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Wiltshire Community History

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Whiteparish

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 Whiteparish:

Map of the Civil Parish of Whiteparish

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:


Whiteparish, along with neighbouring Landford and Redlynch, geologically belongs to the Hampshire basin while its landscape owes much to the adjacent New Forest. It is situated in the far south-east of Wiltshire with chalk in the north of the parish and clays, sands and gravels - Reading Beds, London Clay and Bagshot Beds - in the south. The northern boundary is Dean Hill at 450 feet to 500 feet above sea level and from there the land generally slopes to the south, dropping to around 150 feet on the border with Hampshire. This has led to the formation of a series of north to south valleys with small streams.

In 1967 Christopher Taylor published an excellent study of the parish ('Whiteparish: a study of the development of a forest-edge parish', WAM Vol. 62, 1967) from which much of the following information is taken. Archaeological finds in the parish have been few although there was prehistoric activity in the area. Mesolithic flints were found at Landford and three Neolithic axe heads in Whiteparish itself while there are also the remains of two Bronze Age round barrows in the parish. There is an Iron Age hill fort in Holbury Wood to the north-west, in Hampshire, and a small univallate camp to the south of the parish boundary. This would indicate prehistoric activity in the parish even if there was little permanent settlement.

Roman villas were at East Grimstead and West Dean while there were also other Roman or Romano-British buildings in other adjacent parishes. Rectangular 'Celtic' fields cover part of the north of the parish while there was Roman settlement at Downton. It is possible that there was late Roman occupation in Whiteparish and Cowesfield as pottery and 4th century coins have been found in gardens and fields there. After the Roman period substantial areas of woodland still existed in the parish and Christopher Taylor believes that all settlements grew from two original communities at Frustfield (now Whiteparish) and Cowesfield, which existed in Saxon times. An early area settled from these two was Whelpley, which means clearing of the cubs and would have been on the edge of the forest. During the Saxon period much forest was cleared and arable fields created.

All this activity meant that there are seven separate land holdings recorded in the Domesday Book (1086), five for Frustfield and two for Cowesfield. Those for Cowesfield were later known as Cowesfield Esturmy (set around a triangular village green) and Cowesfield Spilman. Esturmy was the largest, both in area and population, and the joint population was in the region of 50-60. There are only families recorded on three of the Frustfield holdings and from these a population of between 80 and 100 can be estimated. The largest settlement was at Whelpley where house platforms still exist. At Alderstone there was settlement around another triangular green.

By 1166 there was a new settlement at Cowesfield Louveras, which seems to have always been fairly small. People in Cowesfield itself do not appear to have expanded to the forested area in the south although they expanded elsewhere. The expansion of arable land occurred in other directions and perhaps accounts for the building of two windmills to grind corn, there being insufficient water power for a water mill. In Frustfield a church had been built by around 1190 at the south-west corner of the green. The impact of this new building in gleaming newly quarried white stone must have been considerable as it occasioned the name change from Frustfield (leader's, or prince's, open country) to Whitechurch. The new name is first recorded in 1278 but was doubtless in use before then. Unusually the name had changed to Whiteparish by 1301, maybe an indication that Whitechurch had outgrown neighbouring Cowesfield and could be properly regarded as the chief settlement in the parish.

Much assarting (clearing and enclosing forested land) occurred in the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century. New settlements were established including Blackswell (now Blaxwell Farm) by 1242, Chadwell (now Chadwell Farm) by 1268, Newton (still a cluster of cottages) by 1289 and Harestock by the early 14th century. There were probably other small settlements but these are not documented. The high point for expansion and population came around 1350 and although this was the period of the Black Death there is no evidence that this caused the decline in population, other than at Cowesfield Louveras. Other settlements seem to have slowly declined, often reduced to a single farmstead with the open fields enclosed.

The 15th and 16th centuries saw the break up of the manorial system and by the mid 16th century most of the parish population was concentrated in Whiteparish village. There was no expansion in other areas and most of the 450 people estimated to have been here in 1580 must have lived in the village. The 17th century saw the enclosure of more open fields and an expansion into the area of a new land-owning class that had made their money elsewhere. New country houses, such as Bricksworth (c.1605 for Giles Eyre), New House (by 1619 for Sir Edward Gorges), Broxmore (after 1616) and Ash Hill House (early 17th century), were built. Substantial farmhouses were also erected and these included Morrisholt Farm (by 1675), Legges (now Chalkpit) Farm (early 17th century), Alderstone Farm (early 17th century), Dry Farm and Gill's Hole Farm (by 1689). In the village itself houses spread southwards from the village along the road leading to the forest.

By 1700 the population had risen to around 700 and during the 18th century most of these were re-housed in new brick-built houses. Most of the village and many outlying farms were rebuilt with bricks and tiles made locally. Prior to this many of the houses would have had mud walls and thatched roofs and the rebuilding engendered a substantial brick and tile industry that continued through the 19th century and into the early 20th century. By the mid 18th century nearly all the downland in the north of the parish was enclosed and Dean Hill Farm built. In 1756 the Salisbury to Romsey road through the parish was turnpiked, causing the original road from Cowesfield Green to the county boundary to be abandoned and a new straight road built to the south of it. Cowesfield House was built in 1767.

The first half of the 19th century witnessed a great increase in population from 877 in 1801 to a high point of 1344 in 1851. Many people were working in the various brickworks and many more houses and cottages were built to accommodate the newcomers. These were mainly in the following areas; on common land to the south of the village, at the eastern end of the village, at Cowesfield, and to the east of Ash Hill House. Many of these were fairly simple timber-frame shacks that have now disappeared. Country houses such as Cowesfield House were improved and their grounds enlarged. In 1812 a new hall was built at Broxmore, with a park and associated estate houses, lodges and farms. All land in the parish was enclosed by 1825. In 1842 a parochial school was built, while in 1860 Brickworth House was destroyed by fire and rebuilt.

Apart from brick-making, the most common employment in the parish was in farming. This was greatly affected by the national depression in agriculture in the latter part of the 19th century and a change from a sheep and wheat economy to one of pasture and dairying, requiring fewer farm labourers. It is likely that this was the chief reason for the decline in population and those that remained probably fed themselves mainly from their gardens and also kept a pig as some people had still retained common rights in the forest.

In the early 20th century several large villa type houses were built and later there was ribbon development along the roads. Houses had their own well or bought water from someone who did have one. There were many activities and clubs in the village including cricket and football clubs, a quoits club (formed 1901) and the Whiteparish Minstrels. The village library was open for 2 hours a month. The parish suffered from heavy rain or snow storms, when it was difficult to move around, and in 1907 there was a great snowstorm late in the season, on 25th April, when there was 15 to 18 inches of snow. Being a fairly isolated parish most of the village came together for celebrations and festivities as was evident for the coronation of George V on 22nd June when the whole village stopped work and had a day-long programme of activities.

Apart from the disappearance of young men, some never to return, the parish suffered during the First World War by the Army's requisition of farm horses. As a slight recompense an ex-Army hut was re-assembled as a village hall in 1921 but this was replaced by the Melchet Hall, given to the village by Lady Mond in 1928. A reading room had been re-established in the Lynches in 1907 and, with the addition of a boys' club, this was well used at various times to the Second World War. In 1935 a fire in Bunker Hill destroyed several cottages and caused some hardship in the village. The Second World War caused a comeback in arable farming as the country had to grow its own corn, while many regular soldiers began to appear in the village from July 1940, often lodging in local houses. Cowesfield House was taken over by the Army in 1940 and Broxmore, in 1941, for the American Army.

After the Second World War both Cowesfield (1949) and Broxmore were demolished in the late 1940s and in 1947 Parsonage Field was bought as a memorial to those who had served in the war. It became the official village recreation ground having been used as such unofficially for many years. Until now the village had largely existed by farming but it was now to change to a dormitory for Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton. Grazing ceased in the forest, and conifers were now planted. Mains electricity had been brought to the village just before the war and mains water just after the war. These were followed by a mains sewerage system and street lighting, all in existence by 1964. From this point there was much new house building, including Ashmore Close and Common Road in the 1960s, The Triangle and Meadow Court in the 1970s, while the Broxmore House development began in 1974.

New industries came to the village with Lascars Electronics Ltd in 1977 and Pains' Fireworks (at the Chalk Pit) in 1984. A new youth club was built by volunteers in 1983 and further housing development took place at Highlands Way in the 1980s. In 1988 Nunns Court, in Dean Lane, was built and the Bramley housing development began in 1989. In the 1990s more houses were built at Kingsgate and Martin's Rise. Until 1999 a policeman was housed in the village but on his retirement policing was provided from Alderbury. The village has been fortunate in having a resident doctor from the 19th century and now has the extensive Whiteparish Surgery offering many services. There are still three public houses - the Fountain Inn, the King's Head, and the Parish Lantern (formerly the New Inn), although the White Hart has closed. The White Lion closed in the late 19th century. There are also many active clubs and societies in the village.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Emailcustomercare@wiltshire.gov.uk
 
Parish CouncilWhiteparish Parish Council
Parish Web Sitewww.whiteparish.org.uk
Parish Emailmaria.pennington456@btinternet.com
 

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Population 1801 - 2011

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Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Whiteparish

Folk Biographies from Whiteparish

Folk Plays from Whiteparish

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 41. There is one Grade I listed building, Newhouse, and one Grade II* listed building, the Church of All Saints.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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