Contiguous Parishes (Our Neighbours)
Appleshaw (HAM) - Chute with Chute Forest - Collingbourne Ducis - Collingbourne Kingston - Fyfield (HAM) - Kimpton (HAM) - Tidworth
The Parish Church of St. James
Dating from the 12th century, the church of St James is of flint and stone in the Norman and Early English styles. It comprises chancel, transept, a nave with north and south chapels and a south porch. The embattled west tower has four pinnacles and houses a clock and six bells. Between the nave and the south chapel is the canopied Tudor tomb of Sir Richard Brydges and his wife Jane, nee Spencer, an ancestor of the late Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. From 1446 the church was united with Biddesden Church. The cemetery with a Garden of Remembrance is situated in Dewey's Lane. The Rector of St James Ludgershall & Faberstown is the Reverend Claire Maxim. The church is normally kept locked - the key can be obtained from the Rectory immediately opposite the Lych Gate. St. James Church Gallery St. James Church Interior St. James Churchyard Gallery
Parish Registers held at WSHC
Ludgershall is the only parish in Wiltshire who have not donated their historic registers to the WSHC for safekeeping; registers are held at St. James Church. WSHC hold copies on fiche and transcripts
Ludgershall, recorded in the Domesday Book as "Litlgarsele" (little grass heath), lies on the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain, borders the county of Hampshire, and includes the hamlets of Biddesden and Faberstown. Once a corn and sheep town, Ludgershall’s royal claim to fame came about during the civil war in 1141 when the Empress Maud took refuge in the Castle before she fled from Stephen to Devizes, disguised as a corpse on a bier. The town grew up around its Royal castle favoured by medieval kings due to its close proximity to the Royal hunting forest at Chute. The minimal remains of the castle are now under the care of English Heritage together with a medieval preaching cross that stands in the centre of the town. The Castle Ruins & Preaching Cross. Having suffered the ravages of fire, poverty and smallpox, the parish went from being wealthy and important in the Middle Ages to desperately poor by the mid-19th century. William Cobbett wrote in 1826: “It is one of the most mean and beggarly places that man ever set his eyes on. The curse, attending corruption, seems to be upon it. The look of the place would make one swear that there was never a clean shirt in it since the first stone of it was laid.” A local rhyme summed up the state of affairs “At Ludgershall the beer is small and thin, at every door a whore calls her cully in.” Ludgershall’s fortunes began to turn around with the arrival of the railway in 1882 and the expansion of the surrounding area by the MOD for garrisons, training camps and stores - all this provided jobs for the local workforce. Today, the passenger railway has gone and the one existing line services the Army, but Ludgershall remains an ever-expanding town.
1837-1881 - Andover Registration District
1881-April 1936 - Pewsey Registration District
April 1936 - Present - Devizes Registration District
Buildings and Land
The chief residence of Ludgershall was Biddesden House, a spectacular Queen Anne country house. The land on which it stands once beloged to Amesbury Abbey and passed to Sir Richard Brydges with the manor of Ludgershall in the reign of Edward VI. The majority of this hamlet is in Wiltshire with a small portion containing the remains of a Roman Villa in Hampshire. Biddesden House
At the start of 20th Century, local MP Walter Faber began building in Hampshire, just to the east of Ludgershall. This settlement became known as Faberstown. By 1970, Ludgershall and Faberstown were joined together in Wiltshire.
Crime and Legal Matters
Food & Drink Crime
Emigration and Migration
Employment and Business
Agriculture and Land
Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship
A Roman Catholic Chapel of Ease, which began life as a Catholic Women’s League canteen during WWII, was situated in Doctor’s Meadow; ruined by fire in 1990, the chapel closed. A Baptist congregation worshipped in Chapel Lane from c1810 which became Strict Baptist by the mid 1850’s; the chapel closed shortly before WWI and was demolished in about 1920; the graveyard is on the north side of Chapel Lane; a few registrations of births and baptisms 1817-36 and births only 1835-7 have survived (available at WSHC). A Wesleyan Methodist mission hall in Winchester Street in 1909 eventually became the Territorial Army drill hall which itself has long since been demolished.
A Methodist Mission Hall built by Henry Tasker in 1904 was registered as a place of worship in 1921 by the Ludgershall Evangelical Mission. During WW1 and WW2 the hall, known locally as the Soldiers Welcome, was used to entertain troops. The Mission Hall continues to hold Evangelical services today. Mission Hall gallery
People and Parish Notables
Associations, Clubs, Organisations and Societies
Wiltshire Friendly Society
Friendly societies played an important part in our ancestors' lives. Members paid a regular fee and attended meetings; if they became sick, emotional support would be given along with an allowance to help them meet their financial obligations. The society might have a doctor who could be freely consulted and, when a member died, funeral expenses were paid; often, any money left over went to the widow. Most parishes held an annual fete to boost funds - parishioners turned out in large numbers to watch members parade the village with their banners accompanied by a local band.
Census Returns Transcripts
Elections and Polls
Coroners' inquests were held within 48 hours of a sudden, unnatural or unexplained death. In rural locations they were conducted at the alehouse, parish workhouse or in the building where the death occurred. The jury could consist of between 12 and 24 people, but this reduced to between 7 and 12 after 1926. Many historical Coroners’ Reports were destroyed under 1958 Public Records Act; newspaper articles are often the only source of an inquest having been carried out.
|1800-1849||1850-1870||Robert Cummings 1907||Henry V Keen 1909|
|Thomas Swansborough 1909||William Loader 1914|
You may find your ancestors mentioned in the court columns either as the perpetrator or victim of crime. Alcohol related offences, poaching and theft were the most common misdemeanours dealt with by the petty sessions in the 19th century and are reported with monotonous regularity. Reports of the many social activities in the village give us a look back in time at how our ancestors spent their high days and holidays. Primarily, articles shown are those that contain names of parishioners to assist family history researchers but these articles should not be presumed to be the only ones that appear in the newspapers in the given years, or that there are no articles in any of the years omitted.
War, Conflict and Military Matters
Servicemen and Women
World War I
The Railway and the MOD
The railway and the MOD in Ludgershall are inextricably linked. In 1882 the Swindon, Marlborough & Andover Railway opened a line through Ludgershall. The station had special platforms designed for military traffic – prior to and during WWI, troops de-trained here for military camps in the area.
"There is every reason to believe that the War Office contemplate establishing a permanent camp on the outskirts of the land lately secured by the Government for military purposes on Salisbury Plain, and probably with this object in view they have purchased close upon 670 acres of additional land situate at Ludgershall for the sum of £9,350." Western Gazette 15 July 1898
During WWII, Army depots and medical stores were built; in 1943, a railway line from the depot to the south of Tidworth Road joined up with the Ludgershall-Tidworth line opened in 1901. The U.S. Army prepared vehicles for the invasion of Europe here in 1943. Ludgershall was the busiest place on the line as troops and equipment were moved back and forth around Salisbury Plain. The railway station closed in 1961 along with the northern section to Swindon. The southern section to Andover is still in use transporting supplies and equipment to Military establishments across Wiltshire. In 1990 the Ministry of Defence owned about 225 hectares of land in Ludgershall.
The War Memorial stands at the junction of High Street and the Andover road in the centre of the town. A four sided obelisk of Bath stone, the memorial was unveiled in 1920 by Lady Moyne. Five casualties of the war are buried in St. James churchyard but their names do not appear on the war memorial - Charles M. Brock, James H. Dunt, Charles W. Kent, Philip A. Oliver and William L. Taylor. With grateful thanks to Patricia Brice who has shared her research with the Wiltshire OPC project.
With grateful thanks to Patricia Brice who has shared her research on the fallen of WWI with the Wiltshire OPC project. Also many thanks to the late Jan Oliver who researched and contributed much of the work seen on this page.