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Wiltshire Community History

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Upton Scudamore

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 Upton Scudamore:

Map of the Civil Parish of Upton Scudamore

1890s
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


From the Ordnance Survey 1890s revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish 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



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.


Thumbnail History:


The small parish of Upton Scudamore is on the main road between Warminster and Westbury. In the east of the parish the chalk downs of Salisbury Plain rise to a height of 650 feet, with a ridge of greensand beneath. The village is named after the Scudamore family, 'Up-ton' meaning 'higher farm'. The parish originally included Thoulstone, once a small village, to the west and Hisomley to the north. In 1844 Hisomley was joined to Westbury, and Thoulstone moved to the new parish of Chapmanslade in 1934.

The church of St. Mary the Virgin is on the south side of the village. Parts of the building date from the 11th century. Additions and rebuildings were carried out up to the 15th century, and the tower was rebuilt in 1750. Further alterations took place again in the mid 19th century. A Baptist chapel was built in 1850 but was no longer used in 1907.

There has been a settlement at Upton for centuries. Early Iron Age and Romano-British pottery has been found in quantity just south-west of the church. There are also numerous barrows, two of which were opened by Colt Hoare in 1809 and found to contain skeletons.

The Scudamores, ancestors of many Skidmores today, held the Manor of Upton from the Conquest down to the 15th century when it was sold to the Hungerfords, who added it to their sheep-rearing estate centred on Heytesbury. Sir Peter Scudamore, who died in 1382 and has his effigy in the church, was the last Scudamore to live at Upton. The manor remained in the Hungerford family until the late 1600s. The manor farm was let to the Temple family of Bishopstrow in 1662 and sold to Peter Temple in 1689. The Temples bought more of the land, and they held the manor down to the 20th century.

Among the buildings of interest is Manor House. This is an attractive stone and tiled house dating from the 15th century at least. It was never the Manor House, which was west of the church, nor the Manor Farm, which was at Temple. It was the headquarters of the Park family estate, a tenancy from the Scudamores in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Old Rectory is a spreading three storey stone house of the early 19th century. The coat of arms of the Rector Dr. John Baron is carved over the door.

Temple House, formerly Temple Farmhouse, is a large three gabled brick house. Inside is a 17th century fireplace and panelling but the shell may be much older. It was altered and extended in the early 19th century. This was the manorial farm of the Scudamore's manor.

East of the village is a water tower of steel on a brick base, built in 1906 as a memorial to Dr. Baron. At Halfway Houses (halfway between Warminster and Westbury) is the late 18th century octagonal stone cottage, which was the original toll house on the turnpiked road. The main industry has always been agriculture, half pasture and half arable before the general enclosure and mainly arable since. There was some domestic cloth production down to the early 19th century, but little else. During the 1400s, when Upton was in the hands of the Hungerfords, over 500 sheep were sheared here. All the pastures and downs of the manor were used to feed the sheep, and the rest of the land was let in small parcels except for a few acres of meadow which were mown to provide hay for the sheep in winter.

Towards the end of the 15th century the Hungerfords began to let some of their land. By 1609 there were ten tenants, and when the manor was broken up in 1689 there were several farms. In Kelly's Directory for 1899 there were just thirteen names listed, seven of whom were farmers. By 1939 there were just eight commercial directory entries and still seven farms. Upton was too small to support a shop or a post office, for which the villagers would have to visit Warminster.

A small number of children were educated in a Dame School in the early 19th century. A school was built in 1839 for 40 or 50 children, while the older boys went to a school in Warminster. In 1871 there was a National School for about 28 children and a private school for 18. By 1917 there were still just 34 children on the roll, and the school closed in 1925. It is now a house.

At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) Upton was a prosperous parish with a population of approximately 225. Its broad, thin outline spreads over a ridge of greensand, providing excellent pasture for sheep. The survey mentions three holdings. The largest, belonging to Alfred of Marlborough, was worth £9. This was the land that eventually passed to the sheep farming Hungerfords. The two smaller holdings, including Thoulstone, passed to the Thynne family by 1700.

The village continued to grow. There were apparently 191 adults there in 1676, and by the 1801 census the whole population was 409. Ten years later it was only 314, and if this is accurate the decline must have been due to inclosure. It had grown again to 392 by 1831, and did not begin to decline significantly until the decade 1871-81. By 1901 it was 236 and has gradually grown to 307 in 2001.

Being such a small village, Upton has had few amenities. The Angel Inn has been in the village since 1807. The last person to advertise as a shopkeeper in the Kelly's Trade Directory was Oliver Pearce in 1907; he also ran The Angel Inn. At this time there was no Post Office and no carrier, meaning villagers had to make their own way into Warminster to shop. A past resident of Upton remembers no. 19 being a Post Office and general store in the 1950s and 60s. Prior to this it was a carpenter's shop and blacksmith's shop. The Post Office later moved to the Old Malt House, now known as the Old Post House.

The parish is the source of the river Biss, which flows to Trowbridge and supplied both that town and Melksham with pure water. Upton's water came from the water tower built in 1906 until mains water became available in the late 1930s. Electricity also came to the village at this time.

In 1807 there were few cottages in the village, and this is still true to some extent, although several council houses have been built since the Second World War. At inclosure the outer parts of the parish had more people living there than now. There were houses near Norridge Wood and at Biss Bottom. Thoulstone was another populated area, although this was lost in the boundary changes of 1934. When the Warminster bypass was opened in 1988 a part of the road cut across fields on the southern edge, but the houses remained to the west of the main road.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Emailcustomercare@wiltshire.gov.uk
 
Parish CouncilUpton Scudamore Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailnigelporch@blueyonder.co.uk
 

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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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.

 

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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 Upton Scudamore

Folk Biographies from Upton Scudamore

Folk Plays from Upton Scudamore

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 historic importance is 10. There are two Grade II* buildings, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and Park's Court.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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