Contiguous Parishes (our neighbours)
Alton Barnes - Alton Priors - Beechingstoke - Manningford Bruce - Stanton St. Bernard - Wilcot - Wilsford
GenUKI - For information on Wiltshire and Woodborough
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - The Wiltshire County Archives for all historical documents and the place to obtain original copies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.
Wiltshire Heritage Museum - Museum, Archive and Library collections for Wiltshire.
The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene
The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene was first mentioned in 1258 when the advowson, or right to nominate an individual to the vacant position of Parish priest, was disputed. However, it is certain that the Parish Church existed before this date as presentations are known to have been made during the reign of Richard I (1157-1199).
Disputes over the right to nominate a new rector occurred on a number of occasions in the 13th and 14th centuries, largely due to the complex landholdings in the Manor and the absence of the overlord. However, the most notable dispute arose during the Civil War and Commonwealth period. The then Lord of the Manor of Woodborough (Sir William Button), who held the advowson, had been an active Royalist, being fined by Parliament for his support of the Royalist cause. Following the death of the incumbent Adam Noyes in 1652, Parliament twice imposed their own choice of Rector (Nathaniel Charlton and Isaac Chauncey) in preference to Francis Bayly, the family chaplain and choice of the Lord of the Manor. Following the Restoration in 1660, both Francis Bayly and Isaac Chauncey petitioned the new Parliament advancing their right to be Rector, with tithes being withheld by the Churchwardens. Although the dispute appears to have been settled in favour of Isaac Chauncey, he was subsequently ejected in 1662 for refusing to accept the new Act of Uniformity, being replaced by Francis Bayly.
The current Parish Church dates from 1862, when the previous 17th century structure was largely rebuilt. In January 1861 the Salisbury Diocesan Church Building Society had approved a rebuilding of the nave of the Church, removal and replacement of internal fittings, voting a grant of £100 towards the cost of the work. Ultimately, the cost of the work carried out amounted to £1,700 which was largely paid for by the Rector of the Parish (Rev. William Thomas Wyld), as a contribution of just £70 was sought from parishioners. The rebuilt Church was consecrated on 28th January 1862.
Parish Register Transcripts
Parish Registers Held at WSHC
Although some Romano-British artefacts have been discovered at Honey Street, no evidence of an ancient settlement has been found in the Parish. Accordingly, the settlement of Woodborough is likely to be of Anglo-Saxon origin, being founded around a small green next to the Church.
The Doomsday Book of 1086 records that there was land for 5 ploughs on the estate at Woodborough, which was worth £10, and held by Robert son of Gerald. The estate also comprised 50 acres each of meadow and pasture, as well as 10 of brushwood. The population of the estate is likely to have been no more than 80 to 100 people.
The Doomsday estate was inherited by William de Roumare, who later became Earl of Lincoln. By 1186 the estate had been acquired by the Earl of Essex, whose descendants held the estate until 1297 when it passed to the Earl of Warwick. The Earls of Warwick held the estate, although not continuously, until 1487 when it passed to the Crown.
Although the Earls of Essex and Warwick, as overlords, held and received the financial benefits of the Woodborough estate, legal title was in the hands of various trustees (or feoffees), who in turn may have leased the land. In addition, not all the estates within the Parish of Woodborough were held by the Earls of Essex and Warwick, with lands being passed between the different owners at various times throughout the Parish’s history. Inevitably, this complex land ownership structure lead to disputes over the right to appoint the Parish Rector (the advowson), although this was uncontested after 1343.
The farms and estates in Woodborough were not particularly prosperous. In 1343 the Parish was assessed for taxation at 28s. and there were 47 poll-tax payers in 1377. Both these totals are comparatively low and the parish appears to have been no more prosperous by the 16th century. Only the rector was assessed for taxation in 1545.
In 1546, Woodborough Manor was acquired by William Button of Alton Priors. This is likely William Button (1503–47), who had been elected MP for Chippenham in 1529. His son, also William Button, acquired the advowson in 1563 and the family subsequently consolidated their holdings in the Parish having purchased Hillersdon Farm by 1618. Their decendents, through the Walker-Heneage line, remained owners of the Manor until 1862 when it was sold to the Earl of Normanton. The family are also notable for having provided two Parish Rectors in William Thomas Wyld (from 1835 to 1872) and, his son, Edwin Wyld (from 1873 to 1884).
The fortunes of the Parish were greatly improved by the opening of the Kennet & Avon canal in 1810. A wharf on the canal was constructed at Honey Street, which lead to further business developments including a timber yard and boat building facility. This provided alternative, better paid, employment in the Parish.
1837 - April 1936 Pewsey Registration District
April 1936 - Present Devizes Registration District
Buildings and Land
The Parish of Woodborough comprises a number of small settlements, the largest of which is the village of Woodborough itself, and is situated in the Vale of Pewsey, being approximately 7 miles east of Devizes and 3.5 miles west of Pewsey. The village takes its name from the hill that overlooks the village in the north of the Parish.
The village of Woodborough is largely located to the south west of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on a cul-de-sac (Church Road) off the Pewsey road. In addition to Woodborough, the Parish includes the settlements of Little Woodborough, (Woodborough) Sands, Hurst and Honey Street (including Honey Street Wharf). However, Honey Street is much closer to the Parish Church of Alton Barnes and in 1928 it was detached from the ecclesiastical Parish of Woodborough and added to that of Alton Barnes.
Berkshire and Hampshire Railway
In 1862 an extension of the Berkshire and Hampshire railway was opened, providing access by rail to Devizes. The station of Woodborough was actually located in the Parish of Beechingstoke at Perry's Corner (the initial proposal was to name the station halt Perry's Corner, rather than Woodborough). The Station Hotel was located just north of the crossroads at Little Woodborough, opposite the Rose & Crown, and is now a private residence. Woodborough station closed in 1966 but the modern day line from London Paddington to Penzance still passes just beyond the southern edge of the Parish. The nearest mainline station is located at Pewsey, 3.5 miles away.
Several farms and manors have been listed in the Parish, many of which have been either divided, or amalgamated, over time. Historically, the main form of agriculture has been arable farming with some sheep farming. Until the mid 17th century, the Parish was divided into four common arable fields. In the north of the Parish were West Clay and East Clay fields and, in the south, West Sands and East Sands fields. By the beginning of the 19th century all the common fields had been enclosed and the modern pattern of farming units began to emerge.
The Manor House on the Pewsey Road was originally the farm house for Woodborough Farm. However, the largest farm in the Parish is now Church Farm (arising from an earlier farm known as Hillersdon Farm), which is a mix of dairy and arable farming. Other farms in the Parish now include Sands Farm, Honey Street Farm, Hurst Farm and Fairfield Farm.
For much of the 20th century, Woodborough was associated with the growing of daffodils and tulips, which were then transported by train to Covent Garden. These were grown at Nursery Farm, established in 1855 (the date and initials JS are carved on the beams of two of the original barns), which in fact was located in the detached tithing of Manningford Bohune in the Parish of Wilsford. Most of the land is now part of Woodborough Garden Centre.
Kennet to Amesbury Turnpike Road
The Kennet and Amesbury Turnpike Road Act was passed in March 1840 and legislated for the creation of a turnpike road connecting an existing turnpike road at East Kennet (now the A4) with the town of Amesbury (together with a number of side roads). This was one of the last turnpike roads created in England and the last in Wiltshire. The north-south road through the Parish of Woodborough (passing through Honey Street and the crossroads at Little Woodborough towards Hillcot) formed part of the principal road and two turnpike gates were located in the Parish. Although construction work began in June 1840, it is unlikely that tolls were collected until the summer of 1841 when the location of the two toll gates was fixed. The Kennet and Amesbury Turnpike Trust ceased, with the toll gates being removed, on 1 November 1877.
There are 19 Grade II listed buildings and monuments in the Parish.
|Amor Monuments, Churchyard||Black's Cottage, 6 The Sands||Church Farm Cottage, Church Farm Lane|
|Church Farmhouse, Church Farm Lane||Glebe House, Chapel Lane||Granary at Glendoran House, Church Road|
|Granary at Manor House, Chapel Lane||High Bank, Church Road||Lyemun, Chapel Lane|
|Manor House||One Yew, Church Road||Smith Monument, Churchyard|
|Southview, Church Road||St. Mary Magdalen Church||Stack House, Church Road|
|Stone Cottage, Chapel Lane||Stratton Monuments, Churchyard||Walker Monument, Churchyard|
|Woodborough Fields Bridge|
The Manor House, Woodborough, located on the Pewsey Road, is a Grade II listed former farm house originally constructed in the early 18th Century. The property is a two storey brick construction with a thatched roof. During the 19th Century a small cross wing was added to the western end of the property.
Rose & Crown Public House
The Rose & Crown Public House was an old inn, which was known to date back to at least the mid 18th Century. The inn was located near the crossroads at Little Woodborough on the Kennet to Amesbury turnpike road. Famously, it was the meeting point for the Woodborough rioters during the Swing Riots of 1830 and variously used for public meetings and local inquests. The inn was part of the Woodborough Manor Estate until the late 19th century. Between 1891 and 1901 the Rose & Crown was renamed the Temperance Hotel but was demolished in about 1918. The only clue to its existence now is the name of Rose Farm cottages at the entrance to Smithy Lane in Little Woodborough, which were a Victorian extension to the old inn.
In 1086 the Doomsday Book recorded a mill at Woodborough worth 12s. 6d. The mill was situated on the western side of Woodborough village, being powered by the water of the stream flowing south from the Altons and that joins the River Avon at Woodbridge. By 1868 the mill was no longer used and was subsequently demolished. The adjoining, largely 18th century, mill-house remained and is now a private residence.
Crime and Legal Matters
The office of Coroner was formally established in 1194. The early duties of coroners were varied and included the investigation of almost any aspect of medieval life that had a potential revenue benefit for the Crown. Suicides were investigated on the grounds that the goods and chattels of those guilty of the crime would be forfeit to the Crown. Inquisitions would also be held into the ownership of land to determine who received the true financial benefit of estates, which was often different from the legal owner. Over time the role has developed to focus on the investigation of any sudden, unnatural or unexplained death to ascertain cause, time and manner of death. Details of inquisitions into land can be found under Land and Buildings.
Proceedings in Chancery Elizabeth I Era (1558-1603)
Quarter Sessions & Assizes
The Court of Quarter Sessions dealt with criminal cases and also other disputes such as poor law disputes, settlement issues and bankruptcy. The Quarter Sessions were presided over by at least two Justices of the Peace, with a jury present, being held quarterly in each county at Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas. The more serious criminal cases were committed by the Quarter Sessions for trial at the Courts of Assize. In addition to criminal cases, the Courts of Assize included the Nisi Prius where civil actions (private cases) were decided before a judge and jury. The Court of Quarter Sessions and Court of Assize were effectively amalgamated into Crown Courts in 1971.
|John Razey - Stealing Wheat 1803||Rudman v Clift - Election Assault 1819||Goodman & Amor - Trial & Execution 1824|
|Joseph Plank - House-Breaking 1832||George Maslen - Trial & Execution 1838||Death of John Underwood 1840|
Swing Riots & Special Commission
The Swing Riots, so named because a number of threatening letters were signed in the name of the mythical leader Captain Swing, began in the summer of 1830. The main causes of the uprising were low wages and lack of regular employment, the high price of bread and the introduction of threshing machines which took work away from the men. The riots took on several forms – initially, rick burning and threatening letters but, as the trouble spread, large gangs of local men, under the leadership of a Captain, roamed the countryside demanding money, food and drink, and destroying farm machinery.
A Special Commission was set up for the trial of the men involved. The Special Commission for the riots in Wiltshire were held in Salisbury in December 1830 and January 1831.
It is likely that the first day school was established in Woodborough some time between 1818 and 1833, there being two in operation by the latter date. These remained in operation until 1872 when a new school (Woodborough School) was built at Broad Street, which is within the Parish of Beechingstoke. This is still the local Primary School, which serves many of the smaller villages in the area.
Emigration and Migration
Before the passing of the New Poor Law legislation in 1834, emigration was essentially a voluntary affair with the primary destination being North America. However, the New Poor Law legislation provided the opportunity for many Parishes to pay for some of their poorer inhabitants to emigrate. This coincided with an increased need for labour in the Colonies in Australia, New Zealand and the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1840 a Colonial Land and Emigration Commission was created, amalgamating two smaller organisations, to administer arrangements for emigration schemes to the Colonies. Many schemes involved assisted, or free, passage from the UK. In December 1847 agents in Devizes and Enford began advertising free passage to New South Wales, South Australia and the Cape of Good Hope in local newspapers. The advertisements claimed there was a particular need for Agricultural Labourers, Shepherds, female Domestic Servants and Dairymaids. This prompted a surge in emigration from the Vale of Pewsey. However, the numbers emigrating from Woodborough were much smaller than neighbouring Parishes. This is likely due to the presence of better paid local employment at the saw mill and wharf at Honey Street Wharf, which provided an alternative to agricultural work.
The following emigrants received an assisted passage to New South Wales in Australia.
|Henry Matthews 1855||Jacob Matthews 1855||Jane Matthews 1855|
|Mary Ann Matthews 1855||Richard Matthews 1855||Sarah Matthews (nee Bristow) 1855|
|William Matthews 1855|
Employment and Business
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
A Methodist chapel was built in Church Lane, Woodborough in 1820, which had seating for 134 people. The chapel closed in 1970.
In 1857 the Bishop of the Diocese licensed a temporary chapel on the premises of Samuel Robbins at Honey Street Wharf. The chapel had seating for 150 people and services were held on a Sunday evening, being conducted by the Rector of Woodborough.
People and Parish Notables
Census Returns Transcripts
Please note that the 1811 census lists heads of household only
Elections and Polls
Poor Law, Charity and the Workhouse
Prior to 1834 the poor were provided for under the auspices of the "Old Poor Law," introduced in the Tudor period, which was funded by a parish rate levied on landowners and tenants. From this fund, each parish provided relief payments to residents who were ill, or out of work. At the end of the Census taken in 1811 it is stated that there were 35 Woodborough families relieved by the parish since 27th May 1810, not including those living outside the parish (80 family groups were recorded on the census).
In the wake of the Swing Riots in 1830, a Royal Commission was established to review the Poor Law systems in England and Wales. The findings of The Commission resulted in the The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, commonly known as the 'New Poor Law'. The Act called for parishes to be put into Poor Law Unions so that relief could be provided more easily. Woodborough became part of Pewsey Union which was formed on 8th December 1835, the Union Workhouse at World’s End in Pewsey being constructed in 1836.
War, Conflict and Military Matters
World War I
The memorial to those from the Parish of Woodborough who lost their lives in World War I can be found on a brass plaque in the Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene.
Biographies of the Men Remembered on the World War I Memorial
|Frederick William Doggett||Thomas Herbert Doggett||Francis William Ferris|
|Sydney Herbert Gale||William Henry Giddings||Edward John Gifford|
|Edward Harris||Arthur Cecil Kew||James Lay|
|Walter Edgar Sandford||Arthur Henry Stratton|
Frederick William Doggett and Thomas Herbert Doggett also appear on the Memorial in Stanton St.Bernard Church.
Individual biographies are currently being researched and these will be added over the next few months as and when completed
Buildings and Land
The Parish of Woodborough was crossed by a section of the Kennet & Avon canal in 1807. The canal, effectively linking Bristol and London, was completed in 1810. In 1811 a wharf was constructed on the north bank of the canal at Honey Street by Samuel Robbins. The wharf became a local distribution point for cargoes transported on the canal, especially coal. The business of Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger located at Honey Street expanded to include barge building and a saw mill.
Crime and Legal Matters
Petty Sessions were the lowest tier in the court system and developed at the beginning of the 18th century to take on some of the work previously undertaken by the Quarter Sessions. The court was presided over by one or more volunteer justices of the peace, or stipendiary magistrate, there being no jury. Petty Sessions were abolished in 1971 and replaced by Magistrates Courts.
Employment and Business
Wiltshire Society Apprentices