A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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The chapelry and tithing of Baydon was in Ramsbury parish. It relieved its own poor, apparently in the early 18th century, (fn. 1) and achieved full parish status in the 1790s when its church became independent of Ramsbury church. (fn. 2) The parish is shaped like an hourglass. Its boundaries, especially that with Ramsbury, are irregular, except the part of the western boundary marked by the Roman road Ermin Street. They enclose the summit of the downs, marked by the 229 m. contour, and correspond with the relief. Baydon village is on the summit at the neck of the hourglass. Ford and Gore Lane are valley settlements in respectively the extreme south-west and north parts of the parish. In 1934, when the boundary with Aldbourne was moved from the stream flowing from Aldbourne to Knighton to the Aldbourne-Knighton road to exclude Ford Farm, the area of the parish fell from 2,485 a. (1,006 ha.) to 1,001 ha. (2,473 a.). (fn. 3)
Although the village site suggests an ancient origin, the earliest reference to Baydon is of 1196. (fn. 4) Baydon was of average wealth in the early 14th century and there were 59 poll-tax payers in 1377. (fn. 5) It may have been less prosperous in the 16th century but may not have deserved to be called a hamlet as it was in 1621. (fn. 6) There were 81 men living in the parish in 1773. (fn. 7) The population was 290 in 1801. It had risen to 380 by 1861 but had declined to 213 by 1921. Since the Second World War the population, 365 in 1971, more in 1981, has more than doubled as the village has become a dormitory of Swindon. (fn. 8)
The village is bisected by a Roman road, there called Ermin Street and Baydon Road, but most settlement in it has been away from the road in the network of lanes which, with no clear pattern, lie north and south of the road. No large manor house has stood there. What was presumably the largest farmhouse was derelict in the mid 16th century and was replaced by Bailey Hill Farm (fn. 9) 1 km. north of the village. In the 16th century and until the 19th Baydon was a village of medium sized farmsteads, from the late 18th century or earlier all in the lanes: (fn. 10) Downs House, Tubbs Farm, Westfield Farm, and Finches Farm were north of Ermin Street, and south of it were Manor Farm, Walrond's Farm, Baydon House Farm, and Paine's Farm. The church, the former vicarage house, and the school are north of the road; most of the later 20th-century houses are south of it. The Green Dragon was an inn on the south side of Baydon Road in 1715. (fn. 11) It was converted into cottages in 1771 and later demolished. The Plough, which replaced it, was converted into cottages between 1848 and 1855. (fn. 12) The Red Lion, an inn in 1772, (fn. 13) also on the south side of Baydon Road, survives as a much altered building possibly of the 17th century.
East of the church Westfield Farm and a cottage are possibly 17th-century. Buildings of the 18th century include Tubbs Farm and the east half of Downs House north of the Roman road and, south of it, several thatched and other cottages beside Aldbourne Road and near Baydon House Farm at the south end of the village, in Manor Lane, and on the south side of Ermin Street. Baydon House Farm was built in 1744 and later extended. (fn. 14) There was little rebuilding in Baydon in the 19th century: between 1875 and 1890 the wealthy philanthropist Angela, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, then patron of the living, replaced several cottages with 'model' cottages, (fn. 15) but it is not clear whether the replacements are the seven flint and brick late 19thcentury cottages in Gothic style near the church or Model Cottages in Aldbourne Road, of similar date and with arch-braced eaves. In the earlier 20th century three pairs of council houses were built beside Ermin Street, three pairs in Manor Lane, and eight in Aldbourne Road. The growth of housing in the village since 1945 has, however, been by the building of small houses and bungalows beside the lanes and of a total of 61 in Ermin Close south of Ermin Street and in Downsmead west of Aldbourne Road. In 1973 a water tower, with the tank clasped by tapering concrete piers, was built to designs of Scherrer & Hicks east of the village beside the London and south Wales motorway. (fn. 16)
Ford may have been a hamlet in the Middle Ages, but in the mid 16th century and later there was apparently no more than a single farmstead there. (fn. 17) In the later 18th century the AldbourneKnighton road passed between the buildings and the stream. (fn. 18) By 1828 it had been remade on a straighter and higher course north-east of them. (fn. 19) In 1981 Ford Farm consisted of extensive farm buildings and a large 19th-century house.
In 1773 there was no building in the inclosures called Gore Lanes. Gore Lane Farm was built on the west side of the road there before 1828, and farm buildings were built on the east side before 1878. (fn. 20) Hazelbury Farm, south of Gore Lane Farm on the west side, was built in the mid 20th century, and there are several other 20th-century dwellings in the hamlet.
Manor and Other Estates.
Almost certainly in 1086 as later, all the land of Baydon was part of the bishop of Salisbury's Ramsbury estate. (fn. 21) The bishop's demesne and the freely and customarily held land at Baydon were part of Ramsbury manor, but together were often referred to as if they formed a separate manor of BAYDON. (fn. 22) The bishop was granted free warren in his demesne lands in 1294. (fn. 23) Most of Baydon manor, the demesne, two thirds of the yardlands held by copy, and two thirds of the land held by lease, was sold by Henry Powle between 1677 and 1681. (fn. 24) The remainder, perhaps 500 a., held by copy and lease in 1778, passed with Ramsbury manor through the Jones family to Sir Francis Burdett (d. 1844). (fn. 25) By 1827 most of that land had been merged in Manor farm, which Burdett then sold to John Williams (d. c. 1854). (fn. 26) Williams was succeeded by another John Williams who in 1884 sold the farm, 495 a. including land in the north and south parts of the parish. (fn. 27) Francis James Simpkins owned it from 1885 to 1890. It passed before 1899 to William James Phelps, who owned it until 1913. (fn. 28) Nearly all the land south of Ermin Street and Baydon Road was afterwards acquired, presumably by purchase, by Moses Woolland (d. 1918) and passed with his Marridge Hill, later Baydon Manor, estate in Ramsbury to his son Walter, who in 1947 owned and sold nearly all the agricultural land in Baydon south of the Roman road, c. 1,200 a. (fn. 29) Over 200 a. of it in the south-east corner of the parish were part of Maj. H. O. Stibbard's Marridge Hill estate in 1981. (fn. 30) The land north of the Roman road and buildings and some land south of it were sold in 1955 by Edwin Smith as Manor farm, 284 a. (fn. 31) In 1981 most of the land north of the road was part of Finches farm. (fn. 32)
Land at Gore Lane remained part of Ramsbury manor until c. 1804 when it passed, presumably by sale, from Sir Francis Burdett to Henry Read of Crowood. A John Williams, possibly he who bought Manor farm, acquired it from Read c. 1812. (fn. 33) It was apparently sold in 1872, and in the late 19th century was used for racehorse training, presumably from the stables at Russley Park in Bishopstone. In 1917, after the death of Henry Challoner Smith who seems to have owned it, the land was sold as Gore Lane farm, 125 a. (fn. 34) In 1981 that farm belonged to Mr. J. D. Wright. (fn. 35)
The demesne land of Ramsbury manor in Baydon, Bailey Hill farm, was bought by Robert Gilmore in 1681. (fn. 36) Gilmore (fl. 1705) devised the land to his wife Mary and his sister Catherine. They conveyed it to Catherine's son John Miller (d. 1707) whose relict Mary seems to have sold it to its mortgagees, Alexander and William Goodall, the executors of Alexander Goodall, c. 1718. (fn. 37) The farm seems to have been acquired by Alexander Goodall (fl. 1721), whose daughter and executor Anne Goodall died seised in 1734. (fn. 38) She devised it to her uncle William Godfrey and his wife Mary for their lives, and afterwards to her cousins Jane (d. 1789), Mary, Anne, and Sarah Godfrey. Her cousin Mary was the wife of Sir John Crosse, and Sarah was the wife of the Revd. William Goodsalve. Bailey Hill farm, 427 a., seems to have passed to Sarah's son John Goodsalve Crosse (d. 1793) and to his son John Crosse Goodsalve Crosse, who in 1800 sold it to William Craven, Lord Craven. (fn. 39) It passed with the Craven title until 1947 when it was sold twice, the second time to Mr. E. P. Geary, the owner in 1981. (fn. 40) Bailey Hill Farm was built in the 17th century to an L-shaped plan. The angle between the ranges was filled in the 18th century when the older part of the house was largely refitted. West of the house a large aisled barn, much of which had collapsed by 1981, was built in the 17th century.
Of the other leaseholds and the copyholds sold by Powle, George Adams bought in 1677 what was apparently the largest holding, and others were later added to it. (fn. 41) Adams had a son George who may have held the land in the early 18th century. (fn. 42) In 1721 it apparently belonged to John Adams. (fn. 43) Other Adamses lived in Baydon in the later 18th century, (fn. 44) but the descent of the land is obscure. It was apparently that acquired, presumably by purchase, by Peter Delme before 1778. (fn. 45) Delme sold his land to George Boughey c. 1785. (fn. 46) Boughey was succeeded in 1788 by his infant cousin John Fenton Fletcher (John Fenton Boughey from 1805), who succeeded his father Thomas Fletcher as a baronet in 1812. (fn. 47) The estate, 440 a., was sold as two farms in 1796. (fn. 48) Baydon farm, including land in the north and south parts of the parish and buildings north of the church now Downs House, was bought by John Williams (d. c. 1828). Williams devised it to his grandson John Allin Williams who sold the farm, 242 a., in 1871. (fn. 49) Thereafter the descent of that land is again obscure. The part south of the Roman road was later acquired by one of the Woollands and in 1947 was part of Walter Woolland's Baydon Manor estate. (fn. 50) That north of the road may have been acquired by Thomas Arkell who held land there in 1899; Arkell's executors held his land in the early 1920s; (fn. 51) and in 1981 much of it was part of Finches farm. (fn. 52) Ford farm, 237 a., was bought by John Hancock in 1796, and after his death in 1817 was held by a Mrs. Hancock until c. 1826. John's heir was his daughter Anne, wife of T. B. M. Baskerville (d. 1864), (fn. 53) but the descent of Ford farm is obscure. It apparently belonged to Henry James Puckeridge between 1872 and 1902 and was later part of Baydon Manor estate. (fn. 54) When that estate was broken up 1949–50 Ford farm was bought by A. G. Palmer, (fn. 55) who in 1963 sold it to E. H. B. Portman. It has since remained part of the Crowood estate. (fn. 56)
Lands bought by Anthony Stroud in 1677 were held by his relict in 1705. (fn. 57) They apparently passed to John Stroud (fl. 1714) and in 1721 may have belonged to another Anthony Stroud (fl. 1760). (fn. 58) In 1778 Thomas Stroud held the lands, over 100 a. in the north part of the parish. (fn. 59) A Thomas Stroud held them until 1831 or later. (fn. 60) They seem to have passed to members of the Tubb family, possibly to William Tubb (fl. 1848–90) or to T. Tubb (fl. 1875) and James Tubb (fl. 1884). (fn. 61) The Tubbs' lands were apparently sold in portions in 1897. (fn. 62)
In 1677 Robert Walrond bought the land which became Walrond's farm, more than 80 a. in the south part of the parish in 1778. It passed to his son Robert and to a succession of Robert Walronds until c. 1788. (fn. 63) From c. 1789 to c. 1805 it belonged to John Andrews and his relict and from c. 1810 to c. 1830 to John Walrond. In 1831 it was Robert Walrond's and in 1871 James Walrond's. (fn. 64) In 1923 it was bought from Annie Pembroke, William Pembroke, and P. M. Puckeridge, apparently by the representatives of Moses Woolland. It was added to the Baydon Manor estate and was sold in 1947 and c. 1949. (fn. 65) It was retained by John White who c. 1960 sold the farm, then c. 195 a., to his nephew Mr. R. T. Walton. In 1973 Mr. Walton sold it to Mr. J. S. Brunskill, the owner in 1981. (fn. 66)
In 1678 John Finch bought a farm which passed to Stephen Finch (fl. 1705–26) and to another Stephen Finch (fl. 1736). (fn. 67) The farm, c. 100 a. in the south part of the parish in 1778, was then John Finch's. (fn. 68) It remained in the Finch family until 1831 or later (fn. 69) but afterwards seems to have been absorbed by other farms.
A farm in the south part of the parish with buildings at Baydon House Farm presumably originated in land sold by Henry Powle between 1677 and 1681. John Brown owned the farm, over 80 a., in 1778. (fn. 70) From 1780 to 1831 or later Thomas Brown, or a succession of Thomas Browns, owned it and from 1867 to 1899 it was Thomas Pearce Brown's. (fn. 71) Reginald Pearce Brown owned the farm from 1903 to 1907, but by 1911 it had apparently been bought by Moses Woolland. (fn. 72) As part of Walter Woolland's Baydon Manor estate it was merged with the lands of Manor farm and Baydon farm south of the Roman road as Baydon House farm, 440 a. when it was sold in 1947 and c. 1949. (fn. 73) Baydon House farm was retained by John White and c. 1950 sold by him to Crosby Dawson who soon afterwards sold it to Mary Dempster, Walter Woolland's sister and later wife of Raymond Lomax. At Mary Lomax's death c. 1956 the farm passed to her son Ian Lomax, who sold it in 1965 to Mr. L. H. Smith, the owner in 1981. (fn. 74)
Michael de Werlton (d. before 1227) held 1 carucate freely in Baydon and it may have passed to his son Walter. (fn. 75) From 1241, when they were conveyed by fine, there were two freeholds in Baydon. (fn. 76) Adam Pig's was the basis of an estate later called Pig's Court in the south-east. It may have passed to Richard Pig, who in 1295 seems to have conveyed the reversion to Richard of Highway. (fn. 77) A Richard of Highway and his wife Scholace held the estate in 1323 (fn. 78) and in 1339 conveyed it to Robert of Ramsbury, who died seised of it in 1361. (fn. 79) Robert's heir was his son John of Ramsbury who apparently held the land in 1376. (fn. 80) It is uncertain how John disposed of the estate which in 1499 belonged to William Temse (d. 1502) of Netheravon. (fn. 81) It passed like Temse's Netheravon estate to his sister Joan (d. 1531), wife of Nicholas Wardour, and descended in turn to William Wardour, Mary Wardour, and Chidiock Wardour, who in 1582 sold it to Thomas Smith. (fn. 82) The estate, rated as 4 yardlands in 1567, (fn. 83) seems to have belonged to Henry Smith in 1597 and to his son Thomas in 1630. (fn. 84) The second freehold conveyed in 1241 was John Stroud's. (fn. 85) It possibly descended to Sir Hugh Stroud (fl. 1315) and Henry Stroud (fl. 1332). (fn. 86) Another Hugh Stroud held it in 1376 and another Henry Stroud in 1412. (fn. 87) It belonged c. 1556 to William Bush who sold it in 1561 or 1562 to Thomas Stephens. (fn. 88) After Stephens's death c. 1571 the descent of the land, rated as 4 yardlands in 1567, and later called Baydon farm, is uncertain. (fn. 89) By 1630 it had been acquired by Thomas Smith, and it afterwards passed with Pig's Court as a single estate. (fn. 90) In 1633 a Thomas Smith, possibly Thomas's son, conveyed the estate to Philip Smith, who sold part of it in 1638, dealt with it by fine in 1645, but retained a large estate in 1663. (fn. 91) Before 1676 it seems to have passed to Philip's relict Theodosia, wife of Stephen Tracy, and his children Theophilus and Theodosia. (fn. 92) Tracy apparently held the land in 1680: one Smith did so in 1705, possibly John Smith (fl. 1713) who before 1721 sold it to Paul Calton. (fn. 93) As Baydon farm it belonged to Henry Dawkins from 1778 or earlier until c. 1795. (fn. 94) From c. 1796 to c. 1809, at which time there was another Baydon farm, it was John Finch's and was renamed Finches farm. William Finch owned it from c. 1810 to c. 1814 and William Brown from c. 1815 to 1831 or later. (fn. 95) Afterwards its descent is obscure. The farm, 122 a. east of the village, was bought by Moses Woolland in 1918. (fn. 96) In 1944 Walter Woolland sold it to Mr. R. N. Day whose son Mr. R. B. Day owned the farm, 265 a., in 1981. (fn. 97)
Several estates consisting only of tithes were created between 1677 and 1681. The largest seems to have been that bought by Thomas Kingston in 1677. (fn. 98) It was possibly that sold by Thomas Abbot and his wife Martha to Richard Jones, lord of Ramsbury manor, in 1705, (fn. 99) and may have been that belonging to William Williams which was exchanged for allotments of land totalling 76 a. at inclosure in 1778. (fn. 100) Tithes from the Bayfield area of Baydon belonged to the owners of Membury farm from the 1720s or earlier. (fn. 101) They were valued at £9 10s. and commuted in 1845. (fn. 102)
The owners and tenants of the two freeholds and of the demesne and customary lands of Ramsbury manor in Baydon shared nearly all the land in the chapelry. They practised sheep-and-corn husbandry in common until inclosures in the 18th century. (fn. 103) In the Middle Ages the land of Ford was possibly used in common only by customary tenants of Ramsbury manor who had holdings based at Ford. (fn. 104) By the 16th century, however, the distinction between the lands of Ford and Preston had been blurred because, it seems, most land in both was then in the hands of men holding in both. (fn. 105) When the line between Preston in Whittonditch tithing and Baydon was drawn in 1778 Ford field but no common pasture was counted part of Baydon. (fn. 106)
In the late 12th century and the early 13th the bishop of Salisbury leased for lives a messuage and 5½ yardlands of his demesne land, including 57½ a. of possibly several land, feeding for eight oxen in a common pasture, and woodland at Pax down in the south-east corner of the chapelry. (fn. 107) The land, later rated as 1 hide and as 1 carucate and worth 4 marks in 1246, remained at farm in 1249. (fn. 108) All the demesne lands, including rights to wood from Shortgrove, and the rents and services of ten Baydon bondmen were leased c. 1258 to Sir Peter of Membury for his life in exchange for Membury manor: by 1263 Sir Peter had surrendered the arable land, and apparently the pasture or right to feed sheep, for a yearly pension of 40 qr. of wheat, 50 qr. of dredge, 20 qr. of oats, and 100s. to be paid at Baydon. (fn. 109) The bishop's demesne lands made a moderately sized farm, in hand in 1405 when 70 a. were sown and 391 wethers were kept on pastures which included a several down at Shortgrove. The land may still have been cultivated largely by the tenants doing customary works although many works had been commuted. (fn. 110) It had been leased by the earlier 16th century. (fn. 111) The customary holdings were rated as yardlands and 'cotsetlands' in the 15th century. (fn. 112) Three-field cultivation is suggested by the statement in 1362 that two thirds of an estimated 100 a. of arable in the Pig's Court estate could be sown yearly. (fn. 113)
In the 14th and 15th centuries the bishop's income from Ford was counted with that from Ramsbury rather than Baydon manor. Customary works due from 6 yardlands had been commuted by 1396, suggesting by analogy with other places that Ford land was rated as 12 or more yardlands. Much of it was then in the bishop's hand and by 1425 four crofts in Ford field had been leased. (fn. 114)
In the mid 16th century it seems that more than 1,200 a. in the chapelry were arable. Apart from that at Ford the principal open fields were West in the north-west corner of the chapelry, Cossetel, later Costern, in the north-east corner, and in the southern half South field and the field 'on the west side of the wood'; there were two apparently open fields of fewer than 50 a. West down, 90 a., now called Peaks Downs, was a common pasture for the tenants' sheep; their cattle and horses were, except in spring, pastured together on the Furnett, 100 a. east of the village; and there were six pastures, 35 a., for various uses in common. Almost alone among Wiltshire villages Baydon is dry and lacks riverside meadow land: c. 50 a. in small common fields near the village may have been mown. There were 120 a. or more of woodland, most of it in five coppices at Shortgrove apparently separating Baydon and Ford lands. The two freehold farms, Pig's Court and that formerly Stroud's, were each 4 yardlands and included rights to use the common pastures. Baydon manor demesne farm measured 214 a. and the assignee of the lease also held 40 a. of pasture on Pax down, presumably merged with the farm. The farmer held 140 a. of arable in the open fields and 60 a. severally: he could pasture 400 sheep and 30 avers in common. (fn. 115) Although not mentioned before 1800, c. 200 a. of pasture on Bailey Hill were clearly an additional and several part of the farm. (fn. 116) The farmhouse no longer served its purpose and the farm, which had been occupied in the earlier 16th century by Harry Precy of Bishopstone and included land in the north part of the chapelry adjoining Bishopstone, may have lacked the usual farm buildings. (fn. 117) At Gore Lane inclosures totalling 26 a. had possibly been demesne. (fn. 118) The copyholders of Ramsbury manor held 24½ yardlands at Baydon, each nominally 26 a. with feeding for 60 sheep and each including 1 a. or more of presumably inclosed coppice. (fn. 119) The assignee of the demesne farm held 1 yardland and Thomas Stephens, who owned the freehold formerly Stroud's and held the land at Gore Lane, held 1½ yardland and may thus have had a composite farm of nearly 200 a. and feeding rights. The holdings of the remaining fourteen tenants were from 26 a. to 83 a. and averaged 50 a.: most tenants held no other land in Ramsbury parish. (fn. 120) Four tenants with holdings based at Preston and Marridge Hill held 124 a. in Ford field in 1567. A Baydon tenant, who also held land in Preston, then held 3¼ yardlands apparently based at Ford and the forerunner of Ford farm. (fn. 121)
Possibly in the late 17th century some of the woodland at Shortgrove was broken up, (fn. 122) but the system of common husbandry was little altered. In the period 1677–81 the lord of Ramsbury manor sold 17¾ of the 27¾ copyhold yardlands, 130 a. of 200 a. held by leases, and the demesne farm in Baydon: if most of those holding the lands which were sold also occupied them, the average size of farms had not increased and had possibly decreased in the preceding century. (fn. 123) The demesne was called Bailey Hill farm in 1650 by which time a farmstead had been built on the site of the present one. (fn. 124) Pig's Court and the farm formerly Stroud's were mentioned in 1633 and 1676 but thereafter may have been merged as Baydon, later Finches, farm. (fn. 125) At the southern end of the chapelry there were upper and lower fields at Ford in 1713 (fn. 126) but almost certainly no more than a single farmstead. At the northern end Gore Lane was apparently a small pasture farm in the later 17th century. (fn. 127)
Baydon Furnett east of the village and north and south of Ermin Street was inclosed by agreement in 1721, apparently with the other common grasslands near the village: 192 a. were allotted at a little over 1 a. for the right to feed one beast. (fn. 128) In the mid 18th century the regulations governing the use of the open fields were flexible. The growing of crops out of rotation, 'hitching', was frequent, but accompanied by a compulsory abatement of feeding rights for sheep, three for every acre sown with spring corn out of course in 1755. (fn. 129) The open fields and remaining common pasture were inclosed by Act in 1778. The four principal fields were still West, 350 a., Costern, 125 a., South, 213 a., and the field 'behind the wood', 108 a. apparently south of South field. Near the village were some 60 a. in smaller fields. The common pasture on Peaks Downs was then c. 200 a. In the south-west corner of the chapelry Ford field measured 268 a. At the time of inclosure c. 500 a. were held by copy and lease as part of Ramsbury manor, c. 1,400 a. were freehold: several farms were composite. (fn. 130) After the land was allotted Bailey Hill was a farm of 427 a. in the north-east corner of the chapelry, in 1800 half arable and half pasture. (fn. 131) Manor farm, more than half copyhold and leasehold, was mainly in the north-west corner and was worked from farm buildings in the south part of the village: its tenant owned land in the southern half of the chapelry worked from Paine's Farm south of the village, 365 a. in all. (fn. 132) Baydon, later Finches, farm included 120 a. or more and buildings east of the village and on the Furnett and was already a largely inclosed farm before 1778. (fn. 133) The second Baydon farm, 204 a. including 166 a. of arable in 1795, was worked from buildings north of the church. (fn. 134) Gore Lane, which in the early 18th century may have been part of the Russley Park estate in Bishopstone, was in the late 18th century an apparently separate farm of 37 a. (fn. 135) Ford, a largely arable farm of 237 a. in 1795, included 198 a. of Ford field. (fn. 136) There were four other farms of over 75 a., Stroud's, Finch's, Walrond's, with buildings at the east end of Manor Lane, and Brown's, worked from the farmstead later called Baydon House Farm, and several smaller farms. (fn. 137)
In the 19th century there apparently remained about ten farms in the parish. Arable farming clearly' predominated. Two early pioneers of steam ploughing, J. A. Williams and A. Brown, farmed there, and Williams made many changes on his land to use machinery efficiently. (fn. 138) In the 20th century the number of farms seems to have decreased, especially in the south part of the parish where by 1947 nearly all the land had been absorbed by a single estate: Baydon House was a farm of 440 a., including 157 a. of pasture, worked from Baydon House Farm and Paine's Farm, Walrond's was a farm of 125 a. including 50 a. of pasture, and Ford an arable and dairy farm of 291 a.; 132 a. were part of Marridge Hill farm based in Ramsbury and 63 a. in East Leaze farm based in Aldbourne. (fn. 139) In 1981 Baydon House farm, 402 a., was devoted to cereal and beef production. (fn. 140) Walrond's farm measured 215 a. in 1973 and since then has been worked from outside the parish. (fn. 141) The land of Ford farm was worked as part of the arable and dairy farm based at Crowood Farm and Upper Whittonditch. (fn. 142) In the north part of the parish Bailey Hill, a corn and sheep farm of 400 a., (fn. 143) Gore Lane, a dairy farm of c. 125 a., (fn. 144) and Finches, an arable and beef farm of 265 a., (fn. 145) were the only large farms based in the parish in 1981. Other arable and pasture land, especially at Peaks Downs, was worked from outside the parish. (fn. 146)
Leet jurisdiction over Baydon was exercised at Ramsbury law hundred, where the Baydon tithingman or constable was appointed, and Ramsbury manor court dealt with copyholds and the rules for agriculture in Baydon. (fn. 147) Before it first appears to be one in 1702–3 Baydon may have long been a poor-law parish. (fn. 148) It spent £119 on its poor in 1775–6, over £300 in 1802–3, and over £400 in 1818 and 1819. (fn. 149) Average expenditure in the early 1830s was £268 a year. In 1835 Baydon joined Hungerford poor-law union. (fn. 150)
A church had been built at Baydon by the early 12th century. (fn. 151) In the early 13th century it was presumably served by the chaplain of Baydon murdered before 1249. (fn. 152) It had a graveyard in the late 13th century and in 1405 all rights, but remained dependent on Ramsbury as a chapel. All the tithes of the chapelry were owed to the prebendary of Ramsbury, who appointed and remunerated chaplains. (fn. 153) The chaplain's yearly stipend was £6 in the 16th century. (fn. 154) The right to appoint and the duty to pay the chaplain apparently passed with the tithes to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, in 1545 and to the Crown in 1547. The stipend remained a charge on the prebendal estate which passed with Ramsbury manor from 1590. (fn. 155) The lowness of the stipend may have inhibited separate appointment and the Crown charged vicars of Ramsbury with serving the chapel. (fn. 156) In the mid 17th century the vicar sometimes did so, but there was a chaplain in 1661. (fn. 157) Although the Crown continued its charge to the vicars, in the 18th century chaplains were appointed and given the stipend by the lords of Ramsbury manor. (fn. 158) In 1757, however, the vicar was serving the chapel and receiving the stipend. (fn. 159) In 1781 members of the Jones family, lords of Ramsbury manor, formally claimed the right to appoint. (fn. 160) In 1793 Lady Jones and Queen Anne's Bounty endowed the chapel with money which was used in 1796 to buy 34 a. at South Marston. The conveyance of the patronage from the Crown to Lady Jones was completed in 1798. (fn. 161)
The advowson of the perpetual curacy created by the endowment of Baydon church passed with Ramsbury manor to Sir Francis Burdett who in 1827 sold it with Manor farm in Baydon to John Williams. (fn. 162) In 1828 Williams conveyed it to the Revd. Arthur Meyrick (d. 1855) of Ramsbury, and it passed to Meyrick's son Edwin, vicar of Chiseldon. (fn. 163) In 1875 Meyrick conveyed the advowson, presumably by sale, to Angela, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who settled it on her marriage in 1881 and on her husband in 1903. Her widower William Burdett-Coutts-BartlettCoutts transferred it to the bishop of Salisbury in 1908. (fn. 164)
The perpetual curacy was worth £147 a year c. 1830. (fn. 165) A glebe house east of the church was built in 1857–8 to designs of T. H. Wyatt. (fn. 166) The living was augmented by Baroness Burdett-Coutts and Queen Anne's Bounty in 1876. (fn. 167) In 1919 the land in South Marston, in 1925 1 a. beside Baydon Road, and in 1954 the vicarage house were all sold. (fn. 168)
The benefices of Aldbourne and Baydon were held in plurality from 1957 and united in 1965. (fn. 169) That united benefice was united with the vicarage of Ramsbury in 1973 and Baydon has since been served by the Whitton team ministry. (fn. 170)
In 1405 the inhabitants of Baydon failed to provide a mass book for the church and the incumbent was accused of adultery: (fn. 171) in 1571 the churchwardens failed to provide a surplice and the chaplain admitted fornication. (fn. 172) Before the Reformation 9 a. were given for Sunday prayers in the church. They were taken and granted by the Crown as concealed chantry land. (fn. 173) The vicar held services in the church once a month in the later 18th century: c. 1830, however, the perpetual curate employed an assistant curate. (fn. 174) On Census Sunday in 1851 congregations of 40 and 50 attended the morning and afternoon services. (fn. 175) In 1864 the incumbent held morning and afternoon services with congregations of 50–60, read prayers in the church on Wednesdays and Fridays, and administered the Sacrament at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun or Trinity to 15–20 communicants and once a month to 8–10 communicants. (fn. 176)
The dedication of the church to ST. NICHOLAS is recorded only from the 19th century. (fn. 177) The church is built of flint rubble, chalk, and limestone and consists of a chancel with north vestry, an aisled and clerestoried nave with south porch, and a west tower. The nave and the two-bay south arcade are both of the early 12th century: the narrowness of the nave suggests that they were built about the same time. The nave was presumably lengthened in the 13th century when the three-bay north arcade was built. (fn. 178) The tower arch is 14th-century but the tower was largely rebuilt in the 15th century when there was much reconstruction of the nave, the aisles were widened and refenestrated, and the clerestory was made. In the early 17th century the chancel was restored: the arch was rebuilt, the windows renewed, (fn. 179) and the interior refitted. The vestry was built in 1853. (fn. 180) The east window was again replaced in 1854. In 1858–9, to designs of G. E. Street, the porch, which may have been 18th-century, and part of the north aisle were rebuilt. (fn. 181) The church was also restored in 1876 and, to designs of J. A. Reeve, in 1892. (fn. 182) In 1628 Thomas Hayne of Aldbourne conveyed the reversion of a chantry house and of a cottage and 3 a. in Aldbourne for repairs and maintenance of Baydon church. The cottage was burned down in 1817 and two cottages at Baydon were bought in 1818 to replace it. In 1834 the charity's income was £4, £12 c. 1868. The premises were sold in 1877 and the proceeds invested. Income in 1904 was £9 7s. (fn. 183) In 1981 the income was still used for church repairs. (fn. 184)
In 1553 the king took 6 oz. of silver and left a chalice of 6 oz. A new chalice and paten were given c. 1848. (fn. 185) There were three bells in 1553. They have been replaced by bells (i) 1744, John Stares of Aldbourne; (ii) 1670, Henry Knight of Reading; (iii) 1650, William and Roger Purdue of Bristol. (fn. 186) The bells were rehung in 1891. (fn. 187) The registers date from 1673 and, except for 1692–4, are complete. (fn. 188)
The Independent congregation based on Ramsbury after the Restoration possibly included members at Baydon where Daniel Burgess, an evangelist from Marlborough, preached in a conventicle in 1681, (fn. 189) but there is no further evidence of dissent at Baydon before the 19th century. The Providence chapel for Particular Baptists was built in the village on the east side of Aldbourne Road in 1806. Congregations averaged no more than seventeen at the three services on Census Sunday in 1851. The chapel was closed between 1885 and 1922, (fn. 190) and the building has been demolished. A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built on the south side of Ermin Street at the east end of the village in 1823. (fn. 191) Congregations of 7, 30, and 36 at the three Sunday services were said to be average in 1851. (fn. 192) In 1939 the chapel, now a private house, was superseded by one on the west side of Aldbourne Road at which weekly services were held in 1981. (fn. 193)
Two day schools for a total of 28 children were started at Baydon between 1818 and 1833. (fn. 194) They were replaced by a National school and schoolhouse built of chequered stone and flint in plain Tudor style near the church in 1843. (fn. 195) In 1858 some 50–60 children were taught there: boys left when they were nine, girls at eleven or twelve. (fn. 196) Average attendance had fallen to 33 by 1906–7 and was c. 40 until the Second World War. (fn. 197) From 1940 the older children were sent to Lambourn. (fn. 198) The school was en- larged in 1968. (fn. 199) There were 57 children on roll in 1981. (fn. 200)
Charities for the Poor.
By will proved 1854 John Williams gave £300 for blankets and clothing for the poor of Baydon at Christmas. In the period 1900–3, when the yearly income of the charity was £8, clothing was given to more than 30 families: in 1951 clothing worth £7 4s. 5d. was given to ten recipients. (fn. 201) The income in 1981 was £15. (fn. 202) By Scheme of 1959 Aldbourne and Baydon Aid in Sickness Fund for the general benefit of the sick poor was set up with the proceeds of the sale of a district nurse's house. In 1965 income was £79 10s. and £163 was spent. (fn. 203)