A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 17, Calne. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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Compton Bassett village lies c. 3.5 km. ENE. of Calne. (fn. 1) The parish consisted of a main part and of the detached Cowage to the north-west. The church bore a mark of dependence on Calne, but was a parish church in the earlier 13th century; (fn. 2) Cowage was part of the parish in 1341. (fn. 3) In 1883 Cowage, 228 a., was transferred to Hilmarton, and Compton Bassett gained from Calne 149 a. south-east of Compton Bassett village; the parish was thus reduced from c. 2,655 a. to 2,576 a. (1,042 ha.). (fn. 4) The suffix Bassett, the surname of the lords of the principal manor in the 12th and 13th centuries, was in use in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 5)
The boundary of the main part of the parish is marked by few prominent features. On the north-east it follows the contours of an escarpment for c. 500 m., and on the west and north-east follows streams for a short distance. In several places it is marked by roads and tracks. North-west of Compton Bassett village an extensive pasture called Penn was probably used in common by the men of Compton Bassett, Calne, and Cherhill, and there the roughly straight line in the boundary with Cherhill was presumably drawn when, apparently no later than 1628, Penn was divided. (fn. 6) The boundary of Cowage followed a stream on the north-west.
The western scarp of the Marlborough Downs crosses the parish on a roughly north- south line passing immediately east of the village. In the main part of the parish chalk outcrops on the downland to the east, Gault and Lower Greensand outcrop to the west, and Upper Greensand outcrops on the face of the scarp. In the west there are also small areas of Kimmeridge Clay. (fn. 7) East of the scarp the downland slopes gently and there is much land above 170 m. An intermittent head stream of the Kennet crosses the east corner of the parish. West of the scarp the land falls to below 85 m. and is drained westwards by Abberd brook and its feeders. Open-field land lay east of the village, probably some immediately below the scarp and near the village and some on the downs, and there was common downland pasture to the east and common lowland pasture to the west. (fn. 8) Coral Rag outcrops in the south part of Cowage where, at 100 m., the land is highest. On the lower land to the north and west Calcareous Grit and Oxford Clay outcrop, and to the east Kimmeridge Clay outcrops. Cowage brook has deposited a small amount of alluvium along the north-western boundary, where the land lies below 70 m. (fn. 9) Cowage's land is suitable for both arable and pasture. (fn. 10)
In 1377 Compton Bassett had 126 poll-tax payers and was one of the most populous places in Calne hundred. (fn. 11) The parish's population was 366 in 1801. It increased rapidly to reach a peak of 538 in 1831 and was 498 in 1841, when 20 people lived at Cowage. (fn. 12) In the mid 19th century a decline in the population was attributed to migration to Calne, and the fall from 374 in 1881 to 350 in 1891 was caused by the transfer of Cowage, where 35 people lived in 1891. In the 20th century the number of inhabitants fluctuated. The population was 283 in 1931, (fn. 13) 330 in 1971; at 271 in 1991 it was at its lowest for 200 years or longer. (fn. 14)
No major road crosses the main part of the parish, which was served by a network of lanes. In 1773 there were several north-south lanes. One from Hilmarton ran along the west edge of the parish, one from Highway to Cherhill followed the foot of the scarp across the centre, and one ran along the top of the scarp and crossed Compton Hill; two others marked parts of the eastern boundary. The south part of the Hilmarton lane was called Marsh Lane in 1760 and later. The north-south lanes were joined and crossed by others running approximately east-west. One across the northern part of the parish was called Grammer Lane in 1773, the eastern section of the lane marking part of the southern boundary was called Juggler's Lane in 1885, one passed close to the church, and one leading from Yatesbury was in 1760 and later called Broadway where it ran east of Compton Hill. (fn. 15) The western part of Grammer Lane had been replaced by a road on a more north-westerly course by 1828, (fn. 16) but most other lanes in use in the 18th century remained as roads, tracks, and paths in 1995. The principal route through the parish then followed the replacement for Grammer Lane, the Cherhill lane, the lane past the church, and Marsh Lane. In 1773 Cowage was crossed east-west by a road which led circuitously from Highway to Bremhill. East of Cowage Farm a road led south from it to Calne. (fn. 17) In 1791 the Calne road was extended north to Wootton Bassett and turnpiked; disturnpiked in 1879, (fn. 18) it remained a main road in 1995. The east-west road through Cowage went out of use.
Artefacts of the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, of the Iron Age, and of the AngloSaxon period have been found near Freeth Farm. There may have been a Roman pottery near Manor Farm. (fn. 19)
The village evidently originated as two spring-line settlements. The church, Compton Bassett manor house, and the rectory house stand close together on Upper Greensand at the mouth of a coombe, and a group of farmsteads stood a little north-east of them. The buildings of Compton Cumberwell manor stood at the mouth of another coombe a little further north-east. The combined village had open fields which lay nearby. (fn. 20) Few buildings older than the 19th century survive in it. A timber-framed 17th-century thatched cottage, built with walls of chalk rubble, stands north of the church; a thatched house of similar date, also with walls of chalk rubble, stands 800 m. north-east of the church, and near it there is a pair of cottages bearing the date 1642 but apparently built in the late 18th century. The village was extended westwards between 1773 and 1828 when buildings called Home Farm were erected west of extensive gardens, long red-brick walls of which survive; (fn. 21) a farmhouse was built in the late 19th century.
Much or all of the lowland pasture north and north-west of the village was inclosed in the later 17th century, (fn. 22) and by 1773 about seven farmsteads had been built on it. Four, Manor, Dugdale's, Austin's, and Streete, stand as a group north of the village. (fn. 23) Austin's Farm is a thatched 18th-century house of three bays built of chalk rubble; Streete Farm has a back wing of the 17th century and a main four-bayed 18th-century range with walls of chalk rubble and a slated roof. North of Streete Farm, Pond Cottage is also 18th-century. In 1773 the name Silver Street was apparently applied to the group; (fn. 24) it was presumably a corruption of Selewynes Street, a name recorded in the 13th century. (fn. 25) A track leading west from the farmsteads was called Silver Lane in 1828 and later. (fn. 26) Lower End Farm, north of the group, was rebuilt in brick in the 19th century. Near the site of Lower End Farm an east-west line of c. 10 buildings, possibly squatters' cottages, in 1773 apparently shared the name Grammer Lane with the lane which they stood beside. (fn. 27) The buildings were demolished, evidently when the lane was diverted between then and 1828. (fn. 28) On the west part of the lowland Freeth Farm, a house of 18th-century origin, has a symmetrical south front of three bays and was extended north and east in the 19th century. On the north-west part Breach Farm is a small house of stone and rubble built in the late 18th century.
In the 19th century many houses and cottages were replaced by new ones built for the lord of Compton Bassett manor: the new cottages include several in a line along the lane between the village and the four farmsteads. White's House 600 m. north-east of the church was built c. 1820, most of the new cottages in the mid 19th century. (fn. 29) The cottages characteristically have chalk walls, stone-mullioned windows, brick quoins, and many-gabled roofs with dormers; many have been whitewashed. (fn. 30) A terrace of three 400 m. north-east of the church was built of brick, incorporates similar roofs and windows, and is dated 1868; the cottages presumably housed estate pensioners in 1898, when they were described as almshouses, (fn. 31) but were not used thus in 1930. (fn. 32) A school in the village and, at the north-east end, the White Horse inn, built c. 1850 and open in 1855 (fn. 33) and 1994, are also in estate style.
Probably in the early 1930s the Breach, a terrace of four council houses, was built 250 m. west of Lower End Farm, and c. 1950 a village hall and Briar Leaze, a group of 20 council houses, were built immediately north of the White Horse. (fn. 34) Otherwise there has been little 20th-century building. In the later 20th century Compton Bassett village was thought of as all the houses from the Breach to Home Farm along the principal route through the parish. Most of it was designated a conservation area in 1974. (fn. 35)
On the chalk downland east of the village a farmstead called Nolands may have been built by the mid 17th century; (fn. 36) the name was perhaps a punning one or may refer to early ploughland called old land. (fn. 37) It stood near the parish's eastern boundary in 1773. (fn. 38) In the earlier 19th century, probably soon after 1824, the farmstead was rebuilt on what was apparently the same site. (fn. 39) The farmhouse, of brick, survived in 1994, when large and mainly 20th-century farm buildings stood nearby. West of Nolands Farm two mid 19th-century cottages and some 20th-century buildings were called South Nolands in 1994, and a mid 20th-century farmstead was called West Nolands.
A military airfield opened in 1916, later the airfield of R.A.F. Yatesbury, lay south of Juggler's Lane on land in Compton Bassett and Cherhill; it was used for flying training until 1919 and was closed then or soon afterwards. It was reopened in 1936 by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, which trained pilots for the R.A.F. About 1938 the flying school came under R.A.F. control and a large hutted camp was built on the boundary of Cherhill and Yatesbury south-east of the airfield. The R.A.F. station was used for wireless, signals, and navigation training, and a signals school was built in Yatesbury parish east of the airfield. Flying training continued until 1940, in the Second World War the airfield was used to give airborne training to wireless operators, and there was again flying training from 1945 to 1947. The station was closed in 1964, by 1969 the buildings of the camp had been removed, and between 1970 and 1972 Wiltshire county council restored the camp to farmland. Beside Juggler's Lane in Compton Bassett parish hangars were erected in the First World War and hangars and other buildings in the 1930s and 1940s; (fn. 40) many were standing in 1995.
R.A.F. Compton Bassett, open 1940-64, included a few acres in the parish's south-west corner and lay mainly in Calne and Cherhill parishes. (fn. 41)
Henry Maundrell, a chaplain of the Company of Levant Merchants in the 1690s and author of a frequently reprinted account of a journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, was born at Compton Bassett in 1665. (fn. 42)
In the Middle Ages Bradenstoke priory in Lyneham had a grange at Cowage. (fn. 43) It was presumably on the site of the farmstead at Cowage's highest point which was standing in 1773. (fn. 44) The farmstead was rebuilt in the later 19th century to incorporate a farmhouse in Tudor style. Four cottages, a pair near the farmhouse and a pair beside the Wootton Bassett to Calne road on the site of an older building, (fn. 45) were probably built at the same time as the farmhouse.
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
The land of Compton Bassett was possibly part of the large estate called Calne held by the king from the 9th or 10th century. (fn. 46) If so, two thirds of it had been granted away by 1066, the other third by 1086. (fn. 47)
An estate of 5½ hides, the origin of COMPTON BASSETT manor, was held in 1066 by Leuenot and in 1086 of Humphrey de Lisle by Pain. (fn. 48) The estate evidently passed to Adelize de Lisle, almost certainly Humphrey's daughter, the wife of Reynold or Robert de Dunstanville, to Adelize's son Reynold (d. 1156), and to that Reynold's son Reynold or Robert (d. 1185), who may have given it to his daughter Adelize in 1163-4. (fn. 49)
From Reynold or Robert de Dunstanville the overlordship of Compton Bassett manor passed as part of the barony of Castle Combe. It descended to Giles de Badlesmere, Lord Badlesmere (d. 1338), at the partition of whose estate in 1339 it was assigned to his relict Elizabeth (d. 1359) for life with reversion to his sister Elizabeth (d. 1356) and her husband William de Bohun, earl of Northampton (d. 1360). (fn. 50) In 1242-3, 1271, and 1324 the manor was erroneously said to be in the honor of Wallingford (Berks., later Oxon.), presumably because the lords in demesne held manors which were part of that honor. (fn. 51) In 1428 it was part of the barony of Castle Combe, then held by Sir John Fastolf in his wife's right. (fn. 52)
In 1163-4 Adelize de Dunstanville married Thomas Basset (fn. 53) (d. 1181 or 1182), who c. 1180-2 granted Compton Bassett manor to his son Alan (d. 1232 or 1233). Alan's heir was his son Gilbert, (fn. 54) whose estates were confiscated in 1233 and restored in 1234. (fn. 55) Gilbert married Isabel de Ferrers (d. by 1260), (fn. 56) the owner of a second estate in Compton Bassett, (fn. 57) and after his death in 1241 his manor of Compton Bassett was assigned to her as dower. (fn. 58) Isabel's husband Reynold de Mohun held both manors in 1242- 3. (fn. 59) The reversion of Gilbert's passed to his brother Fulk, dean of York and from 1241 bishop of London (d. 1259), and to a third brother Sir Philip (d. 1271). (fn. 60) There is no later reference to Isabel's, which was presumably merged with it.
From 1260 or earlier to 1326 Compton Bassett manor descended like Berwick Bassett manor; (fn. 61) in 1300 Sir Hugh le Despenser, Lord le Despenser, was granted free warren in its demesne. (fn. 62) The Crown held the manor from 1326 to 1377, grants for life being made to Queen Isabel in 1327 and 1331, (fn. 63) Queen Philippa in 1359, (fn. 64) and Sir Bernard Brocas in 1373. (fn. 65) In 1377 the reversion was granted to Edmund, duke of York, (fn. 66) who held the manor at his death in 1402. The manor passed with the title to Edmund's son Edward (d. 1415) (fn. 67) and Edward's nephew Richard (d. 1460). From 1461, on the accession of Richard's son as Edward IV, to 1553 it again passed with the Crown; from 1461 it was held by Richard's relict Cecily, duchess of York (d. 1495), (fn. 68) from 1492 to 1547 it was part of the jointure of queens consort, and it was held by Catherine Parr until her death in 1548. (fn. 69)
In 1553 Compton Bassett manor was granted to Sir John Mervyn (fn. 70) (d. 1566), who was succeeded by his son James (knighted 1574, d. 1611). Sir James's heir was his grandson Mervyn Tuchet, earl of Castlehaven, on whose attainder and execution in 1631 the manor escheated to the Crown. (fn. 71) In 1633 it was restored to Tuchet's son James, earl of Castlehaven (d. 1684). (fn. 72) It was settled on James's wife Elizabeth in 1641 but was later sequestrated and in 1652 was sold to Slingsby Bethel and William Cox. In 1653 it was bought from Bethel and Cox by Sir James Thynne and Sir Thomas Thynne, presumably on behalf of Lord Castlehaven, on whom it was settled in 1657. (fn. 73)
In 1663 Lord Castlehaven sold Compton Bassett manor to Sir John Weld (fn. 74) (d. 1674), who was succeeded by his son William (d. 1698). (fn. 75) In 1700 William's son Humphrey sold it to the lawyer and politician Sir Charles Hedges (d. 1714), in 1715 Sir Charles's son William (fn. 76) sold it to William Northey, (fn. 77) and in 1758 Northey sold part of it, Compton Bassett House and its park, to John Walker (fn. 78) (d. 1758), the owner of Compton Cumberwell manor. Walker was succeeded by his son John, who bought the rest of Compton Bassett manor from Northey in 1768 and took the additional surname Heneage in 1777. (fn. 79) Walker Heneage (d. 1806) devised the manor to his wife Arabella (d. c. 1818), on whose death it passed to his grandnephew George Wyld (from 1818 George Walker Heneage, d. 1875). (fn. 80) In 1838 Walker Heneage owned 1,813 a. in the parish. (fn. 81) He was succeeded by his son Clement (d. 1901), whose son and heir Godfrey (fn. 82) sold the Compton Bassett estate, including lands in neighbouring parishes, in 1918 to the Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. (fn. 83) The society sold it in 1929 to E. G. Harding, who afterwards sold it in portions. (fn. 84)
Alan Basset (d. 1232 or 1233) and Gilbert Basset (d. 1241) may have occupied a house at Compton Bassett, (fn. 85) and in 1553 a manor house, evidently timber-framed, was said to need 260 oaks to repair it. (fn. 86) A house standing in 1659, (fn. 87) presumably a replacement of that of 1553 and later called Compton Bassett House, was apparently on a U plan; the principal approach to it was through its courtyard, which was open to the south-east. Its main range, lying north-east and south-west, had a hall at its north-east end and, south-west of the hall, a screens passage with an entrance at the west corner of the courtyard. (fn. 88) The lord of the manor, Sir John Weld, was said in 1672 to have spent nearly £10,000 on building (fn. 89) and, presumably between 1663 and 1672, the courtyard was built over and the house was made rectangular with sides of 130 ft. and 110 ft. and given projecting corner towers. (fn. 90) The mullioned and transomed windows were probably retained in the old part of the house; sashes were used in the new south-east front. The walls of the house were of soft white stone; one side, probably the northwest front which was the main entrance front in 1760, had been renewed in brick by 1814. (fn. 91) Later in the 19th century the rest of the house was encased in brick, and embattled parapets were added; those changes were presumably made by George Walker Heneage (d. 1875), who restored the house. In the early 1930s Compton Bassett House was demolished, (fn. 92) and in 1935 its stable block was converted to a house, also called Compton Bassett House and extensively altered c. 1990. (fn. 93) A levelled area south-east of the site of the old house may be the site of an early 17th-century outer court. In 1706 there was 29 a. of parkland and c. 25 a. of woodland around or near the house, and the park was possibly surrounded by a stone wall. (fn. 94) By 1760 the park had been enlarged and paled; it then surrounded the house on three sides and extended beyond the parish boundary. An avenue of beeches led from the south-west to the main front of the house, and to the north there were kitchen gardens and an orchard. (fn. 95) In the 1770s there was 132 a. of parkland, that east of the house being mostly wooded and crossed by rides and paths. (fn. 96) About 1840 the house stood in c. 200 a. of parkland and woodland, including c. 50 a. in Calne and Cherhill parishes. (fn. 97) Later in the 19th century flower gardens were made south and east of the house, (fn. 98) and in 1877 glasshouses totalling over 200 ft. in length were built mostly in the walled garden east of Home Farm. (fn. 99) By 1828 Upper Lodge had been built on the boundary with Cherhill at the south entrance to the park, (fn. 100) and in 1830 a lodge was built in Cherhill parish at the west entrance. (fn. 101)
In 1929 or 1930 E. G. Harding sold Compton Bassett House with 783 a., of which no more than about half lay in Compton Bassett parish, to Guy Benson. (fn. 102) In or about 1948 Benson sold that land in portions. The new Compton Bassett House and the parkland and woodland immediately south-east of it, c. 50 a., was later and until 1992 owned by the architect Sir Norman Foster, in 1994 belonged to Mr. J. Pringle, and in 2001 belonged to Mr. P. Cripps. (fn. 103) In 1948 Benson sold Home farm, Compton Bassett, with land in Cherhill later known as Upper farm, to D. W. Pickford, in 1953 Pickford sold 132 a. of Home farm, including the farmstead, to Mr. James Heginbotham, and in 1994 Mr. Heginbotham's family owned Home farm. A smaller part of Home farm remained in Upper farm in 1994. (fn. 104)
In 1929 or 1930 Harding sold most of the rest of the Compton Bassett estate to A. H. Bond and T. J. Wilson; they sold the land in lots soon afterwards. (fn. 105) Harding retained Freeth farm, c. 300 a. including c. 70 a. in Cherhill, until 1934, when it was bought by Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; in 1953 the college sold the farm to H. K. Henly (fn. 106) (d. 1959), whose son Mr. R. T. Henly and other members of his family owned it in 1995. (fn. 107) In 1929 either Harding or Bond and Wilson sold Compton farm, 220 a., to Charles Birstingle; in 1945 the farm was bought by B. W. Barnett, from 1968 to 1980 belonged to J. B. Barnett, and from 1980 and in 1995, as a farm of 300 a., belonged to Mr. P. A. Barnett and Mrs. E. T. Barnett. (fn. 108) Nolands farm, 1,313 a. including much land in Cherhill, was bought as joint tenants from either Harding or Bond and Wilson in 1930 by Beatrice, Emily, and Mabel Tilley, who in 1935 jointly sold 141 a. of it in Compton Bassett to the Bristol Aeroplane Company for Yatesbury airfield, and in 1939 sold 33 a. in Cherhill to the state for the camp of R.A.F. Yatesbury. (fn. 109) In the mid 20th century the farm belonged to F. C. Carr and was further reduced when West Nolands farm was taken from it. Nolands farm was sold by Carr to R. T. Candy, c. 1975 by Candy to the Thames Water Board, c. 1980 by the board to Mrs. S. M. Rothschild, and in 1989 by Mrs. Rothschild mainly to Mr. G. Wilkins, the owner of the farmstead and 655 a. in 1995. In 1989 Mrs. Rothschild sold smaller parts of the farm separately, and in 1992, then Lady Rothschild, gave 110 a. in Cherhill to the government, which transferred it to the National Trust. West Nolands farm, 212 a. including c. 35 a. in Cherhill, was bought in the later 20th century by E. Summers, whose relict Mrs. S. Summers owned it in 1994. In 1959 c. 110 a. of the land sold in 1935 was bought by D. W. Pickford and in 1995 was part of Upper farm, Cherhill. (fn. 110)
In 1086 an estate of 6 hides in Compton Bassett was held by William de Aldrie of William of Eu (d. c. 1095). (fn. 111) It presumably descended, as did other estates of William of Eu, to William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (d. 1219), (fn. 112) and was apparently assigned to Marshal's daughter Sibyl, the wife of William de Ferrers, earl of Derby (d. 1254), (fn. 113) and to Sibyl's daughter Isabel (d. by 1260), the wife of Gilbert Basset and afterwards of Reynold de Mohun. (fn. 114) Reynold held the estate in 1242-3, (fn. 115) and later it seems to have been merged with Compton Bassett manor. (fn. 116)
An estate of 6 hides, the origin of COMPTON CUMBERWELL manor, was held in 1066 and 1086 by Turchil. (fn. 117) Later the overlordship was part of the barony of Castle Combe, and Walter de Dunstanville held it as part of the barony in 1242-3. (fn. 118) At the partition of Lord Badlesmere's estates in 1339 (fn. 119) it was assigned to his sister Maud (d. 1366), the wife of John de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1360). Maud's son Thomas, earl of Oxford, (fn. 120) held it at his death in 1371. (fn. 121) The overlordship has not been traced further.
Compton Cumberwell manor was held in the late 12th century or early 13th by William of Cumberwell, (fn. 122) in 1222 by his son Hugh, (fn. 123) in 1242-3 by Hugh's son Philip (fn. 124) (fl. 1249), (fn. 125) and in 1289 by Philip's son Sir John; (fn. 126) a Sir John Cumberwell, perhaps another, held it in 1334. (fn. 127) By 1339 the manor had passed to Roger de Barley (fn. 128) (fl. 1347) and by 1355 to Roger's son Roger (fn. 129) (fl. 1372). (fn. 130) John Barley held it in 1402, (fn. 131) and by 1405 it had passed to William, the daughter and heir of Thomas Barley and the wife of John Blount (fn. 132) (d. 1444). (fn. 133) In 1448 William conveyed the manor to John Breche, his wife Isabel, and his son John for their life. (fn. 134) The reversion passed in turn to William's son Edmund Blount (d. 1468), Edmund's son Simon (fn. 135) (d. 1476), and Simon's daughter Margaret, (fn. 136) later the wife of John Hussey (from 1529 Lord Hussey). In 1530 John and his and Margaret's son Sir William sold the manor to William Button (fn. 137) (d. 1547). It passed to Button's grandson William Button (fn. 138) (d. 1591) and in the direct line to William (fn. 139) (d. 1599), William (fn. 140) (cr. baronet 1622, d. 1655), and Sir William (d. 1660). Sir William's heir was his brother Sir Robert (d. c. 1679), who settled the manor on his wife Eleanor (d. c. 1707) for her life. The manor passed in turn to Sir Robert's brother Sir John Button (d. 1712) (fn. 141) and his grandnephew Heneage Walker (d. 1731). Heneage was succeeded by his brother John (d. 1758), the purchaser of Compton Bassett House, whose son John Walker (later John Walker Heneage) bought the rest of Compton Bassett manor in 1768 and merged the two manors. (fn. 142)
In 1500 John Blake (d. 1504) held an estate later called BLAKE'S. His heirs were his daughter Joan Wroughton and his grandson Richard Dauntsey. (fn. 143) Richard held Blake's at his death in 1557 and was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 144) who sold it in 1588 to Francis Shute. (fn. 145) Francis conveyed it in 1589 to William Shute (fn. 146) (fl. 1599), (fn. 147) and in 1619 it was held by William's son John (fn. 148) (fl. 1629). (fn. 149) In 1648 the Revd. John Shute, either William's son or a namesake, with Sir John Thoroughgood and Thoroughgood's wife Frances sold Blake's to Robert Maundrell. (fn. 150) Robert and his namesakes probably held the estate until 1743; a Robert, son of Robert Maundrell, died in 1673, another Robert died in 1705, and a third in 1743. (fn. 151) The estate was held by Thomas Maundrell in 1747 (fn. 152) and by another or others of the same name between 1780 and c. 1815, when it passed to Robert Maundrell. It was acquired by Robert Essington c. 1816, presumably by purchase, and after his death c. 1825 was divided. By 1831 most of the estate had been acquired by George Walker Heneage, the lord of Compton Bassett manor, and it descended with the manor until 1929-30. (fn. 153) As Manor farm, 200 a. in 1930, (fn. 154) it was acquired before 1936 by W. S. FieldingJohnson (fn. 155) (d. 1953), whose relict Noel Fielding-Johnson (fn. 156) in 1963 sold Manor and Streete farms, a total of 363 a., to Mr. J. S. Reis, the owner in 1995. (fn. 157)
The principal house of Blake's was probably Manor Farm, (fn. 158) which was evidently built in 1691 or 1699. (fn. 159) The house was originally on a T plan with, on the cross wing, a main east front which in 1995 retained the stone mullions and transoms of its windows. (fn. 160) In the early 18th century a large oak staircase with turned balusters was built at the centre of the house and, probably when the staircase was built, the back range was extended westwards to provide more service rooms. In 1935 a two-storeyed porch was built on the east front, and about then the west extension was demolished and replaced by a cross wing of a similar design to the east one, thus making the house appear symmetrical. About 1975 additions were made to the new wing and on the north side between the wings. (fn. 161)
In 1719 Michael Smith and his wife Margaret were parties to a conveyance of 2 messuages and 120 a., later DUGDALE'S farm. (fn. 162) The estate descended to their son Michael (d. 1774) and was held for life by his relict Elizabeth (d. 1800). It passed to the younger Michael's niece Margaret Bishop (d. 1818) and her husband Richard Dugdale (d. 1836), and by Richard's will passed to their grandson W. D. Thring, who in 1855 sold it, 350 a. in 1838, to George Walker Heneage, the lord of Compton Bassett manor. (fn. 163) Dugdale's farm descended with the manor until 1930 when, 109 a., it was bought by W. H. Barrett. (fn. 164) Later it was again larger. In 1936 Barrett sold the farm to W. S. FieldingJohnson, the owner of Manor farm, and in 1956 Noel Fielding-Johnson sold Dugdale's farm to Anthony Staveley. In 1957 Staveley sold it to J. M. Monck, who added Breach farm to it and sold the combined farm, 394 a., to Mr. Robin Clark in 1966. Mr. Clark added other land to it, including 62 a. of Lower End farm in 1984, and in 1994 owned c. 375 a. in Compton Bassett as part of a farm of c. 800 a. (fn. 165)
Dugdale's Farm is an early 18th-century house of red brick with stone dressings. Its five-bayed north front has a hooded central doorway; in the later 19th century a rear wing was greatly enlarged, a new east entrance made, and the north doorway blocked. A stable incorporating a coach house south-east of the house is also of early 18th-century origin.
Bradenstoke priory held land at Cowage in the 13th century (fn. 166) and apparently the whole of COWAGE at the Dissolution. (fn. 167) In 1545 the Crown granted Cowage farm to (Sir) John Williams, (fn. 168) who sold it c. 1550 to John Goddard (fn. 169) (d. c. 1567). The farm passed in the direct line to Thomas Goddard (d. 1610), Francis (d. 1652), and Francis (fn. 170) (d. c. 1701), and it passed in turn to the younger Francis's sons Edward (d. c. 1710) and Anthony Goddard. It was sold by Anthony, probably in 1717 (fn. 171) to William Northey, the lord of Compton Bassett manor, who owned it in 1728. (fn. 172) It later belonged to Peter Delmé (d. 1789), who owned an adjoining manor at Whitley, in Calne. Delmé's heir was his son John (of age in 1793), from whom Cowage farm was bought c. 1796 by Christopher Pinnegar. About 1831 the farm passed to John Pinnegar, (fn. 173) and he or a successor sold it to Thomas Poynder, who held it in 1838. (fn. 174) With Hilmarton manor it passed from Thomas (d. 1856) in turn to his sons Thomas (d. 1873) and William (d. 1880) and grandson John Dickson (John Dickson Poynder from 1888, cr. Baron Islington 1910). (fn. 175) In 1914 Lord Islington sold Cowage farm, 349 a., (fn. 176) to F. J. Smale. In 1935 Smale sold it to W. W. Burdge, who sold it in 1940 to T. A. Temple. In 1977 the farm was bought from V. S. E. Norman by Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Maynard who, with members of their family, owned it in 1994. (fn. 177)
Bradenstoke priory received 5 a. at Compton Bassett from Hugh son of Gilbert of Henley c. 1200, 1½ a. there from Richard de Wiz in or before 1232, 6d. rent thence from Robert Halfknight in the mid 13th century, and other land there from Philip Basset in 1265. (fn. 178) Its only land at Compton Bassett at the Dissolution was in a single close. (fn. 179)
Compton Bassett church was given to Bicester priory (Oxon.) by Gilbert Basset between 1182 and 1185. (fn. 180) By an agreement made between 1220 and 1228 with Gilbert's brother Alan, the lord of Compton Bassett manor, the priory surrendered all the church's endowment, except 1 a. of meadow, a croft, and two thirds of the grain tithes from the parish, to the rector. (fn. 181) By 1535 the tithes and land had been replaced by a pension of £4 from the rectory; (fn. 182) the pension passed to the Crown at the Dissolution. (fn. 183)
The corn from 2 a. held by the lord of Compton Bassett manor and probably at Compton Bassett, and the tithes from two mills held by him, probably no more than one of which stood at Compton Bassett, were part of the estate of Calne church and of the prebend in Salisbury cathedral held from between 1220 and 1227 by the treasurer of the cathedral. As part of the settlement of a dispute between him and the rector of Compton Bassett, from 1228 the treasurer also took 2s. a year from the revenues of Compton Bassett church. (fn. 184) The pension was still paid in 1535. (fn. 185) In 1838 the treasurer was entitled to the tithes from 3 a. in Compton Bassett; they were then valued at 16s. 6d. and in 1839 commuted. (fn. 186)
The vicarage of Calne was allegedly augmented with tithes from Compton Bassett c. 1381. (fn. 187) Perhaps as a result of such an augmentation the vicar was receiving tithes from 42 a. in Compton Bassett in 1838, when they were valued at £12. The tithes were commuted in 1839. (fn. 188)
In 1086 Compton Bassett had land for 12 ploughteams; 11 teams were working on it. The three estates there were of roughly equal size. On their demesne there were 5 teams and 13 servi; 12 villani, 14 coscets, and 14 bordars had 6 teams. There were 64 a. of meadow and 30 a. of pasture. (fn. 189)
Nearly all Compton Bassett's land was used in common until the later 17th century, and there was apparently a single set of open fields. About 1200 there may have been only two open fields; (fn. 190) in the later 14th century there were possibly three. (fn. 191) The well drained land between the scarp east of the village and the clay to the west is not extensive, and there is c. 1,000 a. of downland east of the scarp. If in the 13th or 14th century a third field was brought into cultivation it may have been on the downs. In the later 16th century and later there were three fields, called North, South, and Middle; (fn. 192) North field, sometimes called North Down field in the 17th century and early 18th, (fn. 193) was presumably at least partly downland. Another part of the downs may have been early ploughland, that in the early 13th century called old land which may have given a name to Nolands farm. (fn. 194) The land called Newbroke c. 1608 (fn. 195) may also have been ploughed downland, but most of the downs remained common pasture for sheep. (fn. 196) There were strip linches east of Streete Farm, an indication that the face of the scarp may have been cultivated in the earlier Middle Ages. (fn. 197)
The extensive lowland north and west of the village included commonable meadow, (fn. 198) but most was probably pasture for cattle and sheep. An extensive pasture called Penn was probably used in common by the men of Calne, Cherhill, and Compton Bassett and had apparently been divided between them by 1628. Cherhill's part remained commonable until the 19th century; Calne's part had probably been inclosed by 1628. It seems that the lord of Compton Bassett manor received an allotment of an inclosed part of the common in Calne as demesne, and in 1728 he held High Penn farm, 131 a., there; (fn. 199) the rest of Penn assigned to Compton Bassett was probably the pastures called Cowpen, c. 90 a., and Oxpen, 112 a., which were commonable in the mid 17th century. (fn. 200) The Marsh was mentioned in 1330 (fn. 201) and Oatlands in the later 16th century: (fn. 202) in 1655 they were estimated at 80 a. and 114 a. respectively. (fn. 203) Berrymead, mentioned in 1449 and presumably mown for hay, was estimated at 30 a. in 1655. (fn. 204) Of a large commonable meadow called Abberd mead, shared mainly by the men of Calne, Calstone, and Cherhill, 3 a. was defined in 1728 as land of Compton Bassett. (fn. 205)
In 1271 the demesne of Compton Bassett manor included 204 a. of arable, 30 a. of meadow, and pasture for 30 oxen. (fn. 206) Part of the demesne was held on lease in 1330, (fn. 207) as in 1368- 9 the meadows and pastures of it were. (fn. 208) By 1372 the area of arable had fallen to 161½ a., of which 31 a. was then fallow; stock included 13 oxen. (fn. 209) In 1449 and later the demesne included pasture for part of the year in Berrymead, Forepen, and Freeditch, perhaps in severalty. (fn. 210) In the 13th century Compton Cumberwell manor consisted of demesne and customary holdings. (fn. 211) On both manors the customary holdings were apparently small and numerous. In the later 14th century there were probably 17 yardlanders and 16 other customary tenants on Compton Bassett manor, (fn. 212) and in the later 16th century four copyholders of Compton Cumberwell manor held between them 39 a. of arable, 7 a. in closes of meadow and pasture, and grazing rights for 9 cattle, 4 horses, and 80 sheep. (fn. 213)
In the early 17th century it was alleged that the lord of Compton Bassett manor denied customary rights to grazing in the open fields and common pastures. (fn. 214) An agreement to inclose 426 a. of meadow and pasture and 300 a. of arable was reached in 1655. (fn. 215) The inclosure of the grassland, that on the lowland north and west of the village, seems to have been partly completed by 1662; Cowpen, Oxpen, part of the Marsh, and the arable were inclosed later. (fn. 216) In 1662 the demesne farm of Compton Bassett manor included 140 a. in South and Middle fields and 150 a. of inclosed meadow and pasture. A further 205 a. of meadow and pasture may have been allotted as demesne c. 1655 and may have been in one or more new farms; those allotments included the Marsh, 30 a., the Freeth, 27 a., and Berrymead, 26 a., all said to be capable of much improvement when fenced and, in the case of the Freeth and the Marsh, drained. On the manor in 1662 there were 31 copyholders and c. 15 tenants holding by leases on lives or at rack rent; some copyholds may have lain outside the parish. (fn. 217)
In 1706 land held with Compton Bassett House as a park and home farm amounted to 233 a., including 113 a. on which sainfoin was grown, 29 a. of parkland, and 29 a. of woodland. Of Compton Bassett manor 427 a. of arable, 177 a. of meadow, and 205 a. of inclosed pasture were held by copyholders and lessees on lives; an additional 345 a. was in four other holdings, (fn. 218) and about then the land of Compton Cumberwell manor was also in four holdings. (fn. 219) Nolands Farm may have been built by the mid 17th century and the eastern part of the downland, where Nolands farm was of 213 a., had been inclosed by 1706. There remained grazing in common for almost certainly over 800 sheep, (fn. 220) which in 1700 were stinted at 40 to 1 yardland. (fn. 221) In 1707 the lord of Compton Bassett manor inclosed 50 a. of arable and gave pasture rights over 20 a. of other land in compensation. (fn. 222) What remained of the open fields was inclosed in 1725 by Act on the terms of an agreement drawn up in 1717, (fn. 223) and by 1776 the rest of the lowland pastures and of the gently sloping downland had been inclosed. In 1776 parkland lay south and east of Compton Bassett House and 105 a. of meadow and pasture, probably adjoining it, was in hand. About five farms were then of 100-130 a., one was of 84 a., and most of the land in the main part of the parish was in holdings of less than 40 a. (fn. 224)
There was more grassland than arable in the main part of the parish in 1822, (fn. 225) about when the practice of planting wheat every second year was replaced on the farms there by a three-field rotation. (fn. 226) In 1822 there remained rights for 648 or more sheep to be fed in common on the scarp face, 63 a.; such rights were extinguished in 1837 under an Act of 1831. (fn. 227) In the main part of the parish in 1838 there was 1,000 a. of arable and 1,300 a. of meadow and pasture. Besides the home farm of Compton Bassett manor there were seven, mainly compact, farms each of over 100 a., and several smaller farms. The largest farm was Nolands, 672 a. including 230 a. in Cherhill, for which a new farmstead had recently been built; Breach farm measured 228 a., Freeth 163 a. All the other farmsteads stood between Home Farm and Lower End Farm along the principal route through the parish. (fn. 228) The location of the farmsteads and the number of principal farms had not changed by 1886, and those farms had apparently absorbed land of smaller holdings. (fn. 229)
In 1916 there were still seven principal farms based in Compton Bassett besides Home farm, which, 322 a., remained in hand, and there was still more pasture than arable. (fn. 230) Between 1918 and 1929 much more of the farmland was brought in hand by the owner, but from c. 1930 the land was again in individual farms. (fn. 231) Also from c. 1930 dairying was probably the only occupation, or one of the principal occupations, on all the farms. (fn. 232) Nolands farm, 1,313 a. in 1930, was reduced when land was sold for use as Yatesbury airfield and the camp of R.A.F. Yatesbury, West Nolands farm was taken from it, and parts of it were sold separately. (fn. 233) From 1989 it was an arable farm of 655 a. including c. 150 a. in Cherhill. (fn. 234) West Nolands farm, the farmstead of which was erected in the mid 20th century, (fn. 235) began as a dairy farm; it was an arable and beef farm of 212 a. in 1994. (fn. 236) The land used for the airfield and the camp was then part of Upper farm, Cherhill, and arable. (fn. 237) Lower End farm, 143 a., supported a Friesian herd from 1928 to 1956 or later; (fn. 238) on Breach farm, 175 a., cheese was made in the 1930s; (fn. 239) Dugdale's, 228 a., was a dairy and mixed farm in the 1950s. (fn. 240) Land from the three farms was worked in 1995 as part of a holding of c. 800 a. including land outside the parish; on 300 a. cereals were grown, c. 200 a. was grazed by beef cattle, and 200 a. was set aside. (fn. 241) By 1963 Manor farm had been merged with Streete farm. The combined holding, 363 a., was a dairy and stock rearing farm in 1963 (fn. 242) and, as Manor farm, a dairy farm in 1995. (fn. 243) From the 1930s to 1953 Home farm was worked with land in Cherhill as a mainly dairy farm of c. 400 a.; from 1953 and in 1995 it was a dairy farm of c. 132 a. (fn. 244) Milk from Compton farm, c. 220 a., was sold with that from Manor farm in the 1930s, (fn. 245) and in 1995 Compton, 300 a., was a dairy and corn farm. (fn. 246) Freeth farm, 307 a. in 1930, included c. 70 a. of the formerly common pasture called Penn in Cherhill parish (fn. 247) and was worked with Sands farm and Lower Sands farm at Quemerford, in Calne, from the 1950s until c. 2000. The combined farm included a dairy until the 1960s and was thereafter mainly an arable and beef farm. (fn. 248)
Compton Bassett had 30 a. of woodland in 1086. (fn. 249) Apart from the woodland near Compton Bassett House, c. 25 a. in 1706, (fn. 250) the main part of the parish was not well wooded. (fn. 251) In 1838 there was 60 a. of woodland. About half stood near Compton Bassett House and most of the remainder was on the face of the scarp and scattered in small plantations on the clay west of the scarp. (fn. 252) That disposition of woodland had been little changed by the late 20th century. (fn. 253)
Fishponds belonging to the lord of Compton Bassett manor in the early 13th century and to the lord of Compton Cumberwell manor in 1342 are likely to have been on the clay in Compton Bassett. (fn. 254) In 1838 there were two fishponds in the park west of Compton Bassett House; ponds east and north-west of the house were apparently not fishponds. (fn. 255)
Two mills were shared equally by those holding the three estates at Compton Bassett in 1086, (fn. 256) and may have been the two mills which belonged to the lord of Compton Bassett manor in 1228. (fn. 257) One may have stood where there are earthworks on Abberd brook 850 m. NNW. of the church on a site later called Mill Pound: (fn. 258) there is no other documentary or physical evidence of a mill in the parish. The other was probably Kew Lane mill in Calne, which was held with Compton Bassett manor in the 17th century and until the 19th. (fn. 259)
A weaver lived in Compton Bassett in 1620. (fn. 260) A soft white chalky stone was quarried in the parish in the 17th century. (fn. 261) A quarry recorded in 1700 (fn. 262) may have been that 700 m. east of the church in use in 1760 and 1838. (fn. 263) A second quarry east of the church was in use in 1922. (fn. 264) There was a brickfield near the site of Freeth Farm in 1706, (fn. 265) and a brick kiln stood south-east of the farmstead in 1838. (fn. 266) A malthouse was recorded in 1743, (fn. 267) perhaps that which stood east of Lower End Farm in 1838. (fn. 268) Hangars beside Juggler's Lane were used by an agricultural merchant for storage in the 1950s and by a road haulage company in the 1970s. (fn. 269)
In the early 16th century Cowage farm included what was probably nearly all of Cowage's land. (fn. 270) From the mid 17th century it also included a nominal 55 a. at Whitley, in Calne, which adjoined it, c. 51 a. in 1728. (fn. 271) In 1734 its stock included 56 cows, 1 bull, 16 other cattle, 6 horses, and 100 ewes and lambs. (fn. 272) In 1838 Cowage had c. 50 a. of meadow, of which c. 38 a. was watered; of the rest of its 228 a. about two thirds was pasture and about a third arable. Cowage farm included all that land and 42 a. of arable and 23 a. of pasture in Whitley. (fn. 273) In 1914 Cowage farm measured 349 a. and was used chiefly for dairying and stock rearing. (fn. 274) About 125 a. of Upper Whitley farm in Calne was added to it, probably in the late 1930s, and in 1994 the 228 a. of Cowage was part of a farm of 484 a., three quarters of which was arable and on which there was a herd of c. 70 cows and calves. (fn. 275)
In the year 1369- 70 a view of frankpledge was held twice by the lord of Compton Bassett manor, and the manor court met on the day of each view and on two other days. (fn. 278) At the view of frankpledge and manor court held together for the manor in March and July 1529 a tithingman was sworn and a jury presented defaulters from the court and a miller for overcharging. The homage pre sented misuse of common pastures, strays were claimed, and a customary holding was surrendered. (fn. 279) Similar business was done at the view and court held together in the period 1545-7. (fn. 280) Between 1667 and 1709 the view and the court were held twice a year, in spring and autumn, and usually on the same day as each other. Both jury and homage presented, and a tithingman and a constable were appointed; between 1700 and 1705 tellers of sheep were also appointed. Matters dealt with included encroachments on the waste, ditches and watercourses in need of scouring, obstructions of the highway, and the conveyancing and inheritance of holdings. At a court baron and court of survey inheritance customs and rules for stinting the commons were published in 1700, and tenurial matters came before other occasional meetings of the court baron. (fn. 281)
Meetings of a court for Compton Cumberwell manor are recorded for 10 years between 1405 and 1444 and for 11 years between 1548 and 1571. In the 15th century the court met once a year; in the 16th it sometimes met twice, in spring and autumn. Although most business was tenurial, the homage presented defaulters and those who neglected to repair buildings or scour ditches. In the later 16th century matters before the court included the taking of wood from and the grazing of the demesne, and orders were made for disputed boundaries to be viewed. (fn. 282) Business at meetings of the court in 1719, 1723, 1726, and 1731 concerned only admittances to copyholds. (fn. 283)
In 1775-6 the parish spent £92 on poor relief. Spending had risen to £121 by c. 1784 and to £390 by 1802-3, when 36 adults and 70 children received regular relief and 12 people occasional relief. The poor rate was a little below the average for the hundred in 1802-3. (fn. 284) In 1812-13 regular relief was given to 38 adults, occasional relief to 28, at a total cost of £550. By 1814-15 the numbers and costs had fallen. (fn. 285) Spending reached another peak, £536, in 1818, but was usually less than £400 in the 1820s. (fn. 286) It reached £628 in 1830 and had fallen to £455 by 1834. (fn. 287) Compton Bassett joined Calne poor-law union in 1835 (fn. 288) and became part of North Wiltshire district in 1974. (fn. 289)
Compton Bassett church was standing in the late 12th century. (fn. 290) Although it was given then to Bicester priory, which received an income from it until the Dissolution, (fn. 291) the living was a rectory in the earlier 13th century and remained one. Inhabitants of Compton Bassett may have been buried at Calne before Compton Bassett church was built, and a claim to oblations on the burial of parishioners of Compton Bassett was only given up by the owner of the revenues of Calne church, then the treasurer of Salisbury cathedral, in 1228. (fn. 292) In 1983 the rectory was united to the benefice of Oldbury to form a new Oldbury benefice. (fn. 293)
Under an agreement of 1220 × 1228 with Bicester priory, the bishop of Salisbury was to hold the advowson of the rectory. (fn. 294) In 1265 and in the 17th and 18th centuries the lord of Compton Bassett manor claimed it, (fn. 295) but no lord of the manor is known to have presented. On the few occasions on which the bishop did not collate, presentations were presumably made by grants of a turn: Andrew Blunt presented a rector in 1337, as did the prior of Bicester in 1432 and Nicholas Snell in 1552. (fn. 296) In 1968 the advowson was conveyed by exchange to the Crown, which was not, however, a member of the patronage board set up for the new Oldbury benefice in 1983. (fn. 297)
Presumably because Bicester priory took some of the church's revenues, (fn. 298) the rectory was among the poorer livings of Avebury deanery in 1291, when it was valued at £5. (fn. 299) The rector's income was possibly reduced c. 1381, when tithes may have been granted to the vicar of Calne, (fn. 300) but at £13 6s. 9½d. it was above average for the deanery in 1535, Bicester priory's portion having been commuted to a pension of £4. (fn. 301) About 1830 the rectory was valued at £497 and was among the wealthier livings of the diocese. (fn. 302) From between 1220 and 1228 the rector was entitled to all tithes from the parish except two thirds of the grain tithes. (fn. 303) In 1535 he evidently received all the tithes except those taken by the vicar of Calne, (fn. 304) and in 1838 took all tithes from 2,542 a. of the parish; by 1838 the tithes from the 228 a. of Cowage had been replaced by a modus of £1 6s. 8d. The rector's tithes and the modus were valued at £576 in 1838 and commuted in 1839. (fn. 305) Land was assigned to the rector between 1220 and 1228, (fn. 306) and in 1341 he held a messuage and 2 yardlands. (fn. 307) In the later 17th century and the early 18th the glebe included c. 19 a. of meadows, c. 32 a. of arable, and pasture for 60 sheep. (fn. 308) The arable and pasture rights were replaced at inclosure in 1725, (fn. 309) and in 1838 the rector had 46 a.; (fn. 310) 36 a. was sold in 1922 and 8 a. in 1924. (fn. 311) There were two houses on the glebe in 1671. (fn. 312) The rectory house was said to need repair in 1783, (fn. 313) and to be fit for residence c. 1832. (fn. 314) In 1842 a large new house, incorporating part of the old, was built of stone in a 16th-century style. (fn. 315) It was sold in 1968. (fn. 316)
Robert Holghan, rector 1414-32, also held livings in Ireland (fn. 317) and perhaps lived there. William Eyre, rector from 1641, assisted the commission for ejecting scandalous clergy in the 1650s and was a Congregationalist minister. (fn. 318) He was succeeded in or before 1650 by James Nisbett, a Scot, (fn. 319) who was succeeded in 1653 by John Frayling. In 1662 either Frayling or Eyre was deprived for nonconformity, (fn. 320) and the church then had no cover for the communion table and no carpet, surplice, or parish chest. (fn. 321) Charles Moss, rector 1743-50, was later bishop of St. David's and of Bath and Wells. (fn. 322) In the later 18th century and the early 19th the rectory was sometimes held in plurality and the church was often served by a curate. (fn. 323) In 1783 one service was held each Sunday in winter, two each Sunday in summer; additional services were held on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. Communion was celebrated at Easter, Whitsun, and Christmas, and was received usually by 16 parishioners; the rector was sometimes absent and the curate, who lived at Calne, also served Yatesbury. (fn. 324) In 1851 the rector refused to answer the questions asked in the ecclesiastical census, considering them likely to produce deceptive results. (fn. 325) In 1864 his successor, who apparently had no curate, held a morning and an afternoon service each Sunday; services were also held on Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, on Christmas day, Good Friday, and Ash Wednesday, and at the feasts of the Circumcision (1 January), the Ascension, and All Saints (1 November). The average congregation was 170; communion, celebrated 15 times, was received by c. 40 parishioners at festivals, 30 on other occasions. (fn. 326) From 1968 there was no resident incumbent. The living was held in plurality with Hilmarton and Highway benefice 1968-78, and as part of the new Oldbury benefice Compton Bassett was served by a group ministry from 1983. (fn. 327)
ST. SWITHUN'S church, so called in 1763, (fn. 328) is built of rubble and freestone and has an aisled chancel with north vestry, an aisled and clerestoried nave with north porch, and a west tower. (fn. 329) Of the 12th-century nave, part of the west wall survives. The north aisle was added to the nave in the late 12th century, the south aisle in the early 13th; the chancel, partly rebuilt in the early 13th century, remained small. The walls of the aisles were rebuilt, probably on their original lines, in the 15th century; that of the south aisle may have been rebuilt again in the 18th. Also in the 15th century the tower and the clerestory were built, the chancel arch was enlarged, and an ornate stone screen with rood loft and integrated pulpit was erected. A medieval north porch was rebuilt apparently in the 18th century (fn. 330) and again in the later 19th. In 1865-6 the chancel was replaced by one, with the aisles and the vestry, designed by Henry Woodyer. (fn. 331)
In 1553 plate weighing 2 oz. was taken for the king, and a 9-oz. chalice was left in the church. In the later 19th century the church had a chalice with a paten cover hallmarked for 1638 and a paten and a flagon each hallmarked for 1700. (fn. 332) Those and other smaller items of plate were held for the church in 1994. (fn. 333)
Three bells hung in the church in 1553. One of them, possibly cast by John Walgrave c. 1420, a bell of 1603 cast by John Wallis, and three bells of 1621 perhaps by the Purdue family hung there in 1994. In 1983 the ring was increased to six by a bell cast in that year by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough (Leics.). (fn. 334)
Registers of marriages and of burials survive from 1558, of baptisms from 1563, and are complete. (fn. 335)
In 1680 William Weld, the lord of Compton Bassett manor, was a papist. (fn. 336) The rector was ejected for nonconformity in 1662, (fn. 337) and in 1676 there were 21 protestant nonconformists in Compton Bassett. (fn. 338) Most were probably members of two Quaker families recorded in the parish between 1660 and 1675; another Quaker who lived at Compton Bassett died in 1777. (fn. 339) In 1783 there was said to be no dissenter in the parish. (fn. 340) In 1823 a meeting house was licensed for Independent Methodists, in 1834 another meeting house was licensed, and in 1838 one was licensed for Primitive Methodists. (fn. 341) In 1864 there was no place of worship in the parish for nonconformists. (fn. 342)
About 1700 Elizabeth Giddes gave the income from £8 to pay for a poor child in Compton Bassett to be taught. The income was still being paid in 1786, when by will Robert Rawlings gave a rent charge of £11 to provide teaching for 10 children. Payment of the rent charge ceased c. 1818, when the owner of the land on which it was charged claimed that the money had been given voluntarily. Payment from Giddes's charity may also have ceased about then, and both charities had been lost by 1834. (fn. 343)
There was a small unendowed school in Compton Bassett in 1783. (fn. 344) A schoolmaster apparently received £10 yearly from Rawlings's charity in the early 19th century, (fn. 345) but in 1818 educational provision for the poor was considered insufficient. (fn. 346) A school for girls, opened in 1825, and one for boys, opened in 1826, had 20 and 26 pupils respectively in 1833; two more girls' schools, opened in 1830, had a total of 30 pupils in 1833. (fn. 347) By 1842 a National school had been opened, (fn. 348) and in 1854 a new schoolroom, of chalk with stone-mullioned windows and in estate style, was built. The four earlier schools were presumably closed. The National school was attended by 50-60 children in 1859 and was then said to be efficient. (fn. 349) Average attendance in 1906 was 34; (fn. 350) from 1909 until 1927 it was usually c. 40, but it had fallen to 22 by 1932 and to 17 by 1936. (fn. 351) The school was closed in 1964. (fn. 352)