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Wilcot events

Timeline

100
0100

Six thousand years ago …

… this ended up in the garden of 11 Wilcot. It is a flint spearhead that seems to have originated from eastern England about 4,000BC. People from eastern and northern England (and from continental Europe) were coming to south Wiltshire at that time, and presumably one of them brought it here.

400
0400

Stanchester Hoard

The Stanchester Hoard is a hoard of 1116 Roman coins dating from the fourth to early fifth century, found in Wilcot in the year 2000. The find was considered important because of the large quantity of  unclipped silver coins contained within. It was also the latest dated example of Roman coins found in Wiltshire.

The hoard was discovered in a field on 25 July 2000 by John and David Philpotts, using metal detectors. It had been buried in a flagon made from the pottery known as Alice Holt pottery. The hoard was named after the former Stanchester villa, a nearby Roman villa with which the hoard was likely to have been associated, along with theWansdyke earthwork. 

TheWiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes acquired the hoard for £50,000 following a coroner’s inquest which declared it treasure trove.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanchester_Hoard

 

410
0410

A Brief History of Huish (and Oare) as a short film

In order to give you a flavour of the contents of this website and the even larger archive which is being collected and will eventually be stored at the Heritage Centre in Pewsey, I have put together a short film (without sound at present). I hope you enjoy it and it wets the appetite for learning more about this wonderful place we live in and the people and events that shaped it.

Dawn Wilson March 2019

0410
1066
1066
1086
1086

Domesday book, Wilcot

This website explains the entry for Wilcot.

 

1189
1189

Gift of Wilcot Manor

Wilcot Church and Manor gifted for use of canons of Bradenstoke by Count Patricius’ alteration to his father’s 1189 bequest:

Shown here by kind permission of Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

The gift was confirmed in 1256:

Shown here by kind permission of the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

1544
1544

The King grants Wilcot Manor to William Allen.

On the dissolution of the monasteries, the King granted Wilcot Manor to William Allen, who sold it to John Barwick in 1554.

John Barwick’s daughter Ann married Sir Thomas Wroughton, and their descendants, the Wroughtons, owned the Manor thereafter until 1919.

1565
1565

Sir Thomas Wroughton marries into Wilcot Manor

By 1565 (perhaps earlier), Sir Thomas Wroughton had married Ann Barwick, daughter of John Barwick, the owner of Wilcot Manor who died in 1572.

Because there were no senior heirs, the descendants of the couple, the Wroughtons, inherited Wilcot Manor on the death of John Barwick’s widow Dorothy in 1590, and owned it until 1919.

1639
1639
1649
1649
1783
1783

The Montagus marry into Wilcot

There were three different marriages between Montagus and Wroughtons in the mid 18th century.

The last of the three, that between Charlotte Wroughton and her cousin Admiral Sir George Montagu, resulted in their descendants owning Wilcot. That was because Charlotte’s only brother James died at the age of 16 without heirs:

Three Montagu Wroughton marriages

 

1793
1793

Kennet & Avon Canal Planned and built

The Kennet and Avon can was planned and built by John Rennie between 1793 & 1810 and runs through the parish.

Here is John Rennie’s initial 1793 proposal for the route, running south of Wilcot Green:

Shown here by kind permission of the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Susannah Wroughton, the owner of Wilcot Manor at the time, did not like encroachment of that route on land round the Manor, and persuaded Rennie to shift the route further north, and to provide the delightful lagoon of Wide Water along with the stately Ladies Bridge, as shown in the 1810 revision of the 1773 Andrews and Drury map:

1810
1810

Stowell Park built

Admiral Sir George Montagu (1750-1829) was the third Montagu in the mid-18th century to marry a Wroughton: in his case, Charlotte Wroughton, co-heir to the owner of Wilcot. When the male heir, James, died aged 16, Charlotte came into the estate with her sister Susannah. Her husband, the Admiral, planned and built the new Stowell Lodge by around 1814.

The map below is from a survey of the Wilcot estate made in 1803. It already shows the canal (not yet completed in 1803), and has been annotated in pencil with a plan for the new Stowell Lodge.

Shown here by kind permission of Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

From the sale prospectus of 1916
1825
1825

New cottages built around Wilcot Green

New slate and stone cottages (36-49 and 14-20) were built in a coherent style around the large triangular Green.

The old settlements of East Stowell and Stonebridge disappeared.

The new cottages were said by his grand-daughter to have been built by Admiral Sir George Montagu, who died in 1829:

Shown here by kind permission of Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

A map of 1839 shows the new cottages round the Green, with East Stowell and Stonebridge villages shrunk away:

Shown here by kind permission of the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

1828
1828

The Youngs of Huish Manor Farm [1828 to 1921]

The Young family moved to Huish Manor Farm in 1828 and were the tenants until 1921.  They saw a great many changes and innovations, suffered tragedy and oversaw the building of the NEW farmhouse. Visit the People section for more information..

1830
1830

The Bleecks of Huish Rectory [1830 to 1873]

Love thy neighbour?  Rev Bleeck might have had a few problems which took him to Court.  Read more in the People section.

1841
1841

New school built

There was a school in Wilcot at least by 1783. But in 1841, after the new cottages had been built round the Green, George Wroughton gave the village a new school.

The agricultural unrest of the 1830s had stoked fears that the unrest might become revolutionary, a wider awareness of social deprivation, fears for Britain’s industrial competitiveness, and a stronger sense among the landed class that social improvement was necessary. Whereas the 1841 census recorded the occupations of heads of households only, the 1851 census showed lots of underage children in work. All these factors encouraged measures to improve education.   The Elementary Education Act of 1870 set the framework for schooling 5-13 year-olds.

Attendance in 1851 was said to be 159.

Here’s the school in about 1900. Note the school bell (which we still have):

 

 

1842
1842

New Vicarage built

The vicar of Wilcot, Maurice Hillier Goodman, built the vicarage in 1842.

It was demolished in the 1960s and replaced by the current building.

1859
1859

Golden Swan public house built

The Golden Swan replaced the White Swan which for the last hundred years had been a few hundred yards further west.

1862
1862

Pewsey Vale rail link to London

In 1862 a new railway created a shorter and direct route from the Pewsey Vale to London Paddington. It connected the earlier Berks and Hants Railway with the Devizes branch of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway. On 11 November, Pewsey Station opened, and Woodborough Station opened around the same time.

 

On 2 July 1906 the line became part of the Reading to Taunton line following the opening of the Castle Cary Cut-Off.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pewsey_railway_station

1875
1875

Agricultural decline

Across Britain, summers were poor from 1875 to 1879. Harvests suffered. Animal diseases were unusually severe. At the same time the expansion of railways across the United States, the advent of trans-atlantic steamships, and the mechanisation of American agriculture flooded Britain with grain. British grain prices, agricultural employment, and rents all collapsed; the area under cultivation shrank dramatically. Britain became heavily urbanised, and the workshop of the world. The big landowners became poorer, and lost their dominance as local landlord, employer and bigwig.

Wilcot was shaped by these forces. Its population shrank. Dairy farming replaced arable. New jobs were beginning to replace agricultural labour (but slowly). Young men left for jobs elsewhere. Wilcot was ceasing to be a place where nearly everyone who lived there had been born there.

And the Montagus found their rents shrinking. It was the beginning of the process that saw them selling almost all their properties in Wilcot between 1900 and 1919. Eventually people in Wilcot would come more often to own their own houses, rather than renting them from the Montagus.

1876
1876

Holy Cross church burns down

The Church burnt down on 11 April 1876.

It had been rebuilt by the end of the year.

Here is a record of the vicar’s memories of returning to find his church burnt down (as well as an act of characteristic Victorian vandalism):

1937 North Wilts Church Magazine 010937 (Wiltshire Museum, Devizes)

1887
1887

New farming families

The Maidments arrived in Wilcot from Somerset in 1887. They took over Manor Farm from the previous tenants, the Redmans. The Redmans appear to have failed.

There had been a run of poor harvests; and by the 1870s better-quality wheat was being transported from the American prairies on the new US railways and then shipped in huge quantities on the new steam ships plying the Atlantic. Farming was in crisis across Britain, and about a quarter of the grain-growing area disappeared.

The Maidments had been dairy farmers in Somerset, and by the 1880s, the new railways from the Pewsey Vale to London enabled dairy farmers to get fresh milk to the London market every day. Before that, cows had had to be kept in the city, often underground, with their feed transported to them on slow wagons; but the fast railways meant the cows could live in the countryside, and their milk be transported fresh to the city. This photo shows empty milk churns returned from London to Woodborough station in about 1890:

 

1900
1900

Stowell estate properties sold

On the instructions of Captain GES Montagu, most of the properties attached to the Stowell Estate were sold by the executors of Admiral Montagu in 1900.

Displayed here with generous permission from Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

Stowell Park itself was sold the following year to its tenant, James Smith Barry.

Shown here with kind permission from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

The estate was sold again in 1916.

Shown here with kind permission from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

It was sold yet again in 1922.

1914
1914
1916
1916

Stowell Park sold

The Stowell estate was sold again in 1916, and then in 1922.

1918
1918
1919
1919

Wilcot Manor sold

Wilcot Manor Estate was sold by Captain GES Montagu in 1919.

This is a map from the sale particulars:

And these accounts note some of the sales that resulted:

Shown here with kind permission from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Shown here with kind permission from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

 

1923
1923

Wilcot War Memorial erected

The War Memorial at the north end of the Green was erected and inaugurated in 1923 (probably).

1923

Green bought for the village

Capt Farqharson, RN, had bought Stowell properties in 1919, but now sold them again. The village bought the Green for community use.

1924
1924

Inauguration of Hut & Green

The Hut & Green Committee was inaugurated in May 1924 following the purchase of the Green from the owner of Stowell Park.

 

1924

Village hut on green

This photo was taken somewhat later, after the arrival of electricity in 1937.

1924

Council houses built on Alton Road

The houses that are now called 9-12 Alton Road were built in the 1920s, and called ‘1-4 Council Cottages’. Nos. 1-8 were built in the early 1950s and Canal Close in the early 1960s.

1928
1928

Parish boundaries changed

There was a reorganisation of parish boundaries in 1928, when an oddly detached part of Alton Priors (around West Stowell) was transferred to Wilcot:

Shown here with kind permission from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

1937
1937

Electricity arrives in the village

Electricity arrived in 1937.

Here is a view of Back Lane before electricity poles:

and here it is again after electricity arrived:

Here is a magazine from September 1937:

1937 North Wilts Church Magazine 010937 (Wiltshire Museum, Devizes)

1939
1939
1945
1945
1954
1954

Mains Water arrives in Wilcot

Until 1954, everyone had to get water from one of the few pumps around the village, and carry it home:

A Wilcot village pump

Few homes had bathrooms.

Showers were completely unknown, and most people had only one bath a week in a tub in the back room. Several children often took turns to use the same tepid water.

Most cottages had an outside loo, without light or heat or mains drainage.

When mains water arrived, cottages were gradually modernised with bathrooms and inside loos. The Maidments modernised their cottages on the west side of the Green in 1954. Relatives from other cottages would go over the Green to use the new bathrooms.

1965
1965

New Vicarage built

The old (1842) vicarage was demolished in the 1960s, and replaced by the current building. Its stables were converted thereafter into private houses.

1969
1969

Wilcot school closes

Attendance at the School shrank in the 20th century as families began to have far fewer children. It shrank still further as transport made it possible to travel a few miles to go to school. The school was closed in 1969.

 

1971
1971

Village hall opens in old school

When the school closed, the village agreed to convert the classrooms into a village hall. At the meeting there was one passionate opponent of the decision, Jack Hilton. It is easy to imagine, given his deeply-held convictions about education for all, that his opposition was fundamentally to the closure of the school rather than the establishment of a new hall.

Jack Hilton

The village hall has been in the building ever since. Another wonderfully idiosyncratic villager, Winifred Felce, gave it a handsome bequest in her will in the 1990s.

More recently, the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported very generous local donors to restore the hall’s ceiling and fabric, and research and compile village history. This website is one result.