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Wiltshire Community History

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Stert

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 Stert:

Map of the Civil Parish of Stert

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:


Many Wiltshire people will not know the village of Stert although they may have passed within a few hundred yards of it; it is hidden on a valley side with no through road. Within the Swanborough Hundred it lies two miles from Devizes; the parish boundary is formed by that with Devizes in the east, in the west the boundary is a small stream winding through a wooded valley. The parish covers 757 acres, measuring two miles from east to west and one mile from north to south. To the east is upper greensand with gault clay and some steep contours. In the past clay from the low lying areas was used for making bricks. The chalk ridge, Etchilhampton Hill rises to 500 feet. There is arable land on the slopes of this hill with meadows in the east where the land is more level. The main village is on and below a ridge with extensive views to the south. Fullaway Farm, of 108 acres, was included in the parish in 1894.

The Anglo-Saxon word ‘steart’ means a promontory or tail of land. According to the Domesday Book (1086), Stert was held by Aelfric, it then passed to Humphrey de L’Isle. There was land for three ploughs and six serfs; there were 15 households of bordars (farming land in payment of service) while one Frenchman also held 1½ virgate. The likely population would have been between 65 and 80 people. There were two mills, 30 acres of meadow, with ten of pasture and two of woodland. By 1242 Stert was held by Walter de Dunstanville, who also held the Barony of Castle Combe. In 1309 Stert was conveyed by William de Montfort to Bartholomew of Badlesmere, who was executed in 1322. However, the lands were restored to his widow, and after her death in 1329 the King granted the land to Henry Burghersh, Bishop of Lincoln, and so it became separated from the lands of the barony of Castle Combe. In 1355 Stert was said to be held of Devizes Castle by castle guard duty. Elizabeth, heir to Burghersh, conveyed the manor, in 1388, to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. It was this Bishop of Winchester who used Stert and Alton Barnes to finance the foundation of St. Mary’s College of Winchester in Oxford. (New College)

In 1311 the estate consisted of 246 acres of demesne (manorial) arable and 58 ½ acres of demesne meadow, vines were cultivated. Sheep farming was important in the 14th century, in 1341, 246 lambs and three wethers went from Stert to Heytesbury, which was also part of the Burghersh estate. In 1355 the whole of the Heytesbury ewe flock was sent to Stert. Sheep farming continued after New College acquired the manor.

The college leased the manor out and in 1534 the rent was £13, with an additional £13.10s.5d. from free and customary tenants. In the late 16th century the lessee was John Tapp, lord of the manor of Stockton. He lived in Stert before succeeding to Stockton. It is said he had issues with the Warden of New College. From 1791-1840 John Gale was lessee. He was an Inclosure Commissioner for Wiltshire, and said to be a progressive farmer for his day. In 1846, when John Gabriel was tenant the thatched farm buildings at Stert farm were burned by incendiaries. He claimed to have replaced these buildings with some of the best in the country. During the tenancy of Gabriel the farm was sub-let in two parts, Stert Farm and Hatfield Farm. From this time the two farms operated separately.


In 1951, Hatfield Farm, of 191acres, was sold to the tenant by New College. In 1963 the tenants of Stert Farm purchased the farm and 465 acres from the college. Although the college did not farm Stert from soon after its acquisition, it retained control of the manor by means of a Court and the Wardens annual ‘progress’. A Bailiff was appointed from amongst the tenants and he was responsible for the allotment of timber, for buildings, but also for the collection of rents. The college was concerned with the conservation of timber and did not give permission to fell trees. A court record mentions that John Merbes, the miller at Stert, took and oak from woodland at ‘Crouk’ carrying it to Cannynges. A mid 17th century lease prohibited felling and in 1670 a ditch was dug and a withy hedge planted as parishioners were unable to fell wood for fencing. In 1770 there were 310 oaks, 158 elms and 224 ashes on the manor. Most of the land was still worked in strips scattered around the village in open fields, lessees holding land in several areas.

A lead seal with a figure of Victory was found at West Field Farm possibly from 14th century when the Burghersh family were lords of the manor.

In 1768 a new road was constructed across Stert, running from Devizes to Urchfont, this followed a more southerly route, as Etchilhampton Hill was difficult to traverse. The road from Devizes, as far as the hill was turnpiked after the first Wiltshire Turnpike Act. The Berks and Hants Extension Railway built the Devizes to Hungerford railway across the western part of the parish in 1862; a bridge crossing the railway gave access to the village from the main road. The line closed in 1966. A short stretch of the Patney-Westbury line is just within the southern boundary of the parish; his was opened in 1900

Stert has always been a small settlement, with the contours of the land restricting building; in 1377 there were 65 tax payers. In 1801 the population was 130, rising to 198 in 1851, down to 112 in 1921 and up to 130 in 1971. By 1970 the parish had no school, shop nor chapel. In 2011 the parish population was 176.

Stert Farmhouse, the east end built before 1662 by a member of the Topp family, is the largest house in the parish, followed by Stert House. Stert Manor House in 1849 was said to be built of brick, stone and wattle and daub with timbers chiefly oak. Along the ridge are several timber framed thatched cottages dating from the 17th century. On the boundary of the parish is The Clock Inn, formerly the home of the Raymond family who were clock makers. An upper story was added and the building altered in the 20th century, and a clock with a diamond shaped wooden dial on the wall above the main entrance dated 1773 remained until the 1960s.

A very readable account of the village and its buildings will be found in Stert: the hidden village published in 1999 by the Stert Millennium Project.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Emailcustomercare@wiltshire.gov.uk
 
Parish CouncilStert Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailwilliam@whowkins.com
 

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.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

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 Stert

Folk Biographies from Stert

Folk Plays from Stert

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, listed as being of architectural or historical importance is 9. There are no Grade I buildings, and no Grade II* buildings.

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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