A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 15, Amesbury Hundred, Branch and Dole Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1995.
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Figheldean (fn. 1) is 18 km. north of Salisbury on Salisbury Plain. (fn. 2) The parish, 2,201 ha. (5,439 a.), includes 10 a. considered part of Durrington parish until the mid 19th century. (fn. 3) It lies east-west and is crossed from north to south by the Christchurch Avon. It contains six settlements beside the river: their names suggest that they are all of Saxon origin, (fn. 4) and each had a strip of land running from the river to the downs, Choulston, Figheldean, Ablington, and Syrencot to the east, Alton and Knighton to the west. Figheldean had a church, and Ablington, Knighton, and Syrencot, in the same ownership as Figheldean in the 12th and 13th centuries, (fn. 5) may have been in its parish early. Alton also had a church and may have been a parish in the Middle Ages; (fn. 6) later both it and Choulston were in Figheldean parish.
The parish boundary, c. 30 km. in length, runs mostly in straight lines across downland. At the extremities a prehistoric ditch marks the boundary with South Tidworth (Hants until 1992) on Dunch Hill on the east, and a prehistoric earthwork, Robin Hood's Ball, straddles the boundary on the west. The Avon forms two stretches of the boundary, and in places both the northern and southern boundaries follow dry valleys.
The parish is entirely on Upper Chalk. Alluvium and gravel have been deposited by the Avon, and to the east there is gravel in Bourne bottom, a parallel valley cut by a tributary of the Avon, Nine Mile river, now dry in Figheldean. There are ridges and dry valleys both east and west of the Avon, but much of the downland slopes gently. In the east the land exceeds 150 m. on Dunch Hill, and in the west reaches 147 m. on Knighton down and c. 140 m. at Robin Hood's Ball. (fn. 7) Each of the six settlements had meadow land beside the Avon, all their sites were on the gravel near the river, and to the east and west were large areas of open fields and downland pastures for sheep. Downland and some of the former open fields were included in military training areas after 1898. (fn. 8)
The eastern downs of the parish were crossed by a road from Chipping Campden (Glos.) to Salisbury via Marlborough prominent in the 17th century. (fn. 9) The road lost importance after a Marlborough—Salisbury road along the Bourne valley further east was turnpiked in 1835. North-south roads linked the villages on each bank of the Avon. That on the east was turnpiked from a little north of Figheldean parish to Amesbury in 1761 and disturnpiked in 1871. That on the west became more important. It was turnpiked in 1840, disturnpiked in 1877, and, via Upavon and Amesbury, took some Devizes— Salisbury and Marlborough—Salisbury traffic. (fn. 10) The two roads were linked by lanes through Figheldean village: to the north one crossed the river on a bridge, called Figheldean bridge in 1649, (fn. 11) near Figheldean mill, and to the south one forded the river. Between 1773 and 1817 a bridge was built near the ford: (fn. 12) it was an iron suspension bridge in 1851, (fn. 13) was later rebuilt, and was called Figheldean bridge by 1880. (fn. 14) The southern road, leading from the crossing northwards through Figheldean village, was turnpiked in 1840 and disturnpiked in 1877. (fn. 15) East-west roads across the parish fell out of civilian use after 1898. (fn. 16)
A Palaeolithic artefact was found in the parish, Robin Hood's Ball is a causewayed camp of the early Neolithic period, and Bronze-Age barrows of several types survive on the downs. East and west of Bourne bottom an Iron-Age field system of c. 1,500 a., divided by ditches and possibly associated with the contemporary fort on Sidbury Hill in North Tidworth, indicates settlement by agriculturalists and cattle farmers. The cultivated area now in Figheldean parish, c. 370 a., could have supported perhaps 22 families but no evidence of their dwellings has been found. There may have been other prehistoric field systems on the lower slopes of the downs west of Alton and on the boundary with Durrington further west, c. 220 a. and c. 280 a. respectively. Romano-British foundations and pottery have been found west of the Upavon—Amesbury road at Alton Parva Farm. (fn. 17)
The six settlements had a total of c. 160 poll-tax payers in 1377, a high number for a parish in Amesbury hundred, (fn. 18) and the parish was apparently prosperous in the 16th century and early 17th. (fn. 19) The population was 367 in 1801. It rose from 342 in 1811 to 531 in 1831. Five people emigrated from the parish early in 1841 when there were 510 inhabitants. Increased mechanization of farming resulted in a declining population in the later 19th century and early 20th, and in 1911 the population was 429. Thereafter housing in the parish for military personnel caused the number of inhabitants to increase and fluctuate. The population was 893, including 500 civilians, in 1921, and 625 in 1931. New housing built at Figheldean and Ablington in the mid 20th century apparently caused the civilian population to increase. The parish had 977 inhabitants in 1951, (fn. 20) 675 in 1991. (fn. 21)
In the early 14th century Figheldean was apparently prosperous, (fn. 22) but in 1428 was said to have fewer than 10 households. (fn. 23) To judge from its surviving houses it was much the largest village in the parish in the 17th century and it was clearly so in the 19th and 20th: it had c. 288 inhabitants in 1841. (fn. 24)
The church stands on high ground at the north end of the village: the line of buildings south of it in Church Street and High Street has offshoots in Mill Lane and Pollens Lane. In the later 17th century there were houses on both sides of Church Street, the west side of Mill Lane, and the west side of High Street. The predominant building materials were timber, stone rubble, and brick, and many of the surviving houses retain thatched roofs. The earlier 17th-century houses are typically L-shaped with an internal chimney stack and a lobby entrance. Those of the later 17th century are typified by a house on the west side of Church Street built in 1676 (fn. 25) and the Cottage on the west side of High Street. Melrose House, also on the west side of High Street, was built in 1666 (fn. 26) and is L-shaped. Its principal timber-framed north—south range has an east entrance front with high symmetrical gables for second-floor attic windows and has end gables of flint and ashlar. That range contains the main rooms on either side of a central hall and at its north end a service wing projects eastwards. On the east side of High Street there was little more than two farmsteads in 1773: (fn. 27) Manor Farm was at the north end, Read's Farm at the south end. Both were demolished between c. 1877 and c. 1957. (fn. 28) By 1817 other buildings, of which only a cottage south of the junction with Pollens Lane survives, had been erected to make a continuous line on the east side. (fn. 29) At the north end of High Street, Figheldean House, a large L-shaped house of pebble-dashed brick with label mouldings above the windows and a thatched roof, was built between 1820 and 1838 for Sir Edward Poore, Bt., whose relict lived there in 1848. (fn. 30) A range of five almshouses built in 1826 for Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1859) southwest of the church was demolished in the 1960s: (fn. 31) it is not known by whom or on what terms the houses were occupied. Also in the period 1820–38 two cottages were built beside the turnpike road north-east of the village at Cliff End; two more were built near the river north of the church, an area called Little London, between 1838 and 1850. Of several farmsteads built on the open land east of the village in the mid 19th century only Figheldean New Buildings, 400 m. north-east of Cliff End, survives. (fn. 32)
The Wheatsheaf, on the west side of High Street, was open in 1855 (fn. 33) and 1991. The Avon Valley lodge of the Order of Foresters met there 1866–1904. (fn. 34) A school and a nonconformist chapel were built on the east side of High Street in the later 19th century. (fn. 35) Houses in the later 19th century and the 20th, bungalows in the later 20th, have been built in High Street, those on the west side on old sites; at the south end of High Street on the west side offices and a working men's club were built in the 1980s. In the 20th century the village has also expanded eastwards, north and south of Pollens Lane. To the south, in Oak Lane, 4 council houses were built c. 1920, (fn. 36) several private houses were built, and 12 old people's bungalows were built in 1970 (fn. 37) and later. To the north, 27 bungalows were built in Pollen Close in the 1960s and 10 in Hilltop Close in the 1980s. Council housing also extended the village south-eastwards towards Ablington: in Avon Banks 12 houses were built in 1949, 8 in 1957, and 6 in 1964–5. (fn. 38)
The small nucleated village lines both sides of an east-west lane: a new road was made to join it to Figheldean in the mid 19th century. (fn. 39) The village may have been as prosperous as Figheldean in the 14th century (fn. 40) but was later much smaller. It had 137 inhabitants in 1841. (fn. 41)
The village is notable for the survival of timber-framed and thatched houses and cottages of the 17th century, and in the 19th century two larger houses stood back from the lane, Ablington House to the north, Ablington Farm to the south. A house between them on the north side of the lane was built in 1631. (fn. 42) At the west end of the lane, also on the north side, a cottage of one storey and attics incorporates parts of three crucks. Further east, on the south side, a cottage was built in 1665. (fn. 43) A few other cottages were built or rebuilt in the 18th century or the 19th. In a back lane to the north the Terrace, a row of six houses, was built in the 1920s, north of that the Crescent, four pairs of houses, was built from the late 1930s, and nearby new farm buildings were also erected.
A farmstead was erected on the lower slopes of the downs east of Ablington in the later 20th century. (fn. 44) South of Ablington, Gunville Cottage, a rendered and thatched house of the 17th century, may be on the site of a mill. (fn. 45)
In the early Middle Ages Alton was probably a small village and had a church. (fn. 46) The village was evidently small in 1377, (fn. 47) and in 1428 had fewer than 10 households. (fn. 48) The church was dilapidated in the late 16th century. (fn. 49) In 1773 there were only two farmsteads, each connected to the Upavon—Amesbury road by a short east—west lane, (fn. 50) and the site of the church was possibly between them. (fn. 51) The hamlet had 42 inhabitants in 1841. (fn. 52)
To the north Alton Magna Farm is an L-shaped house built of brick in the mid 18th century: in the early 19th it was enlarged on the south-east and its interior was altered. To the south Alton Parva Farm was also an Alton Parva L-shaped 18th-century house but had flint walls and aL thatched roof: it was burnt down during the First World War and a new house was built on the site c. 1920. (fn. 53)
A cottage on the west side of the Upavon—Amesbury road was built in 1828, (fn. 54) but two cottages built in 1854 apparently near Alton Magna Farm no longer stood c. 1877. (fn. 55) Barns were built on Alton down in the mid 19th century; a racecourse and a hunter trials course laid out there in 1930–1 and extended in the 1970s (fn. 56) were mainly for use by members of the armed services.
In the Middle Ages Choulston was apparently a small settlement. (fn. 57) In 1773 it consisted of no more than a single farmstead (fn. 58) and in 1841 had 23 inhabitants. (fn. 59) Choulston Farm, timber-framed and U-shaped, was built in the early 17th century and encased in red brick in the mid 18th. The house was made symmetrical with a central east entrance in the 19th century, and the inside was altered c. 1985. (fn. 60) Four mid 20th-century cottages are on the site of an older building nearby. (fn. 61)
In 1912–13 Netheravon airfield and its camp were constructed north-east of Choulston on either side of the Figheldean—Fittleton boundary. The officers' mess and quarters and a hospital were in Figheldean. The airfield was an operational base for the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and was afterwards used for training pilots. Glider pilots were trained there during and after the Second World War. The R.A.F. police occupied the camp 1950–62. The airfield and camp were transferred to the army in 1963 and from 1966 were the headquarters of the Army Air Corps. (fn. 62)
The road from Netheravon via Choulston and the camp to Figheldean, with an offshoot to the south-east, was given the name Kerby Avenue. A Roman Catholic church on the west side and, c. 1952, a cemetery on the east side were opened there. (fn. 63) Married quarters were built in Choulston Close west of Kerby Avenue in the 1950s and in the south-east part of Kerby Avenue in the early 1960s, a total of c. 47 houses. Netheravon sewage disposal works were constructed west of the Figheldean road before 1948. (fn. 64)
There was a chapel and possibly a manor house at Knighton in the 13th century, (fn. 65) and in the 14th century the settlement may have been more populous than it was later. (fn. 66) There was a single farmstead in 1773, (fn. 67) and in 1841 Knighton had 20 inhabitants. (fn. 68)
Knighton Farm was built in the early 18th century and was surrounded by an embankment as defence against floods. It has two east—west ranges. The tall south range is entirely of brick, has two storeys and attics, and contains the principal rooms. The lower north range, of mixed brick and chalk, contains service rooms. Two thatched cottages on the north side of the lane which linked Knighton Farm with the Upavon—Amesbury road were built in the late 18th century and altered in the 20th. On the west side of the main road a pair of cottages was built between c. 1840 and c. 1877. Farm buildings erected on Knighton down in the mid 19th century were demolished in the early 20th. (fn. 69)
Knighton down was used for military training in the early 20th century, and from the late 1920s the south part was used as an airfield by aircraft taking part in army exercises on Salisbury Plain. It was in R.A.F. Larkhill from 1936 to c. 1942 when it was returned to the army. In the later 20th century the Royal Aircraft Establishment had offices on Knighton down and there were several sports grounds. (fn. 70)
Manors and other estates.
Harding held FIGHELDEAN in 1066 and 1086; (fn. 73) Henry Hussey held it in the later 12th century. The overlordship may have descended in the Hussey family until 1319 with Knighton manor but is not expressly said to have done so. (fn. 74)
Henry Hussey apparently granted Figheldean to his younger son Geoffrey, to whom the manor was confirmed in 1198. Geoffrey was succeeded by his son Geoffrey (d.c. 1218), who held the manor in 1210–12. The younger Geoffrey's estate passed to another Henry Hussey (fn. 75) (d. 1260 X 1263), who was succeeded by his son, Sir Hubert Hussey (d. before 1277). (fn. 76) The manor passed to Sir Hubert's daughters and coheirs Margaret, wife of Henry Sturmy, Maud (d. c. 1285, unmarried), and Isabel, in 1316 the wife of John of Thorney. (fn. 77) Margaret's moiety passed on her death c. 1320 to her son Henry Sturmy, (fn. 78) whose right was challenged successfully in 1321 by his brother John. In 1330, however, the moiety was returned to Henry (fn. 79) (d. c. 1338), and passed to his son Henry. (fn. 80) Isabel and John of Thorney held the other moiety in 1336 (fn. 81) and on Isabel's death it reverted to the third Henry Sturmy, who in 1359 was granted free warren in the demesne of the reunited manor. (fn. 82) From Henry (d. 1381) Figheldean manor descended to his nephew Sir William Sturmy (fn. 83) (d. 1427), whose heirs were his daughter Agnes, wife of John Holcombe, and his grandson John Seymour. (fn. 84) It was allotted to Agnes and John Holcombe, who together held it in 1429. (fn. 85) The manor was afterwards owned by William Ringbourne (d. 1450), his relict Elizabeth, his son Robert (fn. 86) (d. 1485), Robert's relict Elizabeth (d. 1504), and Robert's brother William (fn. 87) (d. 1512). William was succeeded by his grandson Thomas Bruyn. (fn. 88) The manor was afterwards acquired, perhaps by inheritance, by John Seymour's great-great-grandson Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, who in 1545 gave it to the bishop of Salisbury in an exchange. (fn. 89) The bishop owned the manor, c. 1,000 a., until it passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1869. (fn. 90) Copyhold land was enfranchised in 1846 for the tenant Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1859) and descended to his son Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1874), whose daughters Frances, wife of the Revd. Henry Baker, and Alice Dyke Poore in 1879 sold 340 a. to Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt. Also in 1879 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners sold 394 a. to Hicks Beach, (fn. 91) who sold 489 a. to T. W. Hussey in 1897 and 247 a. to the War Department in 1898. (fn. 92) Hussey also owned 224 a., presumably former copyhold land, settled on his wife Mary (d. 1885) in 1871, and in 1898 sold c. 713 a. to the War Department. (fn. 93) The Ministry of Defence owned all the land in 1991. (fn. 94)
Part of the Figheldean estate held in 1066 by Harding was afterwards held by Aubrey de Couci and had been forfeited to the king by 1086. (fn. 95) It may have been the estate, later called READ'S farm, held in 1535 by Wilton abbey. (fn. 96) At the Dissolution the abbey's land in Figheldean passed to the Crown, and in 1544 was granted to Sir William Herbert (cr. earl of Pembroke 1551) and his wife Anne. (fn. 97) It descended with the Pembroke title to George, earl of Pembroke and of Montgomery, who in 1877 sold the 359-a. farm to T. E. Simpkins. (fn. 98) It passed with Simpkins's land in Ablington, (fn. 99) and the Ministry of Defence owned it in 1991. (fn. 100)
Ablington, held after 1066 by Aubrey de Couci, had been forfeited to the king by 1086. (fn. 101) Like Figheldean manor it was held in the later 12th century by Henry Hussey and by his son Geoffrey. (fn. 102) Geoffrey's son Geoffrey (d. c. 1218) apparently subinfeudated ABLINGTON manor to Geoffrey of Fundenhall. Henry Hussey, the younger Geoffrey's successor, subinfeudated it to Reynold of Whitchurch, to whom Geoffrey of Fundenhall ceded it in 1226 (fn. 103) and it was confirmed in 1227. (fn. 104)
Ablington manor was later held in demesne by Bevis de Veel, whose son (Sir) Peter (d. c. 1343) held it in 1312. It was held by Sir Peter's relict Catherine (fn. 105) (d. 1386), who married Thomas Berkeley, Lord Berkeley, and passed to his grandson Sir John le Moyne (fn. 106) (d. 1429), whose daughter and heir Elizabeth married William Stourton (d. 1413). (fn. 107) From the Stourtons' son John, Lord Stourton (d. 1462), the manor passed with the barony to William Stourton (fn. 108) (d. 1478) and John Stourton (fn. 109) (d. 1485). It was held for life by John's relict Catherine (d. 1494), wife of Sir John Brereton, and passed to her brother-in-law William Stourton, Lord Stourton (fn. 110) (d. 1524). It descended to William's brother Edward, Lord Stourton (d. 1535), and to Edward's son William, Lord Stourton, who sold it to Thomas Long in 1544. (fn. 111) The manor passed from Long (d. 1562) and his relict Joan (d. 1583) to his nephew Edward Long (fn. 112) (d. 1622), and in the direct line to Gifford (fn. 113) (d. 1635), Edward (fn. 114) (d. 1644}, and Henry Long (d. s.p. 1672). (fn. 115) Henry devised the manor to his nephew Richard Long (d. 1730), and it again descended in the direct line to Richard (d. 1760), Richard (d. 1787), (fn. 116) and Richard (d. 1835), who sold it in 1799 to William Dyke. (fn. 117) Dyke (d. 1818) was succeeded by his son Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1859), who in 1839 had c. 950 a. called Great Ablington. The manor passed, with part of Figheldean manor, to Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1874) (fn. 118) and to Frances Baker and Alice Dyke Poore. (fn. 119) It was afterwards bought by George Knowles, who sold it to the War Department in 1898, and it belonged to the Ministry of Defence in 1991. (fn. 120)
Ablington Farm was built as a long east—west range with rendered walls and a thatched roof in the 17th or 18th century. A matching gabled extension was built on the west in the early 19th century and extended north in brick after c. 1890.
Geoffrey Hussey, probably he who died c. 1218, gave land in Ablington that became ABBOT'S farm to Durford abbey in Rogate (Suss.). (fn. 121) The abbey was granted free warren in its demesnes in 1252 (fn. 122) and held the land until the Dissolution. (fn. 123) The estate was granted in 1537 to Sir William FitzWilliam (cr. earl of Southampton 1537, d. s.p. legit. 1542), (fn. 124) reverted to the Crown, and in 1546 was sold through agents to Richard Cowper (d. 1558). (fn. 125) It passed to John Cowper (d. 1561), his relict Margaret (d. 1599), and their son Thomas, a lunatic. John Cowper administered the estate for his cousin Thomas (fl. 1618) from c. 1603 (fn. 126) and he was presumably the John Cowper who divided and sold it. Thomas Sheppard (d. 1665) bought part of it from Cowper in 1631. Another part was bought after 1623 by Geoffrey Bigge and in 1657 was sold to Sheppard by Joseph Bates, the husband of Bigge's daughter Anne. Sheppard's son Thomas was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 127) That William Sheppard or a namesake may have owned the farm in 1736. (fn. 128) By will dated 1771 it was given by, presumably another, William Sheppard to his four sisters, all of whom died unmarried. From the last sister, Anne, the farm passed to her brother Thomas, who by will proved 1806 gave it to his son Thomas Somerby alias Sheppard. In 1833 Thomas conveyed it to a trustee, who in 1837 sold it to Edwin Simpkins. The farm, 74 a. with c. 40 per cent of the rights to use a down of 279 a., was sold by Simpkins to T. E. Simpkins in 1842. (fn. 129) It became part of Simpkins's Ablington House estate. (fn. 130)
An L-shaped house, timber-framed with brick noggings, thatched, and jettied on all sides at first-floor level, was apparently built for Thomas Sheppard. The west lobby entrance with the date 1631 above it is set against the central chimney stack in the north—south range. The south ground-floor parlour retains some original panelling.
Other land in Ablington was granted before 1223, possibly also by Geoffrey Hussey (d. c. 1218), to St. Denis's priory, Southampton, (fn. 131) which held it until the Dissolution. (fn. 132) In 1539 the Crown granted the estate, possibly later COWPER'S, to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. He sold it to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford (cr. duke of Somerset 1547, d. 1552), on whose execution and attainder it reverted to the Crown. (fn. 133) It was sold in 1560 to agents. (fn. 134) Margaret Cowper (d. 1599) may have owned the estate c. 1563, and Thomas Cowper (d. 1626), not her son, owned it in 1614. Cowper then settled a moiety on his son Edmund, who inherited the rest in 1626. (fn. 135) The farm descended to Thomas Cowper (d. 1728), who settled it for life on himself and his wife Sarah. His son Thomas (d. 1756) devised it for life to his wife Anne, who married John Neate, and in trust for sale after her death. The trustees sold it in 1783 to Edward Poore (d. 1787), evidently for his niece Mary Anne Poore, from 1789 wife of William Cox and from c. 1807 wife of the Revd. William Edwards. (fn. 136) She owned the farm, 95 a. with c. 50 per cent of the rights to use the 279-a. down, in 1839. (fn. 137) Her children, William Cox and Mary Anne, wife of F. J. Chapman, sold it in 1843 to T. E. Simpkins and it became part of the Ablington House estate. (fn. 138)
T. E. Simpkins (d. 1878) devised his estate, including Ablington House, c. 450 a. in Ablington, and Read's farm, in trust for sale. In 1883 the trustees transferred it to the beneficiaries, his sons T. H. Simpkins and Ernest Simpkins. Alfred Rawlins bought the estate c. 1890 (fn. 139) and sold it to the War Department in 1897. The Ministry of Defence owned it in 1991. (fn. 140) Ablington House, built in the early 19th century, was a two-storeyed L-shaped house of brick with a hipped slated roof. Its north-west entrance front had five bays, the central one of which projected, was surmounted by a pediment, and had a stone porch. (fn. 141) The house was demolished in 1963. (fn. 142)
Godric and Bollo held a 5-hide estate at Alton in 1066. It was held in 1086 by John the doorkeeper, of whom Turstin and Frawin each held 1 hide. (fn. 143)
In 1179 ALTON PARVA manor was confirmed to Amesbury priory. The priory was granted free warren in its demesne in 1286 (fn. 144) and held the manor until the Dissolution. (fn. 145) The manor was granted in 1541 to the dean and chapter of Winchester, (fn. 146) which in 1839 owned Alton Parva farm, 503 a. (fn. 147) In 1867 the dean and chapter sold the farm to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 148) who in 1875 allotted it to the dean and chapter of Salisbury, in 1896 received it back in exchange for other land, and in 1899 sold it to the War Department. The Ministry of Defence owned the land in 1991. (fn. 149)
The knight's fee that became ALTON MAGNA manor was held in 1242–3 by Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester (d. 1265). (fn. 150) The overlordship of the manor descended with the honor of Leicester to Henry, earl of Lancaster (cr. duke of Lancaster 1351, d. 1361). It was allotted in 1362 to Henry's elder daughter Maud (d. s.p. 1362), wife of William, duke of Bavaria, and passed to her sister Blanche (d. 1369), wife of John of Gaunt (cr. duke of Lancaster 1362, d. 1399). When Blanche's son Henry, earl of Derby, became Henry IV in 1399 the honor of Leicester passed to the Crown. (fn. 151) The overlordship was still part of the honor in 1428, (fn. 152) but, apparently, was held in 1462 by Richard Nevill, earl of Warwick and of Salisbury, (fn. 153) and descended with the earldom of Salisbury; it was last mentioned in 1494. (fn. 154)
The lordship in demesne was held in 1242–3 by Robert of Layham, (fn. 155) in 1298 by John Barratt, (fn. 156) and in 1306 by Sir Richard Brompton. In 1307 Sir Richard's son Thomas sold it to Sir Robert Reydon, (fn. 157) who was granted free warren in the demesne in 1310. (fn. 158) Reydon sold the manor to John Goodhind in 1320. (fn. 159) Richard Woodford held it in 1330, (fn. 160) apparently William FitzWarin in 1332, (fn. 161) and Sir Adam Shareshill and his wife Alice in 1340. In 1342 the Shareshills settled Alton Magna on Sir Peter de Veel and his wife Catherine. (fn. 162) Thereafter the manor descended with Ablington manor until 1799, (fn. 163) when Richard Long sold it to Michael Hicks Beach (fn. 164) (d. 1830) as a trustee for his father-in-law William Beach (d. 1790). (fn. 165) On the death of Michael's relict Henrietta Maria in 1837 the manor, 627 a. in 1839, (fn. 166) descended to their son William (d. 1856), from 1838 called William Beach. William's son William Beach sold Alton Magna farm in 1861 to his cousin Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt., (fn. 167) who sold it to the War Department in 1898. (fn. 168) The Ministry of Defence owned the land in 1991. (fn. 169)
Amesbury abbey held CHOULSTON manor in 1086 when Alward was tenant. (fn. 170) The manor was confirmed in 1179 to Amesbury priory, which in 1286 was granted free warren in the demesne. (fn. 171) The priory held Choulston until the Dissolution (fn. 172) when it passed to the Crown. The manor was apparently granted to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, and forfeited on his execution and attainder in 1552. The Crown sold it in 1557 to agents, (fn. 173) who immediately sold it to Ellis Fowler. (fn. 174) From Edmund Saunders alias Mills (d. 1596), possibly the owner in 1571, the manor descended in the direct line to Thomas Saunders alias Mills (fn. 175) (d. c. 1619), Edmund Saunders alias Mills, and Henry Saunders alias Mills, the owner in 1655. Edward Saunders alias Mills owned it in 1657. In 1659 the manor belonged to (Sir) Samuel Eyre (fn. 176) (d. 1698) and it descended in the direct line to Sir Robert (d. 1735) and Robert (d. 1752). (fn. 177) The younger Robert presumably sold it with Netheravon Lambert manor in Netheravon in 1750 to Charles Somerset, duke of Beaufort (d. 1756), and it passed with Cormayles manor in Netheravon to Charles's son Henry, duke of Beaufort, whose lands there were in 1773 settled upon trust for sale. William Beach (d. 1790) had bought Choulston manor by 1781, and it passed to his daughter Henrietta Maria, wife of Michael Hicks, from 1790 Michael Hicks Beach. (fn. 178) As Choulston farm, 378 a. in 1839, it passed in 1837 on Henrietta Maria's death to her grandson Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt. (fn. 179) (d. 1854), and in 1854 to Sir Michael's son Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt., who sold it with Alton Magna farm to the War Department in 1898. (fn. 180) The Ministry of Defence owned it in 1991. (fn. 181)
Harding held Knighton in 1066 and 1086; (fn. 182) Henry Hussey held it in the later 12th century. The overlordship descended like the capital manor of Harting (Suss.), and possibly with the overlordship of Figheldean manor, from father to son from Henry Hussey (d. c. 1213) to Henry (d. by 1235), Sir Matthew (d. 1253), Sir Henry (d. 1290), and Henry, Lord Hussey (d. 1332). It was last mentioned in 1319. (fn. 183)
From Henry Hussey KNIGHTON manor passed with Figheldean manor to Geoffrey Hussey (fl. 1198), Geoffrey Hussey (d. c. 1218), and Henry Hussey (d. 1260 x 1263). (fn. 184) The second Henry apparently granted it to William Hussey whose title was challenged in 1239 by Maud Hussey, granddaughter of Henry Hussey (d. by 1235). (fn. 185) William held the manor in 1242–3 (fn. 186) but Maud's claim was allowed in 1269 when Henry Hussey, the chief lord, conveyed to her and her husband William Paynel two thirds of it and the reversion of the third held in dower by William's relict Gillian. (fn. 187) In 1275 Maud and William conveyed the manor to another William Paynel (fn. 188) (d. 1317), who was succeeded by his brother John (d. 1319). John's daughter and heir Maud, wife of Nicholas of Upton, (fn. 189) afterwards married Edmund FitzAlan, earl of Arundel (fn. 190) (d. 1326), on whose execution and attainder Knighton was forfeited. (fn. 191) The manor was restored in 1343 to Edmund's son Richard, earl of Arundel (d. 1376), (fn. 192) on the execution and attainder of whose son Richard, earl of Arundel, in 1397 it was granted to Sir Henry Green. (fn. 193) In 1400 it was restored to Richard's son Thomas, earl of Arundel (d. s.p. 1415). From Thomas's heir, his cousin John d'Arundel, earl of Arundel (fn. 194) (d. 1421), it descended in the direct line with the Arundel title to John d'Arundel (fn. 195) (d. 1435) and to Humphrey FitzAlan (d. s.p. 1438). From Humphrey, Knighton manor passed to his uncle William FitzAlan, earl of Arundel (fn. 196) (d. 1487), and again descended in the direct line with the title to Thomas (d. 1524), William (d. 1544), and Henry, who in 1560 gave it to Elizabeth I in an exchange. (fn. 197)
Knighton farm, which may have represented the whole manor, was sold by Bartholomew Tookey to Samuel Linch in 1633. (fn. 198) In 1650 Linch sold it to Andrew Duke, (fn. 199) who sold it in 1659 to his brother John (d. 1671). John's relict Avice and son George sold the farm in 1675 to Philip Poore (fn. 200) (d. 1693). Philip's relict Elizabeth in 1696 settled it on her son Philip Poore (d. 1719) and his wife Mary. (fn. 201) The farm later passed with Alton Rectory estate and a lease of the East End manor of Durrington, and was devised by Edward Poore (d. 1780) to his daughters Eleanora (d. s.p. 1812), wife of David Michel, and Charlotte (will proved 1829). Charlotte devised the farm, which was increased by exchange from c. 205 a. to c. 402 a. at inclosure in 1823, to Sir Edward Poore, Bt. (d. 1838). (fn. 202) It passed with the Poore baronetcy to Sir Edward's son Sir Edward (d. 1893) and that Sir Edward's son Sir Richard, who in 1898 sold it to the War Department. (fn. 203) The Ministry of Defence owned the land in 1991. (fn. 204)
Land at KNIGHTON was apparently subinfeudated in the 12th century by a member of the Hussey family. The mesne lordship descended with Figheldean manor to Sir Hubert Hussey and was last referred to in the later 13th century. (fn. 205)
Nicholas of Maund, probably in the 12th century, gave ½ knight's fee in Knighton to his daughter Eve and her husband William Percy. (fn. 206) The manor was later given to Bernard of Areines and his wife Isabel, possibly a Percy. Isabel's and Bernard's son Sir Guy of Areines, who held it in 1242–3, subinfeudated it to his son Jocelin. (fn. 207) It was afterwards acquired, apparently from Sir Guy, by John Burton, subdean of Salisbury cathedral, who conveyed it to the dean and chapter between c. 1260 and 1271. (fn. 208) It may have formed an endowment of a fund for the poor called Our Lady's Chamber. (fn. 209) Later it was treated as part of the East End manor of Durrington. The dean and chapter's estate in Knighton was reduced by exchange from c. 239 a. to 44 a. at inclosure in 1823. (fn. 210) The War Department bought it from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1899 and the Ministry of Defence owned the land in 1991. (fn. 211)
SYRENCOT manor, like Figheldean manor, was held by Geoffrey Hussey (d. c. 1218) and Henry Hussey (d. 1260 X 1263). (fn. 212) Another Geoffrey Hussey held it of Henry in 1242–3. (fn. 213) It was held 1293 X c. 1306 by Reynold Hussey, who granted it for life to William of Kelsale. From Reynold the reversion may have passed with part of Teffont Evias manor, and Syrencot manor was held by Edmund Hussey (d. c. 1362), by his relict Joan, and by their daughter Maud, who married Sir Philip de la Mere (fl. 1390). (fn. 214) Sir Ellis de la Mere (d. s.p. 1414 X 1428) held the manor in 1412. It passed with Fisherton de la Mere manor to his nephew Sir John Paulet (fl. 1460), to Sir John's son John (d. 1492), and to John's son Sir John (d. 1525). (fn. 215) It was possibly owned by William Skilling (d. 1608), whose nephew and heir Edward Skilling sold it in 1639 to Thomas Dyke (d. 1651). (fn. 216) The manor descended to Daniel Dyke (fl. 1700–31) and to William Dyke (will proved 1776), whose nephew and namesake was possibly the William Dyke (d. 1818) who owned it in 1781. (fn. 217) The manor, c. 300 a., passed like Ablington manor to Edward Dyke Poore (fn. 218) (d. 1859), Edward Dyke Poore (d. 1874), and Frances Baker and Alice Dyke Poore. In 1897 the 335-a. estate was sold to George Knowles, the tenant, and by him to the War Department in 1898. The Ministry of Defence owned it in 1991. (fn. 219)
The entrance hall and a room north of it, which in 1991 together formed the central portion of the east front of Syrencot House, are on the plan of a small 17th-century house. The house was enlarged to the south for William Dyke in 1738 when a three-storeyed brick block with stone quoins and a five-bayed east front was built. (fn. 220) In the early 19th century the east front of the 17th-century part of the house was altered and a wide Tuscan portico built. In the mid 19th century the 17th-century range was extended northwards and on its west side at the north end a three-storeyed service block was built. A single-storeyed billiards room was built c. 1898 west of the 18th-century block. (fn. 221) A park was created east of the house between 1773 and 1817. (fn. 222)
In the early 12th century and from 1157 Figheldean church belonged to the dean and chapter of Salisbury, and FIGHELDEAN RECTORY estate was appropriated to the treasurer of the cathedral, apparently before 1180–5. (fn. 223) The estate consisted of the great tithes of the whole parish except Alton, of other tithes, and of land. In 1839, when the treasurer held 49 a., the tithes were valued at £671 and commuted. (fn. 224) The estate passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1841 (fn. 225) and afterwards was merged with their other land in the parish. (fn. 226)
The great tithes of Alton Parva and Alton Magna belonged at the Dissolution to Alton church which, as a free chapel, was appropriated by the Crown. (fn. 227) In 1607 the Crown conveyed those tithes, ALTON RECTORY estate, to agents, (fn. 228) who before 1616 sold them to the lessee Thomas Hanbury (d. 1618). Hanbury's son Thomas sold them in 1642 to John Rumball. John Duke, who bought them from Rumball in 1647, (fn. 229) settled them in 1662 on his son John Duke (d. 1671), whose son George sold them to Edward Poore in 1697. (fn. 230) Poore settled them on his son Edward (d. by 1726), and they passed to that Edward's wife Eleanor (d. by 1731) and son Edward (d. 1780). They passed with Knighton farm to Eleanora Michel and Charlotte Poore and to Sir Edward Poore, Bt. (d. 1838). (fn. 231) The tithes of Alton Magna were sold in 1831 to William Hicks Beach (William Beach from 1838), the owner in 1839 when they were valued at £88 and commuted. Those of Alton Parva descended to Sir Edward's son Sir Edward Poore, Bt. (d. 1893), and in 1839 were valued at £114 and commuted. (fn. 232)
In 1179 the Crown confirmed the tithes from the demesne and half the customary land of Alton Parva, which had presumably been part of the endowment of Alton church, and all the tithes of Choulston to Amesbury priory, lord of those two manors. (fn. 233) The priory held tithes valued at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 234) possibly all those confirmed in 1179, but by 1535 received only a pension of 6s. 8d. from the rector of Alton for the Alton Parva tithes. (fn. 235) That pension, payable to the owner of Alton Parva manor by the owner of Alton Parva tithes, was still recorded in the 19th century. (fn. 236) The tithes of Choulston were part of the Figheldean Rectory estate by 1839. (fn. 237)
Each of the six settlements in the parish had its own long and narrow strip of land; the division in Saxon times possibly corresponded closely to that in the 19th century, when Figheldean had c. 1,400 a., Ablington c. 1,400 a., Alton c. 1,150 a., Choulston c. 380 a., Knighton c. 650 a., and Syrencot c. 300 a. (fn. 238) There was sheep-and-corn husbandry in all six areas, and generally it seems to have been on a three-field system.
In 1086 Figheldean had land for 5 ploughteams: on the demesne were 6 servi with 1 team, and 7 villani and 8 bordars had 4 teams. There were 24 a. of meadow, and the pasture measured 12 by 3 furlongs. (fn. 239)
Common husbandry continued until 1844. (fn. 240) In the 16th century there was a common meadow called North mead, open arable in North field, Foxlinch bottom, and the field next to Ablington, and extensive common pasture for sheep. (fn. 241) Later the fields were called Upper, Middle, and Lower, and there was a second common meadow called Newton. In 1839 the tenants of Figheldean manor had three areas of downland for use in common, East down and West down for sheep, and a cow down, a total of 505 a. The use of a further 206 a. of downland was shared between the demesne and the freehold later called Read's farm. (fn. 242)
One of the thirds of Figheldean manor in 1296 included 51 a. of demesne arable with common pasture for 4 oxen and 80 sheep; it had two customary tenants holding a total of 2 yardlands, and two cottars. (fn. 243) The reunited demesne had been leased by 1428. (fn. 244) Of the 12 customary tenants in 1504, 1 held 2½ yardlands, 2 held 2 yardlands each, 2 held ½ yardland each, 4 held I yardland each, and 3 cottagers held a few acres. Each yardland was of c. 30 a. and the tenants held 409 a. of arable and 16 a. of meadow. (fn. 245) The demesne, worked in the early 16th century by members of the Cowper family, included 89 a. of arable and 8 a. of inclosed meadows in the 1540s, (fn. 246) and in the 1560s what became Read's farm had 150 a. of arable, 7 a. of meadow, and pasture rights for 400 sheep, 7 cattle, and 7 horses. (fn. 247)
In 1769 the 17 copyholds of Figheldean manor had a total of 409 a., including meadow: none exceeded 50 a., each had a small amount of meadow beside the Avon, and each had a farmstead in the village. The demesne was then 236 a., and other farms, principally Read's, had a total of 262 a. (fn. 248) In the late 18th century and early 19th the number of farms decreased and in 1839 there was a composite farm of c. 680 a. with nearly all the rights to use the downland. The arable, c. 635 a. in c. 600 strips, c. 25 a. of meadow, and the 711 a. of commonable downland (fn. 249) were divided, allotted, and inclosed in 1844 by Act. (fn. 250)
In 1086 Ablington's land was mainly demesne, 2½ hides on which were 4 coscets and 1 team. The remaining ½ hide there was probably uncultivated. There were 35 a. of meadow, and 3 furlongs by 1 of pasture. (fn. 251)
For purposes of agriculture the lands of Ablington manor had been separated from those of the other Ablington estates by the 19th century. (fn. 252) In 1322 there were neifs who owed customary works on Ablington manor, (fn. 253) which in 1343 had 300 a. of demesne arable, a third worth 3d. an acre, a third 2d. and a third 1d. (fn. 254) The manor had land in open fields called North, South, and Barrow in 1790, (fn. 255) later North, Second, and Third or Home, (fn. 256) and in the earlier 16th century had a copyholder with 12 a. and 3 leaseholders with a total of 52 a. (fn. 257) From 1790 or earlier, however, it consisted of a single long narrow farm, Great Ablington, c. 950 a., adjoining Syrencot's land on the south. (fn. 258)
On other Ablington land, a strip between Great Ablington's and Figheldean's, there was still common husbandry in the early 19th century, when there were three farms. There were c. 169 a. of arable in c. 120 strips and a down pasture of 279 a. (fn. 259) The land was in single ownership in 1844, (fn. 260) and had presumably been inclosed by then.
In 1086 Alton had land for 4 teams: 3 teams were there, 2 with 3 servi on the demesne land, ½ held by 4 villani and 2 cottars, and ½ with 1 bordar and 1 cottar on subinfeudated land. There were 10 a. of meadow and 14 square furlongs of pasture. (fn. 261)
It is unlikely that much of the land of Alton was in severalty in the Middle Ages, and the 19th-century names of the two fields, North and South, in each of the Alton manors, may be evidence of earlier common husbandry. (fn. 262) In 1343 Alton Magna manor almost certainly had customary tenants, and the demesne had 280 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow. (fn. 263)
The whole of Alton Parva manor was in a single farm in the later 16th century, (fn. 264) and the whole of Alton Magna manor was in a single farm in the 18th. In 1727 c. 800 lb. of wool were produced on Alton Magna farm. By 1731, when they were leased to the same tenant, (fn. 265) the two farms were presumably in severalty. In 1839 each was an east—west strip of land, to the north Alton Magna, 627 a., to the south Alton Parva, 503 a. (fn. 266)
In 1086 Choulston had 1½ team, which was all that there was land for. There were 2 servi and 3 coscets, 8 a. of meadow, and 5 square furlongs of pasture. (fn. 267)
There is no evidence of common husbandry at Choulston, nor of customary tenants. About 1557 the demesne farm was said to include 325 a. of arable, probably an exaggeration unless some lay elsewhere, 10 a. of meadow and pasture, and a 4-a. warren. (fn. 268) It was the only farm in Choulston in 1749, (fn. 269) and in 1839 was 378 a. (fn. 270)
In 1086 there was land for 6 teams, and 5 were there: on the demesne there were 6 servi and 2 teams, and 7 villani and 6 coscets had 3 teams. There were 20 a. of meadow and the pasture was 12 by 4 furlongs. (fn. 271)
Open arable was in three fields, called North, Middle, and South in 1634; (fn. 272) in 1823 c. 275 a. were arable, Knighton down was c. 303 a., and there were probably c. 35 a. of common meadows. (fn. 273) In 1317 on William Paynel's manor there were said to be 216 a. of demesne arable of which 30 a. were sown with wheat, 40 a. with barley, 20 a. with oats, and 12 a. with vetches and peas; the demesne included common pasture for cattle and for 350 sheep. (fn. 274) There were 125 a. of arable and 8 a. of meadow on the demesne in a year between 1422 and 1461. (fn. 275) Knighton's land was worked in common in the 17th century, (fn. 276) and possibly until it was inclosed by Act in 1823. (fn. 277) In 1839 Knighton farm was 470 a., and most of the other land, a strip of 166 a. beside the southern parish boundary, (fn. 278) was apparently worked from Durrington.
The manor had only four tenants c. 1300, (fn. 279) and its land may have been in a single farm by the 15th century. In the 18th century Syrencot farm belonged to William Dyke, described by his contemporary Arthur Young as the greatest farmer in Wiltshire. There and on the adjoining Great Ablington farm in 1796 he had 1,000 a. of corn and c. 5,000 sheep, mostly Southdowns with which he was replacing the Wiltshire breed. After experimenting unsuccessfully on newly ploughed downland with temporary grasses and root crops he grew wheat on it in 1796. (fn. 280) Syrencot farm, 274 a. including c. 150 a. of arable, was worked from Great Ablington in 1839. There was then an 18-a. park, divided into Upper and Homeward, east of Syrencot House. (fn. 281)
In the whole parish in 1839 there were 2,299 a. of arable, 2,618 a. of downland pasture, and 194 a. of lowland pasture and meadow of which 80 a. were watered meadow. About 188 a., at Syrencot, Knighton, and Alton, had been burnbaked. The only woodland had apparently been planted by William Dyke after 1773, a total of c. 80 a. in plantations around Syrencot House and on Dunch Hill at the east end of Syrencot and Ablington downs. (fn. 282) Most of that woodland and several plantations made after 1898 were standing in 1991. (fn. 283)
Several farms in the parish were already large in the earlier 19th century, and some grew larger.
In 1871 T. E. Simpkins farmed 1,600 a. from Ablington House, a farm of 1,700 a. was worked from Choulston, Alton Parva farm was 570 a., and Knighton farm was 468 a. In 1881 Great Ablington farm was 1,145 a., Little Ablington farm 850 a. (fn. 284) From 1867 to 1898 the parish was half arable and half pasture. Turnips and swedes were grown on an average of c. 600 a., barley on c. 500 a., wheat on c. 500 a., oats on c. 410 a., and vetches on c. 140 a. Temporary grasses, mostly for hay, made up a third of the grassland in 1867, nearly half in 1876, and less than a quarter in 1896. In the period 1867–98 there were usually c. 7,000 sheep, c. 70 cattle, and c. 95 pigs in the parish. (fn. 285)
About 1898 nearly all the parish was bought by the War Department, (fn. 286) and much of it was subsequently used for military training, from c. 1939 to c. 1956 about three quarters. Only three farms were based in the parish 1910–28: Choulston in 1920 was a grazing farm of 669 a., the farm based at Knighton, 1,147 a., included 519 a. of Alton's land and 74 a. of Figheldean's, and one based in Figheldean village had 739 a. In 1939 the farms were Ablington, Alton Magna, and Choulston. Sheep farming declined sharply in the earlier 20th century, and in the 1930s few sheep were kept. More land became available for farming from the late 1950s, most of it grazing land, and from then more cattle and sheep were kept. (fn. 287)
In 1990 there were still three farms based in the parish. East of the river Choulston farm had c. 2,000 a. and Ablington farm had c. 1,760 a.; west of it Knighton farm had only 106 a. and most of the agricultural land was worked from Wexland Farm in Netheravon. On both sides the downland was in military training areas and its agricultural use limited to grazing for cattle and sheep. Mixed farming, in which corn growing predominated, was practised on land nearer the river. (fn. 288)
Mills stood on the Avon at Figheldean and Knighton in 1086. (fn. 289) Figheldean mill stood south-west of the church (fn. 290) and ceased to work c. 1900. (fn. 291) Knighton mill was last mentioned in the 15th century. (fn. 292) A water mill stood on Ablington manor in 1422 (fn. 293) and a similar mill for corn on Thomas Sheppard's Ablington estate in the 17th century. (fn. 294)
The manufacture of woollen cloth is suggested by the admission in 1653 of a Figheldean man as a freeman of the Weavers' company of London. (fn. 295) There was a disused fulling mill at Ablington in the 17th century (fn. 296) and new woollen mills at Figheldean in the 1790s. (fn. 297) In 1831, however, there was no clothmaker in the parish. (fn. 298)
There was a chalk quarry on the west side of the Upavon—Amesbury road near Alton Parva Farm in the 18th century: (fn. 299) in the early 19th chalk for building and for making lime and whiting was quarried at it. (fn. 300) A smith made hoes at Figheldean 1898–1903, horse trainers were based in the parish 1903–7 and 1928–38, (fn. 301) and in 1990 a small meat-processing factory and a travel company were based in Figheldean village.
Between 1189 and 1199 the lord of Figheldean manor was granted sac and soc, toll and team, infangthief, and quittance from county and hundred courts, liberties confirmed in 1252. (fn. 302) In the 13th century the lord held a three weekly court and twice yearly view of frankpledge at which cert money was paid: both were apparently attended by men of Figheldean and elsewhere. (fn. 303) The view was still held in 1504. (fn. 304) From the 17th century a court, called court leet, view, and manor court, was held, probably twice a year, by the lessee of the demesne farm. In the early 19th century a court was held only for the admission of copyholders. (fn. 305)
Amercements paid by his men attending the Figheldean view were granted to the lord of Ablington manor in 1227, (fn. 306) and between 1263 and 1277 the men of Durford abbey's Ablington estate were granted freedom from attending the three weekly court but not the view. (fn. 307) Men of Ablington, possibly tenants of Ablington manor, owed suit at the view for the honor of Wallingford (Berks., later Oxon.) held at Ogbourne St. George in the 15th century and earlier 16th; cert money was paid, a tithingman, a constable, and two affeerors were chosen, and business included nuisances such as blocked ditches, ruinous bridges, and overcharging by the miller. (fn. 308)
In 1539–40 tenants of Alton Parva and Choulston manors owed suit at courts for Bulford manor: all three manors formerly belonged to Amesbury priory. (fn. 309) The dean and chapter of Salisbury's Knighton manor was represented from the 17th century to the 19th at the dean and chapter's court for the East End manor of Durrington, but its business, if any, was not distinguished in the records. (fn. 310)
Paupers could be accommodated in a parish house c. 1769. (fn. 311) The amount raised for the poor in Figheldean parish rose from £91 in 1775–6 to £121 in 1783–5. In 1802–3 c. £3 each was spent on regular relief for 88 paupers, nearly a quarter of the inhabitants. In 1812–13, when £768 was spent on regular relief for 31 adults and on occasional relief for 25, in all about a sixth of the inhabitants, the poor were generously relieved. Lower expenditure 1814–15 represented a fall in the number relieved. (fn. 312) From 1816 to 1834 the average of c. £470 spent each year was among the highest in Amesbury hundred. The sums spent were highest at £629 in 1817 and £701 in 1818, lowest at £263 in 1834. (fn. 313) Figheldean became part of Amesbury poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 314) The parish was included in Salisbury district in 1974. (fn. 315)
In 1115 Henry I granted Figheldean church to Salisbury cathedral and Bishop Roger. The bishop gave up his right in it to the dean and chapter, and Stephen confirmed the gift in 1139. (fn. 316) The church was taken from the cathedral, presumably in the 1140s, but, by a grant of 1157 and a confirmation of 1158, Henry II restored it. (fn. 317) The rectory was appropriated to the treasurer of the cathedral, apparently before 1180–5 when the church was granted for payments of £10 a year to him, (fn. 318) and by 1291 a vicarage had been ordained. (fn. 319) The treasurer fulfilled all the functions of the ordinary in the parish from c. 1190 until his peculiar jurisdiction was abolished in 1841; the church was also exempt from archidiaconal jurisdiction from c. 1190. (fn. 320) A proposal made in 1650 to unite Knighton to Durrington parish (fn. 321) was not implemented. The vicarage was united in 1940 with Milston rectory, (fn. 322) and in 1982 Bulford vicarage was added to the united benefice. (fn. 323)
Until 1821 the treasurer collated vicars. (fn. 324) His right of patronage passed in 1841 to the bishop of Salisbury, (fn. 325) who from 1940 was entitled to present alternately (fn. 326) and from 1982 at one turn in three. (fn. 327)
The vicarage was worth £4 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 328) £14 in 1535. (fn. 329) The treasurer augmented it with £30 a year between 1634 and 1672, (fn. 330) and it was worth £50 c. 1654, £60 in 1705. (fn. 331) With an income of c. £106 in 1830 it remained poor. (fn. 332) A pension of £10 from the treasurer, possibly allotted to the vicar in the 18th century, was not received 1821–32 but was again paid from 1845. (fn. 333) The vicar took the small tithes, in 1535 some tithes of wool and lambs, and in 1705 some hay tithes and some great tithes from the land of the Figheldean Rectory estate. (fn. 334) The vicarial tithes were valued at £180 in 1839 and commuted. (fn. 335) Part of the rent charge was given to the treasurer for 1½ a. of glebe in 1840. (fn. 336) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1859 gave the vicar an additional rent charge of £171 and c. 3 a. of glebe. (fn. 337) The vicarage house was out of repair in 1667. (fn. 338) A new house, with a brick plinth and mud walls, was built c. 1832; it was replaced by a new one in 1872, (fn. 339) and that was sold in 1976, when another was built in its grounds. (fn. 340)
A chapel at Knighton in the 13 th century may have been manorial (fn. 341) and was not afterwards mentioned. A curate who either assisted the vicar or served the cure was in minor orders in 1634. (fn. 342) The vicar preached each Sunday in 1650. (fn. 343) The intruder who served the cure in 1660 was replaced by a vicar, collated in 1661, (fn. 344) who was reported in 1667 and 1673 for neglecting to catechize. (fn. 345) Vicars in the earlier 19th century were non-resident pluralists. J. H. Hume, vicar 1821–48, was also vicar of Calne and from 1835 of Hilmarton. David Owen, curate from 1814, was also curate of Durrington and of Milston, where he lived. (fn. 346) A curate held a service every Sunday, alternately morning and evening, in 1832. (fn. 347) Henry Carswell, Hume's last curate and his successor as vicar, (fn. 348) in 1850–1 held two services every Sunday: morning service was attended by an average of 175, afternoon service by one of 130. (fn. 349) He preached at morning and afternoon services on Sundays in 1864 and held weekday services on great festivals. He administered the sacrament on Christmas day, Easter day, Ascension day, Whit Sunday, and four other Sundays. The average number of communicants was 60, of whom 40 received at Easter and 30 at the other great festivals. Carswell thought that the counter-attraction of the Primitive Methodist meeting could be lessened by making church services more interesting for the poorer inhabitants. A parish library which he established had 70–80 subscribers in 1864. (fn. 350)
The church of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS, so called in 1763, (fn. 351) is built of flint rubble and ashlar and is partly chequered. It comprises a chancel, an aisled and clerestoried nave with south porch, and a west tower with north vestry. (fn. 352) The church which stood in the early 12th century had a chancel and a nave, and the west tower was built later in that century. Chancel and nave were rebuilt, probably on their original plan, and the aisles were built, in the later 13th century. St. Edmund was invoked in a chapel in the church c. 1251. (fn. 353) In the 15th century or early 16th the clerestory was built and the chancel and rood stair were rebuilt. The chancel roof was renewed in the 17th century or the 18th, possibly in 1788 when other parts of the church were repaired. (fn. 354) During a restoration of the chancel by Ewan Christian in 1858–9 external parapets were removed, the east wall was rebuilt, and the arch was enlarged. The rest of the church was restored by J. W. Hugall in 1859–60: the tower and the south aisle roof were heightened, both aisles were refenestrated, the west gallery was removed, a new gallery was formed from the middle stage of the tower, (fn. 355) the vestry was built, and the porch was rebuilt. (fn. 356) In both 1858–9 and 1859–60 original materials were re-used. Two later 13th-century effigies of knights, in the church before 1671 and in the porch in 1991, may have been brought from elsewhere. (fn. 357)
The king's commissioners took 13 oz. of plate in 1553, and left a chalice of 14 oz. A paten hallmarked for 1787 was given in 1810, and a new chalice and flagon were added in 1858: (fn. 358) all were held for the parish in 1991. (fn. 359) There were three bells in 1553. Three new ones were cast in 1581 by John Wallis. The second, cracked and useless in the later 17th century, was recast in 1721 by William Tosier. All three were in the church in 1991. (fn. 360) Registrations of baptisms, marriages, and burials begin in 1653 and are complete. (fn. 361)
Alton church was recorded from the mid 12th century (fn. 362) to the 16th. (fn. 363) It appears to have been a parish church held in the later Middle Ages by sinecurists; in 1548 it was said that for long the vicars of Figheldean had received £2 a year for serving it, and c. 1547 the Crown appropriated it as a free chapel. (fn. 364) Jocelin, bishop of Salisbury 1142–84, had granted the church to the dean and chapter of Salisbury, (fn. 365) but apparently they did not keep it. The advowson of the rectory descended from 1306 to the 16th century, apart from 1485–94, with the lordship in demesne of Alton Magna manor. Francis, Lord Stourton (d. 1487), held it 1485–7, William, Lord Stourton, to whom the manor reverted in 1494, from 1487. The bishop collated by lapse in 1364. (fn. 366) In a way that is not clear Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, acquired the advowson, which was confirmed to him by Act in 1544. (fn. 367) The bishop collated under the Act in 1545. (fn. 368) In 1535 the rectory was worth £10 10s. and was endowed with all the tithes of Alton, (fn. 369) paying a pension for the share which Amesbury priory formerly held. (fn. 370) In 1548 the church had a chalice weighing 10 oz., a bell, a missal, and two vestments. (fn. 371) It was dilapidated c. 1590. (fn. 372) In 1831 the Alton Rectory estate was still paying the vicar of Figheldean £2 a year for serving the non-existent church. (fn. 373)
A church dedicated to St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher was opened in Kerby Avenue c. 1934, primarily for military personnel. In 1976 it was served by a priest from Amesbury, and in 1985–6 was closed. (fn. 374)
Presbyterians, among whom were the vicar's son and members of the Sheppard, Smart, and Cowper families, certified a house at Figheldean in 1672; dissenters certified houses in 1700 and 1711, and Independents certified a house in 1797. A house on the east side of High Street at Figheldean, certified for Primitive Methodists in 1838, (fn. 375) was attended on Sundays in 1850–1 by average congregations of 30 in the morning, 63 in the afternoon, and 70 in the evening. (fn. 376) A small red-brick chapel, built near the site for the group in 1882, (fn. 377) was closed before 1971. (fn. 378)
Small children were taught in a school approved of by the minister in 1667. (fn. 379) Two schools, one with 22 pupils, one with 20, were opened in 1831. (fn. 380) They were attended by a total of 60 children in 1846–7, (fn. 381) and apparently merged before 1848. The single school stood west of Church Street in 1851 and was closed in 1858, when a new National school was built at the south end of High Street on the east side. (fn. 382) On return day in 1871 that school was attended by 57 pupils. (fn. 383) Average attendance, 100 in the years 1906–12, declined to 81 in 1914 and to 69 in 1938. (fn. 384) There were 60 children on roll in 1991. (fn. 385)
Charities for the poor.
In 1898 Alfred Rawlins gave the income from £100 for blankets, coal, or meat for the poor. In 1899 c. £3 was spent on coal and in 1900 £3 on meat. (fn. 389) Meat was bought for c. 24 people each year 1904–6, for 33 in 1912. Funds accumulated 1914–18, and meat was again given 1920–31. Fuel was bought for c. 12 people a year 1938–43, but from 1944 small money doles were given. From 1947 to 1954 eight people each received 7s. 6d. a year; (fn. 390) no distribution was made after 1982. (fn. 391)