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Wiltshire Community History

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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 Dinton:

Map of the Civil Parish of Dinton

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 oldest surviving settlement site in Dinton is the isolated mound of Wick Ball Camp, an Iron Age hill fort, overlooking the River Nadder, which forms the southern boundary of the parish. Grim's Ditch marks the northern boundary and a short distance away is the Roman Road which led from Old Sarum to the Mendip lead mines. The ancient Ox Drove, along which cattle were driven to Wilton and Salisbury markets, cuts across the north eastern corner of the parish. The New Inn, lying on the Ox Drove, once provided accommodation for passing drovers and travellers. Grim's Ditch, the Roman Road and the Ox Drove converge at Dinton Beeches, an area of ancient woodland.

By the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 Dinton had become a possession of Shaftesbury Abbey, the country's largest nunnery. The nunnery itself had been founded in c. 888 by Alfred the Great. Shaftesbury Abbey's holdings at Dinton probably date back to the 8th and 9th centuries and included Teffont Magna. Throughout the Middle Ages Teffont Magna was a mere chapelry of Dinton and before 1925 the dead of Teffont Magna had to be taken to Dinton for burial. The route taken, the so-called 'Coffin Path' which ran across Teffont Common (then wooded) and Dinton Park, measured a mile and a half in length. The bier, which was used to carry the coffins, still resides in St. Mary's Church. The Back Lane, linking Dinton with Teffont was turnpiked in 1760 while the present east/west main road through the village became the new turnpike road when it was built in 1837.

Shaftesbury Abbey's period of ownership ended in 1540 with the dissolution of the monasteries. Seven years later Dinton was acquired by Sir William Herbert (later Earl of Pembroke) and it remained a Pembroke possession until 1918 when it was sold in lots. Several new freeholds were then created as former tenants bought up the farms on which they had worked as tenants. It was at this stage that Manor Farm (564 ac.) East Farm (377 ac.) Jesses Farm (132 ac.) and Fitz Farm (84 ac.) came into their own as separately run farming enterprises.

Meanwhile the Wyndham family had purchased considerable land in Dinton by the late 17th century and by later acquisitions created the Dinton Park estate. By 1829 most of Dinton's land was held either by the Earl of Pembroke (about 1500 acres) or the Wyndham family (1000 acres).The Dinton Park estate was sold to Bertram Erasmus Philipps in 1916 and in 1943 he granted Dinton House (renamed Philipps House) and its surrounding park of 200 acres to the National Trust. Following the sale of the Wyndham's Dinton estate in 1948, Marshwood, Oakley and Wrights Farms were each purchased by sitting tenants.


Until the twentieth century the chalk lands of the parish were dedicated almost entirely to sheep and arable farming. Water meadows were the great new development of the seventeenth century. Formed by the artificial flooding of meadow land they improved grass yields and greatly increased the amount of fodder for dairy cattle. In the early 1900s around 140 acres of Dinton's meadow land were still being regularly flooded. With the high labour costs of maintaining water channels and hatches and the availability of artificial fertilizers, water meadows declined and became extinct from the late 1930s. Today nearly all of the meadows near the Nadder are scored with traces of the old irrigation channels.

By the end of the eighteenth century Dinton had thriving orchards and market gardens. A traveller to the area in 1795 noted that when its orchards were in bloom a stranger might suppose he was in Devon or Hertfordshire. Apples were included among the main crops of the parish in the early twentieth century but large-scale market gardening and commercial orchards had disappeared by 1962. A successful tobacco crop was grown in the parish in 1910 and Jesses Farm acquired a vineyard in 1977 which now produces wine in partnership with Fonthill Vineyard. At the end of the nineteenth century there were still considerable numbers of sheep grazing on the downs but their numbers declined considerably by the turn of the century. In 1900 there were three flocks (at Manor Farm, East Farm and Fitz Farm) but by then cows were rapidly replacing sheep.

While the late nineteenth century had been a period of severe agricultural depression economic conditions improved considerably from the early 1900s. A. J. Hosier's invention of the portable milking parlour was a key turning point. By taking milking machines to the cows, labour costs were reduced and milk production increased rapidly. With the opening of the railway line in 1859 Dinton became the only station between Wilton and Tisbury. It was this development together with the expansion of dairy herds which was to prove to be so crucial to Dinton's prosperity. This was Dinton's golden age. It had dairy produce to sell and, with a regular rail service, it could be sold as far away as London. And as their markets developed, Dinton's dairy farmers increased their herds and the village prospered. With the coming of mechanization Dinton ceased being an agricultural community and today only a tiny percentage of Dinton's inhabitants work on its farms. The railway station closed in 1966.

Buildings and Famous People

St. Mary's, Dinton's Anglican Church, is an unusually large building for a relatively small village, having started life as an attachment to Shaftesbury Abbey. Much of the building dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries although a great deal of restoration work was carried out in Victorian times under the supervision of William Butterfield, the well-known church architect. The Methodist Chapel on the Hindon Road, which was built in 1895 and closed in 1986, now lies derelict. The Rev. Engelheart's wife, Mary, who lived with her Anglican husband at Little Clarendon on Hindon Road, converted a bakery in the grounds of the house to create her own Roman Catholic chapel in 1921. This very small chapel, which was part of the Roman Catholic parish of Tisbury, served Dinton and the surrounding are until 1934. It is still used occasionally for mass at major festivals and by special arrangement.

The Dinton Church of England School, built in brick, was constructed in 1875 and it replaces an earlier stone building which still stands in the village near to St. Mary's Church. It functioned as a school from 1845 although Dinton had a public school for boys and girls from as early as 1783.

Philipps House (formerly Dinton House), an imposing mansion designed by Jeffry Wyatt and completed in 1816, is surrounded by the beautiful rolling countryside known as Dinton Park. Edward Hyde, who was born at the Old Rectory (later Hyde's House) in 1609, became the first earl of Clarendon and rose to become Lord Chancellor under Charles II. Both Philipps House and the nearby Hyde's House are now the property of the National Trust, having been granted by the Philipps family for the good of the village. This bequest enabled the Dinton Recreation Ground to be formed. It is now the focal point for cricket matches, football games and many other sporting and play activities.
Little Clarendon and Hyde's House, both stone-built houses, date from the sixteenth century. Lord Pembroke's manor house, situated on the east side of the village (now Manor Farm) contained a chapel in 1567, providing strong evidence that this had been on or near to the site of the Abbess of Shaftesbury's former manor house. Further stone houses, including Speargate Cottage, Cotterells, Jesse's Farm and Lawes Cottage, were built in the 17th century. Lawes Cottage was later given to the National Trust.

The oldest buildings in the village are to be found near St. Mary's Church, especially along Snow Hill and St. Mary's Road. Some still retaining their thatched roofs. Lawes Cottage is believed to be the birthplace of Henry Lawes, a contemporary of Edward Hyde who became 'Master of the King's Musick' and was one of the outstanding composers and Court musicians of his day. His brother, William, was also a gifted musician and both brothers are commemorated in the large 'Royal Coat of Arms' which is located opposite the organ in St. Mary's Church.
Little Clarendon was purchased by the Rev. George Engleheart, a retired Anglican vicar, in 1901. The house and lands were later passed on to the National Trust. Known his lifetime as 'the daffodil maker', Rev. Engleheart introduced many of the most popular daffodils grown today. He bred his daffodils over a period of 50 years first at Appleshaw in Hampshire and then in Dinton. He was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1900 by the Royal Horticultural Society for his achievements and some of his daffodils are still to be seen in the fields behind Little Clarendon and in the nearby wooded area known as 'The Hangings.'

A 'Victory Hall', acquired in 1920 by converting a surplus army hut, was central to the village's social life. More recently. it has been replaced by the splendid purpose-built Village Hall which is located on Bratch Lane. Dinton's railway hotel, the Wyndham Arms, now a private house, functioned briefly while Wheatsheaf Cottage on Snow Hill, now a private residence, had once been a pub. The East End Inn, later renamed the Swordsman, then the Waggoners Rest, and today known as the Wyndham Arms, is a thriving village pub.

Dinton in War-time

The two world wars had an enormous impact on Dinton. During the First World War Dinton provided the mainline railway station link with the branch line which had been built to transport troops to the large army camp at Fovant. Included in the camp were large numbers of Australian servicemen who were befriended by Miss Constance Henrietta Louisa Penruddocke, who became known as 'the mother of the Aussies'. She kept up a regular correspondence with her ex-soldier friends in all parts of the world and would send several hundred letters and cards at Christmas time.

Dinton experienced a considerable influx of American troops during the Second World War. The US Army Air Force built large hangars which are still standing and are currently being used as warehouses. In readiness for the D-Day landings some 1,800 men were moved to Dinton and accommodated in tents and Nissen huts which were erected in Dinton Park. The 'tented village' has disappeared without trace although a small number of Nissen huts remained for a few years at Catherine Ford Road. Because of the severe housing shortage following the war, the huts initially accommodated local people but in later years new houses were built to replace the huts. Various war-time huts and buildings remain at Oakley Farm , having been used in the past to accommodate the needs of a poultry farm.

Dinton Today

Following the decline of its agricultural way of life, Dinton acquired a number of new building estates and two business parks which now give it a more modern appearance. Today Dinton is a lively village with a busy commercial life, largely due to its thriving primary school, pub, village store, post office and numerous small businesses. Its most spectacular yearly event is the fireworks display staged by the Dinton Bonfire Boys, a group which has its origins in the 19th century.

Dr. Lucille H. Campey

The earliest name for Dinton known dates back to 1086 when it was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Domnitone", this later changed several times until its closest likeness to "Dinton" was "Dynton", first recorded in the "Valor Ecclesiasticus" in 1535. Dinton is situated in the southern part of the county, near Warminster in the Salisbury court district. There is a Roman Road from Mendip lead mines to Salisbury which passes through Grovely Wood.

A large part of Dinton was concerned with farming; the land is fertile and productive. Water meadows were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and produced early spring grass for ewes and higher yields which brought greater prosperity to the farming community. 1910 saw a tobacco crop, most likely to have been used by the Salisbury Tobacco Company. Kelly's directory of Wiltshire 1880 describes the soil as clay, chalk and greensand with the chief crops being wheat, barley, hay and apples. The apples were used to produce cider. Dairy farming was also common, with butter and cheese being made and the milk being sent to the London market. Cows gradually replaced sheep and the early 1900s saw great prosperity when there were 13 farms in the area. Now there is a vineyard as Jesses.

It is believed that in 1086 there were two mills at Dinton which are known now as Dalwood Mill and Coles/Dinton Mill. The Dalwood Mill ground corn from Teffont Magna and was acquired by a Sir Thomas Hungerford in 1337. This mill no longer exists though Dalwood Farm is understood to be the site where it once was.
The Cole family are thought to have been at one time millers under the Abbess of Shaftsbury; hence the name of Coles Mill, and a Mr. Thomas Cole was killed by the inner wheel of the mill in1249. At the end of the 18th century, the miller was involved in quarrels concerning water rights as there was a demand for channels to irrigate the water meadows. The mill was no longer working in 1900 but the mill building that stands today probably dates back to the 18th Century. The mill house adjoining it was a late 19th century addition.

Dinton Park, Hyde's House, Little Clarendon and Lawe's Cottage are owned and conserved by the National Trust. Dinton Park contains Phillips House which is also owned by the National Trust.
Dinton is also the home of the glossy journal 'Wiltshire Life' at Jesses Farm, headquarters of the Mark Allen Group, which publishes many magazines.
Most buildings are made from dressed limestone and have tiled roofs with stone stack and there is the usual selection of buildings found in Wiltshire villages, some with thatch and tile, local brick and some weatherboarding.

Phillips House was built for William Wyndham between 1814 and 1817. The house was then sold to a Mr Bertram Phillips in 1917, hence the name, which has remained since it was presented to the National Trust in 1943.
Its architecture and style is somewhat unique compared to other country houses constructed at the same time due to its overall appearance of neo-classicism, and suggestion of earlier, more old fashioned designs envisaged by the architect
Wyatville. Dinton House is also said to have been one of the first to install a hot air central heating system, with the furnace still present to this day. There are many features within the house that help justify the appearance of a stereotypical old manor house such as the overhead windows on the staircase causing a "peculiar effect of light and shadow" and the library's bookcases, two of which conceal doors.
The entrance hall was originally intended to be the library; now only two bookcases remain. The rest of the bookcases were allocated a smaller room which was once a "Ladies sitting room." There is a large dining room; the entrance to it is through some fine mahogany doors including three double doors and seven single doors. The dining table with its eighteen seats has been part of the room since the 1810s. The drawing room ceiling is distinguished by the finely modelled mouldings of roses and summer flowers decorating the surface. The room is packed with regency furniture and paintings although most on view to the public are copies. The cellars run under the main house storing both wine and beer. The central room is the servants' hall with the butler's pantry to the left. Leading out of the central room is the kitchen wing and in here the pump can still be found; further on were the laundry and brew house. The North side consists of stables and the plans for these date back to 1817. Outside the courtyard are two wells.
The exterior of the house is made from local limestone and this comes from the same limestone quarry that was used to build Salisbury Cathedral, Longford Castle and many other houses in the area. The house has a façade of nine bays and two storeys, the attic windows are hidden behind a parapet.

The Americans constructed Nissen Huts at the crossroads of Dinton during the war. There was no heating, lighting, or water, and squatters began to live in them after they were vacated. The council decided to modernise the huts, they put in 5 interior walls, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen with sink and cold tap, a bathroom with bath and cold tap, an old fashioned grate and oven, and an outside toilet. In 1953, the Nissen Huts were demolished and replaced with Cornish Units. Further evidence of local military activity is found in the area and includes RAF Chilmark built at the end of the Second World War and also the presence of the Americans during the war.

Edward Hyde was born in 1609 in the Old Rectory; he became the first Earl of Clarendon and Chancellor to Charles II. His daughter married James II and became mother of both Queen Mary and Queen Anne. Kelly's Directory of Wiltshire 1907 states that Hyde's baptism records are in St. Mary's Church along with the baptism records of musician Henry Lawes in 1600
The Wyndhams became owners of 1,000 acres of the parish from the end of the 17th century into the early 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, they replaced the original Manor House with Phillips House. In 1901, the population was 593 people.
In 1958 houses gained a mains water supply.

As well as farming, other trades in 1880 included a miller, painter, grocer, brick and tile maker, carrier, bailiff, carpenter, shoe maker, coal dealer and smiths. The 1861 census states that there were grocery and bakers' shops, a mill, police station, post office, a pub and kennels.

In 1865, William Maslem Banes bequeathed £100 for the benefit of the poor of the parish. This was distributed to the 13 oldest and most deserving parishioners each year.
A Dinton Youth Club was founded in the late 20th century held at St. Mary's Church. Also at the Church was the Company of Dinton Bell Ringers which lasted from early to mid 20th century. The Dinton British Legion has been running from at least 1920. The late 20th century saw the creation of the Dinton Cricket Club and the Dinton Amateur Dramatic Society. There is also a Dinton Historical Society. The triangular village green and recreation ground houses the smart new pavilion and play equipment and a new village hall was opened at Westfield Park, the old RAF Baverstock depot in 2001.

Baverstock & Hurdcott

The parish is eight miles west of Salisbury and five miles from Wilton. It is referred to as Bebanstocan in the Wilton Chartulary and as Babestocke in Domesday. It was held by Wilton Abbey, assessed at three hides. 6 acres of meadow and 4 acres of pasture and was then worth 60s. with a population of approximately 25 people. Hardicote was part of the baroncy of Castle Combe held by Humphreyde L'Isle and Domesday records that it was assessed at three hides and housed approximately 60 people. It housed a mill, 6 acres of meadow and 8 acres of pasture and was also worth 60s.

Baverstock means place, coming from 'stoc,' and 'Babba' possibly referred to a name, such as that of a chieftan. Hurdcott could be either 'the hut of the herdsman' or a 'cot for the flock of sheep'.
Early settlement is indicated around the church and includes an earthwork running north/south and to the east of the churchyard. Some Roman remains have been found and these also indicate two centres of population. In 1908 and during the excavation of a lake at Hurdcott House a number of Neolithic artefacts were also found, including a pick with two sharp edges and pointed ends.
In 1872 it became a civil parish in the Wilton Rural district and in 1884 Hurcott was transferred to Barford St. Martin.

Hurdcott manor was in the Gawen family in 1385 and remained with them until 1708.
In 1485 a small house was built for the Abbess of Wilton, Celia Willoughby, and was close to St. Mary's well, later known as 'Merrywell.' It was used as a retreat and visited by pilgrims who washed their eyes at the well which was thought to have healing properties. The abbey was surrendered to Thomas Cromwell in 1539 and granted to the Earl of Pembroke in 1544.
Baverstock manor was built in the late 15th century and bought from the crown in 1543 by Christopher Willoughby, Cecilia's nephew. The family played a central role in Baverstock and many are recorded in the parish registers until their regime ended in 1649 when the manor estate passed to T. Gower. He then sold it in 1673 to Mr. Thomas Pyle. It stayed with the Penruddocks until 1920and came into the possession of R.A. C. Harding by 1933 whose son still lives there.
Hurdcott house passed from the Gowens to the Pitts in 1708 and then to the Powells who enlarged the house on two occasions. It was used to house the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War and was also partly used as a hospital. Some patients were victims of the influenza epidemic of 1918 and are buried locally.

In 1779 a robbery occurred along the new turnpike road when Mrs. Thring was accosted by a person on horseback who took her money and cloak after threatening her with a pair of pistols. Chase was made and when caught the thief was discovered to be a woman, age 24 years called Mary Abraham, who was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death.

In 1823 a new rectory was built at a cost of £1848 after the smaller rectory had burnt down in 1796.

A charity from Selina Hony dates from 1868, the capital of which was £107.16s.4d. invested and was used for distributing flannel amongst the poor. In 1905 seventeen residents in Baverstock received a blanket and a piece of flannel.

The poll tax records of 1377 record 40 tax payers in Baverstock and 13 in Hurdcott.of population. Wilkinson's questionnaire of the mid 19th century records the acreage of the whole parish as 1208.5 acres. In 1801 the population was 120, dropping to 92 in 1811 and rising to 194 by 1841 (136 in Baverstock and 58 in Hurdcott). By 1871 it was down to 129, perhaps due to the demolition of a number of dilapidated cottages, and by 1891 were only 64, due to the transference of Hurdcott to Barford St. Martin.

The medieval system of agriculture would have been used in the parish, either the two or three field system, with half or one third laying fallow. Wheat was grown followed by oats and barley and sheep were kept. Grovely wood provided timber and shelter from the north wind and there was a mill on the Hurdcott side of the River Nadder.
Enclosure probably occurred in the earlier part of the 18th century and there is evidence of a floating water meadow which provided a better hay crop, near Baverstock church.

As Salisbury Cathedral was being built much of the stone, quarried in Chilmark, would have been hauled through the parish. The main thoroughfare was turnpiked in 1761 and is now the B3089. In 1779 a robbery occurred along the new turnpike road when Mrs. Thring was accosted by a person on horseback who took her money and cloak after threatening her with a pair of pistols. Chase was made and when caught the thief was discovered to be a woman, aged 24 years called Mary Abraham, who was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death which was later rescinded.

The main railway line from Salisbury to Yeovil was opened in 1859 and ran alongside the turnpike road and the nearest station was at Dinton.

The foundation stone for the school was in laid 1834 and built with a grant from the National Society and monies from Exeter College. The rector regularly helped with teaching and he attached a bakehouse to the school to aid cooking skills. Warburton recorded in 1859 'a building erected for the purpose of a school, with brick floor and without parallel desks. 15 children, mixed, are taught by an un-certified mistress, formerly employed as a monitor at West Ashton, and subsequently at Compton Chamberlayne as mistress.' By 1876 the children were attending Dinton School and the building was used as a Sunday school and is now a house.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilDinton Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emaildintonpc@btinternet.com

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Population 1801 - 2011

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Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Dinton

Folk Biographies from Dinton

Folk Plays from Dinton

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Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings, listed as being of architectural or historic importance is 31. There are 2 Grade I buildings, Church of St. Mary the Virgin and Hydes House with attached Walls and Gate Piers; and 4 Grade II* buildings, Church of St. Edith of Wilton, Phillips House, Little Clarendon and Baverstock Manor.

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