If you are reading this page using a screenreader, we support ARIA landmarks for quick navigation too

Wiltshire Community History

West Tisbury Search Results

There were 1 items found.

Condensed View - Comprehensive View

West Tisbury

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 West Tisbury:

Map of the Civil Parish of West Tisbury

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:

West Tisbury is a large rural parish in the south of Wiltshire comprising the hamlets of Hatch to the south, Newtown in the centre of the parish and scattered homes and farms across the rest of the parish. The population at the time of the 2001 census was 601.An area of West Tisbury in the south east of the parish is known as Newtown, and this is as remote as the rest of the parish. The parish is seven miles north east of Shaftesbury in Dorset and four miles east of East Knoyle. It sits to the west of the parish of Tisbury, which includes the village of Tisbury itself and the boundary lines of the parish of West Tisbury begin in the east on the edge of Tisbury village. It extends west to take in the grounds of the Pythouse estate and is marked to the south by the River Sem which lies just south of the railway line, which goes through Tisbury and stops in the north at the woods south of Fonthill Gifford. This was the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway in 1859 and the line was double tracked by 1870, but had returned to a single line by 1967. In 1931 the parish consisted of 2,803 acres of land and 635 residents and in 1975 the parish was made up of 2, 782 acres.

West Tisbury became a parish in its own right in 1835, when East Tisbury, West Tisbury and Wardour were divided into separate poor law parishes. West Tisbury held 2,803 acres and 734 inhabitants in 1841 at the time of the census. Prior to this date, the history of the parish must be considered as being linked with East Tisbury and Wardour. Tisbury is the civil parish which contains the village of Tisbury itself and was created when East Tisbury and Wardour were put together in 1927 so this meant West Tisbury stood alone as a separate parish.

The two parishes which had once been united then went on diverging paths; the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway was built in 1859 and Tisbury Station was built to the south of the village. This had the natural effect of focusing settlement and industry around Tisbury (especially because of the transportation of Tisbury stone to London) and the village grew to resemble a small bustling town. The hamlets in West Tisbury remained small and isolated with the River Nadder, one of the main tributaries of the River Avon, flowing through the parish.

The Newtown area of West Tisbury is to the south east of the parish and is made up of a row of houses which are akin to a terrace; rather incongruous in the middle of the countryside, but charming nevertheless. There are some further houses in the area, all grouped around the road. In 1985 there were a total of 25 houses in Newtown; all of which were built after 1800. Two pairs of council houses were built in 1954. There was a school at Newtown, built in 1846, which was endowed by Thomas Benett and Miss Benett Stanford of Pythouse, the large mansion lying west of Newtown. It closed in 1931 and became a private home.

There was a quarry at Newtown in 1846; from this stone was extracted for building. For a long time the stone was used purely for building locally, but with the advent of the railway, Tisbury stone was transported to other areas of the country where it achieved a good price. At Hatch, the landscape is very similar to that of Newtown, with scattered houses sitting beside winding roads and woods. It used to be known as West Hatch and East Hatch, but is now known simply as Hatch.
Settlement in the Middle Ages centred around West Hatch and the manor had fifteen small farmsteads in the 12th century. In the 18th century there were also many farmhouses in East Hatch and in the early 19th century 34 houses were recorded as standing there. The older buildings in the hamlet were probably demolished at the start of the 20th century.

Hatch was very badly affected by the Black Death in 1348-1349; it was recorded that in 1349 there were 75 deaths in the whole Tisbury area because of the plague and many of these were at West Hatch. It is possible there was a mill at West Hatch in the early 13th century. In the mid 16th century there was a meadow at East Hatch which was common land providing pasture for cattle and sheep. There was also an iron foundry in the parish in the 1850s, possibly at Tuckingmill to the north east of the parish. However, this had fallen into disuse just a few decades later and was converted into cottages in 1871.

There are a number of listed buildings within the parish of West Tisbury, primarily farmhouses and they include Pouldens Farmhouse, Hatch Farmhouse, and Lawn Farmhouse. A large, well known house lies within the parish of West Tisbury; this is Pythouse, the home of the Benett family. It is found near East Hatch and is a Grade II listed building. Other parts of the estate are also listed; for example a dovecote near to the gates, a monument of the family dog, Nelson, the Orangery and the gate piers leading to the estate. A family named "Pytt" was given the land in 1225 by the Abbess of Shaftesbury.

This name somehow become Benett over the years, with the names "Pytt-alias- Bennett", "Bennett -alias-Pytt" and "Bennett-at-Pyte" all featuring in documents. The first real documentation of the original Elizabethan house is recorded when Thomas Bennett owned a house on the site in 1562. He was involved in the Civil War and was a rather unwilling Royalist. After the war ended, he had to pay fines for being on the losing side and this resulted in his son having to sell the estate. It then passed into the Dove family for 56 years. Thomas' granddaughter Patience married into a family from Norton Bavant who had the name "Benett" with only one "n", who bought the Pythouse estate from the Doves. They were no relations, but in this curious way the estate passed back into the original Bennett family through Patience, but the Benett family from then on were referred to with this second spelling of the family name.

The original Elizabethan house was pulled down and a Queen Anne or early Georgian house was built in its place in or around 1725. The building was enlarged in 1891 and an east wing was added. Pythouse Farmhouse was built to the east of the house in the early 19th century. This impressive building of Pythouse still stands in the parish today and in the second half of the 20th century it was used by a charity as a luxury retirement home. This closed in 2005 and is now a private home once again.

The Benett family purchased Hatch House in the 19th century; formerly the Dower House, it now lies in the grounds of the Pythouse estate. It was once a manor in its own right, known either as Hatch House estate or West Hatch Manor and is thought to have been built in the late 16th or early 17th century.

One of the most famous Benet's is John Benett who lived in the 19th century and was a Member of Parliament, elected in 1819, and he did much to renovate Pythouse in 1805. A local history study regarding Pythouse and John Benett reads: "John Benett seems to have added considerably to the Pythouse Estate in the early 19th century. He was a very tall and a very thin man. He was not liked by his fellow landowners, or by the agricultural workers, but he received support from farmers."

West Tisbury and Pythouse played a role in the Swing Riots of 1830; a series of revolts by labourers against, in part, the introduction of new farming equipment such as threshing machines, which threatened to harm an already struggling way of gaining a living for those living in rural areas. John Benett of Pythouse was woken in his bed on the night of 24th November 1830 and was told that a group of rioters had attacked a factory at Fonthill Gifford, to the north of the parish. Having ridden there, he found a group of 500 men intent on destruction. The mob followed him back to Pythouse and destroyed farm machinery and pulled the roof from the barn. Benett was then hit by a stone and knocked unconscious; on coming around he barricaded himself and his men inside Pythouse while the group of 500 men caused mayhem in the grounds of Pythouse and in the nearby woods. 29 men were arrested afterwards and one man, John Harding, was killed by the Yeomanry, who arrived in the midst of all the damage being caused. This event was later known as "The Pythouse Battle".

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilWest Tisbury Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Email 

Churches: Information on both current and disused churches and chapels.

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Population 1801 - 2011

Photographs: If images have been added for this community they are available here.: We hold a collection of over 50,000 photographs of places in Wiltshire in the County Local Studies Library. These may be viewed at this library and copies of out of copyright material may be purchased. We can search for a picture of a building or event if you e-mail us with details.

Historical Sources: A select list of books and articles is listed in 'Printed material'. You may go directly to the actual text from some of these.

Printed Material: This is a select book-list for the community but in the case of a town there may be hundreds more books, pamphlets and journal articles.

The full text of some items is available to view on this site.

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 West Tisbury

Folk Biographies from West Tisbury

Folk Plays from West Tisbury

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 interest is 29. There are no Grade I buildings, and 2 Grade II* buildings, Hatch House and Pythouse.

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

Search the Wiltshire Studies Catalogue This will take you to our library catalogue where you will need to limit to 'Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre' for branch and re-enter your search term to find books on the subject. Please enter more than one word, e.g. 'Salisbury + market' unless you are looking for a small community.

Search Community Information Database

Wiltshire & Swindon Archives

Wiltshire Wills Search by name, occupation, or subject for details of a will from this parish held in the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office.

Genuki Family History - Wiltshire

If you have a local history enquiry, contact the County Local Studies Library




This website

Contact details

Contact Wiltshire Council

Write to us or call us

Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Bythesea Road
BA14 8JN