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Wiltshire Community History

Winterslow Search Results

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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 Winterslow:

Map of the Civil Parish of Winterslow

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.

Thumbnail History:

The parish of Winterslow lies within Alderbury Hundred on the chalk hills to the east of Salisbury, on the border of Wiltshire with Hampshire. In places the chalk is capped with deposits of clay with flints. Arable farming has taken place throughout the history of the parish, the crops being noted in the 1840 Tithe Award as wheat, barley and oats. Sheep farming has also been an important feature of the downland of the parish.

The primary road through the parish is the London to Stockbridge road (now the A30). This divides at Lopcombe Corner in the north-east of the parish, the other arm (the A343) leading to Andover. In 1754 Lopcombe Corner was the junction of three turnpike trusts: the Sarum and Eling, the Andover and Basingstoke, and the Stockbridge and Basingstoke, but all were defunct by 1879. The parish lies within the Alderbury Hundred.

On Easton Down, in the north east of the parish, Neolithic and early Bronze Age flint mines have been located. Excavations in East Winterslow have also located traces of a number of Iron Age and Roman farms, and two Saxon cemeteries on Roche Court Down, north of the junction at Lopcombe Corner, have been discovered. The site of a Roman villa has been found near the church in West Winterslow and the Roman road from Old Sarum to Winchester passes through the parish. Evidence of occupation over the course of many centuries has therefore been found within the parish.

The three settlements of West Winterslow, Middle Winterslow and East Winterslow were collectively named in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Wintreslei, meaning "Winter's mound or burial place". Lying approximately six miles east of Salisbury, along a 500 foot high ridge, the three settlements were composed of separate manors which would develop their own manorial histories.

The Domesday Book notes that land in West Winterslow had been held before the Conquest by Harding, who paid geld for some 700-800 acres, and by the Abbess of Amesbury, who held approximately 250 acres. Following the Conquest, the principal manor was held by Earl Morton. This comprised some 700-800 acres of ploughland, three acres of meadow, one square mile of pasture and half a square mile of woodland and was worth £10. There was also a mill worth five shillings. Between 75 and 115 people lived in the manor. West Winterslow reverted to the Crown in the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) and in 1215 belonged to Queen Isabella. It was then granted at an annual rent of £20 to Geoffrey fitz Piers, Earl of Essex, and on the death of his great grandson Richard in 1307, the manor passed to Sir Robert de Clifford. After Sir Robert's death at Bannockburn in 1314, West Winterslow passed to his widow Idonea, who continued to enjoy the property until her death.

In 1377 there were 72 poll-tax payers in West Winterslow.

Sir Richard Colt-Hoare, writing in his History of Modern Wiltshire in 1837 describes the process by which sections of the manor of [West] Winterslow were subsequently held by Edward le Despenser, by Edward Duke of York (d. 1415) by the latter's sister Constance, who was the widow of Thomas le Despenser, Earl of Gloucester, and then descended through her daughter Isabel and Isabel's son, Henry, Duke of Warwick (d. 1445). The manor afterwards passed to the Lords St. Anand and was subsequently part of the estate of Giles Lord Daubeney.

Records of the Thistlethwayte family in Winterslow begin in 1537. The family had patronage of the living at the parish church in West Winterslow until 1739. In 1764 the manor was sold to Henry Fox of Farley, created Baron Holland of Foxley in 1763.
Henry and his second wife Caroline had three children, Stephen, Charles James, the politician, and Henry Edward. Upon the purchase of the manor in 1764 Henry planned to build a new house which would be the country seat of Stephen and his new wife, Mary, and building works were set in progress. Three cedars were planted in the garden, probably in the last week of January 1771. The ancient tithe barn had already been transformed into a theatre where family and friends could perform. A letter written by one of the guests at a performance describes disastrous events on the night of 8/9 January 1774,

"Yesterday we dined at Canon Bowles's. At 5 I set off in his coach in the dark and rain, for the play at Winterslow, we got safe there and were most highly entertained……All did well. After the play we had "High Life below Stairs" and in the character of the Duke's Servant, Mr. Fitzpatrick exceeded all comic acting I have ever seen. When that was finished, we all repaired to the house for supper. We got home in whole bones soon after one and in high spirits but our joy is now turned to sorrow, for this morning, at 5, a fire broke out in the new building at Winterslow House and entirely consumed that and also the old house, except the kitchen and laundry. Though the house was full of company, fortunately no life was lost…. "

Although it was planned to rebuild the house, these plans were abandoned following the death of Stephen's mother in July 1774, shortly after the death of her husband, and the subsequent death of Stephen in December of the same year. The family's primary residence became Holland House in London.

The barn remains today, named The Tythings, as do the cedar trees on Pleasure Green. The house named the Old Manor House was built in 1768 by David King, a former steward to the Fox family; this was a misnomer however, as the house had never fulfilled the function of a manor house.

In Middle Winterslow, or Middleton, its earlier name, the smallest of the three manors, the Domesday Book records details of land holdings whose location is likely to have been here: Some 450-550 acres of ploughland, with an approximate population of 15-25 people, were held by Ulward, one of the King's thanes. There was also woodland 3 furlongs long and 1 furlong wide. The value of the holdings was 20 shillings. Four peasants ("rustici") also held land.

In 1377 the number of poll-tax payers was 12.

In the 16th and 17th centuries successive members of the Thistlethwayte family held Middle Winterslow until the Rev. Charles Woodruffe, widower of Elizabeth Thistlethwayte, left the manor and farm in 1727 to St. John's College. The will required that the College use the income from the estate firstly "[to] augment …all Small Livings which are in the Patronage and gift of the said College". Once a minimum income of £400 had been achieved for all College livings by means of grants sought from Queen Anne's Bounty matched by income from the Winterslow Estate, then the College should use the income to purchase further advowsons.

The manor of Middleton stretched northwards to the farther side of the London to Exeter road - now the A30. On this road, and on the boundary of the manor, stands the Pheasant Inn, formerly known as the New Hutt, itself the replacement for an inn, or "hutt" which formerly stood on the opposite side of the road and used by drovers. The proximity of a horse pond at this site was presumably a reason for the Hutt's location here. The New Hutt was referred to in a document of 1737 as "that new built messuage -- now occupied by Benjamin Reeves"

Charles Harper in The Exeter Road, written in 1899, describes the start of highwayman Thomas Boulter's career near the Winterslow Hut in 1775. On his way from Southampton to visit his mother at Poulshot, he waited near the Hut ,
"In less than a quarter of an hour the Salisbury diligence rewarded his patience and enterprise by coming in sight across the downs. The perspiration oozed out of his every pore, and he was so timid that he rode past the diligence two or three times before he could muster sufficient resolution to pronounce the single word "Stand!" But at length he found courage in the thought that he must begin, or go home as poor as he came out…"

From this hesitant start Boulter began an eventful career as a highwayman in the south of England until he was hanged at Winchester in August 1778.

An incident which brought wide fame to the Hut took place in October 1816. The London to Exeter mail coach, "Quicksilver" was approaching the Winterslow Hut when, according to one account, what appeared to be a large calf was seen running alongside the horses. In fact this "calf" was a lioness who had escaped from a travelling menagerie en route to Salisbury Fair. The lioness started to attack one of the lead horses. When the mailcoach guard reached for his blunderbuss to shoot the animal, the menagerie owner set his dog on the lioness instead. Having killed the dog the lioness retreated under the staddlestones of a nearby granary where the menagerie men finally calmed her and dragged her out to be safely recaged. The coach passengers, meanwhile, had fled behind the locked doors of the inn. The enterprising menagerie owner bought the injured horse, named Pomegranate, to be displayed with her wounds alongside the lioness in the menagerie. The incident received national attention in newspaper reports.

Another focus of national attention associated with the Winterslow Hut was William Hazlitt. Hazlitt's career as a radical political, literary and philosophical writer was already under way when he was introduced by his friends Charles and Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart whom he married in London in May 1808. Hazlitt's new wife had a small income and ownership of a small property in Winterslow, and they moved here later in 1808. The family later returned to London although Hazlitt would often stay at the Winterslow Hut whilst writing. By the 1820s Hazlitt and his wife were estranged but Hazlitt continued to spend much time at the inn. He wrote the essays collected under the title Winterslow Essays and published in 1839 by his son, at the Hut. Despite the title of this work, however, this posthumous publication reveals nothing about Hazlitt's experiences in Winterslow. Hazlitt's last major work, The Life of Napoleon was also written at Winterslow.

The third of the Winterslow manors is East Winterslow which comprised, it is assumed, land noted in the Domesday Book as held before the Conquest by Harding and afterwards by Earl Aubrey, or Alberic, and consisting of approximately 180-240 acres of ploughland and woodland 2 furlongs long and 1/2 furlong wide. The population was between 14 and 22 people and the manor was worth 20s.

In a 12th century survey of feudal tenure, the Testa de Nevill, land which was probably that referred to above was held of the Earl of Winchester by Matthew Turpin, who, Colt-Hoare suggests, also acquired one of the estates described in the Domesday book as being held by thanes. A document of 1376 records the unusual terms of the tenure. By this date, at the end of the reign of Edward III, the tenant is John de Roches:

"John de Roches holds the manor of Winterslewe by the service, that when the King should abide at Clarendon he should come to the palace of the King there, and go into the butlery, and draw out of any vessel he should find in the same butlery, at his choice, as much wine as should be needful for making a pitcher of claret which he should make at the King's charge: and that he should serve the King with a cup, and should have the vessel from when he took the wine, with all the remainder of the wine left in the vessel, together with the cup from whence the King should drink that claret".

The woodland of West and East Winterslow was cited in the Forest of Clarendon perambulations of 1219 and 1225 and in Inquisitions and Eyre rolls of the mid 13th century.

In 1377 the number of poll-tax payers in East Winterslow was 43.

In 1629 Katherine, wife of Thomas Mompesson, died "possessed of East Winterslow" thirteen days after giving birth to a son, also Thomas. In the mid 18th century the widow of a Mompesson left Roche Court to her nephew, Thomas Hayter. The grandson of the latter, Thomas Egerton, rebuilt the house and contributed to the rebuilding of the church in 1848 and to the building of the new school in 1856. The estate passed to the Nelson family after Egerton's death at the age of 90 and in the 1920s the two thousand acres were sold in lots.

The manor house, Roche Old Court Farm, was partly rebuilt about 1620, probably by Thomas Mompesson, onto an old hall dating from approximately 1380. A nearby barn dates from the 15th century.

Another area of settlement which has played an important part in the parish of Winterslow is the Common. In 1892 Major Robert Poore, born in 1834 and resident at Old Court, just beyond the northern boundary of the parish, instituted the Winterslow Land Court which would generate considerable national interest as the practical implementation of a new system of leasehold smallholdings. The writer H Rider Haggard would dub him "the Don Quixote of the Hampshire Downs" in his Rural England published in 1902. Poore was deeply concerned with issues of agricultural depression and trade. He was increasingly convinced that a fundamental problem in the agrarian economy lay in landlord-tenant relations and in particular in the decline of the smallholder. He was critical of centralised administration in principle as being always "extravagant and inefficient, because the matters to be dealt with are far too removed from those who have to judge…" On the contrary, the pooling of locally held knowledge was central to Poore's ideal system of administration.

Poore won a seat for the Whiteparish division on the first Wiltshire County Council in 1889. He argued that the structure of the new Council should be based on committees arranged according to locality rather than departmental function. He was unsuccessful in winning approval for his ideas in this respect; however, he pursued the goal of the formation of village committees within his own division. Winterslow was one of the villages which formed a committee. When Cooper's Farm in the parish became available for purchase, Major Poore bought it on 21st June 1892 for the sum of £1500. At the end of September in the same year the village committee met and applications for plots of land on the former Cooper's Farm were registered, with the exception of 77 acres not considered to be suitable for smallholding and thus sold to a local farmer. Valuation of the individual smallholding lots was carried out by the committee, in accordance with their knowledge of local conditions, and the first fourteen leases were signed on 19th November 1892. The leases were held by a Land Court, which remained the administrative owner of the land. However, the leases were for the long term of 1999 years. Major Poore's intention was that this arrangement would be a unifying force between both smallholders and landowner. Particular interest in one plot of land would combine with the common interest of all leaseholders. The small profit accumulated from the sale of the leases was vested in a fund with the Land Court and employed to provide loans for land improvement, according to the judgement of a committee of the Court.

The early years of the Land Court were busy and successful. The majority of smallholders supplemented their income from other occupations with their work on their holding. The average holding size was five to seven acres. A Nottingham newspaper reported in 1907 that the Winterslow Land Court land was producing fifteen times more than in 1892. Most notably, in a period of rural population decline in South Wiltshire, Winterslow's was halted and population even began to increase again:

1881 924
1891 786
1901 800

Improved housing, financed through mortgages granted by the Land Court to individual smallholders, also began to appear. A contemporary writer, L. Jebb, wrote in 1907 that the average house had three bedrooms and two "good sitting rooms".

In 1894 an attempt was made to create additional sources of income by means of the establishment by Mrs. Poore and her daughter Nina of a spinning and weaving industry, using the wool from the local Hampshire Downs sheep. Although not part of the Land Court itself, the industry did adopt a similar organisational system, with leaders of "sections" forming a committee. Awards were won for the quality of the cloth produced and the enterprise moved from the Old Lodge to an upstairs room at the Lion's Head public house on Winterslow Common; from thence to a small "factory" in Middleton Road. Though initially successful, the textile industry did not remain in its initial formation for long after the First World War. Reasons for its decline have been attributed to lack of capital, lack of advertising and reduction of available workforce in the village after the War. Mrs. Poore was now aging and her daughter Nina had married the Duke of Hamilton in 1901 and had moved away from Winterslow.

After Major Poore's death in January 1918, legal difficulties and disputes regarding the terms of the leases created at the establishment of the Land Court began to accumulate. Associated with these difficulties was the legal position now of the Surplus Fund, with varying opinions and claims on the matter. By the early 1940s the on-going relevance of the structure of the Land Court itself was the subject of discussion and, with the creation of the post war Welfare State, its ethos of self-help was considered by some to be no longer relevant. By now the leased holdings had been converted to freehold tenure and in September 1968 a meeting was to be held to discuss the mode of winding up the Land Court. Instead of this process, however, the Land Court simply became inactive and fell into a state of dormancy which has continued ever since.

The Poore home at Old Lodge itself was demolished in 1924, the estate of several hundred acres having been taken over by the government along with other land after the 1914-1918 for secret warfare experiments associated with the research centre at Porton Down.

A ready supply of water had always been a problem in Winterslow as a result of the height of the land and consequent absence of rivers. The population depended on dew ponds -as did also farm animals - and on deep wells. According to the Women's Institute history of Winterslow, the well most heavily used by the population was St. John's Well, on the Common. Inhabitants would be charged 1s. 6d. per year for drawing water from the well; they would visit it once or twice a week, carrying their filled buckets from yokes on their shoulders. The water was drawn by means of a windlass, and the Women's Institute account relates the death of one W. Sheppard in the 1880s after the windlass knocked his pipe from his mouth; reaching for it, he fell down the well.

Mostly laundry was done using rainwater, while water used for building purposes was brought in horse-drawn water carts from the River Bourne. There was a small piped supply from a reservoir in Chickhard Wood to a few houses at West Winterslow. Also, the new houses built on the Land Court holdings generally included underground rainwater tanks to alleviate the water supply problem.

In the 1930s Major Poore's son, Philip, and others drew up plans for a piped supply to all of the three villages. The best underground water source was found to be at Middleton Road Well. A Water Society to develop this supply was established, the Land Court being the principal shareholder. Most inhabitants took 5/- shares in the Society and in 1935 Nina, now Duchess of Hamilton, opened the Winterslow Water Supply. Mains water was now available to all houses in the Winterslows.

Five charities for the poor were recorded for Winterslow in the Charities Commissioners' reports for1819-1837. One, the Poor's Land charity dating from approximately 1767 when land known as the Poor Folk's Grounds was given in compensation for the surrender of certain rights of commonage in the parish, continues today as the Land and Allotment Charity.

The Second World War brought a number of changes to life in Winterslow. Approximately two hundred children with their teachers from the Portsmouth area were evacuated to the village and, in Bentley Wood, a military camp was built for American armed forces. The Women's Institute history of Winterslow notes the considerable impact this military presence had on the area, the roads being often "choked with heavy tanks and jeeps". Bentley Wood took on further significance when, after its sale by the Forestry Commission in 1983 and its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a trust known as the Friends of Bentley Wood was created. A prominent role in this was taken by the writer Ralph Whitlock, who lived in Winterslow for the latter part of his life.

CouncilWiltshire Council
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Population 1801 - 2011

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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 Winterslow

Folk Biographies from Winterslow

Folk Plays from Winterslow

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 of historic importance is 21. There no Grade I buildings; and 5 Grade II*, Roche Court, Roche Old Court, Barn at Roche Old Court, Church of All Saints and Barn at Old Manor Farm.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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