A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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The ancient parish of Manningford Abbots was situated 1½ mile south-west of Pewsey and like its westerly neighbours was long and narrow in shape. (fn. 1) From the northern boundary at Swanborough Tump it stretched south-eastwards for 4 miles across the greensand vale formerly known as Abbots common, the Avon bed, and the scarp of Salisbury Plain to Abbots Down beyond. (fn. 2) It was just over ½ mile wide at its broadest point on the northern boundary. The area of the parish was 933 a. in 1931. It was incorporated with the civil parish of Manningford Bohune and the ancient parish of Manningford Bruce in 1934 to form the new civil parish of Manningford (3,356 a.). (fn. 3) The western boundary of Manningford Abbots, which ran east of Frith copse and Dragon Lane (both in Bruce) directly southeastwards across the downs, was then extinguished. The proximity of the former parish to Pewsey and the fact that the manors of Pewsey and Manningford Abbots shared a common lordship from earliest times until the later 18th century, have influenced its history considerably. (fn. 4) Thus, since Manningford Abbots was considered an outlying hamlet of Pewsey and part of Pewsey manor for certain administrative purposes until the later 18th century, some aspects of its history are reserved for treatment with Pewsey. (fn. 5) In spite of these links Manningford Abbots retained its status as a separate parish until 1934. (fn. 6) Its nucleus lies south of the Avon and there is also settlement along the lanes leading northwards to Wilcot. The origin of the name 'Manningford' is explained elsewhere. (fn. 7) Although the abbots of Hyde held the manor from pre-Conquest times, the settlement does not seem to have been designated 'Abbots' until the later 13th century. (fn. 8)
The northern part of the parish is situated on the Upper Greensand, an area devoted in 1971 to arable farming and market-gardening. (fn. 9) The greensand slopes south-eastward for about ¾ mile from a height of over 400 ft. at the northern boundary to the Avon bed, which lies at just over 300 ft. The marshy alluvial soils bordering the river, which flows through the former parish on a south-westerly course, are well wooded, as in the 19th century, and bear a thick cover of undergrowth. (fn. 10) Southwards the land begins to rise gently and the oldest part of the settlement stands there between the 325 ft. and 350 ft. contours on a bed of River and Valley Gravel. That bed extends south for ½ mile and beyond the Pewsey road is succeeded by an expanse of Lower Chalk. That chalk terrace, the site of the former open field and still under arable cultivation in 1971, rises gradually south-eastwards for 1½ mile over the scarp of Salisbury Plain, where it reaches above 500 ft. (fn. 11) Beyond, on the open expanse of Abbots Down, the former sheep pasture of the parish, the land rises across the Middle Chalk to over 600 ft. (fn. 12) A stream anciently cut a narrow coomb, now dry, through that stratum, exposing the Lower Chalk. The Middle Chalk rises again on the coomb's southern side and in turn is succeeded by the Upper Chalk, which reaches over 650 ft. on the southern boundary.
Swanborough Tump, a bowl-barrow situated in the extreme north-west corner of Manningford Abbots, became the meeting-place of the hundred courts. (fn. 13) The smallness of the settlement is indicated in 1275 by the fact that it was then known as 'little' Manningford. (fn. 14) It was not assessed separately for the poll tax in 1377 and was probably included in the assessment for Pewsey. (fn. 15) The parish contained fewer than ten households in 1428. (fn. 16) There were 22 households in 1783 and 23 in 1808. (fn. 17) When systematic enumerations of population began in 1801 131 people lived in Manningford Abbots. (fn. 18) Numbers increased after that and in 1831 there were 165 inhabitants. In 1851 there were only 119, and although in 1861 the population was given as 139, that was because labourers employed in constructing the railway line across the parish then lived in Manningford Abbots. (fn. 19) Thereafter population figures fluctuated and in 1931, shortly before the parish was amalgamated with the other two Manningfords, 121 people lived there.
In 1773 a lane led north-westwards from the Pewsey road past Malthouse Farm, the church, and mill to join the road which ran north-eastwards past Abbots common towards Wilcot. (fn. 20) It was diverted at a later date, possibly when the rector enlarged the rectory-house c. 1812. It certainly followed its present (1971) course along the eastern boundary by 1844. (fn. 21) At that date, however, the stretch of road linking Manningford mill and Abbots common, traceable as a footpath in 1971, was still used. (fn. 22) The road to Wilcot was diverted over a bridge north of Abbots common when the railway was laid across the parish (see below). There was a network of lanes in the north-west corner of the former parish in 1773, and another lane led from the church south-westwards to Manningford Bruce. (fn. 23) By 1844 the Avon had been diverted into two channels to water the meadow bordering its south bank opposite the mill. (fn. 24) A 'sheep bridge' is mentioned in 1764 and 1788 but its location is unknown. (fn. 25) By 1844 a bridge carried the road across the ford, anciently known as 'Merce ford', in the east of Manningford Abbots. (fn. 26) There was a flat concrete bridge in 1971. The Berks. & Hants Extension Railway was constructed across the north of the former parish and opened in 1862. (fn. 27) Manningford Halt, situated north of Abbots common, was opened in 1932: it was closed in 1966 and no trace of it remained in 1971. (fn. 28)
In 1971 the seclusion of Manningford Abbots was emphasized by its distance from the Pewsey road, the scattered nature of settlement, and almost complete absence of modern development. Settlement in 1773 was confined to the church, a few houses, and the mill, all strung out along the lane, perhaps that referred to as 'the street' in 1791, which formerly ran north-westwards to Abbots common and on to Wilcot. (fn. 29) A few dwellings then stood along that lane on the edge of a tract of common land north of the Avon. (fn. 30) A row of cottages of 19th-century date still borders the west side of that road. The oldest part of the settlement, however, is sited south of the Avon, and Malthouse Farm, Lower Farm, known by that name in 1844, the Old Rectory, and the church stand there. Owing to the re-routing of the lane along which it previously stood (see above), the church stands amid fields and is approached by a cinder track running north of the Old Rectory. To the south-east of the church, the former Lower Farm, in 1972 two cottages, is a symmetrical house of 18th-century date with 19thcentury additions to the east and west. (fn. 31) Malthouse Farm, to the east of the church, is a thatched 18th-century house of chequered brick. On its east entrance front it bears the date 1771 and the initials of members of the Hitchcock family, owners in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 32)
Manor and Other Estates.
In 987 King Ethelred granted ten manentia at Manningford to his servant Ethelwold, an estate probably identifiable with the later manor of MANNINGFORD ABBOTS. (fn. 33) Ethelwold devised the ten hides c. 990 to his wife for life with remainder to the New Minster (later Hyde Abbey) at Winchester. (fn. 34) By the 13th century the estate was included amongst those lands at some time allotted to the abbots of Hyde for their support as distinct from the portion set aside for abbot and convent. (fn. 35) In 1275 the manor was known as that of 'little' Manningford. (fn. 36) Like the neighbouring manor of Pewsey, it remained the property of the abbots of Hyde until the Dissolution when it passed with Pewsey to the Crown and was granted with it in 1547 to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset (executed 1552). (fn. 37) It passed like Pewsey to Algernon Seymour, duke of Somerset (cr. earl of Northumberland 1749 and d. 1750), from whom it descended in fee to his heir-at-law, his daughter Elizabeth (d. 1776), wife of Sir Hugh Smithson. (fn. 38) Sir Hugh (d. 1786) took the name of Percy in 1750, succeeded his father-in-law as earl of Northumberland, and was created duke in 1766. (fn. 39) That year the Northumberlands conveyed certain land to Joseph Champion upon trust for sale in parcels. (fn. 40)
In 1768 a leasehold of five yardlands, to which the manorial rights of Manningford Abbots were attached, and three other small estates, one leasehold and two copyhold, were sold to Edward Brown. (fn. 41) By will proved 1803 he devised his Abbots land upon trust for his widow Eleanor for life. (fn. 42) The estate passed c. 1812, in accordance with Brown's will, to his great-great-nephew Thomas Edward Washbourne. (fn. 43) It was owned c. 1824 by Sir John Dugdale Astley (d. 1842). (fn. 44) In 1844 the land was worked from Lower Farm. (fn. 45) The farm descended in the Astley family like the manor of Wilsford (N.) and was offered for sale in 1874. (fn. 46) The trustees of Captain C. H. Wyndham (d. 1891) held it in the early 20th century. (fn. 47) Some 150 a. of the estate were apparently later acquired by Walter T. Ware Ltd. and laid out as a market-garden. (fn. 48)
Most of the remaining land, however, was owned by Mr. Sylvester G. Gates in 1971. (fn. 49)
A thatched timber-framed house was attached to the five-yardland leasehold bought by Edward Brown in 1768. (fn. 50) It may possibly be identified with the house known as the Manor, which stands north of the Avon on the west side of the road. Originally a late-16th- or early-17th-century timber-framed house with three ground-floor rooms, it was mostly encased in brick and enlarged by a parallel range to the east in the early 19th century. It was sold as a private dwelling some time after 1874. (fn. 51)
Another estate at Abbots was acquired by Charlotte Finch, countess of Aylesford, in possession c. 1780. She devised it upon trust for sale and it was acquired at her death in 1805 by the governors of St. Thomas's Hospital, London. (fn. 52) In 1927 they sold it to the tenant, John Mortimer Strong. (fn. 53)
The remainder of the land at Manningford Abbots was sold off in small lots after the break-up of the Northumberland estate in the mid 18th century. Thus in 1767 Thomas Workman acquired c. 45 a. and Harry Reeves c. 40 a., while the following year Edward Fowle bought c. 50 a., and John Hitchcock c. 53 a. (fn. 54) John Hitchcock's farm remained in his family until the later 19th century and was known as Malthouse farm. (fn. 55) By 1874 A. Wilson owned it. (fn. 56) It was afterwards owned by Aubrey W. F. Wilson and on his death at an unknown date passed to his trustees. (fn. 57) In 1971 Malthouse farm was included in Mr. S. G. Gates's estate at Manningford Abbots. (fn. 58)
T.R.E. an estate at Manningford, to be identified with the later manor of Manningford Abbots, was assessed for geld at ten hides and was worth £6. In 1086 five hides and an additional half-virgate were in demesne. The demesne hides supported two ploughs and were worked by five serfs. Elsewhere on the estate there were 8 villeins and 7 coscez and land for two ploughs and a half. There were 10 a. of meadow, and the pasture measured 4 furlongs in length and a furlong broad. The estate was then worth £8. (fn. 59)
Although a common lordship made it convenient to administer the Manningford Abbots and Pewsey estates together from earliest times until the later 18th century, the Abbots estate apparently retained a separate economic identity during that period. (fn. 60) The manor was worth £10 c. 1210 and then supported 16 oxen and 339 sheep. (fn. 61) A survey, of unknown date but probably compiled before the end of the 14th century, lists 19 holdings at Manningford Abbots: 3 of ½ hide, 3 of 1½ virgate, 10 of 1 virgate, and 3 of ½ virgate. The half-hiders owed specified agricultural services, including the taking of wool, cheese, and timber to Hyde Abbey. The remaining tenants all held for money rents, although some, such as the tenant who held the mill estate (see below), also owed certain works. Single virgates were rented at either 4s. or 6s. yearly, and half-virgates at 3s. The half-hiders each held 6 a. in the 'frith', perhaps originally an eastward extension of the wood in the north-east corner of Bruce later called Frith copse. One also rented 3 a. of the demesne in Loklond for 12d. yearly and another paid 16d. a year for 4 a. of demesne in Medfurlong. A halfvirgater rented 5 a. of demesne for 2s. 1d. yearly. The miller, besides renting 6 a. of demesne and 6 a. in the 'frith', both for 5d. an acre, paid 10s. yearly for Northmede and 2s. for Reclemede. The common demesne pasture then lay in the north of the ancient parish 'in the heath' and tenants were ordered not to break up pasture there against the abbot of Hyde's wishes. (fn. 62)
That common, called Manningford heath in 1563 and Manningford Abbots common in 1608, then occupied a much larger area in the north of the former parish than it did in the later 18th or earlier 19th centuries. (fn. 63) It was inclosed in 1608 by agreement between the lord of the manor, the rector, and the tenants. In 1844 all that remained common was some 8 a. lying beside the Bruce–Wilcot road. (fn. 64)
The Abbots estate, like others stretching south from the greensand vale to the downs, must have supported considerable numbers of sheep until the 19th century. In 1588 the 'Manningford flock' was pastured with the Pewsey 'herd flock' on Abbots and Pewsey Downs. (fn. 65)
An Upper and a Nether Rye field, mentioned in 1588, were probably situated north of the Pewsey road. The North, Middle, and West fields, also mentioned at that date, lay within the open field of Manningford Abbots, which occupied the area between the Pewsey road and the scarp of Salisbury Plain. (fn. 66) The open field was named as Manningford field in the early 18th century. (fn. 67) In 1755 it contained a Nearer and a Further field, a South field, Sands field, and West and East fields on and under the hill. By that date at least 100 a. of arable in the northern part of the parish had been inclosed. The parish was then, except for some 170 a. of arable and meadow worked with Pewsey farm (see below), apportioned between 4 leasehold and 8 copyhold estates. The most substantial leasehold of 5 yardlands probably represented Abbots demesne. Of the copyhold estates two were of 3 yardlands and four others contained between 40 a. and 50 a. each. (fn. 68) Of these estates the demesne, mill (see below), and two copyholds of 95 a. and 40 a. were bought in 1768 by Edward Brown. (fn. 69) The remainder was sold as smallholdings. (fn. 70) It seems probable that the open-field arable was rearranged following the sales; no details have been found, but it is clear that by 1783 the rectorial glebe in the former open field had been reallotted. (fn. 71)
Very little is known of the economy of the farms formed after the break-up of the estate. In 1844 the two-thirds of the ancient parish which lay north of the scarp of the downs were under arable cultivation, the arable areas being divided by a belt of pasture land bordering the Avon. By that date the smallholdings of 1767–8 had been absorbed, probably within the Astley estate, and in 1844 there were three farms. The Astley farm of 474 a. was made up of most land north of the Devizes-Pewsey road and of the arable between that road and the scarp of Salisbury Plain. The Hitchcock farm had 46 a. scattered throughout the parish. (fn. 72) That of 343 a. owned by St. Thomas's Hospital, which was worked in conjunction with Pewsey farm from at least the 18th century, was tenanted in 1844 by Thomas Pyke, and made up of Abbots Down (148 a.), down arable (173 a.) between the scarp and Abbots Down, and a small pasture, Berry ground, south-west of the Avon. (fn. 73) It continued to form part of the hospital's estate, then known as Manor and Pewsey Hill farms, into the early 20th century. (fn. 74)
Apart from the 'frith' mentioned above, nothing is known of woodland in Abbots until the 19th century. The Avon was then, as in 1971, bordered by willows, alders, and withy beds. Some small plantations on the Astley estate included 9 a. of firs called the Coppice south-east of Manningford common. Their sites were occupied by a marketgarden in 1971. (fn. 75)
In 1971 land in the former parish was occupied by several owners. Some 150 a. in the north-east corner worked as a market-garden by Walter T. Ware Ltd., whose main nursery was at Bottlesford in Manningford Bohune (formerly in Wilsford), were then largely given over to the production of soft fruits. (fn. 76) Land previously occupied by the Astley estate and Malthouse farm was under pasture in 1971, principally used for rearing young stock, and farmed with Manor farm, Sharcott (in Pewsey).
Mill. In 1086 a mill worth 12s. 6d. formed part of Hyde Abbey's estate at Manningford Abbots. (fn. 77) Like Abbots manor it was considered part of the Pewsey estate until the 18th century. (fn. 78) When, as explained above, land at Manningford Abbots was sold in lots, Edward Brown bought the mill in 1768. It may afterwards have changed hands several times. (fn. 79) John Grant (d. 1810) eventually acquired it c. 1791 and, known in the 18th century as Manningford mill, it passed to John Grant's son and namesake and descended like Bruce manor to Major W. W. Dowding, who sold it in 1953 to G. B. Nichol of Pewsey, owner in 1972. (fn. 80)
At some date in the Middle Ages not later than the end of the 14th century, Edward Faerford held the mill and 1½ virgate for 18s. 6d. yearly. (fn. 81) Peter Botoner was miller in 1439, Thomas Howell in 1539, Edward Shepherd in 1679, and Edward Harfield in 1699. (fn. 82) John Hailstone was miller in 1745, and Robert Hailstone in the 1750s. (fn. 83) The succession of millers ended with George J. Butcher, tenant under the Grant Meeks in the early 20th century. (fn. 84)
In 1773 the mill stood on the north bank of the Avon beside the lane which then linked the church and Abbots common. (fn. 85) Some 10 a. were attached to it in 1844, including a water-meadow on the south side of the river. It was then approached, as in 1971, by a driveway leading eastwards from the lane turning north through Manningford Bruce towards Wilcot. (fn. 86) The large red-brick mill building, with the 19th-century mill-house adjoining on the north, has foundations of 19th-century date but was largely rebuilt in the 20th century. It was used as a furniture store by G. B. Nichol of Pewsey in 1972. (fn. 87)
Although entitled as a separate manor to hold its own courts Manningford Abbots was administered as a tithing of the neighbouring manor of Pewsey, with which it shared a common lordship, until the later 18th century, when Abbots manor and the right to hold courts there were sold to Edward Brown. (fn. 88) Records of manorial courts for Pewsey manor, extant with gaps from 1547, show that Abbots tenants owed suit there. At the courts, generally held once or twice yearly, small agricultural matters were dealt with and tenants admitted to copyholds within Abbots manor. (fn. 89) In 1563 local youths were presented for cutting down branches from trees growing on the common then known as Manningford heath. (fn. 90) The 18th-century courts dealt with similar nuisances, and in 1722 ordered the repair of the road between Manningford mill and the common. Their chief concern, however, was with copyhold business. (fn. 91)
The parish had two surveyors of highways in the later 18th century and they levied rates varying from 4d. in the £ in 1789, to 10d. in 1799, to 1s. 10d. in 1803. Payments for cleaning the Avon and for clearing flooded roads appear frequently in the highway accounts from 1788 to 1811. (fn. 92)
Manningford Abbots became part of Pewsey poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 93) In the earlier 19th century there were three cottages in the parish for the use of paupers. Their exact locations are unknown, but they may have stood at Abbots common. (fn. 94) In 1841 the Pewsey guardians sold them to Richard Hayward, one of the Abbots overseers. (fn. 95)
Although a 'church way' is referred to in 987, the first mention found of a church at Manningford Abbots is in 1291. (fn. 96) The abbot of Hyde presented a rector in 1299. (fn. 97) Thereafter the abbots presented until the Dissolution, evidently holding the advowson, like the manor, as part of their own portion. (fn. 98)
In 1547 the advowson was granted to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset (executed 1552). (fn. 99) It descended like the manor and passed eventually to Charles, duke of Somerset (d. 1748), who last presented in 1741. (fn. 100) Right of presentation was often delegated. (fn. 101) In 1577 Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford (d. 1621), delegated to George Ludlow, who in turn delegated to William Lavington of North Newnton. (fn. 102) The presentation was assigned at some date to Anne, widow of Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp (d.s.p. 1618). In 1623 she delegated her right to her brother-in-law Francis Seymour (cr. Baron Seymour of Trowbridge 1641 and d. 1664), who presented in 1624. (fn. 103) Sarah, dowager duchess of Somerset (d. 1692), delegated her right to Sir Harbottle Grimston (d. 1685), and to Samuel Grimston (d. 1700), the father and brother respectively of her first husband George Grimston, and they presented in 1683. (fn. 104)
The advowson continued to pass like the manor to Hugh, duke of Northumberland, and his wife Elizabeth, who sold it in 1767 to Sir John Astley of Everleigh (d. 1771), from whom it passed to his kinsman Francis Dugdale Astley, thereafter descending like the manor of Wilsford (N.). (fn. 105) The last Astley to present was Sir John Dugdale Astley (d. 1894), who did so in 1892. (fn. 106) The advowson was afterwards acquired by Mrs. Sarah J. White of Harrop Edge House, Matley, Mottram in Longendale (Ches.). In 1895 she presented J. R. Pawley Smith, whose wife acquired the advowson some time before 1898. (fn. 107) On her death shortly before 1922 Mrs. Smith's right passed to her husband. The rectory was united with that of Manningford Bruce in 1926 and thereafter J. R. Pawley Smith was entitled to present alternately with the bishop of Salisbury, patron of Bruce. (fn. 108) In 1940 Pawley Smith transferred his turn to the National Church League. That body was incorporated with the Church Association in 1950 to form the Church Society Trust, which thereafter was entitled to present alternately. (fn. 109) The united benefice has been held in plurality with the rectory of Everleigh since 1967. (fn. 110)
The church was valued for taxation at £4 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 111) It was worth £9 10s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 112) From 1829 to 1831 the rectory was worth yearly on average £300 net, i.e. the value of the tithes and a small amount of glebe. (fn. 113) A rent-charge of £315 was allotted to replace tithes in 1844. (fn. 114)
In 1588, and thereafter until the 18th century, the rector was entitled, as glebe, to some 13 a. of arable in the open fields and 3 a. of meadow. (fn. 115) Some time in the 18th century the acreage of the rectorial estate was reduced when land in the open fields was reallotted and in 1783 was reckoned at 13 a. (fn. 116) In 1844 the glebe was estimated at 15 a. (fn. 117)
A Rectory is first mentioned in 1588. (fn. 118) The east part of the present house, in 1971 called the Old Rectory, which incorporates an early-17th-century timber-framed building with two principal groundfloor rooms and a central stack, was built c. 1636 by Thomas Clarke, rector 1624–83. (fn. 119) F. B. Astley, rector 1810–56, began to remodel and enlarge the house c. 1812. (fn. 120) He encased the 17th-century house in red brick, extended it westwards, and added an extensive stable range to the north-west. His alterations were probably complete by 1827, the date which appears with the Astley crest on the rainwater-heads on the south side of the house. Fronted by lawns and partly obscured by trees, the house stands back from the lane, between the church and Lower Farm, and is approached by a double drive. After the union of Manningford Abbots and Bruce rectories in 1926 the incumbent of the united benefice lived at Bruce. Abbots Rectory was offered for sale as a private dwelling, and in 1971 was the home of Mr. Sylvester G. Gates. (fn. 121)
In 1556 the rector held two benefices. (fn. 122) Thomas Clarke, rector 1624–83, also held Uffculme (Devon) prebend in Salisbury cathedral from 1634 until his death in 1683. He was ejected from Manningford Abbots some time before 1658 but was restored in 1660. (fn. 123) Also noteworthy for their long incumbencies were two 19th-century rectors. The first, Francis Bickley Astley, rector 1810–56, was presented by his father Francis Dugdale Astley (d. 1818). (fn. 124) He held the rectory in plurality with that of Everleigh from 1830 until his death in 1856 and also the sinecure rectory of Pitney (Som.) for some time. He seems, however, to have lived at Manningford Abbots in his remodelled rectory-house (see above). (fn. 125) The second, Edward Everett, served the cure from 1857 to 1895. (fn. 126)
In 1783 services were held twice on Sundays, while weekday services were held on the principal festivals. The Sacrament was administered to an average of 20 to 30 communicants at Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, and Michaelmas. The rector then apparently sometimes helped neighbouring incumbents. (fn. 127) Services were held only once on Sundays in 1812. (fn. 128) In 1851 the average congregation at services during the past year was reckoned to have numbered 70 in the mornings and 80 in the afternoons. (fn. 129) Services, attended by an average congregation of 60 people, were held twice on Sundays in 1864. Holy Communion, attended by an average of thirteen communicants, was then celebrated on Christmas day and the Sunday following, on Trinity Sunday, and on three other Sundays in the year. (fn. 130)
Manningford Abbots church, for which no dedication is recorded, was largely rebuilt during the years 1861–4 by S. B. Gabriel of Bristol in a style reproducing features of both the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 131) It has a chancel and nave with south porch and western bell-gable. The medieval church which Gabriel's building replaced appears to have been of the same plan as its successor, the proportions of the nave and some joints reset in the south doorway suggesting a 12th-century origin for it. In 1806 its chancel had an east window of late-medieval date, a lancet in the south wall, and a steeplypitched tiled roof. The nave then had a window probably of 16th-century date in its south wall and a leaden roof with a bell-tower at its western end. (fn. 132) Some repairs and alterations were carried out in the earlier 19th century and in 1859 the west window and porch were described as 'modern'. (fn. 133)
The most notable item among the communion plate in 1971 was a silver parcel-gilt chalice of late15th-century date. The parish was allowed to keep it in 1553. Its original mullet-shaped foot may then have been altered to its present round shape, on which the engraving of a crucifix may still be traced. Additionally the church possessed in 1971 a later-16th-century paten cover, a paten hallmarked 1813, and a flagon given by Charles Adams, rector, in 1782. (fn. 134) The church had two bells in 1553 and 1971: the first, recast in 1896, replaced one probably of 13th-century date, while the second was cast by William and Robert Cor in 1706. (fn. 135) Registrations of burials begin in 1538, baptisms in 1539, marriages in 1543, and are complete. (fn. 136)
There was a nonconformist at Manningford Abbots in 1676. (fn. 137) Three, similarly of unknown denomination, were noted there in 1864. (fn. 138) It is unlikely, however, that any meetinghouse was ever established in the parish.
In 1783 the rector of Manningford Abbots remarked on the illiteracy of the children in the parish and a similar observation was made in 1808. (fn. 139) A few children attended school at Manningford Bruce in 1818. (fn. 140) By 1833 a school, supported by the rector and others, had been established in the parish and was attended by 11 boys and 14 girls. (fn. 141) It had apparently lapsed by 1859 when between 15 and 20 children were taught by a 'dame', while a few others attended school at Pewsey. (fn. 142) There was a school in the parish in 1864 but nothing is known of it. (fn. 143) In 1873 Alexander Meek offered to admit the Abbots children to his school at Manningford Bruce provided that the parish made an annual subscription towards its upkeep. (fn. 144) Children from Manningford Abbots thereafter attended that school.