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Wiltshire Community History

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Hankerton

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 Hankerton:

Map of the Civil Parish of Hankerton

1896
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.


Thumbnail History:


The small parish of Hankerton is found to the very north of the county of Wiltshire and is around four miles to the north-east of Malmesbury and two miles south-east of Crudwell. It is a long and thin parish, running in an east to west direction. The parish encompasses the village of Hankerton and the hamlets of Cloatley and Bullock's Horn. These two hamlets are found to the south and centre of the parish, near to the Cloatley Road on the way to Upper Minety. The parish stretches from Bishoper Farm to the east and to Woburn Farm on the outskirts of Minety. To the south the parish reaches to the hamlet of Bullock's Horn and the northernmost point is Braydon brook, from which the group of churches to which Hankerton belongs take their name. The parish of Hankerton is very flat and consists primarily of Oxford and Kellaways Clay with some outbreaks of limestone and Cornbrash.

The history of Hankerton in the Middle Ages is not especially well known; neither is it mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In 1377 Hankerton had 61 poll tax payers (aged over 14) and the smaller Cloatley had 33. Although the parish is now rather small, these figures in 1377 indicate that at the time the area was quite populous in relation to the rest of the Malmesbury Hundred. In 1801 the population was 286 and there were 340 people in 1841. There was a sharp decrease in population ten years later showing that 62 people had left; this can only be attributed to lack of housing and opportunities in line with the national trend. In the 20th century the population fell further, with only 178 living here in 1961. However the building of new housing in recent years has produced an increase in residents. At the start of the 21st century there were approximately 250 people in the parish.

The village of Hankerton itself is the oldest settlement within the parish. The church dates from the 13th century, if not the 12th, and even today the majority of the houses are situated near to the church. This would have been the pattern of growth in the 13th century as well. Prior to the enclosures the houses in the village were set back from the road and the wide verges were part of the common grazing land. These verges were often built on in the 20th century.

Brian Woodruffe, in his book “Wiltshire Villages” writes: “Hankerton may be a peaceful spot with just the hum of bees and a distant tractor but it is far from being deserted or neglected. The large churchyard is closely cut and carefully trimmed, not a sight to please the wildlife enthusiast though impressive to the visitor, and the housing stock has been increasing steadily since the 1970s.” Woodruffe's investigation shows that post Second World War there were houses centred around the T-junction at the centre of the village but by the mid 1980s several private bungalows and houses had been built and a row of council bungalows had also been erected.

Hankerton is most definitely an agricultural parish. The few non-farming occupations are limited to mentions of a weaver in 1568, a clothyard in 1700 and a wool comber in 1710. These perhaps indicate that there was a local cloth industry in which Hankerton participated. In 1939, the only occupations found in Kelly's Directory of Wiltshire (apart from a shopkeeper living in Hankerton with premises in Crudwell) is of farmers or small holders. Today, the boutique beauty salon Lifestyle located in refurbished farm buildings on the western outskirts of Hankerton and garage L.J. Cooper and Son on the Cloatley Road to Upper Minety are the primary businesses found in the parish; surely a surprising level of enterprise for such a small parish.

Between the 13th and 16th centuries there were between 20 and 25 tenants, presumably under the control of Malmesbury Abbey. Hankerton's lands to the west were common pastures before the Dissolution; at the end of the 16th century, during the 1570s, the land known as West Field (neighbouring the new Charlton Park) was enclosed. There were further, smaller, enclosures around the parish during that time. These were small farms and the practice of common husbandry did continue until the 18th century. In 1800 the area of open fields was drastically reduced.

In the 13th century Malmesbury Abbey had 13 tenants at Cloatley. These were small amounts of land and were reduced further by 1540.

By 1840 there were 1,585 acres of grassland and 514 acres of arable land in the Hankerton parish. The arable farming was focused on the Cirencester to Malmesbury road to the west, including Hankerton Field Farm and Bishoper Farm. Arable land declined from 1840 and there was only 200 acres in the 1930s. Dairy farms were more plentiful and cows, cattle, sheep and pigs were all kept within the parish. After the Second World War there was a sudden increase in animal farming. In 1971 there were 901 cattle on farms in the parish. There was probably a windmill near what was once Windmill Hill Road at the end of the 13th century, but it is not clear if it fell within the parish of Hankerton or Charlton.
The road was still known as Windmill Hill Road in 1809, but exactly which road this was we do not know!

Cloatley emerged at the same time as Hankerton and grew especially between the 13th and 16th centuries. A collection of buildings to the south of Cloatley Road was called Cloatley in 1773. A few other houses were built in the 19th century. The manor farm at Cloatley was sold and considered part of the estate at Eastcourt until 1919. Bullock's Horn, the other hamlet in the parish, emerged as Bullock's Horn in the 18th century. Several cottages were built to the east of Hankerton's common in 1773. In 1988 there were four houses at Bullock's Horn.

There was no road from the west into the parish until the 18th century, when the Cirencester-Malmesbury road was turnpiked in 1778. Cloatley Lane, the link eastwards to Minety, was called Locks Brooks Road in 1809. The road from this to the hamlet of Bullock's Horn became a lane in the 20th century, with access by road only from the south.

Hankerton is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, so it was likely to have fallen within the estate of Crudwell, which belonged to Malmesbury Abbey. Malmesbury Abbey, an imposing figure on the surrounding landscape and communities, owned Hankerton and Cloatley until the Dissolution. Hankerton was given by the Crown in 1552 to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. He sold it to Sir James Stumpe the following year. Stumpe was the owner of Charlton Manor, which would go on to become Charlton Park. The manor of Hankerton therefore was passed down through that family. The family became the Howard family and then held the earldoms of Suffolk and Berkshire.
The eastern part of the manor was sold in 1959 by the then Earl of Suffolk.
The Crown also gave Cloatley away in 1542 to William Sharington. The manor house itself, Manor Farm, was in 1840 bought by Joseph Pitt and this remained affiliated with the Eastcourt estate until 1919.

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

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Population 1801 - 2011

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The Victoria History of Wiltshire (opens in new window) is a partnership between local authorities and the Institute of Historical Research at London University. The History of Wiltshire is now the largest county history in the country and is still growing. The volumes are divided between general and topographical with Volumes One to Five covering subjects such as prehistory, ecclesiastical, economic and political history. The Volumes from Six onwards are topographical and will ultimately provide a comprehensive and systematic history of every single town and parish in the county.

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Newspapers from 1738: These newspapers covered this community at different times. Newspaper titles in bold text are either the ones you should check first for information about this community.

 

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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 Hankerton

Folk Biographies from Hankerton

Folk Plays from Hankerton

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, of architectural or historic importance is 14. There are no Grade I buildings, and two Grade II* buildings, the Church of the Holy Cross and the Manor Farmhouse.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

Local Authors: There could be an author who was born or has lived in this community.

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