A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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STANTON ST. BERNARD
Stanton St. Bernard is a long narrow parish, 2,043 a., about 6 miles east of Devizes reaching up from the Pewsey Vale to the Marlborough Downs. (fn. 1) Three Saxon land charters refer to it and survey its boundaries in essentially similar ways. In the north the boundaries were drawn across Wansdyke to enclose Thorn Hill and in the south were marked by tributary streams of the Christchurch Avon. (fn. 2) Those boundaries have remained substantially unchanged.
In the north the parish contains part of the southern scarp of the Marlborough Downs, including Milk Hill, 964 ft., the same height as Tan Hill in All Cannings, the highest points in Wiltshire, and much land over 700 ft. There are Upper and Middle Chalk outcrops, overlain in places by Clay-with-flints, and associated with them is an absence of surface water. Although some relatively flat land lies north of Wansdyke, poor soils and steep gradients, especially on Milk Hill and other scarp faces south of Wansdyke, render the area suitable for pastoral rather than agrarian pursuits. The south of the parish is part of the Vale of Pewsey where the land is comparatively level. Upper Greensand outcrops but the valleys cut by the boundary streams have been covered by a layer of alluvium making good meadow land. Between those two areas the land slopes from the bottom of the scarp, about 625 ft., to the upper level of the greensand, roughly delineated by the Kennet & Avon Canal at about 425 ft. Lower Chalk outcrops in that central part of the parish and has made it a suitable area for arable cultivation. (fn. 3)
Archaeological discoveries in Stanton have included objects of the early, middle, and late Bronze Ages, and of the early Iron Age. (fn. 4) Prehistoric earthworks on the high land in the north of the parish include bowl- and disk-barrows, and ditches. About ¾ mile of Wansdyke is in the parish. One of the other ditches is 2/3 mile long and earlier than Wansdyke. There are also remains of an early-Iron-Age hill-fort on the border with Alton Barnes. (fn. 5)
Stanton was sometimes referred to in the Middle Ages as Stanton Abbess, (fn. 6) but at least by the 16th century it had acquired the suffix Barnard. (fn. 7) The derivation of that suffix is uncertain, but may perhaps be connected with the Burdon family, which held land in medieval Stanton, with the family which gave its name to Alton Barnes, (fn. 8) or with the possible custom of describing Stanton as adjoining Alton Barnes. Barnard became Bernard and by 1679 the form Stanton St. Bernard was sometimes used. (fn. 9) In the 19th century that form gradually superseded all others.
Little can be deduced about the size and importance of Stanton in the Middle Ages. No special features distinguished it. For the payment of fifteenths in 1334 it was assessed at 42s., (fn. 10) indicating perhaps average size among the rural parishes of the hundred, and there were 76 poll-tax payers in 1377. (fn. 11) Assessments of taxpayers for the 1545 benevolence and the 1576 subsidy likewise do not indicate much about its relative prosperity, although in 1545 George Prater of Stanton had the highest personal assessment of the hundred. (fn. 12) In 1744 the vicar of Stanton listed the households of the parish and recorded a population of 246. (fn. 13) By 1801 that had risen to 297, and there was a general though somewhat erratic increase until in 1891 the population was 373. Thereafter it declined suddenly, falling to 242 by 1901. (fn. 14) More gradual decline continued in the 20th century until by 1971 it had reached 160. (fn. 15)
External communication from the parish has become dependent on the road linking the several villages below the scarp of the downs, which crosses it north of the village, and which forms a rather circuitous route between Devizes and Pewsey. The road may have been well used by the late 18th century but achieved no special prominence in maps of that period (fn. 16) and was never turnpiked. Almost equal prominence was given to the paths passing north across the downs to the Kennet valley. It is possible that the north-south communication axis had once a greater comparative importance for Stanton. By the mid 20th century, however, those paths were barely negotiable farm tracks. In the south of the parish a path to All Cannings in the west and Woodborough in the east was well defined in the late 18th century. (fn. 17) By the mid 20th century it had become a green road. The path leading south from the village, once called Annel Lane and Withick Lane, was metalled and tarred but not extended beyond the farm buildings known as Stanton Dairy, and it has not provided a link through Beechingstoke to the southern part of the Vale of Pewsey.
In 1807 Stanton was crossed by the DevizesPewsey section of the Kennet & Avon Canal. (fn. 18) That provided east-west communication in the south of the parish linking Stanton to Honey Street in Woodborough, and to All Cannings. The tow-path gave access along the canal bank to the wharf at Honey Street. By 1885 a path led from this to the south-east of the parish where it joined the old path to Woodborough, (fn. 19) but by the mid 20th century these routes, like the canal, had largely fallen into disuse.
By 1862 the Berks. & Hants Extension Railway crossed the very south of the parish. (fn. 20) Woodborough was the nearest station. Communication was thus provided along the Vale of Pewsey to Savernake and Devizes, or, by 1900, south-west to Westbury. In 1966 the line to Devizes and Woodborough station were both closed. (fn. 21)
Stanton village is situated on the Lower Chalk in the central part of the parish almost entirely between the 400 ft. and 425 ft. contours on land that is well drained, but where wells and springs have given an adequate water supply. The church stands near the source of the western boundary stream. In 1773 the church and the vicarage-house stood a short distance away from the main part of the village. That lay east of them along a street, part of a road then running the length of the parish. The manor-house stood in about the middle of the street on the east side. (fn. 22) Between 1773 and 1784 Church Farm, with new farm buildings, was erected south-west of the church. (fn. 23) In 1822 the vicar moved to the house, later much enlarged, on the south side of the manor-house, and a path between it and the church became established. (fn. 24) Beside that path estate cottages, the earlier ones with distinctive round-headed windows, and a school were built from the late 1840s, and a planned farmstead was laid out north of the manorhouse. As a result of those changes the village assumed the form of an arc, and the northern part of the street leading to the Devizes-Pewsey road subsequently fell into disuse. In 1969 it still had that form. The older buildings, however, still marked the old line of the street. A few late17th-century timber-framed cottages lie away to the north of the manor-house and a block of late17th- or early-18th-century cottages is south of it. Also south of it are the old smithy and several farm-houses including Sarsens, a late-17th-century timber-framed house, an early-18th-century brick house, an early-19th-century house, and Stanton House, another early-19th-century house with late-19th-century extensions. Stoniford Mill, now with farm buildings, and Stanton Dairy, farm buildings on the site of another mill, stand in the south of the parish and the Barge public house at Honey Street in the west. The Barge was built between 1810 and 1853, burnt in 1858, and rebuilt the following year. (fn. 25)
King Ethelwulf granted 20 cassati in Stanton to Cenwold who left that land to his son with reversion to the ealdorman Ordlaf. King Edward granted it to Ordlaf in 903. In 957, however, 20 mansae at Stanton were granted by King Edwy to Oswulf, bishop of Ramsbury, and the grant was confirmed by a charter of King Edgar in 960. (fn. 26) By 1086 Stanton, assessed at 20 hides, was held by Wilton Abbey, and the manor of STANTON remained among the abbey's possessions until its dissolution in 1539. (fn. 27) In 1544 it was granted to Sir William Herbert, created earl of Pembroke in 1551, (fn. 28) and passed with the Pembroke title until 1917. (fn. 29)
The demesne farm was held from successive earls by beneficial leases, for years on lives renewable by fines. By c. 1554 it was held by George Prater (fn. 30) and in 1567 by his son Anthony. (fn. 31) Much litigation was brought about by Anthony's extortionate activities in Stanton, as a result of which he was several times bound over at quarter sessions, (fn. 32) excommunicated, subjected to the compelling intervention in Stanton of Henry earl of Pembroke's rent collectors, and possibly imprisoned. (fn. 33) He was described in 1601 as 'a troublesome man'. (fn. 34) Anthony's occupation of the demesne is implied in 1592, (fn. 35) but by 1594 he was dead. (fn. 36) He had sons Thomas and William who surrendered the land in 1602. (fn. 37) It was then leased to Thomas Baskerville (d. 1620–1), (fn. 38) and was afterwards held by his widow Joan. (fn. 39)
By 1653 the farm was leased in moieties which descended separately for the next century although they remained in the same family. (fn. 40) In 1653 a moiety was leased to Richard Smith and subsequent leases were made to Richard Smith, to Michael Smith from 1681, and to another Michael Smith from 1705. In 1724 it was leased to Barbara, widow of Michael Smith. The other moiety was leased in 1653 to John Smith and subsequent leases of that moiety were made to Richard Smith in 1676, to his son Richard from 1699, and to Michael Smith in 1705, when it was assigned to Richard Smith. In 1731 it was leased to Barbara Smith who then held both moieties.
Barbara and Michael Smith's daughter Barbara married William Wyndham (d. 1762), a member of the already large and prosperous Wiltshire family. By 1751 both moieties were held by Wyndham, and after his death both were held by his widow. (fn. 41) Barbara Wyndham died in 1786. (fn. 42) She and William had sons William (d. 1785), Wadham, and John, and Wadham inherited the estate, then known as Great farm. (fn. 43) Between 1786 and 1804 arrangements were being made for Wadham to surrender the estate for an annuity of at least £400 (fn. 44) but those arrangements do not seem to have taken effect before Wadham's death in 1804. (fn. 45) In 1805, however, his widow Isabel and brother John both surrendered their interests in the farm to George, earl of Pembroke. (fn. 46) It was subsequently leased at rack-rent.
A substantial freehold of 2 hides was held of the abbess of Wilton by military service. It was held by Walter of Calstone and in 1242 by his heirs, (fn. 47) but in the late 13th century Sir Roger of Calstone quitclaimed it to the abbess. (fn. 48) The land had been held of the Calstones by members of the Burdon family. (fn. 49) After the quitclaim the Burdons held of the abbess without intermediary, (fn. 50) and continued to do so until the 16th century. In 1502 William Burdon was succeeded in the estate by his son Thomas who died holding it in 1524. (fn. 51) Thomas left as heir a daughter Elizabeth, then aged ten, and a widow Agnes, who afterwards married Richard Watts. (fn. 52) The Burdon estate subsequently descended in two parts for perhaps half a century. By c. 1554 the larger part had passed to George Unwin. (fn. 53) George died before 1557 leaving his son William a minor. (fn. 54) In 1567 William was a ward and his mother had married John Poole. (fn. 55) By 1592, however, Poole was dead, (fn. 56) and in 1611 William died holding the land. (fn. 57) The smaller part of the estate had passed to William Burdon by c. 1554, and he still held it in 1567. (fn. 58) It was afterwards purchased by William Unwin from John Burdon, possibly William Burdon's son, and reunited with the main estate. (fn. 59)
William Unwin was survived in 1611 by his wife Barbara, formerly Barbara Gore, and by his daughters Mary and Christine. (fn. 60) Barbara, on whom the land had been settled, died in 1618. (fn. 61) The property then passed to Thomas Sadler of Salisbury and John Booth, the fourth son of Thomas Booth of Glossop (Derb.), who had married the coheirs Mary and Christine. Sadler surrendered his interests in it, and the property passed to Booth. (fn. 62) The estate was by then reputed a manor and referred to as such in 1592, 1612, and 1620 although it had neither tenants nor courts. (fn. 63)
John Booth (d. 1635) apparently settled the land on the marriage of his only daughter Barbara and George Vaughan in 1631. (fn. 64) From 1635 to 1650 the descent of the land is uncertain, but it is possible that Barbara and George died without issue and that the estate reverted to a relative of John Booth, since in 1650 Thomas Booth was apparently preparing to convey it to John Bretland. (fn. 65) In 1654 Bretland settled it by his will, (fn. 66) under the terms of which it was held for ten years by his daughter Catherine. It should then have reverted to his eldest son John but he had died without issue in 1658. Since Lawrence, the third son of the elder John Bretland, was dead, the land passed under the will to Lawrence's son George who was in the guardianship of Reginald Bretland, the second son of the elder John Bretland, and Reginald leased out the land in 1664.
Reginald Bretland held the land until 1691 when he conveyed it to Sir Thomas Fowle, to a member of whose family it was already leased. (fn. 67) Fowle died in 1692 and his daughter Susan inherited the land. She married Jonathan Cope (d. 1694) and afterwards John Bartley. Susan died in 1697 and despite some dispute Bartley was able to keep the land until 1724. (fn. 68) He had by then arranged to sell it to Francis Hawes, a director of the South Sea Company. Before the sale could be made, however, the South Sea Company collapsed and Bartley disposed of the land through the trustees empowered by Parliament to acquire and sell the property of directors of the company. In 1726 they offered the land, then called Little farm, for sale at an auction in South Sea House. It was bought by Thomas, earl of Pembroke, (fn. 69) and became part of the manor of Stanton.
The whole estate was sold by Reginald, earl of Pembroke, in 1917. Church, formerly Great, farm (1,369 a.) was bought by Mr. M. J. Read, the owner in 1969. (fn. 70) Manor, formerly Little, farm (503 a.) was bought by John Nosworthy and belonged to his son Mr. J. W. Nosworthy in 1969. (fn. 71)
The manor-house in Stanton seems to have been inhabited by the farmer until c. 1780. (fn. 72) A stone building bearing the date 1677 was erected near the middle of the street. It was originally L-shaped, much altered in the early 19th century, extended in red brick, and is now square. It retains its front with segmental arch, carved spandrels, and broken pediment, with its date tablet flanked by a pair of oval lights. At the side and back of the house some of the transomed and mullioned windows survive. After c. 1780 the tenant of Great farm moved to Church House. (fn. 73) That house was occupied by Mr. Read in 1969. The manor-house was occupied from c. 1780 to 1917 by members of the Simpkins family, tenants of Little farm. (fn. 74)
Of 20 hides at Stanton in 1086 10 were in demesne on which there were 4 ploughs and 8 serfs. Outside the demesne there were 16 villeins, 1 bordar, and 21 coscez who shared 8 ploughs. There were 3 a. of wood, 60 a. of meadow, and pasture a league long by half a league broad. (fn. 75)
On the eve of the Dissolution the manorial demesne was farmed, and since Stanton was an outlying estate of Wilton Abbey may have been so long before. In 1539 the manor was worth £41 8s. to which the farmer contributed £17 and 30 fleeces worth £1, the free tenants £4 15s. 6d., and the customary tenants £18 12s. 6d. (fn. 76) Rents remained the same in 1567, but their total value had fallen to £40 13s. after the attainder of William Bird. (fn. 77) There were 16 copyholders paying low rents but fines of up to £67 on renewal. (fn. 78)
In the mid 16th century almost 1,000 a. were devoted to arable cultivation, mainly in two large fields. North field amounted to about 500 a. of which 250 a. were demesne. South field was rather smaller. (fn. 79) There were about 140 a. of meadow in the parish of which 125 a. were held of the manor and 15 a. with Stoniford Mill. (fn. 80) About half was cultivated in three common meadows, West and East meads and 'Millhams', which contained the small delineated strips of the customary tenants, and the sometimes large blocks of the farmer and freeholder. (fn. 81) Other meadow land was used in severalty. Longdean, Forehills, Sherelease, and Allonds were upland pastures solely for sheep. They amounted to 111 a. on which the customary tenants had between them in rough correspondence to the size of their holdings pasturage rights for 250 sheep, the freeholder for 300, the prebendary for 100, and the demesne farmer for 700. The farmer also had exclusive pasturage rights for 300 sheep on Milk Hill. An upland flock of 1,650 sheep was thus permitted. Other pastures provided feeding for cattle in summer and sheep in winter. They could be upland like Cow down (30 a.) or lowland like Hasells and Knaps, which were both depastured in alternate years by sheep alone, and Withicks, Verne, Rynells, and Moors (39½ a. in all). Other pasturage was available in the common arable fields. Here the farmer and prebendary had precedence, the farmer with as many beasts as he could support. The tenants' rights were limited, and a herd of 239 beasts was allowed. Sheep could also be kept in the fields. The tenants had rights for 1,055 sheep, and that flock was probably supplemented by the upland flock of 1,400 sheep of the farmer, freeholder, and prebendary. Some tenants also had small pieces of several pasture totalling about 12 a. (fn. 82)
In the mid 16th century much land in Stanton was still waste, although used for pasture. Some 250 a. were north of Wansdyke, but much lay in the south of the parish. Subsequently the area of land under cultivation began to expand. By 1631 about 1,000 a. were still given to arable cultivation, although a slight adjustment in field arrangements may have occurred. Demesne arable was divided between North West field (100 a.), North East field (100 a.), and Bicken field (80 a.), although other arable remained divided between North and South fields. By that time meadow land had been increased by about 25 a., but the small area of copyhold several pasture remained the same. (fn. 83) About 1610, however, both upland and lowland wastes were inclosed to form a regular part of agricultural land and specified interests in them were allotted. (fn. 84) In the lowland each tenant acquired an inclosed pasture. About 190 a. were allotted of which the freeholder had 29 a., and each copyhold tenant between 16 a. and 1½ a. according to the size of his holding. The areas of inclosed pastures were still known as Moors, Withicks, Verne, and Hasells and were in the south-east, west, and south of the parish. (fn. 85) This inclosure may have given advantages of increased acreage and several use to the tenantry, for the interests of the farmer in the land were thereby extinguished. The farmer of the demesne, however, gained by the inclosure of the upland. A sheep down for the tenants called Ovehayes, later called Tenantry down, and a several sheep down for the farmer, later called Great Farm down, were established. On Tenantry down the freeholder could feed 300 sheep, the copyhold tenants 220, the prebendary 100. The farmer could feed 700 sheep there at certain times of the year. Great Farm down could be depastured by 800 demesne sheep. (fn. 86) A further agreement was made between the freeholder and the copyholders under which the freeholder surrendered his pasture rights for cattle around the arable fields, possibly in exchange for an area of previously copyhold arable. (fn. 87) In 1631 the pasture rights of the copyhold tenants in the common arable fields allowed for a herd of 194 horses and cattle, and a flock of some 1,200 sheep. They were presumably supplemented by the animals of the farmer and prebendary, although no such rights were specified in a survey of that date. (fn. 88)
That reorganization completed the expansion of the agricultural land of the parish. Great farm, as the demesne farm was later called, Little farm, as the freehold farm came to be called, and the copyhold farms all increased their acreages. The copyholds increased in number from 16 in 1567 to 18 in 1631. (fn. 89) In that period, however, rents payable for Great farm and the copyholds were unchanged although fines had risen and could be up to £180 for a copyhold, and £500 for Great farm. (fn. 90)
By the late 18th century, when inclosure of the common arable fields took place, arable acreage in Stanton had fallen to about 875 a. There had also been some modification of field arrangements since 1726. Both North field and South field were trisected. The six fields thus created were West, Middle, and East fields above the village, and three of similar names below it. All were roughly equal in size. (fn. 91) In the south of the parish arrangements for meadow and pasture cultivation were apparently unchanged, although by this time much of the land in the south was water-meadow. (fn. 92) In the north, however, pasture rights had been re-adjusted. Tenantry down (then 238 a.) and Great Farm down (382 a.) were still the upland pastures for the sheep of the tenants and farmer, although the farmer had lost his rights to feed sheep on Tenantry down. The upland flock of the tenants might number 680 sheep. The common fields north of the village could be depastured by the sheep of Great farm and by 913 sheep of the other tenants. The tenants' common-field flock also had access to several new pastures. It could be fed on Long Cannings hill (22 a.) which was shared with the Tenantry down flock, Round hill (26 a.), seven lowland pastures (in all 41 a.), and the down under Milk Hill (26 a.) which was shared with the Great farm flock. (fn. 93)
In the late 18th century the earls of Pembroke still derived their income from Stanton as much by fines as by annual rents. The rent of Great farm was doubled when it was leased in moieties in 1653, but was still outweighed by fines for additions of lives and renewals of leases. (fn. 94) Little farm owed a quit-rent of £2 11s. 6d. to Lord Pembroke until 1726. The freeholder had leased it for £157 a year, and, after buying it, the Pembrokes leased it for a rent increasing from £140 in 1741 to £210 in 1776. (fn. 95) In the 18th century most of the smaller tenants held by copy for lives. In 1785 there were 25 such tenures. (fn. 96) They paid long established low rents and heavy fines. In the late 1770s, however, copyholds began to be changed to leaseholds, and high annual rents were instituted. In 1780 a small farm was converted to an annual tenancy at rack-rent. (fn. 97)
Medium- and small-scale farms were already in decline by that time. The lessee of Great farm had acquired a copyhold farm of 75 a., several others had been split, (fn. 98) and disparity between the smaller tenants increased. The Godwin, Lavington (later Church), Dyke, and Walter families prospered and held about 430 a. between them in 1785. Meanwhile others declined and few held more than 10 a. in 1785. Nevertheless the acreages of Great farm (some 800 a. including the copyhold land added by 1705) and Little farm (197 a.) were not affected. (fn. 99)
Inclosure of common arable fields and upland pasture took place at Stanton under private agreement from October 1792. (fn. 100) The subsequent development of large farms meant that arable cultivation continued in large fields. In 1853 there were fields of some 175 a. and 150 a. and three of some 50 a. above the Devizes—Pewsey road, and fields of about 90 a., 50 a., and 45 a. below it. There was also an expansion of arable cultivation after inclosure and the development of large farms. By 1853 arable land had been increased to some 1,150 a., mainly by converting about 300 a. of upland pasture to arable. (fn. 101) In the south some arable was converted to pasture and some pasture to arable. (fn. 102) At this time there was also a slackening interest in sheep and a growing interest in dairy farming. Stanton mill (see below), for example, was converted into dairy-farm buildings and the water that would have worked the mill was used to flood the meadows. (fn. 103)
Conversion of lifehold tenures to short leases was rapid in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Between 1773 and 1784 new buildings were erected behind the church for Great farm. (fn. 104) After 1804 the farm was held at rack-rent by Simon Pile Hitchcock and later by Henry Hitchcock, owners of adjoining lands in All Cannings. (fn. 105) By 1853 it was called West farm. (fn. 106) In 1915 it was leased to Mr. M. J. Read. (fn. 107) Little farm was leased at rack-rent from 1726. A new farm-house south of the manor-house was built c. 1774 and in 1776 was leased with the farm to Isaac Simpkins. The farm remained in the Simpkins family until 1917, having by then been held by John Simpkins, when it was called East farm, and by Albert and Henry Simpkins. (fn. 108) The enlarged copyhold farms were also converted to rack-rent from the later 18th century. (fn. 109) That process was initiated before inclosure and was not completed until some time after it. By 1853, however, all Pembroke land in Stanton was held on annual tenancies at rack-rent, and yielded an income of at least £1,600 a year. (fn. 110) The smaller farms continued to decline in that period. By 1853, a holding of 26 a. and Stoniford Mill estate were the only small farms in the parish. (fn. 111) Between 1785 and 1853 the others were swallowed up by Great and Little farms. By c. 1820 the four large farms, two of which had developed from previous copyholds, were Thomas Mills's, 181 a., William Taylor's, 67½ a., Little farm, 653 a. including 203 a. of upland added at inclosure, and Great farm, still about 800 a. (fn. 112) By 1853 there were only two large farms in Stanton, West (formerly Great) farm, 903 a., and East (formerly Little) farm, 902 a. (fn. 113)
By the mid 20th century dairy farming had ousted the sheep-and-corn husbandry of Stanton. North of the Devizes-Pewsey road arable declined by about 80 a. between 1853 and 1917 to 522 a. In the south it declined more sharply from over 500 a. in 1853 to some 200 a. in 1917. (fn. 114) Since 1917 there has been a further decrease with the abandonment of some downland arable. In 1968 cattle were grazed on the upland, most of the land between Milk Hill and the village was arable, and south of the village was largely meadow and pasture land. For the sale in 1917 the land was redistributed between the farms. All the land north of the Devizes-Pewsey road belonging to East farm was added to West farm and sold as Church farm (1,369 a.). The depleted East farm was sold as Manor farm (503 a.). (fn. 115) The last was thereafter leased as three units one of which was added to Church farm, and one incorporated Stoniford Mill estate (see below). (fn. 116)
The decline in the population of Stanton between 1891 and 1971 from 373 to 160 (fn. 117) was perhaps the result of diminishing opportunities for agricultural labour. Certainly at no time in its history has the economy of Stanton provided opportunity for any occupation unrelated to agriculture.
The southernmost, Stanton mill, was held by customary tenure of the manor. (fn. 120) From c. 1554 at the latest to at least 1805 it was held by the Hamlins. (fn. 121) Between 1805 and 1844 it became attached to Little farm and was held by members of the Simpkins family. (fn. 122) The mill formed part of a large copyhold farm of some 74 a. in the mid 16th century. (fn. 123) By 1631 this had been split and the mill was thereafter held as part of a farm of 23 a. until the early 19th century when it became part of Little farm. (fn. 124) The Simpkins family let the mill fall into disuse and developed dairy farm buildings on the site. These became known as Stanton Dairy and in 1969 were still so used.
Stoniford Mill, situated about ½ mile north of Stanton mill, was held freely of the manor until the mid 16th century. It was held by William Bird at the Dissolution, (fn. 125) but was granted by the Crown to Sir Thomas Moyle in 1546, after the attainder of Bird. (fn. 126) By 1551 it was held by Sir Walter Mildmay who granted it to the king in exchange for other lands. The mill was then granted to Princess Elizabeth and she continued to hold it after her accession. (fn. 127) In 1610 it was granted to Sir Edward Ferrers and Frank Phillips. (fn. 128) Its subsequent descent is not clear but they may have sold the mill to a member of the Reeks family, tenants in the late 16th century. (fn. 129) Robert Reeks held a moiety in 1658 (fn. 130) and in 1677 he held the mill with Thomas Lavington. (fn. 131) In 1709, however, the Reekses gave up their moiety to Thomas Lavington. (fn. 132) In 1784 Simon Pile held the mill. (fn. 133) The Pile family held it until at least 1853. (fn. 134) It subsequently passed to G. W. Young who sold it in 1920, (fn. 135) when it was bought by the Nosworthy family, owners of Manor farm. (fn. 136)
Stoniford Mill, like Stanton mill, was operated by a diversion of the boundary stream. It is possible that its site was changed before the 16th century. (fn. 137) As part of the manor of Stanton a holding of one virgate was attached to it, (fn. 138) but by 1600 the lessee had been deprived of that, possibly by the troublesome Anthony Prater, although four several meadows were retained. (fn. 139) Between 1785 and the sale in 1920 the mill lands comprised 17 a. (fn. 140) Thereafter the Nosworthy family increased them to 75 a. with land of Manor farm. (fn. 141) The mill itself was disused by 1889 although its equipment with an overshot wheel remained until 1920, by which time the mill was known as Stanton mill. (fn. 142) The millhouse, dating from c. 1700, is unusually pretentious in its architectural treatment for so small a building in so isolated a position. It is a square house of chequered brick with stone quoins and dressings under a steeply-pitched thatched roof. The front is of two storeys and three bays with stone quoins, moulded string-course, mullioned and transomed windows with moulded stone frames, and a bolection-moulded central doorway. In 1971 the building was in poor structural condition. Adjoining it to the south-west the small brick mill, probably dating from the earlier 19th century, retained a single mill-stone in position; the wheel had been removed and the stream diverted.
Manorial court records exist for the periods 1558–9, 1566–7, (fn. 143) 1666, 1670–1 1676–8, and 1688–1820. (fn. 144) In the 16th century courts for Patney and North Newnton were sometimes held at Stanton, but the courts for each manor were kept apart. In this period little business was done in the Stanton courts. Admissions of tenants were recorded, breaches of pasture regulations were reported, and repairs to paths and ditches were provided for. In 1566 all the tenants agreed to appoint a molecatcher and to share the cost of his annual wages. In the 18th century court records largely consist of recitals of the manorial customs in using the common fields. Perambulations of the manorial boundaries were ordered annually, and, until inclosure, sheep-tellers were annually appointed. For the hundred courts held after 1760 the parish was divided into north and south tithings, each represented by a tithingman. (fn. 145)
The church at Stanton, first mentioned in 1267, (fn. 148) was attached to the conventual church of Wilton as a prebend, possibly about the same time as North Newnton church. (fn. 149) From at least 1362 the cure was served by a vicar. (fn. 150) In 1894 the vicar was presented to the rectory under royal letters patent and the benefice again became a rectory. (fn. 151) Under an Order in Council of 1928 (fn. 152) the rectory was united in 1932 with the rectory of Alton Barnes and the chapelry of Alton Priors. (fn. 153) The united benefice is in the gift of New College, Oxford.
The advowson of the prebend descended with the lordship of the manor. The abbess of Wilton presented from at least 1337 until the Dissolution. Thereafter earls of Pembroke presented sinecure prebendaries. Except in 1594 and 1662 when the Crown presented by lapse, the earls continued to do so until the later 19th century. (fn. 154)
In 1291 the value of the church was assessed for taxation at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 155) In 1535 the prebend was said to be worth £14 13s. gross, or £12 11s. net, after the prebendary had paid 42s. to the vicar. (fn. 156) After the Dissolution prebendaries continued to receive £12 12s., later £12 11s., as their rent for the prebendal estate which, as a condition of their appointment, they were expected to lease to the earls of Pembroke. (fn. 157) That arrangement was still in force in 1853. (fn. 158) The payment was made sometimes by the earls and sometimes by their sub-lessees. (fn. 159) The value of the estate to the earls, who in the 18th century sub-let it with Great farm on fines for £20 a year, was much greater. (fn. 160)
The prebendary was entitled to most of the great tithes. (fn. 161) At least from the 16th century they were collected by the farmer of the demesne as sub-lessee of the prebendal estate. (fn. 162) Successive farmers collected them until the death of Wadham Wyndham in 1804. (fn. 163) They were then sub-let with the lands to which they belonged. (fn. 164) In the late 18th century the prebendary's tithes were valued at £193, but that total did not include the value of tithes arising from Great farm which may have been worth about the same. (fn. 165) In 1846 they were commuted for a rent-charge of £400 a year. (fn. 166)
The prebendal estate was said to have consisted in 1315–16 of 2 virgates of land and common pasture rights for a bull, a horse, 10 cattle, 100 sheep, and 10 pigs. A virgate may subsequently have been taken to endow the vicarage for in 1567 the prebendal glebe comprised only about 31 a. with pasture rights. (fn. 167) It was presumably increased to the 46 a which it later comprised when the lowland pasture was inclosed c. 1610. (fn. 168) The land was apparently sub-let to successive farmers of the manorial demesne, but in 1671 the upland pasture rights for 100 sheep attached to it were leased for 50s. to the vicar, whose glebe included no such rights. (fn. 169) By the late 18th century the land of Great farm included only 13 a. of prebendal glebe, the rest being sub-let to others. (fn. 170) That situation continued until 1897 when Lord Pembroke, as lessee, surrendered the prebendal glebe to the rector. (fn. 171)
The prebendal glebe-house stood in the centre of the village south of the manor-house. It was burned down in 1602. (fn. 172)
From at least 1362 until 1548 vicars were presented by the prebendaries. (fn. 173) In 1569 Lord Pembroke presented to the vicarage, possibly because the prebend was vacant, but in 1604 the vicar was again presented by the prebendary. (fn. 174) Thereafter presentations to the vicarage were made by the earls of Pembroke as lessees of the prebendaries. (fn. 175)
In 1535 the vicarage was said to be worth £6 including the 42s. received from the prebendary. (fn. 176) That payment seems subsequently to have lapsed and the vicar had only the income from tithes and glebe. No value was set upon these until 1821 when they were leased for £155 12s. (fn. 177) From 1829 to 1831 the vicar's net average annual income was £222, (fn. 178) indicating that the living was of average wealth in Swanborough hundred. After 1897 the rector had all the former prebendal and vicarial income.
The vicar was entitled to all tithes of both the vicarial and prebendal glebes and of the lowland pastures inclosed c. 1610. He was also entitled to some of the great tithes of the rest of the parish, and to all the small tithes. (fn. 179) In 1846 the vicarial tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £170. (fn. 180)
The glebe, possibly taken from the prebendal glebe (see above), was added to the vicarage to replace a grant made in 1383 of thirteen quarters of corn and amounted to about 30 a. It was supplemented c. 1610 by 10 a. of inclosed pasture. (fn. 181) The lands were leased with the tithes in 1821 to John Simpkins, and apparently held by the Simpkins family until 1917. (fn. 182) In 1864 the rent was £70, (fn. 183) but by 1917 had fallen to £43. (fn. 184) The prebendal glebe, surrendered to the vicar in 1897 (see above), was leased to the holders of West farm and Stoniford Mill for a gross rent of £44 and sold in 1915. (fn. 185)
Vicars of Stanton apparently lived in a house near the north-east corner of the church. (fn. 186) In 1823 the vicar moved to Little farm-house, built c. 1774. That house was greatly altered and extended to the south to designs of Henry Weaver of Calne in 1851 and extended to the west in 1878. (fn. 187) It was sold in 1933, (fn. 188) and was afterwards burned down. In 1969 part of the derelict 19th-century building remained, and a cottage had been built against it.
The prebendaries of Stanton were originally appointed to serve the nuns at Wilton and their duties to the parish were probably confined to the provision of parish priests. It was noted that in 1500 the prebendary was liable to election as portreeve of Wilton borough. (fn. 189) The puritan inclinations of some of the prebendaries may have influenced the church life of the parish through the choice of vicars. Richard Stephens, vicar from 1604 possibly until 1660, was presented by the puritan divine Robert Parker. (fn. 190) He signed the Concurrent Testimony of Ministers in 1648, (fn. 191) was presumably responsible for the school held in the chancel which incurred Laudian displeasure, (fn. 192) and may have inculcated the puritan beliefs for which his eldest son Nathaniel (d. 1678) became famous. (fn. 193) In 1666 Thomas Crapon was appointed vicar, having previously been ejected from 'Fifield' by 1661. (fn. 194)
From at least 1766 to 1783 church services were conducted by a curate living in the Vicarage. (fn. 195) He also served Heddington (about 8 miles distant) and Stanton was therefore served alternately. He received £20 a year, presumably from a nonresident vicar, and the low stipend together with bad roads was held to account for the lack of services. His efforts to teach servants and young people the Catechism were unsuccessful. In 1783 Holy Communion was celebrated for 27 communicants at Easter, Whitsun, Michaelmas, and Christmas. (fn. 196) In 1833 the church was served by a resident vicar, (fn. 197) but it was again served by a curate in 1851 when average congregations were said to be 90 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. (fn. 198) In 1864 the vicar held Sunday services for average congregations of 100. Christmas and Good Friday services were attended by about 40. There was a service on Holy Thursday but Wednesday morning prayers in the church had been abandoned. Communion was celebrated at Easter, Whitsun, and on the first Sunday in every month, but not at Christmas because, it was said, there were too many family meetings and parties. There were 30 communicants of whom 18 attended regularly. (fn. 199)
The church of ALL SAINTS is built of ashlar and consists of chancel with south vestry, nave with north porch, and west tower. The church was standing in 1267 but there is no evidence in the present building or in drawings of building earlier than the 14th century when new windows were added to the north wall of both nave and chancel and the nave had a steeply pitched roof. (fn. 200) The tower was built in the 15th century and in the later 16th century a new nave roof and a timber-framed porch were erected and a north window and doorway added to the nave. (fn. 201) A new and wider nave, with west gallery and porch, and a new chancel with vestry were built in 1832. (fn. 202) The church had to be restored again in 1859 and the chancel arch apparently replaced. (fn. 203) The church has a Victorian rood screen and above the chancel arch a painting depicting a scene from the Apocalypse, probably of the earlier 20th century. The gallery was removed c. 1970.
In 1553 a chalice weighing 9 oz. was left for the parish and 7 oz. of silver taken for the king. The church has an Elizabethan chalice, two patens of 1719, a pewter flagon of c. 1730, a chalice and flagon of the 19th century, a glass flagon of 1908, and an alms-basin. (fn. 204)
There are two bells, both cast in Salisbury. The second, dating from c. 1500, has the unusual decoration of a fleur-de-lis. In 1553 there was a third bell. (fn. 205)
The registers date from 1568 and are complete. (fn. 206)
In 1676 there was said to be no dissenter at Stanton. (fn. 207) In 1783 two or three Methodists were mentioned, (fn. 208) and an Independent meeting-house was registered in 1798. (fn. 209) In 1841 a Wesleyan chapel was erected in the south-eastern part of the village and accommodated a congregation of over 100. Average attendance at the evening services in 1850–1 was 60. (fn. 210) The chapel was closed in the early 20th century. (fn. 211)
In 1634 a school was held in the chancel of the church presumably by the vicar, (fn. 212) but by 1783 there was no school in the parish, and even the curate's attempts to teach the young the Catechism were unsuccessful. (fn. 213) By 1818 a school for 20 poor children had been established. (fn. 214) In 1832 it was enlarged and improved. In 1833 it was supported partly by the vicar and partly by 1d. a week paid for each child. The fluctuation of the attendance from 20 to 45 was explained by the agricultural nature of the parish. (fn. 215) In 1849 a new school was built, the cost being shared by the vicar and Robert, earl of Pembroke. It was built close to the east end of the church on the site of the old prebendal barn. In 1859 it was attended by 30 children. (fn. 216) In 1864 boys were said to leave the school at 8, and girls at 12, although a winter evening school was available to boys and young men. (fn. 217) In 1890 an attempt was made to persuade children to stay longer at school and to attend more regularly by giving money from Fowle's and Smith's charity as prizes for good attendance. (fn. 218) In 1906 average attendance was 46. (fn. 219) The building, with only slight modification, remained in use as a school until 1969 when only 14 children attended it. In 1970 the school was closed and the building used as a village hall.
Charities for the Poor.
Fowle's and Smith's charity was established by a bequest of 50s. by Sir Thomas Fowle (d. 1692) and of £20 by Isaac Smith c. 1720. The purpose of the charity was to apprentice poor children. In 1739 the money was invested in land in All Cannings which amounted to some 4 a. after inclosure and was leased as allotments. The income was sometimes applied to putting out apprentices, but in 1832 £33 was spent to help emigrants to America. Thereafter it was applied to apprenticeships, but, because of the agricultural nature of the parish, it could not easily be spent and over £100 had accumulated by 1891. Of this £96 10s. was invested, the profits being given as prizes for school attendance, and to assist girls entering domestic service. (fn. 220) In 1939 the income was about £7 a year, (fn. 221) and in 1969 it was still being applied for educational purposes. (fn. 222)