A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 11, Downton Hundred; Elstub and Everleigh Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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Patney (fn. 1) lies at the western end of the Vale of Pewsey 7 km. south-east of Devizes. (fn. 2) The south-eastwards flowing head-streams of the Christchurch Avon, from which the parish's name derives, enclose a featureless and exposed islet of 358 ha. (884 a.) at the southern end of Cannings marsh. (fn. 3) The parish is roughly oval with a narrow triangular north-west extension. It measures a little over 2 km. from the northern point of the triangle to the southern boundary stream, and some 2.5 km. from west to east on a line north of the village, which is in the south of the parish.
The low-lying alluvial soils which border the boundary streams mostly extend no more than a few metres across lush withy fringed banks. (fn. 4) Two larger deposits of alluvium occur west and northeast of the village. That to the west was once the site of one of the parish's larger common meadows, while that to the north-east provided most of its pasture land. Apart from the alluvium, which lies around or below the 107 m. contour, and a small rise of Lower Chalk, which reaches 121 m. north of the village, Patney is characterized by a wide belt of Upper Greensand. The land rises almost imperceptibly north-eastwards. Formerly the site of the open arable fields, the greensand was partly pasture in 1976.
Very little evidence of prehistoric or Roman settlement has been found in the parish. Patney's assessments for medieval taxes appear small. There were 90 poll-tax payers in 1377. (fn. 5) Somewhat larger contributions to later-16th- and earlier-17th-century taxations were made by the several copyholders among whom the manor was then apportioned. (fn. 6) The Census of 1801 recorded 130 people at Patney. (fn. 7) The population thereafter rose steadily to 196 in 1841. It declined slightly in the two following decades because some families moved elsewhere, (fn. 8) rose from 106 to 127 between 1891 and 1901, but by 1921 had fallen to 85. It grew to 133 in 1951 and in 1971 135 people lived in the parish. (fn. 9)
In 1773 the roads which linked Patney with its north-west, east, and south neighbours entered the parish over Hail, Limber Stone, and Weir bridges. (fn. 10) The last two were still in use in 1976 and carried secondary roads. The road carried by Hail bridge, however, was no more than a track in 1976. In the later 18th century a lane, in 1976 to be seen as a track south of the church, led westwards from the road junction at the southern end of the village to the mill and then on to Wedhampton in Urchfont. (fn. 11) In the earlier 19th century a semicircular track at the junction of the greensand and alluvium ran from Limber Stone bridge south-eastwards to Church Mill, in Chirton. (fn. 12) The track leading north to Stanton mill (later Stanton Dairy), in Stanton St. Bernard, probably ceased to be used when the Berks. & Hants Extension Railway was constructed through the centre of Patney and opened in 1862. (fn. 13) At the same time the secondary road leading north to All Cannings was diverted over a bridge. A station, Patney & Chirton Junction, was built west of the bridge and an extension from it to Westbury was constructed and opened by the G.W.R. in 1900. (fn. 14) The station was closed in 1966 and its buildings demolished, but in 1976 the line through Patney to Westbury was still part of a main westerly rail route. (fn. 15)
The plan of the village is as it was in the later 18th century. (fn. 16) Settlement is centred on the T-junction, formerly cross-road, east of the church with the schoolroom, in 1976 a store, and the former Rectory to the south, and the mill to the west beyond the church. It extends northwards and north-eastwards from the junction along two lanes. The older cottages stand along both sides of the north-easterly lane and include at least one timber-framed house of the 17th century. Opposite Manor Farm, which in 1976 marked the limit of settlement on the north side of the lane, Home Farm, formerly called Queen Anne's Cottage, may possibly have been attached to the small estate held in the 18th century by the earls of Abingdon. (fn. 17) It is a Iater-17th- or earlier- 18th-century brick house with stone dressings. The north-west entrance front, in 1976 much altered, originally had five bays of mullioned and transomed windows. Apart from two brick cottages built on glebe land south of the church by Henry Weaver of Devizes in 1875, (fn. 18) later building in Patney, both council and private, has taken place at the northern end of the lane leading to All Cannings but has not extended north of the railway line.
Manor and other Estates.
In 963 King Edgar made 5 mansae at Patney bookland for himself. (fn. 19) That estate is to be identified with the later manor of PATNEY. (fn. 20) By the mid 1 11th century it was among the possessions of the bishop of Winchester and the monks of the Old Minster. (fn. 21) Possibly then, and certainly in 1086, it formed part of a larger estate based on Alton Priors, in Overton, the profits of which the community at Winchester received for its support. (fn. 22)
In the mid 11th century Bishop Stigand and the monks of the Old Minster leased 3 virgates at Patney to Wulfric in the same way as they did land at Alton Priors. (fn. 23) The estate so created was later held by Wulfward Belgisone and afterwards by William Scudet. (fn. 24) It was restored to St. Swithun's Priory in 1108. (fn. 25)
In 1284 the bishop of Winchester confirmed Patney, by then separate from Alton, to the convent. (fn. 26) In 1300 the house received a grant of free warren within the demesnes of Patney manor. (fn. 27) At the Dissolution the estate passed to the Crown. (fn. 28)
In 1541 the manor was granted by the Crown to the new cathedral chapter at Winchester. (fn. 29) In 1547 the chapter ceded the manor to the Crown which immediately granted it to Sir William Herbert (created earl of Pembroke in 1551, d. 1570). (fn. 30) It descended with the Pembroke title to Philip, earl of Pembroke and Montgomery (d. 1683), (fn. 31) who, shortly before he died, mortgaged it to William Pynsent (created a baronet in 1687, d. 1719). (fn. 32) Pynsent acquired the manor in 1692. It was confirmed to him in 1697 by Lord Pembroke's daughter and heir Charlotte and her husband John Jeffreys, Lord Jeffreys. (fn. 33)
Patney thereafter descended like the Pynsent estate at Urchfont to William Pitt (created earl of Chatham in 1766), who in 1767 sold it to William Bouverie, earl of Radnor (d. 1776). (fn. 34) It descended with the Radnor title until 1919 when Jacob, earl of Radnor, sold the estate, 590 a., to H. H. Pickford. (fn. 35) In 1974 Manor farm, 607 a., was owned by English Farms Ltd. and in 1976, when it was reckoned at 542 a., by Mereacre Ltd. (fn. 36)
Manor Farm, which has a principal south-west front of six bays, incorporates some sections of 17th-century timber-framed walling. The original 17th-century house was enlarged in brick and given stone window-frames c. 1700. In the earlier 19th century it was extended to the north-east, reroofed, and remodelled internally, and the south-west front was rendered. To that date, too, belongs the garden at the rear, which is enclosed by high brick thatched walls which incorporate a gazebo to the north-east.
In the earlier 13th century St. Swithun's Priory held an estate of some 16 a. (fn. 37) What may possibly be the same land was held of the priory by the Eyre family in the earlier 14th century. (fn. 38) John Eyre was succeeded in it c. 1329 by an idiot son John. (fn. 39) Keepers thereafter administered the estate. (fn. 40) The younger John was still living in 1336. (fn. 41)
It was perhaps the same land which John Dauntsey (d. 1559) held at Patney in 1558. John was succeeded in the estate, 35 a., by his son John (later Sir John) Dauntsey. (fn. 42) At Sir John's death in 1630 the land passed, in accordance with a settlement made in 1628, to his granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband Sir John Danvers (d. 1655). (fn. 43) It apparently descended in the same way as the manors of Lavington Rector in Market Lavington and Westbury Seymour in Westbury to the earls of Abingdon. (fn. 44) It was owned in 1710 by Montagu Bertie, earl of Abingdon, and thereafter descended with the Abingdon title to Willoughby, earl of Abingdon, who sold it in 1764 to Robert Amor. (fn. 45) After Amor's death in 1771 or 1772 his Patney lands passed successively to his sons Robert (d. 1781 or 1782), and William (d. 1783), and then to his daughter Sarah. In 1787 they were settled on Sarah's marriage with William Tinker, who apparently still owned them in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 46) They were bought in 1828 by an earl of Radnor, possibly William Pleydell-Bouverie (d. 1869), and were thereafter merged in the manor. (fn. 47)
In the 11th century Patney was included in the Winchester community's Alton Priors estate. (fn. 48) In 1210 the Patney estate, then separate from Alton, was stocked with 8 oxen and 50 sheep and was worth £11 (fn. 49). In the earlier 13th century the almoner of St. Swithun's received the profits of 3 virgates at Patney, perhaps the land leased T.R.E. to Wulfric. Another tenant held ½ hide for 6s. 8d. and certain ploughing services; 3 more ½-hiders each paid 10s. yearly and owed labour services; 13 virgaters including the miller, who held, apart from the mill, 1 virgate and some arable and meadow land for money rents only, paid 5s. yearly and owed half the duties of the ½-hiders; 3 ½-virgaters each paid 2s. 6d. yearly and owed half the virgaters' services; 3 more tenants each held a few acres for money rents and certain sowing, reaping, and hay-making duties; and another 2 held crofts for small money rents. (fn. 50) The almoner's right to the profits of the 3 virgates was not afterwards mentioned and in the 14th century the revenue of the entire manor was apparently paid direct to the prior's treasury. (fn. 51)
Patney was valued for taxation at £22 in 1291 and was worth £29 in 1535. (fn. 52) In the Middle Ages it was part of the inter-manorial economy of the estate of St. Swithun's Priory. Yearly interchange of grain and stock took place chiefly with East Overton and Alton Priors manors but sometimes with Stockton and Wroughton as well. (fn. 53) In 1267 oxen and ewes from Patney were sent to Wroughton, and ewes and lambs to Alton Priors. Of the 197 doves hatched at Patney in that year most were sent to Devizes Castle to provide food for the falcons kept there. The rest were sent to Alton. In the same year Patney produced 157 cheeses. (fn. 54)
In the later 16th century the manor seems to have been apportioned among eleven customary tenants who paid a total rent of £27 and between them held 519 a. of arable land and 101 a. of meadow. Of those tenants, four held farms of over 50 a. (fn. 55) In 1773 Patney was estimated at 894 a. of which 62 a. were in three small freeholds, 25 a. were in hand, 223 a. in four leaseholds, and 421 a. in nine copyholds. Of the leaseholds, two were held by George Lewis and made a farm of some 130 a. Three of the copyholds were held by Robert Amor the younger as a farm of 160 a. (fn. 56)
The east and west open arable fields, first mentioned in the 13th century, had been subdivided by the 18th. (fn. 57) In 1773 open arable was in the Clay field in the north part of the parish, in Puckland and Little fields respectively west and east of the lane leading from Chirton through the village to All Cannings, and in the Sand field which occupied the south-east corner of the parish. (fn. 58) The arable was surrounded by a narrow belt of meadow land and pasture. (fn. 59) In 1567 the meadow was reckoned at some 139 a. and in 1773 at 90 a. (fn. 60) The largest common meadow, West mead, was in Patney's south-west corner. (fn. 61) From the 13th century at the latest to the 17th century certain meadows within the manor were farmed. In 1248 a total rent of £2 was received from them. (fn. 62) What were possibly the same meadows were farmed by John Foster for £2 13s. 4d. in the earlier 16th century and afterwards by William Button (d. 1547) and his son William (d. 1591). (fn. 63) Both before and after the Dissolution certain landowners and tenants in other parishes, notably Enford and Chirton, were entitled to hay from Patney's meadows to augment their own meagre resources. (fn. 64)
By 1773 some 88 a. of meadow, 128 a. of pasture, and 58 a. of arable land in the parish had already been inclosed. (fn. 65) It seems possible, however, that those lands were re-allotted at parliamentary inclosure in 1780. The earl of Radnor then received 101 a.; the rector was allotted 127 a.; 7 small freeholders between them received 46 a.; 3 leaseholders received 87 a.; and 9 copyholders tenanting eleven estates were allotted 177 a. The rector's allotment became Rectory farm, and in the earl of Radnor's allotment the nucleus of Manor farm may be seen. Two of the farms mentioned in 1773 were consolidated. That held by Robert Amor after inclosure comprised 73 a. of freehold and copyhold land, while the other, leased to George Lewis, was estimated at 65 a. (fn. 66)
Manor farm which emerged after 1780 also included the water-mill and some former copyholds. It was let in 1783 to Edward Bouverie (d. 1810) but soon after seems to have been tenanted by Thomas Powys (later Baron Lilford, d. 1800). (fn. 67) The farm was augmented in 1828 by freehold land once Robert Amor's, and in 1828 and 1829 by two small copyholds. (fn. 68) By 1830 Stephen Akerman was tenant of both Manor and Rectory farms. (fn. 69)
In the earlier 20th century the Radnor estate at Patney, probably by then divided into Manor, 216 a., and Home, 256 a., farms, was let to Frank Stratton & Co. The company remained tenant until the farms were sold in 1919. (fn. 70) The farms were later merged and in 1976 Manor farm measured 542 a., of which some 230 a. were permanent pasture or under grass and 289 a. were given over to arable farming. Manor farm was then worked in conjunction with Manor farm, Beechingstoke. (fn. 71)
Mill. Of the two mills within the bishop of Winchester's Alton Priors estate in 1086, one may possibly have been at Patney. (fn. 72) In the early 13th century John the miller, a substantial customary tenant of St. Swithun's Priory, held a water-mill and 3 a. of land within Patney manor for 10s. yearly. (fn. 73) William Gilbert held the mill by copy in the later 16th century. (fn. 74) From the later 18th century, however, it was apparently leased with Manor farm. (fn. 75) It was offered for sale with that farm in 1919. (fn. 76)
Patney mill stood west of the church. (fn. 77) Its brick base, apparently of the 19th century, was visible in 1976. Its wheel was driven by water from a leat constructed from Patney's western boundary stream. The leat flowed some distance south-west of the mill and water was conveyed from it to the mill by a timber aqueduct.
In the mid 13th century the prior of St. Swithun's, Winchester, exercised franchisal jurisdiction within his hundred of Elstub, to which he transferred Patney from Studfold hundred c. 1248. (fn. 78) He apparently had a prison at Patney in 1249. (fn. 79)
Until the Dissolution Patney apparently owed suit at the courts, at which both franchisal and manorial jurisdiction was exercised, held by St. Swithun's at Alton Priors. (fn. 80) Although the lords of Patney continued to be entitled to view of frankpledge, courts held in the later 16th century seem to have dealt with purely manorial business. Those courts were sometimes held at Stanton St. Bernard once or twice yearly with those for North Newnton and Stanton, both also Pembroke properties. Business for each manor was recorded separately. From the 17th century, however, courts appear to have been held separately at Patney. Views, at which a tithingman was elected, and manorial courts, which dealt with copyhold business and small agricultural matters, were then held on the same day but their business was recorded separately. From c. 1694, however, the business of the two courts was recorded together. (fn. 81)
In the mid 1830s an average sum of some £85 yearly was spent on the poor of Patney. In 1835 the parish became part of Devizes poor-law union. (fn. 82)
In the 12th century the advowson of Patney church belonged to the prior and monks of St. Swithun's, Winchester. Their right to present rectors was apparently challenged in the early 12th century by William Giffard, bishop of Winchester, but he seems to have restored the advowson to St. Swithun's c. 1124. (fn. 83) The priory's right to present was confirmed by the bishop in 1172. (fn. 84) In the early 13th century, however, the advowson was held by the bishops, to whom the convent finally ceded their right in 1284. (fn. 85) The bishops presented rectors until the mid 19th century, except in 1280 when the king presented sede vacante, in 1573 when the lord of Patney manor, Henry, earl of Pembroke, did so, and in 1639 when for an unknown reason the king presented. (fn. 86) In 1869 the right to present was transferred to the bishop of Oxford, and in 1953 to the bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 87) The rectory was held in plurality with the united benefice of Chirton with Marden from 1951, and united with it in 1963. (fn. 88) In 1976 the united benefice of Charlton with North Newnton and Wilsford was dismembered and Charlton and Wilsford added to the united benefice of Chirton with Marden and Patney. The patronage of the new united benefice of Chirton, Marden, Patney, Charlton, and Wilsford was thereafter to be exercised in a series of five turns. The first and fifth were assigned to the bishop of Salisbury as patron of Chirton, Marden, and Patney, the second and fourth to Christ Church chapter, Oxford, as patron of Charlton, and the third to St. Nicholas's Hospital, Salisbury, as patron of Wilsford. (fn. 89)
The church was valued at £5 in 1291. (fn. 90) Its worth in 1535 was £19. (fn. 91) Those sums represented the value of all the tithes of Patney, of the tithe of Bellarts ham in All Cannings, and of some 15 a. of glebe in the commons and open fields of Patney. (fn. 92) In 1705 the miller was paying 3s. 4d. yearly in place of tithes. (fn. 93) At inclosure in 1780 the rector was allotted 15 a. to replace his glebe and 112 a. in place of tithes. (fn. 94) The estate so formed was afterwards called Rectory farm. The net yearly income of the benefice from 1829 to 1831 averaged £225. (fn. 95) In 1928 the farm, 143 a., was let to H. W. H. Snook (d. 1975). (fn. 96) His son, Mr. D. Snook, was tenant in 1977. (fn. 97)
A rectory-house is mentioned in 1341, 1608, and 1705. (fn. 98) Although that standing c. 1829 was considered habitable, it was demolished and replaced, apparently on the same site south of the church, by a house designed and built in 1833 by William Dyer of Alton (Hants). (fn. 99) Its northerly red-brick extension is of the later 19th century. The Rectory was let as a farm-house to the tenant of Rectory farm c. 1949. (fn. 100)
Of the rectors who served Patney, many, because of preferments and interests elsewhere, did not reside. John of Ilsley, rector 1307–18, frequently obtained leave of absence to study between 1308 and 1312. In 1309 a deputy was appointed to serve the cure. John later became a royal clerk and afterwards served as a baron (1332–4) and as chancellor (1334–41) of the Exchequer. (fn. 101) Thomas Romsey, rector from 1401 to c. 1405, was also headmaster of Winchester College. (fn. 102) Robert Parker, rector 1591–3, was afterwards forced to live abroad because of his extreme puritan views. (fn. 103) Geoffrey Bigge, rector from 1593 to c. 1631, was also master of St. Thomas's Hospital, Salisbury. (fn. 104) Among the many preferments of James Wedderburn, rector 1631–9, was the bishopric of Dunblane, to which he was elected in 1636. (fn. 105) Wedderburn's successor Samuel Marsh (d. 1657) had been ejected by 1647. (fn. 106) By that date a puritan, John Massey, who subscribed to the 1648 Concurrent Testimony, had been intruded. (fn. 107) An assistant curate of puritan sympathies served Patney in 1641. (fn. 108) In 1783 the rector of Woodborough acted as curate because the incumbent lived at Britford, where he was vicar. (fn. 109) A curate assisted the rector in 1818, (fn. 110) and from 1949 to 1951 the incumbent of the united benefice of Chirton with Marden was curate-in-charge of Patney. (fn. 111)
In 1783 services with sermons were held alternately morning and evening each Sunday. None was held on weekdays. Holy Communion, then attended by some six communicants, was celebrated at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun. (fn. 112) On Census Sunday in 1851 65 people attended morning service and 70 that held in the afternoon. (fn. 113) Two Sunday services, attended on average by about 30 people in the morning and 45 in the afternoon, were held in 1864. The Sacrament was administered to some eight communicants on the Sunday after Christmas, Easter day, and Whit Sunday. (fn. 114)
The church of ST. SWITHUN stands west of the village. It is built of rubble with freestone dressings and comprises chancel and nave with north vestry, south porch, and central bellcot. The later-13th-century church was lit by windows consisting of grouped cusped lancets. (fn. 115) Its chancel was reported out of repair in 1662. (fn. 116) In the period 1876–8 the church was partly rebuilt and was thoroughly restored as an exact copy of the original by Henry Weaver of Devizes. (fn. 117) Weaver also removed the west gallery, added the north vestry, and largely refitted the church, (fn. 118) which in 1976, however, retained a 12th-century font, 14th-century piscena, and earlier-17th-century pulpit.
In 1976 the plate comprised a chalice of 1706, paten of 1722, and flagon of 1766, all presented in 1830, byaMiss Lewis of Wedhampton, in Urchfont. (fn. 119) The church had two bells in 1553 and in the 20th century: (i) is by W. and R. Cor (fl. 1694–1724); (ii) is of c. 1500 and was possibly cast in Dorset. (fn. 120)
Registrations of baptisms and burials are extant from 1592, and of marriages from 1594. Burials are lacking for 1765–73. (fn. 121)
There was a nonconformist at Patney in 1676. (fn. 122) Independents certified a house there in 1799. (fn. 123) In 1830 Thomas Wells's house was certified for worship; (fn. 124) the group which met there was probably attached to the New Baptist chapel at Devizes. (fn. 125)
There was a boarding- and day- school for some 40 children in the parish in 1808. (fn. 126) A woman taught about six poor children in 1818. (fn. 127) In 1858 about twenty children were taught by a mistress in a small schoolroom. Reading and writing were then apparently better taught at Patney than at other schools near by. (fn. 128) That school flourished and by 1871 was connected with the National Society. On return day in that year six boys and eleven girls attended. (fn. 129) The school stood south-west of the road junction at the centre of the village. (fn. 130) An average of 28 boys and girls attended during the year 1906–7. Average attendance remained fairly steady until the end of the First World War. In 1922, however, there had been an average attendance of only fourteen children over the past year, and in 1924 the school was closed. (fn. 131) Patney children afterwards attended Chirton school 1 km. away. (fn. 132) In 1976 the former schoolroom was used as a store.