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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KEEVIL lies about 5 miles east of Trowbridge and the same distance south of Melksham. (fn. 1) The ancient parish was about 3 miles long and 1½ wide, and roughly rectangular in shape. In the 1880's the eastern part, the tithing of Bulkington, became a separate civil parish, although ecclesiastically it remains part of Keevil. (fn. 2) It is 974 a. in area, and the civil parish of Keevil 2,063 a. (fn. 3) The western part of Keevil parish lies on the Corallian outcrop, described under Steeple Ashton, (fn. 4) which here gently declines from about 250 ft. on the parish boundary down to the streams which water the eastern part of the parish at about 150 ft. The village lies on this slope. The remainder of the parish to the west, its northern fringes, and the whole of Bulkington l'e in the clay vale. The land here is flat, about 150 ft. above sea level, and drained by a network of streams. The chief of these, Semington Brook, flows north-westward from the eastern boundary of Bulkington; passing to the south of that village, it forms the northern part of the Keevil-Bulkington boundary and then the north-eastern boundary of Keevil. On the south it is joined by two streams flowing from East Coulston and Edington; the low ground between them was called Keevil Wick by the 13th century. (fn. 5) Another stream, called Summerham Brook, joins Semington Brook below Bulkington, having formed the northern boundary of the parish.
The main road from Trowbridge to Devizes runs for a short distance through the north of the parish. On it stands the hamlet now called the Strand; it was called Old Horse Shoe in 1773, (fn. 6) and subsequently Horseshoes. (fn. 7) This was presumably from the name of an inn, yet the inn there was called the 'Carpenters' Arms' in 1768. (fn. 8) It is now called the 'Lamb', and is an early 19th-century building of brick. A road or drove formerly led from it to the west end of Keevil village, (fn. 9) but it is now lost, and the quickest way is through Great Hinton. Further east another minor road leaves the main road and runs southward, and forks to join the road from Bulkington to Keevil at two points. The turnpike house, which stood at its northern end in 1773, (fn. 10) still stood, derelict, in 1963. The main road leaves the parish to the north-east by Baldham Bridge. There has been a bridge on the site since the 14th century; (fn. 11) the present one is of the 18th century, two-arched and built of ashlar. Nearby are Baldham Mill (fn. 12) and Baldham Farm, the latter an 18th-century stone house.
Keevil and Bulkington villages both stand on a minor road which winds across the parish from west to east, joining the Westbury-Melksham road to the road from Seend to West Lavington. Most of the houses in Keevil are built along this road, but branching to the south are Martin's Road and Pyatts, both of which contain houses of the 16th and 17th centuries. The church stands just south of Main Street at the end of a short lane. The large 16th-century manor house (fn. 13) is on the north side of Main Street, hidden from view by a high wall. Opposite is the high garden wall of Blagden House, (fn. 14) a somewhat smaller house of the 17th century. This stretch of road without visible houses, and with a high pavement on a grassy bank on the north side, divides the village into two parts hidden from one another by the curve of the road.
The western part of Keevil contains a notable group of timber-framed houses. Little Talboys (fn. 15) is a fine example of a cruck-framed house. It consists of four bays, of which the two centre ones formed a single-storied hall; the central open truss has an arch-braced collar beam with moulded timbers. The roof of the westernmost bay is unaltered, but the eaves of the other three were raised probably c. 1600, when a massive central chimney and a dividing floor in the open hall were inserted. The house has later brick infilling and a thatched roof. Cruck construction also survives in the back wing of Manor Farm, which is of two bays, of which one has been raised to the east to form a small gable, now altered. The main part of the house is of stone, of two stories and attics; it probably dates from the early 17th century, but may be in origin an earlier timber-framed cross-wing which has been remodelled. Talboys, a large timberframed house of c. 1500, is described below. (fn. 16) Opposite are two timber-framed and thatched houses, both of which have been divided into two cottages, but one is now used as one house again. They appear to be of the early 17th century, having small gables with shaped barge-boards and pendants and decorative timber-framing. It is possible, however, that the houses are older, and that these gables were added to give light to the upper floors of previously single-storied halls.
A similar house, now divided into two, stands in the lower part of the village in Pyatts. It has flanking gables, one of which has been raised, with a quadrant design in the apex, and a thatched roof. No. 22, formerly a shop, but recently converted into a house, and several cottages in Martin's Road, are also timber-framed buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 18th century brick came into use. Church Farm, and four cottages in Martin's Road show its use with thatched roofs; the cottages have the dentilled string-course at first-floor level which is common in the district. Beach House, formerly the 'Beach Arms', of brick with stone-mullioned windows, is of the earlier 18th century, and Longleaze Farm is dated 1790. The 'Rose and Crown' only dates from the early 19th century, but probably occupies the site of the 'Crown' which stood in the village in 1705. (fn. 17) In Martin's Road is a small estate of Council houses. The iron village hall there, built in 1892, (fn. 18) was in 1963 being replaced by a new one of brick. South of the village an airfield was built in the Second World War; in 1963 it was derelict.
East of the village and just south of the road to Bulkington is Pinkney Farm, originally a timberframed building, which was remodelled in stone probably in the late 16th century. It has been considerably altered since then; there are dated stones of 1684 and 1785, and at the south end is an extension of the early 19th century. The road leads on to Keevil Wick, which was a settlement in the 13th century. (fn. 19) In 1773 there was a number of houses there built round a small green; (fn. 20) most have gone but there are two farms there and one or two cottages. The farms to the south, at Wick Leaze, Oxen Leaze, and Hurst, probably originated with the inclosure of old pasture land there in the 17th century. (fn. 21)
The road from Keevil to Bulkington crosses Semington Brook by the 18th-century Pantry Bridge. There was a bridge here in the 14th century. (fn. 22) In a ditch on the Bulkington side stands Turpin's Stone, which is said to have once had the inscription:
'This stone's put here to think upon' carved on it. (fn. 23) Almost all the houses in Bulkington village lie along the single curving street. The church and the London Co-operative Society creamery stand near the west end. A house, formerly the post office, is timber-framed with brick infilling, and probably dates from the early 17th century. Otherwise the village consists chiefly of 18th- and 19th- century houses. On the south side of the street opposite Home Farm are several large brick cottages with a pattern of chequer work in vitrified headers, and stone-mullioned windows; one is dated 1720. Poplars Farm at the west end of the village is a stone house of c. 1770, with slated mansard roof; there are two pairs of coupled windows on each floor, and in the centre over the door is a single round-headed one. Withdean House, of brick with stone dressings, is dated 1802, and Manor Farm and Home Farm are of much the same time. In the centre of the village is the circular stepped base of a cross, of ancient masonry. It has been utilized to support the village war memorial, but nothing is known of its history.
Lanes lead southward from Bulkington to Mill Farm, and across Brasspan Bridge towards Oxen Leaze and Wick Leaze Farms. The latter, called Bulkington Drove, leads to Folly Green where a group of cottages stood in the early 19th century, (fn. 24) and thence to another green called Fullwood Green, which was inclosed in 1832. (fn. 25)
Before the Conquest the manor of KEEVIL was held by Brixi, who held other manors in Somerset and Dorset. (fn. 26) It was granted after 1066 to Ernulf of Hesdin, one of William's chief followers, who held land in ten counties, and he held it in 1086. (fn. 27) It has been suggested (fn. 28) that he forfeited his lands because of his complicity in the rising of 1093; certainly a large part of his fief passed to Patrick de Chaworth, who is said to have married his daughter, (fn. 29) but Keevil, with some other manors, passed to a second Ernulf of Hesdin, son of the first, (fn. 30) who held it in 1130. (fn. 31) He was executed in 1138; a third Ernulf of Hesdin witnessed a charter in 1141, and quite possibly held Keevil in his turn. By 1160, however, 8½ fees in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, including Keevil, were held by William FitzAlan, whose father, Alan FitzFlaald, had married Aveline, sister of the second Ernulf. (fn. 32) These fees were later known as the honor of Keevil. (fn. 33) William FitzAlan's grandson, another William, died childless in 1215 and his estates passed to his brother John. In the same year he joined the rebels against King John, and the king granted Keevil to Robert of Samford. (fn. 34) After the king's death Henry III granted Keevil to John the Marshal, (fn. 35) but in 1217 John FitzAlan made his peace with the king and his lands were restored. (fn. 36) John married, as his first wife, Isabel, sister and coheir of Hugh, Earl of Arundel, and his issue by her became earls of Arundel. (fn. 37) In 1255 it was said that the manor of Keevil was held by payment of 20s. for the guard of Devizes Castle, (fn. 38) and this tenure is frequently mentioned from then on. Keevil descended in the FitzAlan family to Edmund, Earl of Arundel, who was executed in 1326 and subsequently attainted. (fn. 39) In the following year Edward III granted it to Edmund, Earl of Kent, (fn. 40) who was himself executed in 1330. (fn. 41) Keevil was granted to Geoffrey of Mortimer, (fn. 42) but in 1331 Richard FitzAlan, son of Edmund, was restored in blood and honours and Keevil passed back to his family. Richard's son Richard was executed in 1397, (fn. 43) and the king granted Keevil to Sir Henry Greene. (fn. 44) Thomas FitzAlan, son of the younger Richard, landed with Henry of Bolingbroke in 1399, and his estates were restored in 1400. (fn. 45) Thereafter Keevil descended in the FitzAlan family to Henry, Earl of Arundel (d. 1580), who in 1560 sold the manor to Richard Lambert, citizen and grocer of London. (fn. 46)
Richard Lambert's grandson, Edward, died in 1612 leaving two infant daughters, (fn. 47) who apparently died unmarried, for the manor passed to Thomas, Richard's younger brother. (fn. 48) His grandson, Thomas Lambert, sold Keevil to William Beach, son of William Beach of Brixton Deverill and Fittleton, in 1681. (fn. 49) It descended to his grandson William, who died in 1790 leaving an only surviving daughter and heir, Henrietta Maria. (fn. 50) She married Michael Hicks of Beverstone Castle (Glos.), who assumed the additional surname of Beach. Keevil passed to his second son William Beach, whose grandson W. A. Hicks Beach sold the property in lots in 1911. (fn. 51)
Keevil manor house is thought to have been built by one of the Lambert family c. 1580. It is a stone building of three stories with mullioned and transomed windows of six lights on the first two floors and mullioned windows of three lights in the attics. The front has four symmetrical gables with stone copings and small square finials; the sides have three similar gables. In 1611 a two-storied porch was added at the centre of the front; it is decorated with Tuscan columns and inside has shell-headed niches similar to those on Edington church. In the garden is an archway of the same period which also contains a pair of these niches. Inside, the house contains many original features, notably the carved hall screen and some plaster ceilings. Some of the panelling is thought to be rather earlier than the house. In the garden are twelve clipped yew trees called the Twelve Apostles.
The Lambert family lived chiefly at their other manor of Boyton, although Edward Lambert, a younger son of the first purchaser of the manor, was described as of Keevil at his death c. 1586, (fn. 52) and may have been the builder of this house. The Beach family also seems only to have used the house as a second residence, for they were usually described as of Fittleton or Netheravon, or later of Oakley Hall near Basingstoke (Hants). In the later 19th century the house was occupied by Sir John Wallington, who had married a daughter of William Beach (d. 1856). He died at Keevil in 1910. (fn. 53) Maj.Gen. J. B. B. Dickson bought the house in 1911; (fn. 54) he died in 1925, (fn. 55) and his widow was still living there in 1939. (fn. 56) It has since changed hands again.
In 1217 William Musard had lands in Bulkington, which he had forfeited because of his joining the rebels against John, restored to him. (fn. 57) William's widow, Joan de Bocland, held the estate in 1225, (fn. 58) but by 1242 another William Musard held 2 hides in Bulkington of John FitzAlan. (fn. 59) In 1244, when it was assigned in dower, to Amice his widow, the estate was first called the manor of BULKINGTON. (fn. 60) Another William Musard held it in 1302, when it was reckoned at ½ knight's fee, (fn. 61) and still in 1327, at ¼ and 1/8 fee. (fn. 62) In 1401 yet another William Musard held the two hides, (fn. 63) but by 1428 Richard Mayne held ½ knight's fee late of William Musard. (fn. 64) In 1440, however, Henry, Earl of Northumberland, and others had livery of a moiety of the manor of Bulkington called 'Mosardys'; they were apparently surviving trustees who had held the property on behalf of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel (d. 1439), for her life. (fn. 65) It is not clear why she held it, but it was said in 1441 that Richard and John Mayne had been taking the revenues since her death. (fn. 66) At least part of the estate, never subsequently referred to as a manor, passed to Richard Mayne's kinswoman and heir, Jane, wife of John Abbot. (fn. 67) By 1498 'Mayne's lands' belonged to John Stokes of Seend, who then left them to his son, John, the younger. (fn. 68) By c. 1562 Thomas Baily of Baldham owned the property, for he then settled it on his son William when he married Edith, daughter of William Goddard. (fn. 69) William's son Thomas held it in 1571, when it was the subject of a lawsuit, (fn. 70) but the subsequent descent of the estate has not been traced.
Another part of Bulkington evidently remained with the FitzAlan family. In 1327 John of Keevil was a tenant of the Earl of Arundel, (fn. 71) and ten years later he settled 5 houses and 3 virgates of land on his son John. (fn. 72) In 1343 one of them paid a rent of over £45 for the land of Bulkington. (fn. 73) The younger John apparently became a priest, for in 1345 John of Keevil, clerk, held a moiety of the manor of Bulkington for life, with reversion to the Earl of Arundel. (fn. 74) He still held it in 1354, (fn. 75) but his property subsequently merged again in the FitzAlan inheritance and descended in the same way as Keevil. It was regularly mentioned as a moiety in the Middle Ages, but later simply as the manor of Bulkington, or else the whole estate was called the manor of Keevil and Bulkington.
In 1242 Peter of Bulkington held ½ knight's fee there. (fn. 76) Peter of Bulkington, who acquired land in Bulkington of William Sturdy in 1313, and William, son of Roger of Bulkington, who bought land of John of Aldrington there the following year, may have been descended from him. (fn. 77) Roger of Bulkington and John of Bulkington were both free tenants of the Earl of Arundel in 1327. (fn. 78) In 1428, however, Roger Coufold and Joan his wife held, for Joan's life, ½ knight's fee which formerly belonged to Peter of Bulkington. This life estate was held of Thomas 'Ereberd' and Agnes his wife, who held in right of Agnes. (fn. 79) Although the grant is unrecorded, there is little doubt that this was the property in Bulkington which passed to the house of Bonhommes at Edington. Leland mentioned Thomas Bulkington and Thomas Gereberd among benefactors who were remembered there; (fn. 80) the holder of the Bulkington property in 1428 must have been Thomas Gereberd of Odstock, whose widow Agnes was living in 1448. (fn. 81) It is possible that he gave Bulkington to the monastery, reserving a life estate for his wife, to found obits for himself and Thomas Bulkington, who was perhaps father of Agnes.
In 1560 the Edington manor, having passed to the Crown at the Dissolution, was granted to George Worth of Dauntsey. (fn. 82) He died the following year leaving an infant son George, (fn. 83) who held Bulkington for over 60 years. His only son Edward died in his father's lifetime leaving five sisters to succeed to the property. (fn. 84) George Worth promised Robert Nicholas of Roundway, husband of his daughter Margaret, that she should have her share of it, (fn. 85) but in 1625 he settled the whole manor on the issue of his daughter Isabel when she married Francis Merewether of Market Lavington. (fn. 86) In spite of the opposition of at least one of the other sisters, (fn. 87) Merewether held Bulkington until 1649, when he sold the manor, except the capital house and demesnes, to Samuel Sheppard of Bisley (Glos.). (fn. 88) In 1657, and again in 1661, Sheppard sold parts of the manor in fee, reserving only quit-rents and suit of court. (fn. 89) By 1692 more land had been sold to Stephen Flower, (fn. 90) and a large part of the manor may have been disposed of in this way. The subsequent descent of what manorial rights remained has not been traced until, in the mid-18th century, they were claimed by the Mortimer family of Trowbridge, owners of Pinkney Farm in Keevil; they apparently consisted then only of quit-rents amounting to about £6. (fn. 91) In 1745, however, Edward Mortimer also held a farm of about 55 a. in Bulkington. (fn. 92) It passed to his daughter Mary, wife of Isaac Elton of Bristol. Their grandson sold his Bulkington property c. 1814, mostly to the Revd. Thomas Gaisford. (fn. 93)
The farm and demesnes of Bulkington, reserved out of the sale of the manor in 1649, were settled in 1660 on the vendor's son, Francis Merewether of Easterton. (fn. 94) In 1695 the farm, then called Worth's Farm, was again settled by Francis Merewether, (fn. 95) but no more is known of its history until 1773, when it was held by the Revd. William Long. From him it passed c. 1790 to Francis Long, and thence c. 1813 to the Revd. James Long who still held it in 1839. (fn. 96) It subsequently formed part of the Gaisford estate.
By 1771 the Beach family, lords of Keevil, owned no land in Bulkington, and it seems that much of it had passed to Thomas Gaisford, (fn. 97) a member of a family which had long been of note in the village. Thomas was succeeded by John Gaisford c. 1790. (fn. 98) John's son was Thomas Gaisford, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, 1831–55, a noted Greek scholar. (fn. 99) He left a son Thomas Gaisford of Offington (Suss.), whose son J. C. Gaisford assumed the additional surname of St. Lawrence. He sold the estate in 1919, when it consisted chiefly of Home Farm, Lawn Farm, Bulkington Mill Farm, and Manor Farm. The 845 a. estate was bought in one lot by a syndicate of the tenants. (fn. 100)
The Baynton family of Bromham owned a manor in Bulkington, which, it was said in 1554, had belonged 50 years previously to Lord St. Amand. (fn. 101) It had therefore come to the Bayntons in the same way as their manor of Roches in Bromham. (fn. 102) In 1562 Andrew Baynton sold the manor to Roger Earth of Salisbury, (fn. 103) and from him it must have descended to his nephew William Earth, who, with his son Joseph, sold it to William Dodington in 1599. (fn. 104) It no doubt became merged in the property he already held in Bulkington (see below).
In 1587 property described as the manor of Bulkington was granted by the Crown to Sir Francis Walsingham and Francis Mylles. (fn. 105) No previous owner was mentioned; it is hard to see why the Crown held property in Bulkington, unless in fact it was another part of the Edington manor. In the same year Walsingham and Mylles sold the manor to William Dodington. (fn. 106) By 1613 his property in Bulkington, no doubt including that bought of William Earth (see above), had passed to Giles Tooker of Maddington, who then, with Edward Lambert and George Worth, owned manorial rights there. (fn. 107) Tooker died in 1623, holding the manor and was succeeded by Edward his son, (fn. 108) who in 1627 sold it to Thomas Lambert. (fn. 109) Lambert held it at his death in 1638, (fn. 110) and it no doubt became merged in his other manor of Bulkington (see above).
In 1558 John Jones of Keevil bought houses and lands there from Henry, Earl of Arundel. (fn. 111) Jones died in 1566 (fn. 112) leaving an eldest son John, who in the following year sold land at Keevil Wick to Richard Lambert. (fn. 113) Thomas Jones, second son of the first John, also held land in Keevil, which he may have bought from his elder brother. (fn. 114) In 1585 he sold land to Roger Blagden, a Keevil clothier. (fn. 115) When he died in 1603 Blagden owned land at Wick Leaze and a cottage called 'Conscience alias Reades', (fn. 116) which had previously belonged to the Jones family. (fn. 117) His son Roger held this land at his death in 1630, and also more, probably of his own acquisition, which included a mansion house called 'Stephen's Hold'. (fn. 118) This probably took its name from Lawrence Stephens, a prosperous clothier who died c. 1486. (fn. 119) The whole property remained in the Blagden family for several generations. Another Roger Blagden was living in 1668, (fn. 120) and an Edward Blagden in 1683. Another Edward died in 1730, and his son Edward died without issue in 1748. Anne and Eleanor Blagden, sisters of the last Edward, both died unmarried, in 1773 and 1785 respectively. The estate passed, probably by devise, to their cousin Ann Dare. (fn. 121) In 1793 it consisted of Blagden House, Church Farm, and Wick Leaze Farm. (fn. 122) At Ann Dare's death in 1807 the estate passed, probably again by devise, to John Chamberlaine, who died in 1812. His son the Revd. G. T. Chamberlaine held it until his death in 1858, and was succeeded by his daughter, who married W. H. Pooke, Vicar of Keevil, 1839–1902; he changed his name to Chamberlaine in 1872. (fn. 123) By 1863 Pinkney Farm and a farm at Keevil, Wick had been acquired. (fn. 124) The estates have been sold in the present century. (fn. 125)
Blagden House was probably built in the mid17th century, but the back (west) wall is timberframed, and it may be that the back part of the house contains some remains of 'Stephen's Hold' of the late 15th century. Otherwise the threestoried house is of brick, covered with stucco, standing on a stone plinth, and with a stone-tiled roof. The main front has three gables, and the sides two each; they have moulded copings and ball finials, and in them are two-light stone-mullioned attic windows. The lower parts of the house were remodelled in the early 18th century. An elaborately-decorated lead gutter joining rainwater heads between each gable is dated 1710. Sash windows in bolection-moulded stone surrounds were inserted, and there are many internal features, including a fine staircase, of this date. The pointed central doorway is probably of the later 18th century in the Gothic taste, and there is a twostoried extension of the same period to the north. A three-gabled stable block, of brick with stone quoins, having mullioned and transomed windows on the ground floor and oval windows above, probably dates from 1710. So too do the tall stone gate-piers crowned with carved vases and the garden wall of rubble with stone coping.
William Jones, third son of the John Jones who bought property of the Earl of Arundel, owned at his death in 1620 a house called Brent Place alias Barkesdale's, and certain lands belonging to it. This property was settled on his younger son Henry and his wife Abigail for life, (fn. 126) and Abigail claimed that she held it for life in 1644, although apparently as a leaseholder under Elizabeth Lambert, lady of the manor. (fn. 127) Whether it was freehold or leasehold, and its subsequent descent, have not been determined. It has been suggested more than once, however, that Jones lived in the house in Keevil now called Talboys. (fn. 128) Although unbacked by evidence, the suggestion is plausible. The house in which Jones lived took its name Brent Place alias Barkesdale's from William Brent (d. c. 1494) or from Thomas Barkesdale (fl. c. 1500–25), the most prosperous of all Keevil clothiers. (fn. 129) Either of these men may have been the builder of Talboys. Nothing is certainly known about the house, however, until the late 17th century, when it was held by Edward Berry, a maltster. A member of his family still held it in 1749, (fn. 130) but by 1765 it belonged to Thomas Talboys of Doughton in Tetbury (Glos.). (fn. 131) He died in that year leaving his property, including the house at Keevil, to his kinsman Thomas Talboys. (fn. 132) The younger Thomas still owned the house with about 35 a. of land in 1795, (fn. 133) but early in the 19th century it passed, no doubt by sale, to James Watts, and thence to the Chamberlaine family. (fn. 134) It was held of them by tenant farmers until the 1870's, when it was taken over and restored by Mrs. A. J. Kenrick, daughter of the Revd. G. T. Chamberlaine. (fn. 135)
Talboys is a timber-framed house dating from the late 15th or early 16th century, which originally consisted of a hall wing with a cross wing at the west end. In the restoration the inserted floor in the hall was removed to expose the roof, which has three tiers of curved wind-braces. The cross wing is jettied out at first-floor level, and has carved barge-boards. Its roof has arch-braced collar-beam trusses and one tier of wind-braces, and the lower room has a ceiling with moulded beams and bosses. In 1876 a similar cross wing was built at the east end of the hall block, which was lengthened, and a two storied porch was added at the centre to make a symmetrical facade. All the window tracery at the front was renewed then. (fn. 136)
Only one piece of monastic property apart from the manor of Bulkington has been traced in Keevil parish. In 1331 Ivychurch priory held some land in Bulkington of Ralph of Wilynton, under-tenant of the Earl of Arundel, paying the yearly rent of a rose. The priory had granted the land to John Wyght at a rent of a pound of cummin. Two of Wyght's tenants granted the land they held of him to the chapel at Bulkington. (fn. 137) This land so granted evidently became absorbed in the Rector of Edington's manor of Bulkington, for he was paying a yearly rent of 9s. 4d. for it to the Priory of Ivychurch in 1535. (fn. 138) Another rent, of 10s. 8d., had once been received by the priory from Thomas Barkesdale, but had not been paid for many years. (fn. 139)
At least two chantries were endowed with land in Keevil. Among the property of Horton's chantry at Bradford (fn. 140) was a house and about 23 a. of land in Keevil, which in 1548 was held by Walter Lucas on a 40-year lease. (fn. 141) In the following year it was, like the rest of the chantry's property, granted by the Crown to the founder's nephew, Thomas Horton of Iford. (fn. 142) It evidently descended in his family to William Horton of Wolverton (Som.), who held it in 1605, but its subsequent descent has not been traced. (fn. 143) Grenville's chantry at North Bradley was endowed with a house and about 28 a. of land in Keevil. (fn. 144) It probably remained with the Long family in the same way as the other lands of the chantry. (fn. 145) In 1554 it was said that a rent out of a holding in Baynton's manor of Bulkington had formerly been paid to a chantry priest at Lavington, (fn. 146) but no further reference to this has been found.
Pinkney Farm belonged to Edward Mortimer of Trowbridge in 1745, (fn. 147) and remained the property of his family until 1812, when Edward Horlock Mortimer sold it to John Watts. (fn. 148) By 1850 it had passed to the Chamberlaines of Blagden House. (fn. 149) The farmhouse is described above. (fn. 150) The northern most of the two farms at Keevil Wick also belonged to the Mortimers; Edward Mortimer the elder left it to his daughter Anne in 1743, (fn. 151) and she held it until the end of the century. It then passed to her relatives, the Eltons, and was later sold to the Chamberlaines. (fn. 152) The southern farm at Wick belonged to Daniel Capel in 1795, and to William Capel in 1850. (fn. 153) By 1863 it had passed to George Bartlett. (fn. 154) Oxen Leaze Farm was also the property of the Capel family between 1795 and 1863. (fn. 155)
In 1086 Keevil was assessed at 16 hides and there was land for 16 ploughs; 7 hides and 6 ploughs, with 10 serfs, were in demesne, while 18 villeins and 14 bordars had 12 ploughs. A considerable amount of pasture and woodland belonged to the manor, which was worth £26 in all. (fn. 156) When Keevil was extended in 1284, the lord had in demesne a capital messuage; 80 a. of arable land, not measured by the 'reasonable' perch, but by the works of the tenants; certain parcels of meadow; several pasture; and the pasture, pannage, and underwood of a wood. Twenty bond tenants did small works in winter and Lent, and heavy ones in the hay and corn harvest, and there were 19 acremen and 11 Monday-men; the latter worked every Monday in the year except three. Rent received from free and bond tenants amounted to over £18. (fn. 157) The manor was leased to Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, for 12 years in 1292. (fn. 158) In 1302, when it was again extended, the demesne was reckoned at 400 a. arable, 40 a. meadow, a several pasture, and the pasture of West Wood. Free tenants, including holders of foreign fees at a distance, paid 23s. The bond tenants then comprised 3 whole-virgaters, 25½-virgaters, 13⅓-virgaters and 7 cottars; all except the cottars still did works. (fn. 159)
A third extent, made in 1327, shows a considerable change. The demesne had been reduced to 217 a. of arable and 41 a. of meadow; the lord had common for 60 cattle in Oxen Leaze and Cowenleaze, where the bond tenants also had pasture, and he had the pasture of a wood, also with the tenants. The number of bond tenants had increased considerably for there were then 3 whole-virgaters, 32. ½-virgaters, 20 ⅓-virgaters, 2 ¼-virgaters, and 26 cottars. The increase in their holdings had probably been achieved not only by reduction of the demesne, but also by extension of the cultivated area, for a rent was paid to the sheriff for assarted land. The works of the tenants were entirely commuted. (fn. 160) Four years later the demesne had been still further reduced to 116 a. arable and 13 a. meadow, and the large sum of £52 3s. was received for arable and meadow let at farm. (fn. 161) An account roll of 1343 (fn. 162) shows that some of the demesne was still farmed, but apparently on an insignificant scale. Over £75 was received for land let at farm, beside over £45 for the manor of Bulkington held by John of Keevil, (fn. 163) giving a net return from the manor for that one year of about £150 in all. By 1394 demesne farming had entirely ended, and the demesnes were leased to Nicholas Frogg and William Webb. (fn. 164)
In the early 17th century a three-field course of husbandry was followed in Keevil, each field being successively sown with wheat and then beans, and then fallowed. (fn. 165) The fields were Cooplechurch Field between Keevil and Steeple Ashton; North Field north of the village, and Wick Field between the village and the stream west of Wick Farms. In 1613 the field for wheat was rid of stock on 9 October, and the last wheatfield broken the same day; the last beanfield was broken on 30 October, and the next field for beans rid on 25 March. In 1617 tenants were allowed to graze in the fields one cow or four sheep for every acre of arable they held, and double this allowance for meadow. These stints were varied in succeeding years by court orders. It was evidently the custom to sell pasture rights in the fields. In 1619 it was agreed that any men who could neither sell nor use their pasture should be compensated by a rate raised from the other commoners. In 1624 sheep were allowed in the wheatfield as long as they had a shepherd to keep them from the green corn. Much of the meadow of the tenants lay along the stream between Keevil and Keevil Wick, at Hitchingfield and Broadmead north of Pinkney Farm, and at Towmead near Wick Bridge. In 1608 it was agreed that the doles of meadow in Flipmead, Horslade, and Towmead should be measured, and every man's doles cast into one piece at one or other of them.
There seems to have been no open common in Keevil by 1600, but considerable commons, in which the tenants had stinted common rights at certain times of the year, lay to the north, west, and south-east of the village beyond the common fields. North Wood no doubt lay near Woodhouse Farm; in it 15 copyholders of Keevil and 2 freeholders had pasture for 3 beasts from April until December. In 1603 they agreed with the lord that it should be inclosed, every man having an acre for each beast leaze and the lord the remainder. Little Wood, in which 3 freeholders and 13 copyholders had leazes in the autumn, was also inclosed then. By 1644 a number of closes in North Wood which had evidently fallen to the lord's share were held by tenants on lease, while considerable exchanges between tenants of land in the Wood took place in the years following inclosure. West Wood lay on the Hinton boundary. Pasture rights were limited to such as were ancient commoners there, and were said in 1617 to be unlimited for all manner of cattle except sheep, which were only to winter there, and were to be limited to the number which could be pastured on each tenant's holding in the field then used for sheep. In the previous year, however, it had been ordered that West Wood should be measured, and the numbers of cattle that it would keep estimated. In 1621 overseers of the common to decide on the stints were appointed. In 1653 it was agreed that the West Wood should be hained from Lady Day to May Day yearly, and then fed with cattle until December, when sheep could go in. It is not known when the West Wood was inclosed. Oxen Leaze must have lain around the modern farm of that name; some tenants had stinted common for cattle and sheep in it. Forty seven acres of it, perhaps the lord of the manor's share, were bought and inclosed by Joseph Houlton of Trowbridge in the late 17th century; probably the whole was inclosed at this time. (fn. 166)
Some inclosure of open-field land had taken place in Keevil by the early 17th century. Most of the land which had belonged to Horton's chantry was inclosed by 1549, (fn. 167) and in 1603 Roger Blagden held 80 a. of inclosed land at Wick Meads and Wick Leaze. (fn. 168) A survey of the Lambert property in 1644 (fn. 169) lists 54 copyholds, mainly ½ virgates and less, which were still largely open-field arable. About 50 leaseholds consisted chiefly of inclosed land; many of these holdings were small inclosures from North Wood, but one or two leaseholders held somewhat larger inclosed farms, and John Harris had paid a fine of £650 for 40 a. of inclosed pasture at South Wick and Hurst Grounds. By the end of the century there is little doubt that all the land near the streams by Keevil Wick and Wick Leaze Farms was used exclusively for dairying and stockraising. James Stokes held Wick Leaze from c. 1677 and stocked it with milch cows, fatting beasts and sheep, the farm being worth £112 a year. (fn. 170) Thomas Ellis kept 15 milch cows and 40 sheep on Oxenleaze Farm in 1706, and John Hayward kept 10 milch cows and 20 sheep. (fn. 171)
By the end of the 18th century the modern pattern of farming in Keevil had largely emerged. The common fields and meadows, of which only remnants remained, were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1795. (fn. 172) Only 44 a. of the Beach property out of over 800 a. was still held by copyholders. (fn. 173) A large part of the rest had been consolidated from many small holdings into three farms. Westwood Farm consisted of 10, and Longleaze Farm of 13, former holdings, and Manor Farm had one smaller holding annexed to it. A fourth, Baldham, was probably a separate farm of long standing. (fn. 174) Other modern farms which had appeared as considerable holdings included Pinkney, Wick Leaze, Oxen Leaze, Church, Woodhouse, and Hurst Farms, and two farms at Keevil Wick. (fn. 175) In 1801 there were just over 400 a. of arable land in the ancient parish, mainly sown with wheat and beans. (fn. 176) By 1863, one new farm, Mere Farm, had been built. The largest farms in the parish, the four principal farms of the Beach estate, were all between 150 and 250 a., but most of the others were between 40 a. and 100 a. (fn. 177) By 1914 the parish was almost entirely given over to dairy farming. (fn. 178)
Nothing is known about agriculture in Bulkington before the 16th century. In 1555 three fields, called North, South, and East Fields were mentioned. (fn. 179) A survey made in 1564 of the manor granted to George Worth shows that little of the land had been inclosed, except about a quarter of the demesnes, which were then held by John Somner on a 31-year lease. Tenants had stinted pasture in a common called Bulkington Leaze. (fn. 180) Although the land had been long inclosed, the names of the fields survived until the 19th century. North Field lay between Pantry Bridge and the road to Seend; East (or Little) Field between the village and Mill Farm; and South (or Great) Field between the stream past Mill Farm and the Erlestoke boundary. Bulkington Leaze lay north-east of the village, between the North and East Fields. (fn. 181) A fourth field, called Hitching Field, is sometimes mentioned in the 17th century, although not all holdings included land in it. It lay apparently in the north-west corner of the tithing. (fn. 182) By 1644 at least part of Bulkington Leaze had been inclosed, and an inclosure of 30 a. had recently been made in South Field. (fn. 183) Much inclosure had evidently taken place of the former Worth property in Bulkington. By 1660 the manor farm consisted of about 150 a. all inclosed, (fn. 184) and other parts of the manor included closes at Bulkington Leaze and Hitching Field. (fn. 185) The three fields still contained open arable land in 1738, (fn. 186) and the East and South Fields were still partly open in 1771. (fn. 187) No Inclosure Act was ever obtained and the inclosure of the tithing was probably complete before the end of the century. By 1839 the tithing was chiefly divided into 7 farms, of which 3 were over 100 a. (fn. 188)
As in other villages in the district, the earliest appearance of the cloth industry in Keevil was connected with the mills. Baldham Mill was used for fulling cloth by 1371, (fn. 189) when its racks were in decay, and Bulkington or Gayford Mill had been so used for some years before 1486. (fn. 190) Cloth was being made in Bulkington by three weavers in 1377, (fn. 191) and William Coterell was a weaver at Keevil in 1442. (fn. 192) Toward the end of the 15th century there were important clothiers in Keevil. Lawrence Stephens, who occupied Bulkington Mill, died a prosperous man in 1486, leaving the mill to his son, (fn. 193) who, dying soon after, was succeeded by Thomas Barkesdale in 1502. (fn. 194) Barkesdale was probably the most important of all Keevil clothiers. Transactions of his which are on record include the sale of cloth worth 400 marks to one buyer, (fn. 195) another sale of 20 broad cloths to a London merchant, (fn. 196) and a debt of £100 owed him by a London mercer. (fn. 197) He was more heavily assessed than any other man in the hundred in the subsidy of 1524. (fn. 198) His son, Robert Barkesdale, was also a clothier, (fn. 199) but Thomas was succeeded at Bulkington by William Baily, a member of the Trowbridge clothing family. Another branch of the Bailys had held Baldham Mill since at least 1502. (fn. 200) Other 16th century clothiers of Keevil included Roger Winslow (fl. c. 1546); (fn. 201) William Jones, who was fined for defective cloth in 1563; (fn. 202) Thomas Spire (fl. c. 1575); (fn. 203) and John Smith (fl. c. 1594), (fn. 204) who held Baldham Mill after the Bailys. (fn. 205) The most important clothier of the later 16th century at Keevil was Roger Blagden. He was heavily assessed in the subsidy of 1576, (fn. 206) and before his death in 1603 had built up a considerable property. (fn. 207) A William Blagden, perhaps his grandson, was a clothier at Keevil in 1632. (fn. 208) By this time, however, few clothiers were left in the village. (fn. 209) What clothing trade remained after the mid-17th century was no doubt confined to the mills at Baldham and Bulkington. Nicholas Lyne was a fuller in 1652, (fn. 210) and Samuel Haynes, who held Bulkington Mill, (fn. 211) was described as a dyer in 1706. (fn. 212) Bulkington was still described as a tucking mill and gig mill in 1730, when it was held by a Devizes clothier. (fn. 213) The date when either mill ceased to work for the cloth trade has not been determined, but Bulkington probably survived until the 19th century, for in 1831 it was said that a cloth 'factory' there had recently closed. (fn. 214)
There were two mills at Keevil in 1086. (fn. 215) These were probably the two mills which Ernulf of Hesdin, the first holder of that name, gave to the nuns of Romsey Abbey. (fn. 216) Nevertheless, two water mills, then ruinous, belonged to the manor of Keevil in 1327. (fn. 217) Over 30s. was spent on the repair of the mills of 'Wadeford' and Bulkington in 1343, and toll corn was received from the millers, although the rent of £6 13s. 4d. was in arrears. (fn. 218) One mill was in decay, owing to the neglect of John Gigull, in 1394, (fn. 219) but no further reference to any mills annexed to the manor of Keevil has been found.
The two mills granted to Romsey in the 11th century were those at Baldham and Gayford, near the site of the present Bulkington Mill Farm, (fn. 220) the only two mills in Keevil parish which survived into modern times. Baldham, the early connexion of which with the cloth trade has been outlined above, (fn. 221) was held by copyholders under the Abbess of Romsey in 1371, (fn. 222) in 1410, when the tenant forfeited it for waste, (fn. 223) and in the mid-15th century. (fn. 224) By 1502 it was held by William Baily. (fn. 225) He died in 1536 (fn. 226) and his widow Marion took a 60-year lease of the mill, with lands belonging to it, in the following year. (fn. 227) After the death of their son Thomas, c. 1566, a dispute about the leasehold interest arose between the widow of his son William and another son Nicholas. (fn. 228) Meanwhile the freehold of the mill, which had descended in the same way as the manor of Steeple Ashton, (fn. 229) was in 1553 granted by the Crown to Sir William Sharington. (fn. 230) The mill descended in the same way as the manor of Seend (fn. 231) to Sir Francis Fane, and Mary his wife, who in 1611 assured it to John and Mary Hardkyn and John Crook for their lives. (fn. 232) Hardkyn, who was a nephew of Sir Henry Sharington, had held the mill by lease since 1757. (fn. 233) The descent of the property in the 17th and 18th centuries has not been traced until 1795, when it was owned by Michael Hicks Beach; (fn. 234) its subsequent descent was the same as that of Keevil Manor.
In 1410 the Abbess of Romsey granted an estate for three lives in the house, mill and 13 a. of land 'in the close of Gayford' to Robert Coufold, who agreed to rebuild the house and mill. (fn. 235) In the late 15th and 16th centuries the mill was held by successive families of clothiers. (fn. 236) The freehold was granted to Sir William Sharington with Baldham Mill (see above), but he does not seem to have held it at his death in 1553. (fn. 237) In 1604 it was owned by George Collins (fn. 238) and in the early 18th century by Robert Purchas. By 1730 it belonged to James Sutton, a Devizes clothier, who then settled it on his son Prince. Prince's only surviving son, James, held the property in 1800, when it included two houses and a few acres of land. (fn. 239) By 1839 it belonged to the Revd. Charles Gaisford; the mill was held separately from the farm, which included 76 a. of land. (fn. 240)
The large three-storied mill is of brick, with flatheaded windows in stone surrounds and with a central stone mullion, and probably dates from the later 18th century. The massive construction of its floors was perhaps to bear the weight of clothworking machinery. It was powered by an undershot wheel. After it ceased to be used for the cloth trade it was used as a grist mill until early in the present century; since then it has been used as a farm building. (fn. 241)
There was a church at Keevil by the late 11th century, for it was then granted to Shaftesbury Abbey. The institutional relationship of the chapel which existed at Bulkington in the Middle Ages to the church of Keevil is not known. (fn. 242) A new chapel was built at Bulkington in 1860; the Vicar of Keevil was patron, and the incumbent was designated a perpetual curate in 1883, but the tithing was never constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 243) Since 1905 the curacy has been continuously held with the vicarage of Keevil. (fn. 244)
Ernulf of Hesdin, the Domesday tenant of Keevil, gave the church, with its tithes and land, to the nuns of Shaftesbury when his daughter took the veil there, and his gift was confirmed by his son. (fn. 245) The abbess had apparently appropriated the rectory by 1222; there was then a perpetual vicar, Thomas, who paid a yearly stipend to the parson. (fn. 246) The benefice has remained a vicarage until the present time. The abbess's right to the advowson was questioned in 1222 by John FitzAlan, then lord of Keevil, who claimed that Henry II had presented the perpetual vicar 60 years before, when the FitzAlan barony was in the king's hands. The abbess produced William of Stokes, apparently the actual incumbent, and it was found that the benefice was not vacant. (fn. 247) The earliest recorded institutions, between 1301 and 1339, were at the presentation of abbesses, but in 1344 Richard, Earl of Arundel, presented. (fn. 248) Being challenged by the abbess, he claimed that after the previous dispute an agreement was reached between the parties that the lords of Keevil should present at every third vacancy, and that this was done for some time, but the abbess had presented at the last five vacancies by taking advantage of Richard's minority. (fn. 249) In particular, the earl claimed that his ancestor had presented one, Robert of Leicester; the abbess obtained a certificate from the bishop that a previous abbess had presented him, (fn. 250) and apparently won her case, for abbesses presented at the next four vacancies. (fn. 251) In 1393, however, the impropriate rectory and the advowson were, at the instance of John Bleobury, conveyed to the house of Bonhommes at Edington. (fn. 252) The rectors of Edington presented until the Dissolution. (fn. 253) In 1550 John Bush and William Hutton presented, apparently by virtue of a lease granted by the last rector, (fn. 254) for in 1541 the rectory and advowson had been granted to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. (fn. 255) They have presented to the living ever since, but the endowment of the rectory passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the 19th century. (fn. 256)
The church of Keevil was worth £26 13s. 4d. c. 1291. (fn. 257) The clear value of the rectory in 1535 was £18 11s. 4d., (fn. 258) and in 1649 £260. (fn. 259) Although the great tithes in both Keevil and Bulkington belonged to the rectory, they were usually treated separately. The great tithes of Keevil had been held by William Baily before the Dissolution, but in 1538 they were leased to John Bodenham for 31 years at a rent of £14. (fn. 260) They were subsequently leased and assigned repeatedly, for in 1652 they had been held by at least eight tenants within living memory, some of whom had under-tenants. (fn. 261) In 1649 they were held on a 21-year lease at a rent of £17 a year, (fn. 262) and there is little doubt that leasing continued regularly throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1795, when Sir William Heathcote was lessee, (fn. 263) the tithes of Keevil were commuted to a corn-rent, the rector being allotted £222 12s. a year. (fn. 264) This corn-rent was converted to a rent charge of £267 12s. in 1863, when the last lease, to Thomas Heathcote Tragett, had run out. (fn. 265) The rent charge on nearly 1,000 a. was assigned to the vicar in 1870 (see below).
The great tithes of Bulkington were leased to John Somner for 26 years in 1538 at an annual rent of £10. (fn. 266) They were evidently regularly leased in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1649, when they were held on a lease for three lives granted in 1616, they were worth £80 a year. (fn. 267) Later holders included Joseph Houlton of Trowbridge, who held at his death in 1720, (fn. 268) and John Watts of Trowbridge, who mortgaged the tithes for £1,200 in 1774, when they were held on a 21-year lease at £10 rent. (fn. 269) In 1839, when the lessee was the Revd. Thomas Gaisford, the rectorial tithes of Bulkington were commuted for £145. (fn. 270)
In 1341 the rectorial glebe consisted of a virgate of land and 3 a. of meadow. (fn. 271) After the Dissolution it seems to have been invariably leased with the great tithes of Keevil. In 1649 it consisted of a thatched house of 4 rooms, a barn, and 36½ a. of land, worth in all £26 7s. 6d. a year, (fn. 272) and it was still reckoned at about the same area in 1795 (fn. 273) and 1863. (fn. 274) The house was pulled down c. 1842; it stood on what was later the kitchen garden of the new vicarage built then. (fn. 275) There was no glebe in Bulkington tithing.
In 1222 a perpetual vicar paid 20s. 8d. a year to the actual incumbent. (fn. 276) In 1535 the vicarage was worth £12 6s 11d. net., (fn. 277) and in 1649 £40 a year. (fn. 278) In 1783 the vicar received a stipend of £25 a year from the dean and chapter beside his tithes. (fn. 279) In 1831 his average net income was £250. (fn. 280) The vicarage was endowed with £20 a year from the common fund in 1869; in the following year this was replaced by £133 14s. 6d. from the great tithes of the parish. (fn. 281) The vicar owned all the small tithes of Keevil and Bulkington, (fn. 282) which were usually taken by composition in the late 17th century. Richard Shrapnell rented the vicarial tithes c. 1700. (fn. 283) The vicar's tithes in Keevil were commuted to a corn rent of £135 6s. 7d. in 1795, (fn. 284) which was converted to a rent charge of £162 13s. 10d. in 1863. (fn. 285) His tithes in Bulkington were commuted for £101 in 1839. (fn. 286) In 1783 the vicar's glebe consisted only of a timber-framed house and a garden. (fn. 287) The house was considered unfit for residence in 1831, (fn. 288) and was pulled down in 1842, when a new vicarage was built nearby. (fn. 289) It stood on part of the rectorial glebe and was transferred to the vicar by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1868. (fn. 290) After the Second World War it was sold, and a smaller vicarage built near the village street.
No chantries were founded in Keevil church. In 1483 there were lights of St. Leonard and Holy Cross there. (fn. 291) In 1332 Henry Thomas and John Gille were licensed to grant land in Bulkington to a chaplain to celebrate for their souls in the chapel there. (fn. 292) The endowment seems to have been absorbed into the property of the Bonhommes of Edington, (fn. 293) and nothing further is known of the chantry.
John Maundrell, one of the Marian martyrs, was a farmer at Bulkington. In the time of Henry VIII he was accused of speaking against certain ceremonies and did penance at Devizes. In Mary's reign he left the district for some time, but on his return went, with John Spicer and William Corberly, (fn. 294) to Keevil church and interrupted the vicar in his service. All three were subsequently taken to Salisbury, and burnt at Bemerton in 1556. (fn. 295) Further disturbances in church took place in the early 17th century. An injured party, Robert Blagden, declared that two of his opponents commonly disturbed the minister during service; one of them, William Jones, tore up briefs, and called the minister fool, ass, and knave. They in turn accused Blagden of publicly doubting whether the writings of the prophets and apostles were true. (fn. 296) Thomas Rutty, Vicar of Keevil, 1646-c. 1654, was afterwards ejected from Milston, and became a noted Presbyterian preacher in the Trowbridge and Melksham districts. (fn. 297) James Garth, vicar 1670–1702, and Lancelot Docker, Lascelles Iremonger, W. D. Harrison, and Henry Richards, successively vicars between 1783 and 1839, were all non-residents. (fn. 298) In Docker's time his curate lived at Steeple Ashton, but performed services twice on Sunday, once with a sermon. He held extra services at the chief festivals, and administered the sacrament four times a year, generally to about six people. (fn. 299) Services were still held twice on Sundays in 1851; the congregation was about 50, and there was a Sunday School of 29 children.
The foundations of an early church were traditionally thought to lie in Cooplechurch Field, and were uncovered in 1913. The building was 56 ft. long, rectangular, and lay east and west. The base of a cross, now in the church, which had been found in the field previously, and two skeletons, found in 1913, indicate that it was a church, but no clue to its date was found. (fn. 300) It was perhaps an earlier parish church of Keevil.
The church of ST. LEONARD consists of nave, chancel, north and south transepts, south aisle, west tower, and north, west, and south porches. There are two single-light windows in the north and south walls of the chancel, probably of the 13th century. In the late 14th or early 15th century the church may have been rebuilt as a cruciform building, probably after the monks of Edington acquired the rectory in 1393. The tracery of the east window of the chancel has affinities with that at Edington, and the north porch is also probably unaltered from that time. In the early 16th century the church was remodelled in the style of the time, and a south aisle was added. The tower was also either added or rebuilt. Walter Lucas of Steeple Ashton left money to building works at Keevil in 1514, (fn. 301) and William Baily of Baldham in 1516 ordered 20s. to be spent on the building of the south aisle. (fn. 302)
The nave is of three bays, and has a low pitched roof resting on trusses with trefoil-headed panels above the tie beams. The ceiling panels are plastered here and in the south aisle, where the flat roof is also original. The south porch has a tunnel vault with traceried panels; it is now used as a vestry. The similar porch at the west end was rebuilt exactly like the previous one in 1873. (fn. 303) Externally the church is decorated with embattled parapets, pinnacles, and gargoyles. The tower is of three stages, with bell-openings with diagonal tracery reminiscent of Edington.
In 1807 the screen separating the chancel from the nave, apparently of the 16th century, was taken down; parts were found re-used as joists a century later. In 1814 the pews were renewed, and panelling 5 ft. high put round the church. A new pulpit and reading desk were made, and an altar-piece put up. (fn. 304) A west gallery was removed in 1874, and the church was re-seated in 1909–10, when the present organ was built. (fn. 305) The font rests on a circular pedestal surrounded by four small shafts, perhaps of the 14th century; the octagonal bowl with quatrefoil panels was either remodelled or erected to replace a previous one in the early 16th century. In the early 19th century it was removed from the church, and a large octagonal stoup of the same period was used as a font instead. The old font was bought from a mason by the Vicar of Steeple Ashton and was for some time in the garden of the vicarage there. It was restored to the church later in the century. (fn. 306) The stoup is now in the vestry.
The church is rich in mural tablets of the 17th and 18th centuries. Notable are those to the Blagden family (c. 1785), James Richardson (1782), and Jane Talbot (1768), which all use coloured marbles; the Talbot one is by Ford of Bath. Under the tower is an achievment of the royal arms painted on wood, dated 1715. On the nave wall near the south transept is a decayed black letter inscription of a text, apparently of the 16th century.
There were four bells and a sanctus bell at Keevil in 1553. Of the present peal of six, two are by John Wallis of Salisbury (1609), two by Thomas Bilbie of Chewstoke (1761), one by James Wells of Aldbourne (1810), and one by Mears (1842). The sanctus bell mentioned in 1553 remains in a bellcot on the eastern gable of the nave. It is probably of the 13th century, and was not cast but turned on a lathe. (fn. 307) The plate consists of a chalice and cover of 1577, a chalice of 1784 bought for the parish in 1842, a paten of 1817, and a flagon of 1893. (fn. 308) The registers are complete from 1559.
It is possible that there were two chapels in Bulkington in the Middle Ages. In 1331 a chantry was founded in the chapel of St. Mary at Bulkington (see above). The lands with which it was endowed evidently became part of the property later acquired by the Bonhommes of Edington there, and they paid a rent for them at the Dissolution. (fn. 309) A 'house called the Chapel House' was in 1564 part of the demesnes of the manor they formerly held in Bulkington, (fn. 310) so that it seems that this chapel probably ceased to exist at the Dissolution of the monasteries; no record of its dissolution with the chantries exists. Nevertheless, in 1553 the Commissioners left a chalice and two bells for a chapel at Bulkington, (fn. 311) which would imply that it was a parochial chapel rather than a free chapel or chantry. In 1576 a chapel of St. Andrew in Bulkington was granted by the Crown to Andrew Palmer and others. (fn. 312) The only other references to chapels at Bulkington, bequests of money to the priest celebrating there in 1495, (fn. 313) and to the chapel in 1515, (fn. 314) both refer to 'the chapel of Bulkington' as though there were only one there. It may be that the Bonhommes appropriated the endowment of the chantry in St. Mary's chapel and transferred the masses to Edington in the 15th century, so that St. Andrew's chapel was the only one in the 16th century. Whether it was in fact a parochial chapel, and why it was abandoned between 1553 and 1576 is not known. No reference to any institutional relationship to Keevil parish church has been found.
The present church at Bulkington, CHRIST CHURCH, was built in 1860 to the design of T. Cundy. (fn. 315) It consists of a chancel, nave, and western bellcot with one bell; the window tracery is in the early Decorated style. The plate was presented when the church was founded. (fn. 316) The organ was bought from Yatesbury church. (fn. 317)
In spite of the early manifestation of dissent in Keevil by John Maundrell, (fn. 318) there were only seven nonconformists in the parish in 1676. (fn. 319) During the earlier 18th century three houses in Keevil were licensed for Protestant dissenters, (fn. 320) but nothing is known of the congregations that used them. The only sect which gained a permanent position in Keevil was the Methodist. In 1783 Methodists met monthly at the house of a labourer and were taught by a barber from Bradford. (fn. 321) A building was first licensed for Methodist worship in 1812; (fn. 322) this may have been in Bulkington, where the very small stone chapel with plastered front was built and licensed in 1816. (fn. 323) By 1829 there were congregations in both villages, with 40 members at Keevil and 50 or 60 at Bulkington. (fn. 324) A chapel was built and licensed at Keevil in 1833. (fn. 325) Both buildings were still in use in 1851; congregations at Keevil averaged between 70 and 80 and at Bulkington between 30 and 40. In addition, 40 or 50 Primitive Methodists were meeting in a cottage at Bulkington. (fn. 326) The licence for their room was cancelled in 1876. (fn. 327) Since then the two Wesleyan Methodist chapels have been the only nonconformist places of worship. A Sunday school was added to the Keevil chapel in 1901. (fn. 328)
In 1783 there was a school in Keevil for teaching children English and arithmetic. (fn. 329) There were two day schools in the parish in 1819. One of these received £5 a year out of a farm which belonged to Nicholas Hicks Beach, lord of the manor; this sum was thought to have been left by an ancestor, probably one of the Beach family, but no details of the bequest could be found. Between 8 and 12 poor boys were educated with this money, and about 20 other children at their parents' expense. A second school had about 20 pupils. (fn. 330) The school which received the charity still existed in 1835, with about the same number of pupils. The only other day school then in the parish was one at Bulkington, started in 1827, where 11 children were paid for by their parents. (fn. 331)
By 1859 the £5 endowment was no longer mentioned. (fn. 332) There was still a school in each of the villages, both housed in cottages. At Keevil an old man had 20 pupils, and at Bulkington the same number was taught by an elderly woman. Some children, however, went to Steeple Ashton and West Ashton. (fn. 333) A school at Keevil was built at the cost of Mrs. Chamberlaine (fn. 334) in 1868. Although it was recognized as a public elementary school, and began to receive a grant about ten years after its foundation, management remained largely in the hands of the Chamberlaine family. In 1871 it was found that the accommodation at the Keevil school would be insufficient for the children from Bulkington. (fn. 335) At that time 21 children attended a Church of England school there, (fn. 336) but places for 45 would be needed under the 1870 Act. Keevil people were unwilling to contribute to a school large enough to include the Bulkington children. A School Board was suggested, and discussion continued until 1880, when it was finally decided to keep the Bulkington children in a cottage there. (fn. 337)
By 1894, however, the children from both villages went to the Keevil school, average attendance being 68 and accommodation 91. (fn. 338) In 1906 the managers still held the school from the Chamberlaine family on a yearly tenancy, paying a £20 rent, (fn. 339) but a 21-year lease was granted in 1913. Finally the school was conveyed in trust to the Diocesan Board of Finance in 1925. (fn. 340) Senior children were removed to the Trowbridge schools in 1941. Controlled status was granted in 1950. (fn. 341)
In 1723 Joan White left a yearly rent-charge of £2 on her lands to trustees to pay to poor people in the tithing of Bulkington. In 1833, and still in 1903, the £2 was divided equally among all the poor there over one year old, each share in 1903 being about 4½ d. (fn. 342) In 1959 it was distributed among a few elderly people. (fn. 343)
Keevil was one of four recipient parishes of a charity founded by George Tayler in 1852. The objects of the charity, in the distribution of bread, the preaching of a children's sermon, and the provision of buns for the Sunday School are the same as at Poulshot. (fn. 344) When the charity was divided in 1906, Keevil was allotted £469 stock. (fn. 345) In 1954 the income of over £12 was being spent on the objects prescribed by the donor. (fn. 346)
In 1625 the inhabitants of Keevil obtained permission to build an almshouse, because many of the poor were forced to live in barns and outhouses; (fn. 347) nothing more is known of it.