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Hilmarton

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 Hilmarton:

Map of the Civil Parish of Hilmarton

1890s
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 large parish of Hilmarton is situated in North Wiltshire, four miles north of Calne, two miles south of RAF Lyneham and 7 miles southwest of Wootton Bassett.
Hilmarton Parish includes neighbouring Goatacre village and the smaller settlements of Catcomb, Witcomb, Littlecott, Corton, Clevancy, Highway and Beversbrook.

The village of Hilmarton has approximately 310 residents. There is a primary school with approximately 112 pupils, a parish church, Baptist chapel, public house and a post office. Hilmarton is a very close-knit community with numerous village groups and clubs. Several families have many generations of ancestors preceding them in the parish.

Hilmarton is situated in an elevated position on part of the Corallian Ridge which stretches from Oxford to Calne. This geological band consists of Coral Rag Limestone which has been used throughout the parish for house and road construction. Other parts of the parish touch on Oxford and Kimmeridge Clay, Gault and Upper Greensand and also Lower Chalk. The wide range of soil conditions in the parish have led to favourable agricultural conditions for sheep grazing, dairy farming and arable crops.

The main source of water in the parish is Cowage brook which is a shallow stream entering the parish in the north east. It has several small tributaries and numerous springs add to the brook throughout the parish. The brook once powered the only known water mill at Witcomb, although two mills are mentioned in the Domesday Book. This flour mill was believed to have been on the same site for at least 800 years before it was pulled down in 1915. There was also a windmill, last documented in 1348, although its location is unknown.

The name Hilmarton may have originated from 'Helmheard's Farm'. It was known as Helmerdington, Helmerintone and Adhelmertone to name but a few versions during medieval times. Other later names include Helmarton and Hill Martyn.
The earliest archaeological discovery in the parish was at Rodwell ash bed on Rodwell Farm where there are two undated ring ditches believed to be round barrows. At Goatacre, some fragments of Beaker (Bronze Age) pottery were discovered in a field. A curious mound at Clevancy, known as Townsend's Knoll was excavated in 1947. The dig although inconclusive, suggested this as being part of a long barrow. At Littlecott, there is believed to be the earthworks of a Saxon settlement.

Roman occupation of the parish is evident as numerous artefacts have been discovered from this period. Roman pottery has been found at several locations around the parish and part of a sandstone roof tile was discovered on the site of the recently built school hall. The largest discovery from the Roman period was of a Romano-British well at Corton.

There is no doubt that Hilmarton was a flourishing medieval village. It is highly likely that it was a popular trading centre due to the vast array of medieval pottery found- some originating from Germany. The earliest documented mention of Hilmarton was in 962 when King Edgar granted 10 mansae (houses and land) to a thegn named Wulfmaer.

By 1086, during the Domesday survey, the three estates of Hilmarton, amounting to 11 hides had remained the same. At this time it was held by Ralph under William of Eu. At this time the population of the three estates was around 100 people. There were also at Beversbrook (2), Witcomb, Clevancy and Littlecott and the estimated population of these would have brought the total number of people living in the present civil parish to around 200 in 1086; a further 65 were at Highway, which has only recently been added to Hilmarton parish.

From 1242-3, along with nine other Wiltshire holdings, the manor of Hilmarton was held in the possession of Walter, Earl of Pembroke who was also the Earl Marshall. Over the next three centuries, Hilmarton was passed back and forth between the Earls
of Norfolk and Pembroke, the Crown and the manors of Chepstow and Hamstead Marshall. The Baynard family were in residence for about 170 years and in 1611, Robert Baynard was granted livery of the manor with a fair. The fair, known as the Lammas Fair was held annually for several hundred years. The estate was sold in 1616 to John Norborne but the sale was disputed by a member of the Baynard family, who refused to give up the occupancy of the main farmhouse. In about 1635, Walter Norborne, John's son, inherited Hilmarton manor. He was a Royalist and was fined for his allegiance to the king. Walter's son, also Walter, was killed in a duel in 1684 and the estate was then passed several times through the female line to eventually being in the possession of the Beaufort Estate.

In 1802, Hilmarton estate was sold piecemeal, to a Samuel Hale. It was sold again in 1809, then finally to the Poynder family in 1813. It remained within the family for almost a century, passing from Thomas Poynder to his two sons successively, Thomas Henry Allen and William Henry. John Poynder Dickson Poynder was the last squire of Hilmarton Estate. He inherited the estate through his mother Sarah Matilda, who was the daughter of Thomas Poynder. She had married Rear Admiral J. B. Dickson. John Poynder Dickson Poynder was created Baron Islington in 1910, G.C.M.G in 1913 and Governor of New Zealand in 1910-12. He spent very little time in Hilmarton and it appeared that his interest waned as his other duties increased. In 1914, Hilmarton estate was sold in numerous lots, including the manor house, estate cottages and farms. Many tenant farmers bought the farms they were occupying. Lord Poynder died in 1936.

The village of Hilmarton has changed considerably over the years. The two main thoroughfares are Church Road and Compton Road. Church Road leads to a cul-de-sac, Lammas Close, which comprises a number of council houses, built in the 1930s and 1950s. In the other direction, Compton Road leads to Poynder Place, a large estate of privately owned properties built in the 1970s and 80s. Most of the original medieval buildings in Hilmarton were either destroyed by fire, demolished or completely remodelled during the 19th and 20th centuries. This was mainly due to the Poynder estates' upgrade and modernisation of its properties.

The original manor house is believed to a have been on the site of the present Manor Farm, previously known as Parsonage Farm. This building's north wing is timber framed and is believed to date from the 17th century. During the Poynder renovations in the mid 19th century, a large Tudor-style east wing was added along with new casements, barge boards and doors. The paddocks to the south and east of the farm contain earthworks, believed to date from medieval times.

Hilmarton Manor- the present day manor house - is located just off of the A3102, to the south of the main village. It was built as a shooting lodge during the mid 19th century by the Poynder family as their country seat. The property was constructed using squared rubble stone with a stone slate roof. The large south-west rear wing of the manor was added in 1910; this considerably enlarged the property. Hilmarton Lodge is located to the north of the manor. Built in 1850 by Henry Weaver it is similar in design to other the other estate cottages.

There are numerous farms in the parish of Hilmarton including Rodwell Farm, Sandy Furlong Farm, Spillman's Farm, Witcomb Farm, Upper and Lower Penn Farm, and Cowage Farm. There are also several farms in Goatacre, Littlecott, Highway, Clevancy, Corton, Beversbrook and Catcomb. New Farm was destroyed in the last century and was located to the west of the Vicarage and the village. Most of the farms have a mixture of arable crops and dairy or beef cattle. A few of the farms graze sheep.

There appears to have been two farms in the main Hilmarton manor in the 14th century. One in Hilmarton and one in Goatacre and each farm had its own common fields; the two largest settlements in the parish developed around these farms. In 1348, the manor at Hilmarton had a messuage with garden and dovecot. The farmland was mainly arable with a small area of common pasture, meadow and woodland.
In 1588, a three year rotation was followed in Hilmarton, the third year the fields were left fallow, common grazing was also forbidden. At this date only a North field is mentioned but by 1716, East, West and South fields are documented in Hilmarton. In 1752, Parsonage Farm, now Manor Farm, had three closes called Upper Close, Lower Marsh and New Leaze. Areas of common grazing land were called Cowage Field, Mead Furlong, Crates Furlong, Black Furlong and Swillfield. Unfortunately there is no inclosure award for Hilmarton.

Rodwell Farm is situated to the east of Hilmarton, just off of the Compton Bassett Road. The building dates from the 18th century and is an organic dairy and arable farm.

The Vicarage house, which was first mentioned in 1588, was located on 'a small piece of glebe' almost opposite to the eastern end of where the almshouses are (which were built at a later date). In the early 19th century, the vicarage was 'a mere dilapidated cottage' and used as a workhouse for the parish paupers. The village workhouse was called 'Ruddles' House' and was granted to the overseers of the poor in 1791 by Elizabeth Duchess Dowager of Beaufort and Henry Duke of Beaufort. By 1835, it was deemed unfit for habitation and by 1850 it had become too derelict to be used for any useful purpose. The site of this building is now part of a residential garden at the end of the almshouses and nothing remains of its presence. A new replacement vicarage was built in 1844 to the south west of the church. Now known as The Old Vicarage, it was constructed using square rubble stone with ashlar dressings. The roof is of stone slate and has coped gables and parapets. The building was improved and enlarged by the resident vicar, Francis Goddard during his time in Hilmarton, from 1858 to 1892.

The only remaining 17th century cottages are to be found at the end of Church Road. This appears to have been the oldest residential part of Hilmarton. At one time there were a number of thatched properties leading from Church Road down to Cowage brook, an area known as Foghamshire. In the 1841 census, Foghamshire was shown to contain 5 properties. The residents included a cordwainer (shoemaker) and a blacksmith. According to 'letting and taking' agreements dating 1866 and 1899, the cottages were rented by the Poynder estate for £2 and 12s each. During the following century or so, this small settlement dwindled and the only remaining cottage there was destroyed by fire in the 1960s. The last resident ended his days in an old caravan next to the brook. The village's lime kiln is still evident at the top of the Foghamshire bridleway next to Church Road.

One of the two large 17th century thatched cottages in Church Road is divided into three residences. The whole building was devastated by a fire in the 1990s and only the shell remained. The cottages have been rebuilt sympathetically and are now very much valued in the village. The other thatched property lies on the opposite side of Church Road. This property is divided into two and is believed to have housed the original school.

During the Poynder estate remodelling, Henry Weaver, architect and friend of William Poynder Esq., designed and oversaw the building of a number of properties in the parish, most of which are now Grade II Listed. Amongst some of these buildings includes the row of five single-storey Poynder almshouses in Church Road. They were built in 1877 using stone and very distinctive banded fish scale tiled roofs. The Poynder armorial plaque can be seen on each building. The almshouses were built to provide 6 shillings per week for five inmates, eligible at the age of 65 years who had worked on the estate. The Poynder Almshouses are managed by a group of Trustees, there is still a link to the Church as new residents take priority if they have strong connections to the Church, i.e. are regular worshipers there.

Other examples of Henry Weaver's architecture are reflected in six terraced estate cottages which are opposite the almshouses. In Church Road and Compton Road there are also four pairs of semi-detached workers' cottages which also bear the Poynder plaque and Weaver's unique style. One of the cottages nearest the school was occupied by the village police constable in the 19th century. It is the only estate cottage with a cellar - apparently used as a small gaol.

Another remaining historical building of note includes The Old Forge, which was joined to an estate cottage in 1860. This building still retains some original 17th century features. The Old Post Office and Bakehouse date from the mid 19th century as does Fairmead, which was inhabited by several of the school masters and bakers. The Post Office also served as a shop up until the 1990s. Sunnyside was built in the mid 19th century and was a very grand house with tennis courts located in the front grounds.

Until recently, there was a reading room known as the W.I. hall, with an Edwardian rifle range attached. These buildings were donated to the village by Lord Poynder and used extensively until the late 20th century. The reading room was constructed using corrugated iron and taken from a design portfolio, popular in Empire colonies at that time. The 'library' was built in 1893 and opened on 23rd September that same year. It held 60 volumes and the first penny reading took place on 17th January 1895. It was managed by a committee of working men who also participated in shooting contests in the attached rifle range (added in 1906). Despite being a club exclusively attended by men, the rifle range occasionally had 'open days' for women and children. The building was given over to the W.I. in 1930 on the condition that they kept it in good repair. The rifle range was bought by Mr Wiltshire, who ran the village store, as a store room and Christmas bazaar. In July 1934, Princess Helena Victoria visited the W.I. hall and was received by a large reception of members. The buildings were demolished in 2008 and replaced with a new dwelling.

The church hall was built in 1930 on land gifted by Lord Islington. The reason for the generous donation was partly due to his relinquishment of the school a few years before. It was felt that regular religious teachings could still continue during Sunday school in the new hall. The hall has had many uses over the years. Numerous village groups from the Mothers' meeting, toddler and playgroups to fundraising events including jumble sales, Christmas fairs and beetle drives. The church hall is regularly used to house the Moviola cinema.

The Duke Inn was built from between 1850-1860 and replaced the Duke of Wellington Inn which had been inappropriately located next to the old church tower. The Inn was and still is a popular public house. The old stables and 'Arkell's' brewery buildings are still to be seen today. It is rumoured that tunnels once ran from the inn to the well at Fairmead. In the 18th century, there were at least two drinking establishments in the village. The Duke of Wellington and the Broad Axe which is believed to have been located on a site next to the school.

The parish population barely fluctuated throughout the 19th century, being 781 in 1821, rising to a high of 828 in 1851 and settling at 810 in 1891. From 1901 to 1951 the population steadily dropped. This was mainly due to less labourer inhabitants after the introduction of machinery to replace manual labour. More families left the village to seek work in urban areas. Another reason for this drop in numbers in the earlier decades of the 20th century was down to the two World Wars and flu epidemics. Starting at 758 in 1901 the low point of 582 was reached in 1971 but from then greater car ownership meant more people could easily live in villages and the new century saw 745 people in the parish in 2001. The population numbers increased in the 1950s when the council houses were built in Lammas Close. The jump in numbers in the 1970s occurred when Poynder
Place was constructed.

The World Wars affected the village as much as any other in the whole of England. During the First World War, 22 men from the parish were killed on the battlefields of France and Belgium. A tragic accident closer to home occurred in the 1940s during a grenade training exercise by the Home Guard. The incident happened in a field below the Duke Inn, when a member of the group received fatal injuries to the stomach from the shrapnel from a stray grenade. During World War II, German and Italian prisoners of war were involved in community life of Hilmarton. The Italian prisoners were put to work on Cowage brook- reinforcing the banks and carrying out tree maintenance. German prisoners of war who also carried out manual labour, made hand-carved tanks out of wood and gave them to some of the village children. These prisoners were welcomed into local residences until they were allowed to return to their native countries.

Nowadays, Hilmarton village is a thriving and close community boasting not only the primary school but a pre-school playgroup and toddler group. The church and chapel have regular social groups including the bell ringers and choir of St.Laurence and the Smile coffee group meet regularly at the chapel. There is also a Gardening Club, the Phoenix Group (open to all but mainly attended by ladies) and regular Moviola film evenings at the church hall.

Goatacre is a small village which is located on a hill, a mile north of Hilmarton and only 1 km south of Lyneham. There is a small adjacent hamlet west of the village called New Zealand. Gat-aecer is the Old English meaning goat-acre. It is also believed that the Quakers named the village God's acre; but before that in 1242 it was known as Godacre and it has had many variants since. Although not confirmed as being in the Domesday survey, Goatacre may have been referred to as Gategram where a hide was held by a King's theign, Saulf. In 1348, Goatacre was valued as being worth more than Hilmarton. At this time, there was one parcel containing two messuages and 18 acres of land worth 15s 6d. There were two common fields; the East and West fields. The East field adjoined Goatacre Common which led to Clevancy and Corton. When grazing rights were permitted it enabled people to access the market and mill in Hilmarton over the land owned by Clevancy manor. Goatacre remained part of Hilmarton manor until 1802 when the estate was sold and divided. Thomas Poynder bought the now separated Goatacre estate in around 1842.

In 1846, Goatacre was the scene of one of the largest anti-corn law meetings in Wiltshire. Nearly 1,000 protesters attended the meeting-thought to have been headed by Dissenters but led by the Goatacre Reform Society. It was such a large gathering that it was reported in The Times newspaper. The village is located on mainly Coral Rag limestone which has been used extensively over the years for road and house construction. During the 19th century, a quarry located right in the centre of the village was used for this purpose. Most Goatacre villagers would have been labourers, general and agricultural. During the 19th and earlier decades of the 20th centuries there was the usual array of village trades such as blacksmiths, shoemakers, bakers and carters. In the 18th century, there appears to have been a 'Dealer in Tea, Tobacco & Snuff' by the name of Hitchcock trading in Goatacre Lane. The shop sign was found during recent renovation of one of the Yew Tree cottages along with hundreds of clay pipe fragments which were found in the garden

The settlement of the village is centred on the main village street, Goatacre Lane (was Main Street) which runs from east to west. The A3102 dissects the village to the west and keeps Quaker's Walk and the hamlet of New Zealand separate from the main centre. There are a handful of old thatched cottages remaining in Goatacre Lane. More original properties remain here than in Hilmarton, although other buildings that had been built earlier were entirely remodelled during the mid to late 19th century by the Poynder family. This included Goatacre Farm which had first been mentioned in 1627. This building was completely transformed by Thomas Henry Poynder. Throughout the village there are many different types of architecture ranging from medieval and Victorian cottages to bungalows and houses built in the mid to late 20th century.

For almost a hundred years, cricket has been played in Goatacre. In 1913, a young farmer named Ewart V. Iles married and moved from Purton Stoke onto a farm in Goatacre. Mr Iles was the founder of Goatacre Cricket Club in 1928 and he donated one of the farm's fields in the centre of the village for a pitch. Later he gave the land on which the village hall and cricket pavilion was to be built on. This building was erected in 1958 then demolished in 1971 to make way for the existing permanent building. In 1988 and 1990, Goatacre C. C. became the National Village K.O. Champions at Lords Cricket ground. 'Thousands' of supporters turned out to support them. Nowadays, there is a thriving cricket club which has over a hundred members of all ages.

New Zealand is a small hamlet located next to Goatacre. The hamlet was most certainly named after the country and Lord Poynder's relationship with it.
There are a scattering of Victorian cottages and some more modern houses in New Zealand.

Witcomb is a small hamlet which is located half a mile to the north of Hilmarton village. Witcomb now consists of two farms; Witcomb and Spillman's and a few remaining farm workers cottages. It was previously a substantial hamlet which was home to the only known parish water mill, Witcomb Mill. The name Witcomb may have derived from 'Wide valley' v. cumb. It was first mentioned in the Domesday survey in 1086 as Widecome when it was held by Robert under Ernulf of Hesdin. It has also been known as Widecumba, Wydecumbe and Whycoumbezate. The manor changed several times in the 14th century and in 1332 a chapel there was first documented. In 1443 William of Witcomb was imprisoned for non-payment of debts and 'misdemeanors'. Shortly after this, the manor of Witcomb belonged to the Hungerford family. Between 1512 and 1658, Witcomb passed through different families including Mervyn and Tuchet. After 1658, the manor became part of Walter Norborne's estate of Hilmarton. Widcomb was then bequeathed to Walter's two daughters who in time both sold their parts of the manor to different parties in the early 18th century. Shortly after 1717, Witcomb was given to Worcester College, Oxford where it remained in their hands until 1919, when it was sold.

The value of Witcomb was 20 shillings for two hides in 1066. Twenty years later, the value had increased to 30 shillings There was land for two ploughs, but only one was returned for the estate on which there were 7 coscez. The land at Witcomb consisted of 12 acres of meadow, 6 acres of pasture and 12 acres of woodland. During taxation in 1334, Witcomb was assessed at 35 shillings. In 1377 there were 20 poll tax payers there.In 1724, Witcomb Farm had five fields of 48 acres of arable land, seven fields of 31 acres of meadow and five fields of 118 acres of pasture. Witcomb Farmhouse was largely rebuilt in 1740-1 when Worcester College spent a huge amount of money on renovations. The building is L-shaped and consists of red bricks and a stone slate roof.
The other farmhouse in Witcomb, Spillman's Farm was believed to have dated from the 17th but was replaced by a bungalow in the late 20th century. The name Spillman is thought to have referred to Spileman's holding, held in 1198 by Walter Spileman. In 1724, there were two fields of 45 acres of meadow and four fields of 31 acres of pasture. During the 20th century, Spillman's Farm made their own cheeses.

Both farms at Witcomb are located on an unclassified road which leads between Bushton Road and the A3102 to the location of the remaining visible earthworks of Witcomb Mill. The site of the mill straddled what is now the main Calne to Lyneham Road and it was reliant on the powerful flow of Cowage Brook. Witcomb Mill was a flour mill and possibly mentioned in the Domesday survey along with a wind mill in the parish. The mill mentioned in 1066 paid 7 shillings. In the early 18th century, according to some parish register entries, the miller was a Richard Reeve. Later that century, George Tanner was the resident miller. By 1899, the mill's performance had dropped owing to the decrease in water flow from the brook. In 1903, the mill was falling into disrepair and eventually it was pulled down.

From the site of the old mill heading westwards towards Spirthill on an unclassified road is another small hamlet in the parish of Hilmarton. At one time, Catcomb was a large independent estate which had its own manor. Catcomb comes from Cada's cumb- the nearby Cadenham and Cat Brook led to the name. In 1114, Catcomb was known as Cadecoma. A rent of 50 shillings was among the endowments given to the Abbey of St.Georges de Boscherville near Rouen by William de Tancarville to found a priory at Avebury. Catcomb was then part of Avebury Manor right up until 1682 when it was sold by the Bayntun family to Matthew Barlow of Lockerley, Hampshire. Catcomb estate was then passed down through several generations of Barlows. The name then changed through marriage to Cowper, then Caulfield during the 18th century. Anne Caulfield (previously married to John Cowper) married a third time to Charles Francis de Chartier de Bolleville in 1802. Anne became Madame de Bolleville and held Catcomb Farm in 1842. The Poynder Estate expansion during the following decades swallowed Catcomb along with the rest of the parish. During the 19th century there was a main street in Catcomb and on the census records, there was a small population of labourers and skilled workers such as thatchers and shoemakers. The only thing that remains of Catcomb now is a small scattering of cottages and farms.

Beversbrook is another small hamlet which is part of Hilmarton parish. It is located on the western side of the A3102 Calne Road, about a mile to the south west of Hilmarton village. The name is thought to have derived from 'Beaver's Brook', which could have indicated a flourishing population of beavers at some point in the distant past. Beavers became extinct in the 16th century. This settlement was also known as Bevresbroc, Brevresbroc (in 1086), Besbrook and Beversbrooke in 1622. There are well preserved medieval village earthworks located in a field between the Middle and Lower Beversbrook farms. During a recent small excavation at the site, some medieval pottery and animal bone were found. Some evidence of Roman occupation exists in the southwest of Beversbrook.

Two estates were recorded in the Domesday survey. Of one of the hides, half was held by Niel the Physician and the other half was part of Hilmarton estate. The manor of Beversbrook was held by the family of Blunt right up until 1406. The residency was then passed to the Wroughton family until the estate was conveyed to the Earl of Castlehaven in 1612-13. From 1657, Beversbrook became part of Hilmarton manor so was therefore passed from the Norborne family to eventually being sold by the Poynder estate in 1912. Beversbrook now consists of two farms and a handful of modern farm worker's cottages. The main farmhouse of Beversbrook Farm (previously Lower Beversbrook) was rebuilt in 1850 by Henry Weaver for the Poynder estate and resembles a much grander version of the Poynder estate cottages. It was constructed using ashlar fronted stone with a stone slate roof. The building has some interesting Jacobean-style features including the stone mullion windows and a picturesque gable over the central window. Henry Weaver designed the house for his own use. Nowadays the farm is the headquarters of a local construction company.

Cowage or Cowick is located slightly closer than Beversbrook to Hilmarton village just off of the A3102 Calne road to the south-west. This tiny settlement lies on a small ridge and consists of one farm and worker's cottages. Cowage Farm with 316 acres of land was until 1883, a detached part of Compton Bassett parish, so its association with Hilmarton is relatively recent. At this time it was also part of the expanding Poynder estate. Cowage has been known as Cowic, Kuwich, Koweche and Cowitch. It was first mentioned in 1086.

Clevancy is a small hamlet which lies about 2 miles east of Hilmarton village on the slopes just below a steep escarpment which reaches 600 feet. The land at this location is very chalky as it forms the lower shelf of the Marlborough Downs. The settlement consists of two farms and a chapel. There are approximately 30 residents in Clevancy. Clevancy was known as Clive in the Domesday survey. It was one of fourteen estates of the same name. After 1220, the name incorporated the surname of the estate owner, de Wancy; Clevancy was hereon known as Clif Wauncy in 1231, Cleveansey in 1580 and Cleeve Ancey in 1726. Even today there are two several variations of the name as 'Cliffansty' House in 'Clevancy' demonstrate this. In 1086, the estate of Clive was reckoned at four hides by Alfred of Marlborough by Roger. During King Edward's reign, the four hides were separate manors held by Godric, Tedgar, Alfric and Ulfric.

In around 1220, William and Ralph de Wancy held land at Clevancy. Also in the 13th century, the Tregoze family held a knight's fee there. By 1380, the manor was passed to the Stanshawe family where it remained until it was sold to Thomas Leckhampton with Highway manor in 1478. In 1515, it appears that John Calley inherited Clevancy manor from his father William Calley, a draper from London. In 1640, Clevancy was sold to the Glanville family of Broad Hinton. This family resided here until 1789, when Lady Glanville was succeeded by Henry Merewether of Calne. The two farms at this time were leased to tenant farmers. From 1866 to 1901, William Abbot Large owned Clevancy estate. Magdalen College, Oxford owned the estate from 1901 to 1921 when it was sold on to Mr Bolt.

Clevancy has always been associated with sheep farming due to the awkward lie of the land making it unsuitable for other types of farming. There has also been a small amount of arable crops and more recently cattle grazing on the lower slopes. During the late 13th century, there were two fields situated just below the escarpment known as the East and West fields. A small track ran down from the fields to the farmsteads. Common grazing for the tenants at Clevancy and Corton was permitted on the marshy land to the north west of Clevancy. Rights of way existed across the lands owned by Clevancy manor, which enabled tenants to access the markets and mill at Hilmarton over Goatacre Common. The two farms at Clevancy may still be in their original position from when they were first documented; Cliffansty Farm and Clevancy Farm. During the 19th century, there was also a farm called Townsends Farm. Cliffansty House is a farmhouse located at the eastern end of the village on the slopes leading up to the escarpment. It is thought to have been completely rebuilt during the early 19th century. The oldest existing house in Clevancy is Ivy Cottage which dates from the mid 17th century.

Corton is a tiny hamlet only half a mile north of Clevancy. All that remains of the settlement is Corton Manor Farm (previously the manor house), Corton House and a few modern farm worker's cottages. Corton is situated lower down on the slopes of the escarpment adjacent to Clevancy. Corton was known as Corfton(e) in 1195 and finally its present name in 1544. The name derives from the word 'corf', or cutting or gap, which refers to the small area between the settlement and the escarpment. Corton is the site of a Romano-British well. The manor house was until recently, still showing evidence of being moated. The moat was thought to be from the medieval period. The house itself dates from the early 18th century although it was heavily restored in the 20th century.

Littlecott is situated between Goatacre and Corton, approximately one and a half miles north east of Hilmarton village. Upper Littlecott Farm and its associated cottages is all that remains of Littlecott but there is a scheduled monument of a Saxon settlement on farmland here. Littlecott was known as lytla coton in 962. During the Domesday survey it was Litlecote and other alternatives since include Lettelcote and Luttlecote. The land around Littlecott has frequently been used for quarrying stone along with agriculture, similar to the rest of the parish. Some of the lands at Littlecott formed part of the Manor of Lyneham on the eve of the Dissolution. The manor was subsequently passed through several different families including the Button family in the 16th century, Neale family from the 18th to mid 19th century and later on, the Goldney family of Chippenham. Upper Littlecott farmhouse dates from the mid 18th century.

Highway has only recently become part of Hilmarton parish as up until 1952 Highway Church was part of Bremhill parish as a chapelry. It is located about four and a half miles east of Hilmarton village and in fact a lot closer to Compton Bassett. It is situated about a half a mile south of Clevancy and shares its agricultural history.

Highway was documented as being Hiw(e)I in 1086, Hywey in 1219, Hegheweye in 1289 and also Hewey in 1522. It is a settlement with medieval origins. A Mesolithic flint axe was found at Highway Farm. At the time of the Domesday survey there were two estates hers, one very small, and the population would have been around 65 people. The hamlet of Highway was quite a substantial settlement until the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Even on the Andrew and Dury's Map of 1773 it appears to be larger than Hilmarton village itself. There was a main street here flanked with numerous workers thatched cottages constructed with wattle and daub. Most of these worker's cottages were inhabited by farm labourers and as the cottages deteriorated and then were subsequently destroyed, the population moved elsewhere by the early 20th century. It is rumoured that every time a cottage was 'raised to the ground', a celebration followed. There is a circuitous minor road into Highway which led onto the main street during Victorian times. There were, however, many local paths and tracks which led to the surrounding hamlets. Nowadays, Highway consists of a manor house, Highway Manor, a farm and several smallholdings, and a few older properties dating from around the 17th century along with a handful of more modern farm workers cottages.

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Population 1801 - 2011

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Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Hilmarton

Folk Biographies from Hilmarton

Folk Plays from Hilmarton

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