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Wiltshire Community History

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Woodford

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 Woodford:

Map of the Civil Parish of Woodford

1890s
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


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


Thumbnail History:


Woodford is a civil parish in the south of Wiltshire, situated near to the ancient towns of Salisbury and Amesbury and it lies within the Woodford Valley. The parish encompasses three small villages; Upper, Middle and Lower Woodford. It is approximately seven miles north of Salisbury and four miles south west of Amesbury.
The east of the parish is marked by the River Avon and to the west by an old road linking Salisbury to Devizes. Upper and Middle Woodford have the River Avon running alongside the road and it is an important feature of those villages. To the north of the parish is Great Durnford while Old Sarum, the site of the original settlement of Salisbury and an Iron Age hill fort, is directly to the south.
The parish is made up of 2,774 acres of land and 22 acres of water.

Writing in 1976, local author Ralph Whitlock said, 'They are quiet havens, entirely agricultural and residential and having the inestimable benefit of no main road.
Those who venture into the middle Avon...will find innumerable temptations to pause, time forgotten, by deep pools overhung by willows or on little stone bridges where a man may sit well occupied in watching the duck and moorhens among the water-weeds all through a summer afternoon.'

It is thought that in the 11th century, Woodford Manor belonged to the bishop of Salisbury and so was not mentioned specifically in the Domesday survey but the Woodfords were grouped together with Milford and Stratford, other local manors. Later in the Middle Ages, the manors sometimes appeared as three areas, Great Woodford, Boreland and Little Woodford. More often there were just two; Heale and Lower Woodford. What is now Upper Woodford has also been known as Great Woodford, Heale and Woodford Magna.Little Woodford was also known as Woodford Parva, Little Wodeford and Bisopwodford.The manor of Heale was held by Robert of Syndasham in 1316.

In 1377, poll tax records show 76 people over the age of 14 lived in Great Woodford (now Upper Woodford) and there were 69 people in Lower Woodford (now Middle and Little Woodford). By 1801 the population was 345 and had increased dramatically to 523 in 1871. The numbert of people living in the parish was reduced to 408 by 1901. This is a fairly normal population pattern, as in the second half of the 19th century many people left the countryside to find employment in urban areas.

What is now Middle Woodford used to be considered as part of Little Woodford; there were very little residential buildings there until the 20th century despite the fact that the church, vicarage and school are found there.
Many of the houses built in the 20th century are on the western side of the road and these are among the most modern in the parish. In the 16th century the bishop of Salisbury leased Woodford out and the first lessee was William Herbert, who later became the Earl of Pembroke. His family rented out the lands from 1549 to 1661. The Woodfords, in various forms, remained with the bishops of Salisbury until 1869, when they were taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They were sold in 1920 to the Hon. Louis Greville of Heale who purchased Lower Woodford.

There are several buildings of note in the parish. The Court House, Manor House, Woodford Mill, Squirrel Cottage and Heale Bridge are all Grade II listed, as are several numbered cottages. The Court House is built on the site of what was the Bishop's Manor House until the 15th century. The Court House as it stands now was built in the 18th century while the Manor House was built in the middle of the 17th century.

In 1931 there were four council houses built in Middle Woodford and ten more in 1952.

A local attraction is Heale House, the home of the Hyde family. It is now run as a stately home and gardens which can be visited between February and October. There are eight acres of land and gardens.The original house was built in the middle of the 16th century and was bought by Gerrard Errington in 1557. It was re-built in the 17th century and is now a Grade I listed building. It passed down through Errington's family and at the end of the 18th century it was in the hands of William Bowles, Canon of Salisbury. It then went to his son William in 1782, who before he became bankrupt in 1813, restored and added to the house. After William's bankruptcy, it was bought by Captain Heathcote. The north wing of the house was destroyed by fire in 1835 and was not restored until 1894. Lots of stonework associated with the house is also listed; the stables, the gates and gate piers, a kitchen garden wall and bridge in the tea garden are all Grade II. It was enlarged in 1894 by Detmar Blow.

King Charles II hid at Heale House when escaping from the battle of Worcester in 1651 and is thought to have visited Stonehenge during his stay. Heale House was used as an annexe of the Salisbury General Infirmary between 1941 and 1952 and was then used as a nursing home from 1952 until 1958.

In 1821, severe floods destroyed Upper Woodford bridge and it had only recently been restored; in 1814 it had been rebuilt at a cost of £160. There has been a bridge there since 1370 and there are also four foot bridges across the river. The river was used by residents as a popular trout stream and in the 19th century the fishing rights belonged to the lord of Woodford manor.

Farming has always been the chief occupation in Woodford and farmers were still using the “strip” system up until the 19th century, having taken little notice of Tudor attempts to force enclosure of land. Until the 19th century, because of the steep slopes and exposed land, much of the land was used for grazing being unsuitable for crop production. The land near the river is wetter and more suited to rich pasture. In Little Woodford - now Lower and Middle Woodfords - in 1778 there were four common fields, known as Mill Bottom, Home Field, Coniger (or Conygree) Field and Church Field. In the 16th century there were three farms in Little Woodford that farmed their sheep together. These were sold to the Hon Louis Greville in 1910, have been merged and are now known as Manor Farm. In 1839, Upper Woodford consisted of Upper and Lower North fields and Upper and Lower South fields. By 1955 the holdings in Upper Woodford was combined into one farm. At Heale, which now equates roughly to Middle Woodford, the fields were allotments until the 17th century, when there was one tenant.

The majority of farming in the parish has classically been sheep farming. However in the 17th century it started to become difficult to find enough pasture or grazing for all the sheep in the parish. From the 19th century onwards, cattle grew in importance in Woodford, with some arable farming increasing after World War Two.

There was a mill in Middle Woodford in the 16th century when the Upjohn family were millers for a century and a half from 1538. It was reconstructed in the 18th century, although by 1862 it had fallen into a bad condition once again.

The first parish council meeting was on 18 December 1894. Their first real act was to erect two street lamps in Middle Woodford, near the church, in 1896. This was at the cost of 2d a week on the parish rate.

There are two inns in the Woodford parish, the Bridge Inn in Upper Woodford and the Wheatsheaf in Lower Woodford. The Wheatsheaf is thought to be an 18th century building, while the Bridge dates from the 19th century. There was also an inn known as The Druid's Head between 1822 and 1867. Isaac Woolcot, the landlord of this inn in 1862, was well known as a racehorse trainer.

CouncilWiltshire Council
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Parish CouncilWoodford Parish Council
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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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 Woodford

Folk Biographies from Woodford

Folk Plays from Woodford

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 35. There is 1 Grade I building, Heale House.

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.

 

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