Text Size
Friday, 03 February 2012 13:13

Alton (Barnes) - The OPC is Duncan McBurney

Written by 
Rate this item
(10 votes)
Alton Barnes - St. Mary's Alton Barnes - St. Mary's

Alton Barnes Photo Gallery

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Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - The Wiltshire County Archives for all historical documents and the place to obtain original copies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

A Short History of the Church and Village               St. Mary Churchyard Survey         

Parish Register  Transcripts







Parish Registers held at WSHC

Baptisms 1592-1986
Marriages 1597-1986
Burials 1601-1987

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.

Parish History


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. 

Civil Registration

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.

White Horses of Wiltshire 1930

The Wansdyke

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

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). 

Crop Circles

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. 

Owners of Land 1873


Crime and Legal Matters


Bastardy Examinations 1864-1876

Crime Reports

1800-1849               1850-1899       

Swing Riots        

The Swing Riots 1830     Swing Riots Destroying a House Trial 1831



Post Office 1855           Post Office 1859         Kellys 1867           Gillmans 1899           Gillmans 1900           Kellys 1903           Kellys 1907          Kellys 1911           Kellys 1915           Kellys 1931




Emigration and Migration

 Strays Index

Employment and Business

Agriculture and Land

Gamekeepers Certificates 1807                 Aspects of the Life of the Wiltshire Agricultural Labourer c1850


Wiltshire Society Apprentices

Thomas William King 1874  


Miscellaneous Documents


Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship


People and Parish Notables

Associations, Clubs, Organisations and Societies

Wiltshire Friendly Society Membership 1827-1871 

Census Returns Transcripts


Please note that the 1841 census for Alton Barnes does not appear to have survived

Elections and Polls

Poll of Freeholders 1772           Poll Book 1818             Voters List 1832               Voters Lists Revisions 1843                MP Nominations 2015

Family Notices



Knight Compositions 1628 

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. 

Poor Law Union Bread & Flour Contract 1838



Probate Index 1601-1853 (WSHC)                   National Probate Index 1858-1966


War, Conflict and Military Matters

Alton Barnes War Memorials & Military Gallery                          

Why the Poppy                 Dioceses of Salisbury Remembrance Book 1914-1918               Casualty Biographies of WWI               Roll of Honour Plaque WWI & WWII

Read 8527 times Last modified on Sunday, 17 February 2019 10:26

Add comment

Please be aware that comments are not checked daily, if you have a question it is better to contact the volunteer directly. However if you just wish to show appreciation or remark upon the page please feel free to do that here.

Security code

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by www.channeldigital.co.uk