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Wiltshire Community History

Compton Bassett Search Results

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Compton Bassett

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 Compton Bassett:

Map of the Civil Parish of Compton Bassett

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

From the Ordnance Survey 1890s revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary, as it was until 2010, has been superimposed.

Thumbnail History:

The parish is situated 3.5k from Calne with a detached area named Cowage to the north west, which became part of the parish in 1341. In 1883 boundary changes transferred Cowage to the parish of Hilmarton and Compton Bassett gained acreage from Hilmarton, but the size of the parish was reduced to 1042 hectares. Some areas are well drained and suitable for arable or pasture whilst in the west is an area of Kimmeridge clay with chalk outcrops which follow the edge of the Marlborough Downs.

Parish boundaries mostly follow streams, with the Marlborough Downs establishing the eastern edge. The suffix Bassett was used in the early 13th century, being the surname of the lords of the manor. The village began with settlements developing along a springline, the principal settlement, including the church and manor house clustered together, with a further group of farms sited to their north east.

Compton Bassett was held in three estates in 1086 and 17 1/2 hides provided work for 12 plough teams; there was also 64 acres of meadow, 30 acres of pasture, and 30 acres of woodland. There were also two mills jointly owned by the three land holders and the estates appear to have been moderately prosperous. The population at that time is likely to have been between 190 and 220. By 1185, the parish had become part of the barony of Castle Combe, and was held by Robert de Dunstanville. It is believed that Alan, and later Gilbert Bassett occupied a house in the parish around this time.

In 1271 the demesne of the manor consisted of 204 acres of arable and 30 acres of meadow, with pasture for 30 oxen - a plough team consisted of eight oxen. By 1372 arable land was only 161 1/2 acres. Of this 31 acres were fallow, there being only 13 oxen at that time. In 1162 426 acres of meadow and 300 acres of arable land were enclosed and at that time the demesne farm of the manor included around 500 acres. In 1428, the parish was still part of Castle Combe holding, Sir John Fastlof, Lord of the Manor of Castle Combe, held Compton Bassett in his wife's right. During the 1400's the manor was held at various times by Edmund, Duke of York. When Catherine Parr died in 1548, Compton Bassett was part of her estate. 1553 it was noted that the timber framed manor house required 260 oaks to repair it.

In 1768 most of the estate was held by George Walker Heneage, the Lord of Compton Bassett, who merged two of the manors - Compton Bassett and Compton Cumberwell. Around 1822 most of the parish was grassland, with the arable fields cropped on the 3 field system. By 1930 dairy farming was the principal occupation, by the 1990s most farms had converted to arable and beef rearing. Cheese was produced at Breach Farm in the 1930s. The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870) lists Compton Bassett as having a population of 369 and an area of 2,362 acres.

During the Middle Ages a grange attached to Bradenstoke Priory existed in the Cowage area, most likely at the highest point in the area. A farmstead still existed here in 1773, but this was rebuilt in the 19th century. The Compton Bassett House standing in 1659 was a U shaped building approached through a courtyard. In 1672, Sir John Weld, Lord of the Manor, spent almost £10,000 on re-designing and rebuilding the house. In the 1930s the existing Compton Bassett House was demolished and the stable block converted to a residence now be called Compton Bassett House. This was extensively renovated in the 1990s.

In the 21st century only traces of the earlier buildings remain, although a 17th century thatched cottage, constructed of chalk and rubble walls, remains to the north of the church, whilst a second similar cottage can be found to the north east of the church.

Much of the pasture to the north and west of the village was enclosed in the late 17th century and by the 18th century only seven farmsteads occupied the area. Buildings and partial buildings of this era still exist. During the 19th century many houses were replaced by the then lord of the manor of Compton Bassett. The style used combined heavy stone mullioned windows, but also incorporated chalk and brick construction, with gables and dormers. The village school and inn are also in this style. During the 1930s and 1950s the local council constructed houses, but there is little modern expansion other than farm buildings, and in 1974 the village became a conservation area.

Tradesmen associated with the estate lived in the village, these included carpenters, masons, glaziers and blacksmiths, all having workshops in the estate yard. In 1620 a weaver lived in the village while stone was quarried from the 17th century, one quarry still operating in the 192's. There was a brick kiln in the village in 1838 and a malt house is recorded in 1743. The village inn was established in 1850 as both a public house and shop, in the 1860s a bakery was added.

In 1775/6 the Parish spent £92 on poor relief. This figure rose to £390 by 1802 when 36 adults and 70 children were receiving regular help in addition to 12 helped occasionally. Poor relief reached a height in1830 the sum spent being £628, in 1835 the parish joined the Calne Poor Law Union.

In 1916 the military airfield, R.A.F. Yatesbury, was opened, and the camp extended to include part of Compton Bassett. After the end of the First World War the station was no longer needed and closed in 1919. However, it was re-opened in 1936 by The Bristol Aeroplane Company for training pilots. The airfield was again taken over by the R.A.F. and a large hutted camp constructed. During the Second world war the base was used to give airborne training to wireless operators. The station was closed in 1964 and 5 years later most of the buildings were removed; by the 1970s the land had been restored to agriculture. In 1995 First World War aircraft hangers and some buildings from 1930/40 were still to be seen in the Jugglers Lane area of Compton Bassett.

Henry Maundrell, author of Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, was born in the parish in 1665.

Concise History: Wiltshire: A History of its Landscape and PeopleThis community has been included in John Chandler's on-going series and the full text is available here.
CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilCompton Bassett Parish Council
Parish Web Sitewww.comptonbassett.com
Parish Emailcb.parishclerk@hotmail.co.uk

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.

Printed Material: This is a select book-list for the community but in the case of a town there may be hundreds more books, pamphlets and journal articles.

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.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

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 Compton Bassett

Folk Biographies from Compton Bassett

Folk Plays from Compton Bassett

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, of architectural or historic importance is 23. There is one Grade I building, the Church of St. Swithin, and there are no Grade II* buildings.

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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