A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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The parish of Bromham lies 4 miles north-west of Devizes and the same distance south-west of Calne. On the west it borders on Melksham Without, and on the north-east on Calne Without. (fn. 1) The former parish of Chittoe (see Bishops Cannings) was added to Bromham in 1934, and forms the northern part of the parish. (fn. 2) The ancient boundary between Bromham and Chittoe is said to have followed the stream skirting Prickmore Wood to a point roughly ¾ of a mile south of Chittoe village; then to have turned south, joined the Melksham—Calne road near Sloperton Cottage (see below), skirted Wyatt's Wood to the north, and turned north again along the Devizes—Chippenham road. (fn. 3)
The western slopes of Roundway Hill are within the parish and at Oliver's Castle and Beacon Hill the land is over 600 ft. above sea-level. In the central part of the parish the land is fairly level at a height of about 300 ft. In the north, at Spye Park (see below) it rises to over 500 ft., and in the west it falls steeply towards the flat country of the Avon valley. In the north the parish is well wooded. The area of the parish coincides approximately with the only extensive outcrop of Lower Greensand in the county. (fn. 4)
The main road from Devizes to Chippenham (A 342) runs from south to north through the middle of the parish, and several minor roads lead east and west off this. A secondary road from Melksham (B 3102) enters the parish in the west and runs north-east towards Calne.
The village of Bromham lies on a minor road half a mile west of the main road. South and east of the village much of the land is laid out in market-garden plots. Bromham Common lies to the south-west. South of the church is a late 16th century, two-story, timberframed house, gable-ended and roofed with stone slates. The walls are composed of close vertical timbering with plaster infilling. The first floor, which is supported on a moulded beam and brackets, overhangs. This floor is lighted by three three-light windows and the ground floor by a bow-fronted shop window of later date. The house stands on a stone base with small weathered buttresses at intervals and is entered by a squareheaded doorway with a heavy moulded oak frame.
Battle House, to the north of the church, is a late 18th-century stucco-fronted building of two stories with a hipped slated roof, plain parapet, three segmentalheaded dormers, and moulded cornice. An extension conforming to the original work has been added on the right. Sir William Napier (1785–1860), historian of the Peninsular Wars, lived here from 1820 to 1831. (fn. 5)
The Working Men's Club is an old building which has been modernized; it retains an interesting timberframed gable end. It is of two stories with overhanging first floor supported on a moulded beam and brackets, the brackets resting on slender shafts with moulded capitals.
Bromham House Farm, a modern red brick building, stands a mile north-east of the village on the site of the ancient mansion of the Baynton family. This mansion was built by Sir Edward Baynton during the reign of Henry VIII. According to Leland stone from Devizes castle was used in the building. (fn. 6) The house was reputed to be nearly as big as the palace of Whitehall, and the ironwork alone was said to have cost £5,000. (fn. 7) Here Baynton entertained Henry VIII and his court in 1535. (fn. 8) James I is said to have visited the house on three occasions. (fn. 9) In 1645 it was burnt down by Royalist troops. (fn. 10)
Some years later Sir Edward Baynton built a new house at Spye Park in the then tithing of Chittoe and now in the north of the modern parish of Bromham. (fn. 11) According to tradition building materials from the ruined Bromham House were used in the construction of an embattled gateway at the north-west edge of the park. (fn. 12) John Evelyn visited Baynton at Spye Park in 1654 and described the house as a 'long single house of 2 low stories on the precipice of an incomparable prospect, and landing on a bowling green in the park. The house is like a long barne, and has not a window on the prospect side.' (fn. 13) The present house was built in the 19th century. It is a large, three-storied, gabled building of red brick and stone dressing in the Elizabethan manner. It has pierced strapwork parapets, slated roofs, and a wide balustraded terrace to the principal front. The park is well wooded and in 1939 comprised more than 500 acres. (fn. 14) Through it runs the course of the Roman road and Wansdyke. There are four lakes formed by the Chittoe brook which rises in the park and which fords a minor road and runs through woodland south-east out of the parish.
There are four hamlets within the parish of Bromham. Netherstreet lies ½ mile south-east of Bromham House Farm. A quarter of a mile south of Netherstreet, on the main road, is St. Edith's Marsh. (fn. 15) The Bell Inn which lies on the main road at this point was built late in the 17th century. It is a long rectangular building with a panel above the door inscribed T.G.A. 1698. St. Edith House is a medium-sized house in the Elizabethan style. It is built of ashlar and has a central porch surmounted by a large coat of arms. Hawkstreet lies ½ mile west of St. Edith's Marsh.
Westbrook is a hamlet about a mile north-west of Bromham village on the secondary road from Melksham to Calne. Opposite the New Inn is a range of early 17th-century timber-framed cottages with one story and attic. At the south end of the hamlet is another small early 17th-century timber-framed house. Sloperton Cottage, at the other end of the hamlet, is an early 19th-century house built on to a small two story early 18th-century cottage. The poet Thomas Moore (1779–1852) spent the later years of his life here and died in the house. (fn. 16)
Nonsuch, north-east of Sloperton Cottage, was almost entirely rebuilt about 1725. (fn. 17) Of the 16th-century house only some of the internal walls and one stone chimney-piece remain. It is built of ashlar, and is of two stories. It has a hipped stone-slated roof with segmental headed dormers, moulded cornice, and a panelled parapet with vases at the angles.
Rowdeford House in the extreme south of the parish is a two-storied rectangular house that was entirely rebuilt in 1812. The front is divided into three bays by Ionic pilasters. The house is now a County Council residential school.
In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a considerable weaving industry in Bromham. Richard Tench, weaver, and William Webb, clothier, both of Bromham, are mentioned in 1580. (fn. 18) Richard Webb, weaver, is mentioned in 1582, (fn. 19) and Robert Keynes, weaver, in 1583. (fn. 20) William Chivers (fl. 1602–3) was a Bromham clothier of more than local importance. (fn. 21) The weavers of Bromham, like those in the rest of the county, were hard hit by the depression in the weaving industry which occurred in the 17th century. To illustrate the extent of their distress, but with no regard for accuracy, it was claimed in a petition to the king of c. 1620 that there were 12,000 weavers unemployed in Bromham alone. (fn. 22) In 1622 the weavers of Bromham petitioned the Wiltshire Justices of the Peace stating that 44 looms were idle and 800 unemployed in the parish. (fn. 23) In 1633 a government agent trying to carry out a royal commission on the clothing industry, complained bitterly of the obstruction offered at Bromham by Sir Edward Baynton. (fn. 24) Another petition for relief was addressed to the Justices in 1647 by the broadweavers of Wiltshire, those of Bromham being specifically mentioned. (fn. 25)
The distress in Bromham was doubtless aggravated by the fighting which took place in and near the parish in 1643 and 1645. Sir Edward Baynton was one of the leaders of the rebels in Wiltshire. He was evidently a quarrelsome man, for much of the history of the Civil War in this county turns on his angry rivalry with another rebel leader, Sir Edward Hungerford. (fn. 26) Baynton was regarded with suspicion by many of his associates. If he was guilty of treachery it was ironical that his great house at Bromham should have been burnt down in 1645 by Royalist troops. (fn. 27)
A spectacular event of the 18th century in Bromham was the visit of a steeple flyer. 'His method was to have a rope fixed from the top of the church steeple, passed through a groove in a board, and held taut at the bottom. The flyer was tied to the board and came down head first.' At Bromham, however, the steeple gave way when he was half-way down, and the flyer was lucky to escape serious injury: his fall was broken by a tree in the churchyard. (fn. 28)
In 1839 Chartists caused a disturbance by assembling outside Bromham church during service time and reading aloud, so that a magistrate had to be called in to disperse them. (fn. 29) There were also manifestations of Chartism in the village from June 1841 to July 1842. (fn. 30)
George Webb (1581–1641), Bishop of Limerick from 1634, was the son of the Revd. Hugh Webb, rector of Bromham from 1573 to 1597. He was Vicar of Steeple Ashton from 1605 to 1636. (fn. 31) He was imprisoned in Limerick castle by the Irish rebels and died there.
The Revd. John Collinson, author of The History and Antiquities of Somerset, was the son of the curate of Bromham and was born there in 1757. (fn. 32)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the king held Bromham. According to the Exchequer Domesday Earl Harold had held it previously; there were 10 hides in demesne and it paid geld for 20 hides. (fn. 33) According to Geld Roll A, however, the king held 20 hides in demesne in Bromham which had previously formed part of 'the lands of Queen Edith'. (fn. 34) In Geld Rolls B and C the king is said to hold in the hundred of Calne, in which Bromham then lay, 10 hides in demesne 'of the lands of Queen Edith'. (fn. 35) The tenements referred to in texts B and C are presumably the same as, or part of, that mentioned in A and there specifically stated to be in Bromham. The discrepancy between the Exchequer Domesday and the three versions of the Geld Roll is at present inexplicable.
Shortly after the Domesday Survey—possibly in 1087—William II gave the manor of Bromham to Battle Abbey, which retained it until 1538. (fn. 36) In 1331 the abbey was licensed by the king to acquire in mortmain from John le Wadel an additional 8 acres of arable and I acre of wood in Bromham. (fn. 37) At the Dissolution the manor was granted by the king of Sir Edward Baynton, who had been its steward under the Abbot of Battle. (fn. 38) After this time it was known as the manor of BROMHAM BATTLE. Before 1538 Sir Edward Baynton had obtained a lease of the manor from the abbey, and a grant of Henry VIII confirmed this for ninety-nine years at an annual rent of £34. Sir Edward was a prominent servant of Henry VIII, and one of the greatest Wiltshire landowners. He died in 1545, and the manor descended to his son Andrew. (fn. 39) Between 1545 and 1549 Andrew Baynton made an agreement with Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, whereby the two men conveyed various estates to each other. Seymour's estates were transferred to Baynton in fee tail, with remainder to the right heirs of Seymour, whereas Baynton's estates (including Bromham) were conveyed to Seymour in fee simple. (fn. 40) Each of the parties had bound himself to the performance of the bargain by a surety of £4,000. Seymour was executed for treason in 1549, and his estates escheated to the Crown 'as also did the manors and lands of Baynton, and all estate that Seymour ever had therein, to the grave disinheritance of Baynton'. (fn. 41) In 1554 Baynton petitioned for the recovery of his lands, alleging that though he himself had kept the agreement, Seymour had neither fulfilled his part of it nor forfeited the £4,000 bond. (fn. 42) The petition was granted, and Andrew Baynton was in possession of Bromham when he died in 1566. (fn. 43) The manor descended to his brother Edward, upon whom it had been settled in 1560. (fn. 44) In 1616 the king released his reversionary right to the manor to Edward's son, Sir Henry. (fn. 45)
In 1654 Sir Edward Baynton, son of Sir Henry, petitioned for the confirmation of his title to the manor, which had been claimed by the Commonwealth Commissioners as having belonged to the Bishop of Salisbury. Sir Edward said that he had lost all his evidences when the Royalists burnt down Bromham House during the Civil War. (fn. 46)
Bromham descended in the Baynton family until the death of John Baynton in 1716. John's heir was his sister Anne, wife of Edward Rolt. (fn. 47) Bromham became the inheritance of their second son, Edward Baynton-Rolt, who was created a baronet in 1762, and died in 1800 at the age of 90. (fn. 48) Sir Andrew Baynton-Rolt, 2nd and last baronet, died in 1816, and Bromham passed to his daughter Maria Barbara, wife of the Revd. John Starky, D.D., rector of Charlinch (Som.). (fn. 49) John E. A. Starky, son of Maria and John, was the next owner, and was succeeded on his death in 1843 by his son John Baynton-Starky. In 1864 Bromham was sold by the latter to J. W. G. Spicer, in whose family it has since remained. At the same time the Crown bought a large part of the estate. (fn. 50)
There are a number of 13 th, 14th, 15 th, and 16th-century court rolls for this manor. (fn. 51) Many of them are only fragmentary, but it appears that in the 14th century usually, although not invariably, three courts, one with view of frankpledge, were held a year. They were held at no regular times, but approximately in mid-spring, summer, and autumn. Evidence from the manorial accounts (see below—Agriculture) shows that four courts and two 'law days' were held in 1344–5. (fn. 52) Four courts, two with view of frankpledge, were also held in 1374–5. (fn. 53) Not infrequently, only two courts, one with view of frankpledge, were held. In the 15th and 16th centuries the number held seems to have dropped to two, and sometimes only one, a year. Four tithings of the manor, namely Wick, Westbrook, Netherstreet, and Hawkstreet sent their tithingmen to the courts. The court book of the Bayntons for various manors including Bromham, for the years 1565 to 1612 is in the British Museum. (fn. 54) During those years the court of the manor of Bromham was held twice a year, at or near Easter and Michaelmas. There are two more court books in the Wiltshire Record Office for the periods from 1545 to 1557 and from 1615 to 1638.
The manor of BROMHAM BAYNTON is not mentioned before 1538, and its descent after that date is the same as that of Bromham Battle. Possibly it originated as an estate held of Battle Abbey by the Baynton family, or it may have been the name given to Roches manor after the Bayntons had gained possession of it. (fn. 55)
The manor of ROCHES took its name from the family of Roches, which held land in Bromham at least as early as the 13th century. In 1254 Roger son of William de la Roches conveyed to Gilbert, son of Robert de la Roches, 1½ hide of arable in Bromham. (fn. 56) Gilbert la Roches was a free tenant of the manor of Bromham during the reign of Edward I. (fn. 57) Thomas Allway and his wife Alice in 1293 granted to John de la Roches a messuage, 49½ acres of arable and 16½ acres of heath in Bromham and 'Bluntesheth' near Bromham; in the same deed John was granted the reversion of a messuage and 37 acres of arable held in dower by Alice, relict of Walkelin le Blunt, and a messuage, 23½ acres of arable and 8½ acres of heath held in dower by John Welyved and Agnes his wife, of the inheritance of Alice. (fn. 58) Another grant to this John de la Roches (or a namesake) was made in 1320 by Sibyl Amenethes, widow. This was of the rent and services of Thomas Thankard, with the reversion of half a croft called Grascroft; of all the lands which Thomas held of Sibyl and also of the reversion of land in 'Schortervinemel' which John Hareley held for the life of John Chippway. Alice and her daughters were to have a rent of 3¼d. for their lives, and she further released to la Roches her right in all lands whereof he was tenant in demesne or service, saving 5¼d. (fn. 59) In 1348 John de la Roches leased to John Ballard the younger 'and his wife, if any' a messuage, &c. in Bromham, formerly held by Isabel Parsones. This was for the term of their lives, at a rent of 8d., mowing ½ acre of corn, when warned, and finding a man for a day to carry hay in 'la Medleys'. (fn. 60) John de la Roches, kt. dated a deed at Bromham in 1363. (fn. 61) In 1397 John de Roches kt. demised to Thomas Ballard and Alice his wife, for their lives, a moor by 'Ydethelee' (St. Edith's Marsh). The grantees were to pay 2s. per annum and to do suit of court at Roches. (fn. 62) It is clear from this deed that the manor of Roches was in existence in 1397. The male line of the Roches family came to an end soon after this, and in 1430 the 'manor of Bromham called Roches Manor' was held of the Abbot of Battle by Walter Beauchamp, kt. in right of his wife Elizabeth, one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir John de la Roches. (fn. 63) Sir William Beauchamp, son of Walter and Elizabeth, married the heiress to Lord St. Amand. Sir Richard Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand, son of Sir William, died childless in 1508 and the manor passed to John Baynton, who was the son of Jane (née Dandeleigh) the daughter of Elizabeth, sister of Sir William Beauchamp. (fn. 64) John Baynton died in 1516 and was succeeded by his son Sir Edward (d. 1545). From this point the descent of Roches manor is the same as that of Bromham Battle.
The manor of CLENCH (mod. Clinghill) first appears in 1535, when William Wyatt held the lease of lands there at an annual rent of 73s. 4d. payable to Battle Abbey. (fn. 65) The manor was granted to Sir Edward Baynton along with Bromham in 1538. (fn. 66) In 1555 Andrew Baynton renewed the lease of the manor to William Wyatt, Joan his wife, and Geoffrey his son. It was then stated that the manor had formerly belonged to Battle Abbey, and that Sir Edward Baynton had made a previous lease of it to Wyatt. (fn. 67) From this time onwards the manor remained in possession of the owners of the manor of Bromham Battle. The last mention of it is in 1716. (fn. 68)
Three families of sub-tenants can be traced in the parish of Bromham. William, Alice, and Robert Blund were free tenants of the manor of Bromham in the reign of Edward I. (fn. 69) In 1314 William le White and Alina his wife were granted land in Bromham and Compton Bassett by Thomas de Clenche. (fn. 70) White may have been a relative of Walkelin le Blunt, mentioned above under Roches Manor. In 1430 John Hwyt held a tenement in Bromham called Hwytes. (fn. 71) Alice, relict of William Whyte of Bromham, conveyed property to Robert Eyer and Thomas Speeke in 1438. (fn. 72) Thomas Whyte of Bromham, who died in 1545, left land in the parish. (fn. 73) On the inquest upon Samuel Webbe, who died in 1638, it was stated that his father William had purchased 10 acres of meadow in Bromham from Thomas White. (fn. 74)
The second family is that of Eyre. In 1297 Nicholas le Eyr and Amy his wife were granted by Thomas Alowy and his wife Alice 2/3 of a messuage and 2/3 of a virgate of arable in Bromham, together with the reversion of the other ⅓ of the property, then held in dower by William Philip and Amy his wife. (fn. 75) In 1338 Geoffrey le Eyr of Bromham was granted by Queen Philippa continuation of his previous appointment, by Queen Isabel, to the bailiwick of the forestership at the foot 'del Freit et de Blakhemore' of the forest of Melksham. (fn. 76) In 1430 Robert le Eyr held a tenement in Bromham called 'le Eyres' and 'Mayhowe'. (fn. 77) The grant to Robert Eyre in 1438 has been mentioned above in connexion with the Whites.
Samuel Webbe, also mentioned above, was also the member of an old family. John Webbe of Bromham was alive in 1402. (fn. 78) William Webbe was one of the recipients in 1622 of the grant of the former chantry of Bromham. (fn. 79)
In 1086 the priest of Bromham held I hide and 1 virgate 'of the lands of the villeins', under the king. The land was worth 15s. (fn. 80) The church of Bromham was granted to Battle Abbey by William II soon after the grant of the manor. (fn. 81) At the Dissolution the advowson passed with the manor to Sir Edward Baynton. It descended with the manor until 1793, when Sir Edward Baynton-Rolt presented to the living his relative Henry Baynton. (fn. 82) Henry Baynton himself became patron of the living, and remained rector until his death in 1857. His successor as rector was the Revd. E. B. Edgell, who had previously bought from him the patronage of Bromham. (fn. 83) Edgell died in 1904. In 1906 his son the Revd. E. M. R. Edgell transferred the patronage to Lt.-Col. A. E. England, of Soulderne Manor, Banbury, Oxon. Col. England transferred it in 1908 to the Revd. J. L. de B. Thorold, who had been rector since 1906. Mr. Thorold transferred the patronage in 1930 to C. W. White of Bath, whose daughter, Miss I. White, is the present (1951) patron. (fn. 84)
In 1291 the church of Bromham was valued at £16. (fn. 85) In 1341 it was assessed at the same value but was said actually to be worth less. The rector was said to have I carcucate of land. (fn. 86) In 1535 the rectory was valued at £15. 17s. 4d. (fn. 87)
In 1671 there were 65 acres of glebe, lying in small parcels in a number of places: Pigeon Close, the More, Balls Mead, Redlands, Pilling Close, the Yards, Parsons Ham, the Clayes. The rectory also included 4 houses and their gardens, and the rector had the right to pasture 6 beasts on the common. (fn. 88)
The 'Church Estate' consisted in 1901 of 6 cottages in Church Row and shops and houses elsewhere in Bromham. Its origin was not known, but it was then stated that accounts relating to the property went back as far as 1783. The income had for many, years been £60, but in 1901 was about £55; it was used by the churchwardens for general church expenses. (fn. 89)
A chantry chapel was built late in the 15th century as part of the parish church. The licence for its use was granted in 1492 to Sir Roger Tocotes and Richard Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand. The chantry chaplain was to pray for the souls of William Beauchamp, Richard's father, and Elizabeth, relict of William, who had married secondly Sir Roger, and also for Sir Roger's parents. He was to be known as 'Roger Tocotes chaplain' and was endowed with land and annuities worth £10 a year. (fn. 90) In 1484 Lord St. Amand and his wife were licensed to assign to the chaplain 1½ acre of meadow and 7 acres of pasture in Bromham. (fn. 91) In 1535 the income of the charity was estimated to be £11. 13s. 4d. against which were set charges of £3. 16s. 8d. (fn. 92) When the chantries were dissolved the Tocotes chantry passed to the Crown. The chantry chapel became the private chapel of the Baynton family and the chantry house and endowments were leased by the Crown to various tenants. In 1563–4 Edward Carye was the tenant of 'the chantry of Bromham, with appurtenances in various parishes'. (fn. 93) In 1622 the chantry was granted to William Webbe, whose father had held the chantry house in the reign of Elizabeth. (fn. 94) The property cannot have been held continuously by the Webbe family, for in 1617–18 the chantry had been granted to John Gray. (fn. 95) Samuel son of William Webbe died in 1638 leaving to his daughter Mary the chantry house and 10 acres belonging to it. (fn. 96) The chantry chapel, now part of the parish church, contains many memorials of the Bayntons.
Chittoe (see Bishops Cannings), now part of the civil parish of Bromham, is a separate ecclesiastical parish.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, Bromham, comprising chancel and nave, was built early in the 12 th century. All that remains of this early work is part of the west and north walls of the nave which has two narrow round-headed blocked windows and traces of a blocked round-headed doorway. The church was rebuilt in the 13th century with a south transept and central tower, and in the 14th century an aisle and porch were added on the south side. At the end of the 15 th century, the Tocotes Chapel was built on the south side of the chancel, (fn. 97) the south transept being rebuilt in the same style and the steep-pitched nave roof replaced with the present one of a low pitch. Soon after, the upper part of the tower was rebuilt. Part of the steeple was apparently pulled down by accident in the 18th century, and was presumably rebuilt (see above, p. 180). Early in the 19th century the south aisle and porch were partly rebuilt. In 1843 the box pews were removed, a vestry added, and a new pulpit and stone reading-desk provided. The chancel was rebuilt in 1865 and is said to be a replica of the earlier one. The organ (1879) is by Forester & Andrews of London and the clock (1887) by Wadham of Bath. The west window, representing the Last Judgement, was erected in memory of Thomas Moore (d. 1852) (see above, p. 180). The oak dado to the nave and aisle was fitted in 1920. The tower is crowned with an octagonal spire. The Tocotes Chapel is an interesting example of the elaborate and richly decorated gothic of the mid-15th century, especially as it retains its original ceiling and screens. It is separated from the chancel and transept by contemporary traceried oak screens. Two niches, one on the east and one on the south wall of the chapel, have canopies and bear traces of original colouring. On the north side of the chapel there are six wrought-iron supports for banners, three helmets, a pair of gauntlets, and a helm with a parrot's head as a crest. In the upper part of one of the south windows there is some late-15th-century glass representing figures, armorial bearings, and architectural canopies. Standing in the chapel is a fine 15th-century purbeck table tomb with an alabaster effigy of a man in armour. It had a brass marginal inscription and brass shields of arms, all now missing. It is said to commemorate Sir Richard Tocotes (d. 1457). Against the south wall is a canopied table tomb of Sir Edward Baynton (d. 1574) with brass effigies of his two wives and children, represented kneeling. Opposite is a somewhat similar tomb with enamelled brasses of a woman and two shields of arms. Of a child's brass only the matrix, some shields, and a few words of the marginal inscription remain. In the floor there is a brass to John Baynton (d. 1516). In different parts of the church are memorials to Elizabeth Amand (d. 1492), Hugh Webbe (d. 1597), Anne Webbe (d. 1617), Mary Webbe (d. 1647), Elizabeth Eyre (d. 1637), Elizabeth Richardes (d. 1610), Margery Seager (d. 1618), Ferdinand Hughes (d. 1640), Mary Hughes (d. 1647), Francis Leigh (d. 1669), Edward Baynton (d. 1679), Henry Baynton (d. 1691). There is a good 15th-century oak door of three vertical panels with traceried heads and contemporary wrought iron handle and back plate, and a plain oak chest with three original locks, probably of the late 17th century. A glass case contains the top of an early 13th-century incense boat of Limoges enamel. The octagonal font is of the 15 th century. The registers begin in 1560 and are complete. (fn. 98) The commissioners of Edward VI took 4 oz. silver for the king and left 16 oz. for the church. The church plate now comprises two cups presented in 1865 by the Revd. E. B. Edgell, and a paten and flagon of plated metal. (fn. 99) There are six church bells. The earliest is said to date from 1657. All were recast in 1875. (fn. 100) Thomas Moore is buried on the north side of the churchyard where a Celtic cross was erected to his memory in 1906.
In 1676 there were 50 Nonconformists in the parish out of a total population of 500. (fn. 101) In 1672 Nathaniel Webb was licensed to use his house as a Presbyterian conventicle. (fn. 102) In 1724 Elizabeth Pead's house was licensed as a conventicle, but the denomination is not stated. (fn. 103)
A meeting of Quakers was in existence in 1677, and the earliest deed relating to it was dated 1682. A Meeting House was mentioned in 1714, but by 1814 there was only one Friend left in Bromham and the meeting was discontinued. The Meeting House was pulled down in 1863. In 1684 the meeting was broken up by Thomas Wyatt, then rector of Bromham, accompanied by two magistrates. Jane Snell, one of the Friends who refused to take the Oath, died in jail. (fn. 104)
Methodism came to Bromham late in the 18th century. In 1782 Bromham was one of the thirty-one places of the Bradford or North Wilts. Circuit. John Pritchard, one of Wesley's itinerant preachers, wrote to Wesley in August 1783 'I was appointed for North Wilts. the first Circuit I ever laboured in. We soon had a fair prospect, especially at Bromham.' The 'fair prospect' was the result of a remarkable revival which took place at Sandy Lane, in the civil parish of Calne Without, when a woman named Molly Withers was converted by the preaching of Adam Clarke, later president of the Wesleyan Conference (see Bradford—Nonconformity). (fn. 105) In 1786 there were five Society classes at Bromham, which between them raised about £2 a quarter, of which 28s. was spent on the minister and his board. In 1799 the present chapel was built, and in 1811 Bromham was taken into the newly formed Melksham Circuit. The church had then 3 leaders and 43 members. One of the leaders, James Akerman, later entered the ministry and was universally loved and respected. Another pillar of Bromham Methodism was Charles Maggs of Melksham, who was responsible for several revivals. In 1857 there were 38 members and 200 children in the Sunday school. (fn. 106) The chapel was enlarged in 1815 on ground provided by Robert Akerman. (fn. 107) There was another enlargement about 1880. (fn. 108) Bromham is now part of the Wiltshire Mission.
The first Baptist chapel was built at Bromham in 1828, through the efforts of the Revd. G. Perren, pastor of the church at Sandy Lane. The opening services were held on 14 October in that year and the chapel was for its first two years attached to Sandy Lane, under the pastorate of Mr. Perren. (fn. 109) Perren died in 1830, and in 1831 the pastor of the chapel at Bromham was G. Anstie of Devizes, (fn. 110) who retained the pastorate for many years. He started a day school in the chapel, which later developed into a British school. (fn. 111) A new chapel was built in 1873, (fn. 112) and in 1885 its accommodation was given as 200. In 1885 there were 13 members and 65 children in the Sunday school; (fn. 113) in 1920 15 members. (fn. 114) In 1938 the church was a mission station of the Baptist church in Castle Street, Calne. (fn. 115) It was closed during the Second World War. (fn. 116)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were at Bromham 10 hides in demesne, 40 acres of meadow, 12 acres of pasture and a wood, 5 furlongs long, and 3 furlongs broad. The tenement was worth £24 having been worth £20 in the time of King Edward. On this estate there were 4 serfs, 14 villeins, 6 bordars, and 30 coscets. (fn. 117)
A late-13th- or early 14th-century custumal of Battle Abbey gives detailed information about the abbey's manor of Bromham. (fn. 118) The tenants of the manor fell into six classes. There were 11 free tenants, 5 of whom were quit of common services; the other 6 owed specified ploughing and carrying services. Ploughing was required at the winter sowing and was reckoned by the 'grasacre'. In the case of carrying services it was specifically stated how many loads were to be 'de monte' and how many 'sub monte'. Rents of the free tenants varied from £1. 0s. 8d. to 4s. There were 5 'majores erdlinges' or 'virgarii', whose rents varied from 7s. to 5s. The 'minores erdlinges', of whom there were 8, held at rents from 5s. 4d. to 4s. There were 11 'half-erdlinges' or 'majores cottarii' who paid 3s. 6d., 3s. 4d., or 3s. Twelve 'minores cottarii' paid from 3s. to 1s. Finally, there were 5 'coteriae' whose rents varied from 1s. to 6d. The labour services of all the bond tenants are given in detail, as are the tenants names. The greater, lesser, and two of the 'halferdlinges' owed 4d. a year horse-gafol in addition to their rent. Horse-gafol was remitted only in return for carrying services performed on the occasion of a visit from the abbot. This service could be to Salisbury, Brightwalton (see below), or anywhere within a radius of 20 leagues. The servants of the manor were a reeve, a hayward, a shepherd, a ploughman, a forester and a smith. The reeve, if chosen from the customary tenants (the greater and lesser erdlinges) was to have a reduction in rent of up to 4s., a mare and colt on the lord's pasture in summer, and his food from 1 August until Michaelmas. The reaper, on the same condition, was to have a reduction of 1s. rent, pasture for a mare and colt, and 60 sheaves of medium-quality corn for watching the lords crops in summer. The shepherd was to have a reduction of 3s. and 60 sheaves. The other servants, if customary tenants, were to have 3s. reduction of rent. All servants were to have a dish of bacon on flesh days.
According to a minister's account for 1344–5, a smith, a swineherd, 5 ploughmen, and 4 customers working all the year were allowed 3s. reduction of rent: 14 customers working part of the year were allowed 16s.—a fourth part of their rent. Wages were paid that year to a reeve, a hayward, a ploughman, an oxherd, 2 shepherds, and a 'daye'. (fn. 119) In 1392–3 6s. allowance of rent was awarded to 4 customary virgaters working part of the year and 7s. to 6 customary halfvirgaters. (fn. 120)
A new rental was made in 1430. (fn. 121) This enumerated 16 free tenements with names of tenants. Rents paid by these free tenants varied from 6d. to £1. 9s. 7d. Labour services were stipulated for all except 6. The services were mainly ploughing and carrying but in some cases sheep dipping and shearing were specified. There were 7 'lasseyerdlyngges' tenements with rents varying from 2s. to 5s., and 51 tenements of'halfyerdlinges' and 'majores cottarii', with rents varying from ½d. to 5s. Names and services of these bond tenants are given in detail.
In both rentals separate surveys are appended for an estate called ' Wyke', possibly a member of the manor of Bromham. Wick is probably to be identified with Wick Farm, now in the parish of Rowde, but only a mile south of Bromham church. It could, however, have been farther afield, since the Battle Abbey manor of Anstey in Alton, Hants, is described as a member of Bromham in the 12th century. (fn. 122) In the first rental there were 7 tenants in Wick paying rents varying from 5d. to £1. Three of these tenants were charged with the provision of a day and a night's hospitality when the Abbot of Battle visited the neighbourhood; the abbot contributed a third of the expense. (fn. 123) In the later rental there were 5 tenants. Two crofts were in the hands of the lord for want of tenants. The obligation to provide hospitality for the abbot was restated. An account for 1344–5 throws some light on the manorial economy of Wick. That year grain worth £5. 7s. 4¾d., stock worth 6s. 3½d., and wool worth £1. 10s. 7d. were sold. A 'ripereeve' was appointed there for the autumn. The link between Bromham and Wick was close. The Serjeant supervising Bromham (see below) spent part of his time at Wick. (fn. 124) In 1344–5 25 ashes in 'la Derifolde' at Bromham were sold for £2 to buy sheep at Wick. (fn. 125) In 1479–80 Wick was leased out to Edward Kirton. (fn. 126)
A series of ministers' accounts running from 1344 to 1527 exists for Bromham. (fn. 127) In 1344–5, 1359–60, 1387–8, and 1398–9 the accountant was the Serjeant. (fn. 128) This officer supervised other Battle Abbey manors. In 1344–5 he spent 13 weeks at Bromham, 3 at Wick, and divided the rest of the year between Crowmarsh (Oxon.) and Brightwalton (Berks.). (fn. 129) The Serjeant's accounts appear on these four occasions to take the place of the accounts of the reeve, the usual accountant at this period. In 1377–8 the accountant is the bailiff, (fn. 130) and at this period his account also appears to take the same form as that of the reeve. Throughout the accounts there are frequent references to the 'bailiff of the liberty', and in 1448–9 the office is more fully described as 'bailiff of the liberty of the Abbot of Battle for the manor of Bromham'. (fn. 131) Like the Serjeant the bailiff had duties outside the manor. In 1379–80 and 1380–1 he attended the courts of the royal justices at various times. (fn. 132) In 1418–19 he visited Brightwalton, (fn. 133) in 1421–2 Wick and Brightwalton, (fn. 134) and in 1440–1 he attended courts at Devizes. (fn. 135) From 1417–18 bailiff and reeve account for different items. (fn. 136) Sales of stock, corn, and other farm produce, manorial expenses and wages, including the steward's fee for holding the courts, appear on the bailiff's account. The reeve, sometimes also called the collector, accounted for all kinds of rent, works sold and the salary of the bailiff. The two offices appear at one time at least to have been held by the same individual. In 1423–4 John Iverton presents both reeve's and bailiff's accounts. (fn. 137)
The earliest account (1344–5) shows the manor to be, for the most part, in the hands of the lord. It carried a flock of 387 sheep, a herd of 50 pigs, and smaller numbers of other animals. Corn was sown on 336½ acres that year. Sales of grain, stock, wool, and other farm produce made up most of the manor's total receipts of £44. 7s. 10¾d. (fn. 138) In 1392–3 4 acres of demesne land in 'three fields' and 2 acres in 'Middilfield' were leased out. Grain worth £10. 17s. 1d. and stock worth £4. 2s. were sold, much of it locally. (fn. 139) Divers parcels of demesne were leased for £2. 6s. 1d. in 1402–3, and sales of stock and grain amounted to £13. 1s. 11½d. (fn. 140) In 1410 demesne leased brought in £2. 12s. 5d. and tenant land in the lord's hand was also let to farm for £2. 6s. 2d. (fn. 141) In 1424–5 all the demesne appears to have been leased. There was little stock that year and sales amounted to £3. 6s. 9d. Twenty-seven qr. 2 bu. of corn, 19 qr. 2 bu. of wheat, 16 qr. 3 bu. of barley, 25 qr. 2 bu. of mixed corn, and 14 qr. 4 bu. of oats were grown, and almost the entire crop went to the farmer of the manor. The remainder brought in 17s. (fn. 142) In 1445–6 the demesne was leased to Richard Chivere for 7 years at £8 a year. (fn. 143) Chivere was still farming the demesne for this rent in 1458–9. (fn. 144) In 1465–6 Thomas Frere was the farmer paying £9 a year. (fn. 145) Frere had leased 'Apsanger', a demesne meadow, in 1450–1 for 9s. a year (fn. 146) and continued to lease it in 1465–6. (fn. 147) In 1484–5 Agnes and William Frere were farming the demesne for the same rent of £9. (fn. 148) The farmer's name in 1525–6, the last year for which an account has been precisely dated, was Richard Slade and the rent remained at £9. (fn. 149)
The sacrist of Battle Abbey received a tithe out of the manor of Bromham. In 1422–3 this amounted to £1. 0s. 4d (fn. 150) In 1476–7 Richard Lemman was farming it for £2. 10s. (fn. 151) and in 1480–1 Ralph Webbe farmed it for £2. (fn. 152)
In 1535 the farm of Bromham manor, together with the rents of tenants, was valued at £32.10s. 8d. In addition, Clench was let at a rent of 73s. 4d. Against this income was set 26s. 8d. paid to Sir Edward Baynton as steward and 16s. 4d. paid to John Gore as reeve of the manor. (fn. 153) In the Wiltshire Record Office there is a survey of the manors of Bromham Battle and Bromham Baynton dated 1612. On the former manor there were 44 copyholders, 9 lease holders, and 12 freeholders. At Bromham Baynton there were 18 copyholders, 5 lease holders, and 3 freeholders.
There appear to have been four fields in the manor of Bromham at the end of the 14th century—East, West, Middle, and Pillory fields. (fn. 154) In the middle of the century the meadow of Rowde and the meadow of Bromham were separated by a ditch. (fn. 155) In the middle of the 15 th century numerous closes are mentioned and from this and other field-name evidence it seems that a certain amount of inclosure had taken place. (fn. 156) The evidence of a glebe terrier of 1671 suggests that by that date inclosure was fairly far advanced in the parish. (fn. 157) The inclosure of 260 acres of waste was carried out in 1814 under an Act of 1811. (fn. 158)
The light, friable soil of the parish is well suited to the cultivation of market-garden crops, and after the decline of the domestic woollen industry (see above) the principal occupation became market-gardening. Later, under the Small Holdings Act, the County Council acquired land in this area for the development of small holdings. In 1940 there were seventy-seven such holdings in Bromham. A typical holding supported the owner, his wife, two married sons, and a labourer. Pig and poultry rearing are also carried on on a large scale. The pigs find a ready market at the sausage and bacon factory at Calne, and the dung they provide helps to feed the local gardens. (fn. 159)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two mills worth 5s. in Bromham. (fn. 160) In the late 13th or early 14th century rental there is reference to Richard the Miller who paid 2 marks for a mill. (fn. 161) In 1344–5 there were two mills. One had previously belonged to John Risforde and the other was leased for £1. 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 162) According to the rental of 1430 two water-mills were held at a rent of 5s. by Robert Mylward and Robert Skynnere. (fn. 163) In 1277–8 William Smyt paid 12s. for a mill with cot tage adjoining and another mill was leased to Stephen Carpenter for 10s. (fn. 164) In 1392–3 10s. was being paid for each of two mills, one of which was held by John Burgeman. (fn. 165) Henceforward two mills figure in the manorial accounts, their rents usually being 10s. a year. In 1484–5 a mill called 'Hurlemyll' although valued at 10s., was leased for 2s. because of its ruinous state. The same year another mill called 'Nethermyll' was let for 5s. instead of 10s. for the same reason. (fn. 166) Ferdinand Hughes, who died in 1640, had held two water-mills in Bromham. (fn. 167) One of them, a grist and malt mill, was destroyed in 1665 by 'a sudden and lamentable fire'. Stephen Cogswell, the miller, was granted £5 by the Justices to help him in his distress. (fn. 168)
There was a school at Bromham in the 16th century. (fn. 169) Richard Franklin was master of a school there in the 17th century. (fn. 170) It was reported that about 40 children attended 3 day schools in the parish in 1819. (fn. 171) In 1833 there were 4 schools. (fn. 172) One of these had been opened in 1832. (fn. 173) In 1858 this school was attended by 100 children, who were taught by an uncertificated master and mistress in a room 32 by 18 ft. Conditions were 'indifferent'. (fn. 174) By a deed of 1866 land was conveyed in trust by the Treasury under the Crown Lands Acts, subject to reversion if the premises ceased to be used for the purposes of the trust. On this land a new school was built: a building grant of £146. 17s. 6d. was authorized by the State and £721. 10s. was subscribed locally. (fn. 175) The school was in union with the National Society. The new building seems to have been completed in 1867 at a cost of £900. (fn. 176) There was reported to be accommodation for 197 children in 1893, 1895, 1906, and 1910. (fn. 177) In 1910 there were two departments, mixed 129, infants 68. In 1938 the school was reorganized as a junior mixed and infants' school and the accommodation was computed at 122. (fn. 178) The managers applied for controlled status which was granted in 1948. In 1950 the school was in charge of a head teacher and 2 assistants. The average daily attendance in July 1950 was 80. (fn. 179)
In 1858 there was another school in Bromham, supported by the Baptists and attended by 30–40 children. (fn. 180) It had been established in 1843. (fn. 181) By a 'purely educational' trust created in 1862 the site, with the schoolhouse, on the Bromham—Devizes road was conveyed to the British School committee. (fn. 182) The necessary sum of money was advanced by Elizabeth Peapell. (fn. 183) Accommodation was rated at 76. The average attendance in 1893 was 47. (fn. 184) Enlargement plans were approved in 1901 and accommodation was computed at 115. (fn. 185) The average attendance rose to 90 in 1906. (fn. 186) In 1907 the school was transferred to the County Council. (fn. 187) Accommodation figures for the year 1938 were mixed 99, infants 48. In the same year the school was reorganized and became a junior mixed and infant school accommodating 46 children in one department and 50 in the other. (fn. 188) The average attendance in July 1950 was 82. There were 3 teachers. (fn. 189)
The College of the Poor stands on the slope of the hill to the south-west of the church. It is a low, gabled building of stone and brick comprising six two-roomed cottages. The building is dated 1612 and on the front is inscribed 'I was hungrie and yee gave mee meate. I was thirstie and yee gave mee drinke. I was naked and yee clotheed mee. I was harbarles and yee gave mee lodginge. Cum yee blessed of my Father inherit the kingdum prepared for you.' The text does not appear to be drawn from any one contemporary version of the Gospel and it is probable that the mason drew on a faulty memory when incising this familiar almshouse text. The college was founded by letters patent of 1614. The founder was Sir Henry Baynton, who in that year enfeoffed the trustees (evidently the rector and churchwardens of the parish) with about 1 acre of land, the house, above described, and £20 yearly in rents. He also drew up a list of ordinances for the government of the college. The almshouse was to accommodate 6 old people, preferably 4 men and 2 women. In addition to his two rooms each almsman was to have an allotment adjoining the house, and his share of the £20 endowment. Vacancies were to be filled by the founder and his successors, who were to choose one out of four candidates put forward by the trustees. If the elector failed to make a choice within three months the trustees were to fill the vacancy. The almspeople were to have been born in Bromham or have lived there for at least three years and to be at least 50 years of age.
In 1834 Dr. Starky, the heir and representative of Sir Henry Baynton, and owner of the Spye Park estate, expressed the belief that Spye Park had been charged by Sir Henry Baynton with £20 for the support of 6 poor widows in the almshouse. He said that Sir Edward Baynton had met the charge for 65 years, and that it had been maintained by Sir Andrew Baynton for 20 years and by himself for 17 years. The inmates of the house were 6 poor widows, chosen by Starky.
In 1858 the rector of Bromham declared that Mr. Starky (grandson and heir of Dr. Starky) was disregarding the original statute of the College of the Poor which ordained that the trustees (the rector and churchwardens) should put forward four candidates for each vacancy in the almshouse, from whom the representative of the founder should choose one. There was correspondence on this point between the Commissioners and Mr. Starky, and the matter was again raised in 1869, when Captain Spicer, the new owner of Spye Park, informed the Commissioners that he was in the habit of choosing the widows for the almshouse. At the time of the Charity Commission inquiry of 1901 Captain Spicer was appointing on the nomination of the rector. (fn. 190)