If you are reading this page using a screenreader, we support ARIA landmarks for quick navigation too

Wiltshire Community History

East Kennett Search Results

There were 1 items found.

Condensed View - Comprehensive View

East Kennett

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 East Kennett:

Map of the Civil Parish of East Kennett

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:

East Kennett is a small and quiet village and civil parish, west of Marlborough, separated from West Kennet, which is located in Avebury parish to the north of the river Kennet, from which both villages take their name. The population records go far back to 1801 when there was 102 inhabitants but this had fallen to 85 by 1811, recovering to 102 by 1831. The population decreased in 1971 to 57 and increased by ten in 1981 before moving up to 100 inhabitants in 1991. The UK Census in 2001 recorded a population of 105 but by 2011 this had fallen to 84 people.

Most inhabitants worked as agricultural labourers which was long and hard work. One man, Harry Green, worked as a milker in 1944 from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week with only one week’s holiday a year. The wages were basic so people managed to supply their food by growing vegetables or keeping chickens, and East Kennett has 700 acres of farmland which was used for sheep and dairying.  

The Geology Survey tells us the East Kennett long barrow (within the Avebury world heritage site area) shows Lewes nodular chalk formation, Seaford chalk formation and Newhaven chalk formation (upper chalk) in the north western part of the site with Holywell nodular chalk formation and new pit chalk formation (middle chalk) over the rest of the site.

Meadow, arable, and pasture were used commonly in the 16th century. Small closes of meadow and arable were attached to the farm of East Kennett Manor and certain tenements. One copyholder was allowed to keep sheep on his tenement rather on a pasture. Some of the land enclosed was drawn up for an agreement in 1713 between the manor farm and the East Kennett owners which divided The Great West and Little West fields. Another division was also made to split Longbridge Mead (between East and West Kennett). If the agreement took place the downland pasture and lands would still been worked in common. There are no other records of agreements that ended common husbandry (management and conservation of resources) but pasture was still worked in common in 1832. However by 1838 most farms worked in severalty (the condition of being separate).

In the Doomsday Book of 1086 the estate was comprised of holdings which were later in East and West Kennett. However even though the Doomsday survey didn’t mention a wood in East Kennett, there was a small area of the parish on the ridge that was located within the forest of Savernake in the late 13th century. However it was deforested by 1300.

The lands of East Kennett were first granted to Wulfswyth in 939 A.D. by King Athelstan and were passed on to Alfeld in 972 A.D. by King Edgar. The lands in Kennett later formed the manor of East Kennett which was held in 1086 by Leaucldi and Waleran the huntsman. At this time the population would have been around 20 people. The present East Kennett Manor is a red square brick house with a south front of five bays and balancing wings which were added in 1925. It has a large courtyard in the north of the house with barn, stables and dovecot.

The overlordship changed over time from the manor of Hamptworth to Walter Walerand to the heirs of his daughters, Aubrey De Botreaux and Isabel De Neville. Aubrey’s control was passed onto John of Ingham. After the death of her great-grandson Oliver, Lord Ingham, in 1344, the fees which he had were divided between his daughter Joan, Lord Strange and his granddaughter Mary Curzon. However Mary’s portion went to Joan after she died in 1349.

Joan married Miles De Stapleton and their half of the overlordship was passed on to their son Miles, where it descended from father to son in the Stapleton family. The other half was inherited by Isabel De Neville’s daughter Joan who was succeeded by her son William and grandson Reynold De St Martin but his overlordship isn’t mentioned after 1300.

East Kennett has been shown to have a Saxon origin due to the early Saxon boundary bank, the Wansdyke (series of early medieval defensive linear earthworks), two kilometres to the south. The river Kennet could have possibly been fought over in 1006, when a battle was waged at Cynete between the local Saxon population in East Kennett and invading Danes on their way back to the coast. The Danes were shown to have won as there was a mass grave of local people discovered in 1678. The East Kennett downlands show considerable evidence of prehistoric activity in the area, including a long barrow thought to have formed either a round kerb for a circle house site in the Bronze Age or a round barrow, a supposed stone circle at Langdean (probably the remains of a barrow or hut) filled with artefacts from the Bronze Age, and ‘Celtic’ fields on Thorn Hill.

A ‘churchstead’ referred to in King Edgar’s Charter in 972 A.D. may have been in East Kennett. Although it may have referred to a church in Overton, architectural evidence indicates there was a church in East Kennett in the 12th century. After the church was appropriated by St. Margaret’s Priory, the living was a donative parish (exempt from diocesan jurisdiction) until the 19th century when it became a vicarage. In 1306 William of Bruges and his wife Alice tried to claim right of presentation to the rectory, but this wasn’t accepted and in the same year a candidate from St. Margaret’s Priory was accepted. Rectors were presented by the priory until 1383.

At the time of his death in 1496 John Wroughton owned St. Margaret’s Manor as tenant under rent, which was possibly passed down to his son Sir Christopher and his great-grandson Sir William Wroughton. After that tenants and sub-tenants held the house of the Wroughtons between 1520-1539, with Richard Weston holding it in 1530 and Robert Weston in 1676, but no-one else seemed to want the manor house after that.

The possessions of St. Margaret's and East Kennett were given to Anne of Cleves in 1539 and passed on to Catherine Howard in 1541. In 1543 the St. Margaret’s Priory manor was given to Henry Jones for life. A royal grant was given to William Herbert in 1553 who sold the manor to Richard Franklin in 1563, who passed it on to his son Richard and grandson William Franklin.

In 1789 Joseph Mighell, then owner of St. Margaret’s Priory Manor, had said to have introduced Southdown sheep and Leicestershire crosses to the country. In the 16th century there were 120 acres of arable land and seven acres of meadow in East Kennett for 400 sheep. In 1787 the manor consisted of a farm with 508 acres.

Christ Church in East Kennett stands on the site of an old church largely walled in during renovations in the 15th century. Between the late 16th century to the 17th century, the church was reported to be decaying due to the owner of the rectory estates neglecting it. In 1863 the church was rebuilt by Gane & Co. from Trowbridge. The new building included a new chancel, a nave with a north tower and a south porch. The most notable surviving feature of the old church is monuments of the Tooker and Matthews’ family. In John Matthews will of 1879 he left the income from £300 for the church and churchyard upkeep, and income from another another £300 to buy clothing, food and fuel for the poor in the parish. The responsibility of the upkeep of the church was given to the owner of the rectory estates who received the endowment profits.

In 1818 poor children desired means of education but there was no evidence of a day school built in the parish before a schoolhouse in 1877. However In 1857 the Misses Maria and Anne Matthews (then owners of East Kennett manor house) built the first elementary school in East Kennett on the land opposite the manor house. The school was partly used as a day school for children, and also to train girls in the work of domestic servants, and could hold 30 children. The school was named ‘Miss Matthew’s School’ after Anne died and Maria gave and endowment of £2,300. A dispensary and a room were built to be used by the people of East Kennett and West Overton in East Kennett in the 1880s, funded by money from Sarah or Maria Matthews. A minimum of £1,000 had to be spent on the facilities, but since then the building has been sold as a private house for conversion after the fund was wound up in 1917.  

However after Maria’s death in 1892 the school didn’t stay independent and became a Church Of England Public Elementary. Part of Maria’s endowment went towards adding a new building to accommodate more pupils. Attendance increased with the new building raised to 38 pupils in 1919 but declined in 1924 when the older pupils went to other schools in places like Avebury.

It was difficult to use Maria’s endowment so the school relied on charity to help raise the funds. The proceeds went towards further training for the girls, improving recreational facilities, further education for children and maintenance for West Overton and East Kennett in 1926. The school has been shut down since August 2011.


CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilEast Kennett Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emaildavidwsnape@aol.com

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 East Kennett

Folk Biographies from East Kennett

Folk Plays from East Kennett

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 historical importance is 10. There are no Grade I buildings and 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.


Frequently Asked Questions

Search the Wiltshire Studies Catalogue This will take you to our library catalogue where you will need to limit to 'Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre' for branch and re-enter your search term to find books on the subject. Please enter more than one word, e.g. 'Salisbury + market' unless you are looking for a small community.

Search Community Information Database

Wiltshire & Swindon Archives

Wiltshire Wills Search by name, occupation, or subject for details of a will from this parish held in the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office.

Genuki Family History - Wiltshire

If you have a local history enquiry, contact the County Local Studies Library




This website

Contact details

Contact Wiltshire Council

Write to us or call us

Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Bythesea Road
BA14 8JN