A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
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At the making of Domesday Book most of Corsley was included within the great royal manor of Warminster, and even after it had been granted away by Henry II the church of Corsley was parochially dependent on Warminster until the 15th century. (fn. 1) The common fields of Cley and Chedlanger were shared by the tenants of Corsley and Warminster until their inclosure in 1783, (fn. 2) while the rectorial tithes of Corsley, which formed the endowment of a prebend in Wells Cathedral, included those of lands in Thoulstone in Upton Scudamore and Bugley in Warminster. (fn. 3) The parocial affiliations of Thoulstone and Norridge were not firmly made with Upton Scudamore until the 16th century, and even then certain parts of Norridge were regarded as extra-parochial. (fn. 4) In agriculture and manorial custom Little Corsley and Norridge were closely linked. (fn. 5) It is thus not surprising that the eastern boundary of Corsley was not formally defined until the inclosure of 1783. (fn. 6) The other boundaries were presumably already ancient; that to the north existed in 1235, when Corsley included Chapmanslade 'under the road'. (fn. 7)
The ancient parish as finally defined in 1783 was an irregular rectangle, its western boundary being also the county boundary with Somerset. Three small detached pieces of Corsley, two locally in Warminster near the Bath road, and one containing the buildings of Thoulstone Farm in Upton Scudamore, were added to the parishes which surrounded them under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882. The detached part of Norton Bavant adjoining Corsley on the south was added to the parish at the same time, so that its area was increased from 2,580 a. to 3,056 a. (fn. 8) In 1934 the northern part of the parish was united with parts of Dilton Marsh and Upton Scudamore to form the civil parish of Chapmanslade. At the same time Corsley received a large addition on the south by the transfer to it of the northern part of Longleat park and woods, previously in Warminster. These changes increased the area of the parish to 3,585 a. (fn. 9)
The parish occupies the western part of a shelf of greensand which extends from the north-western scarp of Salisbury Plain near Warminster across the Somerset border to the valley of the Frome. The shelf is generally some 400 ft. above sea level, but is diversified here by the prominent chalk outlier of Cley Hill, rising to 784 ft., in the southwest corner of the parish. On it are two barrows and a univallate hill-fort. (fn. 10) Adjoining Cley Hill to the north is Little Cley Hill; this has given rise to the traditional rhyme,
'Big Cley Hill do wear a hat Little Cley Hill do laugh at that'. (fn. 11)
Two small streams rise in the lower slopes of Cley Hill and cross the parish from east to west. Rodden Brook, the northernmost of the two, runs in a fairly broad valley to join the River Frome, but the other, which gave its name to the hamlets of Whitbourne, has a narrower valley. Corsley lay within the bounds of Selwood Forest in the Middle Ages, (fn. 12) and much of the parish must have consisted of woodland which was only gradually cleared. This has left its mark on the pattern of settlement. Apart from the village of Chapmanslade, of which the southern side of the street lay in Corsley until the boundary changes of 1934, (fn. 13) the parish contains only small hamlets and isolated farms. Some of the hamlets, such as Huntenhull, Corsley, and the three Whitbournes, (fn. 14) are of early origin, while Longhedge, Corsley Heath and Lane End are all groups of cottages built on former common land, probably from the 16th century onwards. (fn. 15) In spite of this Corsley was clearly well populated in the 14th century. In 1334 the assessment of the vill was 130s., higher than any other in the hundred except Warminster, while a further 26s. 8d. was assessed on Whitbourne. (fn. 16) In 1377 there were 128 poll-tax payers in Corsley, the third largest number in the hundred, and 49 at Whitbourne. (fn. 17) In the 16th century the parish was apparently well-populated and prosperous. (fn. 18) The population of 1,412 in 1801 increased to 1,729 by 1831, in spite of the emigration of 200 people to America since 1821. After that it declined steadily, owing to the decay of the cloth industry and to the increasing preponderance of dairy-farming, to 729 in 1931. In 1934 194 people lived in the part of Corsley transferred to the new parish of Chapmanslade, while only 49 lived in the area gained from Warminster. In spite of that the population had risen to 745 by 1951. (fn. 19)
The road from Westbury to Frome formed the northern boundary of the parish until 1934, and that from Warminster to Frome passes across the south of the parish. A network of minor roads and lanes links the various hamlets and farms together. The hamlet of Corsley itself stands halfway between the main roads; it consists only of the church, the school, and Manor Farm. The farmhouse represents the remains of a larger house, built or remodelled by Sir John Thynne about 1563, and occupied by him for 5 years during the rebuilding of Longleat after the fire of 1567. (fn. 20) A deer park was made to the south of the house in the 1570's. In 1606 the building had a hall, some 40 bed-chambers, 8 living-chambers, a clockhouse and 4 lodges; it was alleged that Dame Dorothy Raleigh, Sir John's widow, had let it fall into decay when she held it in dower. (fn. 21) The present house, set behind a forecourt, has a 4-gabled front and two wings projecting to the rear. Possibly in Thynne's time the forecourt was completely inclosed with buildings. The walls are mainly of brick, but stone rubble at the front and in the wings may have survived from an even earlier house. The main block contains a hall with a cross passage at its west end and a massive stone chimney at the rear. Some at least of the square-headed stone-mullioned windows were supplied in 1563 and were similar to those made for Longleat before the fire. It has been suggested that the stone gateway to the present forecourt is of the same date and was formerly part of a hall porch. It bears the lion rampant from the Thynne arms, and the advanced style of its classical ornament may be explained by the fact that it was the work of the Longleat masons. (fn. 22)
Corsley House stands on its own just north of the Frome-Warminster road. (fn. 23) It was begun in 1814 and is an elegantly-designed building showing the Greek influence of the period. The stone ashlar front is of two stories and five bays, with a segmentally-arched Doric porch. The south end of the front range is bowed, and the house has pilasters decorated with incised line ornament. This also appears on the gate piers, and there are contemporary iron railings. Another large house of the early 19th century is Sturford Mead. Other than these the parish contains only farmhouses and cottages, none of which appears externally to be older than the 17th century.
Corsley has always looked to both Frome and Warminster as market towns. Much of its soil is suitable for either arable or pastoral farming, and the amount given to each has varied considerably. (fn. 24) The cloth trade flourished chiefly in the 18th century but survived until the 1840's. (fn. 25) An elaborate picture of the social and economic life of the parish in the opening years of the present century is to be found in Maud Davies's Life in An English Village, published in 1909. The work was prepared at the instance of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and gives a detailed account of the character, circumstances, and daily life of each family in the parish. It revealed that the large majority of people there were comparatively affluent, and only about one eighth of households had an income insufficient to provide necessary food and clothing. This relative prosperity was largely due to the good gardens attached to the cottages, the abundance of allotment land, and the number of smallholdings in the parish.
James Dodsley Cuff, a numismatist of some note was born in Corsley in 1780, the son of a yeoman. (fn. 26)
The only estate at Corsley mentioned in Domesday Book was very small, (fn. 27) and most of the land there formed part of the royal manor of Warminster until Henry II gave it to Henry Dodeman, a Norman. (fn. 28) He was no doubt the Henry of Corsley who paid a mark to the sheriff in 1166-7. (fn. 29) In John's reign Thomas FitzHenry held Corsley (fn. 30); the wardship of his land and the marriage of his heir were granted to John Russel in 1215. (fn. 31) The heir was perhaps a daughter, and may have been married to Thomas de Biseleg, whose wardship was held by Godfrey de Craucumbe c. 1226. (fn. 32) Thomas probably died under age, for in 1232 the manor was granted to Godfrey to hold until the king should restore it to the right heir. (fn. 33) Three years later William FitzRichard, a Norman, nephew and heir of Thomas FitzHenry, surrendered his interest, and the grant to Godfrey de Craucumbe was made absolute. (fn. 34) About 1245 Godfrey gave the manor to the Benedictine nuns of Studley (Oxon.) to found a chantry of two priests celebrating for his soul in their church. (fn. 35) The priory held Corsley until 1536, when it was granted, apparently before the final dissolution of the house, to Sir Edward Seymour, (fn. 36) later Duke of Somerset. On his attainder and execution in 1552 it reverted to the Crown. In 1560 it was granted to Sir John Thynne of Longleat, (fn. 37) who had held it since 1547 by lease from the duke. (fn. 38) After Thynne's death in 1580 his widow had a life estate in the manor. (fn. 39) She married Carew Raleigh as her second husband, and held it until her death. (fn. 40) The manor then descended with the Longleat estate. (fn. 41)
In 1086 Azor held one hide in Corsley. (fn. 42) He also held land at Barley in Bradford-on-Avon, which was later associated with the Husee family. (fn. 43) As the Husees were also lords of the manor of LITTLE CORSLEY, or as it was later called, CORSLEY KINGSTON, there can be little doubt that Azor's holding formed part of that manor. It was perhaps not the whole, however, for the overlordship was not the same as that of Barley. In 1242-3 Little Corsley was said to be held of Reynold de Mohun of the honor of Dunster, (fn. 44) and the same tenancy was mentioned in the 15th century. (fn. 45) How it came to be part of the Mohun inheritance is not known.
Although members of the Husee family held lands in Wiltshire in the 12th century, (fn. 46) the first who certainly held the land in Corsley was Geoffrey Husee who died c. 1219. Henry Husee, his heir, was son of William Husee whose relationship to Geoffrey is not clear. In 1227 he confirmed dower in lands in Corsley and elsewhere to Geoffrey's widow, who had remarried Geoffrey le Savage. (fn. 47) From Henry, Corsley seems to have descended in a different way from the rest of Geoffrey's property. In 1242-3 Robert of Whatley held it of Henry Husee; (fn. 48) in 1260 Walter of Roddenhurst, who may have succeeded Whatley, released 2 carucates in Corsley to Henry. (fn. 49) A certain William FitzHenry of Warminster then had some claim, but subsequently released it to Hubert Husee, (fn. 50) presumably Henry Husee's son. Hubert was dead by 1277, (fn. 51) leaving three daughters and coheirs. (fn. 52) One of them, Maud, died unmarried c. 1285. Of the other two, Margaret married Henry Sturmy (fn. 53) and Isabel was probably wife of Robert de Lucy.
At his death c. 1323 Nicholas de Kingston held lands in Corsley of Sturmy and Lucy. (fn. 54) His heir was his brother John, who forfeited his lands as a rebel. (fn. 55) They had been restored by 1329, when they were settled on John, his son Thomas, and Maud, Thomas's wife. (fn. 56) Thomas and Maud left a son and heir John (fn. 57), probably the John de Kingston who held Corsley in 1412. (fn. 58) He died soon after this leaving a son Thomas, who was dead by 1428; the lands were then held by William Fynderne, presumably the second husband of Thomas's widow. (fn. 59) Thomas's son Thomas succeeded him and died c. 1505. (fn. 60) His son John died before him, and the heir was John's son, another John. (fn. 61) He and his brother Nicholas both died under age, and the estate passed to their sister Mary, wife of Thomas Lisle. (fn. 62) She died without issue in 1539 and her heirs were the descendants of her father's sisters, Margaret Gorffyn and Katharine Mallory. (fn. 63) In the division of the estate Little Corsley fell to Margaret, granddaughter of Katharine, and wife of Thomas Boughton of Cawston (Warws.). In 1579 their son Edward sold the manor to Sir Walter Hungerford. (fn. 64)
Little Corsley descended in the Hungerford family of Farleigh Castle until 1674, when Sir Edward Hungerford sold it to Thomas Thynne of Longleat. The farm of the manor was then occupied by John A'Court of Rodden (Som.), under a lease of 1662. (fn. 65) In the 18th century his descendants held the farm and claimed manorial rights. This was presumably by purchase from the Thynnes, but it is not known when, or whether, the sale comprised all the lands of the manor or only the farm. John A'Court died in 1692; his great grandson Pierce A'Court, later called A'Court Ashe, (fn. 66) held Little Corsley in 1733 and still in 1751. (fn. 67) It was probably soon after 1751 that the property was sold to the Jesser family. William Jesser, late citizen of London, was buried at Corsley in 1762, and his widow the following year. (fn. 68) They were succeeded by a family called Coope. John Coope and Elizabeth Jesser held the estate when the parish was inclosed in 1783, (fn. 69) and William Jesser Coope and John Coope in 1828. (fn. 70) Later in the 19th century it belonged to the Barton family of Corsley House. (fn. 71)
The farm of Little Corsley, now Cley Hill Farm, was held by the Carr family by c. 1545. (fn. 72) In 1631 Thomas Carr had lost a lawsuit about it, and the sheriff was ordered to put Hopton Haynes in possession. Carr, assisted by 'a multitude of base persons', held the house by force; the sheriff could not persuade local gentry to help him, and had to send for ordnance and gunners from Bristol to batter the house. (fn. 73)
The origin of the manor of HUNTENHULL is to be found in a grant of land by Godfrey de Craucumbe, lord of Corsley, to William of Idmiston, made before he gave Corsley to the nuns of Studley c. 1245. In the 17th century 'ancient evidences' were still extant which showed that it consisted of land which John Huntenhull and Peter Huntenhull had formerly held, a grange called Dallymore, and lands in Chapmanslade. (fn. 74) Somewhat later the Prioress of Studley gave lands which William de la Forde and Adam le Porter had formerly held to Daniel, son of Thomas of Idmiston. (fn. 75) These must have been added to the manor, for in 1604 it included a tenement called Ford's and several closes called Porter's. (fn. 76) These two grants to Idmiston had passed by the early 14th century to a family called Lye; William de Lye held the advowson of Corsley, which had also been given to William of Idmiston, in 1309, (fn. 77) and must have held the manor then. A previous holder was perhaps James de Lye who held 2 virgates freely of the Prioress of Studley in 1285. (fn. 78) William de Lye was said after his death to be of Huntenhull. (fn. 79) A son John evidently succeeded him (fn. 80) and was followed by Thomas, (fn. 81) whose son Robert occurs between 1370 and 1412. (fn. 82) Richard, son of Robert, occurs between 1425 and 1441. (fn. 83) Another Robert was dead by 1465, (fn. 84) leaving a son Robert who survived until the early 16th century. He left two daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth Stanter and Anne Beckett; (fn. 85) they probably sold the manor to Richard Powton, who held the advowson of Corsley, which was appurtenant to Huntenhull, by 1524. (fn. 86) He was succeeded by William Powton, who in 1545 mortgaged the manor to John Mill of Southampton. (fn. 87) Powton probably released his right the following year (fn. 88); Mill certainly held Huntenhull by 1549, when he let the whole manor to William Moggridge of Salisbury for 70 years. (fn. 89) In 1563 Thomas Mill sold the reversion of Huntenhull to Sir John Thynne, (fn. 90) and from that time it descended with the Longleat estate.
The property of the priory of Maiden Bradley in Corsley and Warminster, known as the manor of WHITBOURNE AND BUGLEY was acquired by a series of gifts of varying size. One of the earliest gifts was of land and rent in Whitbourne which Godfrey de Craucumbe gave to William de Stanton and his wife, (fn. 91) and which they gave to the priory. (fn. 92) Other gifts probably of the 13th century were made by Juliane Corp (fn. 93) and William of Corsley (fn. 94) in Corsley, while several small pieces of land, houses, and rents were given in Warminster. (fn. 95) In 1337 William of Littleton was licensed to grant a house and about 80 a. in Corsley and Warminster to the brethren, (fn. 96) and a further licence was given to John of Marshton and John of Homington for land in Whitbourne and Corsley in 1363. (fn. 97) After the Dissolution the property of the house in Warminster and Corsley was granted in 1544 to Richard Andrews and John Howe, (fn. 98) who sold it to Sir John Thynne in the same year. (fn. 99) It then descended with the Longleat estate.
The manor of WHITBOURNE TEMPLE, which was held in the later Middle Ages by the Hospital of St. John at Wilton, must have formerly belonged to the Knights Templar of Templecombe (Som.). At the Dissolution the Knights Hospitaller of Templecombe, who succeeded to the Templar property there in 1309, (fn. 100) were receiving a rent of 6s. 8d. from their Whitbourne property (fn. 101), which was paid by the master of the hospital. (fn. 102) It is not known when the Templars acquired Whitbourne; they do not seem to have had it in 1185, but members of the Husee family were then mentioned as benefactors, and may have given part of their fee of Little Corsley after that time. (fn. 103) Nor is it known when the Templars alienated their land to the hospital in return for the rent of 6s. 8d. The hospital is first known to have held land in Whitbourne in 1270, (fn. 104) and enjoyed the estate until the 16th century. (fn. 105) Although St. John's survived the dissolution of chantries and hospitals, (fn. 106) part of Whitbourne Temple was for some reason regarded as confiscated land, and several tenements in it were granted to Sir John Thynne in 1548. (fn. 107) Thynne obtained a release from the master of the hospital, (fn. 108) but does not seem to have regarded his title as good. When the hospital leased the Whitbourne property to John Middlecott for 99 years in 1571, Thynne obtained the whole of it by various assignments, (fn. 109) and his descendants seem to have enjoyed it as leaseholders until 1636. In that year Giles Thornburgh, the new master, attempted to take control of the property and brought a chancery suit against Sir Thomas Thynne. (fn. 110) This was apparently unsuccessful for the Thynnes continued to hold the whole manor by lease until the 19th century. (fn. 111)
In 1369 Isabel, widow of John atte Bergh, died holding his estates, which included a rent of £4 at Corsley and Whitbourne. (fn. 112) Christine, widow of their son and heir John, died holding land there in 1396, (fn. 113) and another John held them in 1412. (fn. 114) It was probably the same John who settled his lands on Drew atte Bergh and Ann his wife in 1431. (fn. 115) Drew must have been the ancestor of the family of Abarrow of North Charford (Hants), (fn. 116) to which belonged Edward Abarrow of Salisbury who held the Corsley lands in 1585. (fn. 117) By 1613 the holding belonged to Leonard Bilson; it was described as land called Field's Court, held of the manor of Corsley freely by a rent of 7s. and ½lb. pepper. (fn. 118) Bilson was evidently a relative of Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, and Field's Court descended in the bishop's family to Leonard Bilson who died in 1715. (fn. 119) Before his death he sold it to Mary Halliday of Frome, widow, who in 1741 sold it to Robert Meares of Corsley, clothier. It then consisted of the house called Field's Court or Vine's Court, four small closes, and 12½ a. of field land. (fn. 120) The Meares family retained it for at least a century. (fn. 121) By 1887 the house had been pulled down. (fn. 122) It stood on the north side of the Frome road south of Corsley House.
A small estate in Corsley belonged to the Horton family of Westwood in the 16th century. Edward Horton held it in 1580, (fn. 123) Jeremy Horton in 1599, (fn. 124) and Toby Horton in 1613. It was then described as lying in 'Sloe Street', and contained 33 a., held of the manor of Corsley by a rent of 4s. 1d. and ¾lb. pepper. (fn. 125) Toby Horton sold it in 1618 to his cousin Sir John Horton of Broughton Gifford, who still held it in 1643. (fn. 126) No more is known of the property until 1736, when Robert Eyres of Chapmanslade held it. (fn. 127) He still had it in 1750, (fn. 128), but by 1773 it belonged to John Barter. It was then called the Water House, (fn. 129) and is probably to be identified with the present Water Farm.
In 1317 certain lands in Corsley were settled on Thomas, son of Walter le Vake, when he married Edith atte Punde of Bugley. (fn. 130) Thomas had been succeeded by his son John by 1348, (fn. 131) who apparently still held the land in 1376. (fn. 132) Another John Vake held it in 1425; (fn. 133) he was perhaps the John Vake of Chard (Som.) who in 1440 granted it to his nephew John, son of his brother Thomas Vake of Bugley. (fn. 134) Later that year the younger John granted the estate to his father-in-law, Andrew Woodhouse of Warminster. (fn. 135) Woodhouse only held it as a trustee, and after some litigation in the late 15th century it passed to Edward Forrest alias Philpott, whose wife Ellen was John Vake's neice. (fn. 136) In 1508 Philpott sold it to John FitzJames, so that it was probably intended to be part of the endowment of the grammar school at Bruton (Som.). If so the intention never took effect, perhaps because the acquisition of parts of the manor of Furnax in Warminster soon afterwards made it unnecessary. (fn. 137) It may have been sold to Richard Poole; in 1555 a division was made of his lands between his daughter Elizabeth Rossiter of Longbridge Deverill, widow, and her sister's son, William Thomas of Rode (Som.). The estate included a ruinous house called Vake's Hayes, and land at Ballhayes and elsewhere. (fn. 138) Elizabeth Rossiter subsequently acquired Thomas's share. (fn. 139) William Hooper held it by 1572 when he exchanged 'Vage's Close' in Corsley Park for land near his own at Ballhayes. (fn. 140) In 1636 Robert Hooper sold a tenement called Ballhayes to Sir Thomas Thynne. (fn. 141)
In 1569 John Trapp settled a tenement called Trapp's Place in Well Street on his daughter Avice when she married William Trolloppe (fn. 142) of Horningsham; Trapp's son and heir Thomas released his right in 1582. (fn. 143) Trolloppe's son Allen Trolloppe sold the tenement to Sir Thomas Thynne in 1636. (fn. 144) It consisted of a house, 3 closes adjoining, and 3 a. of field land, and was held of the manor of Little Corsley. (fn. 145)
In the early 18th century Stephen Williams, a clothier of Whitbourne, left his freehold property to his son Stephen. In 1708 the younger Stephen sold land there to Samuel Adlam, (fn. 146) already a leaseholder there under the Longleat estate. (fn. 147) Two years later William Down obtained the leasehold (fn. 148) part of Adlam's estate and also a lease of his freehold land; before his death in 1743 he had bought a half of the rest of Stephen Williams's land from one of his coheirs, Mary, wife of John Smith of Friggle Street in Frome. Down's son John bought the other half of Williams's land from his grandson William Greenhill, son of the other daughter Elizabeth. John Down died c. 1783 and left two daughters. Margaret married John Carpenter who died in 1812, (fn. 149) leaving a daughter who married H. A. Fussell. Ann, John Down's other daughter, never married, and left her share to the Fussells. H. A. Fussell built Sturford Mead on part of his estate, but in 1854 the house and land were sold to Lord Bath.
The Barton family first appear as prosperous inhabitants of Corsley in the earlier 18th century. William Barton held a large copyhold called Lamb's or Nineveh in 1736, (fn. 150) and by 1743 held the tithes of the Prebend of Luxfield. (fn. 151) He was succeeded in both by his son John, (fn. 152) who died in 1784. John's son Nathaniel practised as an attorney in Warminster, and sat in Parliament for Westbury. (fn. 153) He built Corsley House. (fn. 154) At his death in 1828 he was succeeded by his son Nathaniel, whose only son N. F. Barton died without issue in 1899. (fn. 155)
In 1235 the forester of Selwood was ordered not to molest the men of Hubert Husee for inclosing Norridge Wood. (fn. 156) In 1241 Hubert made an agreement with the coheirs of Roger of Bugley about their common rights in his wood of Norridge, by which they gave up their claim to the northern half and allowed Hubert to inclose it. (fn. 157) At the death of James Husee in 1249 it was said that he held an assart in Norridge Wood of the king, but that Henry Husee claimed it as belonging to his manor of Stapleford. (fn. 158) James left a son Hubert (fn. 159) from whom Godfrey Scudamore bought part of the wood. (fn. 160) This part evidently descended with the manor of Upton Scudamore until it was in the hands of Edward VI, who in 1549 granted it to Richard Fulmerston of Thetford. (fn. 161) From him it was bought by Sir John Thynne in 1549. (fn. 162) Another part of Norridge Wood must have passed to Hubert Hussee's daughter Margaret, wife of Henry Sturmy, (fn. 163) who sold it c. 1318 to John de Kingston. (fn. 164) It descended with Kingston's manor of Little Corsley, for in 1582 Norridge Wood was divided between Sir John Thynne and the lords of Little Corsley. Six coppices then belonged to Little Corsley. (fn. 165) In 1682 nine coppices, amounting to 172 a., belonged to the Longleat estate. (fn. 166)
Some of the woodland 2 leagues long and 2 leagues broad which in 1086 belonged to the royal manor of Warminster (fn. 167) probably lay within the area later occupied by the parish of Corsley. The only estate then recorded at Corsley consisted of land for only one plough, and had woodland measuring a furlong by a halffurlong. (fn. 168) The valleys of the two streams which cross the parish were probably wooded. A close called Millwood near Corsley Mill and a considerable area of land called Corsley Wood in the 18th century, (fn. 169) north-west of Lye's Green, indicate part of the area covered. Further up the Rodden Brook the surviving names Sandhayes, Landhayes, and Trussenhayes all contain the Old English element haeg, woodland inclosure, (fn. 170) and other instances of its occurrence have been noted in names now lost. (fn. 171) Between the streams Corsley Heath lay uninclosed until the 18th century. The only land suitable for open-field farming was on the eastern fringes of the parish, where the common fields lay until the inclosure of 1783. Bickenham Field, mentioned early in the 14th century, (fn. 172) was between the upper stretches of Rodden Brook and the Upton Scudamore boundary. Cley Hill Field (fn. 173) lay west of Cley Hill and Ham Field north-east of it, while Chedlanger Field, south of Norridge Wood, was shared with Warminster. (fn. 174) Beyond their existence, however, nothing is known of the fields in the Middle Ages.
The clearing of the wooded parts of the parish was probably accomplished slowly throughout the Middle Ages, each newly-cleared piece being inclosed to form a 'croft'. Thus Southcroft, a name which still exists near Chapmanslade, was adjoined by two other crofts in the mid-13th century, (fn. 175) and four inclosed crofts called Heathcrofts lay in Whitbourne in 1367. (fn. 176) In 1364 the farm of the manor of Whitbourne belonging to Maiden Bradley included, beside 57 a. of field land, 34 a. inclosed in 7 crofts. (fn. 177) Nothing is known of demesne farming on any of the manors. At the Dissolution the whole of the Prioress of Studley's manor was held at farm under a lease of 1504, and the Prior of Maiden Bradley had let the farm of Whitbourne for 70 years from 1532. (fn. 178) Similar leases had probably been made for many years previously.
The amount of inclosed land in the parish becomes clearer in the 16th century. In 1589 the farm of Little Corsley, later called Cley Hill Farm, included 56 a. of inclosed meadow and 75 a. of inclosed pasture. Beside this some of its 218 a. of arable land lay in closes which were several to the farmer for part of the year; these included 50 a. in two closes which lay between Norridge Wood and Clear Wood. Other holdings of the manor contained similar or larger proportions of inclosed land. (fn. 179) In the early 17th century the customary holdings of the manor of Corsley contained some 150 a. of arable land, 280 a. of pasture and 50 a. of meadow; most if not all of the two latter categories was inclosed. (fn. 180) In 1608 the rector's glebe consisted of 23½ a. in closes and 3½ a. of open-field arable. (fn. 181) In 1604 the customary holdings of the manor of Huntenhull consisted almost entirely of inclosed land. (fn. 182) There were by that time several large farms in the parish. Cley Hill Farm consisted in 1589 of the demesne of the manor of Little Corsley and three former customary holdings, and amounted in all to about 350 a., while another farm of about 70 a. also belonged to the manor. (fn. 183) Whitbourne Farm was of over 90 a. at the Dissolution. (fn. 184) The farm of Corsley let in 1654 at a rack rent of £170. (fn. 185) It included the park south of the manor house, which had been made by Sir John Thynne (d. 1580). (fn. 186) There is, however, little sign of the consolidation of copyholds here. In the early 17th century only one out of over 50 customary tenements of the manor of Corsley contained more than 40 a., and most were under 20. (fn. 187) Whitbourne, Whitbourne Temple, and Huntenhull also consisted chiefly of small holdings. (fn. 188)
There is little evidence of agricultural change in Corsley before the 18th century. Presentments of the two-year course of the fields occur as late as 1701, (fn. 189) although it is not clear how the course was worked. Little of the Thynne estate was let at rack before the inclosure of the common fields; the chief exception was the manor farm, which was making £230 in 1775. (fn. 190) Whitbourne Farm of about 114 a., and Huntenhull Farm, about 125 a., were still held on lives at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 191) With Corsley Farm, of 300 a., and Cley Hill Farm, 186 a., they were the largest holdings in the parish at the inclosure of 1783. After centuries of piecemeal encroachment the final inclosure of the parish began in 1741, when what was left of Corsley Heath was inclosed by agreement, and divided between 27 tenants. (fn. 192) In 1783 the common fields of the parish, which had not been greatly affected by inclosure, were inclosed by Act of Parliament, and also the remaining common pasture land in the parish, Corsley Wood and Trussenhayes Green.
The effect of the inclosure on Corsley seems to have been to turn it more toward arable farming, perhaps a tendency which had existed before 1783. By 1828 there were over 1,500 a. of arable land in the parish compared with 466 a. of pasture and meadow, and 88 a. of water meadow. (fn. 193) The Barton family practised conventional sheep and corn husbandry typical of the downland districts, and kept hardly any dairy cattle. (fn. 194) In spite of this Corsley was said in 1834 to consist chiefly of small farms. (fn. 195) The preponderance of corn-growing over dairy-farming continued until about 1870; between then and the end of the century much of the parish reverted to grass. The difficulty of letting the larger farms increased so much that some were broken up and let in small-holdings. (fn. 196) In 1904 only about 500 a. of the parish was arable land, most of which was on the large farms. Only the largest of all, 454 a., then depended chiefly on corn crops; many of the dairy farms made their own cheese and butter, but some were already sending milk to the factory at Frome. (fn. 197)
In contrast to the parishes of the Wylye valley, Corsley was apparently not affected by the blossoming of the Wiltshire cloth trade in the 15th and 16th centuries. A weaver lived in the parish in the early 17th century, (fn. 198) but it was not until the second half of that century that clothiers were associated with it. George Carey of Corsley issued a token bearing the clothworkers' arms in 1666. (fn. 199) He was succeeded in the trade by Thomas Carey in 1712, and he by George Carey in 1734. (fn. 200) Samuel Adlam was a clothier in Corsley in 1688, (fn. 201) and Stephen Williams at Whitbourne soon afterwards. The way in which their property at Sturford passed to William Down, a dyer, has been described above. (fn. 202) Down was succeeded in business by his son John, a blue and medley dyer, and he by his son-in-law John Carpenter, also an 'eminent dyer', who died in 1812. (fn. 203) Carpenter in turn was succeeded by his son-in-law H. A. Fussell, who carried on an extensive business as a dyer in the early 19th century, probably depending on work from the factories at Frome. (fn. 204)
The business, begun by William Down and probably typical of Corsley because it was fairly small, was carried on by several generations of one family, and was concerned as much with dyeing as with making cloth. A similar one was probably that of James Cockell, who was a dyer at Bissford in 1746. (fn. 205) James and Nicholas Cockell occupied a dyehouse there in 1770, (fn. 206) and John and James Cockell in 1783. (fn. 207) A few years later John, James, and Nicholas were all described as superfine clothiers. (fn. 208) A third business of long standing was perhaps begun by Ebenezer Coombs, who was a clothier at Whitbourne Temple in 1756; (fn. 209) in 1783 he was described as a 'second and livery clothier'. (fn. 210) A later member of the family in the 19th century turned to the silk trade and had a 'factory' at Whitbourne Moor. (fn. 211) Several other clothiers and dyers flourished in Corsley in the 18th century. In 1736 George Prowse took a lease of a dyehouse at Whitbourne Moor which he had just spent £400 to build. (fn. 212) It belonged to Thomas Singer in 1783. (fn. 213) Robert Meares, a dyer, was a considerable free-holder in the mid-18th century. (fn. 214) It is also clear that a considerable part of the population of Corsley derived all or part of its livelihood from the cloth trade in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Thus in 1811 and 1821 about half the families in the parish were supported by manufacture and handicraft, but by 1831 the proportion had fallen considerably. (fn. 215) Many weavers and other craftsmen, who were either employed by local clothiers or those from nearby towns, also engaged in small farming or gardening. (fn. 216)
The end of the cloth industry at Corsley probably came in the decade 1840-50, rather later than in many villages, probably because of its nearness to Frome. (fn. 217) In the 1830's there seem to have been at least three concerns still working: the Fussell dyeworks at Sturford, the Coombs silk factory at Whitbourne Moore, and the woollen factory of a Mr. Taunton at Corsley Mill. (fn. 218) The latter was probably the mill at Corsley which had a 4 h.p. wheel and employed 3 men and 10 women in 1838. (fn. 219) In addition there was a mill just across the Somerset border in Rodden, which in 1838 employed 122 people, many of whom must have come from Corsley. (fn. 220) This was destroyed by fire shortly before 1851, (fn. 221) marking the end of the woollen trade in Corsley.
In 1232 Godfrey de Craucumbe was granted a weekly market in Corsley on Fridays and a yearly fair on the feast of St. Margaret (20 July). (fn. 222) Nothing is known of a market being held in the village, and a fair is not again mentioned until 1770, when one was held on Corsley Heath on the first Monday in August for the sale of cattle, horses, and cheese. (fn. 223) It was still held in the later 19th century on 'Cock Heap', a large artificial mound on Corsley Heath, for the sale of cheese and horses. The date was then 27 July. Another fair was held at Whitsuntide, probably for amusement only, in the early 19th century. By 1909 both had entirely ceased. (fn. 224)
One of the seven mills which belonged to the manor of Warminster in 1086 (fn. 225) was probably in the area which later formed the manor of Corsley, but in fact no mention of a mill belonging to Corsley has been found before the 16th century. (fn. 226) From that time a water mill is regularly mentioned as a leasehold or copyhold tenement of the manor. (fn. 227) The long tenure of the Carr family, between 1594 (fn. 228) and 1691, (fn. 229) gave it the alternative name of Carr's Mill. The Carrs were followed by the Rimell family who still held the mill in the 1750's. (fn. 230) In 1775 it was held with a considerable amount of land at rack rent. (fn. 231) This was probably the beginning of Mill Farm, occupied in the early 19th century by a Mr. Taunton, who used the mill both as a grist mill and for the clothing trade. (fn. 232) He probably built the present mill, a five-bay building of brick with segmental-headed stone-mullioned windows typical of the period. It was formerly of three stories with a mansard roof, but in 1963 had been recently reduced to two. Nearby is the late 17th-century mill-house, of brick with stone-mullioned and transomed windows and central doorway with curved hood above.
A mill belonged to the manor of Little Corsley in 1086, (fn. 233) and was still working in the early 14th century. (fn. 234) By 1589 it had long since disappeared, and a cottage had been built on the 'pleck' of ground it had occupied, 'between Medgmead and Couchmead'. (fn. 235) Its site was apparently at Bissford. (fn. 236)
There was a parson of Corsley in the mid-13th century. (fn. 237) The church there was referred to as the chapel of the manor of Corsley in 1245, (fn. 238) but evidently assumed some parochial functions because of the distance to the mother church of the parish at Warminster. In the 17th century it was described as a chapel-of-ease 'anciently founded within the parish of Warminster' because Corsley people were often hindered from getting there 'by the inundation of waters'. (fn. 239) In 1341 the Vicar of Warminster had mortuaries and small tithes worth 40s. within the bounds of Corsley, (fn. 240) and it was not until 1415 that the incumbent of Corsley became fully independent of Warminster when he obtained the right of burying the inhabitants in the churchyard of the village. (fn. 241) An agreement probably made in the early 16th century gave all the small tithes, oblations, and mortuaries to the incumbent of Corsley, and charged him with the payment of 26s. 8d. a year to the Vicar of Warminster. (fn. 242). This payment was still made in the 19th century. (fn. 243) The church built in 1867 at Chapmanslade, just outside the ancient parish boundary, was at first a chapel-of-ease to Dilton Marsh, but since 1924 has been held with Corsley. (fn. 244) The church of St. Mary at Whitbourne Temple, built in 1903, is a chapel-of-ease to Corsley parish church. (fn. 245) Two free chapels which existed in the parish in the Middle Ages are mentioned below.
The disputes over the advowson of Warminster in the 12th and early 13th centuries (fn. 246) were ended in 1235 by an agreement which assigned to a prebend in the cathedral church of Wells the great tithes of Great Corsley, Whitbourne, Bugley, Thoulstone, Chapmanslade 'under the road', and Little Corsley. (fn. 247) From that time until the 19th century the Prebendary of Warminster alias Luxfield was impropriator of the rectory of Corsley and of certain great tithes in the two neighbouring parishes. In spite of that the incumbent of Corsley has always been styled rector. (fn. 248)
When Godfrey de Craucumbe gave the manor of Corsley to the nuns of Studley c. 1245 he had already given the advowson of 'the chapel of the manor' to William of Idmiston. (fn. 249) The first recorded presentation, in 1306, was made by the Prioress of Studley; (fn. 250) the reason for this is not known, for otherwise the advowson descended from Idmiston in the same way as the manor of Huntenhull. (fn. 251) In 1946 it was transferred to the Diocesan Board of Patronage. (fn. 252)
The prebend of Warminster alias Luxfield was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291 (fn. 253) and at £13 8s. gross in 1535. (fn. 254) Sir John Thynne held the tithes and glebe belonging to it on lease before 1580, (fn. 255) and successive owners of Longleat held as leaseholders until the 19th century, paying a fixed rent of £11 6s. 8d. to the prebendary. (fn. 256) In 1598 the tithes were underlet for £15, (fn. 257) and in the mid-18th century to John Barton for £104. At that time the glebe of the prebend consisted of a close called Broom Close, a small coppice adjoining it, and a piece of land with a house on it. (fn. 258) Most of the tithes in Warminster and Corsley were commuted at the inclosure of 1783, either for land or fixed money payments. After that the prebend consisted of 205 a. of land and a fixed money payment of about £46. There were besides 9 a. in Warminster, 21 a. in Corsley, and 92 a. in Upton Scudamore still subject to the payment of tithes in kind. (fn. 259) In the early 19th century the value of the whole was reckoned at £440. (fn. 260) The remaining tithes were commuted by the parish awards at about £2 in Warminster, £3 in Corsley, and £35 in Upton Scudamore. (fn. 261) In 1847 the whole prebend was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 262) and in 1866 it was sold, with most of the rectory of Warminster, to the Marquess of Bath in exchange for the rectory of Imber. (fn. 263)
In 1341 the Rector of Corsley had a house and land worth 30s. and oblations worth 50s. (fn. 264) The small tithes then belonged to the Vicar of Warminster, and were probably first allotted to the Rector of Corsley in the early 16th century. (fn. 265) In 1535 the benefice was worth £11 0s. 10d. clear, (fn. 266) and in 1704 it was said to be only worth £28. (fn. 267) In 1709 the 1st Viscount Weymouth endowed it with £20 a year payable out of lands in Herefordshire. (fn. 268) It was discharged from the payment of first fruits and tenths by Queen Anne's Bounty, and in 1745 was reckoned worth £60 a year. (fn. 269) In 1835 the incumbent reckoned his clear income at £215, (fn. 270) but his successor in 1851 returned his income as £183. (fn. 271)
The Rector of Corsley was letting his small tithes c. 1574. (fn. 272) In 1704 the tithes and other profits of the rectory apart from the glebe were only worth £8. (fn. 273) In 1783 the rector received an allotment of 66 a. in lieu of the small tithes of most of the parish, and a fixed payment of about £28 from other lands, while some 21a. remained titheable in kind. (fn. 274) These last tithes were commuted for £2 in 1841. (fn. 275) In 1608 the rector's glebe consisted of a little house and garden, 8 closes amounting to 23½ a., 1 a. in Bristol Mead, and 3½ a. of field land. (fn. 276) This land was worth £20 a year in 1704. (fn. 277) At the commutation of the tithes in 1783 66 a. were added to it. (fn. 278) The whole glebe was worth £120 a year in 1851 (fn. 279) and £155 in 1887, when it amounted to 96 a. (fn. 280)
Nothing is known of the religious life of Corsley before the 16th century. Rectors resigned c. 1555 and c. 1563 (fn. 281) but it is not known whether it was because of the religious changes of the times. John Cutler, 1579-1608, had, it was said in 1583, allowed the clerk to say service in his absence, and had quarrelled with a parishioner over a seat in the church. (fn. 282) Nothing is known of changes under the Commonwealth, but a new rector was appointed in 1660. (fn. 283) Such a small benefice was not attractive. Richard Jenkins had only just taken his degree when he was appointed to Corsley in 1667, (fn. 284) and his successor, Thomas Aylesbury, was apparently only 17 on his appointment in 1668. (fn. 285) He held the living for 56 years; from 1682 he was also perpetual curate of Horningsham, but continued to reside at Corsley. (fn. 286) Two 18th-century incumbents, Lionel Seaman, 1736-8, and William Slade, 1774-83, were of local land-owning families in Upton Scudamore and Warminster respectively. (fn. 287) Millington Massey (later Massey-Jackson), 1768-74 held Kingston Deverill in plurality from 1770. (fn. 288) Thomas Huntingford, 1783-7, was headmaster of Lord Weymouth's School in Warminster, and only resided at Corsley for two months of the year. When he took the living, services had only been held once on Sunday, alternately morning and afternoon, for many years. He began to hold them twice, and also began extra services in Lent and monthly celebrations of the sacrament. His brother and successor, George Isaac Huntingford, evidently continued the more frequent services, (fn. 289) and began a Sunday School in 1788. (fn. 290) He was subsequently Bishop of Gloucester and then of Hereford. (fn. 291) R. C. Griffith, 1816-45, was a pluralist, holding the rectory of Fifield Bavant, where he employed a curate. (fn. 292)
In 1851 two services were held each Sunday; average attendance was 250 in the morning and 400 in the afternoon, and there was in addition a Sunday School 140 strong. (fn. 293)
The church of ST. MARGARET stands near the former manor house, at the junction of three minor roads which cross the parish from north to south, but remote from its chief centres of population. The dedication was to St. James in the earlier 16th century, (fn. 294) and was still mentioned in the 18th. (fn. 295) The present dedication has not been met with before 1786. (fn. 296) The old church consisted of nave, north aisle, chancel, south porch, and western embattled tower. The tower was probably of the 15th century, while the low nave with north aisle which joined it was perhaps older. (fn. 297) In 1636 the parishioners complained to Archbishop Laud that the chancel was 'quite taken away'. When Laud complained to Sir Thomas Thynne that his family had removed it, Thynne replied that the oldest man living there could not remember it, and that either there never was one, or that 'it fell of itself, the parish being then very poor'. (fn. 298) There was perhaps some truth in the charge, however, for it was said a few years later that there stood near the middle of Dartford Wood 'a little coney lodge, sometime said to be the chancel of Corsley'. (fn. 299) The outcome of the dispute is not known, but a simple chancel was added to the church; this was probably done before 1662, for no complaint was made then about the state of the church. (fn. 300)
In 1830 the church was in a bad state and insufficient for the needs of the parish, and the vestry decided to rebuild it. (fn. 301) The present church was then built to the design of John Leachman. (fn. 302) It consists only of nave and western embattled tower. The nave is very wide with a low pitched roof of slate, and tall narrow windows with forking tracery. There is no chancel. Entrance is from doors flanking the tower at the west end, which open into vestibules from which access is also gained to the western gallery. On the gallery is a royal achievement probably made when the church was built. (fn. 303) The only furnishings which survive from the old church are the plain pulpit of c. 1700, and three painted benefaction boards given to the parish in the 17th century. There are also a number of monuments from the old church. They include a wall tablet of 1724 to Thomas Aylesbury, a rector, and an elaborate monument in the Greek style to various members of the Barton family. The pews and other furnishings date from 1890, when the church was renovated and altered under the direction of F. W. Hunt. At that time galleries down the sides of the church were taken away. (fn. 304) A barrel-organ given by Nathaniel Barton was placed in the old church c. 1825. It probably replaced an orchestra, for a clarionet was bought for the singers in 1817. (fn. 305) The present organ is of 1874, by W. C. Vowles of Bristol.
There were 3 bells at Corsley in 1553. By 1783 there were 6; of these 3 had been cast in 1732 and 2 in 1746, all by William Cockey of Frome, and the remaining bell was recast by William Bilbie of Chew Stoke (Som.) in 1779. Two of Cockey's bells were recast in 1903; the other 18th-century bells still remain. (fn. 306) A clock was provided by the bequest of Robert Moody, butler at Corsley House, c. 1885. (fn. 307) In 1553 the Commissioners took 20 oz. of silver for the king and left only 7½ oz. Of the plate they left, a silver-gilt paten of c. 1510 still survives. The chalice which they left was remodelled in the 1570's. A flagon was given by John Minty in 1700, and an almsdish is of 1742. A second set of plate was given by J. H. Waugh, rector 1845-86. (fn. 308)
In 1783 the parish was allotted 1 a. of land under the inclosure award. The small income it produced was applied to the repair of the church until 1957 when it was sold for £60, and the proceeds invested for the same purpose. (fn. 309)
In 1784 the parsonage house was of stone with a slate roof; it had two rooms on the ground floor, one with a dirt floor, four chambers, and two garrets. (fn. 310) The present rectory is of the mid-19th century.
At her death in 1899 Mary Barton of Corsley House left £10,000 to buy a piece of land at Whitbourne Temple and build a chapel-of-ease in memory of her husband, Nathaniel Barton, and son, Nathaniel Fletcher Barton. The church of ST. MARY was designed by W. H. Stanley of Trowbridge and opened in 1903. It is a small brick building comprising nave, chancel, and polygonal bell turret with spire at the east end, all in the Perpendicular style. The remainder of the money, amounting to over £5,000, was invested for the maintenance of services there by the Rector of Corsley. (fn. 311)
There was a chapel at Little Corsley in 1277 when Margaret, widow of Hubert Hussee, claimed the advowson of it on behalf of his heirs. The Prior of the Hospital of St. John at Wilton said that he held the chapel by Hubert's gift, and Margaret's claim was dismissed. (fn. 312) Services may have continued there until the reformation; in 1589 it was said that the farmer of Little Corsley paid 1 a. of corn a year to the prebendary of Warminster alias Luxfield, which was formerly for him to come to the chapel and say 24 masses and 4 sermons a year. (fn. 313) In 1544 the Master of St. John's Hospital let the chapel called Kingston Court chapel with the tithes belonging to it to John Holwey for 41 years. (fn. 314) At that time the hospital claimed all the tithes of corn and hay from Kingston Court Farm, and half the tithe of wool and lambs from it, the other half belonging to the Prebend of Luxfield. (fn. 315) In 1571 John Middlecott, lessee of all the hospital's Whitbourne property, underlet the chapel to William Middlecott, with its tithes and a small amount of land. (fn. 316) The chapel passed by assignment to John Thynne in 1589; (fn. 317) a few years later he was engaged in a lawsuit with the lessee of the rectory of Warminster to determine what land owed tithe to it. Deponents said that there were in fact two chapels at Little Corsley, one in the farmhouse and one nearby, and that certain land in Warminster and Corsley owed tithe to them. (fn. 318) There were still some remains of a chapel at Cley Hill Farm, the site of the manor of Little Corsley, in 1831, (fn. 319) but no more is known of the impropriate tithes belonging to it. The distinction between them and those payable to the prebend of Luxfield may have been lost because all were held by the Thynne family.
St. John's Hospital, Wilton, also owned another chapel at Whitbourne, which c. 1657 was let to John Rawlings. (fn. 320) According to deponents in 1598 it was dedicated to St. Joan and had tithes belonging to it. (fn. 321) In 1635 it was described as a toft called the Temple, 5 a. of pasture, and certain tithes, (fn. 322) but no more is known of it.
There were 24 sectaries in Corsley in 1662 (fn. 323) and 50 in 1676. (fn. 324) No organized congregation is known to have existed in the village in the 17th century, and it has been suggested that villagers probably belonged to the Baptist church at Crockerton. (fn. 325) Several houses were licensed for worship in the earlier 18th century; that of James Coombs in 1700, that of John Meares in 1724, and two in 1738. (fn. 326) None of these licences can be certainly connected with any permanent congregation, and probably the first society to establish itself in the parish was of Methodists. Corsley was 'a new place' with 31 members in 1769. The following year it had increased to 46, and Wesley preached in the parish in 1772. (fn. 327) A building was registered for worship in 1773; (fn. 328) it was at Lane End, (fn. 329) where a Wesleyan Methodist congregation has continued until the present (1963). In 1829 there were 150 attenders. (fn. 330) The plain chapel of brick with stone dressings is dated 1849. In 1851 three services were held each Sunday, and there was a Sunday School of some 30 pupils. (fn. 331)
Other dissenters in Corsley must have attended the Independent and Baptist causes which began just outside the parish boundary at Chapmanslade in the 1770's. (fn. 332) It was probably there that the 30 'Presbyterians' who lived in the parish in 1783 went. There was, however, at that time a Baptist congregation within the parish, with 20 adult members, a licensed house, and a preacher named Parrot. (fn. 333) A building which must have housed it stood at Whitbourne Temple, (fn. 334) and may perhaps have been the subject of one of the early licences mentioned above. By the first years of the 19th century the cause was apparently reduced to 2 or 3 people, and owed its revival to Richard Parsons of Chapmanslade. After he had preached there for several years, numbers had so increased that a chapel was built and opened in 1811. To raise the £700 needed to pay for it, Parsons visited not only neighbouring towns but also Bristol and London, walking all the way to save money; in London he is said to have walked 40 miles daily for a month. He remained pastor until his death in 1853. (fn. 335) There were 250 attenders in 1829. (fn. 336) In 1851 three services were held each Sunday; average attendance at the morning one was 130, and there was a Sunday School 60 strong. (fn. 337) In 1890 there were 44 members. (fn. 338) Some years after it was built the whole chapel was raised several feet and it was probably then that side and end galleries were fitted. In 1882 the interior was almost all renewed. The organ came from Longleat House. (fn. 339) Externally the building, of stone rubble with brick dressings and a brick front, is much as it was in Parsons's time.
The earliest surviving volume of accounts of the overseers of Corsley dates from 1729 to 1755. (fn. 343) During that period the parish regularly maintained a number of impotent poor, widows, and children, and also provided occasional assistance to tide the able-bodied over hard times. The parish took a lease of a cottage, no doubt to house homeless paupers, in 1757. In 1769 it was decided that a workhouse should be provided, and four years later a thatched building was put up at Upper Whitbourne. Not all the paupers were moved into it, but it is possible that all the regular ones had to go in. Between then and 1802 a salaried master was employed whose duty it was to keep the inmates at work. In the house the manufacture of linsey, carding and spinning wool, knitting, netting, and shoemaking were carried on; vegetables were grown and pigs kept, both for the supply of the house and for sale. From 1786 inmates were hired out for varied purposes to employers in the parish. Although the workhouse was never apparently self-supporting, it made some money, and probably led to a fall in expenditure in the late 1770's, when about 30 inmates and 20 others were relieved for about £250 a year. In the later years of the century the numbers requiring relief increased, until in 1801 they probably included most of the inhabitants. In 1802 £1,640 was spent; all attempts to keep the in-paupers at work were abandoned, and a salaried assistant overseer appointed. There was soon a considerable improvement, and expenditure did not apparently again exceed £1,000 until the late 1820's. (fn. 344) From 1828 there was a good deal of emigration from Corsley, and two years later the parish paid for 66 people to go to Canada.
In 1662 the churchwardens of Corsley presented that Richard Carpenter was a fit person to be a schoolmaster there. (fn. 345) In 1783 a dissenting minister from a congregation outside the parish ran a school in it. (fn. 346) In the earlier 19th century there were several small private and dame schools in different parts of the parish. (fn. 347) In 1846 a subscription was raised to establish a National School; grants were made by the National Society and the government, and the school, near Corsley church, was opened in 1847. (fn. 348) Twelve years later the buildings were described as 'excellent and picturesque'. About 80 children were taught in one large room by a master and sewing mistress, with some help from the rector. (fn. 349) When Lord Bath gave the site of the school to the parish in 1861 it was said that 535 children had passed through it since 1847. In 1870 83 children attended, while 11 more went to a National School at Chapmanslade. Five other schools in the parish provided for a further 70 children, and only a few children between 5 and 12 were receiving no education. (fn. 350) Since the opening of the Avenue School at Warminster, Corsley has been a junior mixed and infants' school. It became an aided school under the Act of 1944.
By his will dated 1703 Henry Frederick Thynne left £3,000 for charitable purposes. His trustees invested it in lands, and charged them with certain annuities, of which one of £10 was to provide for the education of 10 poor children of Corsley and 15 of Frome. In 1820 it was said that this had been regularly done, but no details were given of its application. In 1854 the annuity was increased to £75 which was paid to the school at Frome East Woodlands. In 1903 only a few Corsley children from the hamlet of Stalls Brickyard attended there. (fn. 351)
In the 16th and 17th centuries a number of donors left or gave small sums of money to the poor of Corsley. (fn. 352) The first detailed account surviving, for 1751, shows that the stock, then amounting to £118, was lent out at interest, and the proceeds were distributed to the poor not receiving relief, with small sums to the sacrament, minister, clerk, and bells. In 1773 the parish borrowed the capital toward the building of the new workhouse, and paid £5 17s. a year interest. Most of this was in the early 19th century spent on bread, which was added to the 100 loaves and a fat bullock always given by the Marquesses of Bath at Christmas. In 1839 the parish's interest in the workhouse was sold for £117, and the money put into a bank and used for the same purpose. (fn. 353)
Samuel Adlam (d. c. 1730) charged his property at Sturford with 42s. 6d. a year, of which 40s. was to be distributed annually to 8 poor men and 8 poor women not receiving relief. (fn. 354) This was regularly paid until 1920, when the charge was redeemed for £85 stock. (fn. 355)
James Sainsbury of Sturford Cottage, a corn dealer, d. c. 1845, left £1,000 to the parish, but owing to an ambiguity in his will, only £130 was received. He directed that the interest should be distributed to twelve poor people. (fn. 356) William Knight, d. c. 1880, left £100, the interest of which was to be paid to deserving poor people who were natives of Corsley. (fn. 357) Robert Moody, d. c. 1885, butler at Corsley House, left £300 to provide clothes for poor parishioners. (fn. 358)
In 1934 all these charities were consolidated into the Corsley Parochial Charities for the general benefit of poor people in the parish. The interest from about £690 stock is distributed by the trustees who are the rector and churchwardens and 3 members of the parish council. (fn. 359)