A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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The parish of Woodborough lies mainly in the Vale of Pewsey some 7 miles from Devizes and 3½ miles from Pewsey. (fn. 1) It is roughly rectangular but with a north-western projection taking in the hamlet of Honey Street. Its 1,023 a. are bounded in the south by the road to Pewsey and by the path which was perhaps an older, more direct, road to Pewsey, and also by a small stream flowing westwards towards Beechingstoke and eventually into the Christchurch Avon. The western boundary is also marked by a stream, flowing southwards from the Kennet & Avon Canal to the Avon. From Honey Street the northern boundary turns south and for a short distance follows the Avebury-Amesbury road. Part of this road is on the Ridge Way, called Honey Street where it crossed the muddy part of the Pewsey Vale, from which the hamlet took its name. (fn. 2) The boundary then loops northwards and eastwards to enclose Woodborough Hill, and passes southwards to join the old path to Pewsey in the south-east.
Lower Chalk outcrops in the north of the parish, above about 425 ft., but there are Upper Greensand outcrops in the rest of the parish, covered by alluvium around the confluence of the two boundary streams in the extreme south-west. The land slopes generally north-east to south-west. In the northeast Woodborough Hill rises to 671 ft., but there is lower land, below 375 ft., in the centre and southeast where the stream flowing out of the Altons has cut a valley through the parish. Except for the lowlying and wetter places near to this stream most of the parish is open to cultivation. The chalk outcrops of the north have favoured arable cultivation except near the summit of the hill where the gradient is steep, and in the well drained parts of the south the greensand has favoured both meadow and arable cultivation.
Romano-British discoveries have been made near Honey Street (fn. 3) but, apart from that, there is no evidence of ancient settlement in the parish. Woodborough was assessed for taxation in 1334 at 28s. and there were 47 poll-tax payers in 1377. (fn. 4) Both those totals were comparatively low and the parish was evidently no more prosperous by the 16th century. Only the rector was assessed for taxation in 1545, and the assessment for the subsidy of 1576 was also low. (fn. 5) In the 19th century, however, it is possible that developments in farming and commerce (see below) resulted in greater relative prosperity in the parish. In 1801 the population was 326 and it rose to a peak of over 400 in the decade 1851–61. It then declined to 363 in 1871, partly because men temporarily resident in 1861 to build the railway had left the parish, but rose again to 424 in 1891. It has slowly declined since then and was 270 in 1971. (fn. 6)
Two roads provide access to the parish. The Avebury-Amesbury road crosses the west of the parish from north to south. That road was turnpiked under an Act of 1840 (fn. 7) and improved in 1842 by Samuel Robbins, (fn. 8) possibly in order to distribute more easily coal arriving at his Honey Street wharf. Leading eastwards from that road is the road to Pewsey, and a green road also leads from it to Stanton St. Bernard and All Cannings.
Woodborough was crossed by the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1807. (fn. 9) The whole canal was complete in 1810 providing inland water communication between Bristol and London. (fn. 10) In 1811 work was started on building a wharf at Honey Street which became a local distribution centre for cargoes carried on the canal, especially coal. (fn. 11) Passenger barges also used the canal and people may have been conveyed by this means to the market at Devizes. From 1862, however, Devizes could be reached by rail from Woodborough, for in that year the Berks. & Hants Extension Railway was opened. (fn. 12) That did not cross the parish but the village was served by a station called Woodborough station in Beechingstoke parish. The line, extended southwest to Westbury in 1900, gave rapid access to London and was used to carry the dairy produce of the parish to the markets there. (fn. 13) Woodborough station was closed in 1966. (fn. 14)
There are four main areas of settlement in Woodborough. The oldest and largest is south-west of the church. It lies on the Upper Greensand, most of it between the 375 ft. and 400 ft. contours. The church and several large farm-houses are situated there. The streets and paths make the form of an M based on the Pewsey road. On the west of the base are Manor House and the post office. At the end of Church Lane, which forms the eastern arm of the M, is the church. South-west of it are the Old Rectory and the Methodist chapel. East of it is Church Farm. A large 19th-century house is at the south end of Church Lane and the new Rectory is also in the lane. Beside the Rectory is a 17thcentury thatched cottage having a front gable with exposed timbering, and possibly comprising parts of an older cottage. There are several other 17thcentury cottages in the village; a group of 18thcentury cottages stands at the south end of Church Lane; and there are some 20th-century council houses opposite the Rectory. Another area of old settlement, known locally as Little Woodborough, is about ½ mile west of the village at the junction of the old Avebury-Amesbury and Pewsey roads. The village smithy and the Rose and Crown stood there. (fn. 15) In the later 18th century it was the custom to adjourn the biennial meeting of Swanborough hundred court at Swanborough Tump to the Rose and Crown. (fn. 16) After the railway was built, however, a new section of the Avebury-Amesbury road was made east of Little Woodborough and the settlement there declined. The Rose and Crown had become a temperance hotel by 1915 and was demolished soon afterwards. (fn. 17) Settlement grew up at the junction of the Pewsey road and the new Avebury-Amesbury road and the Station Hotel was built there between 1903 and 1907. (fn. 18) By the late 18th century at the latest there was a settlement at Honey Street. (fn. 19) It was enlarged after the wharf was built in 1811 and other economic activity developed around it. In 1854 buildings at the wharf were burnt. They were rebuilt and the wharf enlarged in 1855 and the chimney, which has become a local landmark, was built in 1859. (fn. 20) Although the building of which it formed part has been replaced, the chimney was still standing in 1969. In 1871 a workmen's hall was erected and church services were regularly held there, (fn. 21) but the hall was derelict by the mid 20th century. Honey Street is served by the Barge public house which, although part of the hamlet, is situated in the parish of Stanton St. Bernard. Between Honey Street and Little Woodborough is a small group of cottages and early-20th-century council houses beside the Avebury-Amesbury road.
Saulf held Woodborough T.R.E. (fn. 22) Robert son of Gerald held it in 1086 and was succeeded by his nephew William de Roumare, created earl of Lincoln c. 1141, who, after a period of defiance to the king, entered his inheritance in 1128. (fn. 23) William was succeeded before 1161 by his grandson William (d.s.p. c. 1198) who was then a minor. He was of age by 1166 when his lands probably included the manor of WOODBOROUGH since land in Wiltshire was held of him by John Rivers whose forebear Jocelin held Woodborough of Robert son of Gerald in 1086. (fn. 24) In the time of Richard I the manor was held by Geoffrey son of Peter, earl of Essex, but it is unclear how he acquired it. (fn. 25) He may have acquired it in 1185 with the inheritance of his brother Robert, for the inheritance included the manor of Cherhill of which the manor of Woodborough was later held, and it is therefore possible that Woodborough passed from William de Roumare to Robert son of Peter in the period 1166–85. (fn. 26) It is also possible, however, that Geoffrey son of Peter acquired the manor in some other way. Geoffrey was succeeded in 1213 by his sons Geoffrey de Mandeville (d. 1216) and William de Mandeville (d. 1227), both earls of Essex. (fn. 27) Part of William's inheritance passed to John son of Geoffrey, his half-brother, who held the manor in 1235–6, (fn. 28) and John (d. 1258) was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 29) Except between 1265 and 1268, when he was deprived of his lands for opposition to Henry III, (fn. 30) John son of John seems to have held it until his death in 1275, (fn. 31) and was succeeded by his son Richard who died seised in 1297. (fn. 32)
The lands of Richard son of John were partitioned after his death and the manor was allotted to his eldest sister Maud, wife of William de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick. (fn. 33) She died in 1301 when it presumably passed to her son Guy, earl of Warwick (d. 1315), who was succeeded by his infant son Thomas. (fn. 34) In 1329 Thomas, earl of Warwick, entered his lands and in 1361 settled the manor on himself and his wife, and on his heirs. (fn. 35) His first son, Guy, died without issue and he was succeeded in 1369 by Thomas, his second son, (fn. 36) who held it until his disinheritance in 1397. (fn. 37) There is no evidence that the manor was subsequently granted by Richard II, but, if it was, it may either have been to Roger Mortimer, earl of March (d. 1399), who was apparently granted the advowson of Woodborough church, or to John, marquess of Dorset, who had the manor of Cherhill. (fn. 38) In 1400, however, Woodborough was restored with his other lands to Thomas, earl of Warwick, who died seised in the following year and was succeeded by his son Richard (d. 1439). (fn. 39) Richard's heir was his son Henry, created duke of Warwick 1445, who died seised in 1446. (fn. 40) The manor may then have been allotted as dower to Cecily, Henry's widow. (fn. 41) In 1477 it was held by George, duke of Clarence, (fn. 42) so that it presumably reverted, after the death of Cecily in 1450, to the heirs of Henry, duke of Warwick. Since his daughter Anne had died without issue, the manor probably passed to Anne, countess of Warwick, sister of Henry and wife of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. It may then have been allotted to George, duke of Clarence, who, with Richard, duke of Gloucester, was granted Richard Neville's lands after his death in 1471 at the battle of Barnet in the rights of their wives, Richard's daughters, as if Anne, countess of Warwick, was already dead. (fn. 43) The manor thus seems to have been held by George, duke of Clarence, from 1471 until it passed to the Crown on his attainder in 1478. (fn. 44) After the victory of Henry VII in 1485 the exclusion of Anne, countess of Warwick, was reversed, and her lands restored, but only to enable her to convey them to the king in 1487. (fn. 45)
Robert son of Gerald's feoffee at Woodborough in 1086 was Jocelin, almost certainly Jocelin Rivers who held Zeals in Mere. (fn. 46) The manor descended in the Rivers family. It was held in the 12th century by Walter Rivers whose son John succeeded him. (fn. 47) John Rivers was succeeded by his son Walter who died during the overlordship of Geoffrey son of Peter (d. 1213), and whose daughter and heir Cecily was a minor in Geoffrey's wardship. When Cecily died without issue, probably before 1208, the manor reverted to the five daughters of the elder Walter Rivers. (fn. 48)
One portion was apparently held by Reynold Rivers in 1208 perhaps as heir to one of Walter Rivers's daughters. (fn. 49) Reynold died before 1241 leaving a daughter as heir, (fn. 50) but the land was held until at least 1249 by his widow Gillian. (fn. 51) It somehow passed by 1258 to Richard Rivers, presumably another relative of the elder Walter Rivers. Richard was apparently succeeded by Adam Rivers who held that portion at least from 1278 to 1310. (fn. 52) His heir was his son Richard who was seised in 1315. (fn. 53) In 1331 Iseult, widow of Adam Rivers, still held some of the land as dower, but the rest of this portion of the manor was conveyed by Richard Rivers to John Berner. Remainder after the death of John and his wife was to Peter Rivers who had married Margaret, daughter of John Berner, (fn. 54) but after 1331 the Rivers family was not mentioned as holding land in Woodborough and this portion of the manor seems to have descended in the Berner family. Another John Berner held land in Woodborough in 1361. (fn. 55) He probably died c. 1385 leaving as heirs his widow Joan and two daughters, Joan, and Alice, wife of Thomas Faringdon. The widow Joan and Joan her daughter conveyed their land in 1387 to trustees of John Clevedon, and in 1388 Thomas and Alice did the same with their land. (fn. 56)
A second portion of the manor was held in 1242 by Galiena of Turville, by 1249 the wife of William of Grimstead. (fn. 57) They were apparently succeeded by John Grimstead, a claimant to the advowson of Woodborough church in 1310. (fn. 58) In 1306 John granted his land in Woodborough to his eldest son William, who died without issue. The land passed to John Grimstead's second son John who had sons named John and Thomas. John died without issue and the land passed to Thomas Grimstead. Thomas also died without issue, and his portion of the manor passed to Peter Grimstead, the third son of the elder John Grimstead. (fn. 59) The land, however, was apparently held of Peter for life by Gillian, widow of the eldest John, (fn. 60) who held it in 1326. (fn. 61) In 1350 Peter granted reversion in these lands to Thomas of Zeals, possibly the son of Gillian and John of Zeals, and in 1354, possibly after the death of Gillian, Peter quitclaimed his land in Woodborough to Thomas. (fn. 62) Subsequently this portion of the manor may have been acquired by Matthew Clevedon whose family, like the Riverses and Thomas of Zeals, also had interests in Zeals. (fn. 63) In 1386 Matthew declared that John Berner had not released to him the land of Thomas of Zeals, and it is likely that the then unconsummated conveyance later took place. (fn. 64) Matthew was dead by 1391 when his lands were settled on his son, John Clevedon. (fn. 65)
The two portions of the elder Walter Rivers's land held by John Clevedon were known together as the manor of Woodborough. (fn. 66) John still held the land in 1412. (fn. 67) but was dead by 1443 when it was held by his widow Alice. (fn. 68) She died c. 1457 when the land was settled on John Clevedon of Corton with reversion at his death to the coheirs of John and Alice Clevedon. They were their daughters Jane, Elizabeth, and Isabel, the wives of William Hyndeston (possibly Hillersdon), John More, and Robert Whiting. (fn. 69)
After the death of John Clevedon of Corton in 1477 two-thirds of the manor seem to have reverted to the heirs of John Clevedon (d. by 1443), later named as John More, Robert Whiting, and Robert Hillersdon, possibly the heir of William Hyndeston, or the second husband of his widow. (fn. 70) In 1483 they leased the land, (fn. 71) later called Hillersdons farm, (fn. 72) and they still held it in 1496. (fn. 73) Afterwards, however, it was allotted to Joan, widow of Robert Hillersdon (d. 1499), who leased it in 1513. (fn. 74) Her heir was her son, Andrew Hillersdon (probably d. 1539), who was succeeded by his son John (d. 1568 or 1569). (fn. 75) John apparently settled the land on his son Andrew who conveyed it to John Bartlett of All Cannings in 1564. (fn. 76) That conveyance was apparently confirmed in 1580 by a quitclaim of Christopher, son of Andrew Hillersdon, to John Bartlett (d. 1585). (fn. 77) Meanwhile Bartlett had already conveyed his interests in the land to his brother Edmund (d. 1583) who had possibly been the lessee since 1546. (fn. 78) Edmund Bartlett died while his son Edward was a minor, and Edward did not enter the lands until 1603, when he immediately sold his part of the manor to Edward Hooper and his son Thomas. (fn. 79) Edward Hooper occupied the land in 1604, (fn. 80) but by 1618 it had been sold to William Button. (fn. 81)
The other third of John Clevedon of Corton's manor passed at his death in 1477 to his son, also called John Clevedon, (fn. 82) who seems to have been succeeded by George Clevedon. George's daughter and heir Mary, wife of William Smith, sold the land, then and later called the manor of Woodborough, (fn. 83) but hereinafter referred to as Woodborough farm, to William Button in 1546. (fn. 84) Button was succeeded in 1547 by his son William. (fn. 85) That William was succeeded in 1591 by his second son William who entered and died seised in 1599 leaving another William Button (d. 1654–5) as his heir. (fn. 86) It was this last William Button who bought Hillersdons farm.
William Button's composite manor of Woodborough descended in the same way as the manor of Lyneham to the Walker-Heneage family. (fn. 87) In 1862 George Walker-Heneage sold it to Welbore Agar, earl of Normanton, and it passed with the Normanton title until Sidney, earl of Normanton, sold it in 1917. (fn. 88)
Two houses were attached to this composite manor. The house attached to Woodborough farm, and occupied by its lessees, was called the manor-house of Woodborough. It is an enlarged brick farm-house of two storeys with a thatched roof situated about 200 yds. south-west of the church. The central part of it dates from the late 18th century, the rest from the 19th. The farm-house attached to the land of Hillersdons farm, the demesne land of which was later called Church farm, is also a two-storeyed building of the 18th century. It has vitreous brick walls with red-brick panels and a tiled roof. It is situated by the east end of the church.
One of the other portions of the manor held in the 12th century by Walter Rivers became a reputed manor. In 1258 Henry Aubrey was heir of one of Walter's five daughters. (fn. 89) He died c. 1278 leaving his sister Clarice and grand-nephew Maurice as heirs, (fn. 90) but his portion of the manor may somehow have passed to Laurence Charpville who died in 1297 seised in his wife's right of what was apparently part of the manor of which Richard son of John was overlord. (fn. 91) William Charpville, Laurence's son, was heir, and claimed to present to Woodborough church in 1310 as one of the heirs of the five daughters. (fn. 92) After his death c. 1329 a third of this land passed to his widow, and two-thirds to his son, also called William. (fn. 93) That William died seised in 1330 leaving as heir his daughter Joan. (fn. 94) She later enfeoffed Thomas Ossington of Essex in the land, which then seems to have included the former dower lands of the elder William Charpville's widow. (fn. 95) In 1390 Thomas conveyed that estate to John Forster, the lessee of John Clevedon's manor. (fn. 96) Forster was dead by 1411 and his lands were held in trust for his widow and children. (fn. 97) Their subsequent descent is not clear, but they seem likely to have been the basis of the estate in Woodborough held by John Benger in 1512, and settled on Richard Benger, his grandson. (fn. 98) Richard died seised in 1529 leaving as heir his sister Anne, wife of Thomas Smith, and she and her husband were seised of the land, then reputed a manor. (fn. 99) Anne married secondly Thomas Derby and she was still alive in 1573. The land was then settled on Thomas, son of Ralph Henslowe, (fn. 100) and in 1594 he conveyed it to John Miles who was already the lessee. (fn. 101) Miles presumably held it until his death c. 1639. He left a son Henry, (fn. 102) but the estate seems to have left his family. It was probably held by Mary Lawrence (d. 1663), (fn. 103) whose heir was her daughter Mary. That Mary was a minor in 1664, but had entered the land by 1671. (fn. 104) In 1690 it was apparently settled on her daughter Anne, wife of John Cullum who leased it in 1691. (fn. 105) John died in 1711 and the land was held by his son Thomas, who died seised in 1717 leaving his daughters as heirs. (fn. 106) In 1732 the land was purchased by John Walker and subsequently became part of the Walker-Heneages' manor of Woodborough. (fn. 107)
Another part of Walter Rivers's manor was held by Henry de Helvington in 1258. (fn. 108) It passed to Denise de Helvington alias Essex who died seised in 1300 leaving her son William as heir. (fn. 109) By 1310, however, the land had apparently been conveyed to William Sorel who then claimed to present to Woodborough church as heir of one of Walter Rivers's daughters. (fn. 110) The estate of some 50 a. of which he died seised in 1344 was later said to be part of the earl of Warwick's land in Woodborough. (fn. 111) William Sorel's heir was his son Richard, who was licensed by the king to convey the land to John Claverley and his wife Joan. (fn. 112) After Joan's death in 1362 the land escheated to the Crown because of John's bastardy and was granted in 1363 to John Colingbourne. (fn. 113) Between 1363 and 1418 the land was held in custody by several royal servants, (fn. 114) but the occupancy of the Colingbourne family was apparently unaffected, for in 1428 it was still held by Joan, the daughter of John Colingbourne. (fn. 115) In 1455 it was granted to Nicholas Gilbert whose heir was his son John, (fn. 116) and it was presumably that John Gilbert who held the land in 1514. (fn. 117) Claverleys, as the land was still called, was granted in 1547 to Sir William Herbert, created earl of Pembroke 1551, and was then occupied by John Hide. (fn. 118) Lord Pembroke presumably surrendered the estate, however, for in 1573 it was granted by Elizabeth I to Robert Hide. (fn. 119) In 1602 a lawsuit was in progress between Ambrose Button, the eldest son of William Button (d. 1591), and William Button (d. 1654–5), then a minor, over the lease of the land from the Hide family, (fn. 120) and it was about this time that Ambrose Button seems to have bought it. After the death of Ambrose it was sold in 1615 by his brothers Henry and Edward to their nephew William. (fn. 121) Claverleys thereafter became part of the composite manor of the Button and Walker-Heneage family.
The other portion of Walter Rivers's manor which, like Claverleys, was never reputed a manor, was held in 1208 by Thomas de Erle. (fn. 122) It descended to Giles de Erle by 1242, (fn. 123) and in 1258 was held by Geoffrey de Erle. (fn. 124) James de Erle held it in 1310, (fn. 125) and the land remained in the Erle family until at least 1326 when it was held by John de Erle, (fn. 126) but thereafter its descent is unknown.
Not all the land in Woodborough was held of the earls of Essex and later of the earls of Warwick. In 1307 Sir Adam de la Forde held land there. (fn. 127) By 1326 Sir Adam was dead and his land, apparently a small manor, was held for life by William Randolf. (fn. 128) By 1338 it had reverted to Sir Adam's son Sir Adam who then settled it on himself and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 129) The subsequent descent of the land is not clear, but it seems to have been that held by Aucher Frank in 1412, (fn. 130) and may have been the manor held by Philip Franklin in 1604. (fn. 131) Franklin's manor was held in the mid 17th century by Richard Franklin, (fn. 132) and in 1678 by John Franklin. (fn. 133) John's heir was his son John who succeeded him between 1702 and 1706. (fn. 134) In 1731, however, the land was bought by Thomas Chandler, the husband of the sister of the younger John Franklin, and possibly already lessee. (fn. 135) Thomas Chandler (d. 1781) devised the land to his nephew, Robert Baden, who was succeeded in 1806 by Andrew Baden, son of Edward Smith Baden. (fn. 136) Andrew (d. 1819) devised it to his son Andrew who held it until 1862 when it was purchased by Henry Ettwell. (fn. 137) In 1866 Ettwell sold it to Welbore, earl of Normanton, and the land passed with the Normanton title until the sale in 1917. (fn. 138)
Three farms included most of the land of Woodborough after 1917. Church farm, owned until 1936 by C. Langdon, subsequently belonged to members of the Waight family, and in 1969 to Mr. E. Waight. Part of its land, however, was bought by a Mr. Lawrence in 1936 and acquired in 1965 by New College, Oxford. (fn. 139) Honey Street farm was owned from 1917 until the early 1950s by the firm of Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger, and afterwards by Mr. H. F. Trowbridge. In 1969 Hursts farm belonged to Mr. J. W. Nosworthy. (fn. 140)
There was land for 5 ploughs on the 10-hide estate at Woodborough which was worth £7 T.R.E. and £10 in 1086. Of these, 4 were on the 7 demesne hides with 5 serfs, and 1 was on the 3 tenant hides held by 5 villeins, 11 coscez, and 1 bordar. There were 50 a. of meadow, 50 a. of pasture, and 10 a. of brushwood. (fn. 141)
Information about the medieval economy of Woodborough can be derived only from occasional surveys of small parts of the parish. A large proportion of each estate there seems to have been demesne land. When the manor was partitioned in the early 13th century the commonable waste belonging to it was divided among the parceners. An inclosed area of 3 a. of their allotment was used by William of Grimstead and his wife Galiena to construct 'houses and buildings', probably a new demesne farm. (fn. 142) In the late 13th and early 14th centuries the lands of William Charpville (d. c. 1329), Denise de Helvington, and Adam Rivers all had a preponderance of demesne land. (fn. 143) Much of it was almost certainly leased. In the late 14th century John Clevedon's land was leased to John Forster, and in the early 15th century to John Pinckney. (fn. 144) It is also likely that other feoffees exploited their land in that way. Since demesnes were large there was no large block of customary land or tenants. Four customers held of Denise de Helvington paying cash rents totalling 12s. a year and owing autumn labour services. William Charpville received a similar rent from some of his tenants and another two customers owed rents and services worth a total of 2s. 9½d. a year. (fn. 145)
Medieval surveys indicate an apparently strong concentration on arable farming. (fn. 146) By 1326 Woodborough may already have been divided into four common arable fields, one in each quarter of the parish, for a reference was then made to Little Clay and East Sands, two common arable fields whose names suggest the existence of two more. (fn. 147) Sheep stints were also mentioned, but they were small compared with those of neighbouring parishes since Woodborough included no extensive area of upland used solely for pasture. (fn. 148) Sheep and other animals presumably fed on the common arable fields and on the lowland pastures and waste lands.
In the 16th and 17th centuries there were four or five large demesne farms in the parish. The farm belonging to the Franklin family comprised some 200 a. of arable, meadow, and pasture in 1648. (fn. 149) The farm leased to John Miles in 1593 and subsequently bought by him amounted to some 180 a. (fn. 150) The farm acquired in 1546 by William Button, later called Woodborough farm, was leased to Thomas Stratton in 1608 and he and another Thomas Stratton held it for most of the 17th century. (fn. 151) No precise acreage can be given for Woodborough farm at the time, but, to judge from later evidence, it was as large as Franklin's and Miles's farms and usually its tenant also held the 57 a. of Claverleys. (fn. 152) The land held in the 16th century by the Hillersdon family was leased in 1513 to John Button, father of William Button (d. 1547), but the attempt by John Hillersdon (d. c. 1568) to remove William from the farm seems to have been successful. (fn. 153) From the early 17th century it was leased in moieties. By 1609 one moiety had been leased to Thomas Dyke of Stanton St. Bernard, and was held until at least 1815 by members of the Dyke family, including another Thomas, Daniel, Jerome, Jonathan, and William. (fn. 154) The other moiety was leased to Daniel Dyke in 1674 and the farm was not subsequently divided. (fn. 155) No precise acreage for the 16th and 17th centuries can be given for the farm which formed the basis of what was later called Church farm. To judge by later evidence, however, it was larger than the other farms in the parish, and each moiety may possibly have been of comparable size to the others.
With those four or five large farms in the parish there was no large area of land held by copy. The rents from the estate acquired by William Button from William Smith in 1546 were £3 15s. 6d. in 1618 and from Claverleys £1. (fn. 156) Of those rents five copyholders paid a total of £1, but only two of the copyhold farms were substantial. In 1618 William Button (d. 1654–5) also received total rents of £9 from the land acquired from Edward Hooper. Of that rent £5 was paid for the two demesne farms and £4 for the seven copyholds of which only two or three were of appreciable size. (fn. 157) In the 17th century Richard Franklin had eight tenants. Most of them were cottagers, however, and none held more than a few acres. (fn. 158) A few cottagers similarly held of John Miles whose estate was later said to have a rent value of £3 16s. 8d. (fn. 159)
The predominance of several large farms in the parish may have made possible a change in field arrangements in the 17th century. Until c. 1665 the parish was divided into four common arable fields. In the north where the soil is heavy were East Clay and West Clay fields, and on the greensand of the south were East Sands and West Sands fields. (fn. 160) Shortly afterwards the two southern fields were inclosed. (fn. 161) Arable cultivation continued in common in East Clay and West Clay fields, but meadow land, previously cultivated in common, was inclosed, (fn. 162) and specified interests were allotted in the common pasture in the west of the parish. (fn. 163)
Arable cultivation in East Clay and West Clay fields continued in common during the 18th century, but the two fields were possibly inclosed soon after 1797 when a map of the parish was made. (fn. 164) Arable farming remained predominant in the parish in the 18th century. When it was acquired by Thomas Chandler in 1731, Franklin's farm included 110 a. of arable, 32 a. of meadow, and 3½ a. of pasture, and it is likely that other farmers had land in similar proportions. (fn. 165)
By the late 18th century there were only three large farms in the parish. The Dyke family still held Church farm, and in 1779 Jerome Dyke acquired Miles's farm. (fn. 166) The tenure of Woodborough farm, which was still held with Claverleys, was converted from leases for lives to short-term leases in 1704, (fn. 167) and the farm leased at an improved rent of £93 in 1717. (fn. 168) The third large farm consisted of some 173 a. held by Thomas Chandler, previously Franklin's farm. Thomas's brother William also held some five yardlands of the Walkers, (fn. 169) but in 1756 John Walker induced him to surrender 2½ yardlands which were added to Woodborough farm in 1774. (fn. 170) Some 30 cottagers held from John Walker-Heneage in 1794. (fn. 171)
By 1838 at the latest all the land in Woodborough was cultivated in severalty. The common arable fields of East Clay and West Clay had been inclosed and the land divided between the farmers of the parish. Even on Woodborough Hill the size of the fields was therefore much reduced. The concentration on arable farming was then less pronounced. There were 584 a. of arable, 352 a. of meadow and pasture, and 30 a. of wood. (fn. 172) The conversion of arable to pasture continued until in 1917 there were 363 a. of arable and 524 a. of meadow and pasture. (fn. 173) The proportions were approximately the same in 1969. The expansion of the acreage permanently under grass was part of the growth of dairy farming in the 19th century encouraged by the existence of much land suitable for cattle pasture and by the easy access to markets afforded by the railway.
In the 19th century the farming units in Woodborough took the shapes that they have kept for much of the 20th century. By 1819 John Clift (d. 1857) occupied Church farm (fn. 174) and by 1838 held Andrew Baden's land. (fn. 175) In 1838 John Clift thus held 580 a. but that farm was broken up by the 1850s. (fn. 176) In 1802 Woodborough farm, 230 a., was leased to Harry Robbins, (fn. 177) succeeded as lessee by his son William (d. 1840), whose brother Samuel held a farm of 67 a. (fn. 178) and developed Honey Street wharf (see below).
Until the mid 19th century the land of all the farms was scattered throughout the parish, but, probably between 1862 and 1868 but possibly earlier, an exchange of lands took place between the tenants of Woodborough and Church farms. All the land of Church farm west of the Avebury-Amesbury road was made over to Woodborough farm, and almost all the land of Woodborough farm east of that road was made over to Church farm. (fn. 179) That enabled the firm of Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger, the tenant of Woodborough farm, to become almost exclusively concerned with cattle farming. Baden's land was divided after 1868. The land in the east became part of Church farm, and the land in the west part of Woodborough farm. In 1917 Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger held 274 a. in the west, most of which was farmed in two units, Hursts farm and Honey Street farm. (fn. 180) In 1917 Church farm comprised 580 a. in the east of the parish. (fn. 181) The consolidation under single management of all the land in the north-east of the parish, including the whole of Woodborough Hill, most of which was suitable for arable cultivation, made possible the enlargement of the fields. By 1969 the arable land above the canal was nearly all cultivated as a single field of over 200 a.
The parish seems to have been a local centre for some of the leather trades. In the mid 18th century there were three shoemakers in the village, (fn. 182) and at other times there was a glover, (fn. 183) a collar-maker, (fn. 184) a saddler and harness-maker, (fn. 185) and another shoemaker. (fn. 186) By the 20th century those trades were no longer followed in the parish. In 1839 a field beside the Avebury-Amesbury road just south of Honey Street was called Brickkiln hurst, evidence of brickmaking in the parish in an earlier period. (fn. 187)
Other employment was provided after 1811 at the Honey Street wharf of Samuel Robbins. The firm of Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger built barges at the wharf, for use not only on the Kennet & Avon Canal, but also on the rivers Wey and Avon and the Basingstoke Canal. Some of their barges were therefore large and were distinguished by the fact that they were steered from a platform in front of the stern cabin. (fn. 188) A steam-driven saw-mill was set up at the wharf in the late 1850s, (fn. 189) and the firm dealt in wood, coal, and slate which were distributed from Honey Street. (fn. 190) The firm also carried acid because Ebenezer Lane, Robbins's son-in-law, was a pioneer in the manufacture of chemical fertilizers which were produced on a site a little to the south of the canal. (fn. 191) As the canal fell into disuse, however, those economic activities declined and the wharf was sold in the early 1950s. (fn. 192) A saw-mill, powered by electricity, remained on the south side of the canal and the buildings on the north side were occupied by a rag processing company.
Mill. In 1086 the mill at Woodborough was worth 12s. 6d. (fn. 193) In the Middle Ages it passed with the Rivers portion of the manor to the Berner and Clevedon families. (fn. 194) It passed to the heirs of John Clevedon of Corton in 1477 and became part of Hillersdons farm. (fn. 195) It does not seem to have been conveyed with the rest of the farm to Edmund Bartlett in 1565 because in 1572 John Bartlett sold it to John Noyes. (fn. 196) In 1599 Noyes conveyed it to Richard Noyes who held it in 1604. (fn. 197) The Noyes and Miles families were related by marriage and the mill was subsequently held by the owners of Miles's farm. (fn. 198) In the late 17th and early 18th centuries it was therefore owned by the Lawrence and Cullum families, and in 1719 was acquired by Richard Amor, the lessee of Miles's farm. (fn. 199) Amor devised the mill and its small estate to Harry Amor who entered in 1742. (fn. 200) He apparently sold the mill immediately to Edward Hazeland, then its occupier, and it remained in the Hazeland family until 1831 when it was sold to John Clift. (fn. 201) The small mill estate remained in the Amor family until 1811 when it was sold by Harry Amor, the grand-nephew of the elder Harry Amor, to John Neate who may then have occupied the mill. (fn. 202) In 1818 Neate sold the land to John Gale but in 1823 Geoffrey Dyke, Gale's mortgagee, was able to enter the lands which were sold by Dyke's heirs to John Clift in 1841. (fn. 203) Clift thus owned both the mill and its water-meadows and in 1855 he sold them to William Wyld, rector of Woodborough. (fn. 204) In 1866 Wyld sold them to Welbore, earl of Normanton. (fn. 205)
The mill was situated at the west end of Woodborough village and was powered by the water of the stream flowing south from the Altons. By c. 1868 the mill was no longer used, (fn. 206) and was subsequently demolished. The mill-house is a brick building largely of the 18th century with a thatched roof.
Court records exist for William Button's manor of Woodborough for the years 1561–7. (fn. 207) The courts were held for Woodborough 'cum membris' which included Button's land in Bottle, Oare, Manningford Bohune, and Marden. All of them were deemed part of his manor of Woodborough for administrative purposes. The courts were held twice yearly. The jury of presentment consisted of Button's tenants and the courts dealt with tenurial matters including admissions and the disrepair of manorial buildings. Through these courts Button also claimed to exercise leet jurisdiction over the land of others in the parish. There was thus an attempt in 1561 to amerce John Miles and Edmund Bartlett for failing to scour the stream flowing through Woodborough, and to make and enforce on all the inhabitants of the parish regulations governing the use of common agricultural land. It was perhaps possible for Button's heirs to do this more effectively in the 17th and 18th centuries when they had acquired most other land in the parish. Court records also exist for the years 1819–41. (fn. 208) The courts were said to be views or leets with courts baron. Business dealt with under public and private jurisdictions was recorded under different rubrics. Leet business included the election of a tithingman and a hayward, and the jury sometimes presented offences like encroachments on the waste. Manorial business was presented by the homage, usually only one or two tenants, who presented, but did not fully recite, the customs of the manor. They presented deaths of tenants when they occurred, and after their presentments any necessary surrenders and admissions were performed.
Although not explicitly mentioned until 1258, presentations were made to Woodborough church at least in the reign of Richard I. (fn. 212) The advowson was disputed in 1258 by the overlord of Woodborough and his feoffees, Richard Rivers, William Grimstead, Henry de Helvington, Henry Aubrey, and Geoffrey de Erle, who claimed that in the 12th century Walter Rivers had held the advowson of the church as well as the manor of Woodborough, and had presented. Two presentations in the reign of Richard I by the overlord, Geoffrey son of Peter, were, they claimed, made because of his wardship of Cecily Rivers, and, after her death, because of his delay in enfeoffing the heirs of Walter Rivers. A further presentation was made by the bishop between 1217 and 1228 since neither the overlord nor the feoffees had presented. (fn. 213) The death of the rector then appointed led to the case of 1258, in which judgement favoured John son of Geoffrey, the overlord, and Richard son of John was therefore described later as patron of the church. (fn. 214) After Richard's death in 1297 the advowson became part of the dower of his widow Emma (d. 1332), who married secondly Robert de Mohaut, steward of Chester, (fn. 215) but the claim of Robert and Emma to present was disputed in 1310. Four rectors were then presented, one by those claiming the right as heirs of Walter Rivers, one by Sir Adam de la Forde, who then held land in Woodborough, one by Guy de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, the son of Richard son of John's sister Maud, and then overlord, and one by Robert de Mohaut. (fn. 216) The attempts to deprive Robert and Emma of the patronage were unsuccessful, however, and their nominee was instituted.
By 1315 the reversion of the advowson after the death of Emma, which had been assigned in 1298 to Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, husband of one of Richard son of John's sisters, (fn. 217) had been acquired by Guy de Beauchamp, (fn. 218) and Thomas, earl of Warwick, presumably became seised of it after Emma died in 1332. It descended thereafter with the overlordship of the manor, but in 1342 there was possibly another dispute for both Thomas, earl of Warwick, and Sir Adam de la Forde presented. (fn. 219) No records of the dispute survive, but the challenge to the earl's right of patronage was clearly defeated for in 1343 he again presented his candidate. (fn. 220) Presentations were thereafter made by the earls of Warwick except that in 1397, after the disinheritance of the earl, the king presented. (fn. 221) The advowson was then granted to Roger Mortimer, who died seised of it in 1399, but he did not present to the church. (fn. 222) After the death of the restored Warwick in 1401, and during the minority of his heir, the Crown again presented, but afterwards the patronage was exercised by the earls of Warwick and their heirs. (fn. 223)
The advowson was acquired by the Crown with the overlordship and four presentations were made by the king between 1511 and 1541. (fn. 224) In 1547 it was granted to Sir William Herbert but he made no presentations and presumably surrendered it (fn. 225) for in 1559 Elizabeth I granted it to William Partridge. (fn. 226) No rectors were presented by Partridge, and in 1563 he sold the advowson to William Button who presented in 1582. (fn. 227) The advowson then descended with the lordship of the manor although the lords did not always present. In 1652 and 1656 rectors of Woodborough were presented under the Great Seal and by the Lord Protector. (fn. 228) Following a grant to him in 1701 presentations were made in 1706 and 1709 by Humphrey Wall, steward of John Button. (fn. 229) In 1718 Heneage Walker granted the advowson to Charles Heneage, his uncle, while he was abroad, but he seems to have returned before a vacancy had arisen. (fn. 230) Charles Gibbes of Urchfont presented in 1764 (fn. 231) but no presentation was made by William Pinckney of Great Bedwyn who in 1800 was granted by John Walker-Heneage the advowsons of Woodborough and Chilton (Berks.) for 50 years, the grant determinable on presentation to either. (fn. 232) Apart from these exceptions the patronage was owned and exercised by the lords of the manor. It was not, however, sold with the manor to Welbore, earl of Normanton, and in 1864 the patron was William Wyld, possibly the nephew of George Walker-Heneage and already rector. (fn. 233) In 1873 he was succeeded by his son, Edwin Wyld, (fn. 234) who was patron until 1907 when he transferred the advowson to the dean and chapter of Salisbury, patrons in 1969. (fn. 235)
In 1928 Honey Street was detached from the ecclesiastical parish of Woodborough and added to that of Alton Barnes. (fn. 236) In 1939 a mediety of the chapelry of Manningford Bohune in Wilsford was annexed to Woodborough. (fn. 237) The rectory was held in plurality with the rectory of Beechingstoke from 1951 and united with it in 1961. (fn. 238) In 1972 that united benefice was united with the benefice of Wilcot, Huish, and Oare to form the benefice of Swanborough. (fn. 239) The vicar in the team ministry established for it lives in Woodborough.
In 1291 the value of the church was said to be £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 240) In 1539 its net value was £9 10s., (fn. 241) and in 1560 it was said to be £10. (fn. 242) By the mid 16th century, however, the rectory was leased for £18 a year, and in 1554, perhaps under duress (see below), it was leased by the rector for £16. (fn. 243) Its net annual value from 1829 to 1831 was £340, making it one of the richer livings of the hundred, but £100 of that was paid to a curate. (fn. 244) In 1864 the value of the glebe and commuted tithes was reckoned at £415. (fn. 245)
The rector received all tithes from the whole parish. They were commuted in 1839 for an annual rent-charge of £311 10s. and their value was £315 in 1864. (fn. 246)
In 1604 the glebe comprised 70½ a. (fn. 247) For unknown reasons two later terriers describe only 62 a. and 63 a., (fn. 248) but in 1839 the glebe was again said to comprise some 71 a. (fn. 249) About 60 a. was then leased and at its sale in 1917 nearly all the glebe was leased for £120 a year. (fn. 250) Since the mid 16th century, at the latest, the rectors who resided in Woodborough lived in the glebe-house south-west of the church. (fn. 251) It was said to be unfit for residence in 1833 and a new building was erected in 1855. (fn. 252) It was sold in 1962 and the rector moved to a house in Church Lane a short distance south of the church. (fn. 253)
In 1538 Nicholas Staunton, the rector, was taken into custody and denounced for complaining when drunk of his poverty and his inability to offer good pay to a prospective curate, and for speaking ill of the king, his patron. (fn. 254) Other rectors may also have found difficulty in serving their parishioners. Thomas Spratt, Staunton's successor, was forcibly removed from the Parsonage at the command of Robert Hungerford, allegedly for immorality and for keeping seditious books, but possibly to force him to lease the parsonage to Thomas Hungerford at a lower rent than he could have obtained elsewhere. (fn. 255) Thomas Dobbs, presented 1582, was in the same year presented as rector of Sutton Veny, 30 miles away. (fn. 256) In the 17th century Francis Bayley, presented 1638, was ejected for his beliefs during the Interregnum. (fn. 257) He was succeeded by Nathaniel Charlton, also rector of Bishop's Hull (Som.) and presumably absent from Woodborough. (fn. 258) In 1656 Isaac Chauncey was presented and in 1660 petitioned the House of Lords to stop his tithes being taken by the sequestered rector, presumably Bayley. (fn. 259) Chauncey was ejected under the Act of Uniformity in 1662 when the church lacked a surplice, Jewell's Apology, and a book of homilies. (fn. 260) Chauncey emigrated to America and Bayley was restored, but he had ecclesiastical preferments elsewhere and may not have been resident. (fn. 261)
In the 18th century rectors seem normally to have lived in Woodborough. Services in 1783 were performed every Sunday by the rector who was also curate of the near-by parish of Patney. Holy Communion was celebrated at the four great festivals for some 30 communicants. (fn. 262) A non-resident rector employed a curate between 1814 and 1833, (fn. 263) but thereafter the rector lived in the Parsonage. Average attendance at services in 1851 was 79 in the morning and 106 in the afternoon. (fn. 264) In 1864, by which time the rector was assisted by a curate, there were 45 communicants of whom about 25–30 attended regularly. Two weekly services were still held for congregations of some 75–95. (fn. 265)
In the 16th century the income from some land in Woodborough was used for the provision of salt for the holy water. (fn. 266) That may be the origin of the charity called Church Lands which was first mentioned in 1783. (fn. 267) The income from small pieces of land was set aside for repairs to the church. The land was said to comprise 1½ a. in 1834, but in 1868 and 1904 2¾ a. The income from it, then £6 a year, was applied to church expenses. (fn. 268) The land was sold in the 1950s. (fn. 269)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE is built of ashlar and has a chancel with north vestry and nave with north aisle and south porch. The 12th-century church consisted of nave and chancel. A new west window was inserted in the 13th century, in the 14th century new north and south windows were placed in the nave and the bell-house on the nave roof perhaps added, and in the 15th century most of the nave was reroofed. The porch was built in the 18th century. (fn. 270) In 1850 the chancel was rebuilt in 13th-century style. (fn. 271) A new nave and aisle were built in 1861 in 13th- and 14th-century style and the vestry, an organ chamber, a west gable bellcot to replace the bell-house, and a new south porch were added. (fn. 272)
There were two bells in 1553. They were replaced by a bell cast in London in 1849, (fn. 273) still in the church.
In 1553 a chalice of 8 oz. was left in the parish and 2 oz. taken for the king. (fn. 274) The modern plate consists of a chalice of 1849, a paten of 1850, a flagon of 1851, and three alms-basins. (fn. 275)
The registers date from 1567 and, apart from a gap of a few years after 1660, are complete. (fn. 276)
In 1676 there were nine dissenters in Woodborough. (fn. 277) In 1783 the rector reported that there was none, (fn. 278) but in 1818 and 1820 the houses of William and Thomas Shipman were registered as dissenters' meeting-places. (fn. 279) A chapel was built in 1820 for the Methodist congregation. It had room for 134 people, including 32 in the gallery, and in 1851 the average congregation numbered 90–100. (fn. 280) Honey Street was later said to be the centre of dissent in the parish and only four families there were not dissenters in 1864, while in the south of the parish there were then only six dissenting families. (fn. 281) In 1969 services were still sometimes held in the chapel, but it was closed in 1970. (fn. 282)
In 1783 and 1818 there were reported to be no day-schools in Woodborough. (fn. 283) By 1833, however, there were two such schools, one attended by 6 boys and 10 girls, and the other by 10 boys and 15 girls. In 1839 only one of them was housed in a special building, apparently a pair of cottages converted in 1827, (fn. 284) north-east of Manor House. In 1864 boys left the school when they were seven, girls when they were eight, but there were opportunities to study in the winter evenings. (fn. 285) The school remained open until 1872 when a new school, called Woodborough school, was built in Beechingstoke parish. (fn. 286) The schoolroom, conveyed to the parish in 1906, (fn. 287) continued to be used for a Sunday school and other church functions. By 1969 it had been replaced by a wooden building.