Contiguous Parishes (our neighbours)
Brixton Deverill - Maiden Bradley - Mere - Monkton Deverill - West Knoyle
Websites of Interest
GenUKI - For information on Wiltshire and Kingston Deverill.
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - The Wiltshire County Archives for all historical documents and the place to obtain original copies.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.
The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Bishop Osmonde's church register, completed around 1099, recorded the evidence in Kingston Deverill of the Chapel of St Andrew, administered under the Hundred of Mere. This chapel would have been of Saxon origin and almost certainly would have stood upon the site of the existing church building and a Saxon font stands at the west of the nave. In 1302, Robert de Vernon, descended from Sir John de Vernon who founded a priory of Black Cannons at Longleat around 1270, became patron of the church at Kingston Deverill. The pulpit is believed to be of Flemish origin and there is also some original 16th century Flemish stained glass. (see photogallery). There are a set of six bells in the tower, which were installed in 1731. Local folklore suggests that in 1636 the Star Chamber prosecuted two church wardens for allowing football to be played upon the Sabbath Day. In 1847, the church of St Mary the Virgin was rebuilt, although the tower is thought to be 14th century. It consists of a nave, chancel, tower and south aisle. A stone slab which is set into the front of the altar, records the first incumbent of St Mary's as Ino Cockerell, appointed in 1302, with his successors also listed up to the year of 1870. In 1970 through a donation a 14th century wood carving of the Madonna and Child is thought to have originally come from the cathedral at Mechelen, Belgium. (see photogallery)
Parish Register Transcripts
Parish Registers held at WSHC
At the time of the Domesday survey, Kingston Deverill was noted as lying partly in the Mere Hundred and partly in the Hundred of Amesbury. That part which lay in Amesbury was held by the Canons of Lisieux in Normandy and that which lay in Mere was in the holding of the Earldom, which is now the Duchy of Cornwall. The Parish of Kingston Deverill, which since 1934 has included the village of Monkton Deverill and is part of the Deverill Valley. This encompasses six villages on the Wiltshire Downs to the western edge of Salisbury Plain and then edges into Somerset. Longbridge is the principal village and its parish includes the village of Crockerton. The other Deverills are Hill, now in Longbridge parish and Brixton. The name Deverill refers to the River Deverill, which flows through the whole valley. It rises to the west of Kingston and flows north, passing through six villages. At Crockerton it meets the Shearwater Stream and becomes the River Wylye. The name Deverill means 'diving rill'. There are points along its route where it peters out and flows underground, hence the disappearing rill or stream. The name Kingston goes back to the Norman Conquest, after which the land was owned by the Crown. There is a possibility that this name was given to distinguish it from the other Deverills, none of which, since the Conquest, have been royal property. The name Monkton means Monk's Farm, at the time of the Domesday it belonged to the church of St Mary of Malmesbury.
The estimated population figure for the whole valley according to at the time of the Domesday survey was 680. The largest community was Monkton with approximately 285 residents and Kingston Deverill the smallest with only 34. Hill Deverill was divided into five separate holdings and supported a population twice that of Longbridge, although both were of similar size and value. Monkton was twice the size of Kingston and had land for nine ploughs as opposed to Kingston's three. The whole situation had changed greatly by the time of the next survey in 1676, when Longbridge was by far the largest community, with Kingston being the second. This pattern has remained constant ever since.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Deverill Valley provided most of the services that people needed. Farms being the main employers and most services such as blacksmith, shoemaker, carpenter were available at Longbridge. Brixton was able to support a village shop until 1915. There were Post Offices at Kingston and Longbridge, carriers at Kingston and Crockerton and pubs at Monkton, Longbridge and Crockerton. Mains water and electricity were brought to the north of the valley in the mid 1930's, but did not reach the south until after World War Two. Until 1895 both villages had their own school. Monkton then closed as it had just 20 pupils. Kingston remained open until 1969 and there were only 13 children. The children then attended Sutton Veny School.
Buildings and Land
In February 2005, a five piece Roman metal hoard including a patera (a broad, shallow dish used for drinking, or a chalice used primarily in a ritual context such as a libation) was excavated by a local metal detectorist. The hoard can be viewed at the Salisbury & South West Wilts Museum at The Close in Salisbury.
The centuries preceding the Roman invasion the pattern of life changed. Field systems became more elaborate. The 'Celtic' types of fields, these were normally small irregular enclosures ditched and banked as protection against damage by wild animals or possibly raiding bands. Examples of these may be seen on Pertwood Down, the surface of which has not been ploughed since early days.
Around 60AD strip fields appeared and some of these continued to be used until the enclosures at the end of the 18th century. The outlines of these can still be seen on the north slope of Court Hill at Kingston Deverill. Other lynchets are well outlined at Monkton Deverill and there are many places in the valley where these strips can be seen.
Until the Second World War, the main source of employment in the valley was farming. The chalkland is excellent for growing corn and large numbers of sheep were kept to fertilize the soil. By combining the growing of crops with keeping cows and sheep, making cheese and butter and selling milk, the farmers have always manage to make a living. As early as 1289 there were 1143 sheep on Brixton Downs. These sheep were traded at local sheep fairs and the thriving marked at Warminster and continued to be a good source of income down the centuries. By the early 19th century, corn prices had risen and times were good in the Deverill Valley. Unfortunately in the 1880's corn began arriving from abroad, soon to be followed by more foodstuffs. The Wiltshire farmers saved themselves by turning to fresh milk production instead. After the Second World War the farmed acreage of the Deverill parishes more than doubled. This was achieved by using land cleared by tanks that had used the Downs as a training area.
Iron Age Site
To the east of Keysley Farm in Kingston Deverill there is an Iron Age site, believed to be a settlement site associated with the field system on Pertwood Down. Here black soil containing the rudest pottery and animal bones was found but archaeological research in this rich area has been extremely rare.
King Alfred - Sarsen Stones
There is a strong connection with King Alfred and his famous battle against the Danes at Ethandun. Alfred gathered his forces together at two meeting places, and it is possible that one of these was Court Hill at Kingston Deverill. There are three Sarsen Stones in a field next to the church, which were found by a farmer on King's Court Hill. It is said that King Edbert held court here. According to local tradition King Alfred climbed neighbouring King's Hill to view the enemy's position. It is therefore quite possible that Alfred used these Sarsen Stones on King's Court Hill as a meeting point.
The main landowner in the valley prior to the Reformation was the Church. At the time of the Domesday William the Conqueror confiscated much land from the English nobility, but left the holdings of the Church well alone. Longbridge, Crockerton and Monkton belonged to the Abbots of Glastonbury from the 10th century. After the Reformation the three villages were bought by Sir John Thynne and sold in the 1940's to help pay death duties. The Ludlows owned Kingston and Hill from the 15th and 16th century. This family was to become well known as supporters of the Roundheads during the Civil War. Lt. Gen. Edmund Ludlow was one of the signatories of the death warrant of Charles Ι. Lord Weymouth bought these lands in 1737, bringing the whole valley into Thynne ownership.
There are sixteen listed buildings in the two parishes, including farmhouses which date back from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. There are also 17th and 18th century houses and cottages. The rectory at Kingston, which served both parishes, was built in the 18th century and extensively altered in 1858 by Manners of Bath, the architect responsible for Kingston Deverill church. A cottage at Monkton Deverill has the Ludlow arms over the door. The Ludlow family had large estates in the Deverills from the 14th century an later married into the Coker family. Thomas Coker is said to have moved to this cottage from Hill Deverill Manor in 1737, and to have taken the arms with him.
During Roman times the valley continued to be active and important. Two Roman roads crossed at the for at Kingston Deverill. One was the ancient lead road from Porchester and the other from Poole. The two join at the boundary between Monkton and Kingston Deverill. There could have possibly been Roman villages at Longbridge, Hill, Monkton, Kingston and Lower Pertwood.
The valley has been continuously inhabited by farming people since at least 3500BC, and there are numerous tumuli, earthworks and barrows. A round barrow on Middle Hill in Kingston Deverill was found to contain a rare and beautiful necklace made of a glass-like substance found in the Baltic. This provides proof of trade between Wessex and the continent. The first evidence of organised villages is around 600BC. An Iron Age site is on Cow Down at Longbridge Deverill. The settlement on Cold Kitchen Hill was occupied until c350BC. Another Iron Age Site is near Keylsey Farm between Kingston Deverill and Pertwood.
1837 - 1937 Mere Registration District
1937 - Present Warminster Registration District
Crime and Legal Matters
Emigration and Migration
Employment and Business
Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship
People and Parish Notables
Census Returns Transcripts
Elections and Polls
Poor Law, Charity and the Workhouse
Inquisitions Post Mortem of Lands Held
War, Conflict and Military Matters