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Wiltshire Community History

Winterbourne Monkton Search Results

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Winterbourne Monkton

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 Winterbourne Monkton:

Map of the Civil Parish of Winterbourne Monkton

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 name of Winterbourne Monkton existed by 869 when the head of the River Kennet became known as Winterbourne; the influence of Glastonbury Abbey was illustrated by the addition of 'Monkton' in the title. It is also referred to as 'Moneke Wynterburn' in a Calendar of Fines in 1251. Prior to the interest of the Abbey it was simply known as 'Winterbourne' or 'Burne'.

The expression 'as different as chalk from cheese' is thought to have originated in this area; when looking down from Hackpen Hill with the chalk grasslands on one side and the heavier clay pasture on the other, one can understand how this expression came about. This area, sometimes known as Broad Hinton Plain, provided good quality land for agricultural use and some farms have exceeded 500 acres in size.

The parish of Winterbourne Monkton is situated in the Upper Kennet valley, north of Avebury. The eastern boundary is marked by the prehistoric ridgeway on Hackpen Hill, which crosses the parish from north to east. The parish spreads for 5km from east to west and only measures 2km from north to south at its widest point. Hackpen Hill or Monkton Down rises to 254m in the south east and the land is flatter in the west but reaches 183m at Windmill Hill in the south west. The Kennet flows through the parish, from north to south and most settlement is concentrated around the river. The land is made up of chalk outcrops and there are gravel deposits and alluvium near the stream. The area is dominated by the sheep and corn economy typical of this type of downland.

There is evidence of a wide variety of archaeological finds suggesting early settlement in this area. Prehistoric evidence around Windmill Hill suggests a Neolithic causewayed camp and Iron Age and Roman artefacts have been found on Monkton Down, along with sarsen slabs covering Bronze Age skeletons. There is a long barrow, situated north west of the church, which was excavated in the 18th century and is known as Mill Barrow; it was re-visited in 1989 and identified with 'the stone barrow' Stanburgh of the 13th century. There is evidence of a Bronze Age round barrow and an undated bowl barrow and linear earthwork, as well as an undated ring ditch. Artefacts recovered include a Bronze Age knife, pin and awl (a piercing tool or bodkin).

Other found items include Paleolithic flint tools and stone implements, Bronze Age tools, Saxon pottery and Romano-British fragments and jewellery, including a brooch and pins at Brook Furlong, as well as coins. In 2003 cottages in Winterbourne Monkton underwent an evaluation excavation and revealed part of an undated pit, possibly medieval, and also a filled in pond.

There is no early evidence of wooded areas; any trees that existed were near the village. Sarsen stones stand at the entrance to the village and settlement was very much centred around and on either bank of the stream, although it is now only the church and Manor Farm complex which are located west of the water.

According to Domesday survey the estate was assessed at 25 hides - with 25 tenant families plus the staff of the demesne farm. The population at this time would have been between 140 and 160 people over the whole estate. In the 14th century Winterbourne Monkton was one of the smallest Selkley Hundred settlements which surrounded Marlborough and encompassed the Marlborough Downs, and it had 69 poll tax payers (aged over 14) in 1377. It was a poor place to live in the 14th to 16th centuries.

In 869 Winterbourne Monkton was given, by King Ethelred, to Wulfere who later gave it to Glastonbury Abbey and in 1086 the Abbot held 25 hides at Monkton. At the time of the Dissolution it reverted to the Crown and in 1542 was granted to Edward Seymour, later Duke of Somerset. In 1545 the manor was sold to Sir Edward Darell whose son William sold again to Sir James Harvey and it passed to his granddaughter Mary Harvey, wife of John Popham. Staying in the Popham family until 1899 it was then sold again to Holland Franklyn; bought in 1910 by N.R.R. Young and then sold as four farms in 1917. These were known individually as West Farm, East Farm, Middle Farm and Parsonage Farm and have all had varied ownership through the 20th century.

Notable owners of lands in Winterbourne Monkton have included Anne of Cleves in 1540 and Catherine Howard in 1541, as well as the Earl of Pembroke in 1553. And the Dismars family passed their share on to the Slopers, the Houltons and Browns by the 18th century. The rectory was part of Glastonbury Abbey in 1229, confirmed in 1337, and was made up of tithes held by Sir John Popham by 1633, then passed with the Manor. In 1815 and at the time of enclosure the tithes were replaced with allotments of land. A free chapel received the tithes from the Manor Farm, and these passed to the Crown at the time of the dissolution then via the Sloper family, to the Melliors and John Hitchcock by 1781. They were later sold to N.R.R. Young by 1917.

Pevsner mentions Middle Farmhouse on the main road as being of Georgian origin and built of sarsen stone and including large thatched barns of matching stone. It is dated to 1720 with later extensions. The barn at Middle Farm is also 18th century and includes waney board on the south gable. Listed buildings include 'Little Thatch' also built using the local sarsen stone and this is a single storey dwelling with an attic and leaded casement windows. There are other cottages of whitewashed sarsen stone, thatch, brick dressings and often later 19th century additions. The milestone south of Middle Farm is late 18th century in a half cylinder style with a grooved top and shows Winterbourne Monkton as being equidistance, 10 miles, from both Swindon and Devizes.

In 1801 the population was recorded as 177 and this increased to 263 by 1831, but fell back to 182 by 1901. It rose to 215 by 1911 and then continued to drop reaching 162 by 1931 and in 1971 was recorded as 166. By the beginning of the 21st century this had decreased to 146, about the same number as lived here in 1086.

In the 11th century 100 acres of pasture were recorded and there were 25 hides of ploughland with sheep and corn being the dominant crops. The lord of the manor was responsible for most of the land but there was also a freehold farm. In 1066 the value of the manor was £12 rising to £20 by 1086 when the population was between 140 and 160 approximately. By the 13th century there were large open fields on either side of the Kennett and extra land was ploughed on the edge of the downs including land on Windmill Hill and Monkton Down; this was used by cattle in the summer and sheep in the winter. The manor was held in the 14th century by Glastonbury Abbey and comprised 426 acres of arable land, both sown and fallow. There were at least 400 sheep by this time and cottagers worked for the lord of the manor for three days a week; including daily during the harvest. Yardlanders performed ploughing, mowing, shearing and weeding tasks and in the 12th century were expected to work a half acre of land per day during the harvest.

Winterbourne Monkton was integrated with other estates held by Glastonbury Abbey and this meant that grain could be exchanged as well as the management of flocks overseen from different manors. Carrying services were required and beasts were driven to Badbury and Christian Malford as the Abbey required, by the tenants and cottagers. By the 16th century 1,000 acres were being worked in three open fields. Enclosures were being made from 1675 although some did not take place until 1774. By 1809 most of the southern half of the parish had been enclosed and divided between landholders, and the five remaining open fields, Hackpen, Barwick Side, Home, South and West, had all been enclosed by 1815. An award ended common husbandry and allotments made up 956 acres. The main farms at this time were Manor, Parsonage and Brown's, (later absorbed in to Manor Farm). The farms were fairly evenly divided between arable and pasture at the beginning of the 20th century.

A windmill was built for the Abbey in 1265, was let in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 16th century. In 1815 it is recorded as being 500m north east of the village but it fell out of use by 1889 and by 1980 only the base existed alongside Windmill House. There was a quarry at the end of Mill Lane on the edge of Monkton Down, and along Hackpen Hill and opposite Winterbourne Monkton is 'Glory Ann Pond,' an excavation for brick earth used in brick making but no longer shown on modern maps.

In January 1940 two experienced farming brothers fled Nazi Germany and gained work as cowmen on Manor Farm at a wage of £2 per week; they saved and worked hard, learning the language, and succeeded in buying 10 acres of land locally. After working a tenant farm in Bulkington for a while they took on Manor Farm, increasing the yields and taking on more local tenancies, switching to corn to increase profit in some areas; a sure indication of the fertility of the soil and land in Winterbourne Monkton.

There is evidence to suggest that the churches of Avebury, Winterbourne Monkton, Berwick Bassett, Winterbourne Bassett and Broad Hinton were linked by a track or pathway; the more usual route travelled is east of the stream and runs in a north - south direction. This was turnpiked in 1767 as part of the main Swindon to Devizes road. Few routes passed from east to west after the 18th century, although there is evidence of a path to Yatesbury. The main turnpike road must have been slightly re-routed as it is described as the 'new road' on a 1774 map, and Hain Lane is shown as an addition to the earlier street plan of the village. An 1809 map also shows a small green area near to the entrance of Middle Farm.

There are no known charities although the poor cost the parish £144 in the 1830s and Winterbourne Monkton later became part of the Marlborough Poor Law Union.

Court rolls survive for the manor dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries and in the 13th century there is record of a gallows at Winterbourne Monkton although the exact location is unclear. Courts known as 'Halimotes' (of the lord of the manor) were held at Hocktide (soon after Easter) and also took place with tourns, presided over by the sheriff of the county, at Michaelmas. The types of offences dealt with included the theft of bread and ale as well as breaches of the peace. By the 16th century common pasture was also regulated by these courts.

To the east of Monkton Down is an area known as Templar Bottom, where the Knights Templar had a preceptory in the 12th and 13th centuries, just east of Glory Ann Pond.

On 29th December 1859 a dreadful storm raged from Bowood Park to Ogbourne Down, causing extensive damage especially at Winterbourne Monkton.

The land to the east of the Ridgeway was scattered with sarsen stones and many were used for the Avebury monument and buildings in the area.

The development of Winterbourne Monkton followed the two lanes that led west from the road, with buildings grouped close to the stream. The southern lane leads to the church and originally looped back to the main road, but part of this is now only accessible by foot. Hain Lane runs north-west and rejoins the main road at Hannah's Lane; most of the building is concentrated here, east of the church, with an emphasis on cottages of 18th and 19th century origin. Most buildings west of the stream had disappeared by 1889 leaving the church and Manor Farm quite isolated. East Farm was built in the mid 19th century and Parsonage Farm and the school date from the late 19th century. The New Inn features in sale particulars of the Kennett Brewery in 1882, when it was owned by Mr. J. R. Rich and let to Peter Spackman for an annual rent of £12. It is then described as a brick built and slated roadside house with modern front and included a 'good garden …… stable for three horses and lock-up coach house with loft over the whole …. And piggery as lean-to at the back.' The accommodation comprised two front rooms, shop and taproom, wash house, lean-to lodge and cellar with two front and three back bedrooms. It is no longer in use as a public house.

Windmill House on Mill Lane is also 19th century and built on the site of an earlier windmill and in 1917 was sold for £145.
The sale particulars of the estate in 1917 also included four large mixed farms, small holdings, 45 cottages, and pasture fields. West Farm, closest to the church, realised £11,750 and included fifteen cottages and at that time produced 18 sacks of wheat per acre. Freehold Farm and East Farm included ornamental grounds and both had a tennis lawn
The Post Office has the date of 1743 and is at the northern end of the lane and the wall letter box had daily collections, including Sundays, in the late 19th century. Bungalows and council housing were built opposite the Post Office in the 20th century.
In the late 19th century, according to Kelly's Directory of Wiltshire, the village housed a baker and grocer, tailor, dressmaker, carrier, beer retailer and numerous farmers.
Cottages at the junction of Hain Lane and Hannah's Lane were demolished in the 1970s and much of the development along Hain Lane is relatively modern.
At the end of Hain Lane is the possible site of an earlier chapel where there is a bridge across the stream and there is a farm complex nearby.
John Aubrey recorded a fairy story of a shepherd who was tempted to a place below Hackpen Hill by the sound of fairy fiddler music, perhaps known as 'Fiddlers Hill' as marked on Ordnance Survey maps, but this does not appear any earlier. Bicycle rides from Marlborough to Hackpen are written about by John Betjeman in 'Summoned by Bells'.

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Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Winterbourne Monkton

Folk Biographies from Winterbourne Monkton

Folk Plays from Winterbourne Monkton

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