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Wiltshire Community History

Great Wishford Search Results

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Great Wishford

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 Great Wishford:

Map of the Civil Parish of Great Wishford

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:

The civil parish of Great Wishford lies approximately six miles north-west of Salisbury and five miles south of Winterbourne Stoke and contains 1,679 acres. The parish lies primarily on chalk with deposits of clay-with-flints at Heath's Wood and at a small area west of the village. The northern and eastern boundaries of the parish are dictated by the River Wyle and the western boundary by a dry valley; these boundaries are thought to have been fixed from as early as the 10th or 11th centuries. The southern boundary has been subject to variation but now runs from Grovely Hill to the railway embankment at the south-eastern corner of the parish.

The village of Great Wishford, now a Conservation Area, is very close to the River Wylye. The church of St. Giles stands at the centre of the village, with West Street and South Street running around it. The population of Great Wishford in 2001 was 336, just dipping below the population high of 360 in 1991 (there were 234 people in 1951 and 328 in 1971). New housing in the second half of the 20th century explains the steady rise in population. At the start of the 20th century, in 1901, there were 283 people in the parish, a decrease from 335 in 1891 and 381 in 1861. This is probably explained by the gradual migration of people living rural parishes in and attempt to find work in towns. In 1337 there had been 138 poll tax payers.

There is evidence of Iron Age settlement at Great Wishford, as well as later Roman occupation. Earthworks measuring 100 acres at Ebsbury are evidence of probable Iron Age activity. Some coins from this period have also been found. The Roman road linking Winchester to the Mendips is thought to have run through the south eastern part of the parish.

At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) Great Wishford was held by William Corniole. At this time there would have been between 35 and 40 people living here in eight households, one of which was a mill, on two separate estates. It was also known at around this time as Whicheford and Witford. The name changed over the years; in the 16th century it was known as Willesford Magna. For a long while the parish had the Latin suffix of Wishford Magna. Later it was given by Henry I to Patrick de Chaworth. The manor was split at this point between Patrick and his son-in-law Henry Daubney and subsequently shared between the Daubney family descendants and those of the Chaworth family.

The manor descended in this manner ("moiety") until 1574, when Walter Bonham, a descendent of Henry Daubney, managed to acquire the second moiety, and thus united the estate. It was sold to him by Anne and Thomas Paulet. In 1597 Walter Bonham sold the entire manor to Sir Richard Grobham, who died in 1629; subsequently it descended with this family until the executors of Lord Chedworth's estate sold the manor to George Herbert, earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. The manor remains with the earl of Pembroke.

There was an almshouse at Great Wishford in the 17th century; financed by lands bequeathed in Sir Richard Grobham's will for this purpose. The almshouse, comprising four cottages, was built opposite the church in the middle of the 17th century; it is thought to have been one of south Wiltshire's earliest almshouses but was demolished in 1993, after being reduced to two cottages in 1969. The inhabitants of the almshouse were usually married men and their wives. In 1904 there were two couples, one single man and one separate tenant living there. Another charitable act from which the parishioners of Great Wishford benefitted was a charity established by the Reverend E. B. Hill, who died in 1925; under the terms of the charity a third of its funds were to go to the poor of the parish.

The manor house at Great Wishford was once located to the north of the church but has now been demolished. The last person to live there was probably Dorothy, Lady Chedworth. She died in 1777. Much of the house was taken down in 1785 and the rest at some point in the middle of the 19th century, probably between 1839 and 1886. It is thought that the manor house once had a chapel attached to it.

West Street and South Street, around the church, both feature many cottages dating from the 17th and 18th centuries; more were built here in the 19th century. The farmhouses of Wishford Farm and Shatfords Farm were built in the 17th century. Wishford House also is found near to the church, on West Street. The larger part of the house was built in the 18th century, with a new facade added in the 19th century. The kitchen wing was also replaced in the 19th century and the interior itself was much altered in the 20th century. Wishford Farmhouse is thought to date from the 17th century. In the middle of the 18th century, Edward Knatchbull, the tenant, changed the interior by building a new oak staircase and the exterior by building a new front of brick.

Only a small amount of residential building took place in the 19th century. In the 20th century there was a little more: In 1929 four council houses were built near South Street.
In 1949 Grovely Cottages, a group of 22 council houses, were erected and in 1987 the estate of Kingsmead was built. A new rectory was built in 1975.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, Great Wishford was assessed as having land for two and a half plough-teams. By 1273 the manor had 500 acres of arable land as well as pasture and grazing for sheep and cattle. In the Middle Ages at least three large open fields were in existence and continued until enclosure, which took place in 1809.
From the 13th century the men of Great Wishford also had the right of pasture in Grovely forest.

Farm buildings were built to the south of Wishford Farm in the middle of the 19th century. Hungerford Lodge Farm was built in the north-west of the parish in the mid or late 19th century. It was built close to a barn which was erected between 1817 and 1839.
Dairy Cottages and some farm buildings were built approximately 1 km. to the south of the village from 1839 onwards.

A mill was recorded as being in existence in 1086; by 1273 there was a mill belonging to the manor but it is not clear if this was the same building but it is likely to have been on the same site. The mill at Great Wishford manor was badly damaged by the 14th century and had been demolished by the 18th century. Another mill was demolished in 1802; this mill had been built in the mid-18th century and was located near Stoford Bridge.

Although Grovely Wood (or Forest) does not fall within the boundaries of the parish, it has strong historical links to Great Wishford. Once a Royal forest, by the mid 13th century men at Great Wishford were allowed to pasture their animals in the woods and this usage had grown by the 16th century to the right to collect wood. By 1597 the men of the parish were allotted the right to collect boughs from the wood on Saturdays and holidays from the first of May to Whitsun. This was confirmed in a charter drawn up at a court actually held in Grovely Forest in 1604. It allowed residents of Wishford Magna (as Great Wishford was then known) to go into Grovely to collect fallen or dead wood. The charter states that this has been a custom at Wishford since "time out of mind".
Later, it was agreed that green wood could also be cut, as long as it was no thicker than a man's arm.

By 1604 the custom of men marching to Salisbury Cathedral on the Tuesday after Whitsunday, after picking up wood from Grovely and shouting: 'Grovely! Grovely! And all Grovely!' was established. In 1660 the date was changed to 29 May, presumably to fall into line with the nationwide Oak Apple Day which celebrated the restoration of the monarchy. In the 19th century the march to Salisbury Cathedral had been abandoned and the procession took place through the village only. In 1890 the Oak Apple Club was formed, with 74 Wishford residents as its founders. They took the slogan 'Unity is Strength'. Since that date the procession and celebrations have been organised by the Club; the main change they instigated was to change the procession of villagers from the evening to lunchtime.

Lord Pembroke attended Oak Apple day in 1892, as the new celebration was beginning to take shape. It was not until 1894 that women were allowed to join the procession to Salisbury, although they were unable to become members of the Oak Apple club. Part of the procession is known as the 'Woodpickers' Dance', where four women are chosen to dance with dry wood secured on their heads. In World War One, the event all but stopped; only a few people went into Grovely to collect wood and there was no procession to Salisbury; the event similarly declined during World War Two.

Throughout their many years of existence the celebrations of Oak Apple day have changed substantially. In 1951 the string of people marching to the Cathedral after rising at dawn, having been woken by singing and banging of dustbin lids and having entered the woods, began once again. In that year the four women doing the 'Woodpickers' dance' were met by the Dean of Salisbury who led them to the altar, where they took the wood from their heads and laid it down there. After this the chant of "Grovely! Grovely! And all Grovely!" rang through the Cathedral. This still occurs today. After returning from the Cathedral, the villagers engaged in eating, drinking and a fete. This custom also continues today. The boughs are used to decorate houses and the church, the latter to bring good luck to couples marrying there in the coming year; this is known as the "Marriage Bough". In the early 21st century Grovely Wood is made up of multiple species of trees; there are old coppices of oak and hazel as well as beech, spruce and pine.

Employment has been very varied over the course of the history of the parish. A weaver lived in Great Wishford in 1669, probably associated with the nearby Wilton cloth industry, which was very important to the area at the time. A clothier also lived in the parish in 1729. In 1839 a foundry was in existence near the church. The Salisbury - Warminster branch of the Great Western railway opened in 1856 and ran parallel to the principal road from the north-western to south-eastern boundary of the parish. A station was opened at Great Wishford in 1856 but closed in September 1955, while houses were also built for railway employees. In the mid 19th century there were coal merchants in the parish, probably to meet the requirements of the newly-opened railway station. At this time there was also a shop and bakery, run by Elizabeth Young. A coal business was also run from this shop at the start of the 20th century. In Kelly's Directory of Wiltshire of 1907, the occupations listed include: tailor, carpenter, mason, blacksmith, butcher, grocer, baker and coal merchant. A sewage works was built in the south east of the parish between 1958 and 1969.

The public house at Great Wishford is the 'Royal Oak'. It was named as such in 1848, having previously operated under the name of the 'Tap'. It is found at the junction of West Street and the Warminster road. There was an alehouse at Great Wishford in 1618, although it is not thought that it had any connections to the building which is now the Royal Oak.

A fire engine arrived in the parish in 1728, patented by Richard Newsham, at a cost of £33 and 3 shillings to the churchwardens. It is thought that this was one of the earliest engines of its kind in the country. The engine was made of wood and had to be drawn by horses; it was designed to be used by 10 or 12 men, who could pump 65 gallons of water a minute. It was still being used by the villagers until the 1920s but from the 1970s it has been stored and looked after in the church of St. Giles.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilGreat Wishford Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailc.musselwhite@btopenworld.com

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

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Population 1801 - 2011

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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 Great Wishford

Folk Biographies from Great Wishford

Folk Plays from Great Wishford

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 of historic importance is 24. There are no Grade I buildings; and just one Grade II*, the Church of St. Giles.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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