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Wiltshire Community History

Durnford 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 Durnford:

Map of the Civil Parish of Durnford

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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

Thumbnail History:

The parish is situated along the Christchurch Avon, between Salisbury and Amesbury. It consists of the settlements of Great and Little Durnford together with Netton, Salterton and Newtown; Normanton was also included in the parish until 1885. Bounded by the River Avon in the west and the Marlborough/Salisbury Road in the east the boundaries are, at the present day, similar to those delineated indicating a 10th century estate. In 1885 the area of the parish was 3,102 acres, but in 1986 land at Laverstock was added, making an area of 3,274 acres. There are few wooded areas; the parish is mainly on chalk downland reaching 140 metres to the south east of Great Durnford, with all the settlements chiefly on the gravel area near the river. In the late 20th century land was mainly put to dairy farming.

All the settlement names have Saxon origins and the road linking the settlements may have been of Saxon origin. This road was diverted to the east, around Durnford Manor during the 18th century. There are many prehistoric sites in the area. A group of possibly Bronze Age barrows are to be found on Little Down, whilst Ogbury Camp is an Iron Age hill fort covering around 62 acres, with prehistoric field systems to both the north and south of the camp. The river has been used for fishing and there are water meadows. There is a possible Roman fortification at Camp Hill. Records from 1086 show just two estates in the parish, but by the 13th century these had been divided into several estates.

Great Durnford settlement includes, to the north of the church, the site of a house which had belonged to the prebendary of Durnford, also the vicarage, and Durnford Manor built in 1792. There are several cottages of thatch and rendered cob remaining in the 20th century. To the south of the church is a farmhouse dating from around 1792. Around 1900 cottages were built for workers, and at this time the gatehouse was built in Durnford Manor Park. Southend, later Church Farm, is possibly medieval with a 14th century window and 16th century roof, but was extensively altered in the late 20th century. Piles Farm, later named the Old Hall is 18th century, was also enlarged in the 20th century. The Black Horse was originally a 19th century farmhouse. A mill exists to the south of the settlement, and council houses were built in the early to mid 20th century. An airfield to the south east of the settlement opened as a flying school in 1931, but is now, in the 21st century, an industrial estate. During the Second World War the High Post Hotel, which had been built in the 1930s, was used as flats for factory workers, it was re-built in the late 20th century.

At Little Durnford during the Middle Ages most buildings were around the river ford. The manor house was possibly on the site of Home Farm, and in 1469 it included a hall and other rooms. A new manor house was built for Edward Young on higher ground to the east, constructed of chequered limestone and flint; it was completed around 1740. Original rich plaster work still exists despite many alterations and additions. Two fishponds were built in 1773 and a lake at the end of the 19th century. A bridge crossing the river was also built in the 18th century. A 17th century farmhouse of flint and chalk construction with stone quoins and a thatched roof was destroyed by fire in 1973. Houses were built along the Little Durnford/Netton road in the late 19th early 20th centuries. A 'cottage ornee' named Little Durnford Villa dates from 1851 and The Hermitage from the 1870s. New Hedge Farm, along Salisbury Road, dates from the first half of the 19th century.

Netton had a few farmsteads in the early 19th century but by 21st century all were out of use. Manor Farm dates from 18th century and, to the north, the Round House is early 19th. The Crown Inn opened in 1851 but closed around 1962. A 17th century thatched cottage survives on the west side of the street. New Heale Cottage was built in 1900 on the site of a previous L-shaped building. At Netton Green is a group of late 18th century buildings while an elm tree at the site in 1773 was still alive in 1993. Corner Elm House was built for William Haytor in 1854. A non-conformist chapel and school were built and re-built at Netton Green, but were both private houses by 1993. The Durnford Friendly Society, 1815-92, was using the school for meetings in 1859. A farmstead, known as Park Farm was built beside Woodford Bridge Road in 1824 but demolished late 19th century, however, the 'cottage ornee' built as its lodge survives, together with farm buildings.

Salterton Manor was allotted to Ralph Butler in 1310. The Butler family held it until 1569 when it was sold to Gerrard Errington whose descendents held it until 1805. In 1809 it was sold to William Bowles, lord of Southmead Manor. In the 18th century Salterton lay east to west along a lane leading to the river. By the 19th century the only remaining farmstead was that adjoining Salterton House, built early 17th century. There were also seven cottages, five of which had been demolished by 1879. A brick and stone bridge was built across the river in the 18th century to be an ornamental entrance to the grounds of Heale House in Woodford. Normanton House dates from late 18th century and there are three pairs of cottages dating from 1840-79.

In 1086, William of Eu held a 16 hide estate called Durnford, later Great Durnford Manor. Richard Fitzgilbert, Earl of Pembroke, who died in 1176, held this at the time of his death. In 1791 it was purchased by Lord Malmesbury who sold the manor house and 53 acres of parkland in 1868. This was sold to George, later Baron Tryon, around 1907; the remaining 760 acres, on which Lord Malmesbury had built Ogbury House were sold around 1907 to Baron Tryon, and in until recently Great Dunford Manor and around 1,200 acres were still held by Lord Tryon.

It is suggested that what was possibly the Manor of Netton was the half a hide given to the Templars by Alice de Tory. At the suppression of the Templars it passed to the Hospitallers who held it until the Dissolution. It was then held by the Swayne family who acquired more land over the next 200 years. Two other estates in Netton were held by William, Earl of Salisbury in 1242, these appear to have descended with Salterton Manor until possibly 1559, but by 1824 this was also held by the Swayne family. What was eventually Salterton Manor had been part of the holding of William of Eu.
In 1086 there was a mill at Little Durnford, with three others within the parish, and Great Durnford is known to have a mill in both the late 12th century and early 14th century. One existed at Southmead Manor in 1389 and in 1612, while a mill on this site was reconstructed in the 18th century and ceased work in 1922 to be restored as a dwelling house in 1961.

Durnford was well populated in 1086 with an estimated population of between 300 and 350 people. In 1377, a generation after the Black Death, there were 162 poll tax payers (aged over 14 years) in the parish. The village was afflicted by the plague in 1627. A house in the parish was certified for Presbyterian use in 1672, and one for Methodists in 1818. Netton Methodist Chapel was certified in 1812, possibly for Wesleyans. The chapel stood at the east of the road at Nettleton Green but was replaced by one built of red brick to the west of the road. This was open in 1974 but by 1988 had closed.

A school existed in the parish in 1808, while a second opened in 1824, with a third in 1827. The three schools had a total of 62 pupils in 1833. The National School at Netton opened in 1844 with three teachers and 86 pupils but by 1846 was reduced to one teacher, while in 1859 pupils numbered between 40 and 50. At this time two other schools had fewer than 10 pupils each. By 1871 the National School had only 32 pupils, it was rebuilt in 1872, in 1906 there were 58 pupils, dropping total 43 by 1938 and only 20 pupils remained on the roll in 1972. The school closed in 1975 and pupils were transferred to Woodford School. J. O. Parr, who was vicar between 1824 and 1840, and lived at Durnford Manor, held a school for five or six boys; one of these was Sir William Harcourt who was later to become leader of the Liberal Party. A Preparatory School for Girls opened by Lady Tryon in 1942 and closed in 1992
The 1851 census shows a population of 554, but by 1931 only 376 people were living in the parish; in 1951 there were 427 inhabitants but by 1991 the population had fallen to 405. Trade directories show that in 1875 the village had three carpenters, a miller, a wool stapler, blacksmith, butcher, shopkeeper, baker and two pubs. In 1899 the two public houses were still in operation as were a blacksmith, two dairymen, two carriers, a shopkeeper and post office, a carpenter, and a baker, grocer and provision dealer who specialised in home cured hams.

Great Durnford church, since 1974 united with that of Wilsford and Woodford to become the Benefice of Woodford Valley, is dedicated to St. Andrew. It was held by Salisbury Cathedral in 1150, and the nave and chancel date from this time. The chancel was altered in the 13th century when the tower was built; this was partly rebuilt in 17th century. There were three bells in 1553, one cast in Salisbury in 1400. It was noted in the 1630s that the vicarage was in need of repair and a new dwelling was built in 1728, parts of which survive in the 21st century. Walter, the vicar around 1281 was murdered in the vicarage house. In 1459 Richard Woodhill, Lord of Little Dunford Manor, was excommunicated for not answering changes of heresy, failing to attend church, confess or receive the sacrament at Easter. A 1571 chained copy of Jewell's Apology was stolen from the church in 1970. Samual Squire who died in 1723 had been vicar for around 50 years, as was N.J. Hixman, vicar from 1849 to 1897, and Leicester Selby held the office from 1898 to 1937. In 1864 average church attendance was 120.

The main employer in the parish was the Wessex Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd., founded in 1933 at High Post. During the Second World War signalling equipment for aircraft was manufactured, after the war the name was changed to WAE Co. Ltd. when pyrotechnic devices for the military were manufactured, along with fireworks. In 1952 the factory covered 27 acres. By 1965 Pains Wessex Ltd. were manufacturing civilian pyrotechnic devices. In 1973 a company called Scherumly, specializing in rocket powered line throwers, merged with Pains to become Pains Wessex Scherumly. Fireworks manufacture ceased in 1976 and by 1993 the factory was producing marine distress signals and military pyrotechnics. There were 450 employees with over 150 buildings covering over 100 acres. After the Second World War a factory built at High Post processed tobacco and cigarettes during the 1950s. New premises, built in 1990, were used by Air Cleaner Technical Services making components for air conditioning systems, and employing around 160 staff.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilDurnford Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailwendy_rountree@hotmail.com

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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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.


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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 Durnford

Folk Biographies from Durnford

Folk Plays from Durnford

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 36. There are 2 Grade I buildings, Church of the St. Andrew and Little Durnford Manor; and 1 Grade II*, a Garden Ornament near the south-west corner of the house.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

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