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Wiltshire Community History

Kilmington Search Results

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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.

Map of the Civil Parish of Kilmington:

Map of the Civil Parish of Kilmington

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.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

Kilmington was in Somerset when this map was drawn, being transferred to Wiltshire in 1896, and so very little of the parish is shown.

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. Kilmington was in Somerset when this map was drawn, being transferred to Wiltshire in 1896, so very little of the parish is shown

Thumbnail History:

Until 1896 Kilmington was in Somerset and the Long Knoll, a narrow ridge running from east to west, 288m at its highest point, formed a boundary between the two counties. As the parish was an intrusion of Somerset into Wiltshire this change tidied up the boundary and was probably appropriate as Kilmington had more in common with its Wiltshire neighbours of Maiden Bradley and Stourton than the more distant Somerset villages. The parish is on the northern boundary of Selwood Forest and there is still much woodland to the east and south. Much of the parish is on Boyne Hollow Chert and is Upper Greensand, while both the Long Knoll and White Sheet Hill (246m) are chalk separated by a narrow band of Upper Greensand from the Lower Greensand.

The river Wylye rises in the parish and flows westwards. In the east is Kingsettle Hill on the present county boundary and here is Alfred's Tower in South Brewham parish in Somerset. It was built in 1766 by Henry Hoare of Stourhead and is therefore strongly associated with Wiltshire. The triangular brick tower, 150 feet high, commemorates the victory of King Alfred over the Danes in 879 and is built where Hoare believed the Saxon forces met before the battle of Ethandune.

There is evidence of early settlement all around this area and within the parish is a Bronze Age barrow at Jack Straw's Castle and a Neolithic camp on White Sheet Hill. The latter is a causeway camp with single rampart and outer ditch with gaps for 20 or more causeways. It is thought that the tracks, now called Long Lane and White Sheet Lane, may date from this time. This was the principle route for crossing Selwood Forest, and is described by Edward Thomas in The Icknield Way (1916). There are traces of Romano-British settlement at the hamlet of Norton Ferris and Roman coins have been found on Long Knoll. The Romans would have transported lead from the Mendips through this area.

We can confidently say that there was settlement here in Saxon times as the name Kilmington comes from the Saxon for Cynehelm's farm. By the time of the Domesday Book (1086) there were around 30 people living here with four families holding a reasonable amount of land, and three families of smallholders. We are fortunate in the fact that the number of their livestock was recorded; they owned 14 cattle, 15 pigs and 137 sheep. The estate had been given to the abbey of Shaftesbury by the King, for the support of his daughter who was a nun there. By 1298 the manor of Norton was held by John de Ferrars. The family held it until 1541, when it was sold to Lord Stourton and gave it their name, as it became Norton Ferris.

In the early 15th century miners were searching for lead or tin near Yarnfield, but nothing seems to have come of this. The manor of Kilmington was obtained by William, Lord Stourton, in 1543, but within two days was passed to his steward William Hartgill. Hartgill seems to have been well trusted as he managed Lord Stourton's estates when the latter was involved in Henry VIII's expedition to France. Lord Stourton was succeeded by his son Charles in 1548. Charles came to see his widowed mother, who was living with the Hartgills, and demanded a great deal of money but William took her part and refused. The following Sunday Stourton came to Kilmington church with 'a great many men' with bows and guns and drove William Hartgill, his wife and some servants into the church tower. John Hartgill, their son, temporarily cleared Stourton's men, by the use of long bow, cross bow and gun and was told by his father to ride to the Court. The Hartgills were besieged in the church tower until Wednesday when John Hartgill returned with the High Sheriff of Somerset. Lord Stourton was committed to the Fleet prison for a brief period but continued to harass the Hartgills through the reign of Edward VI.

On the accession of Queen Mary the Hartgills petitioned for the redress of property stolen and Lord Stourton, summoned to Court at Basing (Hampshire), promised to return everything. When the Hartgills went to Stourton's house in 1555 they were attacked and John was left for dead. The matter was referred to the Star Chamber and Stourton was temporarily released for a bond of £2,000 to return to Wiltshire and repay the Hartgills such monies as he owed them. He returned just before Christmas 1555 and let the Hartgills know that he was ready to repay them. They were naturally apprehensive about meeting him but finally agreed to meet at Kilmington Church on 11 January 1556. Stourton arrived with about 60 servants and supporters and at first the Hartgills refused to leave the church. They were deceived however and, having been paid the money owing, were taken, the money removed from them, and they were bound and taken away, while Stourton killed or nearly killed John Hartgill's wife.

After being moved to various places the Hartgills were murdered by four of Stourton's servants and buried in a dungeon, or cellar, beneath his house. The bodies were exhumed by Sir Anthony Hungerford and Stourton and his men committed to the Tower of London for the murder. On 26 February they were condemned to be hanged and they were executed in Salisbury Market Place on 6 March. Stourton was buried in Salisbury Cathedral. The fact that he was hanged instead of being beheaded, as was normal for his rank, showed the revulsion that his actions had aroused. The Hartgill family survived in Kilmington until well into the 18th century and in 1763 Ferdinando Hartgill sold the manor to Henry Hoare.

The 17th century was home to a good scientific man in Francis Potter, (1628-78) who was rector of Kilmington. He came up with excellent theories on blood transfusion and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society that had been created by Charles II after the Restoration. Perhaps the most notable event of the 18th century was the turnpiking of the road from Longbridge Deverill and Maiden Bradley, connecting to the Warminster Road Trust, to Bruton. This went through the lower part of Kilmington and over Kingsettle Hill.

In the late 18th and early 19th century the influence of the Hoare family at Stourhead dominated Kilmington. Up until 1816 the annual Kilmington Fair had been held on the common, but this was stopped in that year by order of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, lord of the manor. The reason being that this caused too much disorder and inconvenience during harvest time. However local people had benefited two years earlier when common and waste land was enclosed in 1814. Poorer people obtained large gardens for their houses out of the 166 acres divided up between the wealthier inhabitants.

In 1831 there were 156 families in the parish living in 124 houses. Total population was 580 comprising 269 males and 311 females. Population reached its peak in 1851 with 640 residents but it then began to fall. The agricultural depression of the 1870s hit Kilmington hard and the population dropped by 20%, from 601 to 477. Despite this the parish still supported the following businesses in 1878;

Five general shops
Two grocers and drapers
A baker
A butcher
A dairy
Two clergymen
A shoemaker
Two blacksmiths
Two wheelwrights
Two carpenters
Two coal dealers

There were also eleven farmers and the licensed premises of the Red Lion. The decreasing population did bring about the closure of many of the shops however. By 1899 there was only one grocer and draper and one shopkeeper, although both butcher and baker survived. There were still two blacksmiths, a coal merchant, a wheelwright and carpenter and a dairyman. A mason and builder had been added to the list of businesses, the Red Lion was open, and there were ten farmers, one of whom was also a horse dealer.

Population continued to decline in the 20th century and, unlike many villages, Kilmington did not see an increase in the 1960s and 1970s when car ownership became more common. There were 327 inhabitants in 1901, 312 in 1931 and a high of 323 in 1951, but this dropped to 288 in 1991 and was only 292 in 2001. In 1921 Sir Henry Hoare sold the outlying portions of his estates, mainly small cottages and pasture, and the buyers tended to demolish the cottages and build houses and bungalows. This means that many of the present houses date from the 1920s and 1930s. Farms must have been split after 1899 as in 1939 there were 17 farmers farming over 150 acres and 13, many at Norton Ferris, with smaller farms. Businesses then included a builder, a petrol station and post office. There were also two poultry farmers, a smallholder, a private school and the Red Lion. In 1939 the local children at the village school were outnumbered by evacuees from Portsmouth.

A sawmill was working after the Second World War, it closed down in 1984, and council houses and flats were built on Kilmington Road. The National Trust modernised the Silk Houses and turned the six cottages into three. They provide a splendid sight with a roof thatched with water reed shaped around 12 dormer windows. In the early 1970s mains water was supplied to all properties. Until then many cottages relied on deep wells, while others were supplied from a reservoir that served both Stourton and Kilmington. When mains water was connected many villagers complained about the change in taste. In the early 1980s the village playing field was made and the rental paid by proceeds from the Village Lottery.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilKilmington Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emaillindseywood@merewilts.org

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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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.


Maps: listed are maps on which you can find this community. All maps are Ordnance Survey maps.


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 Kilmington

Folk Biographies from Kilmington

Folk Plays from Kilmington

History of Buildings: The collections of the Wiltshire Buildings Record are housed in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Listed Buildings: There are 12 buildings, or groups of buildings, that are listed as being of arhitectual or historic interest in the parish of Kilmington. The Church of St. Mary is listed Grade II* and 5 of the buildings are in the hamlet of Norton Ferris.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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

Literary Associations: Some communities have featured in novels or may have been the main setting for a book.

Registration Districts: If you want to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate you can contact the local registrar.


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