A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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Chirton, known alternatively as Cherrington until the 20th century, lies 5 miles south-east of Devizes at the western end of the Vale of Pewsey. (fn. 1) Reckoned at 1,926 a., the parish is long and narrow, measures 1½ mile in width near Chirton bottom, and extends 3½ miles from north to south across the greensand vale, the northern escarpment, and ridge of Salisbury Plain. (fn. 2) It is divided lengthwise into the tithings of Chirton and Conock, which are probably co-terminous with earlier Domesday estates. (fn. 3) Chirton village lies to the north of the main Devizes road while the hamlet of Conock stands on a small rise ½ mile west.
The extreme north of the parish, comparatively low-lying at just over 350 ft., is bounded by a small stream which cuts through the Upper Greensand and flows eastwards to become the Christchurch Avon. (fn. 4) The alluvial soils have produced lush meadows on either side of the stream, and cattle were pastured there in 1970. A few hundred yards south a steep greensand bank rises to the road which formerly gave access to Church Mill and thence the Upper Greensand extends southwards for ¾ mile to the Devizes road which lies at 374 ft. The villages of Chirton and Conock lie there on the Upper Greensand. A mile-wide expanse of Lower Chalk, previously the site of the open fields of Chirton and Conock and still devoted to large arable fields in 1970, stretches south to Chirton bottom. There successive strata of Middle and Upper Chalk and Clay-with-flints rise to form the northfacing scarp of Salisbury Plain, which stands at a height of nearly 700 ft. The Clay-with-flints also curves southwards along the western boundary, which was formerly marked by the DevizesSalisbury road (see below), and from that point the downs slope away south-eastwards to about 600 ft. across the Upper and Middle Chalk.
Four bowl-barrows, of which three lie near the eastern parish boundary immediately south of the Ridge Way and a fourth to the north of it above Conock, indicate prehistoric activity in the parish. (fn. 5) Etymological evidence suggests the survival of a British enclave at Conock, which, as its name indicates, stands on a slight hillock. (fn. 6) In 1334 Chirton and Conock together paid the third highest contribution in Studfold hundred to the fifteenth of that year. (fn. 7) Chirton had 73 and Conock 59 poll-tax payers in 1377, the total of 132 being the third highest in that hundred. (fn. 8) In 1801 the total population of Chirton was 347. The number of inhabitants gradually increased until 1851 when the total was 467, of whom about a third lived in Conock. From that time the population of the two hamlets declined and in 1971 only 265 people lived in the parish. (fn. 9)
The Ridge Way follows an east-west course across the crest of the Plain. Most roads which served the parish in the 18th century could still be traced as lanes or tracks in 1970. Architectural evidence suggests that until the 18th century the principal road in the parish was the lane which ran south of the church and provided access to Conock in the west and Marden in the east. Its easterly extension remained as a track in 1970. Its westerly branch, which ran north and west of Conock Manor into Conock Street in the 18th century, was rerouted to the south of the house and park in the 19th century and was still maintained as a footpath by the county council in 1970. (fn. 10) A small section of the road which runs south of Conock to Upavon was turnpiked c. 1769. The southern end of Chirton High Street and the lane leading off it to Marden were turnpiked in 1840. (fn. 11) The downland roads, including the former main road over the Plain to Salisbury, which formed the boundary between Chirton and Urchfont, fell into disuse after all the downland in the parish south of the Ridge Way was purchased by the War Department in 1899 and 1900 for use as a firing range. (fn. 12) The main line to the west of England runs about a mile north of Chirton village through Patney parish. There a station, called Patney and Chirton, stood west of the lane from Patney to All Cannings. It was closed in 1966. (fn. 13)
The village of Chirton lies below the Devizes road in a shallow hollow on the greensand. The position of no. 61 High Street, described below, and Yew Tree Cottage (the former Vicarage), both partly dating from the 17th century, suggests that the nucleus of the settlement may have lain on an east-west axis south of the church. In 1773, however, the settlement had extended southwards from the church along the west side of the lane running to meet the Devizes road, along the south side of the road which branched off that lane to Marden, and also northwards along the east side of the lane running north past Yew Tree Cottage to Patney. There, on either side of a slight incline, some cottages of 18th-century date and later and a few council houses stand above the lane on grass banks. During the 18th and 19th centuries settlement extended southwards along High Street, formerly known as 'the street'. (fn. 14) Substantial houses and cottages of those dates stand back on either side of the road behind gardens fronted by grass verges and give the street a wide spacious appearance. The expansion southwards continued in the 20th century. A small council estate was built along the lane leading to Marden after the Second World War. In 1972 Kennet Properties of Pewsey were constructing a number of detached houses at the south-east end of High Street.
The hamlet of Conock contained an area known as 'west town' in 1536, but its location is unknown. (fn. 15) From earliest times the hamlet probably flanked the lane, known since at least 1664 as 'the street', which runs northwards from the main Salisbury road. (fn. 16) In the later 18th century it was closely built up and cottages also stood along a lane, probably now marked by the drive to Conock Manor, which ran west of the house to join the lane running north of it into Chirton (see above). (fn. 17) In 1970, when the remoteness of the hamlet was enhanced by its wooded aspect, all that remained were a few substantial houses and cottages, all formerly part of the Ewelme Almshouse estate. Conock Manor lies at the north-eastern end of the street. (fn. 18) Manor Farm stands to the south-west. The original brick house, built in the late 17th century, had a symmetrical south front with rooms on either side of a central entrance and a staircase housed in a block at the rear. Extensions made by c. 1750 gave the house a square plan and perhaps at the same time the building was further added to on the north-east. The front was rebuilt and the interior partly refitted in the earlier 19th century. Conock Old Manor, obscured by trees, lies in a hollow at the northern end of the street, and, together with Conock Cottage and a few estate cottages, was still owned by Ewelme in 1970. (fn. 19) Conock Cottage, which stands at the entrance of the drive leading to Conock Old Manor, is a small house probably built c. 1700 and extensively altered in the early 19th century. A stone carved with the arms of Ernle impaling Hungerford, found in the garden and later mounted above the front door, suggests that the original house, of red brick with stone quoins, may have been built by Walter Ernle (d. 1721), who married Mary Hungerford. (fn. 20) Internally there is a staircase of c. 1700. The fivebay south entrance front was much altered and faced with stucco c. 1820. It was at Conock Cottage that Gifford Warriner, who was declared a lunatic in 1821, lived from at least 1838 until his death in 1880. (fn. 21) Opposite the entrance to Conock Manor, and directly south of the Cottage, is a pair of deliberately picturesque cottages with ornate bargeboards and rustic porches, probably built by the Warriner family in the early 19th century. The cottages originally had heavy clustered chimney stacks. (fn. 22) It was probably the Warriner family who built the early-19th-century two-storeyed lodge at the Devizes road entrance to Manor Farm. Of brick with a hipped thatched roof the cottage has a tall central chimney formed of clustered terracotta shafts. The Grove, built c. 1830, stands near the main road at the entrance to Conock.
In 1834 a number of farm buildings in Chirton, the property of Ernle Warriner (d. 1850) and sublet to a tenant, were burnt down, and in the following year George Watts was executed for arson. (fn. 23) The Warriners were prominent in local affairs since the early 18th century. Isaac Warriner (d. 1752) was sheriff in 1736 and his great-grandson Ernle (d. 1850) in 1823. (fn. 24) Major-General Sir Frederick Sykes (d. 1954) and his wife Isabel (d. 1969), the daughter of Andrew Bonar Law, lived at Conock Manor from 1945. (fn. 25) Sir Frederick was instrumental in forming the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 and was Governor of Bombay 1928–33. His publications include Aviation in Peace and War (1922), and an autobiography From Many Angles (1942). (fn. 26) Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, journalist and author, lived at Conock Old Manor in 1970.
Manors and Other Estates.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Durand of Gloucester had land at Chirton held T.R.E. by Almar. (fn. 27) As described elsewhere the Chirton estate passed to Durand's great-nephew Miles (cr. earl of Hereford 1141 and d. 1143). Miles's eventual coheirs were his three daughters Margaret, who married Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Bertha, wife of William de Breuse, and Lucy, wife of Herbert FitzHerbert. (fn. 28) Twothirds of the Chirton lands were allotted to Margaret and a third (see below) to Lucy. Margaret's twothirds passed to her grandson Henry de Bohun (c1. earl of Hereford 1200 and d. 1220) and thereafter the overlordship of both thirds descended with the honor of Hereford. (fn. 29) The overlordship of the third subinfeudated by Henry to Lanthony Priory (Glos.) and known as the manor of CHIRTON, is last specifically mentioned in 1242. (fn. 30) That of the third acquired by the Templars and described below passed with the honor until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex (d. 1373). (fn. 31) In 1384 it was allotted to his younger daughter and coheir Mary, wife of Henry, earl of Derby (later Henry IV). (fn. 32) The overlordship thus subsequently became merged in the Crown. (fn. 33)
In the early 13th century Henry, earl of Hereford, granted an estate at Chirton to Lanthony Priory, who retained it until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown. (fn. 34) The manor remained in hand until 1600 when it was granted, together with view of frankpledge and perquisites of courts, to Sir Francis Neale (d. ante 1632). (fn. 35) In 1627 Sir Francis sold it to his brother-in-law Sir Richard Uvedale (d. 1664). (fn. 36) He in turn conveyed it to Heytesbury Hospital in 1635. (fn. 37) By the earlier 19th century the alms-house's estate at Chirton was reckoned at some 490 a. and, besides numerous small leaseholds and copyholds, comprised three farms, including Manor farm (143 a.). (fn. 38) In 1899 some 193 a. were sold to the War Department and in 1903 the estate at Chirton, reckoned at 295 a., comprised Manor farm (196 a.) and two smaller parcels of land. (fn. 39) In 1970 Manor farm, then containing some 400 a., was sold to Mr. H. Miller. (fn. 40)
Old Manor House, known in 1970 as no. 61 High Street, was formerly occupied by the agent for the Heytesbury estates. (fn. 41) It stands east of the church, is fronted by a garden, and separated from the road by a brick wall. The original south-facing 17thcentury house was enlarged in the earlier 18th century by the addition of a wing to the north, and refronted c. 1800. A small two-storeyed barn with a thatched roof similar to that at Manor Farm, Urchfont, stands north-east of the house. (fn. 42)
Other land at Chirton, also held of the honor of Hereford, was subinfeudated to John Marshal (d. c. 1235), who was succeeded by his son John the younger (d.s.p. 1242). (fn. 43) Early in the 13th century John Marshal enfeoffed Ralph de Ralegh in the lands. (fn. 44) Ralph entered the order of Templars shortly before 1220 and conveyed his estate to them. (fn. 45) The Templars held the land, which was administered from the preceptory of Sandford (Oxon.), until 1308 when their lands were taken into the king's hands. (fn. 46) In 1311 custody of the Chirton estate was granted during pleasure to Geoffrey de Weston, but a year later it passed, with all former Templar lands, to the Hospitallers. They held it until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown. (fn. 47)
The estate, by then sometimes called the 'manor' of Chirton, remained in hand until 1564, when it was granted to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife Catherine. (fn. 48) On his death in 1596 Sir Francis was succeeded by his son William (cr. Viscount Wallingford 1616, earl of Banbury 1626, and d.s.p. 1632). (fn. 49) The land then passed to William's widow Elizabeth (d. 1658), who married secondly Edward Vaux, Lord Vaux of Harrowden (d.s.p. 1661). (fn. 50) In 1646 Elizabeth, Lady Vaux, and her husband conveyed the estate to Abraham Chamberlain the elder (d. c. 1651), from whom it passed to his son Abraham the younger. (fn. 51) In 1663 Elizabeth Bing bought the estate from Abraham Chamberlain the younger. (fn. 52) She sold it to Sarah, duchess of Somerset (d. 1692), in 1678. (fn. 53) By will proved 1704 the duchess provided for the establishment of an alms-house at Froxfield and devised her Chirton estate as part of its endowment. (fn. 54) In 1834 the Froxfield estate there formed Chirton farm (269 a.). (fn. 55) In 1900 114 a. of it were sold to the War Department. (fn. 56) The remaining Froxfield property at Chirton, known as Chirton farm and reckoned at 153 a., was sold to the tenant, David Snelgrove, in 1920. (fn. 57) It was owned in 1970 by Mr. N. Hues. (fn. 58)
Chirton Farm stands on the east side of High Street south of the school, from which it is separated by a large timber-and-thatch barn. It is a substantial 18th-century brick house five bays wide with a half-hipped thatched roof.
The Templars had apparently established a chapel on their estate at Chirton at some date in the 13th century. In 1308, following the sequestration of the Templars' lands, two bells and other ornaments from the chapel were sold. (fn. 59) In 1338 a chaplain was paid £3 6s. 8d. yearly to serve it. (fn. 60)
The third of Durand's Domesday holding which was allotted to Lucy (d. c. 1217), wife of Herbert FitzHerbert, passed to her son Peter (d. c. 1235), and grandsons Herbert (d. c. 1248) and Reynold (d. 1286). (fn. 61) The estate may have remained in hand, since only two under-tenants, Hugh Mortimer in 1242, and Nicholas FitzArnulf, a life tenant in 1250, are recorded. (fn. 62) The estate, then sometimes called the 'manor' of Chirton, was assigned to Reynold's widow Joan (d. 1314) and she was succeeded by Reynold's grandson by his first wife, Herbert, who died seised of ¼ knight's fee in Chirton in 1321. (fn. 63) His son and heir Matthew (d.s.p. 1356) entailed the estate on himself, his wife Margaret, and their heirs in 1325. (fn. 64) Margaret died in 1357 and the land reverted to Edward St. John 'the nephew', whose exact relationship to Matthew FitzHerbert is unknown. (fn. 65) Shortly afterwards, in 1361, Edward St. John was licensed to grant the estate to his brother Richard and his wife Margaret in tail. (fn. 66) The estate was held in 1428 by John Carter. (fn. 67)
John Norwood (d. 1497) later acquired the lands. (fn. 68) His two daughters and coheirs were minors at the time of his death and in 1516 the estate at Chirton was allotted to the younger, Elizabeth, and her husband Henry Barley (d. 1529). (fn. 69) The Barleys were succeeded by their son William (d. c. 1564), who c. 1555 conveyed the farm to Thomas Ayliffe (d. 1588). (fn. 70) Ayliffe, with his wife Joan (d. c. 1596), sold it to John Bailey, his wife Margery, and son Christopher in 1574. (fn. 71) By 1589 the farm, then known as Court Place and reckoned at ¼ knight's fee, had passed to Christopher Bailey, who in 1592 granted the reversion to Richard Browne, his wife Catherine, and son Richard the younger. (fn. 72) The elder Richard died shortly afterwards while his son was still a minor. The farm was delivered to the younger Richard in 1613 but after that date nothing is known of it. (fn. 73) It seems likely that the lands were later acquired by John Curll, who by will dated 1703 devised some 140 a. in Chirton for the benefit of the poor of Bradford-on-Avon. (fn. 74) In 1899 the trustees of John Curll's Bradford charity sold some 90 a. to the War Department, and the remaining land was sold in 1920 to Mr. H. J. Sainsbury of Chirton. (fn. 75)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the abbey of St. Mary, Grestain (Eure), held Conock of the count of Mortain. (fn. 78) By the 14th century at least, and probably earlier, the estate was administered from the priory of Wilmington (Suss.), a cell of Grestain. (fn. 79) Together with the lands of other alien priories in England Conock was seized by the king in 1324 and thenceforth administered by keepers. (fn. 80) The estate was therefore already in royal hands in 1348 when Grestain sold its English possessions to the king in order to raise money with which to pay the ransom of its patron, John de Melun, lord of Tancarville, a prisoner of the English. (fn. 81) Conock was leased for 1,000 years to Tidemann de Lymbergh, who soon after 1350 conveyed it to Michael de la Pole and his brothers Edmund and Thomas. (fn. 82)
By 1359 Conock had been allotted to Thomas de la Pole (d. 1361). (fn. 83) His daughter and heir, Catherine, was a minor and died a year later. (fn. 84) The estate then passed to Thomas's brother Michael de la Pole (cr. earl of Suffolk 1385). (fn. 85) On his death in 1389, Michael was succeeded by a younger son Thomas (d. 1420). (fn. 86) The following year, 1421, Thomas's widow Anne was assigned dower rights. (fn. 87) Thomas's heir, Thomas the younger, died, still a minor, in 1430 whereupon the manor, in accordance with a settlement made in 1384, passed to his cousin William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk (cr. duke 1448 and d. 1450). (fn. 88) In 1442 he and his wife Alice endowed their newly-founded alms-house at Ewelme (Oxon.) with the manor. (fn. 89) Ewelme Almshouse retained the Conock estate until the 20th century. In 1899 the trustees of the charity sold 310 a. there to the War Department. (fn. 90)
From the later 17th century to the mid 19th century, with a gap of a few decades in the 18th century, the Ernles and their descendants the Warriners leased the estate from Ewelme and lived in the house later known as Conock Manor. (fn. 91) They apparently sub-let the manor farm. (fn. 92) Sir Walter Ernle (d. 1682) was tenant in 1674 and was succeeded by his son Walter (d. 1721), and grandson Sir Walter (d.s.p. 1732). Margaret Ernle (d. before 1739), Sir Walter's widow, was granted a lease on her husband's death. (fn. 93) In 1789 Sir Walter's greatnephew Gifford Warriner (d. 1820), moved there from Conock Old Manor (see below), and was succeeded by his younger son Ernle (lessee until 1841 and d. 1850). (fn. 94) Later tenants in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, when the house was apparently leased by Ewelme quite separately from Manor farm, included Major-General Christopher Sullivan Fagan (d. 1842), William Carter, William Tinker, Edward McNiven, and Robert Smith Barry (lessee 1925–41). (fn. 95)
The freehold of the house was bought in 1945 by Major-General Sir Frederick Sykes (d. 1954), who in 1948 acquired Manor farm (438 a.) from the Ewelme trustees. (fn. 96) At his death he was succeeded by his son Mr. Bonar Sykes, who owned the property in 1970.
Conock Manor, known in the 19th century as Conock House, is an imposing rectangular building of stone ashlar which stands in well wooded parkland. (fn. 97) It is approached by a drive which runs northeastwards from the hamlet's remaining lane. The house is made up of a central block of two storeys, an attic surmounted by a hipped slate roof, and onestoreyed wings to the north and south. A house probably existed on the site in the 15th century, (fn. 98) but the present one appears to be basically an early18th-century building altered and enlarged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Apart from its generally square shape and steep hipped roof there are few indications of an early-18th-century origin. The west, or entrance, front, which is of five bays surmounted by a central pediment, has tall angle pilasters with stylized feathers above the capitals which may be of that date. At the centre of the east front a stone doorway with a scrolled pediment and shield bearing the arms of Sir Walter Ernle (d.s.p. 1732) (fn. 99) has been reset as a window; it may represent the original west doorway of the house. Sir Walter Ernle's great-nephew, Gifford Warriner (lessee 1789–1820), whose arms appear above the main staircase, (fn. 100) seems to have made extensive alterations both inside and out. The whole exterior was probably faced with stone ashlar at that time, new windows inserted in the west front, and a central semicircular porch supported on Ionic columns added. The single-storeyed side wings were built c. 1817, the architect being Richard Ingleman of Southwell (Notts.). (fn. 101) The north wing provided additional service rooms and the south wing contained a library with a domed and coffered ceiling; a similar ceiling in the front half of the wing, which at one time contained a conservatory, is said to be a modern copy. The sash windows on the east front of the central block were gothicized in stone in the earlier 19th century. Then or later the ground floor on that side was extended by about 9 ft. Beyond the northeast corner of the house, connected to it by a brick wall, is a late-18th- or early-19th-century dairy, masked by a curved verandah with a thatched roof and rustic posts. The interior of the house was altered by Robert Smith Barry (lessee 1925–41), who removed the side walls of the entrance passage to form a long hall extending across all five bays of the west front. In the north wing he threw two rooms together to make a large dining room with a new bow window, and in the south wing he converted the library and conservatory into a double drawing room. (fn. 102)
Across the garden to the east of the house stands a large stable range of red brick. It may have been built or extended by Gifford Warriner c. 1789, although the bell in the central cupola is dated 1765. (fn. 103) Four blind windows and a central doorway facing the house have been given gothic hoodmoulds, perhaps in the early 19th century; the towerlike central bay on the west side is surmounted by a pediment. The clock turret above has a circular Doric colonnade, a domed copper roof, and a wrought-iron weather-cock, all renewed c. 1968 as an exact copy of the originals.
Grestain Abbey also had a chapel on its Conock estate in the 13th century when John 'chaplain of Conock' is mentioned. (fn. 104) After acquiring the right to the tithes from their demesne lands in 1224, they seem to have endowed the chapel with some land and tithes. A ninth of the great tithes allotted to it were worth 10s. in 1341. (fn. 105) The chapel apparently fell into disuse after Conock was acquired by the Crown in 1348 and is last recorded in 1410 when the manorial estate there included a building called 'the chapel'. (fn. 106)
At the Dissolution Chirton rectory, as a possession of Lanthony Priory, passed to the Crown, which, as shown below, divided and sold it in the earlier 17th century. Responsibility for the upkeep of the chancel of the church was thenceforth shared between the respective owners of the great tithes. (fn. 107) The rectorial tithes of Chirton and most of the rectorial glebe in both the tithings of Chirton and Conock were sold with Chirton manor in 1600 to Sir Francis Neale. (fn. 108) The estate eventually passed with Chirton manor in 1635 to Heytesbury Hospital, who retained it. (fn. 109) Members of the Hayward family were lessees in the 17th and 18th centuries, William Bruges (d. c. 1803) in 1800, his trustees in 1836, and his son Gifford Holloway Bruges (d. c. 1838) in 1836. (fn. 110) When the open fields of Chirton were inclosed in 1808 Heytesbury Hospital was allotted 47 a. in place of rectorial glebe. (fn. 111) At Conock inclosure in 1816 30 a. were allotted to the trustees of William Bruges, who then leased the estate from Heytesbury. (fn. 112) The total of 77 a. thus allotted continued to be leased out by Heytesbury in 1903. (fn. 113) In 1845 the hospital, as impropriator, was allotted £165 to replace rectorial tithes in Chirton tithing. (fn. 114)
The rectorial tithes of Conock were acquired in 1624 by Gifford Yerbury (d. 1630 or 1631). (fn. 115) It seems likely that some 4 a. of glebe in Conock tithing, although not expressly mentioned until the 19th century, descended with them (see below). (fn. 116) Gifford Yerbury was succeeded in the estate by his son Gifford the younger (d.s.p. c. 1712). (fn. 117) The younger Gifford was succeeded by his nephew Isaac Warriner (d. 1752), who was followed in turn by his son Gifford (d. 1787), and grandson Gifford (d. 1820). (fn. 118) Gifford Warriner's elder son, another Gifford, was declared a lunatic in 1821 and the Conock rectorial tithes and glebe passed to his younger son Ernle (d. 1850). Ernle Warriner sold them in 1841 to Stephen Mills, who was allotted a rent-charge of £121 to replace his tithes in 1845. (fn. 119)
A small copyhold estate held of Ewelme Almshouse by the Yerburys and Warriners lay interspersed with the 4 a. of glebe mentioned above. (fn. 120) It was therefore partly on copyhold and partly on glebe land that the house known in 1970 as Conock Old Manor was built. Approached by a drive leading north from Conock's remaining lane, the L-shaped house is built of red brick with stone dressings and has two storeys, basement, and attics. It appears always to have been its present size and shape. The principal range runs north and south with a seven-bay front facing west; a kitchen wing projects eastward from the north end of the range. Its earliest architectural features suggest that the builder was Gifford Yerbury who died c. 1712. A date-stone of 1699 in a cottage in the stable-yard may indicate the building date of the house itself. Surviving features of that date include the stone plinth and quoins, mullioned and transomed windows (mostly blocked) at the south end and on the south side of the kitchen wing, a bolectionmoulded doorway surmounted by a segmentalheaded window at the centre of the west front, and internally, the balusters of the attic stair. Immediately after the death of his father Isaac in 1752 (see above), Gifford Warriner (d. 1787) altered the house substantially and was still living there 20 years later. (fn. 121) His alterations of 1753 are recorded by his initials and those of his wife, his cousin Elizabeth (née Ernle and a granddaughter of Walter Ernle (d. 1721)), inscribed on dated rainwater heads on the west front. (fn. 122) Sash windows were inserted on that front, a wood pediment added above the doorway, and the hipped roof with attic dormers was apparently raised. The north wall of the house, where the date 1753 is picked out in contrasting brick, was rebuilt or refaced. Internally the house was remodelled and a room at the north-west corner was fitted with panelling. In 1830 the house was unoccupied since the Warriners had moved to Conock Manor after acquiring a lease of that property in 1789. (fn. 123) Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, who then leased the house from Ewelme Almshouse, converted the west elevation from an entrance to a garden front in the 1960s by making the door into a window and forming a raised lawn outside, which covers the former drive and partly obscures the basement.
In 1066 Chirton, then probably representing the area of the modern tithing, was assessed for geld at ten hides. In 1086 seven were in demesne. The estate could support five ploughs but there were then only one and a half on the demesne and another two, worked by seven villeins and ten bordars, on the remaining land. The estate had declined in value from £11 T.R.E. to £10 in 1086. There was pasture ½ league long and 3 furlongs broad and 30 a. of meadow. (fn. 124)
By the later 12th century Durand's Domesday estate had been divided into thirds, as explained above. (fn. 125) The manor itself was acquired by Lanthony Priory in the earlier 13th century but little is known of its economic history until 1535 when unspecified numbers of free and customary tenants paid rents of 13s. 6d. and £7 11s. 4d. respectively. The demesne was then farmed at £4 6s. 8d. by a bailiff, John Nichols. (fn. 126) In 1635 receipts totalled £138 7s. 8d. of which 16s. 6d. represented the rent of free tenants, £4 4s. 8d. the rent of four leaseholders, and £3 2s. 6d. that paid by seven copyholders. The copyholders all held for lives estates varying from a yardland to a few acres. Of the four leaseholders, who also held for lives, one held three yardlands and another a yardland and a half. (fn. 127) The estate totalled 488 a. in 1808, of which 334 a. were held by eight leaseholders including the farmer of the demesne (see below) and the lessee of the impropriate rectory, while 154 a. were held by copyholders. John Burgess, the most substantial leaseholder, had 99 a., while the largest copyhold of 56 a. was held by Gifford Warriner (d. 1820). All other leaseholds and copyholds contained only a few acres each, with the exception of Manor farm, to be identified with the earlier demesne. (fn. 128) In 1635 John Hayward, lessee of both demesne and rectory, paid a combined rent of £130. (fn. 129) In 1808 the farm contained 143 a. and was farmed by George Griffin Pearce. (fn. 130) In 1845 it was farmed by Jonathan Ackerman and in 1858 by Edward Kite. (fn. 131)
The third of Durand's Domesday estate acquired by the Templars had receipts totalling £8 18s. in 1308. A carter, two ploughmen, a shepherd, two drovers, and a dairyman then worked on it. Of the grain crop produced, barley predominated and the estate supported a flock comprising 10 wethers, 24 ewes, 26 hoggets, and 16 lambs. During that year 55 fleeces were sold. (fn. 132) The estate was worth £13 15s. 1d. in 1338, of which 10s. 4d. represented rents paid by three unspecified tenants. Sixteen oxen and 260 sheep could be pastured on the downs. The estate then contained 200 a. of arable land worth 1s. an acre and another seven, probably meadow land, worth 3s. an acre. (fn. 133) The meadows were known as 'Lillard' (4 a.) and 'Southmede' (3 a.) in 1379 and still formed part of the farm in 1808. (fn. 134) In 1379 John Hoode was farmer, but thereafter nothing is known of its lessees until 1726 when the farm was let at £80 yearly to Edward Carpenter. (fn. 135) From 1736 William Barnes (d. 1772) was farmer and was succeeded by his son John, who in 1785 kept 400 sheep on the farm, reckoned at 364 a., and bred some 100 lambs yearly. (fn. 136) The farm, then reckoned at 269 a., was leased during the earlier 19th century by members of the Hayward family and in 1880 by David Snelgrove, who bought it in 1920. (fn. 137)
The remaining third of Durand's Domesday estate, held by the FitzHerbert family, was worth a total of £7 17s. 7½d. in 1286 and contained 129 a. of arable land worth 5½d. an acre and 6 a. of meadow worth 2s. an acre. As on the Templars' estate, there was similarly pasture for sixteen oxen but for only 200 sheep. A free tenant paid 6s. 8d. yearly, while an unspecified number of customary tenants, who held three virgates and a half and paid a total rent of £1 15s., owed works worth 11s. 8d. yearly to the lord. Two cottars paid 6d. each and another 1s. (fn. 138) In 1808 the farm contained 141 a. and William Hayward was lessee in 1845. (fn. 139)
In the mid 12th century Chirton tithing had two open arable fields, an east and a west field, and a meadow called 'Putmede', common to all the estates within the tithing. Pitmead was still so called in 1850. (fn. 140) In 1379 pastures on the downs were known variously as 'Meane' down, Cow down, and Ox down, of which Cow down and Ox down were still so named in 1785. (fn. 141) The arable fields were known as Sand field, Clay field, and the Hill in 1808. Almost all the land remained open until 1808, when 1,090 a. were inclosed under an Act of Parliament. The main allotments were made to the trustees of Heytesbury Hospital (488 a.), the trustees of Froxfield Hospital (270 a.), and the trustees of the Bradford charity (141 a.). (fn. 142)
The Bradford and Froxfield estates in Chirton had small acreages and were apparently worked as single farms (see above). As explained above a considerable portion of the 488 a. allotted to Heytesbury Hospital in 1808 was then farmed by smallholders who held, either by copy or lease, no more than a few acres each. (fn. 143) The only recognizable farm (99 a.), besides the former demesne, had been leased since 1785 by John Burgess the elder (d. 1809). (fn. 144) By 1845 the smallholdings on the Heytesbury estate had been merged and made into two farms, one of 217 a. farmed by James Weeks, and another of 47 a. farmed by Stephen Neale. (fn. 145) The farms were later merged with Chirton Manor farm, reckoned in 1845 at 143 a., but which in 1970 had increased its acreage to 400 a. (fn. 146)
T.R.E. the abbot of Grestain's Conock estate paid geld for ten hides and was worth £8. In 1086 there was land enough for four ploughs. Six hides and a half in demesne were worked by 3 serfs with 2 ploughs, while elsewhere on the estate there was land enough for 2 ploughs worked by 6 villeins and 9 bordars. The estate was then worth £9 and contained 20 a. of meadow and pasture ½ league long and 3 furlongs broad. (fn. 147)
The manor was worth £24 c. 1210. (fn. 148) In 1361 it was reckoned at 64 a., a small acreage which may represent the amount of land then in hand. There was pasture for 150 sheep. A free tenant then paid 10s. 1d., 14 virgaters paid 10s. each yearly in rents and services, while 5s. was paid yearly by 2 halfvirgaters. (fn. 149) The manor was extended at £10 in 1420, of which £2 represented the assessed rents from unspecified lands and £6 7s. the sum paid by tenants who held at will. (fn. 150) The manor contained 34 yardlands in 1623 and was worth £22 18s. 9d. (fn. 151)
The manorial demesne was farmed out from earliest times and until the later 17th century the manor seems to have been worked by tenant farmers, such as members of the Pope family (lessees 1456– 1508) and of the Bartlett family (lessees 1579–c. 1637), from a house on the site of Conock Manor. (fn. 152) The earliest named farmer is John White, who succeeded his father at Conock in 1410. (fn. 153) During the 15th century the demesne lands were farmed at £22. (fn. 154) After 1674, however, lessees were notable people, such as members of the Ernle family, who began to build Conock Manor, and their descendants the Warriners. (fn. 155) Thereafter the demesne was apparently sub-let and the farmers probably lived at Manor Farm. Little is known of the acreage of the estate until the 19th century, when, in 1816, it contained 416 a. (fn. 156)
Apart from the farmer of the demesne there were three customary tenants and a free tenant elsewhere on the manorial estate in 1528. (fn. 157) There was a freehold estate of a few acres within the manor throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The number of customary tenants had increased to 11 in 1623, to 13 in 1646, to 14 in 1648, and to 15 in 1651. (fn. 158) During the 18th century the Warriner family gradually acquired a substantial leasehold and copyhold estate in Conock, a process begun c. 1712 when Isaac Warriner (d. 1752) inherited a copyhold estate there from his kinsman Gifford Yerbury, which passed at his death, with three more copyholds, to his son Gifford (d. 1787). (fn. 159) He added two more copyholds to the estate, which was inherited by his son Gifford (d. 1820), who also acquired a lease of Manor farm in 1789 (see above). At his death he held seven copyholds totalling 166 a. (fn. 160) During the earlier 19th century, therefore, the Warriners, as leaseholders and copyholders under the trustees of Ewelme Almshouse, held most of the land in the tithing of Conock. In 1854 the manorial estate contained 570 a. of leasehold land and 182 a. of copyhold land. Of the leasehold land, William Plummer, under-tenant of the lessee Stephen Mills, then had 506 a., of which 435 a. represented Manor farm, while of the copyhold land, he had 160 a. (fn. 161)
Little is known of the economy of the manor until the 16th century. In 1540 the farmer was ordered not to keep more than 40 ewes on the Winter down, and in 1657, although previously not more than 500 sheep had been pastured, some 600 sheep comprised the demesne flock. (fn. 162) It was decided in 1672 that no leaseholder or copyholder, apart from the demesne farmer, should keep more than twenty sheep on a yardland or fifteen on half a yardland. (fn. 163)
In 1538 the manor had fields known as East Sand and Cukford, in 1540 a pasture called Winter down, and in 1544 a meadow called Shere Clay. (fn. 164) In 1629 Conock sands and mead were inclosed. (fn. 165) By the earlier 19th century some 130 a., which presumably lay in the north of the tithing near the hamlet, had been inclosed. Little is known of the open fields of Conock tithing until 1816, when, like those of Chirton tithing, they lay mainly on the chalk bounded to the north by the Devizes road and to the south by the scarp of Salisbury Plain. The open fields were then known as Wedhampton, Chirton, Hitch, and Bottom fields. Open arable also lay on the Hill and pasture lay on Greenhill, the Ridge, Honey, Farm, Little, and Great downs. Following the inclosure award of 1816 661 a. were inclosed and allotted to the trustees of Ewelme Almshouse as lords of the manor. Some 416 a. of the total were allotted to Gifford Warriner (d. 1820) as lessee of Manor farm. (fn. 166)
There was no woodland on either the Chirton or Conock estates in 1086 but it seems that both during the Middle Ages and in more recent times a planting policy was carried out from time to time within both manors and on other estates in the parish. In the earlier 16th century Thomas Keye, paymaster of Ewelme Almshouse, apparently felled and sold some 380 trees on the Conock estate, to the detriment of the tenants there 'for that the same village standeth in a cold country in the vale of KonnyngMarch, where is very barren of wood'. (fn. 167) In 1522 and 1540 tenants there were presented for felling trees without licence, and in 1556 another forfeited his holding for felling an elm. (fn. 168) The farmer of the Froxfield estate at Chirton in 1737 was allowed 1s. for each of the 100 elms he had planted about the farm. (fn. 169) There were some 30 a. of woodland around Conock Manor in 1832 and the hamlet was still well wooded in 1970. (fn. 170) Little woodland, however, then remained in Chirton tithing.
In 1899 and 1900 all the downland in the parish south of the Ridge Way, amounting to some 700 a., was sold to the War Department. (fn. 171) The land still formed part of one of the firing ranges of the Salisbury Plain area in 1970. Most of the land on the ridge was then leased to Mr. Henry Horton of Wilsford at a nominal rent. In 1970 there were three substantial farms in the parish, all devoted to mixed farming. Manor farm (400 a.), representative of the former Heytesbury estate at Chirton, was owned by Mr. H. Miller. Chirton farm, which included lands formerly belonging to Curll's Bradford charity, was owned by Mr. N. Hues, and Manor farm, Conock, owned by Mr. Bonar Sykes, was tenanted by Mr. P. Hues. (fn. 172)
A clock-maker, W. Adams of Conock, worked in the parish c. 1738. (fn. 173) A bakery, now converted into a private dwelling called the Old Bakehouse, formerly stood on the north-east corner of High Street. In the earlier 20th century the Giddings family worked in the village as thatchers and the Stone family as threshing contractors. In 1970, apart from a few people employed on the farms in the parish, most worked outside Chirton. (fn. 174)
Mill. In 1086 a mill paying 10s., to be identified with Church Mill, was attached to Durand of Gloucester's estate at Chirton. (fn. 175) Although the name is not recorded until the earlier 17th century, it clearly originated in the 12th century when the miller was bound to pay 12d. yearly towards the maintenance of a light in the parish church. (fn. 176) The mill descended with the manor of Chirton and eventually passed in the early 13th century to Lanthony Priory, who retained it until the Dissolution. (fn. 177) Thereafter nothing is known of it until 1572 when John Eyre of Great Chalfield (d. 1581) owned it. (fn. 178) From him the mill passed successively to his son Sir William (d. 1629) and grandson Sir John (d.s.p. 1639). In 1630 Sir John sold it to his half-brother Henry Eyre (d. before 1649) of Wedhampton (in Urchfont), from whom it passed to his son William (d. 1660). (fn. 179) In 1658 William, with his wife Sarah, sold Church Mill to his aunt Anne Howard and her husband Edward. (fn. 180) Edward Howard sold it in 1671 to Dr. Ralph Brideoake, dean of Salisbury, who presumably made the purchase on behalf of Heytesbury Hospital, (fn. 181) still owners of the mill in the early 20th century. (fn. 182)
Throughout the 17th century Church Mill was tenanted by members of the Giddings family. In 1630 John Giddings was miller there. (fn. 183) Edward Giddings, presumably John's son, negotiated a lease for lives in 1641 and was still tenant in 1671. (fn. 184) Heytesbury Hospital leased the mill to Daniel Chandler in 1798, to William Taylor in 1838, and to Charles Chandler in 1841. (fn. 185) Thomas Chandler was tenant in 1903. (fn. 186) The Chandlers apparently established themselves there as maltsters, and Charles Chandler erected the group of buildings, now converted into private houses, which stand on the south bank of the river Avon in the extreme north-east corner of the parish. Two buildings, which stand on the Marden side of the parish boundary, have date-tablets respectively inscribed 'C.C. 1844' and 'C.C. 1847'. In 1848 Charles Chandler converted the mill to steam power. (fn. 187) He may also have built the corn-mill which stood on the south side of the road in the later 19th century. (fn. 188) The buildings apparently fell into disuse in the early 20th century. (fn. 189)
In 1275 the prior of Lanthony claimed right of gallows and the assize of bread and ale in the manor of Chirton. (fn. 190) He probably also had view of frankpledge. (fn. 191) Records of courts cover the period 1718–1886, with gaps of a few years at intervals. (fn. 192) Two courts baron, held in 1718 and 1719, are recorded but thereafter until 1776 the courts, generally held once a year by the steward of Heytesbury Hospital, were designated customary courts and dealt with business such as surrenders of, and admittances to, copyholds. In 1776 leet jurisdiction was revived and until 1853 courts of view of frankpledge and customary courts, whose business was recorded separately, were held on the same day at Chirton either once or twice a year. Leet business included the appointment of a sheep teller, tithingman, and hayward each year and in 1790 the jury presented that Southmead Lane ought to be repaired. Courts continued to be held until 1886 but had become formalities by at least 1840, although a hayward was last appointed in 1870. They were known simply as customary courts from 1853 to 1886.
Proceedings of the courts baron of Conock manor are recorded on a court roll of 1410 and in series of court books and papers which run, with some short gaps, from 1522 to 1592, from 1629 to 1799, and from 1802 to 1841. (fn. 193) It appears that courts were usually held once a year until the later 18th century. Two courts a year were held in 1530, 1536, and in the 1560s. During the 16th and 17th centuries the courts were concerned with regulation of the usual small agricultural matters such as repairing the pound and ruinous tenements, and unlicensed felling. Although manorial customs were still recorded at the 18th-century courts, the surrender of copyholds and the admittance of tenants to them had by that time gradually assumed the most important place in the court records. It was largely for that purpose that courts still met in the early 19th century. (fn. 194)
Lists of overseers are extant for 1614–87 and 1699–1724 and surveyors of highways are listed for 1677–92. (fn. 195) Two overseers and two surveyors were appointed yearly for the tithings of Chirton and Conock respectively. Later overseers' accounts run from 1726–1815 and list overseers, poor-rates levied, and payments out. Some £11 yearly was generally paid out in the 18th century. (fn. 196) In 1835 Chirton became part of Devizes poor-law union. (fn. 197) Later parish records include a vestry minute book for 1848–94, which includes names of overseers of the poor and waywardens. (fn. 198) The vestry in 1850 discussed the raising of money to help poor families to emigrate from Chirton. (fn. 199)
There seems to have been a church at Chirton in the earlier 12th century for Walter of Gloucester (d. ante 1129), overlord of the manor, granted half his tithes there to St. Owen's church, Gloucester. (fn. 200) When Walter's son Miles (d. 1143) conveyed St. Owen's and its appurtenances to the newly-established priory of Lanthony in Gloucester in 1137, he included a grant of more tithes in Chirton. (fn. 201) At an unknown date Margaret de Bohun, Miles's daughter, granted the tithe of hay from her meadows in Chirton to the priory. (fn. 202) She finally gave the entire church, including a hide of land, to Lanthony in 1167. (fn. 203) At that time, however, Reynold, archdeacon of Salisbury (later bishop of Bath and archbishop-elect of Canterbury, d. 1191), apparently had a life interest in the profits which he retained in return for an annual rent to the priory. (fn. 204) Margaret's grant was confirmed by Jocelin, bishop of Salisbury (1142–84), on condition that the priest, Simon, then serving the church should receive some of its profits for his support in return for an annual payment of £2 to the priory. (fn. 205) After Simon's death Lanthony appointed another priest, John, to serve the church. He was to be maintained in the same way but for an increased annual payment of £5. (fn. 206) A dispute followed concerning the payment and ended with the resignation of John and the ordination of a vicarage in 1216. (fn. 207) Thenceforth until the 16th century the priors of Lanthony presented vicars except in 1346 when for an unknown reason the bishop of Winchester presented. (fn. 208) On the dissolution of Lanthony in 1539 the advowson passed to the Crown. (fn. 209) In 1923 the vicarage was united with that of Marden and thereafter the Crown and Bristol chapter (patrons of Marden) presented alternately. (fn. 210) In 1958 the Crown's turn was transferred to the bishop of Salisbury, who had acquired the patronage of Marden in 1950. (fn. 211) From 1951 the united benefice was held in plurality with the rectory of Patney and in 1963 the livings were combined. The benefice so formed, whose patron was the bishop, was known as the united benefice of Chirton with Marden and Patney. (fn. 212)
In 1291 the church was valued for taxation at £10. (fn. 213) Its true value was said to be £14 8s. 4d. in 1341, a sum which included a rent of £5, presumably the farm of the rectory. (fn. 214) In 1535 the rectory was leased for an annual rent of £6 to a layman, John Nichols. (fn. 215) At the Dissolution the rectory passed with the advowson to the Crown, and its later descent is traced above. (fn. 216)
After the ordination of the vicarage in 1216 the appropriators were entitled to most great tithes and some small ones. In 1224 the abbot of Grestain, lord of the manor of Conock, was allowed to take the great tithes from his demesne lands there, but they probably reverted to the appropriators in 1348 when Grestain sold Conock to the Crown. (fn. 217) The Templars and their successors the Hospitallers may also have been entitled to the great tithes from their demesne lands in Chirton throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 218) The hide of land given to the church in 1167 was leased to the vicar in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 219)
The vicarage was worth £11 11s. 6d. yearly in 1535. (fn. 220) It was worth £30 a year in 1705 and from 1829 to 1831 had a net average income of £168 yearly. (fn. 221) Under the terms of John Curll's Bradford charity the vicar of Chirton has been entitled to a yearly payment of £2 out of charity funds since the early 18th century. (fn. 222) In 1783 he apparently received it in return for inspecting buildings on the charity's Chirton estate, and in 1892 in return for preaching a sermon. (fn. 223) The sum was still payable in 1970. (fn. 224)
In 1216 the vicars were granted certain great tithes as well as most of the small tithes. (fn. 225) The vicarage was confirmed in 1239, but at that date the Templars, owners of a small estate at Chirton, took the vicarial as well as the rectorial tithes from their demesne lands. (fn. 226) For a short time after 1224 Grestain Abbey took the vicarial tithes arising from its demesne lands (see above), but the vicar subsequently regained them, as he did also the lesser tithes arising from the Templars' lands at Chirton. In the 17th and 18th centuries the vicar had all the small tithes and certain great tithes in the parish. (fn. 227) In 1845 his tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £192. (fn. 228)
In 1216 the vicar was allotted 4 a. known as 'Ellecroft' and another 3 a. of arable land in Conock, an estate confirmed to him in 1239. (fn. 229) The vicarial glebe, reckoned at some 8 a., lay in Elcrofts Hedge, Southmeadfurlong, Tweenways, Sandslade, and Acreditchfurlong in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 230) When the open fields of Chirton were inclosed in 1808, the vicar was allotted 10 a. to replace his glebe there. (fn. 231) He was still entitled to 10 a. in 1887. (fn. 232)
A vicarage-house is first mentioned in 1609. (fn. 233) Described in 1677 as of three bays with a small bay to the west and in 1783 as a timber-framed building partly faced with brick, it is probably identifiable with Yew Tree Cottage. (fn. 234) The building, which stands east of the church on the corner of the road to Patney, is so named from a well-grown yew in its garden, and is basically of 17th-century date. It was probably sold in the early 19th century and subsequently added to and altered. It was replaced by the present (1970) Vicarage, which stands immediately south-west of the church and is a two-storeyed early-19th-century brick building with a hipped slate roof. That house served as the house for the united vicarage of Chirton with Marden from 1923 and from 1963 as that for the united benefice of Chirton with Marden and Patney. (fn. 235)
In the later 12th century the miller of Chirton was bound to pay 12d. yearly for a light in the parish church. (fn. 236) This may have been the light mentioned in 1549. (fn. 237) Most of the vicars who served the church during the Middle Ages were probably resident, with the exception of Master Peter of Inkpen, prebendary of Wilsford and Woodford and of Bishopstone in Salisbury cathedral, who was presented in 1346. (fn. 238) In 1556 the vicar apparently held two benefices without licence to do so. (fn. 239) By 1783 the vicar, who lived at Horningsham, employed the vicar of Wilcot as his assistant curate. (fn. 240) Such a curate served the church in the earlier 19th century and during the three years ending in 1831 received a stipend of £80. (fn. 241) John White, vicar from 1615 to 1671, was ejected in 1655 and until his restoration in 1660 practised as a physician at Conock. He published a book of verse in 1663. (fn. 242) His successors, Nathaniel Cooper, 1675–c. 1719, and John Pierce, 1719–c. 1768, were notable for their long incumbencies. (fn. 243) In 1783 the curate stated that, since the living was a poor one, services with sermons were held only once on Sundays, alternately in the morning and evening, and otherwise on Christmas day only. Holy Communion was celebrated thrice yearly when an average of fourteen attended. (fn. 244) In 1851 the congregation during the previous year was estimated to have averaged 165 at the morning and 220 at the evening service. (fn. 245) In 1864 services were held twice on Sundays and once on all great festivals. An average congregation of 60 or 70 in the mornings, of 150 on winter evenings, and 200 on those in summer, was usual. Holy Communion was celebrated at Christmas and Easter and otherwise on four Sundays during the year, when an average of 30 communicated. (fn. 246)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST is built of ashlar and has a chancel with north vestry, aisled nave with south porch, and west tower. Both nave, with its three-bay arcades, and chancel are basically of the later 12th century. The existence of aisles and the quality of the remaining decoration, especially that of the south doorway, denote a church of some quality. The date would suggest that an existing church at Chirton may have been either rebuilt or extensively altered and embellished soon after Lanthony Priory acquired it in 1167. The chancel was provided with new windows, at least on the south and east, in the 13th century. The aisles were rebuilt in the 14th century, probably to give the church a greater internal width. The slightly pointed head of the south doorway may have been introduced at the south aisle's reconstruction when it was reset in the new south wall. The porch, which contains fragments of contemporary glass, and the tower were added in the 15th century. Repairs were made to nave and chancel in 1630 and a window inserted in the south wall of the chancel. (fn. 247) A church-rate was levied for repairs c. 1698. (fn. 248) No major renovations, however, were carried out until the 19th century. James Dutch's restoration of 1850 retained the basic shape of the church, apart from the addition of a vestry, but its effect on details was severe. (fn. 249) The embattled parapet of the south aisle was removed, all the windows of chancel and nave given redesigned tracery, and in some cases the shape of the openings was altered. Most of the church furnishings were renewed, although the church retains a 12th-century circular stone font bearing carvings of the apostles beneath arcades. The stained glass is all of mid-19th-century date and chiefly commemorates members of the Warriner family. The arms of George III hang above the chancel arch and a number of Warriner hatchments in the west tower. In the north-west corner of the nave a 19th-century wall monument in 'Gothic' style records all members of the Warriner family, including wives and children, from Isaac (d. 1752) to Gifford (d. 1880). To the west of the south door Major-General Sir Frederick Sykes (d. 1954), who lived at Conock Manor, is commemorated by a slate wall tablet framed in alabaster and surmounted by his arms. (fn. 250)
In 1553 the church possessed a chalice but it was no longer among the church plate in 1891, when Chirton had a chalice, paten, flagon, and alms-dish given by the Revd. G. P. Cleather (assistant curate, 1828–c. 1853), which it retained in 1970. (fn. 251) The church had three bells in 1553. (fn. 252) Bells were reported out of repair in 1662, 1689, and 1692. (fn. 253) A peal of five, all by W. and R. Cor, was hung c. 1709 and as an inscription on the fifth bell, dated 1709, indicates were given by Walter Ernle (d. 1721) and Isaac Warriner (d. 1752). (fn. 254) The peal was rehung in 1931 and a sixth bell, given by Mr. P. Fussell, was added in 1959. (fn. 255) Registrations of baptisms date from 1579, marriages and burials from 1588, and are complete. (fn. 256)
During the earlier 19th century attempts to evangelize the parish were made by various protestant sects. In 1819 John Wells's house at Chirton was registered for worship by Wesleyan Methodists. (fn. 257) The following year William King's house was registered by an unspecified group of protestants. (fn. 258) The Devizes Itinerant Society registered a building for worship in 1831 (fn. 259) and in 1842 Joseph Parry registered a house at Conock for an unspecified denomination. (fn. 260) None flourished and in 1864, as in 1970, there were no nonconformist chapels in the parish. (fn. 261)
Two small 'dame' schools flourished at Chirton in 1808, and some ten children were taught to read at each. (fn. 262) One school still prospered in 1818 and of the 25 pupils who attended ten were supported by an unnamed benefactress. (fn. 263) In 1833 two small daily schools together catered for about 30 children whose fees were paid by their parents. A Sunday school, begun in 1831 and supported by the vicar and other subscribers, was attended by 40 boys and 48 girls in 1833. (fn. 264) It probably later became a daily school. In 1845 Heytesbury Hospital conveyed land for the building of a National school, which a year later received a state grant of £40. Here, in 1859, a young woman, reported to be intelligent but inexperienced, taught more than 40 boys and girls in a small badly-equipped schoolroom. (fn. 265) On return day in 1871 32 boys and girls attended. (fn. 266) Average attendance in 1906 was 45 children, a figure which varied little over the next two decades, except in 1927 when an average of 71 boys and girls attended. (fn. 267) In 1970 some 40 children from Chirton, Conock, Marden, Patney, and Wedhampton (in Urchfont) attended Chirton Church of England school and were taught by one part-time and two full-time teachers. (fn. 268) The school stood on the north-east corner of High Street and extra accommodation was provided in a hut on the opposite side of the road.
Charities for the Poor.
None for the sole benefit of the parish of Chirton are known to exist. Men from Conock manor, which, as described above, formed one of the chief endowments of Ewelme Almshouse from 1442, were, in accordance with the house's governing statutes, considered to have preference when vacancies occurred there, as were men from the alms-house's other three estates. (fn. 269) That privilege was confirmed by a Scheme of 1953. (fn. 270) No Conock men, however, were appointed between that date and 1973. (fn. 271)