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Wiltshire Community History

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Manningford

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 Manningford:

Map of the Civil Parish of Manningford

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 modern civil parish of Manningford was formed in 1934 by the merging of the parishes of Manningford Bruce, a detached tithing of Wilsford, Manningford Bohune, and Manningford Abbots. The original parishes were adjacent long narrow strips of land, and the area of the modern parish is now an estimated 3,356 acres.

Manningford Abbotts.

The original parish of Manningford Abbots was situated 1 1/2 miles south west of Pewsey; the long narrow strip, across greensand, being half a mile wide at its broadest. The northern boundary was at Swanborough Tump, and the parish extended 4 miles, the settlement centre being south of the river Avon, on a bed of river and valley gravel, mainly put to farming, but in the 20th century a market garden. Swanborough Tump, a bowl barrow, indicated ancient settlement, while the Abbots of Hyde held the estate before the Norman conquest, but Manningford Abbot is not recorded by name until late 13th century. In 1275 it was known as Little Manningford, and in 1428 there were less than 10 households, in 1783, 22 households, and by 1808 only 23. The 1801 census showed 131 inhabitants rising to 139, this increase probably due to labourers working on the construction of a railway across the parish. In 1931 only 121 inhabitants are recorded. In 1844, after the river Avon had been diverted into two channels, forming water meadows on the south bank, opposite the mill, a bridge crossed what had been a ford in the east of the parish. The Berks and Hants Extension Railway crossed the north of the parish and was opened in 1862. Manningford Halt was situated north of Abbots Common, it was opened in 1932 and closed in 1966. At the turn of the 21st century all traces of this railway have disappeared.

The oldest settlement was south of the Avon, by the church. The original lane along which the church stood was possibly diverted in 1812, when the rector enlarged Rectory House, and had certainly been diverted by 1844. In the early 21st century the church is surrounded by fields and approached along a track. The majority of houses date from the 18th and 19th centuries; Malthouse Farm bears a date 1771 and initials of the Hitchcock families.

In 987, King Ethelred granted 10 manentia to Ethelwold, this was to become Manningford Abbotts. Around 990 Ethelwold left 10 hides for his wife, the rest to what was later to become Hyde Abbey at Winchester. By 1086 the demesne included five hides and half a virgate, 10 acres of meadow and pasture, 10 furlongs x 1 furlong, the estate worth £8. A mill valued twelve shillings and six pence was owned by the Abbey. At this timethe population is likely to have been around 60 or 70 people. The Manningford Abbots and Pewsey estates were administered together until the late 18th century. At the dissolution, it passed, along with Pewsey, to the Crown. The two holdings were granted to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, in 1547. It was inherited by Algernon Seymour, later Earl of Northumberland. By 1766 the Northumberlands had conveyed land to Joseph Champion. The land, including the manorial rights of Manningford Abbotts, was sold in 1768, other lots were sold to become farms. By the 20th century these farms had become market gardens covering an area of 150 acres. The property known as The Manor was possibly a timber framed house, known to be standing in 1768, it was originally late 16th century/ early 17th century, encased in brick and enlarged early 19th century.

A survey, possibly late 14th century, indicated that half hiders owed the Abbey wool, cheese and timber. A mill still existed at this time. The common demesne pasture was known as Manningford Heath in 1563, but by 1608 it was known as Manningford Abbotts Common. After the inclosure, by 1844 the common was an area of eight acres beside the road to Wilcot.

Manningford Bohune.

This manor was held by Godric before the Norman Conquest. and in 1086 Amelric de Drewes held it of the King. It was later given to Maud, daughter of Edward of Salisbury and her husband, Humphrey de Bohun, together with the manor of Wilsford. In 1421, on the partition of the Hereford estates, the manor went to Henry V and became part of the holdings of the Duchy of Lancaster until the 17th century. It was assigned to Catherine, widow of Henry v and in 1467 to Elisabeth Woodville, Queen of Edward lV. In 1918 the estate was put up for sale by the 4th Earl of Normanton. At that time the estate comprised Manor Farm, 460 acres, Field Farm, 412 acres, and Dairy Farm, 179 acres. By 1971 Manor Farm had grown to 670 acres and was held in trust for the Hon. Mrs. Annabel J. Garton, daughter of the 2nd Viscount Hudson of Pewsey. The farmhouse dates from the early 19th century and to the east is a brick built granary standing on staddle stones. In the early 16th century a second estate in Manningford Bohune belonged to Robert Rogers but by 1668 it had become part of the main estate.

In 1086 Manningford Bohune was valued at 60 shillings with land for 1 1/2 ploughs. At that time Amelric de Drewes, Lord of the Manor, was entitled to ⅓ of the mill, but paid 50d to the lord of the manor of Manningford Bruce for the rest of the mill. There were 12es of meadowland and the population would have numbered between 12 and 20 people. In 1361 the estate was said to contain a ruinous water mill worth nothing. Manorial records of 1660 include repairs to a town bridge. By 1793 demesne lands were farmed at £22.16s.0d when there was pasture land on the downs suitable for 700 second year sheep and the land between the village and the downs was arable extending to 605 acres, with areas known as east and west Cow Down, Cow Drove and Sheepdown. Tenants had pasture rights for sheep, usually 60 to a yardland.

In the early 16th century John Leland described fields to the south of the village as 'playne champine ground, frutfull of grasse and corn, especially good whete and barley'. By 1764 some land had been converted to water meadows. Arable and sheep farming continued until the latter 19th century when the company who were tenants of Manor Farm established a dairy herd. By early 20th century a market garden was established in the north east corner of the parish. The company T. Walter Ware Ltd. cultivated bulbs for the company's Bath nursery. The daffodil 'Fortune' was cultivated here until 1913. By 1973 there were 80 acres of daffodils with smaller plots for tulips and iris, together with a retail garden centre, standing at the apex of the Pewsey/Woodborough road. By this time the parish contained two farms mainly to beef and corn. Between 1898 and 1903 'pyrotechnic artists' in the parish were manufacturing fireworks.

A bequest of 1714, in the will of Samuel Bengers, left £8, which was to provide bread for eight poor people. By 1786 it was said the interest was only used occasionally to buy bead. It is recorded that in 1834 £2 of the capital was 'lost', but the remainder was invested. By 1901 the interest was being distributed to the sick and poor as needed. Around 1854 a second charity was founded when John Morse bequeathed £100, the income from which was to be used to provide three residents, who attended church regularly, with blankets and clothing each Christmas. In 1901, the income of £2.9s.4d. was used to buy clothing tickets which the vicar gave to needy families at Christmas. By the 1960s the income from Bengers of 4/4d and that from Morse of £2.4s.8d. had been amalgamated and in 1964/5 one person received £1 and the balance was £55.

Manningford Bruce.
The original parish of Manningford Bruce is 2 miles south west of Pewsey. The north western boundary is near the Pewsey to Woodborough Road and the south east boundary is on Bruce Down, only 4 1/2 miles distant. At the broadest point, near Dragon Lane, the parish was half a mile wide. In 1934 the area of the parish was estimated at 1,113 acres. The northern area of the parish reaches a height of 425 feet and the upper greensand soils slope to the south east, mainly in arable cultivation. The fir plantation in the north west of the parish was first mentioned in the early 19th century and still existed in the late 20th. To the south of the parish the river Avon flows south west and a bed of river and valley gravel extends for around half a mile in width. The oldest part of the settlement is situated here at an altitude of 337 feet. An expanse of chalk stretches south for two miles, rising gradually to 625 feet on the boundary. The parish was named after the river ford together with the Breuse family.

Archaeological evidence shows activity in the area from the Neolithic period, with ditches, a bowl barrow on Bruce Down and, south of Bruce Field Barn is an enclosure of 1/2 acre of Iron Age or the Romano-British era. Lanes which existed on maps in 1723 could still be traced as tracks in at the end of the 20th centiury. As early as 1722 'Andrews Bridge' is noted, and repairs to the 'town bridge' were ordered in 1741. The location of these bridges is unknown. The river Avon was crossed by a ford in 1812, but apparently a bridge was crossing the river, possibly humped backed one. However by 1971 the river was crossed by a flat concrete bridge. During the 18th century the river was diverted into two channels; the suggestion is that this was for the construction of water meadows. By 1971 the meadows had been flooded creating a lake which at that time was stocked with trout. The Berks and Hants Extensions Railway, opened in 186,2 crossed the northern corner of the parish.

Settlement has differed little since at least the early 18th century, when the manor house, the church and rectory were all grouped along a semi-circular lane running from the Devizes to Pewsey road. By 1971 the east and west ends of the lane still existed, the easterly one led to what was originally the rectory, then known as Manningford Bruce House, the church and manor house, whilst that running to the west led to The Hold and several cottages. The Hold is surrounded by a high brick wall and was previously converted from several farm cottages.

At a distance from these settlements, to the east is the Old Manor House, which was built in 1838. Lower Farm, originally built in the 17th century, has a gabled entrance and a two storey porch, with panelled door dated 1635. This date is also on an eastern gable. Alterations were made in the 19th century. During the 17th and 18th centuries scattered settlements were established along a lane leading north from the Devizes to Pewsey road, some thatched, partly timber framed, or brick cottages stand between the Old Manor House and the river Avon. In the 18th and late 19th centuries further settlements developed along the edge of common land. This area was on the eastern boundary of the parish was settled and became Townsend in 1812, but by 1971 Townsend Lane had becomeDragon Lane. Social housing, known as 'The Ivies', was built south west of here in the 1950's.

Edward was a tenant of an estate at 'Maniford' before the Conquest but by 1086 it was held by Grimblad the goldsmith and was worth £6. There was sufficient land for four plough teams with 20 acres of meadow and an area of pasture 1 1/2 acres by 1 1/2 acres. The manor owned ⅔ of the mill shared with Manningford Bohune. The population at this time would have been around 50 people. In 1210 it had passed to Peter FitzHerbert, then to his sons, Herbert FitzPeter and Reynold FitzPeter. In 1275 the manor was conveyed to William de Breuse, and remained under the ownership of this line until 1565 when Henry, Lord Berkley, a descendent of William de Breuse, sold the estate to Edward Nicholas. Mary Nicholas, his wife, is thought to have played a part in the escape of Charles ll after the battle of Worcester in 1651. She is buried in the church. In 1630 the manor was held by Sir Oliver Nicholas, grandson of Edward. Oliver was cup-bearer to James l and carver to Charles l.

By 1327 the demesne contained 200 acres of arable land at 2 pence per acre (less than 1p), but the 80 acres of meadow were valued at 1/- (5p) per acre. On the entire estate were 13 virgaters, 7 half-virgators and 11 cottars, who together paid a total of £5.14s.4d. (£5.80p) rent. In 1361 the estate was valued at £5.16s.5d. (£5.82 1/2p.) and the lord also held, of the Abbess of Laycock, a second estate called Frith, possibly an area of 69 acres in the north east of the parish. A demesne farmed by Wm. Noyes in 1557 had at least 400 wethers and 100 ewes. In 1812 most of the land around the village had been inclosed with the exception of an area of common land at Townsend. By 1838, John Grant had acquired the freehold of the entire manorial estate. His demesne farm, worked by Joseph Stratton from Lower Farm (known as Old Manor House in 1971), consisted of 819 acres. By 1971 the estate comprised 1,000 acres and was used for mixed farming.

The original manor house was to the north west of the church. In 1723 it was an L shaped building which was either renovated or replaced in the later 18th century, only to be replaced again in the 19th century using items from the earlier house. A lintel dated 1803 has been re-set in the west wall of the main house. The red brick stables date from the 19th century. An estate in Manningford Bruce is listed in both 1291 and 1318 as paying an annual pension to the priory of Hamble in Hampshire an annual pension of 20 shillings. A mill known as Marshmill stood in the parish in the middle ages, but its location is not known and all trace had disappeared by the 14th century by which time John Marshmill held this estate in 1392 when a pension of 20 shillings was due to Bishop Wykeham of Winchester. By 1669 the property was held by the Kent family of Boscombe, who, it was claimed, had not paid the annual pension of 20/-, for the preceding 39 years, and which at that time was due to Winchester College.

Parish records show sums paid to the overseers of the poor were £8 or £9 by the early 18th century but by the mid 18th century this had increased to £22. In 1835 Manningford Bruce became part of the Pewsey Poor Law Union. The John Grant charity in the parish has existed since 1866. £1,000 in stock was bequeathed, the income to be used for distribution to the poor. In 1901 the income was £27.10s.0d During winter months 6d was paid to widows each week. It later became the custom to allow it to accumulate to around £20 over a period of 3 years. This was used to buy blankets for the elderly. In 1964 18 blankets were purchased, in 1965 22, and 1969 20 blankets were issued.

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Population 1801 - 2011

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Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Manningford

Folk Biographies from Manningford

Folk Plays from Manningford

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