Contiguous Parishes (our neighbours)
East Kennett - Overton -Stanton St. Bernard - Wilcot - Woodborough
GenUKI - For information on Alton Barnes
University of Leicester's - Website for historical Wiltshire directories
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - The Wiltshire County Archives for all historical documents and the place to obtain original copies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.
Register of One-Place Studies - Alton Barnes Entry
Register of One-Place Studies - Alton Priors Entry
The Parish Church of St. Mary
Across the brook from its twin All Saints in Alton Priors, is the ancient church of St. Mary's Alton Barnes, a tiny building with impressive "long-and-short" quoins; the height and narrowness of which place it pre-Conquest; the chancel arch is contemporary. There is a pleasant 16th century roof, a three deck pulpit and a Georgian font. St. Mary Church Gallery Inside St. Mary Church St. Mary Churchyard Gallery
Parish Register Transcripts
Parish Registers held at WSHC
Records available from Other Sources (Alton Barnes & Alton Priors)
Look up for Marriages between 1815 and 1837 can be requested from the OPC via the Contact Us tab at the top of the page.
The ancient Parish of Alton Barnes is located approximately 6 miles east of Devizes in the Vale of Pewsey, rising to the Marlborough downs in the north of the Parish, and comprises the village of Alton Barnes itself and surrounding lands, as well as detached land at Shaw approximately 2 miles to the north east. The land at Shaw formed part of the medieval village of Shaw that was deserted probably in the early 15th century. This land was transferred to the Parish of Overton in 1885.
In 1928 the southern boundary of the Parish was extended when the settlement of Honey Street (including Honey Street Wharf) was detached from the ecclesiastical Parish of Woodborough and added to that of Alton Barnes.
In 1934 the Parishes of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors were merged to form the Parish of Alton, which is consistent with the Civil Parish.
1837 - Present Devizes Registration District
Buildings and Land
The Alton Barnes White Horse
The Alton Barnes white horse is carved into the south facing slope of Milk Hill on a ridge that extends to Walker's Hill, less than a mile north of the village. The White Horse carving was commissioned by Robert Pile, the then tenant of Manor Farm, in 1811 and finished the following year. Robert Pile paid £20 to a journeyman painter, John Thorne, to design the horse and carry out the work. The excavation work was sub-contracted to John Harvey of Stanton St. Bernard. However, before the work was completed John Thorne absconded with the money, leaving Robert Pile to pay for the excavation work again. John Thorne was later tried and executed for another, unrelated, crime. The carving remains a notable landmark visible for many miles and is regularly maintained, the last occasion being in 2010 when 150 tons of fresh chalk were delivered to the site by helicopter.
The northern edge of the Parish is traversed by the Wansdyke, running along the north ridge of the Vale of Pewsey. The Wansdyke is an ancient ditch and earth bank, which is believed to have been built in the 5th, or 6th, century. The eastern section of the Wansdyke is 12 miles long running from the Savernake Forest to Morgan's Hill near Calne. The Saxons named the dyke after their god Woden, hence it became Woden's Dyke, and eventually Wansdyke.
Adam's Grave is a destroyed Neolithic long barrow, approximately 60 metres long and 6 metres high, which is located at the summit of Walker's Hill north of the village of Alton Barnes. The burial chamber was excavated by John Thurnam in 1860, finding three or four incomplete skeletons and a leaf-shaped arrowhead. The large size of the barrow gives an unusual shape to the summit of Walker's Hill and has given rise to the local nickname of Nipple Hill.
The Manor House and Farm
The Manor House is a Grade II listed farmhouse made of brick, with a slate roof, constructed in the 18th century. Manor Farm, which was attached to the Manor House, has been owned by New College, Oxford since its founding in 1385 and comprises 600 acres. In 1830 the tenant of the Manor House and Farm was Robert Pile, son of the Robert Pile that commissioned the White Horse. This was the scene of one of the more violent incidents during the Swing Riots in November of that year (see Crime and Punishment below).
Since 1990 Alton Barnes has been the site of numerous crop circles, which now appear each year, often in the fields below the White Horse on Milk Hill. The Barge Inn, which was originally part of the Honey Street Wharf complex, but actually within the Parish of Stanton St.Bernard is a well known meeting point for those involved in the making of crop circles.
Crime and Legal Matters
Emigration and Migration
Employment and Business
Agriculture and Land
Wiltshire Society Apprentices
Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship
People and Parish Notables
Associations, Clubs, Organisations and Societies
Census Returns Transcripts
Please note that the 1841 census for Alton Barnes does not appear to have survived
Elections and Polls
Poor Law, Charity and The Workhouse
Alton is divided in jurisdiction for the Poor Law Union. Alton Barnes coming under the Devizes Poor Law Union and Alton Priors under the Pewsey Poor Law Union
The Robert Pile Educational Charity was set up to support the education of any resident of Alton Barnes, Alton Priors and Honeystreet who is in need of financial assistance to access a course. The origins of the Charity are as yet unknown but it is still functioning today.