A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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Situated only 4 miles east of Devizes, the ancient parish of All Cannings contained the tithings of All Cannings, Allington, and Fullaway, a detached part of All Cannings situated between Stert and Urchfont. (fn. 1) Etchilhampton was a chapelry of All Cannings but, probably because it relieved its own poor, was considered to be an ancient parish in the earlier 19th century and became a civil parish. (fn. 2)
The boundaries of the main part of the parish, All Cannings and Allington tithings, are generally marked by prominent natural features and are apparently ancient. That with Stanton St. Bernard has remained substantially unchanged since 903. (fn. 3) From the extreme south of both parishes as far north as Stanton village it follows the course of a stream. From Stanton to the scarp face below Wansdyke it follows the bottom of the dry valley from which the stream springs and which bisects the coomb between Clifford's and Milk Hills. The boundary runs eastwards up the scarp face and, north of Wansdyke, along the east side of a dry valley leading to East Kennett where it is marked by stones. The boundary with Bishop's Cannings was marked north of Wansdyke by the top of a ridge running back to Beckhampton in Avebury, for some way south of Wansdyke by the top of a ridge west of Tan Hill. Ancient stones still marked the boundaries with East Kennett and Avebury in 1971 and a stream separates the two tithings from Etchilhampton. South of All Cannings village, where that stream used to flow into the parish along the Etchilhampton to All Cannings road, is Etchilhampton Water. After 1799 the stream was channelled into a ditch and diverted under the road. (fn. 4)
The boundary between All Cannings and Allington tithings followed the top of a ridge north of Wansdyke, and, south of Wansdyke, passed to the east of the summit of Tan Hill and followed the top of the ridge running south-east from Tan Hill to the Devizes-Pewsey road. All Cannings tithing, 3,354 a. in 1886, (fn. 5) was roughly rectangular, about 4¾ miles long by about 1½ mile wide, and included some of the lower land of the Pewsey Vale, about 360 ft., Clifford's Hill and Rybury Camp, and much land on the dip slope of the Marlborough Downs. Allington tithing, 1,194a. in 1886, (fn. 6) was long and narrow, about 4½ miles long but less than a mile wide in most places, and encompassed parts of the Pewsey Vale and the Marlborough Downs including Tan Hill, 964 ft., the same height as Milk Hill in Stanton St. Bernard, the highest points in Wiltshire.
The tithing of Fullaway, 108 a. in 1885, (fn. 7) was not bounded by prominent natural features. Its gently sloping land lay at a height of 300–400 ft. at the foot of Etchilhampton Hill.
The ancient parish of All Cannings with its constituent tithings thus amounted to 4,655 a. The tithing of Fullaway, which relieved its own poor in the earlier 19th century, (fn. 8) was not included in the Devizes poor-law union and was deemed extraparochial. (fn. 9) It was created a civil parish under the Extra-parochial Places Act of 1857. It was annexed to Stert parish in 1894. (fn. 10) The tithing of Allington was deemed a civil parish from 1881. It was reunited with All Cannings in 1934. (fn. 11)
The ancient parish of All Cannings was characterized by the usual geological outcrops of the southern scarp of the Marlborough Downs and the Pewsey Vale. Upper and Middle Chalk outcrop on the dip slope north of Wansdyke. South of Wansdyke, Tan Hill is capped by Clay-with-flints, Upper Chalk outcrops at Rybury Camp, and Middle and Lower Chalk outcrop down the scarp to the lower parts of the Pewsey Vale. Upper Greensand outcrops in an arc within the parish boundary from Stanton village to where the Knoll rises from the valley, covered by alluvium where streams mark the parish boundary. The pattern of land-use in the parish closely followed the geological pattern until c. 1799. The arc of greensand and alluvium round the southern and south-western boundaries was pasture and meadow land, the Lower Chalk in the middle of the parish was predominantly arable, and in the north the Middle and Upper Chalk and Clay-withflints was pasture. (fn. 12)
There was prehistoric settlement on the land of All Cannings tithing. Archaeological discoveries of the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age have been made at Rybury Camp, All Cannings Cross, and on Tan Hill. (fn. 13) Rybury Camp was an Iron-Age hill-fort, possibly of two periods. (fn. 14) All Cannings Cross, lying below Clifford's Hill, was a settlement occupied in the period 650–400 B.C. (fn. 15) There was a later-IronAge or Romano-British field-system on All Cannings Down where Iron-Age and Roman objects have been found. (fn. 16) The tithing contains many barrows and ditches older than, and overlapped by, Wansdyke which crosses the tithing on the ridge linking Tan and Milk Hills. (fn. 17) A village called Canning probably existed on the lowland in the 10th century. It gave its name to Canning marsh, reached by the Danes in 1010, and was probably on the site of All Cannings whose name derives from the form 'Old Canning' still in use in the 13th century. (fn. 18) Cannings marsh, or Candle marsh, the low-lying area at the north end of All Cannings village, was called by those names until the later 18th century (fn. 19) and can presumably be identified with the earlier Canning marsh.
All Cannings village was closely-knit on both sides of a street but does not seem to have been established on a main road or an ancient track. (fn. 20) To judge from early-14th-century taxation assessments, in which only Market Lavington was rated higher among the villages later forming Swanborough hundred, All Cannings was already a village of considerable size, and there were 192 poll-tax payers in 1377. Taxation assessments of the 16th and 17th centuries were also high. (fn. 21) In the later 18th century the village was still tightly gathered along its street except for South Farm in the south of the tithing. (fn. 22) Almost the entire population of the tithing, 546 in 1801, was therefore concentrated in the village, making it one of the most populous in the Pewsey Vale. The population of the tithing, still concentrated in the village, rose to 663 in 1841 but fell to 493 by 1881 and to 387 by 1931. (fn. 23)
All Cannings is still compact. All Cannings Cross Farm, north of the village, and South Farm are the only outlying homesteads. There is no manorhouse in the village but at the south end of it the church, the old Rectory, and Manor Farm are grouped. The farm-house was built after 1839 (fn. 24) just south of the church replacing a house on the east side of the southernmost part of the village street. Just to the north of the church is a thatched late17th-century timber-framed cottage and a house converted from a pair of early-19th-century thatched cottages. Beside the church is the school. It faces a village green which was built on until at least 1799 and only became the green after 1839. (fn. 25) Between Chandlers Lane and the lane to the King's Arms, dated 1880, are some eight thatched cottages, most of them timber-framed. The oldest, nos. 30 and 32, are a pair of which the later cottage is dated 1647. The rest vary in date up to the late 18th or early 19th century. North of the lane to the King's Arms are two two-storeyed red brick houses of the early 18th century. North of them, around the junction of the village street and a road leading eastwards from it, is another group of older buildings. They include Rustic Farm, a timber-framed and thatched farm-house on a two-room plan with a central stack, probably built c. 1600, Cliff Farmhouse, a timber-framed farm-house of the 17th century with two storeys and attic and a stone tile roof, and a number of other timber-framed cottages. Another group of thatched timber-framed cottages of the 17th century and later is in the north of the village. The Grange and Bridge House, a late-19thcentury house, stand on the eastern edge of the village. All Cannings also contains a number of 19th- and 20th-century buildings including some council houses built soon after the Second World War. The Stores and Telegraph Office in the village street was bought by Mary Watney (d. 1918) and under her will used as a parish reading room. Until 1965 the upkeep of the room was paid for by the income from leases of the land surrounding it. Under a scheme of 1971 the room was converted into a village hall. (fn. 26) In that year it was undergoing repair.
Archaeological discoveries of the early and middle Bronze Ages indicate early activity on Allington Down and Tan Hill. (fn. 27) Objects of the early Iron Age and the Roman period have also been found on the downs above Allington. (fn. 28) The tithing contained a number of ancient earthworks and an Iron-Age or Romano-British field-system reaching into Avebury, and was crossed by Wansdyke. (fn. 29)
The village of Allington, called by that name in 1086, (fn. 30) was situated on both sides of Moor brook in a coomb between the Knoll and the southern part of Clifford's Hill. Early-14th-century taxation assessments and the fact that there were 68 polltax payers in 1377, an average number for the villages of Swanborough hundred, indicate that Allington was appreciably smaller than All Cannings but still of average size among the villages of the Pewsey Vale. (fn. 31) It remained so until the later 18th century. It was then a tightly-knit village south of the Devizes-Pewsey road, served by a lane making a loop from that road, and as nucleated as All Cannings. (fn. 32) The population of Allington was 145 in 1801. It rose to a peak of 188 in 1841, declined slowly to 137 in 1881, and more rapidly to only 55 in 1921. The civil parish of Allington had a population of 70 in 1931. (fn. 33)
Allington village is still situated around the lane looping south from the Devizes-Pewsey road. The centre of the loop contains Allington Farm. Allington House, built in the 19th century, and a late18th-century house are to the south of it. North of it, beside the Devizes-Pewsey road, are two thatched 17th- or 18th-century cottages, and a thatched timber-framed house possibly of the 17th century. A chapel stands west of the farm and a thatched timber-framed yeoman's house of the 17th century east of it. Many buildings in Allington were demolished in the 19th and 20th centuries, (fn. 34) especially in the north around the Devizes-Pewsey road, and to the south-east and east of the loop. Most of them were not replaced.
Fullaway was a farmstead situated beside a valley track leading from Stert to Potterne; its name means 'dirty way' and it was so called by 1327. (fn. 35) The tithing never seems to have contained a settlement of appreciable size. Its population was 14 in 1801, 20 in 1861, and 11 in 1891 when it was last assessed separately. (fn. 36) Stert House, called Bitham House for a time in the 19th century and evidently much enlarged in that century, was in the former tithing although part of Stert village. In 1971 the former tithing contained only that and Fullaway Farm.
The ancient parish of All Cannings was served by a number of lanes and paths linking the villages with the Devizes-Pewsey road in the north and the Devizes-Upavon road in the south. Devizes and Patney were the nearest railway stations. Because of its several settlements the ancient parish of All Cannings was one of the most populous in the Pewsey Vale. Its combined population was 707 in 1801, rising to 866 in 1841, but falling to 430 by 1971. (fn. 37)
Manors and other Estates.
T.R.E. All Cannings belonged to the abbey of St. Mary, Winchester (Nunnaminster). (fn. 38) The manor of ALL CANNINGS remained among the abbey's possessions until 1536 when, at the time of the abbey's refoundation, it was granted to Sir Edward Seymour, created earl of Hertford and duke of Somerset. (fn. 39)
Somerset was succeeded in 1552 by Edward Seymour, created earl of Hertford 1559, his son by his second marriage, and then a minor, but his lands were forfeited under an Act of attainder passed in that year. (fn. 40) All Cannings remained with the Crown until at least 1557. (fn. 41) It was apparently granted as dower to Anne (d. 1587), Somerset's widow and the wife of Francis Newdigate, but in 1582 the manor, or the reversion in it, was restored to the earl of Hertford. (fn. 42) Seymour was succeeded in 1621 by his grandson William Seymour, marquess of Hertford, after whose death in 1660 All Cannings was conveyed to satisfy uses expressed in his will of 1657. In 1667 the manor was conveyed to Seymour's widow Frances for 21 years, but, since she died in 1673 without giving instructions for its disposal, it passed to a succession of trustees before being sold to Edward Nicholas of Hitcham (Bucks.) in 1687 to raise money for the legacy of Seymour's granddaughter Elizabeth, countess of Ailesbury. (fn. 43)
Edward Nicholas was succeeded by his son John who died without issue in 1738. (fn. 44) The manor then passed to John's sisters Bridget (d. 1741), wife of John Nicholas (d. 1742), and Elizabeth (d. 1766). Both moieties passed to Bridget's daughter, Penelope Riggs, and in 1768 were settled on Penelope's nephew, Nicholas Heath, who assumed the name Nicholas. After Nicholas Nicholas's death in 1808 the manor passed, again in moieties, to his daughters Mary, subsequently wife of Henri de Polier Vernand, and Georgiana, wife of Philip Gell. Both moieties were sold in 1818 to Alexander Baring (d. 1848), created Baron Ashburton 1835. (fn. 45)
The manor passed with the Ashburton title until 1896 when it was sold to Ernest Terah Hooley, (fn. 46) a fraudulent financier declared bankrupt in 1898. (fn. 47) In that year it was sold to Sir Christopher Furness. He conveyed it to the Cavendish Land Company which sold it in lots from 1909. (fn. 48) The largest farms, Manor farm and All Cannings Cross farm, belonged to Mr. J. Curnick and Mr. H. W. Daw respectively in 1971. (fn. 49)
Alfred of Marlborough held Allington in 1086 and the manor of ALLINGTON passed through the Ewias and Tregoze families in the same way as the manor of Lydiard Tregoze until the death of John Tregoze in 1300. (fn. 50) John was granted free warren in his demesne lands at Allington in 1285. (fn. 51) When his lands were partitioned in 1300 the manor was allotted to John la Warre, Lord la Warre (d. 1347), and descended with the la Warre title until the early 16th century when it was apparently settled on the marriage of Anne, daughter of Thomas West, Lord la Warre (d. 1525), and Sir Anthony St. Amand, the illegitimate son of Sir Richard Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand. (fn. 52) Anthony and Anne apparently had a daughter Mary, wife of Richard Lewknor, on whom it was settled in 1551. (fn. 53)
Mary and Richard Lewknor sold the manor in 1568 to James Paget who sold it to William Wright in 1584. (fn. 54) Wright sold it in 1586 to the trustees of Jane Lambert, the mistress of William Paulet (d. 1598), marquess of Winchester, and subsequently the wife of Sir Gerard Fleetwood. (fn. 55) In 1601 Sir Gerard and Jane settled it on John Paulet, the second of Jane's four sons by the marquess of Winchester. (fn. 56) Sir John Paulet died after 1629, apparently without issue, and Allington passed to his nephew William Paulet who in 1631 settled it on his wife, Anne Cole. Joan Cole, Anne's mother, entered the manor after William's death, but gave it up after a suit in Chancery by Essex Paulet (d. 1653) to whom William his brother had devised the manor in 1646. The manor passed to another Essex Paulet (d. 1682) who in 1676 sold it to Stephen Fox (d. 1716). (fn. 57) Fox was succeeded by his son Stephen (d. 1776), created earl of Ilchester, and the manor passed with the Ilchester title until 1907 when it was sold in lots. (fn. 58) The largest farm belonged to Mr. G. K. Forster in 1971.
Peter of Membury held ½ hide in All Cannings in 1258. It was held of him by Margery, widow of Bartholomew of Upavon, to whom he surrendered all his rights in the land. (fn. 59) The subsequent descent of Margery's land is not clear, but her estate may have been that held by John Giles in 1431. (fn. 60) John probably had sons William and Robert. William's heirs were apparently two daughters, Joan, wife of William Dowling, and Isabel. In 1488 the land, then reputed a manor, and later called the manor of GILES, seems to have been settled on Joan and William. (fn. 61) William held it until at least 1528, when it was said to include 5½ virgates, (fn. 62) but by c. 1540 it had passed to John Burdon. (fn. 63) It subsequently passed, probably by purchase, to a member of the Ernle family. In 1562 it was settled on William Ernle and his wife Joan, formerly Joan Unwin. (fn. 64)
Ernle may still have held the manor in 1576 but its subsequent descent is again obscure until the 1680s when it was bought from John Long on behalf of Joseph Haskins Stiles. (fn. 65) Stiles held it until after 1710 but apparently sold it before 1753. (fn. 66) It belonged by 1780 to a Mr. Read, perhaps Richard Read of Devizes, but was sold c. 1788 to Henry Hitchcock whose son Simon Pile Hitchcock held it from 1825. (fn. 67) It passed after 1839 to Henry Hitchcock (d. 1878) and to William Charles Hitchcock (d. 1897). (fn. 68) Much of it was subsequently sold to Mr. M. J. Read who owned it in 1971. (fn. 69)
The Grange, a large house in the north-east of the village with a mid-19th-century east front, passed for a time with the estate. (fn. 70)
A hide in All Cannings and Allington was held by Peter of Podington in 1217. (fn. 71) Peter held it of the honor of Ewias in 1242 and it was held of him by William Druce. (fn. 72) By 1301 it had passed to Stephen Druce who was probably succeeded by his son Robert. (fn. 73) Stephen Druce, possibly Robert's son, held it in 1370, but it belonged to John German in 1428. (fn. 74) It passed to John Clevedon (d. between 1428 and 1443) and apparently descended like the manor of Woodborough to John Bartlett who died in 1585 holding the estate, called Hillersdons after a late-15th- or early-16th-century owner, of the manor of Ewias Harold. (fn. 75)
John Bartlett was succeeded by his son William but his land in All Cannings was probably sold. It seems to have belonged to Richard Lavington c. 1638. (fn. 76) It was held by Thomas Lavington in 1710 and by Nicholas Lavington in 1780. Nicholas was succeeded c. 1786 by Ann Lavington, presumably his daughter, who died unmarried c. 1830. (fn. 77) Mary Millard held the land (154 a.) in 1839, (fn. 78) but it subsequently passed, presumably by purchase, to members of the Hitchcock family, owners of the reputed manor of Giles. (fn. 79)
An unnamed knight held two hides in Allington in 1086. (fn. 80) It was possibly the estate including land in Allington and All Cannings, reckoned at more than a carucate and six bovates in 1316, later called Provenders and probably held in the late 13th century by John Provender in the right of his wife Gillian. (fn. 81) After John's death before 1316 Gillian apparently married John Clarice, but part of the land was settled on John Provender, presumably Gillian's son, and his wife Agnes. (fn. 82) After the deaths of Gillian and John Clarice the whole estate probably passed to John Provender and was held by Agnes in 1327. (fn. 83) It was held in 1333 by Joan Provender, presumably the daughter of John and Agnes. (fn. 84) Joan possibly married John of Rushall and died without issue before 1345. In 1345 reversion in the land after John of Rushall's death was settled by Geoffrey Provender, possibly the son of William Provender, and Joan's cousin, on the marriage of Hugh Provender, perhaps his son, and Margaret Pleistow. (fn. 85)
Hugh Provender held the land until the 1390s. (fn. 86) He was succeeded by his third son Nicholas who was succeeded by his son Robert and grandson Richard. (fn. 87) The land apparently passed to a William Provender who was succeeded by his son Richard (d. c. 1500). (fn. 88) It was held by Geoffrey Smethwick, who married Richard's widow, until his death after 1531 when it reverted to Richard's son John. (fn. 89) John died c. 1540 leaving his son Geoffrey a minor. (fn. 90) Geoffrey entered the land c. 1545, held it until his death in 1593, and was succeeded by his son George (d. 1617). (fn. 91) George's heir was his son George who died without male issue in 1644 when the estate was divided. (fn. 92)
All the land in Allington apparently passed to George's grandson Richard Franklin, the son of Elizabeth Provender (d. before 1644) and John Franklin. (fn. 93) Richard sold part of it in 1651 to Stephen Mills who, by his will proved 1663, devised it to Paul Weston. In 1697 Weston sold it to Robert Stevens. The rest of the land in Allington was settled by Richard Franklin on Sarah Franklin in 1661. It passed, presumably after Sarah's death, to John Franklin, probably her son, who, with another John Franklin, perhaps his own son, sold it to Robert Stevens in 1697. Stevens, who added Workmans living, bought by John Stevens from Essex Paulet in 1675, to the Allington part of Provenders, devised the land to his nephew William, the son of Paul Weston, by his will proved 1713. By his own will proved 1756 William Weston devised it to his stepdaughter Margery, wife of John Drewett, who devised it to her son Edward in 1771. Drewett sold it to John Giddings in 1775. James Giddings held it from c. 1821 to at least 1839. (fn. 94) In 1878 it was sold by the trustees of W. E. Tugwell and Aaron Giddings and in 1907 belonged to G. S. A. Waylen. (fn. 95)
The descent of the All Cannings part of Provenders after 1644 is not clear. Most of it was apparently held by Edward Hope c. 1710. (fn. 96) Part of it was bought by Gifford Warriner from Benjamin Hope in 1753 and added to his other land in All Cannings, (fn. 97) but the rest passed to Richard Hope (d. c. 1729) and was held in 1780 by John son of John Hope. (fn. 98) John was succeeded by his brother Edward who sold part of the land to John Clift c. 1816. It was held by William Clift from c. 1823 to at least 1831. The other part was sold by Hope to the trustees of William Hayward. (fn. 99)
Land in All Cannings belonged to Henry Anst in 1710. (fn. 100) It was bought by Sir John Ernle and settled on his daughter Elizabeth and Gifford Warriner on their marriage in 1739. (fn. 101) Warriner was succeeded in 1787 by his son Gifford (d. 1820) who held the land in 1799 when it was called South farm. (fn. 102) It was sold to Alexander Baring in 1834 under the Act for the settlement of Gifford Warriner's lands (fn. 103) and passed with All Cannings manor.
The estate called Fullaway farm, held freely of the manor of All Cannings, belonged to John Burrey from at least 1518 to 1540. (fn. 104) It apparently passed to William Burrey, whose daughter and heir Elizabeth, wife of William Hedges, sold it to Thomas Noyes in 1563. (fn. 105) Thomas was probably succeeded by his son William but a Thomas Noyes (d. 1675) apparently held it c. 1638. (fn. 106) Another William Noyes possibly held it in 1695. (fn. 107) Some of the land was sold by Anne Noyes in 1739, and the rest acquired by Benjamin Wyche in 1747. (fn. 108) It passed to Samuel Wyche who leased it out in 1771, but by 1780 apparently belonged to a Mr. Sutton, probably James Sutton of Devizes who held Stert at that time. (fn. 109) It was acquired c. 1788 by Jacob Giddings and passed c. 1796 to Richard Giddings who held it in 1839. (fn. 110) It was sold in 1876. (fn. 111)
By the late 13th century a portion of the revenues of All Cannings church was taken by Nunnaminster to endow a prebend (fn. 112) and until the Dissolution belonged to successive prebendaries, usually presented by the abbess. (fn. 113) The prebendal estate, worth £13 6s. 8d. in 1260 and 1291, was said to include 12 a. of land in 1260 and pasture worth £1 and other land worth 9s. in 1341 but consisted largely of great and small tithes. (fn. 114) The prebendary paid a pension of £4 to the abbess of Winchester in 1341, £1 in 1535, and £1 a year thereafter to the lord of All Cannings. (fn. 115)
In 1536 the advowson of the prebend was granted to Edward Seymour (d. 1552) who presented prebendaries in 1540 and 1545. (fn. 116) As part of an exchange of lands with Edward VI in 1547 Seymour conveyed 'the late prebend' to the king who granted it to the dean and canons of Windsor in the same year. (fn. 117) The dean and canons followed the practice of not presenting prebendaries and of taking the prebendal revenues themselves. The prebendal tithes arose from land in All Cannings and Allington. They were said c. 1560 to be customarily leased with, and to have been accounted better than, the rectorial tithes. Both sets were leased to Sir John Thynne who c. 1553 assigned his leases to Sir Edward Baynton, but both Thynne and Baynton sub-let the tithes. (fn. 118) Baynton's lease of the prebendal tithes expired c. 1560 and, although earlier agreements had apparently been reached by the farmer of All Cannings, the rector, and the prebendary over the taking of the tithes, (fn. 119) disputes began before 1562 over which lands were tithable to the prebend, and which to the rectory. At that time the prebendal barn was said to be no longer standing. In 1562 the prebendal estate was said to include some 8 a. of land. (fn. 120)
In 1593 Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford (d. 1621), tried to deprive the dean and canons of the profits of the prebend by claiming the advowson on the grounds that it had not been granted by his father in 1547 but had descended to him. At Hertford's instigation the Crown collated by lapse and presented the rector of All Cannings to the prebend. That presentation, and Hertford's claim to the advowson set out in 1597, was contested by the dean and canons and in 1600 a commission to decide the issue was set up by the Chief Justices of King's Bench and Common Pleas. (fn. 121) The commission's findings, in which the prebendal estate was allowed to the dean and canons of Windsor and no provision was made for the presentation of prebendaries, were ratified by decree in 1602. The commissioners also defined the prebendal and rectorial estates. They allotted all the tithes of Allington tithing and only 2½ a. of land in All Cannings to the prebend, and all the other tithes of the parish to the rectory. (fn. 122) The dean and canons were required to keep a bull and a boar on behalf of the inhabitants of Allington, for which in 1799 they were allotted 1 a. of down for feeding the bull. (fn. 123) The prebendal tithes were leased for £13, 26s., and a fat sheep in 1640 but were probably sub-let and were valued at £80 in 1649. (fn. 124) Their gross value was put at £134 in 1775 and at £292 in 1811. (fn. 125) The dean and canons were allotted a rent-charge of £264 in 1839 when the great tithes and customary payments in place of the small tithes were all commuted. (fn. 126)
The evidence of continuous occupation over a long period at All Cannings Cross and of many upland linchets shows that much of All Cannings tithing was cultivated in prehistoric times. (fn. 127) T.R.E. All Cannings was assessed at 18 hides and 1½ virgate. In 1086 the demesne amounted to 4 hides on which there were 8 serfs and 5 ploughs, but most of the land was apparently in the hands of tenants. The 27 villeins, 17 bordars, and 6 cottars in the tithing shared 10 ploughs. There were 108 a. of meadow, pasture a league long by 4 furlongs broad, and woodland 4 furlongs long by 2 furlongs broad. By 1086 the value of the estate had increased from £20 to £30. (fn. 128)
For a long period before the 16th century arable cultivation in All Cannings was probably in two commonable fields, North field and South field. (fn. 129) In 1540 the farmer and tenants of All Cannings manor held a total of 633 a. in North field and 419 a. in South field. Other land in the two fields was almost certainly held by the tenants of other estates in the tithing. Such tenants held a little over 200 a. of arable land at inclosure in 1799, (fn. 130) so that in the early 16th century North field perhaps amounted to some 750 a. and South field to some 500 a. By the early 16th century at least some of the meadow land was cultivated in severalty. The farmer of the demesne of All Cannings manor held 20 a. of inclosed meadows and the customary tenants of the manor and the tenants of other lands in the tithing held both several and common meadows. In the early 16th century and perhaps earlier there was a number of upland pastures, West down and East down comprising the upland in the north of the tithing, including the scarp face and the dip slope north of Wansdyke, and the Hill and Little down, perhaps Clifford's Hill and Rybury Camp. The demesne flock, 874 wethers in 1450 and not leased until 1480, probably fed on all the downs. Tenantry flocks of 690 and 570 sheep and herds of 47 and 45 other animals, could be fed on the West and East downs respectively, and the flocks were probably joined by some of the freeholders' sheep. A flock could also be kept by the holder of Giles's farm on Little down, said to be 40 a. in 1488, (fn. 131) and a copyholder could keep 131 sheep on the Hill. The customers could feed 868 sheep on the common fields and other farmers presumably kept sheep there as well. In 1540 there was a common lowland pasture south-west of the village called Fairfield, later Farrell. It measured 45 a. in 1799, (fn. 132) but was possibly more extensive in the 16th century. Most of the tenants, especially those with smaller holdings, had pasture rights on it. In 1540 it could be depastured by 16 sheep and 121 other animals in summer, and by 108 sheep and 46 other animals in winter. There were also small areas of several lowland pasture.
In 1540 three types of customary holding from All Cannings manor were recognized. There were some 30 yardlands, then disparate but on average consisting of some 25 a. of land in both arable fields, some 2 a. of meadow land, and pasture rights. There were eight 'cotsetlands', usually merged with other holdings, each including about half the arable of a yardland, some meadow land, common in the arable fields and in Farrell, but no common on the upland. There were also six 'acremanlands' comprising on average some 10 a. of arable, land in a common meadow, probably Acremans mead, and common in the common fields and Farrell. Some 35 customary holdings were shared in 1540 among 27 tenants. Their rents totalled £38 12s. 6d. The demesne farm, which remained comparatively small, was leased with its stock, but not with its sheep, probably in the earlier 15th century for rents in kind. William Philip was lessee in 1449 but by 1498 the demesne of All Cannings, like that of Urchfont, was held by William Harvest. (fn. 133) The demesne flock was leased for £8 in 1480 and, when the farm was leased to John Burdon in 1523, it was for a cash rent of £26 6s. 8d. In 1540 the farm included 212 a. of arable, 20 a. of meadow land, 31 a. of inclosed pasture, and presumably feeding rights on the upland pastures.
In 1535 the last abbess of Nunnaminster leased the demesne to her relative Edward Shelley for 40 years from 1554, but, lawfully or otherwise, John Burdon continued to occupy it after that date and it passed to his son-in-law Geoffrey Provender who surrendered it in 1573. (fn. 134) It was then leased to Robert Nicholas (d. 1592) and passed to Edward Nicholas, presumably his grandson (d. 1623), who was succeeded by his son Robert. (fn. 135) The farm was still held by Robert in 1639 when a lease was granted to his kinsman Sir Edward Nicholas (d. 1669), then a clerk to the Privy Council and later Secretary of State to Charles I and Charles II. (fn. 136) Robert Nicholas apparently gave up his interests in the farm to a Mr. Goddard, (fn. 137) from whom it was sequestered in 1648, (fn. 138) but members of the Nicholas family perhaps retained their interests in it until the manor was bought by Sir Edward's son Edward. (fn. 139)
In the 16th and 17th centuries there was apparently some fragmentation of the arable fields of All Cannings. West field was mentioned in 1540. (fn. 140) It was possibly part of the third field, called Allington field, later Westbrook field, apparently taken from South field in the 16th century. (fn. 141) By 1608 Westbrook field had been split into Great and Little Westbrook. (fn. 142) There was a Limborough field in 1649 and an East field in 1739. (fn. 143) The meadow land, much of which was cultivated in common in 1540, was inclosed to form very small fields, possibly in the 16th century. New arrangements were also made for the use of the upland pasture. The farmer of the manor of All Cannings apparently gave up his rights, if such rights existed, to feed sheep on the East down and on Clifford's Hill and Rybury Camp, together known later as West down. The other tenants, except perhaps the holder of Provenders, (fn. 144) gave up rights to the West down, subsequently called Farm down. (fn. 145)
In the 17th and 18th centuries All Cannings demesne remained the only large farm in the tithing. It was leased to Henry Miles in 1739 and later to John Manning. (fn. 146) Giles's farm, more than 400 a. at inclosure, Hillersdons farm, more than 150a. at inclosure, but both then including much down land, and South farm, some 100 a. of mainly meadow land at inclosure, were the largest of the other farms. (fn. 147) In the early 18th century the 43 copyhold farms, worth some £26 a year in rents, were shared among 29 tenants, all of whom clearly had relatively small farms. There were also several small farms in the tithing held freely. (fn. 148)
Much land in the tithing was already inclosed by the later 18th century. Most of the demesne farm was several. West of the road from Patney to All Cannings in the southernmost part of the tithing were some 96 a. of demesne water-meadows. North of them, in an arc around Farrell and the southern part of the village, were 100 a. of arable and pasture lands, and east of the pastures were two arable inclosures, together 51 a. Great Westbrook field, 77 a., was several to the farmer who also had Farm down, some 550 a. Some of the tenantry and freely held lands were also inclosed. Part of Little Westbrook field, part of an arable field in the southeast of the tithing, and All Cannings meadows, still cultivated in very small pieces, were all inclosed. (fn. 149) The rest of the arable and pasture land of the tithing was commonable. The pasture consisted of Farrell and two upland pastures, East down, some 500 a., and West down, some 210 a. south of Wansdyke. The arable was broken up into a number of fields. Land probably in the former South field and commonable in the 18th century included that part of Little Westbrook field not inclosed, Lains field, bounded on the north by the Devizes-Pewsey road, on the south by Mill Way, and on the west by Marlborough Way, and south of Mill Way a field bounded in the west by the road from Patney to All Cannings. Commonable land probably in the former North field included Woodway field, below the Devizes-Pewsey road between Moor brook and the path to Tan Hill, an eastern and a western field above the road, and the land in the two coombs north-east and south-west of Rybury Camp. All the commonable arable fields included compact areas of demesne arable ranging in size from 7 a. to 43 a. Before inclosure there were 1,243 a. of arable, 1,264 a. of upland pasture, and 728 a. of lowland pasture and meadow in the tithing. (fn. 150)
The commons of All Cannings were inclosed in 1799 under an Act of 1797. All the commonable arable land was inclosed and allotted. All Cannings farm, the demesne farm, acquired the arable in both coombs, Farrell, and part of the west tenantry down including Rybury Camp. Another part of the same down, some 35 a., and part of the East down, 55 a., was allotted as part of Hillersdons, and part of the East down, 235 a., was allotted as part of Giles's. Specific rights were allotted to the rest of both downs, 55 a. of West down including Clifford's Hill and 216 a. of East down adjoining Farm down in the west, but both were fed in common by the sheep of farmers holding the allotments, 123 sheep on the small West down and 659 sheep on the East down. (fn. 151)
After inclosure All Cannings farm amounted to 1,121 a., tenants of the manor held 1,313 a., and other landowners held some 900 a. (fn. 152) Allotments were made to more than 40 owners and tenants in 1799 but by 1839 the number of farms in the tithing had declined. Charles Hitchcock then held All Cannings farm, 1,524 a., Simon Pile Hitchcock farmed 1,000 a. including Giles's, Hillersdons, and South farms and much former copyhold land of the manor, and John Clift farmed 234 a. There were, however, still a few small farms. By 1839 there had also been conversion of upland pasture to arable and lowland arable to pasture. There were then 1,530 a. of arable, 916 a. of upland pasture, and 925 a. of lowland pasture and meadow. (fn. 153)
By the end of the 19th century there were seven farms in the tithing. Sidney Crees held Manor farm, 529 a. in the south of the tithing, and Bridge House farm, 1,408 a. including Bridge House with Wycombe's yard opposite it and All Cannings Cross farm, which together made up All Cannings farm. Cliff farm, 273 a., was leased to D. and J. Wiltshire; South farm, 233 a., was held by Henry Nutland; and there were other farms of 49 a., 15 a., and 68 a. besides Hitchcock's farm, some 600 a., later forming part of Church farm in Stanton St. Bernard. (fn. 154) The reduction in the number of farms in the 19th century made possible the elimination of common rights on the former tenantry downs which were both parts of Bridge House farm by 1898. At the same time the lands were rearranged to make compact farms in the various parts of the tithing resulting in the subsequent enlargement of some of the arable fields and some of the meadows. (fn. 155) The process of converting upland pasture to arable and some lowland arable to pasture was continued as cattle replaced sheep in the tithing.
Agriculture has continued on a similar pattern at All Cannings in the 20th century. Tillage has continued on as much as possible of the upland and on the Lower Chalk between the downs and the village, and pasture for cattle and some arable cultivation has continued on the Lower Chalk and Upper Greensand south of the village. Battery hens were also kept on Manor farm in 1971.
Allington was assessed at 11½ hides and 5 a. T.R.E. when it was worth £12. There was said to be land for 7 ploughs in 1086. The 7½ demesne hides had 4 ploughs and 7 serfs, the 6 villeins and 7 bordars shared 1 plough, and the knight with an estate in Allington also had 1 plough. There were 20 a. of meadow, and pasture 6 furlongs long and 3 furlongs broad. The whole estate was worth £15. (fn. 156)
All the cultivable land of the tithing was apparently under cultivation by 1300. The manorial demesne, comparatively large in 1086, was still so in 1300. It was said to comprise 340 a. of arable and 10 a. of meadow land with pasture rights for 400 sheep, probably on the upland, and for 24 sheep, probably on the lowland. A virgate of land, later reckoned at 18 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow with pasture rights but probably including no more than about 12 a. of arable in 1300, was held by each of eleven customers for cash rent and daily work, and another eight customers each held 8 a. for produce rent and daily work. There were said to be a few free tenants paying rents totalling 16s. a year, and four cottagers. The total value of the manor was reckoned at more than £25 a year. The demesne was worth more than £18 and £5 was the value of labour services. (fn. 157) In addition to Allington manor Provenders comprised six bovates, later assessed at 58 a. of arable and 10 a. of meadow with pasture rights. (fn. 158)
The structure of Allington manor had apparently changed considerably by 1427. Its value, said to be £16 a year, was much less, and it was made up from the various sources in different proportions. The demesne was assessed at only £7, free tenants paid £1 a year in rents, but other tenants paid rents worth £8. The demesne was said to comprise only 200 a. of arable, indicating that some of it had perhaps been added in parcels to customary holdings, (fn. 159) and that the importance of the manorial demesne in the economy of Allington declined appreciably in the 14th century.
Allington demesne was possibly leased as a single farm until the later 16th century, (fn. 160) but by the early 17th century it was broken up and leased in yardlands, often to existing tenants. (fn. 161) In the 18th century the manor comprised some 30 yardlands, each reckoned at 18 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow, about 15 held by copies for 15s. a year, and about 15, the former demesne lands, held by leases at 18s. a year, all shared among some 25 tenants. (fn. 162) There was also a farm held freely of the manor and Provenders farm. The manor was worth £26 a year in rents but the lord's income from it came primarily from fines. (fn. 163) By the time of inclosure in 1799 much copyhold land had been converted to leasehold and a few comparatively large farms had emerged. Thomas Parry held 138 a. after inclosure, Joseph Parry held 176 a., and Daniel Parry held 154 a. Provenders, 195 a. at inclosure, was the other substantial farm in the tithing. (fn. 164)
Before inclosure there were two almost equal common arable fields at Allington, East field to the east and north of the village, and West field, which included the Knoll, to the west and south of the village. (fn. 165) In 1725 it was agreed to inclose an area of the common fields called Hasletts field, probably the southernmost part of West field. (fn. 166) At inclosure in 1799 East field comprised 230 a. and West field 215 a. Hasletts had apparently been inclosed, divided into small allotments, and converted to meadow land. It seems to have been added to Allington meads, the copyhold parts of which were cultivated in common in the 17th century (fn. 167) but subsequently converted into very small several pieces, possibly when Hasletts was inclosed. In 1799 Allington meads consisted of 44 fields covering about 86 a. (fn. 168) Before Allington demesne was broken up the upland pasture of the tithing was apparently divided almost equally between a western demesne and an eastern tenantry down. The two downs remained separate until inclosure when they amounted to about 270 a. and 300 a. respectively and provided stints for 900 and 750 sheep. (fn. 169)
The common arable fields of Allington were inclosed and allotted in 1799 under the Act of 1797, and arable cultivation was for a time carried out in much smaller fields. Rights to specific parts of the upland pasture were allotted at the same time but most of it was not inclosed. A several down pasture of 156 a. in the extreme north of the tithing was allotted to John Giddings for Provenders, but the rest of the upland continued to be pastured in common. The allotments to the three members of the Parry family, 239 a. mainly of former demesne upland, could be used by 930 sheep, and the other allotments, 182 a. mainly of the former copyhold down, could support a flock of 532 sheep. (fn. 170)
The number of farms in Allington decreased rapidly in the early 19th century. There were at least fifteen farms in 1800 but by 1839 Joseph Parry had accumulated a farm of 850 a., called Allington farm, and Thomas Giddings occupied the only other substantial farm, 208 a. (fn. 171) In 1907 Valentine Burry held Allington farm, 814 a., there was a farm of 55 a., and Provenders remained about 200 a. The growth of Allington farm resulted in a return to arable cultivation in large fields and the elimination of common rights on the upland pasture. (fn. 172) By 1839 some 100 a. of Giddings's several upland was converted to arable, (fn. 173) and by the end of the century more downland had been converted to arable and some lowland arable to pasture. (fn. 174)
Although deemed part of All Cannings manor much of Fullaway was held freely and the detached tithing played no significant part in the economic life of All Cannings. The free land, Fullaway farm, comprised much of the tithing in the 16th century, and perhaps earlier, and the farm apparently included some land in the parishes of Urchfont and Stert. (fn. 175) In 1540 Thomas Noyes leased the land of All Cannings manor in Fullaway, including pastures called Frithes and Undercliffs, previously part of All Cannings farm. It comprised 12 a. of meadow, 37 a. of pasture, and only 6 a. of arable. (fn. 176) When he subsequently acquired Fullaway farm (fn. 177) Noyes therefore held most of the tithing, which was almost entirely pastoral. In 1771 the farm was leased by Samuel Wyche to Charles and Jacob Giddings who divided it in 1773. (fn. 178) It was reunited after it was bought by Jacob Giddings and amounted to 65 a. in 1839. (fn. 179) At that time 80 a. of the 105 a. of the tithing were pasture and concentration on cattle farming has continued since then.
Mill. There was a mill paying 13s. at All Cannings in 1086. (fn. 180) A water-mill in All Cannings was bought by the abbess of Nunnaminster from Edith, widow of Robert Druce, probably in the later 13th century. (fn. 181) The mill thereafter remained part of the manor and was leased with the demesne farm in the 15th and 16th centuries. (fn. 182) It stood in the south of the tithing just north of the road to Etchilhampton near Etchilhampton Water where it was driven by the water of Moor brook. It probably fell into disuse in the 17th century. In the later 18th century only the pond could be located. (fn. 183)
Land in the eastern part of South field was known from at least the 15th to the later 18th century as Windmill Ball, later the Ball, suggesting that perhaps a windmill once stood on the site. (fn. 184)
Fair. In 1499 the abbess of Nunnaminster was granted the right to hold a fair on Chalborough Down, near Wansdyke, on St. Anne's and the following day (26 and 27 July). (fn. 185) Chalborough Down was called St. Anne's Hill by 1541 (fn. 186) and Tan Hill by the late 17th century. (fn. 187) Tan Hill fair was not held in 1637 because of pestilence. (fn. 188) In 1792 and later the fair was held on 6 August. (fn. 189) It was a large sheep and horse fair incorporating the usual amusements, including horse racing, and attended by people from the whole county and beyond. (fn. 190) It was held until the Second World War. The fair was held on the land of Allington but the profits from it were leased by the abbess and succeeding lords with the demesne of All Cannings manor. (fn. 191) They were sold with Bridge House and Cross farms in 1909 and were bought by the Maidments of Wilcot. (fn. 192)
The village of All Cannings was comparatively large in the Middle Ages. Perhaps because of that it was divided into four tithings, and four tithingmen of All Cannings attended the hundred court until at least 1439. (fn. 193) In 1710 the tithings, called the two great and the two little tithings, were recognized areas of the village. (fn. 194) If the tithings were thus territorial in the Middle Ages such a division of a single village, in which there was no multiplicity of rights of jurisdiction, was most unusual in Wiltshire. In 1443 the abbess of Winchester was granted view of frankpledge and the assize of ale in All Cannings. (fn. 195) The grant was repeated in 1468 and again in 1476. (fn. 196) Records of the abbess's view exist from 1518 to 1530. (fn. 197) It was held with the court twice a year. Both private and public jurisdiction were exercised in it. Offences punishable under leet jurisdiction and the assizes, including assault and brewers', butchers', and millers' offences, were apparently presented by the tithingmen; tenurial matters and breaches of manorial custom, including misuse of common pastures and the deaths of tenants, were presented by the homage of the manor; and a body of twelve jurors endorsed both sets of presentments and sometimes added some of their own. The four tithingmen each paid 7s. cert-money, presumably collected from their tithing. Admissions were performed and, at the Michaelmas court, manorial officers chosen. Those holding freely in All Cannings, however, could not be compelled to attend.
Court records for the manor of Allington, which exist for 1710–16, refer primarily to tenurial business. (fn. 198)
A church stood at All Cannings from the early 13th century. By the late 13th century some of its revenues had been taken by the nuns of Winchester to endow a prebend in the abbey church of St. Mary. Other revenues of the church, however, were not appropriated and the benefice remained a rectory. (fn. 201) Etchilhampton church was probably built as a chapel of All Cannings in the later 14th century. It remained so in 1971. (fn. 202)
The advowson of the church belonged to the abbess of Winchester until the Dissolution. The rector presented by the abbess in 1382, however, was presented again by the king in 1384 when a vacancy in the abbey was pending. (fn. 203) The king presented again in 1387 for unknown reasons. (fn. 204) In 1423 rival presentations were apparently made by the king and the abbess, but the abbess's candidate was instituted. (fn. 205) In 1536 the advowson was granted to Edward Seymour who presented in 1545. (fn. 206) Like the manor of All Cannings, however, the advowson of the rectory passed to the Crown under the Act of attainder against Somerset in 1552, and in 1554 and 1557 the Crown presented. Somerset's widow Anne and her husband Francis Newdigate presented in 1571, but the advowson, like the manor, was restored to Somerset's son Edward, earl of Hertford, who presented in 1593. (fn. 207) The advowson subsequently passed with the manor but grants of a turn were usually made by the lords. Among the grantees were Walter Ernle in 1709 and William Fowle of All Cannings in 1734. (fn. 208) In 1910 Sir Christopher Furness conveyed the advowson to James Harman who conveyed it to Miss Mary Watney in 1914. In 1916 Miss Watney conveyed it to trustees and in 1971 it was still held by trustees. (fn. 209)
The rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291 but was later said to have been under-valued. The real value was put at £20. (fn. 210) Its net annual value was assessed at £31 17s. in 1535. (fn. 211) It was leased for £30 a year to Sir Edward Baynton (d. 1544), passed to his son Andrew, but was sub-let. (fn. 212) It was valued at £300 in 1649 (fn. 213) and at an annual average of £1,100 net from 1829 to 1831, making it the richest parish church in Wiltshire at the time. (fn. 214) A pension of £2 5s. was paid by the rector to the abbess of Winchester until 1536, and thereafter to the Seymours. (fn. 215)
In 1341 the rector's great tithes were worth £11 and the small tithes, with other payments, were valued at £1 13s. (fn. 216) When the prebendal and rectorial tithes were reapportioned in 1602 the rector received all the tithes of All Cannings, Etchilhampton, and Fullaway. (fn. 217) They were commuted for a rentcharge of £1,220 10s. in 1839. (fn. 218)
In 1341 the rector had a virgate of land worth 5s., meadow worth 20s., and pasture worth 5s. (fn. 219) He acquired a few acres of formerly prebendal glebe in All Cannings in 1602, (fn. 220) and in 1608 his glebe amounted to some 40 a. with pasture rights in All Cannings and 4 marks from the farmer instead of pasturage for eight oxen. (fn. 221) At inclosure in 1799 the rector's allotments totalled 36 a. (fn. 222) An arable field of 21 a. was exchanged for a field of 11½ a. behind the east side of the village street, 9 a. of which were sold in 1920 and used for the building of council houses. (fn. 223) There were also 4 a. of glebe land in Etchilhampton. (fn. 224) The rectory-house stood a short distance north-west of the church and was inhabited by rectors until it was sold in 1969. (fn. 225) In 1972 the oldest part of the house was of two brick- and flintwalled storeys bearing the date 1642 and a Greek inscription meaning 'his work'. That part was possibly an addition to an older building northwest of it which has been replaced by buildings of the period 1800–7 and the mid 19th century. (fn. 226) The former entrance front to the north-east has been demolished.
A chantry chapel was founded in the church, probably by Sir Richard Beauchamp (d. 1508), Lord St. Amand, (fn. 227) about the time that the manor of Allington was settled on his son Anthony St. Amand and Anne West. (fn. 228) It was probably the chapel dedicated to St. Anne in respect of which a pension of 6s. 8d. was paid to Edward Seymour in 1535, and was possibly served by the rector of All Cannings. (fn. 229) In 1306 the rector of All Cannings had custody of Woodborough church, the rector of which could not serve it. (fn. 230) Thomas Berkham, rector from 1333 to at least 1351, was provided to a canonry of Chichester cathedral in 1351, (fn. 231) and in 1442 William Hukyns was granted a dispensation to hold another cure. (fn. 232) Edward Lee, presented in 1512 and the holder of other benefices, resigned in 1531 when he was consecrated archbishop of York. (fn. 233) By the mid 16th century it seems to have been already customary for curates to be appointed to assist the rectors by serving the church at Etchilhampton, and possibly that at All Cannings when the rector resided elsewhere. (fn. 234)
John Fisher, presented in 1545, was deprived of the living by Queen Mary in 1554. (fn. 235) Mary presented two rectors, (fn. 236) the second of whom, James Ingram, presented in 1557, was pardoned by Elizabeth I in 1559 presumably for supporting Mary's religious policy. (fn. 237) By 1564 John Fisher had been restored. (fn. 238) Hugh Gough, rector 1593–1625, was also rector of Little Cheverell but apparently lived at All Cannings. (fn. 239) Robert Byng, Gough's successor, was also rector of Devizes. He was ejected from All Cannings in 1646 and replaced by Jeffrey Simkins who signed the Concurrent Testimony of Ministers in 1648 and was presented in 1649. (fn. 240) Simkins was in turn ejected in 1660. (fn. 241) Most of the 18th- and 19thcentury rectors lived in the parish. Sir John Ernle, rector 1709–34, (fn. 242) was the cousin of Sir Edward Ernle of Etchilhampton. (fn. 243) In 1783 the rector was assisted at All Cannings by a curate. (fn. 244) In the 19th century the long incumbency of Thomas Anthony Methuen, the brother of Lord Methuen of Corsham and rector 1809–69, was notable. (fn. 245) Methuen also held the rectory of Garsdon with the vicarage of Lea from 1814 but lived at All Cannings. (fn. 246) From 1856 he was assisted there by his relative H. H. Methuen, (fn. 247) and from 1861 by F. P. Methuen. (fn. 248)
A church was apparently built at Allington before 1100 when Harold of Ewias, lord of Allington manor, granted it to St. Peter's Abbey, Gloucester, as part of the endowment of Ewias Priory, a cell of the abbey. (fn. 249) The prior of Ewias received a pension of £2 from All Cannings church in 1291 by which time Allington church had possibly been annexed to it as a chapel. (fn. 250) There are no records of presentations to Allington church, which may already have been in decline by the 14th century. The pension was subsequently paid to St. Peter's Abbey, (fn. 251) which annexed Ewias Priory in 1359, (fn. 252) and in 1541 the pension, then £2 13s. 4d., was granted to Gloucester cathedral. (fn. 253) The church stood north of the Devizes-Pewsey road in the north-east of the village, and the remains of the nave and chancel were seen through the soil in 1847. (fn. 254)
Some doubt surrounds the dedication of All Cannings church. (fn. 255) It was called All Saints in 1492, possibly following the name of the village. The dedication was afterwards to St. Anne, perhaps following the dedication of the chantry chapel in the church, but was again to All Saints from about 1928. (fn. 256) ALL SAINTS church is a cruciform building consisting of an aisled nave of three bays, a central tower, north and south transepts, south chapel, north and south porches, and a 19thcentury chancel. The oldest features are late Norman and include the northern respond of the chancel arch. The piers of the crossing which support the tower probably date from the 14th century, but incorporated in the south-west pier is a low circular column or respond with a scalloped capital. Its presence in this position has led to the suggestion that the Norman church was cruciform and had a crossing larger than the later one. (fn. 257) It is more likely, however, that the column was once the most easterly pier of the south arcade of the nave. Its diameter and moulded base are identical with those of the circular piers of the surviving south arcade which has evidently been heightened at some period. The Norman nave may therefore have had at least one aisle and also an additional eastern bay on the site of the present crossing.
The chancel, which has been twice rebuilt, formerly had an east window composed of three lancets under a single arch, (fn. 258) suggesting that it was of the early 13th century. The cruciform plan of the church may have originated in the 14th century. The tower, of three stages above roof level, is wholly Perpendicular in style and has a plain parapet and a prominent stair turret. The base of the turret, inside the north transept, housed the former rood-loft stair. Both transepts are of mid15th-century date but the side walls of the south transept were heightened and the roof was given a flatter pitch when the chantry chapel was built to the east of it. At the same time the elaborate external parapet of the chapel was continued round the transept. The embattled parapet is ornamented with shields of arms, quatrefoils, and pinnacles. The arms include those of St. Amand and Beauchamp, strengthening the suggestion that the chantry was founded by Sir Richard Beauchamp. Fragments of stained glass in the transept window include the initials 'I.B.', perhaps for John Baynton who succeeded Sir Richard. (fn. 259) Surviving glass in the north transept is thought to represent part of an Annunciation. (fn. 260)
The nave and aisles of the church were evidently remodelled at an even later date, perhaps after the Reformation. The west window, the south porch, and the external walls of the aisles have mainly Tudor characteristics. An exception is the outer arch of the north porch which appears to have survived from the early 14th century. The nave arcades may have assumed their present lofty form at any period from the 14th century onwards. The piers of both arcades are circular but those on the north side have plain chamfers instead of the early 'water-holding' bases of the south arcade. The nave roof, which has been renewed, retains the date 1638.
The chancel was restored or rebuilt in the later 17th century, probably by Henry Kinnimond, the rector whose initials appeared with the date 1678 above the former east window. (fn. 261) New pews were installed in 1829 and extensive alterations including the renewal of the roof and the removal of a west gallery were carried out in 1843. (fn. 262) In 1867 the chancel was rebuilt on a slightly narrower plan, giving the existing chancel arch a more central position. The architect was Henry Weaver of Devizes. (fn. 263) The interior is elaborately treated with wall arcading, stained-glass windows, an alabaster reredos of the Last Supper, and a timber vault. A tablet commemorates the rebuilding at the expense of Thomas Methuen and his sons.
The church contains a carved octagonal font of the 15th century with a 17th-century cover. The pulpit dates from 1867. At the west end of the south aisle is an impressive stone monument to William Ernle (d. 1581) of Etchilhampton and his wife. (fn. 264) At the corresponding end of the north aisle a large plain tablet commemorates Sir John Ernle (d. 1734) and his wife Elizabeth.
There were three bells in 1553. By the 20th century there were five: (i) and (iii) by Roger Purdue dated 1626 and 1629 respectively, (ii) by Thomas Rudhall dated 1771, (iv) dated 1806, and (v) recast at Bristol in 1887. The old tenor had been dated 1658. The fittings of all except the tenor were dilapidated in 1910. The bells were recast and rehung in 1929. (fn. 265) A clock-bell dated 1629 then hung at the top of the tower. (fn. 266)
In 1553 3½ oz. of silver were taken for the king but an old chalice weighing 12 oz. was kept. A flagon and paten were given to the church in 1757 but, when the new chancel was built in 1867, a new set of plate, hall-marked 1866, was supplied. It included a pair of chalices, a paten, and a cruetshaped flagon, (fn. 267) and still belonged to the church in 1971.
The registers date from 1579 and are complete. (fn. 268)
The rector claimed that there were no nonconformists in his parish in 1783. (fn. 269) Four independent meeting-houses were nevertheless registered between 1797 and 1799. (fn. 270) A Wesleyan Methodist chapel on the east side of the southern part of All Cannings street was registered in 1890. (fn. 271) It was closed by 1959. (fn. 272)
William Hiscock of Allington was described as a 'quaker or sectarian' in 1662, (fn. 273) and two people of Allington were said to be Quakers in 1674. (fn. 274) In the 19th century there was a flourishing dissenting congregation in the village. A Strict Baptist chapel, the Bethel chapel, was opened in the centre of the village in 1829, probably under the auspices of Joseph Parry, the principal farmer in the tithing and well known locally as a village evangelist. The Revd. J. C. Philpott, a fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, who left the Anglican church in 1835, was rebaptized at Allington. (fn. 275) In 1851 Sunday services were held in the morning and afternoon, attended on Census Sunday by congregations of 80 and 100 respectively, (fn. 276) and the rector of All Cannings commented in 1864 that most Allington people attended the chapel. (fn. 277) It was registered for the solemnizing of marriages in 1881 (fn. 278) and remained a prominent social centre in the village until the 20th century. It was closed from c. 1927 to 1937 but then reopened. (fn. 279) Weekly services were held in it in 1971.
A Sunday school in All Cannings was supported by voluntary contributions in 1808. (fn. 280) There was a day-school for about 100 children by 1818, but during the week many of them worked in the fields instead of attending it. (fn. 281) By 1833 there were two day-schools in the village. The parish school, built in 1833 at the east end of the church, was attended by 57 boys and 48 girls taught by a salaried mistress, and was supported by subscription. At the other school 12 children were taught at their parents' expense, but this school was closed by 1858. (fn. 282) The parish school was improved by aid from the Committee of Council on Education. Children left it at the age of ten or twelve in 1864. (fn. 283) By 1906 the average attendance was 107 (fn. 284) but had declined to 81 in 1914. (fn. 285) The school was reorganized as a controlled all-age school in 1961, (fn. 286) but in 1971 only 54 pupils attended it, including about 10 from Etchilhampton and about 7 from Allington. (fn. 287)
A day-school at Allington was opened in 1831. It was supported by the parents and was attended by 20 children in 1833. (fn. 288) There was apparently no special building for the school (fn. 289) which was closed by 1858. (fn. 290)
Charities for the Poor.
By her will proved 1830 Ann Lavington gave £500 in trust, the income from which was to be distributed to the poor of All Cannings whether or not they already received parochial aid. In 1834 the income, £16 a year, was spent on blankets and clothing distributed every January. In 1868 the annual dividend was £13 10s. which was spent on flannel. Each of about 95 beneficiaries received 3 yards. In 1965 the income, still £13 10s., was distributed in sums of 10s. to each of 27 poor people. Residents of the tithing of Allington were not beneficiaries of the charity. (fn. 291) In 1971 sums of 10s. were still distributed. (fn. 292)
By his will proved 1883 Henry Hoare Methuen, previously assistant curate of All Cannings, gave £150 in trust, the income from which was to be distributed to the sick and aged poor of All Cannings and Etchilhampton in sums of not less than 1s. 6d., two-thirds of the total being paid to residents of All Cannings, a third to residents of Etchilhampton. In the early 20th century the income was £3 14s., the All Cannings portion of which was usually spent by the rector to provide blankets worth 5s. each for some ten people. In 1965 the total income of the charity was £2 4s. and four people each received 10s. in cash. (fn. 293) In 1971 the income was applied with Lavington's charity.
In 1905 G. S. A. Waylen bought £193 stock to benefit the poor of All Cannings and until 1935 he and members of his family, as trustees, added the interest to the village nurse fund. In 1935 the Waylens appointed new trustees and in 1962 the fund was regulated by a scheme. Local trustees were appointed with power to spend the income to the general benefit of the poor. In 1965 the income from £187 was £6 11s. and in that year eight people each received £1 in cash from the fund. (fn. 294) In 1971 the interest was applied with Lavington's charity.