valley called Water Dean Bottom. This is now mainly dry and the chalk base is exposed.
Roads in the parish are somewhat influenced by the path of the Avon; on either side of the river the roads are thought to be very old. The road lying to the west of the river had a turnpike placed upon it in 1840 and a tollhouse and gate stood until 1876. At the end of the 18th century roads running east to west across the parish started to be linked with the building of bridges. A wooden footbridge linked East and West Chisenbury until 1848 when it was replaced with a suspension footbridge. This was demolished in 1960 and was replaced with a concrete bridge. Another concrete footbridge was built in 1976 linking Coombe and Fifield.
There is archaeological evidence to show human activity in this area from the Neolithic Period; mainly barrows and ditches. In the Iron Age there was a relatively settled community at East Chisenbury and it is thought this continued smoothly into time of Roman occupation. At East Chisenbury were found two Iron Age areas; Lidbury Camp and Chisenbury Trendle.
At Chisenbury Warren is a well preserved, the best in the county, deserted Romano-British village which was partially excavated in 1993. Here was also found evidence of Saxon settlements.
A greenstone axe (circa 2000-1500 BC) was found near Enford Bridge, another sign on pre-Roman settlement.
At Cousins Cottage at Compton there were found Roman pottery and Roman coins.
There are many listed buildings in the parish, all of which are listed in The Department of the Environment: Listed Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Kennet Vol 3. These include; Chisenbury Priory, Cobweb Cottage in East Chisenbury, Church of All Saints at Enford, several cottages in Fifield and Enford and The Swan Inn.
The earliest written mention of Enford was in the Saxon Charter of 934, when a gift of 30 hides (an area of land) was given to Winchester Cathedral by King Aethelstan.
Accordingly, at the time of the Domesday Book, this estate was within the Bishop of Winchester's hundred of Elstub and could support 24 plough teams and had two water mills. The Domesday Book refers to a priest; a rarity for Wiltshire villages at that time, and so implies that Enford had some form of church in 1086. There were separate substantial estates at Chisenbury, held by Nigel the Physician, with one mill, and at Compton, held by Earl Aubrey, also with a mill. The approximate populations at this time would have been; Enford 145, Chisenbury 100, and Compton 68, making a total of between 300 and 330 people living in the area covered by the modern parish.
In the medieval period Chisenbury was considered separate from Enford for tax reasons. Coombe was included in the neighbouring parish of Fittleton. It wasn't until the 16th century that the parish was made up of the constituents it has today.
Henry VIII granted Enford to the Culpeper family; the manor went to Thomas Culpepper in 1541. However, after his execution later that year, Enford passed back to the Crown and in 1543 it was granted to Winchester Cathedral. It was at this point worth £34.
There has been a steady growth in the number of people living in Enford over the years; from 616 in 1676, to 814 in 1801 and 961 in 1831. There was then a decline during the 1860s, probably because young men had to leave in order to find work elsewhere In 1971, 656 people lived in the parish.
The village of Enford itself sits between the west bank of the Avon and the Salisbury road and is now fairly bereft of any buildings that are particularly old. It is thought the manor house was destroyed by fire. It had been north east of the church. Many of the thatched buildings of Enford disappeared during the 20th century. At the turn of the 20th century, much of the village lands were acquired by the War Department and after this jobs in agriculture for local people became much more difficult to find.
In 1086 of the two mills in Enford itsel, one was in one of the surrounding parishes (it is not clear in which one) and the other, which was built over the river to the north east of All Saints Church, became the primary mill for the parish. It passed with the manor and in 1899 became part of the War Department. It was sold in 1960 and is now a private house. The mill at Coombe Manor passed with the house until 1811 when it was sold.
Enford became part of Pewsey Poor Law Union in 1835. An average of £50 was spent in the proceeding years. Henry “Orator” Hunt (An Upavon born speaker and politician) claimed in 1815 that half of all the agricultural labourers were technically paupers.
In 1885, Kelly's Directory of Wiltshire listed the various professions and businesses that could be found in the parish of Enford. These included Thomas Carter, a boot and shoemaker, Henry Davies, a bricklayer and James Nash, a shopkeeper. Among the outlying hamlets were James Pennells, a marine store dealer, William Wedge, a beer retailer, Thomas Bushells, shopkeeper and William Weeks, a plumber, painter and glazier. Of the pubs in the parish, The Swan is still open, but The Three Horseshoes is now a bed and breakfast establishment.
In 1913, Enford came under the glare of the media after a sensational murder and suicide. What made the case even more shocking was the main protagonist; Constable Ernest Pike of the Wiltshire Constabulary. Constable Pike, the local bobby of Enford since 1909, shot and killed a fellow officer who he felt had been persecuting him.
Sergeant William Frank Crouch was the sergeant at Netheravon and was involved with a disciplinary case against Pike; Pike had been charged with being in a public house (The Three Horse Shoes) while on duty. Pike had previously been in trouble with his superiors for drinking on duty. He had formerly been a sergeant before being demoted back to constable and moved to Enford.
He was found guilty when appearing at Amesbury police station on 31 March 1913 and was told he would be moved to another post. Pike accused Sergeant Crouch of lying. Later that evening, Pike left his home, ostensibly to go on his round and smuggled a shot gun out with him. It is believed that he later shot Sergeant Crouch in the head and then killed himself. Pike's body was found the next day floating in the river.
Local man Fred Phillimore recalls the incident thus:
“Murder and suicide, and this time it was the policeman who were the victims. Just before they were about to meet at Coombe, Constable Pike took with him a double-barrelled gun and waylaid Sergeant Crouch as he came along the footpath from Fifield to Coombe and shot him dead. He himself then went to the little footbridge, which was a wooden one in those days, and standing there near the river shot himself. His body fell in the river and floated downstream two or three hundred yards.”
There were busy Cub and Scout groups in the parish, especially before the Second World War. Colonel Harvey, who lived at Enford Grange, was the effective founder of Enford Scout Group. He donated money towards the uniforms, partly re-paid by the boys via the Scout Master. The first Scout Master was Mr Griffiths and later on Mr Blaney was the master.
A Cub group also emerged at the same time through the son of a lady who lived with the Harvey's at Enford Grange. When they left the Grange Fred Phillimore became Cub Master. The Cubs were often seen out and about camping. An ex-Army hut was commandeered to act as the Scout and Cub hut. A fete was held every year in the grounds of The Grange to raise money. The clubs died out during the Second World War and the hut was used for storing flour.
During World War II a number of evacuees came to Enford. A Mr Percy Carpenter was in charge of the children. He sent them to the different houses they were to stay in, after they assembled at the Parish Hall.
Lands Girls also turned up in the village; members of the Women's Land Army. They arrived on 30th March 1941, having come from Pewsey station, and were employed on the local farms.
In 2001, the census showed 511 people lived in the parish of Enford.