A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish of Wilcot, contiguous with Pewsey, 6 miles from Marlborough, and 8 miles from Devizes, consisted of three ancient tithings, Wilcot and East Stowell, Draycot Fitz Payne, and Oare. (fn. 1) The tithing of Wilcot and Stowell was divided from the others by Draycot Lane and Park copse. A tongue of land of Alton Priors in Overton extends into the tithing to enclose the village of West Stowell but, apart from that, the boundaries of Wilcot tithing were generally regular and followed apparently ancient paths. (fn. 2) Part of the boundary with Alton Priors is marked by Workway drove, part of that with Pewsey by Hare Street, and part of that with Manningford by the old road from Little Woodborough to Pewsey. Picked Hill, 662 ft., is in the west of the tithing, and north of Draycot Lane a long narrow detached strip of land runs up the scarp of the Marlborough Downs to Golden Ball Hill, 880 ft. The tithing measured about 1,431 a. in 1803. (fn. 3)
Draycot tithing lay on the west and south sides of Huish parish. East of Draycot Farm part of the tithing lay south of Draycot Lane to enclose Park copse. West of the farm it extended northwards to Draycot Hill and thence north-eastwards in a tongue of land formerly called Skilling heath. (fn. 4) The boundary between Skilling heath and Shaw common was disputed for many years by the owners of Draycot and Alton Barnes. It was finally established in 1693 when Shaw common was inclosed and the northern part of Skilling heath became part of Draycot. (fn. 5) The tithing amounted to some 505 a. in 1839. (fn. 6)
The boundary between Oare and Rainscombe, a detached tithing of North Newnton, was settled in 1227. (fn. 7) The Hill grounds east of the Upavon– Marlborough road as far south as the brow of Oare Hill, about 675 ft., were then defined as part of Oare. The boundary between Oare and Huish west of the Upavon-Marlborough road was marked by the bottom of the dry valley at the head of Clatford bottom. The boundary was changed in 1803 when the common fields of Oare were inclosed. The lords of Huish held land in Oare fields and, at inclosure, were allotted the westernmost parts of the west field of Oare. (fn. 8) Their allotments were thereafter deemed part of Huish. The parish of Huish thus advanced its boundaries much closer to Oare village and includes some of the buildings since erected there. The land at the summit of Huish Hill, on which a group of cottages stood, remained a detached part of Oare tithing situated in Huish. (fn. 9) To the south the tithing included the Giant's Grave on the westernmost part of Martinsell Hill. The Oare– Pewsey boundary was marked for some distance by Sunnyhill Lane. Oare tithing amounted to some 816 a. until 1803 when it was reduced to about 732 a. (fn. 10)
The ancient parish of Wilcot as defined in 1803 amounted to 2,668 a. but more land was added to it in the 19th century. When the land belonging to the lords of Huish, which was previously part of the common fields of Oare, became part of Huish in 1803, the rest of their land in Oare was also deemed part of Huish. It comprised six detached plots, about 15 a. in all, (fn. 11) which became part of Wilcot civil parish in 1885. The detached land of West Stowell, part of Alton Priors chapelry, some 75 a., also became part of Wilcot in 1885. (fn. 12) It was situated to the south of Park copse and contained the Black Horse and some cottages. The tithing of Rainscombe in North Newnton, some 250 a., (fn. 13) became part of Wilcot at the same date. (fn. 14) The parish of Wilcot thus increased in area to 3,022 a.
The southern scarp of the Marlborough Downs crosses part of the parish. Upper and Middle Chalk outcrops are therefore found on the uplands of Draycot and Oare, including the Giant's Grave, overlain by Clay-with-flints on much of the northern dip slope. The steepness of the scarp faces in all three tithings has prevented arable cultivation on them but the flatter land to the north in Draycot and Oare can be ploughed. South of the scarp face relatively flat land and the Lower Chalk outcrops favour arable cultivation, and the extensive Upper Greensand outcrops make good pasture or arable land. Between East Stowell and Oare they are overlain by valley gravel. Three tributaries of the Christchurch. Avon rise in the parish, one called Ford brook near Draycot Farm, one east of Park copse, and the other near Wide Water, part of the Kennet & Avon Canal, whence it flows through the ornamental lake of Wilcot manor-house. They are too small to have deposited much alluvium and the parish contained little meadow land.
Two ancient roads cross the parish. The Marlborough–Upavon road passes through Oare. Hare Street was once almost certainly a continuation of that main road which then by-passed Pewsey. The other ancient road was Workway drove. It was part of the Pewsey–Avebury road and joined the Avebury–Amesbury road above Alton. The Avebury–Pewsey and Marlborough–Upavon roads intersected a short distance east of Wilcot Green at 'Dippes Thorn' where the prior of Bradenstoke's gallows once stood. (fn. 15) Many other lanes, droves, and paths serve the parish. There is little evidence of major changes in their pattern, although the creation of Stowell park and the construction of the Kennet & Avon Canal in the early 19th century caused Stone Bridge Lane and Old Orchard Lane to be closed. New roads were made along the north bank of the canal from Wilcot Green to Stowell park, and from Back Lane to the Marlborough– Upavon road. (fn. 16) The parish was crossed by the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1807, and has been served since 1862 by Pewsey railway station. (fn. 17)
Level land and a number of springs favoured settlement in the tithing of Wilcot and Stowell. There is little evidence of prehistoric settlement at Wilcot, but it was mentioned by name in 940 (fn. 18) and a village grew up around the church and manorhouse, already standing by 1086. (fn. 19) The village was comparatively small. Its assessment for taxation in 1334 was among the lower totals of the hundred and less than the assessment for Oare. (fn. 20) It subsequently expanded. There were 86 poll-tax payers in 1377, (fn. 21) and by the 16th century it was apparently the largest village in the parish. (fn. 22) Settlement seems to have remained around the lower part of Wilcot street in the 17th century, but cottages were built on the slightly higher, better drained, land around Wilcot Green in the 18th century. A public house called the Swan stood at the south corner from 1746 at the latest, (fn. 23) and two newly-built cottages on the Green, which were leased in the 1760s, were probably at the southern end. (fn. 24) Five cottages were built shortly before 1779, one apparently at the east corner, and four apparently on the west side of the north-west corner of the Green. (fn. 25) By 1803 there was a row of cottages on the north as well as the west side of the north-west corner, and the village forge stood there too. (fn. 26) Between 1803 and 1839, in which period East Stowell village was abandoned, ten pairs of cottages were built at Wilcot Green, seven on the west side and three on the north side of the east corner. (fn. 27) The school was built in the centre of the north-east side in 1841 and about 1859 the Golden Swan was built at the east corner replacing the Swan. (fn. 28) In the later 19th century two pairs of cottages were built at the north-west corner, one pair on the west side south of the canal, the other pair on the north side north of the canal. At the southern end a cottage was built at the east corner, and two pairs of cottages were built on the south side. In the 20th century the older cottages on the west side of the north-west corner, north of the canal, have been replaced by council houses.
The village remains in two parts. The manor farm-house stands near the manor-house, the church, and the Vicarage in the south. It is an early18th-century house having a garden with cob walls covered by thatch, and near it stands an 18thcentury barn. A thatched farm-house dated 1729, a few 18th-century cottages including the post office, and Wilcot Lodge, a large mid-19th-century house with late-19th-century extensions, also stand in the street at the south end of the village. Most of the cottages in Wilcot, however, are near the Green and nearly all those built there since the mid 18th century survive. Those built in the early 19th century are of stone with slate roofs, but those on the south side are thatched and decidedly picturesque. Some modern farm buildings stand near Ladies' Bridge. The bridge itself, an ornate building by John Rennie, and the wider part of the canal east of it, called Wide Water, were built by the canal company as a condition of their acquisition of the land from the elder and the younger Susannah Wroughton. (fn. 29)
At least by the mid 13th century the tithing of Wilcot and Stowell also contained a village at East Stowell. (fn. 30) It was separately assessed for taxation in the early 14th century, but at a very low sum. (fn. 31) Inhabitants of West Stowell in Alton Priors were probably among the 114 poll-tax payers of Stowell in 1377, (fn. 32) but the village of East Stowell was clearly well developed by then and was shown as a village of appreciable size in taxation assessments and manorial surveys of the 16th century. (fn. 33) Settlement was mainly in two areas, around a dip and bend in the road from Stone Bridge, and around a fork of the road to the east of Stowell Farm. (fn. 34) The road from Stone Bridge was sometimes called Stowell street. (fn. 35) The village remained considerable until it was deserted in the early 19th century. The land to the east of the street was taken into the park when Stowell Lodge was built in 1813, and, although all the cottages did not come within the park, they were all deserted by 1839 at the latest. (fn. 36) The parish population did not decline at that time and most cottagers of Stowell probably moved to Wilcot Green. (fn. 37) No subsequent development has taken place on the site of East Stowell. All that remained of the village in 1970 was East Stowell Farm. To the north-west of the site, however, China Cottages, dating from the 18th century, were standing in 1970, and a few 20th-century buildings had been erected at the north-west corner of Stowell park. An iron suspension bridge was erected across the canal at the bottom of the park c. 1845. (fn. 38)
A third settlement in the tithing of Wilcot and Stowell was the hamlet of Stone Bridge at a crossing of Ford brook. A settlement certainly existed there by the 1730s. (fn. 39) A group of cottages, perhaps including the old smithy, stood there throughout the 18th century. (fn. 40) The canal was built close by it in the early 19th century and the hamlet was deserted at that time. Nothing remained of it in 1970 when its site was overgrown.
A number of earthworks and archaeological discoveries on the high land above Oare, including an early-Iron-Age midden in Withy copse in Rainscombe, and an Iron-Age or Romano-British hill-fort on the summit of Huish Hill, indicate the existence of ancient settlement there. (fn. 41) Oare itself was known by that name in 934. (fn. 42) It was sited on the Upper Greensand at about 500 ft. on sloping land at the foot of the downs. Its 1334 taxation assessment shows it in a medial position among Swanborough villages and that it was wealthier than Wilcot. (fn. 43) The arrangement of farms and cottages on both sides of the Marlborough–Upavon road was probably established very early in the village's history and has largely persisted. Oare House was built in 1740 (fn. 44) behind the west side of the village at the top of Rudge Lane, and by 1773 at the latest cottages stood on the summit of Huish Hill. (fn. 45) Despite those developments most of the village was still closely knit around Oare street in 1803. (fn. 46) Subsequent building has taken place in the south of the village. The church and a school were built at the southern end of the village in the mid 19th century, and a block of cottages designed by Sir Clough WilliamsEllis was built between the village and Hatfield Farm. In the north of the village there was also building around Cold Corner where several cottages were built in the 19th century and a number of 20th-century houses have been erected. Oare school, situated in Huish parish, was also built there. The cottages on Huish Hill were abandoned by the 1950s. (fn. 47) In 1893 E. H. Rogers and his nephew F. E. N. Rogers built a parish room just off the west side of Oare street and by his will proved 1910 E. H. Rogers left £200 to improve and maintain it. The room subsequently fell into disuse. It was in a bad state in 1959 and the interest on the sum, which stood at £128 in 1966, was not spent. (fn. 48)
The oldest buildings in Oare are on the east side of the street. The post office occupies two bays of an early-17th-century timber-framed range of 1½ storey under a thatched roof. The two southern bays were faced with chequered brick in the early 18th century. The Old Oxyard, set back from the street behind the former yard, is a long timberframed range of 1½ storey with a thatched roof swept up over half-dormer windows. The original building was of 3½ bays and the narrow half-bay, placed a bay from the south end and containing entrance lobbies at both front and rear with, between them, a large chimney and an altered staircase, suggests that the house was built toward the mid 17th century. Between the yard and the road is an open-fronted barn with some 17thcentury timbers; a barn of similar date stands southeast of the house. Near by a square weatherboarded granary raised on staddle stones is dated 1714. The house was for some years the home of the historian G. M. Young, Honorary Editor of the Victoria History of Wiltshire from 1947 to 1953 and a member of the Wiltshire Victoria County History Committee until his death in 1959. (fn. 49) North of the Old Oxyard was the 18th-century smithy, and on the west side of the street is Oare House, the church, the 18th-century farm-house called Parsonage House, and a pair of 17th-century timber-framed cottages partly cased in brick in the 18th century. South of the village a range of 18th-century thatched cottages stands opposite a permanent caravan park established between Sunnyhill Lane and the parish boundary.
Prehistoric settlement in Draycot tithing is indicated by a number of Neolithic and Bronze-Age objects found on Golden Ball Hill and by ancient barrows and ditches on Draycot Hill. (fn. 50) There is also evidence of a possible Romano-British settlement there. (fn. 51) By 1086, however, Draycot was probably on its present site on the Upper Greensand. The hamlet never seems to have contained more than the farm, farm-house, and farm cottages. Its assessment for taxation in 1334 was low and there were only twenty poll-tax payers in 1377. (fn. 52) The lord of the manor and his seven servants, presumably farm-workers living in near-by cottages, were the only men listed in a taxation assessment of 1523, and subsequent assessments and census returns show a similar pattern until the 20th century. (fn. 53) Draycot farm-house is an L-shaped building of brick and stone rubble with predominantly mid-19th-century features but possibly incorporating parts of an older building. Behind it is a walled garden with an 18thor early-19th-century gazebo with Gothic windows. A new farm-house, the farm buildings, and four 19th- or 20th-century cottages, called Draycot Farm Cottages, were the only other buildings at Draycot Fitz Payne in 1970.
The ancient parish of Wilcot was, because of its several settlements, one of the wealthiest of Swanborough parishes. The total assessment for taxation in 1334 was the fourth largest of the hundred. (fn. 54) Wilcot had a similarly high total assessment c. 1638 (fn. 55) and in 1801 its population was 567. (fn. 56) The only more populous parishes in the hundred were again Market Lavington, All Cannings, and Urchfont. (fn. 57) The population reached a peak of 702 in 1851 but subsequently declined. The boundary changes of 1885, as a result of which some 50 people were brought into the parish, did not prevent the population declining to 494 in 1901. It has risen slightly in the 20th century and was 555 in 1971. (fn. 58)
Manors and other Estates.
Edward of Salisbury held Wilcot T.R.E. and in 1086. (fn. 59) He was succeeded by his son Walter (d. 1147), founder of Bradenstoke Priory. Walter's son Patrick (d. 1168), who was created earl of Salisbury, gave the manor of WILCOT to the priory in two stages. (fn. 60) Bradenstoke's title was subsequently confirmed, (fn. 61) and the priory was granted free warren in its demesne lands at Wilcot in 1285. (fn. 62) The manor remained among its lands until the Dissolution. (fn. 63)
In 1544 the king granted Wilcot to William Allen who sold it in 1549 to John Berwick. (fn. 64) In 1558 John settled it on himself and his wife Dorothy, (fn. 65) who, after his death in 1572, gave up her right in it to her daughter Anne and her husband Sir Thomas Wroughton. (fn. 66) Sir Thomas held the manor, then called the manor of Wilcot and Stowell, until his death in 1597, (fn. 67) and Anne held it until her death in 1610. (fn. 68) It then passed to George, the youngest of the three sons of Sir Thomas and Anne. (fn. 69)
George Wroughton (d. 1649) was succeeded by his son Francis (d. 1695), who was succeeded by his brother George in 1695. George died in 1696 and the manor passed to his son George (d. 1702) and grandson Francis who died without issue in 1722. It was held from 1722 to 1745 by James Wroughton, the brother of Francis, and from 1745 to 1779 by James's son George. (fn. 70) George's only son James died without issue in 1773, (fn. 71) and he devised the manor to his wife Susannah with the provision that, after her death, it be divided equally among their three daughters, Susannah, Charlotte, and Ann. The elder Susannah Wroughton lived until 1816 but interests in specific parts of the manor were allotted to her daughters in 1779. The manorial rights and land in Wilcot were allotted to Susannah, land in Stowell to Charlotte, and other land in Wilcot to Ann. (fn. 72)
The land allotted to Ann, who died unmarried in 1804, was subsequently divided between Susannah and Charlotte, the wife of Admiral George Montagu. (fn. 73) Susannah Wroughton died unmarried in 1825 and her portion of the manor passed to her nephew Col. George Wroughton Montagu, who took the surname Wroughton when he succeeded his aunt. Admiral Montagu died in 1829 and Col. Wroughton thereafter held the other portion of the manor, presumably in the right of his mother Charlotte (d. 1839). (fn. 74) Col. Wroughton was succeeded in 1871 by his brother Admiral John William Montagu (d. 1882). He was succeeded by his grandson George Edward Stirling Montagu. (fn. 75)
Montagu sold the land around Stowell in 1900. The largest farm there was bought by the tenant, H. E. Heath, (fn. 76) whose family owned it until the late 1930s. (fn. 77) It was later acquired by Sir Philip Dunn. (fn. 78) Other land was bought by William Strong and supplemented his estate at Draycot (see below). In 1919 Montagu sold most of his land in Wilcot. The largest farm, Manor farm, was bought by the tenant A. L. Maidment whose family still owned it in 1970. Cocklebury farm in Wilcot was bought by Wiltshire County Council, the owner in 1970. (fn. 79)
Edward of Salisbury had an excellent house (domus optima) at Wilcot in 1086. (fn. 80) John Berwick probably lived at Wilcot in the later 16th century, (fn. 81) and George Wroughton lived there by 1617. (fn. 82) The manor-house was subsequently occupied by members of the Wroughton family until the death of the younger Susannah Wroughton, and afterwards by Lady (Georgiana) Gore, a Montagu by birth. (fn. 83) Later owners have included Lord Algernon St. Maur, afterwards duke of Somerset, Lord Ernest St. Maur, and the actor Mr. David Niven. (fn. 84)
Wilcot Manor is a large irregularly shaped house standing at the west end of the church. It possibly occupies the site of the Domesday house but the oldest surviving structure is apparently the stone range which forms the core of the present building and which probably dates from the earlier 17th century. The range is of two storeys and attics with, near the south end of the east wall, a projecting staircase wing and a shallow gabled projection immediately north of it probably representing the original hall chimney. Internally the range is a single room deep with the hall in the centre, a drawingroom to the south, and altered service rooms to the north, a simple plan which possibly reflects that of a medieval house on the site. The west side of the house was remodelled in the 18th century. The west wall and the south gable-end were faced with red brick and given sash windows. A projecting wing was added at the north end of the front, and the remainder was made into a symmetrical façade with a central doorway. The doorway was later enclosed by a porch and the original entrance to the hall thus obliterated. A stable block north-west of the house and tall brick gate-piers crowned with stone vases were also built in the 18th century. Further extensions were made north of the house and a small brick wing was built at the south-east corner in the early 19th century. (fn. 85) Soon afterwards extensive additions, mostly single-storeyed, were made to the east of the original range to provide new service rooms. (fn. 86) Alterations were made in the late 19th or early 20th century when, in order to give the house a 'Queen Anne' appearance, many of the windows were replaced by sashes with wide glazingbars.
In the garden south-west of the house stands a circular dovecot dated 1737. It is of stone and flint with brick dressings and has a conical tiled roof and a central octagonal cupola. Further south is an ornamental lake and a short canal beside it. At the head of the lake is a small late-18th- or early-19thcentury grotto cottage with a trefoil plan. (fn. 87)
Stowell Lodge, said to have been completed in 1813 for Admiral Montagu, was later occupied by his son, Col. Wroughton. (fn. 88) In 1970 it belonged to Sir Philip Dunn. (fn. 89) The house stands in a commanding position. The principal block is of two lofty storeys with attics and is faced with stone and Roman cement. On the east or entrance front the attic storey is carried up in stone between two grouped chimney stacks. The south front has wide eaves and a three-bay verandah with stone Doric columns. A long service wing extends westwards from the main block.
The land of Draycot was held as two estates T.R.E. by Alward and Elnod. In 1086 it was held by Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, and of him by one Roger, (fn. 90) but afterwards it was again two estates. One of them was later called the manor of DRAYCOT FITZPAYNE. In 1304, when he was granted free warren in his demesne land at Draycot, Roger FitzPayne apparently held the manor and in 1327 Margery FitzPayne held it. (fn. 91) It had passed by 1350 to John FitzPayne, (fn. 92) who sold it to Michael Skilling in 1376. (fn. 93) It remained in the Skilling family for nearly four centuries. Michael was succeeded between 1376 and 1381 by his son John (fn. 94) who held it in 1412, (fn. 95) but by 1428 it was held by another Michael Skilling. (fn. 96) Yet another Michael Skilling held it in 1509. He was succeeded by his son John (fn. 97) who was himself succeeded in 1525 by his son Walter. (fn. 98) The land passed before 1574 to Walter's son William who held it until his death in 1608. (fn. 99) He was succeeded by Edward Skilling (d. 1651), who held the land by 1618 at the latest. (fn. 100) During the Interregnum the estate was forfeited for recusancy, but was leased to Edward's wife Barbara. (fn. 101) She died without issue in 1674. (fn. 102) The land then apparently passed to her nephew Edward Skilling, and was afterwards held by another Barbara Skilling (d. c. 1722), presumably his widow. (fn. 103) It then passed to her son Henry Skilling who sold it in the 1750s to John Craven. (fn. 104) A John Craven held it until 1805 when it passed to Fulwar Craven who held it until at least 1839. (fn. 105) In 1900 it belonged to L. F. J. C. Craven (fn. 106) but seems subsequently to have been sold to the tenant, William Strong. He sold it in 1918 and by 1923 it had been acquired by Leonard Swanton. (fn. 107) In 1971 it was sold by Neil Swanton to Sir Philip Dunn. (fn. 108)
The second estate at Draycot T.R.E., held in 1086 by Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, (fn. 109) was by 1242 separate from the manor of Draycot FitzPayne and held by John of Berkeley, lord of Dursley (Glos.). (fn. 110) The overlordship of it descended in the Berkeley family of Dursley, (fn. 111) probably until Nicholas of Berkeley died without issue in 1382, and was still part of the lordship of Berkeley in 1401. (fn. 112)
All the bishop of Coutances's land in Draycot was held in 1086 by Roger. (fn. 113) That part of it which passed to the Berkeleys was held of them by members of the Cotel family and apparently combined with land in Oare (see below). Although said to be in Draycot until at least 1442 (fn. 114) it became part of Oare tithing and the base of the reputed manor of OARE. (fn. 115) It was apparently held by Robert Cotel at his death before 1225, (fn. 116) and until at least 1242 by Richard Cotel. (fn. 117) Richard's heir was Ellis Cotel, presumably his son, who held the land by 1262. (fn. 118) Ellis was succeeded between 1290 and 1301 by his son William, (fn. 119) but by 1324 William had been succeeded by another Ellis Cotel, perhaps his son, who then settled the whole manor on John of Paulton and his wife Joan. (fn. 120) Ellis Cotel was alive in 1327 (fn. 121) but the manor subsequently descended in the Paulton family in the same way as the manor of Lake in Wilsford (Underditch hundred). (fn. 122) Before 1442, however, William Paulton (d. 1450) settled Oare on his daughter Gillian when she married John Cheney. (fn. 123)
Cheney held the manor until at least 1474. (fn. 124) It was held in 1556 by Thomas Cheney (d. 1590), (fn. 125) and thereafter passed from father to son. It was held successively by John Cheney (fl. c. 1600), John Cheney (d. 1643), John Cheney (d. 1664), and John Cheney (d. 1681). (fn. 126) The last John Cheney's widow apparently held it after his death. She probably married Thomas Caldecut who held it in her right from 1719 to 1729. The land then passed to Thomas Cheney but in 1742, the year of Thomas's death, it was sold to Henry Deacon. (fn. 127)
Deacon died without issue in 1757. His widow married Maurice Hiller who held the land until 1796. (fn. 128) Hiller was succeeded by his nephew, John Goodman (d. 1827), who was in turn succeeded by his son Maurice Hiller Goodman (d. 1856). The land, some 411 a. in 1839, (fn. 129) passed to Edward Goodman, the nephew of M. H. Goodman, who sold it in 1893. (fn. 130) The largest part was bought by Ebenezer Lane of Woodborough, (fn. 131) but other land was acquired by G. F. Y. Gillham and G. T. Heath. (fn. 132)
Oare House was built in 1740 for Henry Deacon before he bought Cheney's land, but the house subsequently became the manor-house. Except for about fifteen years in the 19th century it was occupied by the owners of the estate. Its owners since 1893 have included G. F. Y. Gillham, Sir Geoffrey Fry, and Sir Alexander Downer who owned it in 1970. (fn. 133) The central block built in 1740 has three storeys and a basement. It was built in pale vitreous brick with red dressings and has an east front of five bays with a slightly projecting pedimented centre and a pair of single-storey projecting wings. (fn. 134) A drawing-room was added at the north end of the house c. 1840 and incorporated in later additions. Two wings of three bays by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis were added in 1921 and a walled garden was laid out. A library wing, added at the south-east of the house in 1925, (fn. 135) and a pair of wrought-iron gates were designed by the same architect. (fn. 136) An avenue of limes leads from the front of the house to the main road. In 1773 a summer-house stood on Martinsell Hill. (fn. 137)
The rent from a hide of land in Oare was granted to Bradenstoke Priory by Adam of Easton, (fn. 138) probably in the late 12th century. (fn. 139) The priory retained the land until the Dissolution, and the lordship afterwards descended with Wilcot manor. (fn. 140)
The hide consisted of several small estates held freely of the prior. One was held in the early 13th century by Walter of Oare. In 1241, however, his daughter Isabel conveyed the land, then described as a virgate, to Walter Cotel. (fn. 141) It was agreed with the prior that Isabel should receive Walter's rent for it, but the rights of her family in the land seem to have ceased in the 13th century. Walter Cotel was apparently succeeded before 1249 by William Cotel, and this small estate probably passed through a different branch of the Cotel family from the Berkeleys' land in Oare. (fn. 142) Ellis Cotel probably held it by 1324, however, and it became part of his manor of Oare, whose successive holders paid a quit-rent to the lord of Wilcot until at least 1754. (fn. 143)
Another estate was held of the priory by members of the Benger family, apparently from at least 1361 when a Richard Benger lived in Oare. (fn. 144) It was held in 1523 by John Benger. (fn. 145) John had a son Richard (d. c. 1554) who presumably held the land, and Richard was succeeded by his son John (d. 1570). John's eldest son Matthew held the land until his death c. 1591. (fn. 146) The Bengers' land in Oare was apparently held in tail male and, since Matthew's only son Joseph had predeceased him, it probably passed to his first cousin Edmund Benger. (fn. 147) George Benger, probably Edmund's heir, died holding the land in 1614. His son George was born posthumously, and the land was held by his widow and her husband Richard Glass. (fn. 148) George Benger (d. 1678 or 1679) entered the land in 1635 although Richard Glass continued to hold the dower portion. (fn. 149) From at least 1697 until 1721 the land was held by John Benger. It passed to his daughter, the wife of a George Benger, who held it in her right between 1722 and 1732. (fn. 150) Another John Benger held it from 1733 to 1754, (fn. 151) but its subsequent descent is not clear. The land, apparently some 113 a. in 1839, (fn. 152) belonged in 1780 to a Mr. Tugey and from 1781 to 1800 to his widow Grace, the wife of the Revd. Richard Trickey. (fn. 153) It passed to Grace's daughter Jane, the wife of Augustus Frederick von Dachenhausen, but was sold to the Revd. James Rogers in 1823. (fn. 154) It thus became part of the Rainscombe estate. (fn. 155)
Another estate was held by John Pontin (d. 1649), apparently by his widow until at least 1677, and afterwards by Michael Pontin (d. 1702). (fn. 156) It then passed to Michael's son Michael (d. 1719), but was held from 1708 to 1719 by William Pontin. (fn. 157) In 1719 it passed to Simon Pontin, the brother of Michael (d. 1719), and he held it until his death in 1777. (fn. 158) John Pontin held it until his death in 1819, and another John, probably his son, held the land, some 110 a. in 1839, until 1843. (fn. 159) Pontin devised his land to the use of his nephew John, son of Simon Pile Hitchcock, who was of age in 1856 but died without issue in 1863. The land then passed to John's sister Elizabeth, wife of Alfred Heath. She also died in 1863 and it passed to her son John who sold it when he became of age in 1880. (fn. 160)
The fourth estate in Oare held freely of Wilcot manor was made up of two parts. Part was acquired by Robert Wayte in the right of his wife, and the land of which she was a coheir was apparently settled on him in 1419. (fn. 161) John Wayte, probably his son, died holding the land before 1449. (fn. 162) He was succeeded by his son Edward who then conveyed it to Thomas Wayte. (fn. 163) It was held by William Wayte in 1482, (fn. 164) but later passed to Thomas Rogers in the right of his wife Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas Wayte. (fn. 165) Their son Robert died seised of it, but without issue. His heirs were his sisters Elizabeth and Catherine. Elizabeth had a daughter Emma, the wife of John Galion, and Catherine a daughter Agnes, the wife of John Trappe. (fn. 166) In 1521 Emma and John conveyed their land to John Button and his son William, (fn. 167) but in 1522 and 1523 lawsuits were proceeding in which Galion and Trappe accused William Button of unlawfully holding the deeds of their lands in Oare and elsewhere. (fn. 168) Button kept the deeds, whether lawfully or otherwise, and that small estate passed to his descendants in the same way as the manor of Lyneham. (fn. 169) By 1780, however, it was owned by Richard Reeves, by Henry Reeves 1782–90, and by John Reeves from 1790 to at least 1831. (fn. 170) Harry Reeves owned it in 1839 when it amounted to some 71 a., (fn. 171) but it was subsequently sold to a member of the Rogers family and became part of the Rainscombe estate. (fn. 172) Reeves's farm also included some land in Oare bought by William Button (d. 1654–5) from William Benger in 1615. (fn. 173) The origin of Benger's title to the land is, however, unknown.
An estate in Oare was held by Thomas Rogers (d. before 1479), of whom the husband of Elizabeth Wayte was probably a kinsman. He was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 174) Afterwards the estate seems to have passed to Sir Edward Rogers who settled it on his son George when he married Jane Winter. (fn. 175) Sir George Rogers died seised of it in 1582 and was succeeded by his son Edward who conveyed it in 1591 when it was reputed a manor. (fn. 176) The subsequent descent of the land is not clear, but by 1736 it was almost certainly held by Richard Edmonds. (fn. 177) He was succeeded by his son Richard who died in 1779 leaving the land to his mother Hester, in trust for his widow Sarah. Hester died in 1807 and Sarah in 1823, when the land was sold. It was bought by M. H. Goodman as part of a settlement on the marriage of Timothy Goodman, (fn. 178) but in 1839 M. H. Goodman held the land himself, and it passed with his other land in Oare to Edward Goodman and was sold in 1893. (fn. 179)
An estate in Oare was held between 1523 and 1545 by John Chandler. (fn. 180) It apparently passed by 1584 to Nicholas Chandler (d. 1604), (fn. 181) and was probably held afterwards by Thomas Chandler (d. 1629). (fn. 182) The land was next held by John Chandler (fn. 183) and it was probably his son John (d. 1684) who sold it to Henry Deacon in 1682. (fn. 184) It then seems to have passed to Hugh Deacon (d. 1703), but in 1697 was apparently settled on John Deacon (d. 1711). (fn. 185) John was succeeded by his son Henry Deacon and the land was merged with the manor of Oare when Deacon bought it in 1742.
Thomas Miles, who was mentioned in 1591 and 1593, also held an estate in Oare. (fn. 186) It was still held by a Thomas Miles c. 1638. (fn. 187) Afterwards it passed to John Miles whose daughter and heir married Henry Jackson. (fn. 188) They sold the land after the death of John Miles. Some was bought in 1709 by Simon Cheney and was held by a different branch of the Cheney family from that which held the manor of Oare. (fn. 189) In 1759 the land was sold by Thomas Cheney to Alice Deacon and may subsequently have become part of the manor of Oare. (fn. 190) Another part of Miles's land was bought by Richard Munday in 1694. (fn. 191) It was held by Francis Munday in 1736, (fn. 192) and by 1780 was held by John Munday. It passed to George Munday in 1785, but in 1786 was acquired by John Pontin and added to his other land in Oare. (fn. 193)
Land in Oare was part of the manor of Huish and was held customarily of its lords. It was probably part of Geoffrey Doygnel's manor of Huish in 1226, (fn. 194) and was certainly held by Peter Doygnel in 1317. (fn. 195) Thereafter the lords of Huish held an estate in Oare until 1803 when the common fields of Oare were inclosed and all the land of the trustees of Froxfield Hospital, then lords of Huish, was deemed part of the parish of Huish. (fn. 196)
Patrick, earl of Salisbury, who granted Wilcot to Bradenstoke Priory, also granted land at Hatfield, then described as part of Wilcot but possibly marked by Hatfield Farm in the southern part of Oare tithing, to the monks of Stanley Abbey. (fn. 197) The grant was confirmed but there is no evidence that Hatfield remained among the abbey's estates. It may have been the land in Oare from which the hospital of St. John the Baptist at Marlborough received a rent in 1535, (fn. 198) but it is not clear who were the subsequent owners.
In the early 12th century land in Stowell was held freely of Bradenstoke Priory by Richard son of Robert of Stowell. The prior surrendered his right in 1247 in exchange for a piece of land in Stowell granted to him by Richard. (fn. 199) The subsequent owners of Freehold farm, as the estate was later called, are unknown until 1523 when the land belonged to John Benger. (fn. 200) It passed with his land in Oare to Matthew Benger, after whose death the two estates were separated. Despite a suit in Chancery by Edmund Benger to prevent it, Freehold farm, which was found to be held in fee simple, passed to Matthew's three daughters, Jane, Anne, and Margaret. (fn. 201) Jane died without issue c. 1601 leaving her sisters as heirs, (fn. 202) but afterwards the land passed to Jane Stevens, Matthew Benger's niece. She sold it to Francis Wroughton in 1670 and the farm was added to Wroughton's other land at Stowell. (fn. 203)
The appropriated rectory of Wilcot, valued at £10 in 1291, (fn. 204) was held with Wilcot manor until the Dissolution. In 1549 the rectory, apart from the great tithes arising from the manorial demesne, was granted to John Berwick (fn. 205) who bought the manor in that year. The demesne tithes were bought by Sir Thomas Wroughton in 1581 (fn. 206) and the rectorial estate thereafter passed with the manor. Some of the tithes, including those of the manorial demesne, seem to have been leased with the land from which they arose and the rest of the tithes in the tithing of Wilcot and Stowell with Parsonage farm. (fn. 207) In 1807 the value of the great tithes of Wilcot and Stowell was said to be £493 but they were all merged with the farms. (fn. 208) The great tithes of Draycot were purchased from George Wroughton by Edward Skilling in 1618 and subsequently merged. (fn. 209) At least from the 17th century the great tithes of Oare were merged with the land of most of the larger estates. (fn. 210) The owners of Pontin's and Reeves's farms, however, paid respectively two-thirds and a third of the great tithes arising from their lands to the rector of Huish. (fn. 211) Those tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £15 16s. in 1839. (fn. 212) The other great tithes arising from Pontin's farm were owned by John Pontin in 1803 and were commuted for a rent-charge of £20 in 1839. (fn. 213) The tithes from a small part of Reeves's farm and tithes from several other small estates in Oare were also owned by John Pontin in 1803 and were commuted for a rent-charge of £5 in 1839. (fn. 214)
Edward of Salisbury's estate at Wilcot and Stowell was assessed at 15½ hides T.R.E. and was worth £12. In 1086 there was land for 10 ploughs. There were 7 demesne hides with 3 ploughs and 6 serfs, and there were 19 villeins, 6 bordars, and 12 coscez. The estate included 40 a. of meadow, 20 a. of pasture, 50 a. of coppice, and a good vineyard, and was then worth £16. (fn. 215)
The value in rents of the land in the two villages of Wilcot and Stowell in 1539 was £32 10s. (fn. 216) The farmer of the demesne, which had been leased since at least 1523, (fn. 217) paid a rent of £13 6s. 8d. in 1544. The lessee of the parsonage estate paid £6 a year. The customary tenants of Wilcot paid a total of £7 11s., and those of Stowell £5 10s. a year. (fn. 218) Members of the Pike family were the largest farmers in Wilcot in the early 16th century. William Pike held a lease of the demesne, Edmund Pike held by copy two farms totalling more than 6½ yardlands, and Isabel Pike held a copyhold farm of 2 yardlands, There were five other small-scale farmers in Wilcot holding a total of 4½ yardlands, and two cottagers. The fourteen customary yardlands of Stowell were held by eight tenants, among whom was Richard Pike. (fn. 219)
Little change took place in the late 16th and 17th centuries in the number and comparative size of the farms, and in the type of farming practised in Wilcot and Stowell. The manorial demesne was probably not leased in the period. (fn. 220) The whole estate was said to be worth £300 a year in 1636. (fn. 221) The value in rents of the farms and cottages in Wilcot in 1702 was £10 4s., and the customary tenants of Stowell owed annual rents totalling £3 17s., (fn. 222) but the rent from Parsonage farm was probably not included in these totals. (fn. 223) Most of the tenants' farms were still small in 1700. One large farm, later called Batts farm, existed in Wilcot, but, apart from that, eleven yardlands were shared among nine tenants, and there were at least sixteen smallholders and cottagers. Parsonage farm and other land constituted a large farm in Stowell, but six other farms comprised a total of only six yardlands, and there were eight cottagers. (fn. 224) Copies were held of Francis Wroughton by other members of his family. Frances Wroughton, his mother, held land in Wilcot which passed to his aunt, also called Frances Wroughton. His uncle, Seymour Wroughton, held farms in Wilcot and Stowell which passed to Seymour's son Michael Wroughton. (fn. 225)
In 1723, and probably for many years before then, three common arable fields existed in Wilcot and Stowell. (fn. 226) Stowell field, the smallest of them, was elongated and detached from the rest of the tithing. It reached from Draycot Lane to Golden Ball Hill and was bounded on the west by Alton Priors. (fn. 227) Wilcot field was in the west of the tithing, (fn. 228) and the other field, perhaps called East Stowell field, lay to the north-east around East Stowell village. The boundary between the two fields was possibly marked by Pewsey Lane, which, as Workway drove, led up to Workway hill. (fn. 229) The western part of East Stowell field was inclosed before 1677 so that over 100 a. of arable land around East Stowell was already several by 1723. (fn. 230) All the land in the south-west corner of the tithing apparently constituted a single arable field, all part of the manorial demesne. (fn. 231) The sheep kept in the tithing grazed on the stubble of the common fields and on small inclosed pastures, but no more than about 50 a. of upland pasture on Picked Hill and East Stowell down was included in the land of Wilcot and Stowell.
In the 18th century the structure of the farms and the arrangements for cultivation in the tithing were greatly altered. The demesne, most of which lay around Wilcot, was leased in the earlier 18th century. For a time it was probably not leased by George Wroughton (d. 1779) but in 1772 it was again leased. (fn. 232) It was called Wilcot farm, later Manor farm, and in 1748 measured 471 a. (fn. 233) It was leased in 1772 for £405 a year, (fn. 234) but its value was reckoned at £721 in 1807. (fn. 235) The copyhold farms of Wilcot were also merged into one large farm, called Batts farm after one of its tenants. (fn. 236) Chapmans farm, a copyhold of three yardlands, was held with it for several short periods in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 237) Chapmans was apparently leased at an improved rent in 1720 and in 1746 it was leased to William Hitchcock for £126 a year. It then amounted to some 173 a. and included the former copyholds in Wilcot of Michael Wroughton and Catherine, dowager countess of Abingdon, the widow of Francis Wroughton who was a relative of the lord of Wilcot. (fn. 238) By 1779 Chapmans was part of Batts farm, (fn. 239) held from 1789 at a rent of £350 a year, (fn. 240) but valued in 1807 at £587. (fn. 241) Batts farm had by then encompassed the rest of the copyhold land in Wilcot and amounted to some 376 a. (fn. 242)
The several copyhold farms of Stowell were also merged into one large farm in the 18th century. Parsonage farm was leased for £100 a year in 1723 when it amounted to some 1197 a. (fn. 243) It was leased in 1748 for £170 a year and several former copyhold farms in Stowell were included in the lease. (fn. 244) They were Stowell farm, Michael Wroughton's, Pyke's, which amounted to 84 a. and was leased in 1723 for £56 a year, (fn. 245) Freehold farm, 49 a., (fn. 246) and Cheney's farm. Stowell farm, as the composite farm was later called, was held with Wilcot farm from 1778 to 1790, (fn. 247) and afterwards by the tenant of Batts farm. (fn. 248) In 1807, by which time it had encompassed the rest of the copyhold farms in Stowell, it amounted to 384 a. and its value was reckoned at £549 a year. (fn. 249) By 1803 there were thus only three farms in Wilcot and Stowell with a total value reckoned at £1,857 a year in 1807.
The three large farms were at that time compact units in the south-west, the middle, and the northeast of the tithing, (fn. 250) an arrangement facilitated by the inclosure of more arable land in the 18th century. In 1730 it was agreed to inclose Wilcot field. It amounted to 154 a. bounded east and west by Alton Priors, north by Workway drove, and south by the path parallel to, but south of, Chalk Pit Lane. (fn. 251) The rest of the arable land to the south and west of Wilcot was all part of Wilcot farm in 1803. (fn. 252) It included seven large fields called 'the sandy lands' adjoining the Woodborough-Pewsey road and 'the field lands', three large fields called Home, Middle, and Further fields, north of the stream and adjoining Woodborough in the west. (fn. 253) Stowell field, 104 a., was inclosed in 1742. (fn. 254) At least some 91 a. were still commonable in East Stowell field in 1779, (fn. 255) but by 1803, when only one large farm existed there, all the arable land of the tithing was in severalty. (fn. 256) Common rights to the pasture of East Stowell down were extinguished in 1742, and the pasture subsequently became part of Stowell farm. (fn. 257)
There was a strong concentration on arable farming in the tithing throughout the 18th century. Out of the 281 a. of Parsonage and Pyke's farms in 1723 248 a. were arable. (fn. 258) Chapmans farm included 148 a. of arable out of 173 a. in 1746, and Wilcot farm was almost entirely arable. (fn. 259) In 1807 the three farms comprised 1,024 a. of arable, 87 a. of meadow, and 96 a. of pasture. (fn. 260)
Arrangements for cultivation were affected in the 19th century by the inclosure of perhaps 50 a. of arable in East Stowell as part of Stowell park and by the partition of Batts farm after 1816. (fn. 261) In 1818 the lessee of Stowell farm secured a lease of some 200 a. of Batts farm, so that Stowell farm amounted to 546 a. in 1839. (fn. 262) Batts farm was reduced to 177 a. (fn. 263) It was held in 1851 by the lessee of Wilcot farm, (fn. 264) and both farms were subsequently leased to members of the Maidment family. (fn. 265)
Much land in Wilcot and Stowell was converted from arable to pasture in the 19th century. Wilcot, Stowell, and Batts farms included less than 1,000 a. of arable by 1839, (fn. 266) but the main change took place later. The Stowell Lodge estate in 1900 included 232 a. of arable but 286 a. of pasture, and there were 431 a. of arable and 153 a. of pasture in Wilcot Manor estate in 1919. (fn. 267)
Most of the land in the tithing continued to be cultivated in the 20th century by the owners of Wilcot and Stowell farms, although both farms were smaller than in the 19th century. Stowell field was part of Draycot farm, and there were two or three smaller farms in the tithing. (fn. 268) The land-use has not been greatly changed in the 20th century. The south and west of the tithing in 1970 were still predominantly arable land cultivated in large fields, and the land in the north-east was predominantly pasture.
The Draycot estate was almost entirely demesne land in 1086. Four hides except for 1 virgate were in demesne with 2 ploughs and 3 serfs. There were no villeins. Four bordars and 7 coscez shared ½ plough. The estate was worth 30s. T.R.E., 60s. in 1086. (fn. 269) Subsequent taxation lists indicate that no appreciable part of the land was held by tenants. (fn. 270) The estate, called Draycot farm from 1704 at the latest, (fn. 271) was frequently managed by its owners from the 14th century or earlier. It was leased, however, by members of the Craven family after they bought it in the 18th century. It was held by members of the Puckridge family from at least 1780 to 1830. (fn. 272) It was then farmed by William Ferris until 1861 or later, (fn. 273) but after 1880 was worked by its owners.
Draycot was a large but compact farm in the north of Wilcot parish, bounded by Oare in the east and Stowell field in the west, but including a tongue of downland called Skilling heath extending northeast from Golden Ball and Draycot Hills. It included 60 a. of pasture in 1086 and, since Draycot was within Savernake forest in the early Middle Ages, part of it may have been wooded. Draycot was legally disafforested in 1330. (fn. 274) Disputes over the pasture above Draycot took place in the 13th century. (fn. 275) By the 17th century the Skillings had intercommoning rights on Shaw Down for a ram and 300 sheep, (fn. 276) but a prolonged dispute took place between them and New College, Oxford, lord of Alton Barnes, concerning the use of the common and rights to cut wood on it. The dispute was settled only in 1693 when the common was inclosed and Draycot farm was augmented by a several sheep pasture of some 30 a. (fn. 277)
In 1839 the farm amounted to 505 a. of which 307 a. were arable, 55 a. were meadow, 72 a. were pasture, and 67 a. were wooded. Draycot field, situated between Stowell field and Huish, included about half the arable, and Skilling heath had by then been ploughed. (fn. 278) The size of the farm was increased to some 672 a. in 1918 by the inclusion of Stowell field and other land around Stowell. Most of the farm was still arable (429 a.), some land was still wooded (74 a.), and there was an appreciable amount of pasture (164 a.) for use by cattle. (fn. 279) By 1969 Skilling heath was again pasture and the farm was an arable and dairy farm.
Oare was not mentioned in Domesday Book, but its land may have included some described T.R.E. as part of Draycot. (fn. 280) Much was probably woodland since Oare, like Draycot, included Clay-with-flints deposits and was part of Savernake forest until 1330. (fn. 281) In 1227 the Hill grounds east of the Marlborough-Upavon road on the relatively level land north of Oare and Huish Hills were allotted to the men of Oare, (fn. 282) although disputes continued over the common lands of Oare and Huish. (fn. 283) The Hill grounds were probably cleared of woodland and used as a sheep pasture.
The manor farm of Oare was probably leased in the Middle Ages by the Cotel and Paulton families who had interests elsewhere. (fn. 284) Including the land then regarded as part of Draycot, the manor was worth £10 in 1324 and £9 in 1400. (fn. 285) Land in Oare was the source of an annual rent of £1 to the holders of Wilcot manor, (fn. 286) and 2½ yardlands, 50 a. and pasture rights, in Oare were held customarily of Huish manor for 21s. a year in the 16th century. (fn. 287) Some 61 a. of Oare were part of Huish farm. (fn. 288)
In the 16th century the upland pastures of Oare included the relatively flat Hill grounds bounded by Huish and Oare Hills in the south, Overton parish in the north, Huish in the west, and Rainscombe farm in the east, and the steeply sloping land of Oare and Huish Hills. Both pastures were used primarily for sheep. (fn. 289) The part of Martinsell Hill in Oare was probably also a common pasture. The other land of the tithing consisted mainly of four common arable fields, East, West, North, and Rainscombe fields. (fn. 290) One lay in each quadrant of the lowland with the village in the centre, to which they were respectively south and south-east, south-west, north, and east. (fn. 291)
The land of Oare was nearly all used in common in 1600 but had all been inclosed by 1803. There were apparently two main periods of inclosure. The first was probably in the mid 17th century when inclosure of most of the level upland pasture took place. (fn. 292) Most of the allotments were subsequently converted to arable. (fn. 293) Much of the arable on the lower land in the south of the tithing was also inclosed, at least by 1715. (fn. 294) Such land included the southern part of East field, bounded by Sunnyhill Lane, the path leading from Chapel Lane, and the Pewsey-Oare road. It also included almost the whole of West field. In those areas the land was subsequently cultivated as small fields. (fn. 295) The other common land of Oare was inclosed under an Act of 1799. (fn. 296) North field (c. 48 a.), then called Huish field, Rainscombe field (c. 95 a.), and the northern part of East field (c. 69 a.), then called the field against Wick (Pewsey), were all inclosed. The upland pastures of Oare, Huish, and Martinsell Hills (c. 154 a. in all) were also inclosed, and many exchanges of lands took place between the farmers of Oare.
There were probably nine farms in Oare c. 1638, only one of which may have been appreciably more than 100 a. (fn. 297) For much of the period of the inclosures most of them were managed by their owners. Button's land in Oare, however, was held from at least 1595 to the later 18th century by members of the Gale family. (fn. 298) In 1615 it comprised some 50 a. and feeding rights for 160 sheep, and in 1715 amounted to some 64 a. with feeding for 75 sheep. (fn. 299) Only five farms existed by 1803. They were the manor farm which included Deacons and amounted to some 313 a. after inclosure, Edmonds's farm including a freehold estate (c. 94 a.) and a copyhold estate (c. 92 a.) which became part of Huish parish in 1803, Pontin's farm consisting of his own and Mundays (c. 99 a. in all), Trickey's (c. 104 a.), and Reeves's farm (c. 74 a.). (fn. 300)
The pattern of farming in Oare remained substantially unchanged in the 19th century. The manor farm, which had been leased for a while in the late 18th century, was not usually leased by members of the Goodman family when they owned it. (fn. 301) It was increased to 404 a. when Edmonds's freehold land was acquired in 1823. (fn. 302) The farm was broken up at the sale of 1893. (fn. 303) At least between 1780 and 1831 Trickey's farm was occupied by members of the Benger family, (fn. 304) other members of which had probably once owned it. It was held by Jonas Wild in 1839. (fn. 305) Reeves's farm was held by the same tenants until 1815 when it was leased to F. J. N. Rogers, (fn. 306) later owner of Rainscombe. It was held from 1818 by members of the Edmonds family, and John Edmonds occupied it in 1851. (fn. 307) Pontin's farm was apparently occupied after the death of John Pontin by William Ferris, the lessee of Draycot farm, and until 1883 by George Ferris. (fn. 308) In 1970 there were three farms in Oare. (fn. 309)
Inclosure did not herald the end of sheep-and-corn husbandry at Oare. In 1839 the four farms comprised 511 a. of arable, 150 a. of mainly upland pasture, and 25 a. of meadow. (fn. 310) Sheep were apparently kept until the later 19th century, (fn. 311) but the acquisition of land by Ebenezer Lane, who had dairy farming interests in Woodborough and elsewhere, (fn. 312) indicates that cattle were then replacing sheep. By 1970 cattle and arable farming were predominant.
Very much of the modern parish of Wilcot has long been arable land. 'Windmill hill' in Stowell was referred to in 1748, (fn. 313) but, if a mill ever stood there, it was probably demolished long before that date. No water-mill existed in any of the tithings, possibly because the streams of the parish were too small to drive one. The farmers may have used the mills at Woodborough and Pewsey.
Bradenstoke Priory was granted a Friday market at Wilcot in 1221. (fn. 314) There is, however, no evidence that it was ever held.
From 1265 the prior of Bradenstoke exercised leet jurisdiction and enforced the assize of bread and ale in the tithing of Wilcot and Stowell, but none of the court records has survived. The rest of the parish was not under the prior's public jurisdiction and even his free tenants at Oare owed suit to the hundred court. (fn. 315)
Members of the Wroughton family held a court with view of frankpledge, of which records exist for 1704–1829, and in many years two courts were held. (fn. 316) The Wroughtons' free tenants in Oare were required to attend the 'court baron with leet' in which, at least in the earlier 18th century, there were vestiges of the distinction between public and private jurisdiction, and which still fulfilled functions of government in the tithing. A tithingman was elected there each year and for some years made formal nil presentments. Nuisances and breaches of manorial custom were presented by the homage. Offences included the obstruction of paths, the dangerous condition of a chimney likely to cause fires, and encroachment on land to which common rights were attached. Other matters included the erection of a pound, reconstruction of the stocks, and regulations for cultivation in the common fields, and admissions and surrenders were recorded. Subsequently, however, the functions of the courts declined. Oare and Draycot remained outside the competence of Wilcot courts. The tithingman of Oare attended the hundred courts in the 18th century, but the Skilling family were probably successful in their attempt to avoid sending a tithingman to them. (fn. 317)
The administrative separation of the tithings of Wilcot and of Oare and Draycot continued in the later government of the parish. Two churchwardens were appointed from at least 1609, (fn. 318) one from Wilcot or Stowell and one from Oare or Draycot. Their accounts exist for the years 1696–1878. Overseers' accounts also exist for 1715–36, 1769–90, (fn. 319) and 1800–16. (fn. 320) The overseers for Wilcot and Stowell and for Draycot and Oare acted independently and kept separate accounts which were entered in separate books between 1800 and 1816. At the end of each year, however, composite accounts were made up for submission to the vestry. Annual expenditure on poor-relief in Wilcot and Stowell exceeded that in Oare and Draycot. In Wilcot tithing £42 was spent in 1730, but annual expenditure increased rapidly in the late 18th century. In the half year from October 1809 to April 1810 £245 was spent in Wilcot and Stowell. Expenditure in Oare and Draycot for corresponding periods totalled £15 and £156. Most of the money was spent on regular payments to the poor but a number of houses were bought throughout the parish. In 1835 Wilcot became part of Pewsey poor-law union. (fn. 321)
Highway surveyors' accounts also exist for Wilcot for 1841–4, when a single surveyor was appointed, and for Oare from 1786 to 1837, when two of the four men fit to serve as surveyors were in office each year. Expenditure at Oare varied from £7 in 1786 to £29 in 1822. (fn. 322)
A church (nova ecclesia) had been built at Wilcot by 1086, probably since the Conquest. It was the only Wiltshire church mentioned in 1086 belonging to a lay tenant in chief, Edward of Salisbury. (fn. 323) Edward's grandson Patrick, earl of Salisbury, subsequently gave it to Bradenstoke Priory whose appropriation of it was confirmed in 1182 and 1184. (fn. 324) When Bradenstoke's spiritual possessions were confirmed c. 1205 the maintenance of a vicar was required (fn. 325) but there is no evidence of a vicar before the 16th century. The church was presumably served by chaplains appointed by Bradenstoke. A deacon 'of Wilcot', ordained in 1312, was perhaps such a chaplain. (fn. 326) A vicarage had been ordained, however, by 1535. (fn. 327)
The first institution to the vicarage was recorded in 1542 when the king presented. (fn. 328) The advowson was granted to John Berwick in 1549. (fn. 329) The patronage was thereafter exercised by successive lords of Wilcot except in 1752 when the bishop collated by lapse. (fn. 330) In 1954 Capt. G. E. S. Montagu transferred the advowson to the bishop. (fn. 331)
In 1892 Oare became a separate ecclesiastical parish (see below). In 1928 the hamlet of West Stowell was detached from the united benefice of Alton Barnes with Alton Priors and added to the ecclesiastical parish of Wilcot. (fn. 332) The vicarage of Wilcot was held in plurality with the united benefice of Huish with Oare from 1951 to 1962 when the two benefices were united. (fn. 333) The patronage of the new united benefice was shared among the trustees of Froxfield Hospital, the bishop, and the archdeacon of Wiltshire. (fn. 334) In 1972 that benefice was united with the united benefice of Woodborough with Manningford Bohune and Beechingstoke to create the benefice of Swanborough, for the area of which a team ministry, consisting of a rector living in Wilcot and a vicar in Woodborough, was established. The rectory is in the gift of a patronage board on which sit the bishop, the archdeacon, the rural dean of Pewsey, the dean and chapter of Salisbury, and the trustees of Froxfield Hospital. The vicar is chosen jointly by the bishop and rector. (fn. 335)
The net value of the vicarage in 1535 was £6 17s. (fn. 336) It was valued at scarcely £30 a year by 1677, although it had been worth £50 a year before the Hill grounds and two arable fields of Oare and part of East Stowell field were inclosed. (fn. 337) Its value was increased in 1723 by the purchase of some glebe, (fn. 338) but by 1812 was still no more than £130 a year. (fn. 339) It was still one of the poorer livings of the hundred from 1829 to 1831 with an average yearly income of £143. (fn. 340) It was worth £190 a year by 1864. (fn. 341)
The vicar took the small tithes of most of the parish. None was paid in respect of Wilcot farm in 1677, but payments of £3 a year were made instead. Most of the small tithes were commuted by 1704. The farmers of Wilcot and Stowell, except Francis Wroughton, paid the vicar 10s. a year for each yardland, and the farmers of Oare paid 14s. The farmer of Draycot still paid his tithes in kind unless he and the vicar agreed otherwise. (fn. 342) The small tithes were commuted in 1839 for a rent-charge of £131 10s. of which £70 arose from land in Oare. (fn. 343)
Until 1723 the vicar had a house but no glebe. (fn. 344) A small estate in Stert was then bought for £400 of which half was provided by Queen Anne's Bounty and half by Francis Wroughton. The land comprised 4½ a. in the common field of Stert and 11 a. of inclosed lands. (fn. 345) Vicars of Wilcot received the income from it until 1918 when it was sold. (fn. 346) A new Vicarage was built in 1842 to the south-east of the church. (fn. 347) It was demolished in 1969 when a new house was built for the vicar on its site.
A dependent chapel said to be at Draycot existed in the mid 12th century. (fn. 348) In the early 14th century it was served by a chaplain appointed by the prior of Bradenstoke, the cost being partially met by 2½ marks given each year by Sir Ellis Cotel. A chaplain served it until at least 1361, (fn. 349) but there is no evidence of the chapel thereafter.
In the 16th century the churchwardens presented that the vicar failed to catechize and that the church lacked a Bible. (fn. 350) In 1649 it was recommended that Wilcot church ought to serve the people of West Stowell, (fn. 351) but that was not brought about until 1928. Vicars of Wilcot often served other cures in the 18th century. John Mayo, instituted 1762, was also rector of Beechingstoke and perhaps curate of North Newnton. (fn. 352) His successor, Thomas Markes, instituted 1779, resided in Wilcot but also served the cures of Wilsford (in Swanborough hundred) and Chirton. (fn. 353) He administered the Sacrament at the four great festivals to some 20–30 communicants. He conducted a service with a sermon every Sunday, and every other Sunday two services were held. (fn. 354) Vicars subsequently seem to have lived in the parish and to have served the church without the assistance of a curate. They included M. H. Goodman (d. 1856), owner of the manor of Oare, who accepted the living in 1839 and moved from Oare House to the Vicarage. (fn. 355) His congregations in 1851 numbered on average 80 in the mornings and 120 in the afternoons. (fn. 356) After the church was built at Oare in 1858 the vicar of Wilcot was assisted by a curate with an endowed stipend of £30 a year given by the widow of M. H. Goodman. (fn. 357) One Sunday service and Communion four times a year were held at each church. (fn. 358)
The church of HOLY CROSS is built of rubble and ashlar with ashlar dressings and has a chancel with south porch, a nave with north aisle and south porch, and a west tower. The church was built in the later 12th century, but only the chancel arch of that building survives. In the 13th century lancet windows were placed in the north wall of the chancel, in the 14th century the arcade and aisle were built and the nave probably reroofed, and in the 15th century the tower was built. (fn. 359) In 1835 the chancel was rebuilt at the expense of Col. G. W. Wroughton (fn. 360) and, possibly at the same time, the nave roof was rebuilt to a steeper pitch. In 1876 the church was extensively damaged by fire. (fn. 361) The chancel, with its porch, was rebuilt to a longer design with windows in 15th-century style, and the nave, with its porch but with its north doorway blocked, was also largely rebuilt. The east window of the aisle was given a pointed head. The church contains a monument to John Berwick dated 1574.
The church possessed no plate in 1553. A chalice and paten cover were given by the parishioners in 1664, and a paten dated 1708 was given later. (fn. 362) In 1812 there was also a pewter flagon. (fn. 363) A new set of plate was provided in 1856. (fn. 364) There were three bells in 1553. (fn. 365) They remained until at least 1783 when one was said to be cracked. (fn. 366) They were subsequently removed and in 1970 there was a single bell, cast at Smethwick (Staffs.) in 1895. (fn. 367)
The church of HOLY TRINITY was built at Oare in 1858 and served by the vicar of Wilcot and his assistant curate. (fn. 368) When Oare became an ecclesiastical parish in 1892 a perpetual curacy in the gift of the archdeacon of Wiltshire was established with a net annual income of £138 in 1896. (fn. 369) The curacy was united with the rectory of Huish in 1924. (fn. 370) As part of Swanborough benefice the parishes of Huish and Oare were united to create a new parish called the parish of Huish and Oare. (fn. 371) The church, designed by S. S. Teulon and built of red brick with some vitrified blue brick, has been described, perhaps unjustly, as 'the ugliest church in Wiltshire'. (fn. 372) It consists of an apsidal chancel and a nave with south porch. It has modern plate and a single bell.
There is little evidence of dissent in the parish in the 17th century, although members of the Chandler family were said to have emigrated to America as Quakers, and George Fox held meetings on the land above Oare in 1673 and 1681. (fn. 373) An Independent meetinghouse in Wilcot was certified in 1777, however, and in 1783 a family of Anabaptists lived in the parish. (fn. 374) Oare became the centre of dissent in the parish in the early 19th century when several houses there were registered as dissenters' meeting-places. (fn. 375) In 1841 a Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built behind Oare street in the lane later called Chapel Lane. On Census Sunday in 1851 morning, afternoon, and evening services were attended by congregations of 90, 62, and 50 respectively, a greater aggregate attendance than that at Wilcot church on the same day. (fn. 376) The chapel was still in use in 1970.
Residents of Oare probably attended the Primitive Methodist chapel built on Huish Hill in 1863. (fn. 377)
Draycot Fitz Payne was a local centre of Roman Catholicism in the 17th century when it was the home of the recusant Skilling family. Members of the Catholic priesthood may often have stayed at Draycot and the farmhouse perhaps contained a small chapel. (fn. 378) There were said to be six papists in the parish in 1676. (fn. 379) The Skillings and their servants were often presented for recusancy, but by the late 17th century they had probably conformed. The Pontins of Oare, also recusants in the 17th century, did not conform until the later 18th century. (fn. 380) In 1783, after Simon Pontin's death, no papists lived in the parish. (fn. 381)
There was a small school in the parish in 1783, two or three 'petty' schools in 1808, but in 1818 the children of the poor were still said to lack adequate educational opportunities. (fn. 382) Some 50 children were taught at four schools at their parents' expense in 1833. (fn. 383) A new school beside Wilcot Green was built at the expense of Col. Wroughton in 1841. (fn. 384) Children left it between the ages of eight and twelve but opportunities existed for evening study. (fn. 385) In 1914 the average attendance was 57, but it had declined to 38 by 1938. (fn. 386) In 1949 the school was bought by the Wiltshire County Council, (fn. 387) but in 1969 it was closed and the children of Wilcot were sent to school at Oare.
A school was built at Oare before 1859 on the same plot of land as the church beside the lower part of Oare street, (fn. 388) and was possibly erected at the same time as the church in 1858. The building was dilapidated by 1913 and a new school was built in Huish Lane and opened the following year when attendances averaged 65. Attendances at the school, which also served Huish, subsequently remained almost constant. (fn. 389) After 1957 the older children were sent to school in Pewsey (fn. 390) but in 1973 93 children still attended Oare school. (fn. 391) The school benefits from the charity of E. H. Rogers who, by his will proved 1910, bequeathed £250, the income from which, about £7 a year, was for an annual prize to the best child. (fn. 392) Awards to the best pupils were still made in 1972. (fn. 393)
Charities for the Poor.
By a deed of 1844 Frances Barnes Markes gave £350 to help the poor of Wilcot. It was provided that £3 of the annual interest on that sum should be given to the school at Wilcot and the rest to the poor of the parish, preference being given to those living in Wilcot. Two charities, the ecclesiastical and nonecclesiastical, were established in 1900 to dispose of the income. The total income in 1966 was £8 9s. of which £2 19s. was spent on books and teaching aids for Christian education and the rest distributed in sums of 10s. to old people of the parish. (fn. 394)
By his will proved 1910 E. H. Rogers gave the proceeds from the sale of two cottages in Oare, which F. E. N. Rogers had the right to buy for £400, for the support of a trained nurse in the villages of Oare and Huish. There is no evidence that a nurse was provided and the fund, called the E. H. Rogers Sick Poor fund, was used to benefit the sick and poor of those villages generally. It was regulated by a scheme of 1957. In 1966 six recipients shared £41. (fn. 395)