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Wiltshire Community History

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Ogbourne St. George

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 Ogbourne St. George:

Map of the Civil Parish of Ogbourne St. George

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 parish of Ogbourne St. George lies in Selkley Hundred, approximately 4 miles north of Marlborough; the parish comprises 3,571 acres. The name of the parish derives from the Saxon 'Oceburnan' or 'Oc[c]a's stream'. The river now known as the Og rises to the north of the village of Ogbourne St. George and proceeds southwards into the neighbouring parish of Ogbourne St. Andrew and on to Marlborough, where it joins the River Kennet. The land to the west of the river rises to Smeathe's Ridge and Coombe Down, which together form the south-west boundary of the parish. The highest part of the parish lies at the western end of Smeathe's Ridge as it approaches Barbury Hill; here the land is over 259 metres.

Hills also lie in the north-east of the parish; these are Whitefield Hill, Round Hill Downs and Church Hill. The north-eastern parish boundary lies at the northern edge of Whitefield Hill. The highest point of the downs is 235 metres, on Round Hill Downs. From these hills the land slopes down to the eastern edge of the parish at Whiteshard Bottom.

There are outcrops of chalk over the whole of the parish. To the east of the river Og the hills are capped by clay-with-flints deposits. In the river valley there are gravel deposits some 800 metres wide. Near the hamlet of Southend, south of the village of Ogbourne St. George and close to the southern parish boundary, there are deposits of alluvium.

The south-eastern boundary of the parish runs alongside contiguous woodland which includes Yielding Copse, Moore's Wood within the parish limits and Chase Wood, just outside them. Between Chase Woods and Moores Wood the boundary runs through the intervening Wielding Copse.

The major road through the parish, running north to south, is the modern A346 from Swindon to Marlborough. The northern section of the road, from its entry into the parish to the village of Ogbourne St. George, follows the route of the Roman road from Cirencester to Winchester. In the 18th century the road was divided at the village, the course of the Roman road continuing southwards towards Mildenhall and surviving today only as a track. The course of the major Swindon to Marlborough road continued in a south-westerly direction towards the river Og at Southend; when the road was turnpiked in 1819 the section at Southend was moved to the eastern end of the lane running east to west through Southend. The railway line which opened in 1881, part of the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway and later renamed the Midland and South-Western Junction Railway, followed a course alongside the turnpike road which it crossed by means of a bridge to the east of the village. A station was built to the north of the bridge. When the railway closed in 1964 the course of the road was again diverted to pass over the now disused railway bridge and to rejoin the old road at a point 1 km. to the south of the village. Much of the former railway track now forms part of the Chiseldon to Marlborough cycleway, itself part of the National Cycle Network.

To the west of Ogbourne St. George village a road from Draycot Foliat to Ogbourne St. Andrew runs parallel to the formerly turnpiked Swindon to Marlborough road; by the 19th century this road took the form of a track only from a point west of Southend. Both roads were, and continue to be, joined by Ogbourne St. George village street and, further south, by the road running east to west through Southend.

The north-western boundary of the parish is formed by a track known as Gypsy Lane, which is also a boundary of Selkley hundred. Further south another road running east-west is Woolmer Drove.

From Ogbourne St. George village a road runs north-eastwards to Aldbourne. From a point to the south of the village, Old Chase Road, shortly becoming a track, runs south-eastwards to Whiteshard Bottom at the south-east parish boundary. Numerous other small lanes run through the parish.

The ancient Ridgeway track enters the parish in the north-east and runs south-westwards along the top of Round Hill Downs until it crosses Old Chase Road, where it loops downwards and westwards to pass through Southend and onwards to the parish boundary with

In the mid-18th century the hamlet of Southend was known as Middle Town, indicating its position between Ogbourne St. George and Ogbourne St. Andrew. Its name was changed in the 19th century. The hamlet probably dates from the 17th century and some houses remain from this period. The hamlet comprises little more than a number of cottages along both sides of the main road. A larger house named Hallam, also of the 17th century, is located west of the river at Southend.

Considerable evidence of prehistoric, Roman and medieval activity in the parish has been located. This includes Neolithic flint tools, Iron Age coins, Romano-British coins and a Saxon garter hook, all in the Buckerfields area. Romano-British and medieval pottery fragments have been found in Chantry Meadow, Mesolithic flint implements north of Whitefield Hill, undated earthworks north of Hallam and Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Romano-British artefacts on Whitefield Hill. These are a few of the many archaeological finds within the parish, the precise locations of which may be found on the Wiltshire and Swindon Sites and Monument Record, accessible via the Wiltshire Community History site.

Prior to the Norman Conquest lands held at Ogbourne (it is unclear whether these were in Ogbourne St. George or Ogbourne St. Andrew) were devised to Edric by his brother Aethelwold in A.D. 946-947.

There are four Domesday survey entries relating to 'Ocheburne' and landholdings there. Of these one has been identified as belonging to Ogbourne St. Andrew. Of the other three, the first is recorded as comprising 30 hides (approximately 3,600 acres) and was held by the King. It is recorded that there were 25 ploughteams. Of this land 18 hides (approximately 2,160 acres) were held in demesne. There were 6 acres of meadow and in addition there was pasture approximately 1.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, with an equal area of woodland. At the Conquest this land was held by Wigod of Wallingford. The population may be estimated at 200 - 230 individuals.

Another estate named 'Ocheburne' was listed under 'The Land of the King's Serjeants' and in 1086 was held by Harding, who had also held it prior to the Conquest when geld was paid for 5 hides (approximately 600 acres). This land was sufficient for 3 ploughteams, of which land for one ploughteam was in demesne. There were also 2 acres of meadow, and pasture approximately 400 metres long and 200 metres wide. The population on this estate may be estimated at 32 - 40 people.

Elsewhere in Ogbourne, Turchil held 2 hides (approximately 240 acres). = His father had held the land before him. The land accommodated one ploughteam only and there were 30 acres of pasture.

The first of these estates, which had been held by Wigod of Wallingford, was held subsequently by his granddaughter, Maud. At a date after 1122 she conveyed the manor of Ogbourne St. George to the French Benedictine abbey of Bec-Hellouin; a daughter priory was then established. It is believed that this was located on the site of the present manor house; the site of its chapel is unknown but may have been that of the present church. The grant to the Abbey was confirmed in 1133 and thence it descended as one of the priory's possessions along with Ogbourne St. Andrew. In 1294 the demesne of the priory was amongst the largest of its English holdings with, at that date, 1450 sheep; this was reduced by the 14th century to a flock of 600-700 sheep. In 1294 the demesne arable extended over 871 acres and heavy labour services were due to the priory. On a number of occasions in the 14th and early 15th century those whose labour was required brought law suits against the abbot and it is reported that they occasionally engaged in armed resistance to his servants.

After the suppression of alien orders the manor passed, in 1422, to John, Duke of Bedford and on his death in 1435 it passed to the Crown. Between 1439 and 1462 the manor was granted at different times, along with Ogbourne St. Andrew, to King's College, Cambridge and to the London Charterhouse. In the late 15th century both institutions claimed the manor but from c.1500 onwards it was held by King's College.

In the mid-18th century the manor's demesne lands were worked as three separate farms: Herdswick farm comprised 745 acres, fifty per cent of which was given over to pasture, to the north and west of the village and was based on the Manor House. In an 1865 survey the farm buildings at this location were considered to be in very poor repair and in an unsuitable location; it was recommended that new buildings be erected “about the centre of Heswick Great Field against the road”. Subsequent maps show the farm as Heswick Farm in its current position in the north-west of the parish. The second farm was Whitefield Farm, with 313 acres and a new farmstead north of the village; the third was Cowcroft, whose farmstead lay to the east of the village and close by the eastern boundary of the parish; its land extended over 147 acres.

In 1927 the manor was sold in four lots: the manor house with 173 acres, was purchased and sold again in 1934. The house and 40 acres were again sold in 1937. Herdswick Farm was sold in 1927 but was requisitioned by the War Department between 1939 and 1945. After the latter date that land on the farm which had not been built upon during the war years was sold as two separate farms, Upper Herdswick and Lower Herdswick Farms. Part of Whitefield farm was purchased by Swindon Corporation in 1928 and leased to a tenant. Cowcroft Farm, with 105 acres in Ogbourne St. George and 225 acres in Aldbourne, was the fourth lot sold in 1927. It was subsequently renamed Chase Woods Farm.

Five other estates have been recorded in the parish of Ogbourne St. George since the mid 17th century: in 1689 an estate known as Westontown was held by John and Vincent Ayres. This estate was sold to John Kemm in 1704 and descended within the Kemm family until 1843; it was apparently broken up in the late 19th century.

In 1691 an estate known as Bytham, probably newly enclosed in 1690 and measuring some 147 acres, was held by Gabriel Evans. After his death in that year the estate passed to his brothers Henry and John and his sister Ellen. Henry had acquired the whole estate by 1693. In 1714 the farm was conveyed to Edward Wilson. Between 1780 and c.1831 Bytham Farm was held by Jonathan Braithwaite and subsequently his trustees. A number of owners or tenants of the farm ensued from the mid 19th century until 1928 when it was sold by J.E. Thorold as part of a larger estate.

In 1698 the estate known as Hallam was held by Henry Brunsden, whose father John had purchased it from Michael Ernle; there were 4 acres of arable on the farm. The estate was held by Elizabeth Brunsden in 1796 but by J.H. Gale in 1843; change of ownership continued through a series of sales throughout the latter 19th and the 20th century.

The estate known as Rectory Farm is based on lands held by a John Griffen in 1780 and from c.1816 by members of the Bannings family. The estate was sold in or before 1923 by S.T. Bannings and has subsequently passed through further ownerships including that of Sir George Morton, OBE, MC, whose Times obituary in April 1954 describes his experiences in the First World War, in the course of which he won the Military Cross, and his subsequent career as a prominent businessman in Calcutta, where he held the position of Sheriff of Calcutta in 1941 and of President of the Imperial Bank of India between 1942 and 1944. Returning to England in 1946 Morton retired to farm from Rectory House.

The Park estate passed from the ownership of John Wooldridge who had held it between 1780 and 1812, to James Blackman, succeeded by the Revd. Thomas Blackman Newell at a date after 1831. On the death of the latter in 1850 the estate passed to Newell's wife, Catherine. From c.1912 estate was farmed by members of the Poole family and continues to be worked by Poole Farming.

The size of the population of Ogbourne St. George in the Middle Ages was the second largest in Selkley Hundred; in 1377 there were 157 poll-tax payers. It was also one of the wealthiest, the tax assessment in 1344 was high in relation to other settlements in the hundred and this prosperous condition still remained in the 16th century.

In the thirteenth century both a watermill and a windmill are recorded as being in existence in the parish. By the end of the same century, in 1294 however, only a windmill was in operation.

The open fields of the parish lay primarily on the river valley land north of the village; by 1698 large areas of downland had been enclosed. There were common meadows north and probably south of the village by the river and alongside its main street. Common pasture for sheep lay on the downs in the western and southern parts of the parish, including Whitefield Hill, and also on Round Hill Downs. There are known to have been certain shared rights of pasture and cultivation in two locations of the neighbouring parish of Ogbourne St. Andrew in the 18th century.

Open field farming finally came to an end with an enclosure act of 1792. An allotment of 254 acres to John Wooldridge in various parts of the parish would become Park farm. Otherwise, there were only 4 allotments measuring in excess of 100 acres with the remaining land allocated in small parcels.

Consolidation of land holdings took place in the 19th century and, with more than 500 acres each, Herdswick, Park and Rectory farms became the largest in the parish. By the early 19th century Herdswick Farm comprised over 1000 acres devoted primarily to pasture (580 acres) and meadow (140 acres); part of its land lay on downland in Ogbourne St. Andrew.

Throughout the 19th century and to the mid 20th century a number of traders operated in the village of Ogbourne St. George: Kelly's Directory of 1848 shows that the inn known as the New Inn was run by a person who also worked as a brickmaker. There was a baker, two grocers, two maltsters, a harness maker, a beer retailer and bootmaker. A post office would not be opened in the village until later in the century (it appeared in the 1885 Directory) but the 1848 edition notes, 'There is no post office but a private subscription bag is left at a house in the village which is called for by the mail to and from Swindon and letters are forwarded on payment of 1d. each by this arrangement'.


By 1885 Kelly's shows two inns in the village: the New Inn (the modern 'Parklands') and the Crown (the modern 'Inn with a Well'). There were also bakers and shopkeepers, a blacksmith, a bricklayer, a carpenter, a harness maker and a bootmaker. There was also a coal merchant - whose work was likely to have been facilitated by the opening of the railway and station. The post office was now in existence and the population in 1881 had been 477. The directory notes that the principal crops in the parish were wheat, barley and oats.

By 1911 the Church Room had been erected (in 1905) and was used as a reading room and for public meetings. The population had risen again slightly to 482 and there was a carpenter, 'turf correspondent', shopkeeper, harness maker, painter and the New Inn. 'Sheppard and Sons' provided diverse services as builders, carpenters, undertakers, wheelwrights and blacksmiths.

Electricity had come to the village by 1939 and Swindon Golf Club was well established near the railway station. Indeed, Kelly's Directory of 1931 includes in its list a person described as a 'professional to Swindon Golf Club Ltd.'. Also established at this time was a limeworking company called National Building Materials Ltd. This company appears to have carried on from Thorolds Pure Lime & Hydrate Co. Ltd., lime merchants, who had been listed in the 1927 directory. Today this limeworking history is reflected in the name 'Limeworks Estate' to the south-east of the village, where an earthmoving company is based in 2011.

In 1902 a waterworks facility was constructed for Swindon Corporation some 1.5 km north of the church. From here water was pumped to the Overtown reservoir in Wroughton; Ogbourne Water Treatment Works continues to be operated by Thames Water.

In the 1920s a hospital for patients suffering from infectious diseases was built near the northern boundary of the parish, on the eastern side of the Swindon to Marlborough road. During World War Two it was used as a geriatric hospital and subsequently as a smallpox hospital. It was demolished c.1965.

The population of the parish rose from 406 in 1801 to 593 in 1851 but by 1881 had dropped to 477 and remained close to this figure until 1931 when it stood at 435. The building of an army camp to the north-west of the village in 1940 brought a dramatic increase, however. During the Second World War years the camp operated closely with Chiseldon Camp as a transit facility receiving injured personnel from the European battlefield. By 1950 184 acres were in War Department ownership and the population of the parish stood at 1,381. Following the camp's closure as an army base it was taken into use for training exercises.

A number of notable buildings, many listed, remain in Ogbourne St. George. The older buildings are primarily at the western end of the village street and include the Grade 2* listed Manor House, standing on the presumed site of the priory of Bec-Hellouin and described in the archives of King's College, Cambridge, as 'a very fair house of brick 60 feet long and 40 broad' built by 'farmer Bond'. George Bond was the lessee in 1663. 'Kemms' is a late 16th or early 17th century farmhouse constructed partly of flint and sarsen stone and partly of timber framing with wattle and daub. Applegarth, on the north side of the village street, incorporates medieval, 17th, 18th and early 19th century elements; Park House, also on the north side of the street dates from the late 18th or early 19th century, altered in the mid 19th century. A number of other buildings and monuments of historical and architectural interest are to be found in the Department of the Environment's classification of listed buildings in the parish.

The proximity of Ogbourne St. George to junction number 15 of the M4 motorway has no doubt had a significant effect on the village since the opening of the road in the mid-1970s. There are increased possibilities for commuting to larger towns, both near and far, and substantially increased traffic now passes the village over the flyover which replaced the old railway bridge. Reflecting these factors, perhaps, the former New and Crown inns are now also hotels, providing accommodation for the visitor and traveller.

CouncilWiltshire Council
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Parish CouncilOgbourne St. George Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailparishclerk@ogbournestgeorge.og.uk
 

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Folk Songs from Ogbourne St. George

Folk Biographies from Ogbourne St. George

Folk Plays from Ogbourne St. George

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