A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1991.
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Norton is 5 km. south-west of Malmesbury. (fn. 1) On Speed's map of 1611 the name Coloparle, in error for Cole Park, was juxtaposed to the name Norton, and Cole Park, a house 2 km. SSE. of Malmesbury, was marked by no symbol. (fn. 2) As a result Norton was named on later maps as Norton Colepark or Norton Coleparle (fn. 3) and that addition to the name was adopted. It appeared in ecclesiastical reference books in the 18th century (fn. 4) and on census returns in the 19th. (fn. 5) The antiquary J. E. Jackson, vicar of Norton 1846–91, persuaded the bishop to drop the addition from the name of the benefice, (fn. 6) and it went out of use generally in the 20th century.
The parish, a shallow V in shape, had two detached portions, one to the north-east and one to the south-east. Both adjoin Malmesbury common: the northern, an area called Starvall, was perhaps assigned to the men of Norton in the Middle Ages to replace rights on the common, but the southern, which adjoins Bradfield wood in Hullavington, is more likely to have been ancient woodland, also assigned to Norton in the Middle Ages, and later cleared. Norton parish measured c. 990 a. (c. 401 ha.) in 1840 and was reduced to 928 a. (376 ha.) in 1884 when the detached areas were transferred to, respectively, Foxley and Hullavington. (fn. 7) In 1934 the whole of Foxley parish, which included Starvall and the main part of Bremilham parish, was transferred to Norton parish (fn. 8) and increased it to 835 ha. (2,063 a.).
As might be expected of long established boundaries in an area of gentle relief Norton's followed streams and in several places roads which are apparently ancient. The modern boundaries were broadly similar to those of the main part of the parish recited in the 10th or 11th century when they followed the Roman Foss Way and roads called King's Way, Borough Way, and Narrow Way or Small Way. The more likely of two interpretations suggests that the road which divided Norton parish from Malmesbury common was King's Way, that Borough Way was the road which divided Norton from Foxley north-east of Norton village, and that Small Way was the road which divided those parishes north-west of Norton village. (fn. 9) The streams divide Norton from Foxley to the north and from Hullavington to the south.
Forest Marble clay outcrops in the west part of the old Norton parish, Cornbrash in the centre, and Kellaways Clay in the east. South-east of Norton village Kellaways Clay also forms an island in the Cornbrash. The land, at c. 100 m. above sea level, is nearly flat. It is drained north-eastwards by tributaries of the Sherston branch of the Bristol Avon, two of which meet near Norton village. The south-east boundary stream flows into Gauze brook which joins the Avon south of Malmesbury. In some places the streams have deposited small amounts of alluvium. (fn. 10) The small parish was rich in meadow land, the Cornbrash favours tillage, and the clays favour pasture. (fn. 11) Until the mid 20th century pastoral farming outweighed cultivation, (fn. 12) and, especially in the 19th century, there were many ponds. (fn. 13) East of the village part of Maidford farm, with lodges, lone drives, and avenues, was given the appearance of a park in the later 19th century. (fn. 14)
The Bath—Cirencester section of the Foss Way was in 1987 a road for only one short stretch on the old boundary of Norton, and was derelict for most of its course there. No modern main road touches the parish. Four roads, from Easton Grey, Foxley, Sherston, and Hullavington, converge on the village. The first two meet at its north end at a ford. The Easton Grey road, Small Way, was often called Tetbury Way; (fn. 15) the Foxley road, possibly Borough Way, was called Honey Lane from 1773 or earlier. (fn. 16) Beside the Hullavington road the wide verges were used as gardens in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 17)
Norton was mentioned in the early 10th century. (fn. 18) Few prehistoric remains have been discovered in the old parish, (fn. 19) and Norton village has never been large or populous. There were only 23 poll-tax payers in 1377, (fn. 20) and 16th-century taxation assessments were low. (fn. 21) The population of the parish was 94 in 1801. From 89 in 1811 it rose to a peak of 123 in 1851. It had fallen to 101 by 1881 and to 99 by 1891 after the transfer of the detached portions, the northern with 4 inhabitants. The population was 117 in 1901, 85 in 1911, and 90 in 1931. After Foxley and Bremilham had been added to it, Norton parish had 170 inhabitants in 1951, (fn. 22) 123 in 1981. (fn. 23)
Norton is a small nucleated village lying on each side of the Sherston road in the centre of the parish. South of the road are the church and Manor (formerly Church) Farm, a farmhouse and buildings possibly on the site of those of the demesne of Norton manor. (fn. 24) Manor Farm has a tall early 17th-century west block to which a lower east range may have been attached. In the 1820s a new east range was built and the appearance of the south front of the house was unified by a central entrance beneath a pediment and by Venetian windows to the ground-floor rooms. (fn. 25) The farm buildings include a possibly 18th-century barn and a late 20th-century dairy. North of the road Norton Manor was built in 1623, (fn. 26) and Buckland Farm is another 17th-century farmhouse which was later extended. Near Buckland Farm and Norton Manor are large stone barns, one of which has been converted for residence. South of the road a row of several cottages is apparently 19th-century, a cottage was built in 1856, (fn. 27) a pair of estate cottages was built between 1900 and 1910, (fn. 28) another pair of estate cottages was built c. 1955, (fn. 29) and two private houses were built later. Near the ford at the north end of the village Elstubs was a house in the mid 17th century. (fn. 30) A row of four cottages was built on its site in the 19th century. Two rows of cottages and a small, apparently 18thcentury, house were nearby in 1840. (fn. 31) The house was licensed as the Vine Tree in 1890: (fn. 32) it was a public house in 1987. In the late 19th century one of the rows of cottages was demolished; (fn. 33) the other was rebuilt as a house.
East of the village Maidford and Gorsey Leaze are farmsteads which may have stood in the 17th century. Maidford has a small farmhouse, possibly of 17th-century origin, near the centre of extensive buildings. North-east of it a barn is dated 1840 and there are later 20th-century farm buildings. South-west of it a large new house was built c. 1890 (fn. 34) and extended to the west in the earlier 20th century and c. 1970. The farmhouse of Gorsey Leaze was rebuilt in 1877. (fn. 35) The farm buildings, most of which are 19th-century, incorporate an old two-storeyed building, possibly part of an older house. Another house was built nearby c. 1910. (fn. 36) Dispersed settlement in the parish increased after the 17th century. West of the village Fosse may have been a farmstead in 1742, (fn. 37)as it was in 1773 (fn. 38) and later. The farmhouse was rebuilt in the later 19th century. Beside the Foss Way near Fosse Farm a house called Little House stood in the 18th century. (fn. 39) A possibly 18th-century cottage at Starvall was a public house called the Royal Oak in 1875. (fn. 40) It remained open until c. 1925. (fn. 41)A barn stood west of that cottage in 1840: (fn. 42) extensive farm buildings called Highfield Farm were erected around its site in the later 20th century, and a new house was built near the Royal Oak in 1986. New buildings and a farmhouse were erected north-west of the village for Norton farm between 1900 and 1911. (fn. 43)
Manor and other Estates.
King Athelstan granted NORTON, containing 5 mansae, to Malmesbury abbey in the period 934–9. (fn. 44) The abbey kept it until the Dissolution. (fn. 45) In 1547 the Crown granted it to Sir John Brydges (fn. 46) (cr. Baron Chandos 1554, d. 1557), (fn. 47) and it was inherited in turn by his son Edmund, Lord Chandos (fn. 48) (d. 1573), and Edmund's son Giles, Lord Chandos (d. 1594). (fn. 49) Apparently in 1577 and 1589 Lord Chandos sold the manor in three portions. (fn. 50)
In 1589 Alexander Staples bought the demesne farmhouse, some demesne land, and land in the east part of the parish later Maidford farm and Gorsey Leaze farm, and in the same year Richard Estcourt (d. 1611) of Long Newnton (now Glos.) and his son Edmund bought farmsteads, land in the south part of the parish later Manor farm, land in the east part, and the detached part called Starvall. (fn. 51) Staples (d. 1590) (fn. 52) sold his land in 1589 to William Jones (d. 1610) and it passed in turn to Jones's son John (fn. 53) (d. 1611) and John's son William, a minor in 1611. (fn. 54) In 1615 Jones sold it to Edmund Estcourt. (fn. 55) The lordship of Norton manor and, apart from Norton farm in the west and north-west, (fn. 56) nearly all the land of the parish descended from Edmund Estcourt (d. 1651) of Sherston Pinkney in turn to his son Sir Thomas (d. 1683), Sir Thomas's son Sir Thomas (d. 1702), and that Sir Thomas's son Thomas (d. 1704) who devised the estate to his sister Elizabeth, wife of Richard Cresswell. (fn. 57) In 1714 the Cresswells sold it to Sir Edward Gould (d. 1728) who devised it for life to his wife Frances (d. 1738) and afterwards to his grandnephew Edward Gould (d. c. 1775). That Edward was succeeded by his son Edward who in 1798 offered the estate for sale in portions. (fn. 58)
In 1798 Gorsey Leaze farm, 149 a. in 1840 including the parish's detached lands to the south-east, and the lordship of Norton manor were bought by Samuel Williams. In 1821 they were sold by Williams to William Whieldon, in 1823 by Whieldon to Charles Wilkins, and in 1824 by Wilkins to R. H. Gaby (d. 1829). (fn. 59) Gaby's heir was his nephew John Gaby (d. 1830), whose own heirs, his siblings Thomas and Mary Anne Gaby, sold the estate in 1830 to Joseph Neeld (d. 1856). (fn. 60) It passed as part of Neeld's Grittleton estate to his brother John (cr. a baronet 1859, d. 1891) and in turn to Sir John's sons Sir Algernon (d. 1900), and Sir Audley (fn. 61)(d. 1941). (fn. 62) Soon after 1910 Gorsey Leaze farm was bought, almost certainly from Sir Audley Neeld, by Hugh Raymond-Barker who c. 1925 sold it to A. S. C. Browne, the owner until c. 1937. From c. 1948 the farm belonged to K. J. Gagen whose son Mr. B. A. Gagen sold it in portions in the 1980s. (fn. 63) The farmhouse and 20 a. were sold in 1986. (fn. 64)
Manor farm, 305 a. in 1840, (fn. 65) was bought c. 1798 by William Walker (fn. 66) (d. 1830). (fn. 67) It passed to his sister Elizabeth Walker (d. 1833), who devised it to her brother-in-law Giles Canter for his life or widowerhood and thereafter to Giles's son Joseph. (fn. 68) In 1840 Joseph Canter owned the farm. (fn. 69) At his death in 1865 it passed to his daughter and her husband H. A. Neck. In 1872 Neck sold it to W. Matthews, a Bristol drysalter, who in 1877 sold it to John Bush. (fn. 70) In 1920 the farm was bought, apparently from Bush's relict, by W. E. Smith (d. 1939), whose trustees in 1940 sold it to Exeter College, Oxford. In 1954 and 1978 the college sold it in portions to Smith's grandson Mr. C. D. Smith, the owner in 1987. (fn. 71)
Maidford farm, 149 a. in 1840, (fn. 72) was bought c. 1798 by John Bennett (fn. 73) (d. 1819). Bennett was succeeded by his son John Bennett (fn. 74) (fl. 1840) and by the younger John's son J. D. G. Bennett, who was succeeded as owner in turn by his relict Marianne (d. 1882) and sons John (d. 1886) and Richard. In 1887 Richard Bennett sold the farm to Malcolm Macleod. (fn. 75) The estate was offered for sale in 1894 (fn. 76) and may have been bought by W. W. Turnor of Pinkney Park who owned it in 1910. (fn. 77) Before 1928 Turnor sold it to W. H. Haydon (fn. 78) (d. 1930). (fn. 79) Before 1934 Haydon's executors sold it to H. J. Melville, who c. 1946 sold it to H. J. Blackborow. (fn. 80) In 1958 Blackborow sold the estate to Lt.-Col. E. G. V. Northey, who sold it to J. Salmond in 1966. Salmond sold it to C. Bunbury who sold it to Mr. D. Brown, the owner in 1987. (fn. 81)
Buckland farm, 83 a. in 1840, was bought c. 1798 by William Kilmister (d. 1847), the tenant of the adjoining Norton farm. Kilmister devised it to his nephew William Kilmister, on whose death in 1886 it passed to his daughter, the wife of W. A. Notley. (fn. 82) In 1910 Mrs. M. J. Notley owned the farm. (fn. 83) It was bought by Isita Wilson in 1917 and has since been part of Norton farm. (fn. 84)
In 1577 Giles, Lord Chandos, was licensed to alienate land in Norton to Thomas Best and Anthony Bonner and it is likely that Norton farm was sold in that year to Best, (fn. 85) who is known to have been a freeholder in Norton. Best and his widow Elizabeth had both died by 1607. (fn. 86) Norton farm was possibly bought by John Workman and in 1615 belonged to his son Thomas, (fn. 87) who in 1616 added to it a house and 2 a. bought from Edmund Estcourt. (fn. 88) Thomas Workman (d. 1650) (fn. 89) was succeeded by his son Richard who sold the farm to John Jacob in 1652. (fn. 90) Jacob (d. 1705) was succeeded by his son John (d. 1728 or 1729). That John's son John (d. 1776) (fn. 91) sold the land, almost certainly in 1749, to Henry Fox (fn. 92) (d. 1774), from 1758 the owner of the adjoining Foxley manor and from 1763 Baron Holland. Norton farm, 264 a. in 1840, passed with Foxley manor to Stephen, Lord Holland (d. 1774), to his relict Mary (d. 1778), to Henry, Lord Holland (d. 1840), to his relict Elizabeth (d. 1845), to Henry, Lord Holland (d. 1859), to his relict Mary (d. 1889), to Leopold Fox-Powys (d. 1893), to Thomas Powys, Lord Lilford (d. 1896), and to John, Lord Lilford (d. 1945). (fn. 93) In 1900 Lord Lilford sold it to C. H. Fenwick who in 1911 sold it (fn. 94) to trustees of William Wilson including his relict Isita Wilson (d. 1939). Buckland farm was later added to it. Norton farm passed to the Wilsons' son Noel who in 1967 conveyed it to his daughter June and her husband Count Jan Badeni, the owners in 1987. (fn. 95) Norton Manor (fn. 96) was built by Thomas Workman. The southern part, a main east-west range with a short back wing at each end, has on the south front a two-storeyed central porch decorated with classical pilasters and inscribed 1623. That was probably the full extent of the house in 1630 and 1631 when Workman settled separate parts of it on the marriages of, respectively, himself and his son Richard. (fn. 97) By 1652 a new north range had been built. (fn. 98) It abutted both the wings and apparently left a small open courtyard between them. From the early 18th century the house was apparently tenanted, and the two parts may have been separately occupied, as they were later. (fn. 99) When Lord Holland visited the estate in 1856 he found the house in poor repair, but had the south range restored for his own occasional occupation. The extent of the restoration has been obscured by later alterations: (fn. 100) gables were possibly removed from the south front, the roof of the south range was possibly replaced by the present hipped roof, and a fireplace was lined with tiles bearing the letter H. The north range may have continued in use as a farmhouse and it kept its tall gables. After he bought the house in 1900 C. H. Fenwick reunited the two parts and added to, repaired, and altered it: (fn. 101) he demolished a small stair turret in the central court, which until then was otherwise roofed at first-floor level, and made the whole court a stair hall; he rearranged the rooms on both main floors behind the south front, extended the north part of the house, and added an entrance vestibule and bay windows on the east; and he improved the surroundings of the house by demolishing adjacent farm buildings. Barns and a dovecot east of the house were retained, and gardens were laid out to the south and west. A two-storeyed west porch was added to the house in 1925. (fn. 102)
John Jacob (d. 1742), the nephew of John Jacob (d. 1728 or 1729), owned a small farm, Fosse, in the south-west corner of the parish, presumably taken from Norton farm, and devised it to his cousin John Jacob (d. 1776). It passed in 1776 to that John's nephew Sir Robert Buxton, Bt. (d. 1839), and was inherited by Sir Robert's son Sir John (d. 1842), whose heir was his son Sir Robert (d. 1888). (fn. 103) The farm, 20 a. in 1840, (fn. 104) was sold to Joseph Neeld in 1852 (fn. 105) and with Gorsey Leaze farm it remained part of the Grittleton estate. Between 1910 and 1928 it was bought by J. T. Hitchings. (fn. 106) In the later 20th century the land was bought by Mr. C. D. Smith and added to Manor farm. (fn. 107)
In 1222 Malmesbury abbey was licensed to appropriate Norton church. (fn. 108) It held it until the Dissolution. (fn. 109) The RECTORY estate apparently included 1 yardland and 4 a. of meadow in 1341. (fn. 110) That land was apparently absorbed by Norton manor and the estate later consisted of no more than tithes. It was granted with Norton manor in 1547, (fn. 111) and passed with the manor in the Brydges family, (fn. 112) to Alexander Staples, (fn. 113) and in the Jones, Estcourt, and Gould families. (fn. 114) In 1589 it was said to comprise all the great tithes from Norton. (fn. 115) Tithes were disputed in the period 1613–15 between the vicar and the lessee of the rectory estate: the vicar claimed great tithes from a small part of Norton farm and the lessee denied the vicar's right to any tithe from Norton. (fn. 116) The rectory estate thereafter seems to have consisted of the great tithes from nearly all the parish, and no small tithe. (fn. 117) The great tithes from the farms owned by members of the Estcourt and Gould families in the 17th and 18th centuries were merged with the farms, (fn. 118) and the farms sold c. 1798 were said to be tithe free. (fn. 119) In the early 18th century John Jacob (d. 1728 or 1729) held a lease of tithes, presumably those arising on his own land. (fn. 120) It is likely that Jacob or a successor bought those tithes since by the early 19th century the great tithes from Fosse farm and from the greater part of Norton farm had been merged with the land. In 1840 the tithes which had been the rectory estate, all belonging to the owners of the lands on which they arose, were valued at a notional £78 and commuted. (fn. 121)
Norton had land for 8 ploughteams in 1086, and only 5 teams were on it. Of the 5 hides of its Norton estate Malmesbury abbey had in demesne 2½ hides on which there were 2 teams and 5 servi. On the other half of the estate 7 villani and 3 coscets had a total of 3 teams. There was pasture 2 furlongs by 1 furlong and a mill and 6 a. of meadow. (fn. 122)
The demesne may have been in hand in the early 13th century when, with a stock of 16 oxen, much of it may have been ploughed. The customary tenants, whose rents totalled £ 1 12s., presumably cultivated it. (fn. 123) In the later 13th century, when the abbey paid for new farm buildings at Norton, it may still have been in hand. (fn. 124) It is likely to have been worked from buildings near the church where the present Manor Farm stands. There were 24 tenants in the late 13th century: 4 or 5 may have held as much as a yardland each and the remainder were apparently cottagers. (fn. 125) The only evidence of common husbandry at Norton in the Middle Ages is that of extensive pastures later divided. (fn. 126) Malmesbury abbey leased the whole manor and the rectory estate in 1512. (fn. 127)
All Norton's land lay in closes in the 16th century when most was meadow or pasture. Cattle rearing was apparently important then. Part of Starvall was tilled. By 1589 a pasture called Wye furlong, 150 a., had been divided into 3 closes; Greenhill had been divided into Homeward Greenhill, 11 a., and Great Greenhill, 36 a. subdivided into 3 closes; and New leaze and Luddocks had apparently been divided respectively into 6 and 3 closes. (fn. 128) Broad leaze, 50 a., and Galley hill and Ox leaze, 40 a. and 70 a. respectively and both bounded by the Foss Way, were all divided later. (fn. 129)
The north-west part of the parish was from the late 16th or early 17th century Norton farm, (fn. 130) worked until the early 20th century from Norton Manor. (fn. 131) The farm was c. 177 a. in 1631, (fn. 132) c. 244 a. in 1652. (fn. 133) In the early 18th century there were nine farms. The 636 a. of Norton manor was in seven farms: Maidford was 140 a., Gorsey Leaze 108 a., Manor 100 a., and Starvall 20 a., and the others were 102 a., 88 a., and 66 a. Gorsey Leaze and Starvall were held together in 1707 and later. (fn. 134) Fosse was a farm in 1742, (fn. 135) later of 20 a.; (fn. 136) Norton farm was 264 a. in 1749. (fn. 137) In the earlier 18th century most land was still meadow and pasture. Only about a fifth was arable and of that most, including 38 a. after burnbaking, was newly ploughed. (fn. 138) All the farms were worked from buildings in the village except Maidford, Gorsey Leaze, and Fosse. Of the six farms of Norton manor in 1780 Maidford and Gorsey Leaze were held together, a total of 256 a.; two made up Manor, a total of 185 a.; and two were held by John Buckland, a total of 192 a. (fn. 139)
In 1840 the parish contained c. 550 a. of meadow and pasture and c. 380 a. of arable. The farms were Manor, 299 a. in the south-west, Norton, 264 a., Maidford, 149 a., Gorsey Leaze, 149 a., Buckland, 83 a. between Manor and Norton farms, and Fosse, 20 a. The 20 a. of Starvall was not included in any of those farms. Arable exceeded meadow and pasture on Manor and Norton farms; in the east Maidford and Gorsey Leaze were predominantly grassland. (fn. 140) In the mid 19th century Maidford, Gorsey Leaze, and Starvall were sometimes held together, as were Manor and Norton (fn. 141) In 1867 and 1877 grassland still exceeded arable and the farming was mixed. (fn. 142) Manor farm was two thirds arable in 1877, (fn. 143) Maidford less than a third arable in 1894. (fn. 144)
There were four main farms in the parish in the 20th century. (fn. 145) In the 1930s some nine tenths of the parish were under permanent grass. (fn. 146) Later there was more arable, and in 1987 the old parish was about half arable and half pasture. Norton farm, worked from the buildings erected outside the village in the period 1900–11, absorbed Buckland farm. It was not leased and Noel Wilson kept a herd of pedigree Herefordshire cattle on it. The farm, c. 380 a., was an arable and beef farm in 1987. (fn. 147) Manor farm, 303 a. in 1940, (fn. 148) continued to be worked from buildings near the church. It was an arable and dairy farm in 1987. (fn. 149) Maidford farm, 176 a. in 1958, (fn. 150) 152 a. in 1966, (fn. 151) was a dairy farm in 1987. Gorsey Leaze farm was worked by Jewish refugees in the Second World War. A dairy herd was later kept on it, and it was still grassland when it was broken up in the 1980s. (fn. 152) On the land called Starvall the extensive buildings of Highfield farm were erected in the later 20th century. In 1987 c. 200 a. of Malmesbury common was worked from them and they incorporated a dairy. (fn. 153)
Norton is sparsely wooded. In 1631 a coppice was said to have been newly planted. (fn. 154) Maidford Copse was 4 a. in 1707. (fn. 155) A further 3 a. were planted with trees between 1840 and 1877, (fn. 156) and another small area between 1921 and 1951. (fn. 157) There were c. 10 a. of woodland in the old parish in 1987.
In 1775–6 the parish spent £45 on poor relief, and between 1782 and 1785 an average of £57. By 1802–3, when 12 adults and 20 children were continuously relieved, expenditure had risen to £126. For a parish of Norton's size such figures were about average, but in 1812–13, when 24 adults were relieved continuously, (fn. 158) and in the period 1817–20, when over £200 a year was spent, spending on poor relief was apparently above average. In the 1820s and early 1830s it fluctuated between £81 and £166 and was again about average. (fn. 159) The parish joined Malmesbury poor-law union in 1835, (fn. 160) and in 1974 became part of North Wiltshire district. (fn. 161)
Malmesbury abbey had a chapel at Norton in 1151. (fn. 162) In 1222 the abbey was licensed to appropriate it on condition that a vicarage was ordained, (fn. 163) and the church was being served by a vicar in 1283. (fn. 164) In 1976 the vicarage was united with the benefice of Stanton St. Quintin and Grittleton with Leigh Delamere and with the vicarage of Hullavington. (fn. 165)
The advowson of the vicarage belonged to Malmesbury abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 166) The king presented in 1283 and 1332, for reasons which are not clear, (fn. 167) and in 1511 when the abbey was vacant; (fn. 168) the bishop collated by lapse in 1363; (fn. 169) and in 1533 Christopher Brown and Thomas Burnell presented by the abbey's grant. (fn. 170) The advowson was granted with Norton manor and the rectory estate to Sir John Brydges in 1547 (fn. 171) and descended with them to his son Edmund, Lord Chandos, and to Edmund's son Giles, Lord Chandos. (fn. 172) Between 1589 and 1592 the advowson was acquired by Sir John Danvers, who presented in 1592 (fn. 173) and died holding it in 1594. (fn. 174) In 1608 trustees of Sir John's son Henry, later earl of Danby, presented with the consent of Sir John's relict Elizabeth Carey. (fn. 175) No presentation between 1608 and 1675 is known. The advowson was, with Bremilham manor, referred to in deeds effecting the descent of Sir John Danvers's estate to Henry, earl of Danby (d. 1644), and to Sir John Danvers (d. 1655). There is no evidence that Sir John's trustees sold the advowson of Norton with Bremilham manor in 1656 to Sir Thomas Estcourt, lord of Norton manor and rectory, (fn. 176) and the advowson was referred to in later deeds of the Danvers and Wharton families, which retained the advowson of Bremilham. (fn. 177) In 1675 and 1680, however, Sir Thomas Estcourt presented, as his son Sir Thomas did in 1687: (fn. 178) in each case the vicar was also rector of Bremilham. (fn. 179) In 1713 the advowson was disputed between a trustee of Thomas Estcourt (d. 1704) and Thomas, earl of Wharton. Apparently because the three previous presentations had not been disputed, the trustee's claim was upheld, (fn. 180) and he presented in 1713. (fn. 181) The advowson was sold with Norton manor in 1714 and passed with it until offered for sale in 1798. (fn. 182) In 1727 Robert Greenway presented, presumably by grant of a turn. (fn. 183) Robert Kilmister bought the advowson in 1802 and sold it in 1817 to Joseph Pitt. (fn. 184) In 1835 Pitt sold it to Joseph Neeld (fn. 185) and thereafter it descended with Gorsey Leaze farm to Sir Audley Neeld, Bt. (d. 1941). (fn. 186) It passed to Sir Audley's second cousin L. W. Inigo-Jones (d. 1956), L. W. Neeld from 1942, and in 1965 an executor of L. W. Neeld presented. In 1971 Neeld's executors transferred the advowson to his nephew R. W. Inigo-Jones (later R. W. Neeld), who since 1976 has had the right to present a candidate for the benefice of Stanton St. Quintin and Grittleton with Leigh Delamere, Hullavington, and Norton at every third turn. (fn. 187)
The vicarage, valued at 5 marks in 1535 (fn. 188) and c. £20 in 1650, (fn. 189) was poor. It was augmented by lot with £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1809–10. (fn. 190) With a yearly income of £80 c. 1830, it remained poor. (fn. 191) The vicar may have been entitled to tithes of hay and to small tithes in 1341. (fn. 192) After the dispute of 1613–15 between the vicar and the lessee of the rectory estate, (fn. 193) and presumably a compromise, the vicar was entitled to the great tithes from 49 a. and to the small tithes from the whole parish. His tithes were valued in 1840 at £100 and commuted. (fn. 194) The vicar had little glebe in the later 16th century, and in 1672 he had only two small pastures. (fn. 195) There was a small house on the glebe north-east of the church in 1783, (fn. 196) said c. 1833 to be unfit for residence. (fn. 197) In 1840 the vicar owned the house and no other glebe. (fn. 198) The house was rebuilt in 1856 and sold in 1956. (fn. 199)
In the 14th and 15th centuries most incumbencies were short, and no vicar is known to have remained more than 20 years. (fn. 200) There is no evidence that a vicar lived in the parish. Richard Cox, vicar from 1608 to 1650, when the county committee called him 'godly', (fn. 201) or later, may have done so, but from 1675 most vicars were pluralists and all apparently non-resident. John Stumpe, vicar 1675–80, was rector of Foxley and of Bremilham; (fn. 202) Edmund Wayte, 1680–7, was rector of Bremilham; (fn. 203) John Harris, 1687–1713, was rector of Easton Grey and of Bremilham; Timothy Millichamp, 1713–27, was rector of Long Newnton; (fn. 204) Thomas Hornidge, 1752–96, was vicar of Coaley (Glos.) and curate of Beverstone (Glos.), where he lived; (fn. 205) Hornidge's son-in-law John Green, 1796–1837, lived at Hullavington and held curacies elsewhere; (fn. 206) W. S. Birch, 1837–46, was rector of Easton Grey and of Luckington. (fn. 207) Curates were often employed: (fn. 208) Simon Crook, curate 1716–18 (fn. 209) or longer, also served Foxley, (fn. 210) and Thomas Jones, curate 1793–1805 or longer, (fn. 211) was also curate of Foxley and of Hullavington. (fn. 212) From 1846 to 1891 the Wiltshire antiquary J. E. Jackson, first editor of the Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, was vicar. He was also rector of Leigh Delamere, where he lived. (fn. 213) From 1870 he often employed a curate to serve Norton. (fn. 214) His successor, C. T. Read, 1891–9, was also rector of Easton Grey, (fn. 215) and Read's successors G. L. Pitt, 1899–1902, and H. L. Warneford, 1902–46, were both rectors of Foxley with Bremilham. (fn. 216) From 1948 to 1973 the vicarage was held in plurality with Hullavington vicarage. (fn. 217)
In 1662 the church lacked a Book of Homilies and Jewell's Apology. (fn. 218) In 1783 no curate was employed and services were held on alternate Sundays by the vicar who lived at Beverstone. Communion was celebrated four times a year with seven or eight communicants. Children were catechized in summer. (fn. 219) The augmentation of 1809 was set aside because the vicar would not consent to hold a weekly service, and restored in 1810 when the question of duty was referred to the bishop. The vicar held two services on Sundays in 1832. (fn. 220) A service was held every Sunday in the afternoon in 1851: it was attended by 46 on Census Sunday. (fn. 221) In 1903 there were two services on every second and fourth Sunday of five, one on the other Sundays. (fn. 222) Few services were held in the church in 1987.
The church of ALL SAINTS, so called in 1763, (fn. 223) is of limestone rubble with ashlar dressings and consists of a chancel and a nave with north porch and incorporating a west vestry surmounted by a bellcot. The sizes of the chancel and the nave, both small, are little changed from the 12th century, and there is a later 12th-century font in the church. The east window is 13th-century, the west window and a blocked south doorway are 14thcentury, and other windows are 15th- and 16th-century. The porch and the chancel roof are also 16th-century. In 1858 the west wall of the church was rebuilt and the bellcot was replaced by another, made in 1854 for Grittlcton House. (fn. 224) A 5-ft. high wall dividing the chancel and the nave was removed in 1866 when the present chancel arch was erected and the church was reseated. The chancel and the sanctuary were raised in 1902, and in 1910 they were panelled and the nave was reroofed. (fn. 225) The pulpit incorporates early 17thcentury panelling.
The parish had a chalice of 8 oz. in 1553. (fn. 226) It was replaced in the later 16th century by a cup with a cover (fn. 227) which belonged to the parish in 1987. (fn. 228) A new silver paten was given in 1854. (fn. 229) The church had two bells in 1553. (fn. 230) In the mid 19th century there was a bell cast by James Burrough, probably in the mid 18th century. (fn. 231) It was rehung in 1926. (fn. 232) There was no parchment register in 1662. (fn. 233) New registers were begun in 1663. (fn. 234)
Several inhabitants of Norton in the late 17th century were Quakers, (fn. 235) and in 1798 a meeting house for Independents was certified. (fn. 236) There is no other evidence of dissent in the parish.
Anne Jacob (d. 1710) gave by will £100, which was invested in a rent charge of £4 on an estate in Kenn (Som.), for teaching 12 children of poor inhabitants of Norton. The teacher nominated in the will may already have been teaching Norton children. The charity paid for teaching until 1816, (fn. 237) when a master taught 6–10 children, (fn. 238) but there was apparently no special school building. The income of the charity was lent informally from 1816 to 1834 when accumulated income of £68 was invested. From 1846 or earlier to 1890 the income was paid to a schoolmistress. (fn. 239) The school was attended by 8 in 1846–7, (fn. 240) by 12 in 1859 when the schoolroom was in the rebuilt house on the glebe, (fn. 241) and by 13 in 1871. (fn. 242) J. E. Jackson (d. 1891) gave by will £231 to raise the capital of Jacob's chanty to £300, but from 1894, when a new school was built at Foxley, no school was held at Norton. The income from the Jacob and Jackson charities was given to Foxley school which was attended by Norton children. (fn. 243) Under a Scheme of 1905 prizes, bursaries, and outfits for those taking up a trade might be given. The two charities were merged by a Scheme of 1935, and secondary education and apprenticing thereby made the preferred objects. (fn. 244) In the 1970s and 1980s the income, £29, was used occasionally for grants to promote education. The rent charge from Kenn was redeemed in 1977. (fn. 245)