A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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The ancient parish of Whaddon forms the north-west corner of the modern parish of Semington into which it was merged in 1894. (fn. 1) The northern boundary of both the ancient parish and the modern one is formed by the River Avon and a tributary stream, Semington Brook. The Kennet and Avon Canal formed most of the southern boundary of Whaddon parish. A minor road links the parish with the neighbouring village of Hilperton and with the main road from Devizes to Trowbridge (A 361). This minor road crosses the canal by a brick-built bridge and runs north through the parish for ¼ mile until it reaches the hamlet of Whaddon. The road is continued in an easterly direction by a bridle-path which leads to Whaddon Grove Farm and then passes out of the parish.
The land in the parish is almost uniformly level with an average height of about 150 ft. (fn. 2) In 1886 there was said to be a well in a field opposite the church and another at Whaddon Grove Farm. (fn. 3) The parish lies entirely on clay and the land is under grass for pasture. It seems to have been recognized at least as early as the 17 th century that the land was suitable for cattlefarming. In a Star Chamber action brought in 1622 by William Brouncker, a tenant of Walter Long (see below—Manor), against Sir Henry Vyner, J.P., Brouncker is said to have exercised the trade of husbandry and 'grasing fat cattle on his own and others grounds' in Whaddon for 'thirty years past'. The suit concerned 50 rother-beasts that Brouncker had bought at Knighton (Rad.). (fn. 4)
A branch line of British Railways (Western Region) passes north of the River Avon; the nearest station is Holt Junction, but this may be reached only by crossing the railway line and seeking the foot-bridge over the river ½ mile north of the hamlet. The ancient parish is thus very isolated and for most purposes the only approach is by the minor road mentioned above. (fn. 5) A mill at Whaddon rendered 5s. in 1086: (fn. 6) it descended with the manor (see below) and was called a watermill in the I 3th century and a fulling-mill in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 7) The site of the mill was very probably that now marked on the Ordnance Survey map at Whaddon Grove Farm. (fn. 8)
The manor of WHADDON was held in 1086 by Alvric of Melksham and was assessed as 3 hides. (fn. 9) No record of the manor has been found between this date and 1242 when Henry of Whaddon was said to hold ½ knight's fee there. At this time the overlord was the Earl of Salisbury who held the manor as part of the honour of Trowbridge. (fn. 10) The overlordship descended with the honour and merged into the Duchy of Lancaster in 1399. (fn. 11) Henry de Whaddon died in 1254 and was then said to be holding ½ knight's fee from the Earl of Salisbury and ½ fee less 1/5 from Humphrey de Scoville. (fn. 12) The ½ fee retained by de Scoville was no doubt that which in 1242 he was said to hold in Hilperton, (fn. 13) and it is possible that the remaining 4/5 fee that Henry de Whaddon held at his death lay amongst the de Scoville property in Hilperton. Henry was succeeded by his son Humphrey (fn. 14) who is almost certainly the person named in 1267 as holding a whole fee and being of full age and 'not yet a knight'. (fn. 15) Humphrey died in or before 1281 (fn. 16) holding ½ knight's fee in Whaddon of the Earl of Lincoln as of the honour of Trowbridge and ½ fee from de Scoville which on this occasion is specifically said to lie in Hilperton. (fn. 17) It is not clear whether this property remained annexed to Whaddon since no further mention of it occurs until the 16th century (see below): nor is it certain how the ultimate overlordship descended since the de Scoville property in Hilperton (q.v.) was held both of the honour of Trowbridge and of the Mortimer family. Humphrey de Whaddon's son and heir was Michael who came of age in 1285. (fn. 18) In 1320 Michael was acknowledging a debt of £200 owed to Alice the relict of John of Holt. At this time he was still entitled 'lord of Whaddon' (fn. 19) but by 1342 a descendant of John of Holt, another John, was lord of the manor, (fn. 20) and it seems likely that Michael had sold the manor to the Holts in or about 1320. Whaddon remained the property of the Holt family at least until 1351. (fn. 21) No connexion has been found between the Holts and the next lord of the manor, Thomas Gore, who was in possession at least as early as 1382. (fn. 22) In 1388 Gore conveyed the manor into the hands of trustees: (fn. 23) ten years later Whaddon was in the hands of Sir John Roches, who settled the manor in a marriage trust upon his wife and son. (fn. 24) Roches died in 1401 but his son Richard, then aged 11, did not apparently live to receive his inheritance. (fn. 25) Two daughters of Roches, Joan and Elizabeth, were coheiresses to the property but Whaddon seems to have fallen entirely to Elizabeth who married Walter Beauchamp. (fn. 26) In 1428 Sir Walter Beauchamp, kt., was holding in Whaddon lands and tenements, 'lately of John Holt', for ½ knight's fee. (fn. 27) Walter Beauchamp died in 1430 and was succeeded by his son and heir William, then aged 22. (fn. 28) Sir William had married, in or before 1426, Elizabeth Braybrooke, heiress to the St. Amand barony, so that William later became Lord St. Amand jure uxoris. (fn. 29) William died in 1457 holding Whaddon at the reduced assessment of 1/20 knight's fee; Richard, his son and heir, was aged 4. (fn. 30) Elizabeth married again before her son came of age and died in 1491 seised, inter alia, of the manor of Whaddon by service of a whole knight's fee. (fn. 31) Richard Beauchamp, now Lord St. Amand, succeeded to the estate and died in 1508 without legitimate issue. The estate then passed to John Baynton, Richard's cousin and a descendant of Joan, the daughter and coheiress of John Roches. (fn. 32) It was through this John Baynton that the Roches estate in Bromham (q.v.) was added to the Baynton estates there since Elizabeth de St. Amand and her second husband, Sir Roger Tocotes, kt., had granted it to Sir Richard Beauchamp in 1476. (fn. 33) John Baynton died in 1516 and was succeeded by his son Sir Edward Baynton, kt., (fn. 34) who died in 1544. (fn. 35) The Whaddon estate passed to his son Andrew who in 1545 entered into a trust agreement with Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley. (fn. 36) The purpose of this trust is not clear but its effect was to put Baynton's estates into the escheator's hands on Seymour's attainder and execution in 1549. The lands were only returned to Baynton, on his petition, in 1554. (fn. 37)
In 1555 Whaddon passed to the family of Long who have retained an interest in the estate from that time until the present century. Ten years before this some land in Whaddon had passed to the Long family: in 1544 William, Lord Stourton, to whom the de Scoville property in Hilperton (q.v.) had passed, sold some lands and tenements in Whaddon to Thomas Long of Trowbridge, 'clothman'. (fn. 38) It seems probable that these lands were those in the hands of Humphrey of Whaddon at the end of the 13th century (see above) and that their connexion with the manor of Whaddon was thus only temporary. In 1555 Henry Long, almost certainly a brother of Thomas, (fn. 39) bought the main part of the manor, including a fulling-mill, from Andrew Baynton. (fn. 40) Thomas died about 1562 without heirs and his property passed to his nephew Edward, third son of his brother Henry; (fn. 41) Edward founded the line of the family later known as of Rood Ashton. (fn. 42) Henry Long died in 1558 and bequeathed the manor to his second son, another Henry. (fn. 43) This Henry died in 1608 seised of the manor, 4 messuages, a fullingmill, and 500 acres of land in Whaddon, Hilperton, and other places. (fn. 44) It seems probable that some of the land in Hilperton had formerly been in Thomas Long's 'manor' of Whaddon but no record has been found of any exchange. Henry Long was succeeded by his first son, a third Henry, who was 47 years old at his father's death (fn. 45) and died only four years later in 1612. (fn. 46) He was succeeded by his son, a fourth Henry, who received livery of the property in 1613. (fn. 47) Henry died in or before 1621 when his brother Walter suffered a recovery to break the entail on the property; (fn. 48) in the same year Walter with his mother and stepfather made a settlement of the manor, possibly to provide for his mother. (fn. 49) In 1627 Whaddon was conveyed by a Thomas Long to Walter but the purpose of this transaction is not clear. (fn. 50) Walter was created a baronet of Whaddon in 1661 and died in 1672: he was succeeded by his son and heir, Walter, who died unmarried in 1710. (fn. 51) The second Walter was succeeded at Whaddon by the second son of his sister Rebecca who had married Sir Philip Parker of Erwarton (Suff.). This son, Calthorpe Parker, assumed the name of Long on succeeding Sir Walter and died in 1729 leaving no male issue. He was succeeded by his nephew Sir Philip Parker a Morley, bt., who, like his uncle, assumed the name of Long: he died in 1741 having no male issue. (fn. 52) The estates next passed to a distant cousin, the Revd. John Long, son of John Long of Bath. (fn. 53) He died in 1748 without issue and the estates apparently passed to his nephew, Walter, son of his brother Thomas, of Melksham and Wraxall. (fn. 54) In 1749 Walter Long suffered a recovery, presumably to break the entail on the estates which at that time consisted of the manors of Whaddon, 'Melksham', Steeple Ashton, Poulshot, South Wraxall, Sutton Magna, and various appurtenances. (fn. 55) Walter Long died in 1807, aged 95, and thereafter Whaddon followed the descent of the manor of South Wraxall (q.v.). Between 1911 and 1919 the Whaddon estates were sold (fn. 56) and in 1939 the principal landowners were Messrs. S. D. Tucker & Sons, farmers of Holt, and Mr. J. S. Rogers. (fn. 57) Court rolls of the manor from 1545 to 1557 are in the Wiltshire County Record Office.
A manor house, reputed to have been built in the 16th century, once stood on the site of Whaddon Grove Farm. The house was destroyed by fire in 1835; a sketch of it may be seen in Dingley's History from Marble (fn. 58) and there is a Buckler painting in the library of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society at Devizes.
The church at Whaddon was never appropriated. In 1535 the rectory was valued at £8. 5s. 11d. (fn. 59) In 1704 the glebe lands comprised 42 acres scattered about the parish. Part of the tithe amounting to a total of £8. 17s. 8d. was to be paid by composition by the lord of the manor. The terrier specifies that the rector shall receive tithe from lands lying within the parish of Hilperton: (fn. 60) this no doubt refers to those portions of Whaddon manor anciently within the bounds of Hilperton (see above— Manor). A dispute of 1492 about these lands had been decided by papal verdict for the Rector of Whaddon. (fn. 61) In 1818 the glebe house was said to be too small for the accommodation of a family. (fn. 62) In 1854 the living was annexed to that of Hilperton (q.v.). (fn. 63)
The advowson has followed the descent of the manor at least since the 14th century (see above—Manor). The first known patron was John of Holt 'lord of Whaddon' who presented to the living in 1342. (fn. 64) The advowson passed with the manor to the Long family in the 16th century: the 3rd Viscount Long is the present patron (1950). (fn. 65)
The dedication of the church is not known: it is referred to locally as ST. MARY THE VIRGIN although in 1886 the Ordnance Survey gave the name as St. Michael. (fn. 66) The church consists of a nave, 30 by 14 ft., and a small chancel which is only distinguished from the nave by a step. Entrance is now by the south porch: a north door of the 12th century has been mutilated and blocked up.
The church was built at least as early as the 12th century and altered in the 14th century. In 1879 the present chancel was built, the porch reconstructed, and a bell-cote for two bells rebuilt at the west end: the whole church was reroofed at this time and covered with stone slates. The work was carried out at the instigation of W. P. Long. (fn. 67) On the north side of the chancel and opening out of it with a wide arch is a small chapel built in the 19th century as a mausoleum for the Long family. Below the chapel is a vault reached by a long flight of wide steps which begin outside the church at the north-west corner. At the east end of the nave in the south wall there is a blocked staircase in a projecting turret which presumably gave access to a rood: it is late-14th-century work. The exterior walls of the nave have been rendered with cement and lined in imitation of ashlar; the porch and the chancel are ashlar with the exception of the east wall which is rubble. The south doorway is reconstructed 12th-century work and the door itself consists of two 14th-century oak panels each 2 ft. wide and held together by eight iron straps.
The mausoleum of the Long family contains an elaborate white marble monument to Walter Long (d. 1807) made by T. King of Bath. A marble mural monument to Kathleen Long (d. 1814) is the work of Westmacott. Gravestones set in the floor commemorate Sir Walter Long (d. 1710), Calthorpe Long (d. 1729), and Richard Long (d. 1825).
There is an inverted post-Reformation scratch dial on the west side of the porch. (fn. 68) The bowl of a 12th-century font found'many years''before 1894 in Whaddon churchyard was in that year set up in Hilperton church. One side of the bowl shows signs of having been burnt. (fn. 69)
The registers begin in 1653 with baptisms and burials: burials for 1705 (a part), 1706, 1709, 1714 (a part), and 1715 are missing; baptisms and burials are missing for part of 1743 and all 1744. Marriages begin in 1661 and part of 1743 is missing. There are two bells: (i) S.W.L. and D.B.L., 1878; (ii) S.W.L. and B.W.B.L., 1706. Both bells were re-cast in 1878 by Llewellins & James when the church was restored. (fn. 70) In 1553 there were two bells at Whaddon and the church retained a chalice weighing n oz.; 1½ oz. was taken for the king. There is now a large chalice 8½ in. in height and retaining its paten cover of 6½ in. diameter. The date of the vessel is apparently some time in the 17th century. There is a tankard-shaped flagon of plated metal. (fn. 71)