A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1991.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Sutton Benger (fn. 1) church is 6 km. north-east of Chippenham (fn. 2) and, as its name indicates, the village is south of Malmesbury abbey which is likely to have owned it long before the Conquest. The parish is one of three in Wiltshire called Sutton: the suffix Benger, mistakenly derived from Berengar, the Domesday tenant of Sutton Mandeville, has been used from the later 14th century; in the late 15th century the parish was sometimes called Sutton Leonard, apparently in confusion with Sutton Veny where the church was called St. Leonard's. (fn. 3) Until 1884, when a detached part of Draycot Cerne parish, c. 90 a. beside the Bristol Avon, was added to it, Sutton Benger parish measured 1,198 a. (485 ha.), the area with which this article deals. In 1934 the whole of Seagry and Draycot Cerne parishes were added, increasing Sutton Benger parish to 3,385 a. (1,370 ha.). The lands of the new parish north of the London and south Wales motorway became the new Seagry parish in 1971, when Sutton Benger parish was left with 776 ha. (fn. 4)
The boundaries of Sutton were described in the late nth or early 12th century. The northern and southern then, as later, followed tributaries of the Avon, and the eastern followed the Avon itself. Those boundaries suggest that the men of Draycot Cerne made good a claim to the c. 90 a. beside the Avon between c. 1100 and 1257. (fn. 5) The western boundary, which for part of its course was almost straight, followed no natural feature.
River deposits cover about a third of the old Sutton Benger parish which, except its northernmost part, is almost flat. Oxford Clay, Kellaways Clay, and Kellaways Sand outcrop in the north and west and the highest land reaches c. 90 m. In the south-east, valley gravel forms a wide terrace and extensive deposits of alluvium border the Avon. The lowest land, c. 50 m., is in the southeast corner. Alluvium has also been deposited beside Chissell brook, the southern boundary stream, and the other feeders of the Avon to the north. (fn. 6) Open fields were on the gravel and on sandy soils north-west of the village, the clay to the north supports woodland, and the alluvium gave the parish much meadow land. (fn. 7)
The main roads run east-west. The Swindon—Chippenham road was turnpiked through the village in 1756 and disturnpiked in 1875. (fn. 8) Its bridge over the Avon, linking Sutton Benger and Christian Malford, was built in the 18th century, possibly c. 1756: it has cutwaters separated by three segmental arches. It was widened in the 20th century. West of the bridge a stone causeway for pedestrians runs for c. 300 m. along the north side of the road. Further north the London and south Wales motorway was opened in 1971. (fn. 9) The northern tip of the parish is crossed by a road, called Oak Hill Lane in 1736, between Seagry and Stanton St. Quintin. (fn. 10) Several north-south roads served Sutton Benger village. That leading north to Great Somerford was turnpiked in 1809 and disturnpiked in 1876. (fn. 11) Sutton Lane, so called in 1885, led south to Langley Burrell and was on its present course in 1773. Two others fell out of use between 1839 and 1885: one survives as a footpath west of and parallel to Sutton Lane; the other, part of which survives as a farm drive, linked the Great Somerford road and Oak Hill Lane. (fn. 12)
A palaeolithic artifact was found south-east of the church, (fn. 13) and there may have been a small farmstead between the site of the village and the Avon in the Iron Age and Romano-British period. (fn. 14) Sutton was not highly assessed for taxation in 1334, but in 1377 had one of the highest number of taxpayers, 125, in Malmesbury hundred. (fn. 15) In the 16th century and earlier 17th assessments were of moderate size for the hundred. (fn. 16) The population rose from 420 to 458 between 1801 and 1821 and declined to 336 in 1931. There was a temporary increase to 526 in 1841 because labourers building the G.W.R. line from London to Bristol lodged in the village. (fn. 17) After c. 1950 private and council housing estates were built in the village and the population increased. In 1981 the majority of the 854 inhabitants of Sutton Benger parish lived in the village. (fn. 18)
The village grew along the Swindon—Chippenham road, called High Street in Sutton Benger. The church was built on the north side, at what may then have been the east end of the village, in the 12th century, and a glebe house was built east of it. (fn. 19) In the later 13th century a demesne farmstead was built of stone, (fn. 20) presumably at the village's west end. Manor Farm, the demesne farmhouse, has a three-bayed north—south range. The north end was open to the roof and retains a smoke-blackened truss: the south end was of two storeys, and against its east side was a small two-storeyed wing. On the first floor, the east wing contained a small chapel and the 13th-century doorway by which it was entered from the main range survives. The east wall of the chapel retains parts of a blocked traceried window. The main range was altered in the later 17th century and the angle between it and the east wing was built over in the 19th.
Although Sutton Benger was a small parish the village was populous and contained several substantial farmhouses. Its prosperity presumably depended on the fertility of its land and its position on a main road, and an inn was mentioned in 1540. (fn. 21) Most of the older buildings are of stone, and the 19th-century estate cottages are of good quality. A malthouse and eight houses in the village were burned down in 1801. Six of the houses were immediately rebuilt. (fn. 22) On the north side of High Street at the east end are several cottages, timber-framed with thatched roofs, possibly of the later 16th century or earlier 17th. West of Manor Farm, the Tylney-Long or Wellesley Arms inn was built in the late 18th century: it was an inn in 1808, (fn. 23) and the Septennial Friendly Society met there c. 1845. (fn. 24) Ross Cottage, a two-storeyed stone house with a lobby entrance opposite the chimney, stands west of the Wellesley Arms. It was built in 1782, probably for Edward Russ. (fn. 25) Also on the north side of High Street are two pairs of early 19th-century cottages and, east of Manor Farm, four pairs of estate cottages, one built in 1868, the others in 1889. (fn. 26) On the south side are three large farmsteads. Gate Farm is of two storeys with attics. Its main north-south range was built in the earlier 17th century but may incorporate walls of a single-storeyed medieval building. A new staircase was built in the early 18th century, and in the 19th most of the windows were renewed. A wing which extends westwards from the north side of the main range was altered inside in the mid 20th century. The inside of the entire house was being altered and refitted in 1988. Arms Farm was possibly built in the later 18th century. It has a two-storeyed main north—south range with a symmetrical west entrance front. A narrow singlestoreyed service wing along the east side was heightened to match the main range. Poplar Farm, incorporating a long east—west range, was apparently built in the 18th century. Also on the south side of High Street, opposite the church, the Bell inn, so called in 1797, (fn. 27) was built in the 17th and extended in the 19th and 20th centuries. It ceased to be an inn between 1839 and 1848. (fn. 28) In 1958 it was reopened as the Bell House hotel and restaurant. (fn. 29)
From the mid 20th century the village expanded south of High Street, a road parallel to which was named Chestnut Road. Ten council houses were built c. 1950 on the site of buildings of Poplar Farm, (fn. 30) a new school was built, (fn. 31) and small estates of private houses were built from the 1970s. North of High Street a factory was built (fn. 32) and a small estate of private houses replaced buildings of Manor Farm. In all parts of the village farm buildings have been converted for residence.
There was settlement along the Great Somerford road, called Seagry Road, in 1773 as far north as the feeder of the Avon which flows east across the parish: (fn. 33) a thatched cottage, possibly of the 18th century, survives there. A farmhouse north of the stream was built in 1730 and extended in the 19th century, (fn. 34) west of the farmhouse a mill stood on the stream near the boundary with Draycot Cerne, (fn. 35) Church Farm, on the east side of Seagry Road, was built in the later 17th century, and Hazelwood Farm on the west side was built in the 18th. South of Church Farm large buildings for dealing in food were erected in the earlier 19th century; from c. 1920 they incorporated the Vintage public house, and in 1987 flats. (fn. 36) Opposite the Vintage, on the west side of the road, a school was built in the late 19th century. (fn. 37)
Cottages stood in a small group on the waste in Sutton Lane in 1773: (fn. 38) two survived in 1987. On the east side of the lane at the north end College Green, an estate of 14 bungalows for old people, was built c. 1960. (fn. 39) At the south end New House or Sutton Lane Farm, on a double-pile plan, was built shortly before 1773. (fn. 40)
North of Sutton Benger village Harding's, New, or Heath Farm, built between 1773 and 1808, (fn. 41) is a small house on a double-pile plan with a short east wing added in the 19th century. A large barn, possibly contemporary with the house, stands west of it.
Sutton, mentioned in Malmesbury abbey's copy of a charter from King Ethelwulf in 854, (fn. 42) is likely to have been owned by the abbey long before the Conquest. The abbey later claimed that Edward the Confessor confirmed Sutton to it. (fn. 43) Sutton may have been part of the abbey's large estate called Brokenborough in 1086 (fn. 44) but was later a separate estate (fn. 45) and belonged to the abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 46)
In 1575 the Crown sold the manor of SUTTON BENGER to John Dudley and John Ayscough. (fn. 47) Sir Robert Long (d. 1581) owned it in 1576, and from then to 1920 it descended with Draycot Cerne manor. It passed to Sir Robert's son Sir Walter Long (fn. 48) (d. 1610), to Sir Walter's son Sir Walter (fn. 49) (d. 1637), and to that Sir Walter's son Sir James Long, Bt. (fn. 50) From Sir James (d. 1692) it passed to his grandsons Sir Robert Long, Bt. (d. 1692), Sir Giles Long, Bt. (d. 1697), and Sir James Long, Bt. (d. 1729). (fn. 51) The manor descended to Sir Robert Long, Bt. (d. 1767), (fn. 52) Sir James Long, (fn. 53) from 1784 Tylney-Long, Bt. (d. 1794), and Sir James Tylney-Long, Bt. (d. 1805). (fn. 54) It passed to the last Sir James's sister Catherine (d. 1825), wife of William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, earl of Mornington. She was succeeded by her son William, earl of Mornington (d. 1863), who devised it to his cousin Henry Wellesley, Earl Cowley (d. 1884), and the manor passed to William, Earl Cowley (d. 1895), Henry, Earl Cowley (d. 1919), and Christian, Earl Cowley. (fn. 55) The manor was broken up in 1920 and from then to the 1980s was in about eight separately owned farms. (fn. 56)
The great tithes of Sutton Benger apparently belonged to Malmesbury abbey until 1265. Thereafter the RECTORY estate, a house, 1 yardland, and all the tithes arising from the parish, belonged to the dean and chapter of Salisbury. Probably in 1342 the land and in 1474 the small tithes were assigned to the vicarage. (fn. 57) The great tithes still belonged to the dean and chapter in 1839 when they were valued at £185 and commuted. (fn. 58)
In 1086 and 1210 Sutton is likely to have been assessed as part of Malmesbury abbey's estate called Brokenborough. (fn. 59) In the Middle Ages there was open field land at Sutton (fn. 60) and sheep-and-corn husbandry prevailed. (fn. 61) A new demesne farmstead was built between 1260 and 1296. (fn. 62) Five customary tenants, including a miller, each held 1 yardland in 1283–4 and 36 others held smaller amounts of land. (fn. 63)
There was a common meadow, in which the tenants' shares were apportioned by lot, (fn. 64) beside the Avon south of the main road. (fn. 65) From 1257 Sutton tenants were entitled, from 25 August to 2 February, to pasture rights in the detached part of Draycot Cerne south of the common meadow, and in return each Sutton team, at three days notice, ploughed ½ a. in the fields of Draycot . Cerne. (fn. 66) Some customary tenants of Sutton Benger were obliged to mow in the demesne meadows of Brokenborough. (fn. 67)
In 1514 the open fields were South, Middle, and North, and in the later 16th century Barrow was a fourth open field. Between 1508 and 1539 an abbot of Malmesbury allowed Sir Henry Long to enclose land in the north-west part of Sutton Benger in Draycot park. (fn. 68) The demesne farm and most of the copyholds contained inclosed pasture in the 16th century, (fn. 69) and in 1656 the number of animals pastured on each lot in the common meadow was reduced by agreement from six to four. (fn. 70) The demesne farm, c. 230 a., was held by lease in the earlier 16th century. In 1540–1 there were 25 customary tenants holding 31 yardlands. The two largest holdings were of 4 and 3 yardlands, 5 were of 2 yardlands, 3 of 1½ yardland, 8 of 1 yardland, and 3 of ½ yardland. (fn. 71) In 1622 the holdings were roughly of the same size and number, and there were 32 holding cottages or small plots of land. (fn. 72) Of the 45 customary tenants in 1647, only 21 lived in Sutton Benger. (fn. 73)
Although a 12–a. inclosure was made in South field c. 1667, (fn. 74) common arable husbandry persisted until the open fields were inclosed by agreement in 1729. (fn. 75) The fields lay south-east and north-west of the village. (fn. 76) By 1731 the demesne had been divided into Manor farm, 80 a. in 1739, and two other farms, each c. 50 a. in 1731. There were 13 copyholds, each of between 20 a. and 50 a., and many smaller holdings in 1731. (fn. 77) Two new farms were created with buildings outside the village, New House later Sutton Lane farm in the south shortly before 1773, and New later Harding's farm in the north between 1773 and 1808. (fn. 78) In 1808 the largest farms were Poplar, 119 a., Manor, 116 a., Gate, 108 a., Arms, 84 a., Church, 47 a., Harding's, 87 a., and Sutton Lane, 58 a. The first four had farmsteads in High Street. In 1808 there were 10 other farms, each of 50 a. or less. Between 1808 and 1839 the extensive common meadows beside the Avon were inclosed and apportioned among the larger farms. In 1839 there were 405 a. of arable and 610 a. of grassland in the parish. During the 19th century most of the smaller farms were added to larger ones. In 1839 and 1872 Gate farm and Arms farm were worked together, and in 1839 Church and Harding's made up a 210–a. farm. Harding's was worked with Manor as a 267–a. farm in 1872, and Church farm was c. 122 a. in 1851 and 1872. (fn. 79) Between 1839 and 1863 the lord of the manor had in hand 97 a., of which some was in Draycot park, (fn. 80) and in 1872 c. 80 a. of Manor and Harding's farms and 6 a. of Church farm were added to the park. (fn. 81)
In the later 19th century the parish was a quarter arable and three quarters grassland. Most land was under grass in the earlier 20th century, and in 1936 only 98 a. were arable. Grain was grown on three quarters of the arable and fodder crops on the remainder. Between 1876 and 1936 grasses were grown in rotation on less than 100 a., and half the permanent grassland was mown. Sheep farming, with flocks averaging 400 in the parish, continued until c. 1880, but thereafter few sheep were kept. Average herds of c. 120 pigs were kept 1867–1936. Most farms had a dairy: c. 160 cows were kept in the parish in the later 19th century, c. 300 in the earlier 20th. (fn. 82)
Manor and Poplar farms were merged c. 1929, (fn. 83) and in 1987 the land, c. 242 a., was entirely arable. (fn. 84) Of the farms with farmsteads south of the Swindon—Chippenham road, Sutton Lane, including c. 140 a. in Sutton Benger, was a mixed farm in 1987, (fn. 85) Gate, c. 151 a., was a pasture farm on which cattle were reared for beef, (fn. 86) and Arms, c. 37 a., was a dairy farm. (fn. 87) Hazelwood farm, formed in the period 1923–7, (fn. 88) and enlarged c. 1978 when Church farm was broken up, was a dairy and pig farm in 1987. (fn. 89) Harding's farm, c. 90 a., supported a herd of Jersey cows in 1987, (fn. 90) and the c. 250 a. of North Draycot Park farm, formed c. 1971 and worked from buildings on land formerly in Draycot Cerne parish, were pasture on which sheep were kept and cattle were raised for beef. (fn. 91) Lake farm, also based in what was Draycot Cerne parish, in 1987 included c. 90 a. north of Sutton Benger village. (fn. 92)
There were 50–60 a. of woods, including Ell wood, c. 30 a., and Oak Hill wood, c. 20 a., in the north-west corner of the parish in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 93) Those two woods remained in 1987.
There was a fuller in the parish in 1611, (fn. 94) and clothworkers, among whom were Zephaniah Fry (d. 1724) and his son Zephaniah (d. 1716), in the later 17th century and the 18th. (fn. 95) Although most men in Sutton Benger in 1831 were agricultural labourers, 33 were tradesmen or artisans, more than usual in a small rural parish, and 5, including a surgeon, were professional men. (fn. 96) From 1779 or earlier Thomas Riley (d. 1801) and his wife Mary (d. 1809) were bakers and maltsters, (fn. 97) and in 1839 there was a malthouse east of Manor Farm on the north side of High Street. Between 1839 and c. 1911 members of the Hull family were in business in Seagry Road as grocers, spirit merchants, cheese factors, and bacon curers. (fn. 98) In 1920 Alfred Britton & Co., bakers, occupied the Hulls' premises, which were bought in 1920 by Wadworth & Co. and afterwards incorporated a public house. (fn. 99)
In 1822 three gravel pits lay north of the church, (fn. 100) c. 1948 Sheppard & Brown Ltd. extracted gravel from land between the church and the Avon, (fn. 101) and 1956–64 the Pyramid Sand & Gravel Co. worked pits in Sutton Benger. (fn. 102) A factory in which broiler hens were prepared for cooking was opened on the north side of High Street in 1958 by Western Poultry Packers. In 1987 the factory, owned by Buxted Chicken Ltd., prepared weekly c. 400,000 chickens reared in local broiler houses, including some beside Sutton Lane. Of the 535 employees at the factory only six lived in the parish. (fn. 103)
A mill stood in Sutton Benger c. 1283, (fn. 104) but not in the later 16th century. (fn. 105) The medieval mill may have been on the site of that which stood in 1773 (fn. 106) and 1839 near the boundary with Draycot Cerne at the east end of the lake of Draycot House. (fn. 107) It was demolished before 1885. (fn. 108)
The abbot of Malmesbury held view of frankpledge in Sutton Benger. (fn. 109) Leet jurisdiction passed with the manor to Sir Robert Long (d. 1581). (fn. 110) Records of courts, called views of frankpledge and courts of the manor or courts baron, are extant for 1561–2, 1647–52, 1756, and 1765–1872. Leet and manorial business are undifferentiated in them. In the 16th and 17th centuries leet business included the payment of cert money, the appointment of a tithingman, and orders to repair hedges and ditches and to clean watercourses. Throughout the period manorial business included transfers of copyholds, the appointment of a hayward, and the repair of the pound. In 1801 the court ordered the rebuilding of the houses which were burnt down. The courts were held twice yearly until 1771 and thereafter once yearly in autumn and at other times when copyhold business required it. (fn. 111) Early 19th century courts, at which little business was done, were marked, like those held for Draycot Cerne manor, by a dinner, probably at Sutton Benger, given by the lord for the tenants. (fn. 112)
At vestries held from 1745 or earlier parish officers were appointed and poor and highway rates were set. From the mid 18th century expenditure on the poor rose steadily (fn. 113) and in the early 19th sharply. It was claimed in 1801 that increased expenditure impoverished householders who were required to pay higher rates and discouraged the poor from helping themselves. (fn. 114) In 1802–3 £267 was spent on relieving 57 people continuously and 20 occasionally. The parish apparently had a small workhouse 1808–34: it had six inmates in 1812–13 when the parish also provided continuous relief for 29 and occasional relief for seven. The amount spent each year and the numbers relieved decreased 1813–15. Of the average of 37 relieved in 1814–15, 12 received occasional relief. (fn. 115) The annual sums 1816–34 represented average expenditure on the poor in Malmesbury hundred. (fn. 116) Sutton Benger was included in Chippenham poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 117) It became part of North Wiltshire district in 1974. (fn. 118)
A church which stood in Sutton Benger in the 12th century belonged to Malmesbury abbey and at least part of its revenues was assigned to the sacrist. In 1118 it was among Malmesbury properties taken by Roger, bishop of Salisbury. Henry I confirmed the church to the dean and chapter of Salisbury but in 1139 King Stephen may have restored it to the abbey. (fn. 119) It was disputed between the abbey, which called it a chapel and possibly considered it dependent on the abbey, and the dean and chapter, who called it a church and possibly appointed a rector, in the later 12th century and the 13th. (fn. 120) In a compromise the abbey apparently took the great tithes, appointed a rector from among the members of Salisbury chapter, and paid a pension of £13 6s. 8d. to the archdeacon of Wiltshire. It is not clear whether the abbey or the rector arranged for the church to be served. (fn. 121) The treasurer of the cathedral, Robert de Cardeville (d. 1264), was rector, (fn. 122) as, after him, was the chancellor, Ralph of Heigham. In 1265 Ralph resigned, Malmesbury abbey transferred the great tithes to the dean and chapter, the pension was extinguished, and a vicarage in the gift of the bishop of Salisbury was ordained. (fn. 123) Vicars served the church until in 1904 the benefice again became a rectory. In 1966 the benefices of Sutton Benger, Christian Malford, and Tytherton Kellaways were united. (fn. 124)
The bishop of Salisbury collated vicars from 1265 until 1696, except in 1416 when, possibly by grant of a turn, John Rober presented. (fn. 125) In 1719 the bishop transferred the advowson to the dean and chapter of Salisbury, (fn. 126) who became entitled to the first and fourth of five turns of presentation to the united benefice in 1966. (fn. 127)
From 1265 to 1474 or earlier the dean and chapter leased all the tithes of the parish to the vicar for £20 a year, possibly thereby augmenting the vicarage. (fn. 128) In 1535 the vicarage was worth £6, (fn. 129) in 1651 £30. (fn. 130) The vicar was assigned £9 rent from the great tithes, c. 1654. (fn. 131) In 1718 the dean and chapter of Salisbury gave £100, Edward Colston £100, and Queen Anne's Bounty £200 to augment the vicarage, (fn. 132) and from 1719 the dean and chapter again leased the great tithes to the vicar. (fn. 133) Its net yearly income of £285 c. 1830 made the vicarage one of the richer livings in Malmesbury deanery. (fn. 134) The rent charge for which the great tithes had been commuted was assigned to the vicar in 1904. (fn. 135)
The dean and chapter assigned the land of the rectory estate, 1 yardland, to the vicar, probably in 1342. (fn. 138) The vicar held the land, 18 a. in 1839, (fn. 139) until 1922 when 15 a. were sold. (fn. 140) Windmill Hill farm, 12 a. in Brinkworth, was bought for the vicar in 1728 (fn. 141) and was sold in 1919. (fn. 142)
A vicarage house was mentioned from the later 16th century. (fn. 143) It needed repairs in 1683. (fn. 144) About 1783 the vicar's house, described as an illconstructed thatched hovel, was rebuilt. (fn. 145) New principal rooms to the west and a conservatory to the south were added c. 1841 (fn. 146) in Gothic style. The house was sold c. 1969. (fn. 147)
A rent of 1s. 8d. from land in Seagry was given for a light in the church, and rents of 1s. from Sutton Benger and of 10d. from Langley Burrell were given for the rood light; (fn. 148) 1 a. was given for church repairs, presumably also before the Reformation. (fn. 149) The 1 a. was leased for £2 yearly in 1837 and 1929, (fn. 150) and was held for the church in 1987. (fn. 151)
A curate apparently served the church in 1545, (fn. 152) and in 1553 no quarterly sermon was preached and the parish lacked Erasmus's Paraphrases. (fn. 153) In 1662 the vicar lacked a surplice and several parishioners refused contributions towards the purchase of new books and ornaments. (fn. 154) William Noble, vicar 1637–40, (fn. 155) was a composer of epitaphs. (fn. 156) Several later vicars were pluralists: they included John Stumpe, vicar from 1689 to c. 1696 and rector of Foxley, (fn. 157) and William Atkinson, vicar 1744–65 and rector of Fisherton Anger 1754–8 and vicar of Lacock by 1765. (fn. 158) Charles Davies, vicar 1774–1810, was a fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, and c. 1783 lived in Sutton Benger only during the university vacations and at Whitsuntide. A curate served the church 1743–5. A curate in 1783 also served the church of Little Somerford, where he lived. A service was held at Sutton Benger on Sunday afternoons and on Christmas day and Good Friday. Davies attributed the small number, c. 12, who received the sacrament, administered at Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, and Michaelmas, to his parishioners' fear of committing themselves to lead better lives. (fn. 159) Christopher Lipscomb, vicar 1818–24, was a fellow of New College, Oxford, and from 1824 bishop of Jamaica. His successor, E. C. Ogle, vicar 1824–36, was a canon of Salisbury from 1828 (fn. 160) but lived in Sutton Benger. In 1832 he held two Sunday services, at one of which he preached. (fn. 161) G. T. Marsh, vicar 1836–62, was also rector of Foxley. (fn. 162) On Census Sunday in 1851 a congregation of 150 attended the morning service and one of 220 the afternoon service. (fn. 163) Richard Dawson, vicar 1862–1903, was chaplain of Chippenham union workhouse from 1886. The benefice was held in plurality with the rectory of Tytherton Kellaways 1920–66. (fn. 164)
The church of ALL SAINTS, so called in 1763, (fn. 165) is built of stone rubble with ashlar dressings. It comprises a chancel, a nave with south aisle and porch, and a west tower. (fn. 166) Some masonry in the nave may survive from the 12th century. (fn. 167) The chancel, in which two late 13th-century windows survive, was otherwise rebuilt c. 1345. (fn. 168) The south aisle, also built c. 1345, was separated from the nave by a five-bayed arcade with round columns, and the western respond forms a bracket on which was carved a male head emerging from foliage. The east end of the aisle is a chapel, and its east window contains, in the lower part of the central light, a canopied niche, on the exterior of which the entire window was formerly depicted in miniature. (fn. 169) In the 15th century the porch was rebuilt in ashlar with, on the east and west, three pairs of two-light openings separated by buttresses. Also in the 15th century the nave was shortened and widened, and the tower, with an openwork spirelet, was built. In 1849 (fn. 170) the piers and arches of the aisle were renewed in a style earlier than that of c. 1345, and many original features of both nave and chancel were altered, during a restoration of the church by J. H. Hakewill. (fn. 171) An altar hanging, depicting saints and prophets and made from the orphreys of a pair of tunicles embroidered in England in the late 15th century, is preserved in the church. (fn. 172)
In 1553 the king's commissioners left a chalice of 10 oz. and took 2 oz. of plate. (fn. 173) The parish held a plate and a chalice with cover in 1783. (fn. 174) They were replaced by a chalice, paten, almsdish, and flagon, all hallmarked for 1848, (fn. 175) which, except for the almsdish, the parish held in 1987. (fn. 176) There was a ring of four bells in 1553. Of the five bells in the tower in 1987 the treble was cast by Nathaniel Boulter in 1638, the second in Bristol c. 1350, the third by Richard Purdue in 1631, the fourth by Llewellins & James of Bristol in 1902, and the tenor by Abraham Rudhall in 1706. (fn. 177) Registrations of baptisms are complete from 1653, of marriages and burials from 1654. (fn. 178)
A Quaker group in Sutton Benger by 1667 (fn. 179) included Nathaniel Colman in 1669. (fn. 180) He was one of the separatists who declined to attend meetings or to remove their hats during prayer unless they felt divinely inspired to do so. (fn. 181) There were 25 nonconformists in the parish in 1676. (fn. 182) Colman and his son Nathaniel were among 19 Quakers in Sutton Benger in 1683 and 13 in 1689. (fn. 183) Another Quaker, Zephaniah Fry (d. 1724), lived in the parish but attended the Kington Langley meeting. (fn. 184) The houses in Sutton Benger of Zephaniah's son John (d. 1775) and William Price were certified for meetings in 1727. (fn. 185) John's son Joseph (d. 1787), also a Quaker, founded the chocolate-making firm of J. Fry & Co. He maintained a connexion with Sutton Benger, where he dated the preface of his Select Poems published in 1774. (fn. 186) Seven Quakers lived in Sutton Benger in 1783. (fn. 187)
In 1783 people from Sutton Benger attended a Congregationalist meeting in Christian Malford. (fn. 188) The group may have met in Sutton Benger in 1831. (fn. 189) It was perhaps for them, or for Wesleyan Methodists, that houses in the parish were certified in 1837 and 1839. (fn. 190) The Wesleyans built a chapel in Sutton Benger in 1850 and in 1850–1 an average congregation of 90 attended evening services in it. (fn. 191) No later record of it has been found.
There was a school for girls in Sutton Benger in 1783. (fn. 192) In 1808 a school was attended by 24 pupils, of whom 15 were paid for by Catherine, Lady Tylney-Long (d. 1823). (fn. 193) A school had c. 90 children in 1818. (fn. 194) There were four schools in 1833. One was for 12 children: the others, begun in 1823, 1828, and 1829, were attended by 20 girls, 25 boys, and 56 boys and girls respectively. (fn. 195) One of the four was the National school in which 52 children were taught in 1846–7. A total of 32 children were then taught in the other three. (fn. 196) Only the National school survived in 1858 and a single teacher had 40–50 pupils in it. (fn. 197) In 1876 a master taught 51 children in a new building of that year west of Seagry Road. (fn. 198) Average attendance fluctuated from 64 in 1906–7 to 41 in 1937–8, (fn. 199) and was c. 60 in 1964. (fn. 200) In 1966 the pupils were transferred to new buildings in Chestnut Road and six teachers taught 89 children there in 1987. (fn. 201) Harding's Farm was a preparatory school for boys in the 1930s. (fn. 202)