A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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Little Cheverell, 5 miles south of Devizes, is one of a number of villages lying at the foot of the northern scarp of Salisbury Plain. (fn. 1) Like most of the others the parish, 1,025 a., is long and narrow. Reaching from Imber in the south to Worton in the north it is 4 miles long, but nowhere a mile wide.
For its entire length the parish marches in the west with Great Cheverell. The two parishes are divided in the north by a stream rising between the two villages but in the south regardless of natural features. In 1237 the lands of Little Cheverell and of Hales manor in Great Cheverell were perambulated and bounds between them fixed, presumably on part of the southern upland. (fn. 2) To the east Little Cheverell marches solely with Littleton Pannell in West Lavington. Across the lowland in the north the boundary between them runs straight, apparently the mark of an early division of lands between the villages. The upland boundary was straightened for part of its length in the early 19th century. (fn. 3)
Like its neighbours Little Cheverell has land on Salisbury Plain and in the south-east part of the valley of the Bristol Avon. The geological outcrops of the area appear as bands across the parish. There is a covering of alluvium in the extreme north but south of that Kimmeridge Clay, Portland Beds, and Gault outcrop. A mile-wide band of Upper Greensand crosses the central part of the parish and south of that are outcrops of Lower, Middle, and Upper Chalk. The traditional pattern of agriculture was therefore one in which meadow and pasture were on the level land in the north, the sandy soils of the Upper Greensand and the clay soils of the Lower and Middle Chalk were tilled, and there was rough pasture on the Upper Chalk in the extreme south. (fn. 4) The main features of the relief are the deep valley cut through the greensand by the stream rising at Hawkswell spring, 300 ft., and, in the south, the 'cleeves' on each side of Fore Hill, 590 ft. In those places the steepness of the slopes has prevented ploughing. The only area of ancient woodland in the parish, Cheverell copse, is on the Portland Beds. It was reduced in 1494, (fn. 5) probably to the 7 a. it stood at a century later. (fn. 6) The copse measured over 10 a. in 1722 (fn. 7) but was reduced to 6 a. during the 19th century. (fn. 8) In 1943 some 103 a. of down in the extreme south of the parish became part of an army firing range.
The Westbury-Upavon road linking the villages at the foot of the scarp passes through the village. As it crosses the deep valley cut by the stream from Hawkswell spring it makes several sharp turns, and as it climbs eastwards out of the village through a tributary valley it is deeply incised. It was turnpiked after 1758 from Westbury to Market Lavington. (fn. 9) The old downland road from Bath to Salisbury, used by slow coaches until the late 18th century, crossed the parish but was never metalled and fell into disuse. (fn. 10) The parish is crossed in the north by the main London-Exeter railway, opened by the G.W.R. to Westbury as an extension of the Berks. & Hants Extension Railway in 1900. (fn. 11) The nearest station was Lavington, closed in 1966. (fn. 12)
The village of Little Cheverell stands in the valley cut by the stream from Hawkswell. About ¼ mile north of the spring the valley widens and is crossed by the Westbury-Upavon road. The demesne farm, Rectory, and possibly a medieval manor-house (fn. 13) were all near that crossing. The church stands south of the road on an embankment. Until the 20th century, however, nearly all the other buildings in the village were north of the road. The village developed northwards from the crossing of road and stream along the narrow steep-sided valley cut in the greensand, and a street ran through the valley from the crossing to the lowland in the north. Early-14th-century taxation assessments show the village to have been appreciably less wealthy than its neighbour Great Cheverell and of less than average size among the villages of the hundred. (fn. 14) There were 56 poll-tax payers in 1377, (fn. 15) and taxation assessments of the 16th and 17th centuries indicate that the village remained small. (fn. 16)
By 1722 cottages were strung out along the valley. (fn. 17) In 1785 a census of the parish, apparently taken by the rector, showed it to have 44 houses and 192 inhabitants. (fn. 18) For the census the rector divided the parish into three. The upper division, around the church and demesne farm, had 16 houses occupied by 69 people; the middle division, apparently extending from the Rectory to half-way down the valley, had 15 houses and 72 people; and the lower division, including the mill and Greenlands Farm on the lowland and the cottages in the north of the valley to the west of the hill called Fuzzy's hill in 1773, (fn. 19) had 12 houses and 42 people. The Rectory housed 9 people. The population was 159 in 1801 but rose rapidly to 263 by 1821 and to 295 by 1841. (fn. 20) It fell to 255 in 1851, a decline ascribed to emigration caused by agricultural depression and low wages, and to 203 by 1871 when it was said that houses had been demolished. The decline has continued since then so that in 1971 only 155 people lived in the parish. (fn. 21)
By 1973 the pattern of settlement in the parish had changed little from what it had been in 1722 and probably much earlier, although very little of the building has survived. South of the WestburyUpavon road Hawkswell House and four pairs of houses were built in the 20th century. The old demesne farm-house and the old Rectory still stand respectively north-west and north-east of the church and between them, by the road, are an early-19thcentury farm-house and a pair of late-18th-century houses. Through the valley along the village street the buildings include a cottage possibly of the late 18th or early 19th century but the rest are poor 19th-century cottages or 20th-century houses and bungalows. A beer retailing business was carried on in the parish from at least 1855. (fn. 22) The off-licence was called the Owl in 1915 (fn. 23) but the 19th-century building in the street housing it only became a public house in 1939. (fn. 24) The mill and mill-house and Greenlands Farm are isolated from the rest of the parish and can only be approached on the lowland road through Great Cheverell. Greenlands Farm is a small early-18th-century brick house with late18th-century additions to the east and 20thcentury additions to the west and north.
Alward held Little Cheverell T.R.E. and Ernulf of Hesdin held it in 1086. (fn. 25) It seems to have passed through the marriage of Ernulf's daughter Maud and Patrick de Chaworth to their daughter Sibyl and her husband, Walter of Salisbury. (fn. 26) Walter's son Patrick, earl of Salisbury, seems to have been overlord in 1166 (fn. 27) and Cheverell was part of the earldom in 1242. (fn. 28) The overlordship subsequently descended in the same way as that of Alton Barnes. (fn. 29)
Lethelin held Little Cheverell of Ernulf in 1086. (fn. 30) By 1166, when Alexander Cheverell held three hides of the earl of Salisbury, the manor of LITTLE CHEVERELL was probably already in the hands of the Cheverell family. (fn. 31) In 1237 it was held by Sir Alexander Cheverell, (fn. 32) escheator in Wiltshire in 1246. (fn. 33) He was succeeded c. 1260 by his son Sir John (d. 1281) (fn. 34) and he by his son Sir Alexander, (fn. 35) sheriff of Wiltshire 1308–9. (fn. 36) Sir Alexander died c. 1310 leaving as heir his daughter Joan (born c. 1282), (fn. 37) the wife of John St. Lo and, after his death in 1313 or 1314, (fn. 38) of Nicholas Pyk (d. after 1349). (fn. 39) After the deaths of Nicholas and Joan the manor reverted to Joan's son Sir John St. Lo (d. after 1372). (fn. 40) It passed to John's son Sir John (d. 1375) (fn. 41) and to the younger Sir John's widow Margaret who, then the widow of Sir Peter Courteney, died seised of it in 1412 when it passed to her grandson William Botreaux, Lord Botreaux. (fn. 42)
Lord Botreaux was succeeded in 1462 by his daughter Margaret, Baroness Botreaux and widow of Robert, Lord Hungerford (d. 1459), (fn. 43) and she or her trustees seem to have held the manor until her death in 1478. (fn. 44) Her heirs were her greatgranddaughter Mary, later wife of Edward, Lord Hastings, and her grandson Sir Walter Hungerford. (fn. 45) Margaret devised her lands to trustees for ten years, (fn. 46) Mary then being a minor and Sir Walter's lands being in the king's hands because of the attainder of his father and grandfather. The manor was among lands granted by Richard III to John Nesfeld in 1484 (fn. 47) but after the victory of Henry VII in 1485 and the reversal of the Hungerfords' attainders it passed to Sir Walter who held it in 1487. (fn. 48) Sir Walter died in 1516 and was succeeded by his son Sir Edward (d. 1522) and grandson Walter, Lord Hungerford, on whose attainder in 1540 the manor passed to the Crown. (fn. 49) It was among lands restored in 1554 to Walter's son Sir Walter (d. 1596). (fn. 50) He was succeeded by his half-brother Sir Edward Hungerford after whose death in 1607 the manor passed, apparently as dower, to his widow Cecily, countess of Rutland. (fn. 51) After Cecily's death in 1653 it probably passed to Sir Anthony Hungerford (d. 1657) of Black Bourton (Oxon.), (fn. 52) and from him to his son Sir Edward (d. 1711). (fn. 53) By 1676, however, it belonged to Sir Edward's uncle Sir Giles Hungerford (d. 1685), (fn. 54) and passed like the manor-house of East Coulston to Sir Giles's widow Margaret (d. 1711) and daughter Margaret wife of Robert Sutton, Lord Lexinton (d. 1723). (fn. 55)
In 1718 Lord Lexinton sold the manor to Sir Edward des Bouverie (d. 1736). (fn. 56) It passed to Sir Edward's brother and heir Jacob, Viscount Folkestone (d. 1761), and to Jacob's son William, created earl of Radnor 1765. Thereafter it descended like the manor of Market Lavington until the death of Charles Awdry in 1912. (fn. 57) Although offered for sale in 1914, (fn. 58) it passed to Awdry's sons Maj. Charles Selwyn Awdry (d. 1918) and Col. Robert William Awdry (d. 1949), chairman of Wiltshire County Council 1946–9 and first chairman of the Wiltshire Victoria County History Committee. (fn. 59) The War Department bought it in 1934 and the Ministry of Defence owned it in 1973. (fn. 60)
Some member of the Cheverell family probably built a manor-house in the village, presumably Alexander Cheverell who was granted wood from Savernake forest in 1246. (fn. 61) Where such a house may have stood is uncertain although signs of disturbance in Court close, a field behind the church, in which the Cheverells seem to have endowed a chantry, (fn. 62) has led to the suggestion that it may have been there. After 1350, however, it is very unlikely that a lord of the manor lived there. The farm-house is a symmetrically fronted house of the earlier 18th century with a short kitchen wing at the rear. Additions were made to the kitchen in the early 19th century and later in the century the house was greatly enlarged to the north-west, probably by Walter Pleydell-Bouverie (d. 1893) who lived there from 1880 to 1890. (fn. 63) Robert Awdry had Hawkswell House, a substantial neo-Georgian house of brick, built between 1914 and 1920 (fn. 64) and occupied it until 1941. (fn. 65)
Little Cheverell was assessed at 3½ hides T.R.E. In 1086 there were 3 ploughs, 2 on the demesne and the third shared by 12 bordars. There were 3 a. of meadow and pasture 10 furlongs long and a furlong broad. The estate was worth 100s. having formerly been worth 60s. (fn. 66)
In 1310 Fore Hill and the flatter land south of it were largely arable. There was less arable on the greensand but it was accounted more valuable. The demesne farm was said to include 414 a. of upland and 134 a. of lowland arable, 12 a. of meadow, and pasture for 40 oxen and 400 sheep. Its lands were valued at £12 12s. Tenant holdings, on the other hand, were very small. There were no full virgaters. A free tenant and 6 customers held ½ virgate each and 7 customers held ¼ virgate each. Tenant rents and services were valued at only £6. (fn. 67) Since the glebe was valued at only 20s. in 1341 (fn. 68) the great predominance of the demesne in the early 14th century is evident. It far outweighed all the other farms together and was probably not leased. By the mid 15th century it was probably smaller than in 1310. It was then leased for £14 4s. a year, (fn. 69) a rent reduced to £12 13s. by 1487. (fn. 70) Assized rents totalled £13 11s. in 1452 (fn. 71) although by 1464 not all of that could be collected. (fn. 72)
Arable fields called North, South, and White fields were mentioned 1525–6 and Shubwell, a common meadow in the north-west of the parish, in 1526. (fn. 73) There was a number of lowland pastures in the north of the parish by the early 16th century, by then divided from Littleton Pannell by Marsh hedge, (fn. 74) but inclosure had not proceeded very far. Long leaze, 22 a., (fn. 75) and Great leaze, apparently over 60 a., (fn. 76) were shared by the farmer, rector, and tenants, and the marsh, probably also some 60 a. straddling the road across the parish from Great Cheverell, was common to the rector and tenants at least. (fn. 77) About 1526, however, the farmer inclosed Great leaze, which he divided into Sheephouse and Oxen leazes, excluding the rector and tenants. The inclosure was disputed by the rector and tenants but, although some tenants entered it forcibly some years later, it apparently stood. (fn. 78) Part of the marsh may also have been inclosed in the 16th century. (fn. 79) The demesne farm was held in 1487 by John Warde. (fn. 80) He was succeeded as lessee by William Warde (fn. 81) and William's son John (d. 1577). (fn. 82) The farm was leased in 1542 with another virgate of land for £14 15s. (fn. 83) and the farmer held other land at will. (fn. 84) There were 15 customary tenants in 1529 (fn. 85) and, apart from the farmer and rector who both held at will, there were 5 customers and 10 tenants at will, some with apparently very small holdings, in 1546. Their rents totalled £8 10s. a year. (fn. 86)
About 1600 (fn. 87) there were in the parish some 600 a. of arable, 120 a. of meadow and inclosed pasture, 165 a. of upland pasture, and some 52 a. of commonable lowland pasture. Those lands were shared by the farmer, the rector, and some twenty tenants. The demesne farm comprised 260 a. of arable, 18 a. of meadow, and 73½ a. of lowland and 103 a. of upland pasture. The arable was apparently not intermingled with the tenantry land but lay in three pieces, Fore Hill, Farm piece running up the hill to the Bath-Salisbury road, and Great clay between Fore Hill and the village, all of roughly equal size. The meadow land lay at the extreme north of the parish, north of Cheverell copse, and the upland pasture was all the land south of the Bath-Salisbury road at the extreme south of the parish. The lowland pasture was that inclosed c. 1526 and Court close north-west of Hawkswell spring. The arable land of the rector and tenants was intermingled in two principal fields, East and West fields, both about 155 a., and the small North field. The land lay east and west of the Great clay and in the bottom south of Fore Hill, but mainly around the village. The meadow, some 20 a., lay along the stream bounding Great Cheverell and the upland pasture, some 62 a., on the steep hills among the arable lands of the parish. The marsh was then some 30 a. and Long leaze still apparently 22 a. The rector and tenants could feed 500 sheep and some 85 beasts in their commons. The customers pastured at the nominal rate of 25 sheep and 4 beasts for each 'place', of which there were theoretically twelve, and 15 sheep for each 'acreman' holding. The glebe land amounted to 80 a. of arable and 3½ a. of meadow and pasture, with rights to feed 80 sheep with the tenants' and 50 with the farmer's flocks, and to feed 18 beasts and a bull. The tenants' farms were mostly small, only five including more than 15 a. of arable. In 1609 the demesne farm was valued at £150 a year, the glebe at £40, and the tenantry farms at £128. The farmer's yearly rent was £16 8s., the tenants' totalled some £13. The obligation of the customers to mow and make hay from the lord's meadow was still recorded in 1609.
The demesne farm was held almost throughout the 17th century by members of the Long family at an unchanged rent. (fn. 88) It was leased to Thomas Long in 1606 (fn. 89) and passed to his son John (d. 1676) whose widow Eleanor, by then widow of William Shower, only left the farm for an annuity in 1719. (fn. 90) By 1722 it had increased in size to 593 a. including 339 a. of arable. Land held by the tenants and rector was then only 426 a. including 286 a. of arable. (fn. 91) In 1682 there were about seventeen tenants whose rents totalled some £12. (fn. 92) By 1722 there were twenty tenants but seven of them were cottagers and only five held farms of over 20 a. (fn. 93)
Between 1671 and 1704 the common rights of the rector and tenants in the rest of the marsh were extinguished and the land divided and inclosed. (fn. 94) Changes in the structure of farms, begun as soon as the manor was bought by the Bouveries, made further inclosure possible in the 18th century. The demesne farm, later called Little Cheverell farm, was in hand from 1719 to at least 1722 and presumably leased later at rack-rent, (fn. 95) and the early18th-century conversion of several copies to leases, also apparently at rack-rent, is recorded. (fn. 96) By 1767 most of the tenantry land seems to have been merged in a single farm, (fn. 97) Axford's farm, making, with Little Cheverell and Parsonage farms, a third large farm in the parish. That situation made possible a rearrangement and inclosure of lands in 1767 by agreement between the rector and Lord Radnor. Cheverell farm land was unaffected but the strips of tenantry and glebe arable were divided between Axford's farm, allotted 141 a., and Parsonage farm, allotted 57 a. north of the glebe-house, and the land inclosed. The rector also gave up feeding rights for 80 sheep in exchange for Fuzzy's hill, 7 a. (fn. 98) Other feeding rights in Long leaze, the downs, and common fields were disappearing with the tenants, and the sale of his feeding rights in Long leaze by the rector to Lord Radnor between 1780 and 1802 (fn. 99) possibly completed the process.
The inclosure of demesne pasture c. 1526, the 16th- and late-17th-century inclosures of the marsh, and the gradual disappearance of common feeding rights thus virtually eliminated the system of strip cultivation and common pasturing of animals in Little Cheverell by the late 18th century. What then was the purpose of the Inclosure Act of 1797 and the award of 1802? The award had two main functions, to allot lands in lieu of tithes (fn. 100) and to rearrange the farms of the parish by allotment and exchange. The rector's lands, over 200 a. after the award, were consolidated in the east of the parish from the north of the marsh to the south of Fore Hill. Little Cheverell and other farms of the manor were left with the extreme north and south of the parish and the western part of the centre. (fn. 101)
In the early 19th century the down south of the old Bath-Salisbury road was ploughed, as were a few lowland pastures, but changes in land use were not great before 1860. There were then some 773 a. of arable and 153 a. of lowland and 61 a. of upland pasture. (fn. 102) Soon after inclosure Little Cheverell farm was enlarged to 689 a. Greenlands farm, a dairy farm of some 67 a. along the north-west parish boundary, was Lord Radnor's only other farm. (fn. 103) Little Cheverell farm encompassed Greenlands by 1860. It then included 589 a. of arable and 116 a. of lowland and 50 a. of upland pasture. (fn. 104) It also included the barn standing in the bottom beyond Fore Hill in 1802 (fn. 105) and other buildings with two cottages erected there by 1860 and called Bottom Farm. (fn. 106) Between 1802 and 1860 the glebe was divided into two principally arable farms, each of 93 a., one north and one south of the Westbury-Upavon road. (fn. 107)
Between 1860 and 1916 a good deal of lowland arable was converted to pasture, presumably for dairy farming, until there were probably over 350 a. of pasture and not more than 400 a. of arable apart from the down. (fn. 108) The Little Cheverell Dairy Company, concentrating on butter-making, was established after 1890. (fn. 109) It was merged in Wilts. United Dairies in 1896–7, but the dairy at Little Cheverell was closed. (fn. 110) Little Cheverell farm was broken up after 1860 into Little Cheverell, Mill, and Greenlands farms. (fn. 111) Little Cheverell farm included all the manor land south of the WestburyUpavon road and New Zealand Farm, buildings erected between 1860 and 1886 (fn. 112) on the down boundary with Littleton Pannell. In 1914 the farm measured some 554 a. including 306 a. of arable, 92 a. of lowland pasture, and 156 a. of down arable and upland pasture. Mill farm, 35 a. in 1914, and Greenlands farm, 115 a., were lowland pasture farms. (fn. 113) Apparently between 1886 and 1916 the northern glebe farm was broken up into smallholdings. (fn. 114)
Some conversion of arable to pasture continued after 1914 until by 1973 there was probably less arable land in the parish than at any time since the early Middle Ages. It was mainly on Fore Hill and the hill running up to the old Bath-Salisbury road. Between the World Wars Little Cheverell, Greenlands, and Glebe farms were the only substantial farms, but there were several smallholdings in the parish. (fn. 115) In 1973 the parish was largely used for arable and dairy farming. Little Cheverell and Glebe, 136 a., were the only farms. (fn. 116)
In 1802 a brick-kiln stood on glebe land on the south side of the Great Cheverell to Littleton road. (fn. 117) Brick-making was carried on by members of the Boulter family and after them by Turner Bros. (fn. 118) In 1916 the brickyard and field was leased by the rector for £27 a year with royalties if more than 350,000 bricks were made in a year. (fn. 119) The business was bought by the Market Lavington Brick and Tile Co. between 1923 and 1927 (fn. 120) but closed in the early 1930s. (fn. 121) No building stood on the site in 1973.
Mill. The men of Little Cheverell had ½ mill paying 30d. in 1086. (fn. 122) No mill was mentioned when the manor was extended in 1310 (fn. 123) and the existence of a water-mill in the parish cannot be presumed until 1439 when the miller was amerced for taking excessive toll. (fn. 124) The mill was conveyed with the manor in 1468 (fn. 125) and was held customarily of it in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 126) New stones were installed c. 1513 (fn. 127) and the miller was still being ordered to give preference to the lord's tenants in the early 16th century. (fn. 128) In 1609 the mill, held with 3 a. of meadow for 34s. a year, was valued at £18 a year. (fn. 129) It remained in use until 1914 when, with a farm of 35 a., it was sold. (fn. 130) Both the mill and house are of the earlier 19th century, the house bearing the date 1824, but earlier building is evident from late-16th-century ceiling timbers in the house and 17th-century stonework in the grounds. The mill, with an overshot wheel 14 ft. in diameter and two stones, stood on the boundary with Great Cheverell and was driven by the stream from Hawkswell marking the boundary. The inside timberwork was apparently renewed in the early 20th century. In 1973 the mill and mill-house were being converted into a private house.
A malt-house was mentioned in 1749 (fn. 131) and a malt-mill and house were built at the crossing of the Westbury-Upavon road and the stream from Hawkswell by 1778. (fn. 132) The mill apparently fell into disuse between 1860 and 1914. (fn. 133) In 1973 the old malt-house was called Bridge House.
No private view of frankpledge was held for Little Cheverell. (fn. 134) Manorial court records exist for the years 1465, 1486, 1512–14, 1516–20, 1523–9, 1533–7, 1592–4, and 1597. (fn. 135) Normal tenurial business was transacted at the biannual courts. Deaths, surrenders, and admissions of tenants were recorded; dilapidations of tenants' buildings were presented; and agrarian custom was regulated and contraventions of it presented. Most of the agrarian orders and offences concerned the feeding of animals. They included regulations governing feeding in the common pastures and fields and damage caused by unringed pigs. The exceptional exercise of leet jurisdiction was recorded on two occasions. In 1533 the homage presented a woman to be a common gossip (fn. 136) and in 1537 a man to be a poacher unlawfully keeping hunting dogs. (fn. 137)
A fragment of the overseers' accounts for 1767–8 exists recording the levying of a rate, (fn. 138) and there are churchwardens' accounts for 1778–1868. (fn. 139) In 1835 the parish became part of Devizes poor-law union. (fn. 140) There are vestry minutes for the years 1864–92. (fn. 141)
There was a church at Little Cheverell by 1291. (fn. 142) The patronage passed with the lordship of the manor except that in 1625 John Flower of Melksham presented under grant of a turn. (fn. 143) In 1915 the patronage was transferred to the bishop by C. S. Awdry. (fn. 144) The Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers planned to unite the parishes of Little Cheverell and West Lavington in 1657. (fn. 145) That plan does not seem to have been carried out but in 1915 the two churches were united. (fn. 146) They were held in plurality with that of Great Cheverell from 1936. (fn. 147) In 1958 Little Cheverell and West Lavington were disunited and Little Cheverell united with Great Cheverell, (fn. 148) but in 1965 the Cheverells were disunited and Little Cheverell thereafter held in plurality with West Lavington. (fn. 149)
The church was valued at £8 in 1291. (fn. 150) Although it was valued for the king in 1535 at only £11 7s. (fn. 151) it was said to be worth at least £40 a year in 1582. (fn. 152) The net average yearly value over the years 1829– 31 was £405, making the benefice, despite the smallness of the parish, one of the richest in the hundred. (fn. 153)
A ninth of corn, wool, and lambs in the parish was worth £4 in 1341 and other tithes were worth 16s. 8d. a year. (fn. 154) Except tithe of Lord's mead, instead of which the rector mowed 2 a. of the meadow, in 1671 all tithes were due to the rector. (fn. 155) At inclosure in 1802 they were exchanged for 143 a. of land and yearly rent-charges of £9 7s., but at the same time the rector gave up the rent-charges and some of the land for land and farm buildings and cottages in the village. (fn. 156) The tithe barn was taken down in 1898. (fn. 157)
In 1582 the glebe comprised a house, farm buildings, 80 a. of arable land, 4½ a. of meadow and pasture, and feeding rights for 130 sheep and 19 beasts and a bull. (fn. 158) If worked as a farm it would have been, after the demesne farm, the largest in the parish, (fn. 159) but there is no evidence that it was so worked. The buildings and the location of all the small strips were described in a long and detailed terrier about 1608. (fn. 160) At the exchange and inclosure of lands in 1767 the rector received North field, 57 a., a lowland inclosure of 3 a., and an upland pasture of 7 a. and kept the feeding for 14 beasts and the meadow and pasture he already had. (fn. 161) The feeding was sold before 1802 for redemption of land tax. (fn. 162) At the inclosure and exchanges of 1802 the glebe was increased to over 200 a. by the allotment of land in lieu of tithes, and a farm-house and buildings opposite the church were acquired. (fn. 163) In 1860 the rector occupied the parsonage-house and some 93 a., later leased as smallholdings. The farm-house with some 100 a. was leased, and the brickworks stood on more of the rector's land. In 1916 the glebe, then 202 a., and the farm-house were sold. (fn. 164) The house and much of the land were bought by John Nosworthy. Some 65 a. were sold to the War Department in 1934 (fn. 165) and in 1973 Glebe farm, 136 a., was sold by the executors of J. W. Nosworthy (d. 1972). (fn. 166)
About 1608 there was a glebe-house of seven bays 'in the form of a half quadrangle'. (fn. 167) The building of a new house started in 1782 when a kitchen block was built at the north end of the surviving stone building. The middle range of the new house was built in 1783 when part of the old house still stood at the south end. (fn. 168) That was replaced probably a few years later. The house thus built is of two storeys and of red brick with freestone dressings. It was sold early in the 20th century and additions were made to the south-west. The house belonged to Admiral John Luce (d. 1932) (fn. 169) and in 1973, when it was called Little Cheverell House, to Lady (Joyce) Crossley.
By 1298 a chantry was dedicated to the Virgin Mary with a chapel probably to the north of the chancel (see below). (fn. 170) It was not mentioned in 1291 and was presumably established to the memory of the Cheverells and endowed by Sir Alexander Cheverell. (fn. 171) The advowson passed with the lordship of the manor but in 1332 the bishop collated, possibly by lapse. The last recorded presentation was in 1460. (fn. 172) The advowson was still recorded in deeds of the early 16th century (fn. 173) but the chantry was not mentioned at the Dissolution. The value of the chantry was never given and no endowment of tithe or glebe recorded.
Peter of Lavington, probably rector in 1291, was also rector of Letcombe Bassett (Berks.). (fn. 174) Henry de la Forde, presented to the church in 1298, was also chaplain of the chantry. He resigned the chantry in the same year and thereafter no rector seems to have been chaplain. (fn. 175) William Sumner, rector in 1458 and a student of theology, was granted a dispensation to hold in plurality if he wished. (fn. 176) There was still a proscribed high altar in the church in 1553. (fn. 177) In 1554 the rector, Philip Stanlake, was deposed by a Marian nominee but seems to have been restored after Mary's death. (fn. 178) Hugh Gough, rector 1584–1625, was from 1593 to 1625 rector of All Cannings, another rich living. (fn. 179) Roger Flower (d. 1662), (fn. 180) presented in 1625 when he was already rector of Castle Combe, read 'other men's works in the pulpit' and was ejected. (fn. 181) In 1660 Edward Hort, presented to the church in that year, successfully petitioned for the profits of the sequestered living, (fn. 182) but the church still lacked a book of homilies, Jewell's Apology, and a surplice in 1662. (fn. 183) By his will proved 1730 James Townsend bequeathed 10s. for the preaching of Good Friday sermons in the church. (fn. 184) John Shergold, presented in 1735, was rector of Devizes until 1738 and John Newton, rector 1759–64, was also vicar of Coleshill (Berks.). (fn. 185) Newton's successor was the physician Sir James Stonhouse, founder of Northampton Infirmary, an evangelical preacher, and the model for the good clergyman in Hannah More's Shepherd of Salisbury Plain. (fn. 186) From 1780 he was also rector of Great Cheverell where his assistant curate lived. (fn. 187) Stonhouse began rebuilding Little Cheverell Rectory in 1782 and by 1783 lived in it for most of the year. He then administered the Sacrament at the four great festivals to an average of about 30 communicants, catechized the children, and still preached the Good Friday sermons although they were not well attended. (fn. 188) On Census Sunday in 1851 there were congregations of 46 in the morning and 90 in the afternoon. (fn. 189) In 1864 the church was served by a resident rector and curate. Services were held twice on Sundays for congregations said to be of 80 and 135 and on a number of feast days. The Sacrament was administered six times a year for about 20 communicants. (fn. 190)
The church of ST. PETER, so called since at least 1850 but called St. Nicholas's in 1332 (fn. 191) and 1534, (fn. 192) is of ashlar and rough stone. The old church, consisting of chancel, nave with north porch, and west tower, was largely of the 14th century, (fn. 193) but the tracery of the west window is 15th century. It is said to have had a squint in the north wall of the chancel, presumably once affording a view of the altar from the chantry chapel. The foundations of the chapel were uncovered about 1832. (fn. 194) The church was rebuilt in 1850 to designs of Thomas Cundy. (fn. 195) The new church, longer than its predecessor, consists of chancel with north vestry, nave with north porch, and tower, and is in 14th-century 'geometrical' style. The tower and tracery of the west window and the porch and priest's doorways survive from the old church. The priest's doorway has been reset in the vestry.
The parish kept a chalice of 12 oz. in 1553 when 15 oz. of silver were taken for the king. A new chalice and paten cover were given in 1661 (fn. 198) and still belonged to the church in 1973.
The church clock was possibly already of some age when it was repaired in 1760. (fn. 199) The churchwardens subsequently made regular payments for its maintenance. (fn. 200) It is said to have been replaced in 1887. (fn. 201)
The registers date from 1653 and are complete. (fn. 202)
The Quaker community which grew up in and around Market Lavington after the Restoration included a number of people in Little Cheverell, (fn. 203) one of whom died in prison after refusing to pay tithes. (fn. 204) Several people were presented for failing to attend church and there were seven dissenters in 1676, (fn. 205) but, although the Lavington meeting continued, (fn. 206) dissent in Cheverell had apparently died out by c. 1700. Buildings were registered as meeting-houses in 1821 and 1851 (fn. 207) but there were only three dissenters in 1864 (fn. 208) and no chapel has been established in the parish.
Some Little Cheverell children were possibly sent to school in Great Cheverell in the late 18th century. (fn. 209) A woman kept a school in the parish in 1808. (fn. 210) There was no school in 1818 although the poor were said to desire one. (fn. 211) A school for 25 children was open by 1833 (fn. 212) and a new school built in 1840. (fn. 213) It stood opposite the parsonage house (fn. 214) and in 1858 was supported solely by the rector. (fn. 215) In 1864 the children left when they were about eleven but success was claimed for a winter evening school. (fn. 216) The average attendance at the school in 1906 was 38. (fn. 217) That had fallen to 17 by 1922 when the school was closed. (fn. 218) The children have since been sent to West Lavington and Great Cheverell schools and the building demolished.
Charities for the Poor.