A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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The course of the Roman road to Bath and of Wansdyke forms the northern boundary of Monkton Farleigh, where it adjoins the parish of Box. The land rises from a height of about 300 ft. in the east to about 700 ft. on Bathford Hill in the west. There is woodland in the south-west corner of the parish and in small clumps at several other places. Adjoining the manor house in the centre of the parish there is a park and a fine avenue of elms. (fn. 1) The road from Bradford-on-Avon to Bath passes through Farleigh Wick, a hamlet in the south of the parish.
The main centre of population is the village of Monkton Farleigh, which is situated on high ground in the centre of the parish 4 miles north-west of Bradford and 5½ miles east of Bath. A 'hamlet' called 'Woxehall' or 'Wyxhale' formed part of the manor in 1294. It has now disappeared. (fn. 2)
The 'Kings Arms' has been rebuilt and remodelled, but retains an early-16th-century doorway with a 17th-century two-story porch with original windows and a corresponding projection at the back with a circular stair. Part of the brewhouse remains, with a stone inscribed W.K. 1625.
Hobhouse's estimate of 70 as the Domesday population of the parish seems reasonable. (fn. 3) In 1294 the manor of Farleigh was stated to include the families of 6 free tenants, 3 villeins, and 21 'coterelli', as well as the monks and their servants. (fn. 4) The total population can hardly have been more than 200.
In 1645–6 Monkton Farleigh was one of the townships compelled to contribute to the support of the Parliamentary garrison of Chalfield. The area placed under contribution included the hundreds of Bradford, Melksham, Chippenham, Malmesbury, Calne, and North Damerham, and from this area Monkton Farleigh's contribution of bacon was easily the largest. (fn. 5)
Daniel Webb of Monkton Farleigh was one of the ringleaders of a weavers' riot at Bradford in 1726. (fn. 6) His house had been searched five years before on suspicion that he was storing arms for use in a Jacobite rising. (fn. 7)
Between 1700 and 1713 most of the working population of the parish was agricultural, but there were also clothiers, weavers, maltsters, and a fiddler. During the 19th century extensive stone-quarrying was carried on in the parish. In 1881, according to Hobhouse, nearly half the labourers were quarrymen. (fn. 8) He mentions the existence of a benefit club and a clothing club, maintained by popular subscription, and a fortnightly offertory for the relief of the poor, which was administered by the rector. In 1881 the rateable value of the parish was £3,955; the poor rate was at about 2s. in the pound and the highway rate at 9d. to 1s. (fn. 9) There was also a voluntary church rate of 2d. in the pound. (fn. 10)
A poorhouse existed at Farleigh early in the 19th century, and Hobhouse had spoken to an old inhabitant of the parish who had been brought up there with 'her father, mother and five or six children and often as many as three families besides'. (fn. 11)
Cock-fighting was carried on at Farleigh in the 17th century. On 7 March 1656 John Allambrigge the rector noted in the parish register 'Christopher Morris his Cocke was killed by John Allambrigge his Cocke'. (fn. 12) Early in the 19th century the lessee of the manor kept harriers and greyhounds. In the middle of that century there was an annual club feast, a school feast given to the children by the rector, and a village concert and Christmas tree 'managed by the manor house'. The custom common elsewhere under the name of 'Skimmington' was still practised in Farleigh at that time. (fn. 13)
The manor of MONKTON FARLEIGH probably belonged in 1001 to Alfgar, whose landmark there was mentioned in a charter of King Aethelred. (fn. 14) At the time of the Domesday Survey it was held by Brictric, and of him by his brother. (fn. 15) Like other manors of Brictric, Farleigh passed to the Bohun family. Humphrey de Bohun II (d. 1131) evidently held it about 1120 when he announced in a charter his intention of bestowing the church of Farleigh upon the monks of a priory to be established there. (fn. 16) His son Humphrey de Bohun III later gave or confirmed the manor of Farleigh to the priory. (fn. 17) One hide of land, held by William de Lisle, was excepted from the grant. (fn. 18) Humphrey retained the overlordship of the manor, which was held of his heirs in free alms by the priors. (fn. 19) By virtue of the overlordship the earls of Hereford held courts at Farleigh every month. (fn. 20) The last Bohun earl died in 1373, and the court (worth 100s.) was granted to the king's son Thomas of Woodstock, who had married Eleanor Bohun, one of the coheirs of her father. (fn. 21) In 1421 Anne, Countess of Stafford, daughter and heir of Eleanor Bohun and Thomas of Woodstock, concluded an agreement with the king whereby the former Bohun inheritance was divided between them. The court of Monkton Farleigh (worth 13s. 4d.) was assigned to the king's purparty, and in 1422 was granted by Henry VI as dower to his mother Katherine. (fn. 22)
Other land at Farleigh was given to the priory at different times by various donors. In 1397 Thomas de Hungerford and John Marreys granted the reversion of messuages and lands in Farleigh and Farleigh Wick, and Thomas Gore released to the priory all his estate in Farleigh Wick. (fn. 23)
The Prior of Farleigh was obliged to do suit at the court of the hundred of Bradford for this and other manors until 1227 when the Abbess of Shaftesbury released him from the obligation in exchange for a money payment. (fn. 24) The priors held a court at Farleigh and claimed gallows and the assise of bread and ale. (fn. 25) They also enjoyed free warren by charter of Henry III. (fn. 26) In 1293–4 Farleigh was in the hands of the king owing to the French war, and a survey of the manor was made (see below—Agriculture). (fn. 27) The manor was again in the king's hands in 1324–5, (fn. 28) and must have been again taken in hand shortly before 1409–10, for in that year it was found by inquisition that the priory had been in the custody of Sir Walter Hungerford and William Stourton. (fn. 29)
In 1536 the manor was granted to Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, later Earl of Hertford (1537) and Duke of Somerset (1547). (fn. 30) In 1545 Hertford transferred it to John Capon, Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 31) The bishop leased the manor in 1548 to Henry Britton or Breton, for ninety-nine years. (fn. 32) Early in the reign of Elizabeth, Henry Britton was sued in Chancery for a customary tenement in the manor. (fn. 33) In 1575 Henry's son George Britton was holding the manor, and in the same year the Bishop of Salisbury conveyed the lordship of Farleigh to the queen for eighty years, on condition that when the bishop or any of his successors wished 'to lie and abide at the said (manor) house they may for three months together in every year during the said term possess and enjoy one hall, one parlour, one buttery and one pantry, one cellar or kitchen, one larder, one stable, and ten convenient lodging chambers, and as much fuel as shall be necessary'. (fn. 34) Later in 1575 the queen transferred the lease of the manor to Thomas Smith, one of the clerks 'of the greencloth' of her household. (fn. 35) The Brittons retained their tenancy of the manor until 1638, but in 1582 sublet the manor house to William Bromfield, of Lewisham (Kent), and before 1606 to the Cornwallis family. Between 1638 and 1654 the tenancy of the manor, under the Bishop of Salisbury, was held by the Cornwallises and William Whitwell. The lease to Thomas Cornwallis, of Wandsworth, was granted in 1638 for twenty-one years. (fn. 36)
Monkton Farleigh was sequestrated under the Commonwealth and was granted in 1648 to William Bridges of Gray's Inn, Matthew Bridges, Brooke Bridges, and Francis Bridges. (fn. 37) In 1653 the above grantees conveyed the manor to James Mayo and Francis Alkin. (fn. 38) From 1654 the sitting tenant was William Watson, who died in 1695. (fn. 39) At the Restoration the manor was restored to the bishop and after Watson's death was held on lease by Daniel Webb of Seend from 1695 to 1731. (fn. 40) John Thresher was lessee from 1731 to 1737. Daniel Webb's daughter Mary had married Sir Edward Seymour of Maiden Bradley, and in 1737 Sir Edward bought the lease of Farleigh. (fn. 41) He became 8th Duke of Somerset in 1750, and on his death in 1757 the manor passed to his second son, Webb Seymour, who became 10th Duke in 1792, and died in the following year. (fn. 42) The lease was renewed in favour of Anna Maria, relict of the 10th Duke, who lived at Monkton Farleigh at least from 1799 until her death in 1802. (fn. 43) She was succeeded as lessee by William Cass, of Poultry, London (1805–12). (fn. 44) In 1812 the lease was acquired by John son of Richard Long of Rood Ashton, on whose death in 1833 it passed to his son John. The Longs retained the lease until 1842, when it passed to Wade Browne, who was responsible for many improvements in the parish. (fn. 45) After his death in 1851 Mrs. Wade Browne held the reversion of the lease and sublet to Edward Pennefather and the Revd. E. R. Eardly Wilmot. Between 1864 and 1870 the lessee was H. B. Caldwell. (fn. 46) On his death the Ecclesiastical Commissioners formed the manor into a freehold estate, and the part of it attached to the manor house, along with the house itself was sold in 1873 to Sir Charles Hobhouse, bt. (fn. 47) In 1882 the ownership of most of the parish was held by Sir Charles, Henry Spackman, and Henry Hancock. (fn. 48) In 1939 the principal landowners were Lady Hobhouse, Capt. E. C. Pinckney, and Major H. Whitehead. (fn. 49)
Monkton Farleigh manor is a large house of irregular plan. The earliest part of the building, dating from the 16th century, is on the west, built of rubble; all the mullioned windows have been renewed, and built in above their heads are carved 12th- and 13th-century fragments from the adjoining monastic site. Additions were made in the 17th century, and in the first half of the 18th century extensive additions were made on the east side and the earlier buildings remodelled by Wood of Bath. A modern wing has been added to the north end of the earlier building.
Internally the principal rooms have 19th-century chimney pieces and decorations. One room in the earlier building has a ceiling of moulded oak timbers forming square panels carved at the junctions, the panels plastered. It had been ceiled with plaster in the 18th century and was uncovered in 1919, which date with initials has been carved on the centre beam.
The advowson of Monkton Farleigh was annexed to the manor and was held by the priory of Farleigh. During the 14th century, however, when the property of alien priories was often in the hands of the king owing to the French wars, the rights of patronage were usually exercised by the Crown. Even when the prior did institute a rector his action might be quashed: in 1334 the king presented to the rectory 'because of the unsuitability of the parson of the Prior of Farleigh'. (fn. 50)
The advowson was granted with the manor in 1536 to Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, and passed from him to the Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 51) The bishop evidently leased the advowson to Henry Britton in 1548, for in 1606 Lady Catherine Cornwallis presented by grant of Henry Britton and his son George. (fn. 52) The king presented in 1639 and 1641. (fn. 53) This may have been due to the fact that John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury (1621–41), fell into disgrace in 1631 owing to his Calvinism. (fn. 54) When the lease of the manor was granted in 1661 to William Watson the patronage was reserved to the bishop, who thereafter always presented.
In 1291 the value of the church of Farleigh was stated to be £5. (fn. 55) In 1341 the rector held a messuage and garden and 26 acres of glebe land and pasture, worth 26s. 8d. The tithes were worth 20s. The ninths of corn, wool, and lambs in the parish belonging to the rectory were worth 53s. 4d. (fn. 56) The church of Farleigh was valued at 100s. in 1428. (fn. 57) The value in 1535 was £8. 1s. 2d. of which 1s. was paid annually to the Prior of Farleigh and 9s. 11d. in dues to the archdeacon. (fn. 58)
In 1608 the glebe consisted of 16 acres of pasture and 8 acres of arable in addition to the rectory house and grounds. According to the terrier of 1625 the glebe then included 16 acres and 5 yardlands. In 1671 there were said to be 35½ acres of glebe of which 5 were copse and 10 were 'tenant acres'. In 1705 the glebe was estimated at 29½ acres and the rector was said to have the right to pasture 16 sheep in one of the common fields and 30 in the other when the fields lay fallow. (fn. 59) It was added that the greater part of the parish was the bishop's land and that none of his demesnes paid tithe to the rector but only an annual rent to the bishop. The copyholds and leaseholds paid all sorts of tithes to the rector except those of wood, and also all offerings, oblations, and mortuaries. Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury, had given an augmentation of £10 a year to the church. (fn. 60) Tithe was commuted in 1847, when the glebe acreage was found to be 25. (fn. 61)
The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel, nave, west tower, north porch, and vestry. (fn. 61a) The earliest part is the late-12th-century north door, which is round-headed and decorated with zigzag moulding. The inner order of the arch has been cut away, probably in 1874, to enable the four-centred arch to be inserted. The tower is probably of the 13 th century. Apart from these features the church was rebuilt in successive stages in 1844 and 1874. On the south side of the chancel there is a one-story rectangular addition, built as a Sunday school in 1829 and now used as a vestry. On either side of the tower arch there is a dado of 16th-century linenfold panelling. The early-17thcentury octagonal pulpit is of carved oak and is mounted on a modern stone stem. The late-17thcentury altar table has turned legs and carved top rails. There are a number of 18th-century wall memorials, one of the 16th century to William Bromfield (d. 1582), and one of the 17th century to Sarah Grant (d. 1602).
Fragments only of the parish registers between 1570 and 1790 have been preserved and are collected together in one book. The registers for marriages begin in 1756, those for burials and baptisms in 1792. (fn. 62)
The Commissioners of Edward VI left the church of Monkton Farleigh 8 oz. of silver and took 3 oz. for the king. The parish now has 2 chalices, a paten, an alms dish, all of plated metal and presented in 1842 by Wade Browne. (fn. 63)
In 1553 there were three bells. Of the three bells that exist today, the first was cast in 1623 and recast in 1888, the second was cast in 1783, and the third was cast in 1724. (fn. 64)
In 1582 Monkton Farleigh was described as 'a place that commonly harboreth suspected persons' (i.e. Papists). In a letter to the Sheriff of Wiltshire the Privy Council gave instructions that search was to be made at Farleigh for two such persons—Mrs. Long and a Mr. Welles, a schoolmaster. (fn. 65) A slightly earlier Papist connected with the parish was Thomas Harding, D.D. (1516–72) divine and controversialist who in 1564 was ordered to live within 16 miles of Monkton Farleigh or within 20 miles of Tollerwhelme in Dorset. (fn. 66)
In 1742 the dwelling-house of Thomas Harris of Monkton Farleigh was licensed as a meeting-place for Presbyterians. (fn. 67) There are no other evidences of Nonconformity in Monkton Farleigh.
In 1291 the manor was valued at £15. 3s. 4d. (fn. 68) In 1293–4 it was valued at £24. 11s. 8½d., and its stock and implements at £86. 1s. There were 772 acres of arable, 36½ acres of pasture, and 38 acres of wood. A courtyard, garden, and dovecot were worth £1, and pleas and perquisites of court were valued at ½ mark. (fn. 69) The manor was valued at £27. 13s. 10d. in 1535. (fn. 70) The evidence of four glebe terriers between 1608 and 1705 suggests that in the 17th century there were two open fields. These were called Southfield and Northfield in 1608, and Upper Field and Lower Field in 1671 and 1705. In 1625 the fields were known as Upper Westfield and Lowerfields. A reference to Inox in 1625 and later terriers suggests that inclosure of a kind had begun well before the 17th century. (fn. 71) No inclosure award has been traced.
In 1801 the crop acreages were: wheat 218, barley 56, oats 82, potatoes 8, peas 32, beans 16, turnips and rape 24. (fn. 72)
In 1829 Thomas Burgess, Bishop of Salisbury, built a room attached to the church (see above) for use as a Sunday school. (fn. 73) During the incumbency of Edward Brown (1842–63) a night school was held in this room during four winter months, the attendance being 15–20. (fn. 74) The age of the pupils was 14–24 and each paid 2s. 6d. in advance. In 1833 it was reported that there were three day schools kept by women at Farleigh, in which 18 children were educated at the expense of their parents. (fn. 75) One of these schools was evidently held in the room built by the bishop. (fn. 76) At the same date there was a boarding school. (fn. 77) In 1845–6 Wade Browne (lessee of the manor) established a school for boys and girls, with a master and mistress. On the death of the master the rector assumed responsibility for the boys' school while Wade Browne maintained the girls, whom he caused to wear red cloaks, blue gowns, and white aprons and collars. In 1858 it was stated that the rector was supporting the school built by Bishop Burgess, and that it was attended by 40 boys. A further 30 children at this date were taught 'by the lady of the manor' in a room built at her expense. (fn. 78) This girls' school was kept up after Wade Browne's death by means of a legacy of £35 administered by his relict. (fn. 79) The legacy was conditional upon the continuance of the family in the manor and lapsed when they left. (fn. 80) The school, however, was kept running until 1870. A school trust was then created, and a site conveyed to the rector with the permission of the bishop. (fn. 81) A building grant of £155 was obtained from the State and the large sum of £524. 11s. 8d. raised locally. (fn. 82) The actual cost of building was £626. (fn. 83) In 1881 the average attendance at the National school was 67. (fn. 84) The 'schoolpence' paid by the children amounted to about £14, £35 was raised by voluntary subscription, and the remaining £50 was paid by the Government. The main items of expenditure were the salaries of the mistress £55, of the pupil teacher £10, and the paid monitor £6. (fn. 85) Stationery and books cost £5, fuel and light £1. 11s. (fn. 86) A new school was built in 1886 with accommodation for 90 and a teacher's house. (fn. 87) The school was in union with the National Society. The accommodation was computed at 118 in 1906, when the average attendance was 58. (fn. 88) It was reassessed at 94 in 1910 and has remained unchanged. (fn. 89) With the removal of the senior children in 1930 the school became a junior mixed and infant school. (fn. 90) Average attendance in July 1950 was 48. (fn. 91) There are three teachers.
Joseph Blinman, by his will proved 1843, bequeathed £300 to remain a perpetual fund in trust, the interest to be applied to the purchase of coal for the relief of the deserving poor, and to be distributed annually on St. Thomas's Day. The same testator also bequeathed £250 as a perpetual fund, the interest to be distributed in cash to forty deserving poor persons of the parish. The legacies were invested in £585. 19s. 4d. Consols, which sum was in 1877 transferred to the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds. (fn. 92)