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Wiltshire Community History

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Broughton Gifford

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 Broughton Gifford:

Map of the Civil Parish of Broughton Gifford

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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 village of Broughton Gifford, a parish in the hundred of Bradford, lies 2 miles west of Melksham, 5 miles south of Corsham and 3 miles north east of Bradford on Avon. Situated on the west bank of the river Avon which forms the south eastern boundary, it includes Challeymead to the east and Norrington to the north. A tributary of the Avon, the South Brook, forms part of the north eastern boundary, another tributary which joins the river near Challymead Mill rises in the north and forms most of the north eastern boundary. The village is linear in shape with a collection of houses surrounding the large common, once known as Broughton Marsh. The geology is fine mould lying on gravel and Oxford and Kimeridge clay resulting in a heavy soil suitable for dairy or livestock farming. There is little evidence of early settlement, although coins of the later Roman Empire indicate the existence of a Roman station near the ground known as Bradleys, which lies south of the village.

Broctune, a name of Saxon origin, is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the name brook-ton means dwelling by the brook. The oldest part of the village is therefore by the church alongside the brook. Gifford can be attributed to the manorial family.
The earliest mention of Broughton Gifford is in the description of the grant of the "Vill of Bradeford" by King Ethelred in 1001 to the monastery of Shaftesbury. The entry in the Domesday Book names Humphrey de l'Isle as the holder of the land; three thanes held it jointly, prior to 1066. It lists an estimated population of 100-140, with 2 mills, and 12 acres of meadow, 8 acres of pasture and woodland one mile long and 2 furlongs wide, with the value in total being £10.

In the Tax list of 1334 Broughton Gifford contributed 70 shillings. to the total for Bradford on Avon of 582s 8d. A total of 136 taxpayers were recorded. From 1654 - 1666 Broughton was compelled to contribute to the parliamentary garrison of Great Chalfield, and is recorded as supplying the largest quantity of wheat and beer, equivalent in money to that given by Bradford-on-Avon and more than the contribution of Melksham.

A good example of a stone manor house in north Wiltshire was built for Sir John Horton in 1622; it was converted to two houses in the 19th century, and then re-converted back into one in 1910 by Mr. Schmidt. It is situated at the junction of Mill Lane. Other notable properties include Hollybrook House, on the west side of the Street, built in the late 18th century, of limestone ashlar with double roman tiled roof and Broughton House c.1673 on the south side of the common, built of rubble stone with a stone slate roof, and extended in the 18th century.

Gifford Hall, c.1700, built for the Harding family, on the north side of the common, incorporated the walls and cellar of an earlier building. Constructed of limestone ashlar with a stone slate roof, it is a good example of an early 18th century small classical house.

Monkton House is late 16th century built of rubble stone and stone slate roofs by the Earl of Hertford. It retains many original features and has been added to over the centuries. Acquired by Henry Long of Whaddon in the 1550s, it was sold by Thomas Long to James Thynne of Longleat in 1670.

The early farming concentrated on corn in contrast with the later preference for dairying. The lack of local transport, such as carriers, in the area meant that Broughton had to be self supporting, resulting in home produced food and clothing.

Agriculture was responsible for the majority of the employment in the village. In 1299 310 arable acres were worked every other day from Michaelmas to August by the tenants, and an acre would be ploughed and harrowed at the winter sowing under the feudal system. Other tenantss would give the usual cocks and hens as well as a cash sum for their land holdings. In the 17th century Broughton was well known for its geese and the locals were often referred to as "Broughton Ganders".

New markets for wool at the beginning of the 16th century meant that the breeding of sheep became more profitable than corn. Changes in descriptions of the glebe land suggest that inclosures were made between 1700 and 1783, resulting in a landscape as it is now. This excluded the common, despite the fact that all other arable commons were enclosed in 1783. This was due to the poor condition of the land that was often waterlogged. Common rights existed which were responsible for the erection of cottages surrounding the common. An unsuccessful attempt to inclose the common was made in 1848-50. The Ordnance Survey map of 1886 shows the existence of two ponds on the Common.

Wheat, oats and peas were recorded as being the main crops in the early 1800s. In 1841, the tithe maps show 254 arable acres, 1,207 acres given over to pasture, 70 acres for houses and gardens, 20 acres for the railway, one acre for plantation and 83 acres for river, roads and waste.

In the 14th century and as a result of the plague of 1349 many holdings fell vacant. In 1851 there was a scarlet fever epidemic resulting in seventeen deaths caused by poor sanitation. Areas of the village are prone to flooding, and these have been recorded as having great impact in 1935, 1968 and 2008, when roads have been made impassable.

Before 1762 an old pack road existed. A turnpike road was constructed from Melksham, linking Broughton Gifford to Holt and then Bradford, now the B3107. The Street, a causeway linking Broughton Gifford village to the Common, existed in 1629. The packhorse bridge c.1725, near Monkton House, linking Broughton and Whaddon is a good and well preserved example and replaced a smaller wooden bridge. By 1903 the Wiltshire railways were completed, and a cheaply constructed wooden halt was opened at Broughton in 1903, closing in 1955.

Two mills are mentioned in the Doomsday Book, one attached to the manor and the other later belonged to a tenement called Greenhill.

In the 16th and 17th centuries many people made their living by handloom weaving, an important industry in the west of England. There were half as many textile workers as agriculture workers. James Terumber, also known as James Tucker, a rich clothier and a principle benefactor of Trowbridge, bought a house at Broughton Gifford, and Thomas Kitson, a cloth exporter during the reign of Henry VIII specialised in white broadcloth, some produced in Broughton Gifford. However, due to the mechanisation of cloth production and despite many protests in the early part of the 19th century, the handloom weaving industry was declining. Wages became very low and the occupation died out by 1860 in Broughton Gifford.

In the late 17th and 18th centuries there was a fashion for spas. Broughton Gifford is mentioned as one of 31 places in Wiltshire with wells, usually situated at junctions of two or more geological formations, and serving water with purative properties. Unfortunately this never developed in any commercial form in the village.

By 1875 Broughton Gifford boasted seven farmers, two shoemakers, three grocers, one baker, one tailor, two carpenters, one of whom was also a wheelwright, one miller, and two publicans
The number of tradesmen increased by 1889, adding another tailor, two masons, one contractor, a thatcher, a coal merchant and a market gardener, and by 1911 a mattress maker, florist, sign writer, haulier, and hardware merchant were added to the business directory of Broughton. The Ordnance Survey map of 1901 shows a smithy, a Workmen's club, post office and a number of allotment sites around the village.

From 1160-1269 the manor was held by the Dunstanville family, and then it passed to John the first Baron Gifford who died in 1299. It passed through inheritance to the Audleys in the 1300s, Troutbecks and Holes in the 1400s, Talbots in the 1500s, then via the Hortons and Roberts from 1560 until it was sold in 1789, to Benjamin Hobhouse. In the 17th century there was no lord of the manor, and the unhappy condition of the Parish, as described by Reverend Wilkinson in 1860, was attributed to this state of affairs.

In 1801 the population was 613 rising to 741 by 1841, and dropping slightly to 649 by 1901. Through the 20th century it remained fairly steady and it was 656 in 1961 and has risen since then, peaking at 901 in 1991 and recorded as 822 in the last census of 2001. The most common Broughton names, as recorded in 1860 were Mortimer, Keen, Cantelo, Gore, Wakely, Harding, Bull and Collett.

The Fox and Hounds, now called The Fox, dates from 1700 with a more recent 20th century extension. The Bell was bought in 1780 by Benjamin Hobhouse, the last lord of the manor. It had an upstairs clubroom with an exterior stone staircase and a mounting block situated to the right of the main door and still in existence, thought to be more than 200 years old. Early landlords include Samuel Cooper from 1822 - 1826, Nathaniel Stinchcomb from 1826-1827, and Mr. Seager and Mr. Croker in the 1860s.

It was owned by R.A. Hobhouse in the early part of the twentieth century and leased to Ushers Brewery in 1919 at a cost of £80 for a seven year term .In 1915 the last Court Leet convened at the Bell, to determine the future of the Common. In 1947 the house was modernised and the garden was added. It was sold to Wadworths Brewery, the current owners, in 1957. The Bowls Club was established in 1961 leasing the paddock of the Bell from the Brewery and adding a clubhouse in 1976.

Apart from the previously mentioned Paradice bequest, Sarah Purbeck bequeathed in 1821, £1,000 for the relief of the poor, and Elizabeth Sly in 1880 gave £100 for the same cause. The Mortimer charity was founded in 1904 by Robert Mortimer, the income of which was paid at Christmas to the poor. He also left a scholarship to provide for the maintenance of two Broughton Gifford children at secondary schools.

A conservation area was designated in 1975 and listed properties of special architectural interest as St. Mary's Church, the Manor House, Hollybrook House, Broughton House and Gifford Hall. Others mentioned include Egerton House Farm, the Fox and Hounds Public House, Common Farm and the Bell on the Common.
Twentieth century development includes the building of Curtis Orchard and Newleaze, and the development of a small industrial estate, along with other domestic housing of varying sizes. This has increased the size of the village linking the original settlement with the area around the Common.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilBroughton Gifford Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailparishclerk_bgpc@yahoo.co.uk

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

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

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 Broughton Gifford

Folk Biographies from Broughton Gifford

Folk Plays from Broughton Gifford

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 24. There is one Grade I building, the Church of St. Mary, and three Grade II*, Gifford Hall, the Manor House, and Monkton House.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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