Contiguous Parishes (our neighbours)
Allington - Boscombe - Bulford - Cholderton - Durnford - Durrington - Idmiston with Porton - Newton Tony - Wilsford - Winterbourne Stoke
Duncan and Mandy Ball's - Website for photographs of The Abbey Church of St. Mary & St. Melor
GenUKI - For information relating to Amesbury and Wiltshire
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - The Wiltshire County Archives for all historical documents and the place to obtain original copies
Wiltshire Community History - Historical information for parishes within the Wiltshire County jurisdiction.
Amesbury - Parish Web Site
Register of One-Place Studies - Amesbury Entry
The Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Melor (The Abbey Church)
A Brief History of the Abbey Church
The first known place of worship on the site of today's church was a Benedictine Abbey, founded by Queen Elfreda in 979 and consecrated by the Bishop of Ramsbury. Henry II re-founded the Abbey in 12th Century, increasing it's size and grandeur as penance for the death of St. Thomas A Becket. In 1283, King Edward The First's daughter Mary entered the Convent where she spent the rest of her life. Four years later his mother, Eleanor of Provence, took her vows and was buried there. At the time of the Reformation the Abbey was dissolved; many of it's buildings were destroyed. Lands were given to Jane Seymour's family (3rd wife of Henry VIII)but the Abbey Church was given to the people of Amesbury. Much of its monastic dignity is forever lost; the nave having been shortened, three of the four chantry chapels destroyed and only traces of the original Abbey cloisters can still be seen today. The church does however boast an 18th Century organ donated by St. Edmund's Parish, Salisbury in 1983; an historic font with a Norman bowl of Purbeck stone mounted on a Tudor base and oak tie beams in the roof of the nave, carved in situ by craftsmen in the 16th Century. A white Beam Tree was planted in 1979 by HRH The Prince of Wales to commemorate the millennium of the Abbey Church. St. Mary & St. Melor is a beautiful church of which the parishioners of Amesbury are immensely proud. Abbey Church Photo Gallery Abbey Church Interior
Parish Register Transcripts
Registers Held at WSHC
Records available from Other Sources
Rev. Thomas Holland, Inventor
In Amesbury Church there is a tombstone, inscribed: Thomas Holland, who was for half a century minister of this parish, a small living, yet he never solicited a greater, nor improved to his own advantage his marvellous talents in applying the powers of nature to the useful purposes of life; the most curious and complete engine which the world enjoys for raising water being invented by him. He died May 11th, 1730, aged 84.
The Medieval Amesbury Clock
Housed in the church, the clock is believed to have been built in 15th Century for the Benedictine Abbey. Originally, it had neither hands nor a dial - its sole purpose was to herald the times of worship by announcing the hour. In 1919 it was replaced with a modern timepiece and the Amesbury Clock was stored away in the Church Hall where it remained until it was re-discovered by the antiquarian horologist T. R. Robinson - about the same time as he re-discovered the Salisbury Clock. Robinson took the clock to London and began work on it. In 1971 it was returned to the Abbey Church. Amesbury Clock Photo Gallery
Situated 7 miles to the north of Salisbury and 14 miles west of Andover (Hampshire), Amesbury sits in a valley on the beautiful River Avon and incorporates the hamlet of West Amesbury. Formerly a market town, it is a place of considerable antiquity, not least because the historic monument of Stonehenge lies within this parish. "Amesbury" is believed to be a derivation of 'Ambrose Burgh' - the name of the camp of Ambrose Aurenlianas, a great leader of British tribes and founder of a Monastery in the town in 5th Century. He positioned his camp here to repel Saxon invaders. The Monastery was destroyed in 6th Century. In 2014 Amesbury was officially crowned "The Oldest Town in Britain" after archaeological research showed that the area had been occupied since c8820 BC. The title had previously been held by Thatcham 40 miles to the east of Amesbury. For further details about the findings visit the Mail Online. The parish includes the hamlets of Countess and West Amesbury Countess Gallery West Amesbury Gallery
1837 - April 1936 Amesbury Registration District
April 1936 - Present Salisbury Registration District
Buildings and Land
George Hotel, Amesbury
The George was the pilgrims' hostel attached to nearby Amesbury Abbey, dating from circa 600 A.D., but became Crown property in Henry VIII's reign, and is mentioned in official archives in 1541 as "St. George and the Dragon." In 1645 General Fairfax made the George his headquarters and, with the advent of the stage coach, this became the halfway house for the London-Exeter Quicksilver Mail, and was referred to as the "Blue Dragon" by Dickens in "Martin Chuzzlewit." In 1899, The Prince of Wales later to become King Edward VII stayed here. George Hotel Gallery
Situated on Smithfield Street was a Grade II listed building built in the late 18th early 19th century.
Kings Arms Inn
Situated at 7 Church Street. Closed for a while but now reopened.
This watermill was worked from the first half of the 19th century by William Sandell, by 1904 William had retired and handed the reins to his son William, Jnr. In turn William juniors son Thomas followed his father and grandfather into the family business.
This is probably the most famous of all Wiltshire landmarks and ranks high on the list of visitor attractions across the UK. The exact reason for the stones existence has been subject to much speculation but is used today as a Druid's gathering place on the date of the Summer Solstice. It is possible that these stones were hauled cross country from Pembrokeshire where similar stone has been found. The exact age of the circle is unknown.
The land surrounding and including the stone circle was given to the nation on 26th October 1918 by Cecil Chubb. He was born in 1876 and died in 1934. He had purchased the ancient site at a Salisbury Auction in September 1915. At one time the ancient stones were accessed via turnstiles and the stones circle commanded an entry fee. Stonehenge Photo Gallery
The cafe was a thriving enterprise sat near the junction of the A360 and the A303 serving refreshments to visitors to the ancient stones. It was owned and ran by Clement G. Billett who lived at Watergate, Countess Road, Amesbury.
West Amesbury House
This was the home of Frederick Turner in 1904. One of the cottages a little further along the street is now known as Manor Cottage.
Crime and Legal Matters
|Crime Reports 1800-1849||Inmates of Gloucester Gaol 1815-1879||Thomas Rolfe, Theft Charge 1868|
|Attempted Suicide 1909||Case Against Driver Dismissed 1949|
Emigration and Migration
Employment and Business
Agriculture and Land
Apprentice records published here may not necessarily mean that the apprentice was from the parish but was apprenticed to a master within the parish.
Wiltshire Society Apprentices
Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship
All Saints Chapel, Ratfyn
This chapel was active by the 15th century when Amesbury Priory was responsible for supplying a priest. In 1412 it was said that the inhabitants were neglecting the building and that the priory was providing few services. It is likely that the chapel was in a ruinous state by the 16th century.
Amesbury Baptist Church
The church is situated in Butterfield Drive. The building is a modern structure.
Amesbury Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
John Wesley preached in Amesbury in 1779 and 1785 but it was not until 1806 that the house of Joseph Edwards was licensed as a meeting house. In 1816 a chapel was built behind buildings on the north west side of the High Street. This chapel was re-licensed in 1838, possibly after alterations had been completed, and in the 1851 religious census there were morning and afternoon congregations of 96 and 100 respectively. In 1864 the congregation was described as 'very active' and a schoolroom had been built. Both chapel and schoolroom were burned down in 1899 and a new chapel of red brick was built fronting the north west side of the High Street in 1900. A schoolroom was built behind this in 1931-2 while in 1961 a hall was built. In the latter part of the 20th century the name was changed to Upper Avon Methodist Church covering Amesbury and villages to the north of the town.
Christ the King, Roman Catholic Church, Lordscroft
Between 1794 and 1800 an English convent of Augustinian canonesses resided at Amesbury Abbey. There was no church until 1933 when one was opened in London Road, which then served chapels in neighbouring parishes. This church was replaced by a new church at Lord's Croft in 1985. There is a resident priest at Amesbury.
This church was built in 1931 to serve the military at Boscombe Down. It is now closed.
Primitive Methodist Chapel
In the early years of the 20th century a small chapel of corrugated iron was built in Flower Lane. The congregation seems to have been small in number and the chapel had closed by 1922.
Priory Church (Great Church)
This was built between 1177 and 1186. There were two chapels dedicated to Our Lady and to St. John. The Steeple was octagonal and of wooden structure coated with lead. It housed 4 bells. At the time of the Dissolution the building and lands were sold to Lord Hertford who systematically demolished the church and buildings removing materials from the site up to and beyond 1541. The Priory Church and other buildings occupied much of the site where the Amesbury Abbey Church is sited.
People and Parish Notables
Associations, Clubs Organisations and Societies
Elections, Polls and Voters Lists
Eleanor of Provence
Eleanor of Provence was born in Aix-en-Provence, France c1223. She was married to Henry III on the 14th January 1236 at Canterbury Cathedral, she was also crowned Queen Consort of England on that same day. She held that title until 16th November 1272 and became the dowager queen on the death of Henry III. Eleanor died on 24/25 June 1291 in Amesbury. She was buried on 11 September 1291 in the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Melor, Amesbury on 9 December 1291. The exact site of her grave at the abbey is unknown making her the only English queen without a marked grave. Her heart was taken to London where it was buried at the Franciscan priory.
Poor Law, Charity and The Workhouse
Charitable Donations and Bequeaths
Inquisitions Post Mortem of Lands Held
War, Conflict and Military Matters
|Why the Poppy||Chelsea Pensioners 1808-1828||Servicemen & Families with the 1st Wilts. Regt. in South Africa 1911|
|Church Roll of Honour Plaque 1914-1919||Church Roll of Honour Plaque 1939-1945||Meritorious Service Medal, R. J. Bayly 1951|
On the 5th July 1912, Captain E. B. Lorraine of the Royal Engineers and Staff Sergeant R. H. V. Wilson were killed in a flying accident near the Stonehenge/Shrewton crossroads. A memorial now marks the spot.
The War Memorial
The memorial stands in the churchyard commemorating the men of the parish who gave their lives in WWI and WWII. A campaign has been running to have the memorial returned to the High Street, which as at February 2011, has been successful and will be moved as soon as a suitable site can be found. In the meantime with funding from the War Memorials Trust and of the Co-Operative Society Community Fund the war memorial has had a £6000 restoration which has involved the cleaning and the raising of the stone cross back to its original height. When the memorial was moved from the High Street in 1964 it remained in a Council yard for about 4-5 years before being re-sited at the church, it would seem that part of the upright of the cross was either broken off or deliberately removed to accommodate over hanging trees in the churchyard. The trees have now been cut back and the memorial restored to its former glory.
WWI Casualties that appear on the memorial are included in this list published in the Diocese of Salisbury Memorial Book. Further war memorials are to be found within the Abbey Church for WWI Casualties and for those of WWII. One Bell ringer from Amesbury is commemorated in the Bell-Ringers Memorial Book on public view in the Library of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Here you can find out a little bit more about the Casualties of WWI who were named on the memorials around the town. War Memorial WWI & WWII War Memorial Restored 2011
Much of the information submitted for this page is the work of the late Jan Oliver, which is most gratefully acknowledged.