A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 9. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.
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The north-eastern corner of the parish of Lydiard Tregoze adjoins the western boundary of the borough of Swindon, but it is some 3 miles from the outskirts of Swindon to the centre of the parish. The parish may be described very roughly as T-shaped, the top of the T, the northern part of the parish, stretching about 5½ miles from east to west, and the trunk of the T extending about 4 miles from north to south.
Until the end of the 19th century there were two detached parts of the parish, both lying to the south in Wroughton. One was the Basset Down estate (approx. 192 a.), and the other was a field of 18 a., lying further south still. (fn. 1) The situation of the Basset Down estate led to some confusion as to the boundary, and consequently the exact area of the parish in the later 19th century. In 1831 and 1841 the area was said to be 5,930 a. (fn. 2) Between 1851 and 1881 it was given as 5, 142 a. (fn. 3) In 1885, when the first ordnance survey maps to mark parish boundaries were made, the area was said to be 5,327 a., including the 18 detached acres, but excluding Basset Down, which was shown as part of Wroughton. (fn. 4) An enquiry by a Local Government Board Commission in 1899, however, found that historically Basset Down belonged to Lydiard Tregoze and the boundary was redrawn on later editions of the maps to bring Basset Down within the parish of Lydiard Tregoze. (fn. 5) In 1901, after this correction had been made, the area was 5, 430 a., still including the detached 18 acres in Wroughton. (fn. 6) In 1928 the parish lost 95 a. in the east to the borough of Swindon, thus reducing the area to 5,335 a. (fn. 7)
The 18 detached acres in Wroughton lay about ¾ mile south of the southern end of Lydiard and represented part of the land which until 1660 had belonged to the estate called Can Court (see below). That year Richard Spenser of Quidhampton acquired three fields, called Overfields and the Croft, comprising 64 a., from the owner of Can Court, since they could more conveniently be farmed with Quidhampton. (fn. 8) These fields then apparently became merged in the parish of Wroughton, in which Quidhampton lies, but a fourth field of 18 a., also belonging to Can Court, and not conveyed to Spenser, continued to be regarded as a detached part of Lydiard Tregoze until 1934 when it, too, was transferred to Wroughton. (fn. 9) In 1951 the area of the parish was 5,316 a. (fn. 10) The southern boundary of the parish even after the confusion of the late 19th century had been cleared up, remains remarkably irregular, undoubtedly owing to conveyances of land between the owners of the various manors.
For the most part the soil of the parish is Kimmeridge Clay, but roughly in the middle there is an inlier of Corallian rocks, some 2 miles in length. Wheatley Limestones predominate at the northeast end of this inlier and have been quarried there, but coral rag covers most of the rest of the surface and has been dug from various small quarries. (fn. 11) In the extreme south the parish just touches upon the Lower Chalk Terrace of the Marlborough Downs. The general impression of the parish is one of flatness, the land hardly anywhere rising above 400 ft., but in the south, where it reaches up to the Chalk, there is a steep rise up Basset Down to 600 ft.
Aubrey, writing in the mid 17th century, mentions a mineral spring in Lydiard called 'Antiock's Well', which once, he says, was famous for its miraculous and healing properties. (fn. 12) The exact site of this well is no longer known, there are, however, several possible locations, including Toothill, where, in the early 19th century a small chalybeate spring, 42 ft. down, was found while the Wilts. and Berks. Canal was being made. (fn. 13)
Small streams form the northern boundary of the parish for much of its course, and another stream entering on the north was dammed to form the lake in Lydiard Park. On the heavy clay lands, particularly towards the south of the parish, deep drainage ditches divide the fields.
Domesday records extensive woodland at Lydiard (fn. 14) and the parish came within the royal forest of Braydon at its greatest extent in the 12th century. Frith Copse, in the north of the parish, lay within the forest in the 13th century. But by perambulations of 1279 and 1300 both Lydiard and Midgehall tithings were disafforested. (fn. 15) As has been shown elsewhere, Robert Tregoze had his own park within the forest by 1256, (fn. 16) and this was probably enlarged in 1270 when leave was given to inclose and impark a wood called Shortgrove. (fn. 17) A map of c. 1700 shows the woodland in the north-west corner of Lydiard Park to be divided into three distinct parts: Old Park Coppice (30 a.), Park Coppice (14 a.), and New Coppice (16 a.). (fn. 18) Two narrow plantations of trees bordering the road, east of Hook Gate, were called Castle Break and Oak Plantation. In 1964 the parish was still well-wooded in the north-west with numerous copses, and a thick belt of trees covered the slopes of Basset Down in the south.
A Pagan-Saxon cemetery was uncovered at Basset Down in 1822. There have also been a few finds of Roman date in the same region. (fn. 19)
In the 14th century Lydiard Tregoze was divided into three separate tithings of Lydiard Tregoze, Mannington, and Midgehall. (fn. 20) The first presumably covered the area roughly speaking in the north of the parish, the second the lands on the eastern side, and the third those on the west. There can be little doubt that there was once a village settlement in the tithing of Lydiard Tregoze somewhere near the parish church, which contains traces of 13thcentury work. (fn. 21) Probably the track, overgrown and disused in 1964, formerly the drive-way to Lydiard Park, and just south of the present drive, marks the line of a former village street, leading up to the church. Taxation assessments made in the 14th century show Lydiard Tregoze to have been then a more populous tithing than either Midgehall or Mannington, and in the 16th century there were more tax-payers in Lydiard Tregoze than in Midgehall (see below). But at some later date the tithing of Lydiard Tregoze drops out and a tithing of Hook emerges, possibly suggesting a shifting of population to that area, and a de-population of the area around the church. Hook and Midgehall were the two tithings into which the parish was divided in the 19th century. No reference to Mannington as a tithing has been found after the 14th century, but since most of the lands comprising the tithing were acquired by the Charterhouse in the 17th century, they retained a collective identity and were known as the Charterhouse lands.
In the 20th century there is no immediately obvious centre of settlement in the parish and the isolation of the parish church within Lydiard Park emphasizes the fact that the parish lacks any real village nucleus. Only at Hook do houses cluster and they lie along the main road between Wootton Bassett and Cricklade, and for a short distance along Hook Street. Here is the school, Methodist chapel, post office, a public house, and a few council houses built after the Second World War. About a mile along Hook Street the grass verges widen out to form greens on either side of the road. This area was known in the 18th century as Lower Marsh and a few cottages bordered the green on the south side. (fn. 22) Apart from this small settlement at Hook the parish consists of a fair number of scattered, medium-sized farms and of Lydiard Park, which lies in the north of the parish and is described below. (fn. 23)
Hay Lane, which, for about two miles, forms the parish boundary between Lydiard and Wroughton, is part of a prehistoric north-south track running between Cirencester and Avebury. (fn. 24) It is undoubtedly the way called 'Saltharpesweye' and known as the 'ancient way' in the 14th century. (fn. 25) The present main road between Swindon and Wootton Bassett, which crosses the parish from east to west, was turnpiked some time between 1751 and 1775. (fn. 26) A map of 1773 shows only some sections of the present route to have been roadway then, and part of it was unfenced. (fn. 27) The section running between the turnings to Blagrove and Upper Studley Farms may have been made in 1790–1 under an Act of that year for amending and improving the route between Swindon and Wootton Bassett and beyond. (fn. 28) This section of the road is not marked on the map of 1766 and at that date the way taken from Lydiard Park to Swindon ran north of the present road and was known as 'My Lord's Coachway'. (fn. 29) The road from Cricklade to Wootton Bassett running from north to south through the parish was turnpiked between 1776 and 1800. (fn. 30) The only other road in the parish is that running east from Hook; in 1766 the section east of Lower Marsh was called Almshouse Lane and a section east beyond this was Park Lane. (fn. 31)
The section of the Wilts, and Berks. Canal which crosses the parish from west to east was opened in 1804 and a small wharf was made at Hay Lane. (fn. 32) In 1964 the canal was thickly overgrown with weeds and bushes, and the stretch just outside the parish between Lydiard and Swindon had been filled in. The railway line from London to Bristol, opened in 1841, (fn. 33) runs through the parish just north of the canal.
In 1334 Lydiard Tregoze, Mannington, and Midgehall contributed 80s., 18s., and 12s. respectively to the fifteenth. (fn. 34) In 1377 there were 65 taxpayers in Lydiard Tregoze, 46 in Midgehall, and 21 in Mannington. (fn. 35) To the Benevolence of 1545 there were 4 contributors in Midgehall and 8 in Lydiard Tregoze; to the subsidy of 1576 there were 17 contributors in the two tithings combined. (fn. 36) In 1801 the population of the parish was 576. (fn. 37) Thereafter it rose to 807 in the middle of the century. In 1841 it was as high as 960 but this was due to the presence of many labourers working on the railway line opened that year. In 1871 it was 832 but was down ten years later to 660, although in 1891 it had risen again to 731. From 1901 onwards the figure dropped steadily until 1951 when there was a steep rise to 772 persons from 543 in 1931. This rise was, however, partly due to the hutted camp in Lydiard Park, which provided temporary dwellings for Polish refugees for some years. In 1961 the population was 525.
The best known name associated with Lydiard Tregoze is that of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, the Tory statesman. But his connexion with the parish is remote. He was almost certainly born there, since his mother, who died soon after his birth, was buried in the parish church. (fn. 38) But, so far as is known, he was very rarely at Lydiard in later life. He was there for a short time in the summer of 1701, (fn. 39) but no other reference to his presence there has been found and in c. 1742 he renounced all his rights in his estate there to his half-brother, John, Viscount St. John (d. 1748). (fn. 40) Oliver St. John, who was the second son of Nicholas St. John (lord of the manor, d. 1589), became Lord Deputy, and later Lord High Treasurer, of Ireland and in 1623 was created Viscount Grandison. But although born at Lydiard, he had, so far as is known, no connexion with it in adult life. (fn. 41) Grandison's nephew, Sir John St. John (lord of the manor, d. 1648), worked for the royalist cause, and three of his sons died of wounds received when fighting for the king. (fn. 42) Sir John's sixth son, Sir Walter St. John, who became lord of the manor in 1656 and died in 1708, was founder of the Sir Walter St. John School at Battersea. (fn. 43) John St. John, third son of John, 2nd Viscount St. John (d. 1748), was the author of a treatise called Observations on the Land Revenues of the Crown, and wrote a play about Mary Queen of Scots which was performed at Drury Lane. He died in 1793. (fn. 44) His elder brother, Henry, who became a General died in 1818. (fn. 45)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 1086 South Lydiard, later to be called LYDIARD TREGOZE, was held by Alfred of Marlborough. (fn. 46) Alfred also held Ewias Castle and land in Herefordshire and it is likely that Lydiard passed like Ewias Castle to Harold, son of Ralph, Earl of Hereford (d. 1057). (fn. 47) Harold certainly held Lydiard by 1100, for that year he gave the church there to Gloucester Abbey. (fn. 48) He was succeeded by a son Robert of Ewias, who had a son of the same name. One of the two Roberts was holding the Ewias fief in 1166. (fn. 49) The younger Robert of Ewias died in 1198 (fn. 50) and the honor of Ewias, including Lydiard, apparently passed to his second daughter, Sybil, wife of Robert Tregoze, Sheriff of Wiltshire, 1191–2. (fn. 51)
Robert Tregoze died before 1215 (fn. 52) and was succeeded by his son, who is presumably the Robert Tregoze, lord of the honor of Ewias, who held a knight's fee in Lydiard in chief of the king in 1242. (fn. 53) In 1256 the king gave Robert some deer from Braydon Forest to restock the park at Lydiard. (fn. 54) Robert Tregoze was killed at Evesham in 1265 and was succeeded by a son, John, (fn. 55) who had a grant of free warren at Lydiard in 1274, (fn. 56) and died in 1300. (fn. 57) John's heirs were his grandson, John la Warre, son of his daughter Clarice, and Sybil, his daughter, who had married William de Grandison. (fn. 58) Lydiard is not mentioned among John's lands in the inquisition made on his death in 1300, and it may have been settled on Sybil and William earlier, for in 1299 the park at Lydiard was restored to William, having been taken into the king's hands for an offence committed by William. (fn. 59) In 1323, in exchange for the release of their son Peter, (fn. 60) held a prisoner since the battle of Boroughbridge (1322), William and Sybil, under duress, conveyed the manor of Lydiard to Hugh le Despenser, the elder. (fn. 61) After the fall and death of Despenser in 1326 Lydiard was restored to William and Sybil de Grandison. (fn. 62)
Sybil de Grandison died in 1334 and William in 1335. (fn. 63) William's heir was his son, Peter, but in 1331, William and Sybil had leased Lydiard to their daughter, Agnes, widow of John de Northwood, for her life. (fn. 64) In 1347 Peter de Grandison granted the reversion of the manor, after the death of Agnes, his sister, to Roger de Beauchamp and Roger's wife, Sybil, who was the daughter of Mabel, wife of Sir John Patshull of Bletsoe (Beds.), another sister. (fn. 65) Agnes de Northwood died in 1348 and Peter conveyed the manor to Roger and Sybil and their heirs male. (fn. 66) Peter de Grandison died without issue in 1358. (fn. 67)
Roger Beauchamp died in 1380 and was succeeded by his grandson, also called Roger. (fn. 68) The younger Roger died in 1406 and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 69) John Beauchamp died in 1412, having settled Lydiard upon his wife, Edith, for life. (fn. 70) John's heir was his infant son, John, but this John died in 1420, still a minor, before his mother. (fn. 71) Edith, who married as her second husband Robert Shottesbrook, died in 1441, and was succeeded at Lydiard by her daughter, Margaret, sister and heir of the John who had died in 1420. (fn. 72) Margaret Beauchamp married first Oliver St. John, who died in 1437, and secondly John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, by whom she had a daughter, Margaret, who became the wife of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and the mother of Henry VII. (fn. 73) Margaret Beauchamp died in 1482, having settled the manor upon Oliver St. John, her second son by her first husband, and upon Oliver's wife, Elizabeth. (fn. 74)
Oliver St. John died in 1497 and Elizabeth in 1503 and were succeeded by their son, John. (fn. 75) John, who was knighted by his cousin, Henry VII, died in 1512 and was succeeded by his son, another John, who at the time of his father's death was eleven years old. (fn. 76) This John was followed on his death in 1576 by his son Nicholas, (fn. 77) who died in 1589, and was succeeded by his son, another John St. John. (fn. 78) John died in 1594 when his heir, Walter, was ten years old. (fn. 79) Walter survived his father by three years only, and was succeeded by his brother, John, a boy of about eleven. (fn. 80)
John St. John came of age in 1606 and in 1611 was made a baronet. (fn. 81) In 1630 the manor of Battersea (Surr.) was devised to him by his uncle, Oliver St. John, who had been created Viscount Grandison in 1620. (fn. 82) Thereafter Battersea provided another home for the family, although Sir John continued to live chiefly at Lydiard. (fn. 83) Sir John, who was predeceased by five of his sons, three of them dying of wounds sustained while fighting on the king's side in the Civil War, was succeeded in 1648 by his grandson, John, son of his eldest son, Oliver (d. 1641). (fn. 84) The younger John died unmarried in 1656, and Lydiard and the baronetcy passed to his uncle, Walter St. John, a younger brother of his father. (fn. 85)
Sir Walter St. John, who was apparently already occupying the manor-house at Battersea, continued to live mostly there. (fn. 86) In 1673 he settled both Lydiard and Battersea upon his son, Henry, then about to marry Lady Mary Rich, and upon the heirs male of the marriage. (fn. 87) Lady Mary died five years later giving birth to her only child to survive infancy, a son, Henry, the future Viscount Bolingbroke, Secretary of State to Queen Anne. (fn. 88) When in 1701 the younger Henry married Frances Winchcombe Lydiard and Battersea were settled upon him and the male heirs of the marriage by his grandfather, Sir Walter St. John, and his father, Henry St. John. (fn. 89) Sir Walter died in 1708 and was succeeded by his son, Henry, who in 1716 was created Viscount St. John with remainder to his sons by his second wife, Angelica Magdalena Pelissary. (fn. 90) Thus when Lord St. John died in 1742, the heir to his estates, including Lydiard Tregoze, but not to his title, was his son by his first marriage, Henry. Henry, created Viscount Bolingbroke in 1712, had been attainted and impeached in 1715, (fn. 91) but his right to inherit and acquire real estate had been restored to him by a private Act of Parliament of 1725. (fn. 92) At an unknown date, however, presumably about the time of his father's death, and certainly before 1743, Bolingbroke had renounced all his right to Lydiard, but not to Battersea, in favour of his halfbrother John St. John, eldest son of his father's second marriage, (fn. 93) and from about this time John probably made Lydiard his home. Thus John St. John succeeded in 1742 to his father's title in accordance with the special remainder, and probably also to Lydiard Tregoze in consequence of his halfbrother's renunciation. (fn. 94) John died in 1748 and was succeeded by his son, Frederick, who on his uncle Henry's death in 1751, succeeded also to Battersea and, again according to a special remainder, to the viscounty of Bolingbroke, forfeited by Henry in 1715, but revived on his death. (fn. 95)
Thenceforth the lordship of the manor passed with the titles of Bolingbroke and St. John from father to son until the death of Lord Bolingbroke in 1899 when the legal estate passed in accordance with Lord Bolingbroke's will to his widow, Mary Emily Elizabeth, Viscountess Bolingbroke. (fn. 96) Lady Bolingbroke died in 1940 and three years later the house and 147 a. were purchased from her executor by the Corporation of Swindon. (fn. 97) Throughout the 19th century the house was in the hands of mortgagees. (fn. 98)
Seen from the south Lydiard Park appears to be a rather grand house of the 18th century. Built of Bath stone ashlar, the south-west front has two stories and eleven bays. (fn. 99) The three central bays project slightly and those at either end are raised an additional story to form two towers with pyramidal roofs. Between the towers runs an ornamental stone balustrade, which is interrupted by a large central pediment. In the tympanum is a cartouche carved with the St. John arms with an escutcheon of Furnese. The entrance door and two of the ground-floor windows are also pedimented. The south-east front is of similar design but without the pedimented centrepiece.
An inscription in the attics of the house records that it was rebuilt in 1743 by John, Viscount St. John (d. 1748), who married Anne Furnese, a wealthy heiress. But in fact the house was only in part remodelled at this date, as is immediately seen by looking at it from the back, where building of various earlier dates is visible. A small drawing of the house as it was in c. 1700, (fn. 100) coupled with examination of the interior structure, confirms that this was so and that the remodelling was applied to a house with a basically late-medieval plan, which had been extensively altered and enlarged in the 17th century. The original house consisted of a central hall block with screens passage flanked by projecting kitchen and solar wings to the west and east respectively. Small additions at either end of the house in order to enlarge the two wings were apparently made in the 17th century, and in the same century the kitchen quarters were further extended by a range of buildings at the back. By c. 1700 there was also a substantial service wing running south-westwards from the west side of the house. This has entirely disappeared. In 1743 by building a new south-west front, which filled in the recessed central part of the earlier house, Sir John St. John provided a much grander entrance and an enlarged hall. The hall rises through one and a half stories so that the three central windows above it serve no function but to complete the regularity of the façade. By adding a new south-east front in the same style, Sir John ensured that his house, when seen from the park, had all the appearance of a building in the classical style of his time. The name of Sir John's architect is unknown, although Roger Morris has been suggested. The only addition made to the house since 1743 is a kitchen wing to the west, built in the mid 19th century. In the 1960s this was converted into sleeping accommodation in readiness for the use of Lydiard Park as a conference centre.
Most of the valuable contents of the house were sold in 1824 and the rest in 1943 when the house was acquired by the Corporation of Swindon. Only a bust of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke (d. 1751), by Michael Rysbrack, seems to have escaped the sales and remains in the house. But the internal decoration and fittings, all dating from the 1740s, have survived and are of an outstanding standard of elegance and craftsmanship. Extensive restoration of the house was undertaken by the corporation in the 1950s and 1960s. The corporation also furnished some of the rooms and brought back many of the St. John family portraits.
In c. 1700 three long avenues of trees crossed the park and vestiges of these remained in 1964. (fn. 101) Before the remodelling of 1743 there was a formal garden enclosed by railings immediately in front of the house and there appears to have been a large walled garden to the east. Also on the east there was a small lake and immediately south of this was an irregularly shaped fishpond. Some new landscaping was probably done after the remodelling of the house in 1743. A map of 1766 marks the lake as the 'new pond or canal', and calls the former fishpond the 'old pond'. (fn. 102) A plantation of trees to the south-west of the house is shown on the same map, and perhaps the large ice-house situated on this site may have been built about this time. The present (1964) walled garden to the west of the house is marked. The approach to the house from the east in 1766 ran south of the drive of 1964, passing between Brook Cottage and the lake. It was not until after 1830, when Lord Bolingbroke acquired some glebe land lying immediately north of the church, that the present drive could be made. The wych elms lining this drive were planted in 1911. (fn. 103)
The manor of MIDGEHALL was among the estates granted to Stanley Abbey between 1151 and 1154 by Henry Duke of Normandy, later Henry II. (fn. 104) At least from about the time of this grant, Midgehall was considered to be a member of the manor of Shrivenham (Berks.) and between 1168 and 1242 the Sheriff of Berkshire claimed £7 for the holding of the monks of Stanley in Midgehall. (fn. 105) Stanley continued to hold Midgehall until the Dissolution.
In 1536 Midgehall was granted to Sir Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp (cr. Duke of Somerset 1546–7). (fn. 106) After the duke's execution in 1551 and attainder in 1552 Midgehall passed to his son Edward (cr. Earl of Hertford 1558–9), who died seised of the manor in 1621. (fn. 107) The earl was succeeded by his grandson William who was restored to his great-grandfather's dukedom of Somerset. (fn. 108) He died in 1660 and was succeeded by his grandson, also called William. (fn. 109) William, Duke of Somerset, died unmarried in 1671 and the title passed to his father's brother, John, who died childless in 1675. (fn. 110) Midgehall then apparently passed to John's sisters, Frances, wife of Conyers Darcy, later Earl of Holderness (d. 1692), and Jane, wife of Charles Boyle, Viscount Dungarven (d. 1694), for they conveyed the manor to trustees in 1677. (fn. 111) Jane died in 1679 and Frances in 1680 and before then Midgehall had passed to their niece Elizabeth, sister of William Duke of Somerset (d. 1671). (fn. 112) In 1685 Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Bruce, later Earl of Ailesbury (d. 1741), conveyed Midgehall to Lawrence Hyde, Earl of Rochester (d. 1711). (fn. 113) The earl had bought the manor of Wootton Bassett in 1676 and thenceforth Midgehall followed the same descent as that manor. (fn. 114)
Stanley Abbey was given licence to let the manor to farm for 20 years in 1324. (fn. 115) But no names of any lessees have been found before the 16th century. In 1534 the abbot and convent leased the manor to William Pleydell for 95 years. By his will, proved 1556, William devised the remaining years of the lease to his wife, Agnes, for her life, and after her death to his fourth son Gabriel Pleydell and his heirs male. (fn. 116) Agnes died in 1567 (fn. 117) and Gabriel in in 1590. (fn. 118) Gabriel was succeeded by his son Oliver, and Oliver, the date of whose death is unknown, by his son Charles. (fn. 119) Charles was knighted in 1618 and died in 1642. (fn. 120) Sir Charles's son by his first wife, John Pleydell, was M.P. for Wootton Bassett and styled himself of Midgehall. He died without surviving issue in 1692. (fn. 121) Midgehall then passed to Sir Charles's descendants by his second wife. His grandson Edmund was styled of Midgehall and several of his children were born there. (fn. 122) His wife Anne was buried at Lydiard in 1723, although Edmund was buried in 1726 at Milborne Port, the family home in Dorset. (fn. 123) Shortly after this date the Pleydells apparently left Midgehall, and the family of Bradford became tenants under the Earl of Clarendon. (fn. 124)
In 1242 ½ a knight's fee in MANNINGTON was held of the king by Baldwin (de Reviers), Earl of Devon (d. 1244–5). The Earl of Pembroke, the Earl Marshal (d. 1245), held this of the Earl of Devon, Matthew Columbers held it of the Earl of Devon, and Richard Pipard held it of Matthew. (fn. 125) In 1274 the overlordship had passed to the Earl of Devon's daughter, Isabel Countess of Devon (d. 1293), of whom the heirs of the Earl Marshal held, and Matthew Columbers held of these heirs. (fn. 126) No more is heard of the overlordship of the Earl of Devon, nor of the lordship of the Earl Marshal. In a way traced elsewhere, (fn. 127) the lands of Matthew Columbers passed to John de Cobham (d. 1300) and in 1331–2 the overlordship of Mannington was apparently held by John's grandson, also called John (d. 1354– 1355), who succeeded his father as Lord Cobham in 1339. (fn. 128) The overlordship then descended with the Cobham title and in 1428 was held by Thomas Brooke, who was jure uxoris Lord Cobham (d. 1439). (fn. 129)
In 1304 Mannington was held of the Cobhams by Walter Pavely (d. 1323), for that year Walter was granted free warren in his demesne lands there. (fn. 130) Walter was succeeded by a son Reynold, and in 1331–2 John de Cobham was claiming wardship of Reynold on the ground that Walter had held the manor of him. (fn. 131) Nothing more is known of the manor until 1414 when John Lovel, Lord Lovel, died holding a third and the reversion of the rest which Parnel de Knolle held for life. (fn. 132) Lord Lovel was succeeded by a son William, who died in 1455 and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 133) John died in 1464–5 and his widow Joan was holding Mannington at her death in 1466. (fn. 134) Joan was succeeded by her son Francis, who was only nine at the time of his father's death. (fn. 135) Francis was created Viscount Lovel in 1482–3 and held high office under Richard III, but in 1485 he was attainted and all his honours were forfeited. (fn. 136)
Mannington, with Lord Lovel's other Wiltshire manors, was granted to Sir John Cheney but upon Sir John's death in 1499 was resumed by the Crown. (fn. 137) In 1512 the manor was granted to Sir William Compton. (fn. 138) Sir William died in 1528 and was succeeded by his son Peter. (fn. 139) Peter died in 1544 and was succeeded by his son Henry, then aged one. (fn. 140) Henry was created Lord Compton and on his death in 1589 was succeeded by his son William (d. 1630). (fn. 141) In 1605 William conveyed Mannington, with some other Wiltshire manors, to Thomas Sutton, the founder of the London Charterhouse. (fn. 142) Mannington thus became one of the manors with which Sutton endowed his foundation. (fn. 143) Mannington, which included the farms of Toothill and Whitehill, remained part of the Charterhouse estate until 1919 when it was sold to the Wiltshire County Council to provide small-holdings for discharged soldiers of the First World War. (fn. 144)
Mannington farm-house, which dates from the late 18th century, stands on the north side of the main Swindon-Chippenham road close to the boundary between Lydiard Tregoze and Swindon. It is roughcast with stone dressings and has a hipped mansard roof. Three-light casement windows flank the central doorway.
By 1242–3 ½ knight's fee in CHADDINGTON belonged to Walter of Dunstanville's barony of Castle Combe. (fn. 145) It has been suggested that Chaddington is the place called in the Domesday Survey 'Schetone' and held at that date by Humphrey de Lisle. (fn. 146) If this is so, then Chaddington would presumably have descended to Walter of Dunstanville in the same way as the rest of Humphrey's estates. (fn. 147) But more recently 'Schetone' has been identified as Ashton Giffard in Codford St. Peter. (fn. 148) It cannot, therefore, be said for certain how Walter acquired Chaddington. The overlordship descended with the barony of Castle Combe until the death of Giles Badlesmere in 1339. (fn. 149) On the partition of Giles's estates Chaddington, then reckoned as a whole fee, was among the lands allotted to his sister Margaret and her husband John Tibetot. (fn. 150) It seems, however, to have been alienated shortly afterwards, like the other lands that had been allotted to Margaret and John, (fn. 151) and was not among John's possessions at his death. (fn. 152) No more is known of the overlordship.
In 1242–3 Chaddington was held of Walter of Dunstanville by William of Burdeville. (fn. 153) Soon after this, however, William and a number of other persons by a succession of grants conveyed their lands in Chaddington to the prior and convent of Bradenstoke. (fn. 154) In 1274–5 the jurors in the hundred court asserted that the holding, formerly held by William of Burdeville and known as East Chaddington, had been held for the past ten years by the Prior of Bradenstoke. (fn. 155)
The priory's estate in Chaddington was enlarged somewhat in 1303 when Thomas of Chiseldon was granted licence to alienate to it a messuage and ½ virgate there. (fn. 156) In 1339 the holding, held of the barony of Castle Combe, was reckoned as a whole fee. (fn. 157) In 1535, however, Bradenstoke appears to have been receiving only a portion of tithes from Chaddington. (fn. 158) By 1562 Chaddington had become annexed to the manor of Bincknoll, in Broad Hinton, and was sold with it that year by William Lord Cobham (d. 1596–7) to John St. John (d. 1576). (fn. 159) Its subsequent descent, therefore, follows the main manor of Lydiard Tregoze. In 1900 Great and Little Chaddington farms still formed part of Bincknoll manor, one of the two manors into which the St. John estate was divided for administrative purposes. (fn. 160) The two farms were thus sold at the same time as Bincknoll in c. 1920. (fn. 161)
Great Chaddington Farm is a timber-framed house with a thatched roof, which has been considerably altered. It dates from the 17th century. Little Chaddington, which was derelict in 1968, is of red brick with a thatched roof and is of 19thcentury date.
By 1460 Stanley Abbey had a grange in Lydiard Tregoze, which was sometimes called the manor of Studley by Midgehall alias Studley Grange. That year the Abbot of Stanley obtained licence to alienate an annual rent of 10 marks issuing from the grange and from land in Heywood (in Westbury) to the chaplain of the chantry of William Ingram in Highworth church. (fn. 162) Studley Grange remained among the possessions of Stanley Abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 163) After the Dissolution it passed like Midgehall to Sir Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp (cr. Duke of Somerset 1546–7). (fn. 164) It then descended like Midgehall to Somerset's son, Edward, Earl of Hertford, who held it at his death in 1621. (fn. 165) Hertford's heir, his grandson William (d. 1660), sold Studley in 1648 to William Yorke and Yorke's sonin-law, Henry Kemp. Thereupon the estate was split up, the southern part being taken by Yorke and becoming the later Basset Down estate, and the northern part becoming the share of Henry Kemp. (fn. 166) The subsequent descent of the part belonging to Henry Kemp has not been traced. The Basset Down estate was sold by William Yorke's grandson, also called William, in 1709 to John Coxe and in 1764 Coxe's son, John Hippisley Coxe, sold it to Edmund Maskelyne. (fn. 167) Edmund Maskelyne (d. 1775), devised the estate to his brother Nevil, the Astronomer Royal (d. 1811), who continued, however, to live at Purton Stoke. (fn. 168) After the death of Nevil Maskelyne, Basset Down passed to his daughter Margaret, who married Anthony Mervyn Story. (fn. 169) The family then took the name of Story-Maskelyne. Basset Down passed to Margaret's son, Mervyn Herbert Nevil Story-Maskelyne (d. 1911), and then to his daughter Mary, who married H. O. Arnold-Forster, Secretary of State for War, 1903–1906. (fn. 170) Basset Down passed to their son, John A. Arnold-Forster, who died in 1958. (fn. 171) His son, Nigel M. Arnold-Forster, demolished the house a few months later. (fn. 172)
A history and description of Basset Down House have been written by Mary Arnold-Forster. (fn. 173) It apparently dated from the 15th century but was partially rebuilt at the end of the 17th century. It was extensively altered again in the later 19th century in order to make it a smaller house.
The first mention found of the estate called Can Court occurs in 1564 when the lordship belonged to Henry Compton (d. 1589), who held it as part of his manor of Elcombe in Wroughton. (fn. 174) Henry's son, William, Lord Compton (d. 1630), sold Elcombe in 1605 to Thomas Sutton, but Can Court does not seem to have been included in the sale. (fn. 175)
Under Henry Compton Can Court was held by George Prater, who died in 1564 and was succeeded by his son George. (fn. 176) In 1586 John Weare, alias Browne, and Thomas Weare, alias Browne, seem to have been farming Can Court, but whether as tenants or owners is not clear. (fn. 177) By 1607 the farm had passed to Thomas Hutchins, who settled it upon himself for life and then upon Thomas Baskerville and his heirs. (fn. 178) In 1616 Baskerville sold it to Sir John Benet, who conveyed it to Pembroke College, Oxford. (fn. 179) In 1965 the farm still belonged to the college. (fn. 180)
The farm-house is a tall stone building of four stories dating from the 17th century. There are three rooms to each floor, separated by stud partitions, and a massive oak staircase reaching from basement to attics. The twin-gabled front is flanked by projecting chimneys with tall diagonally-set stacks; in the centre is a timber-framed porch of two stories with a hipped roof. The stone windows, most of which have survived, have ovolo-moulded mullions and are surmounted by relieving arches. The ground floor contains a hall and parlour with a smaller room and the staircase at the rear. Oak panelling in the hall is framed in tall narrow panels and there is an arcaded overmantle. The unusual plan of the house and the workmanship of its fittings may indicate that it was not designed as an ordinary farm-house, while its architectural character suggests a building date of c. 1650. In front of the house is a small enclosed forecourt. At the entrance to this there is a stone slab on which an inscription was still legible in the later 19th century. It apparently commemorated Cornelius Bradford (d. c. 1750). (fn. 181) The Bradford family were tenants of Can Court for most of the 18th century before leaving it for Midgehall.
In 1307 Henry de Tyeys died holding ¼ knight's fee in Lydiard of the lords of the main manor, William and Sybil de Grandison. (fn. 182) Henry's son, also called Henry, was executed in 1322 and at the time of his death was said to be holding ⅓ knight's fee of William and Sybil, which included land in Lydiard and Hook. (fn. 183) In 1330 this had apparently passed to Alice, sister and heir of Henry, and widow of Warin de Lisle, (fn. 184) and in 1336 she was granted free warren in her demesne lands in Lydiard. (fn. 185) Alice died in 1347 and was succeeded by her son Gerard. (fn. 186) The estate, which was sometimes called the manor of Lydiard Tyeys, descended to Gerard but was subsequently resumed by the lords of the main manor, for in 1428 Gerard's lands in Lydiard were held by Robert Shottesbrook, husband of Edith, upon whom the manor had been settled by her first husband, John Beauchamp (d. 1412). (fn. 187) Besides the part held by Alice de Tyeys in 1330 another part of the manor was held that year by Thomas de Monthermer (d. 1340) and Margaret his wife. (fn. 188) In 1343 Margaret de Monthermer held a third of the manor and had leased it to John de Wyk for three years. (fn. 189) John Wyk, possibly a son of this John, had lands in Lydiard in 1412. (fn. 190)
In addition to holding, for a time, the manor of Lydiard Tregoze, the elder Despenser also held some land at Hook. (fn. 191) After the forfeiture of his lands in 1326 the land in Hook (la Hoke) was granted to William Strut to hold for seven years. (fn. 192) The same estate was granted in 1340 by the king to William Dale, his yeoman, but it seems that the overlordship of the estate had by this time been assumed by Agnes de Northwood who was holding the manor of Lydiard for life. (fn. 193) In 1358, ten years after the death of Agnes, William Dale died holding the estate of Roger Beauchamp, lord of the manor of Lydiard Tregoze. (fn. 194) After William's death, the Hook estate appears to have been resumed by the lords of the manor of Lydiard. (fn. 195)
In 1086 Alfred of Marlborough's estate at Lydiard Tregoze paid geld for 7 hides and there was land for 7 plough-teams. Three hides were in demesne, leaving 4 hides for tenant farming. On the demesne there were one plough and three serfs, while elsewhere 8 villeins and 10 coscez had 4 ploughs. There were 40 a. of meadow, 30 a. of pasture, and woodland 1 league long by ½ league broad. T.R.E. the manor had been worth £10 but in 1086 it was only worth £6. (fn. 196) Lydiard was one of the nine rural estates in Wiltshire which, at the time of Domesday, had burgesses of Cricklade appurtenant to them. There were seven such burgesses at Cricklade, who were attached to Alfred's estate at Lydiard and contributed 5s. to it. (fn. 197)
A grant of land in Chaddington by William of Burdeville to Bradenstoke Priory in the later 13th century mentions an East Field and a West Field there. (fn. 198) The grant, which conveyed rather more than 9 a. in all, was made up mostly of half-acre pieces widely scattered throughout the fields. Some are described as lying upon the hill, suggesting that here, as in other parishes in the region, at least some of the arable lands were situated on the higher ground in the south of the parish. A furlong called Cliffurlong presumably lay on the chalk escarpment. Besides the pieces of arable, 2 separate halfacres of meadow were included in the grant. Also included were pasture for 1 ox in a place called 'Heya' and common pasture for 5 cattle, 25 sheep, and 1 draught-beast. The prior at this time had a meadow called 'le Hay' at East Chaddington and surrendered all pasture rights in two other meadows called Medcroft and Wykecroft on condition that he should have unrestricted access to it along a causeway through Medcroft 16½ ft. broad. (fn. 199)
The earliest surviving extent relates to the estate which Henry Tyeys held of the lords of the capital manor at the beginning of the 14th century. (fn. 200) In c. 1307 there were said to be 40 a. of arable in demesne here as well as 5 a. of several meadow. There were an unspecified number of freemen and 11 cottars who paid rent but apparently owed no services for their holdings. Seven other customary tenants, who also paid rent, were liable for labour services between the end of August and Michaelmas. Some 20 years later the same estate was reckoned as having 300 a. of arable in Lydiard and 100 a. in Hook. (fn. 201) At Lydiard there was pasture for 100 sheep. Rents of free tenants there were valued at 30s. while at Hook one free tenant paid 10s. a year. (fn. 202)
A little information about the value of the main manor comes in 1326 when the elder Despenser forfeited his estates in Lydiard Tregoze along with all his other lands. (fn. 203) The manor of Lydiard was said to be worth £10 a year, and the estate at Hook £2. Goods and chattels at Lydiard were valued at £29 8s. 4d., and those at Hook at 12s. 6d. Among the goods and chattels were stock, valued at £8 6s. 8d., which had been taken for the queen, upon whom the forfeited estates were settled, and corn valued at £14 4s. 2d. which had been sold. The estate at Hook eventually passed to William Dale. By the time of William's death in 1360 50 out of 70 a. of demesne arable on his estate were inclosed and were for that reason more highly valued. (fn. 204) There were also 2 a. of inclosed meadow, which were of more value than the remaining 5 a., which lay in common after the hay was lifted. The estate had in addition common pasture for 12 oxen and an unspecified number of other animals.
The parish lies at the heart of the pasture and dairy farming region of north-west Wiltshire, where until the 19th century farms were primarily concerned with the production of cheese and butter and the fattening of cattle. Aubrey, writing in the later 17th century, remarked that the fat cattle from Lydiard Tregoze shared the renown of those from Dauntsey at Smithfield markets. (fn. 205) He also observed that round about Lydiard butter, as good as any in England, was made, although the same pastures did not produce an entirely satisfactory cheese. (fn. 206)
In the 16th century the tenants of the main manor had common of pasture in three grounds called High Mead, Eastleaze, and Cowleaze. (fn. 207) Early in the 1520s, when the lord of the manor, Sir John St. John (d. 1576), was still a minor and the manor was being farmed, disagreement arose over these pasture rights and a reassessment was made of the number of beasts every tenant could pasture. Later when Sir John came of age and farmed the demesne lands himself, fresh disputes arose and St. John excluded his tenants altogether from the two leazes. The quarrel was eventually taken to Chancery by Thomas Pleydell, brother of Gabriel Pleydell, farmer of the manor of Midgehall. Thomas claimed in respect of the few acres he held of the St. Johns the right to pasture 6 oxen in the mead and leazes mentioned above. Gabriel Pleydell was involved in a similar dispute with St. John when he claimed that the manor of Midgehall had certain pasture rights in a ground called Flaxlands. (fn. 208)
As in other parishes in this grassland region of Wiltshire inclosure took place early in Lydiard. As shown above, a considerable amount of arable was inclosed on William Dale's estate at Hook in the mid 14th century. In the 16th century, during the lordship of Nicholas St. John (d. 1589), the common fields, commons, and marshes of the main manor were inclosed by agreement made between lord, freeholders, and tenants of the manor. (fn. 209) The only land to be excluded were the two common pastures of Eastleaze, and High Mead, mentioned above, and another common pasture called the Green. Lord, freeholders, and tenants combined to pay William Garrard, of Shaw in Lydiard Millicent, and two others to make the survey and award the allotments. The task was evidently carried out with care, exact measurements being made and records kept of the allotments awarded. (fn. 210)
There was apparently, however, some opposition, for in c. 1579 Quarter Sessions ordered that the land in Lydiard, which had been staked out and measured, should remain as it was until the next assizes when 11 persons, all of Chaddington, were due to appear on a charge of riot, rout, trespass, and battery. (fn. 211) Although inclosure was probably virtually complete by the end of the 17th century, a map of the St. John estate of 1766 shows commons at Flaxlands in the north-west corner of the parish, at Hazel Hill to the east of this, at Hook, and at Chaddington in the south. (fn. 212) In the mid 20th century part at least of the common at Hook was still to be seen and the wide verges along the road to Chaddington bore witness to the former common there.
By 1616 the lands of Mannington manor situated within the parish were farmed as three several farms by tenant farmers. (fn. 213) Mannington itself comprised 203 a. and was farmed by Thomas Sadler, a member of a family closely connected with Lydiard and the neighbouring parish of Wroughton. Toothill comprised 188 a. and was leased to Robert Cole, while Whitehill had 65 a. and was farmed by John Lane. All were pasture farms. Only a small area of meadow belonging to this manor lay in common and was divided into some 17 small strips. This lay in the extreme north-east corner of the parish.
In the mid 19th century of the land of the parish subject to tithe there were 1,762 a. of meadow and pasture and only 200 a. of arable. (fn. 214) By far the largest estate in the parish was that belonging to the Bolingbrokes which covered some 3,000 a. (fn. 215) For administrative purposes the estate was divided into two manors, namely Lydiard Tregoze and Bincknoll (Broad Hinton). (fn. 216) Belonging to the manor of Lydiard Tregoze were the farms of Parkside, Wick, Marsh, Flaxlands, Windmill Leaze, East Leaze, Hook and Franklins, Hook, and Purley. There were also a few cottages and small holdings, unattached to any farm, and certain cottages at Hook. The only farms belonging to the Bincknoll manor, which lay within the parish, were Great and Little Chaddington.
When Cobbett visited Lydiard Park in 1826 he observed an appearance of neglect, 'if not abandonment', although the land he thought to be good. (fn. 217) Nineteenth-century particulars show that this state of affairs applied not only to the park, but existed on many of the farms too. (fn. 218) At Windmill Farm, for example, in 1866 it was considered that drainage would have to be undertaken before the farm could be let. (fn. 219) In 1900 the estate was described as chiefly fairly good pasture: houses were mostly old, and cottages and buildings had been so neglected that a large expenditure was required to make them tenantable. (fn. 220) The gross rental of the whole estate, excluding Lydiard Park, was reckoned at about £5,000. The rental value of the house, land in hand, some 50 a, and sporting rights over the entire estate was estimated at some £700 only, because of the dilapidated condition of the house. In 1920 something over 1,000 a. of the estate, including some of the outlying farms, were sold. (fn. 221) Ten years later another 1,800 a., including Marsh, Windmill Leaze, Hook, Flaxlands, Wick, Parkside, and Eastleaze farms, were put up for sale. (fn. 222) What remained of the land, about 750 a. including Lydiard Park, was sold in 1943. (fn. 223)
The lands belonging to the manor of Midgehall formed the next largest estate in the parish and in the mid 19th century covered between 1,000 and 2,000 a. (fn. 224) For about 200 years from 1534 this manor was farmed as tenants by members of the Pleydell family, (fn. 225) who no doubt occupied the large family pew in the Midgehall, or north aisle of the church. (fn. 226) The chief farms belonging to the Midgehall estate, beside that at Midgehall itself, were Spittleborough, Wickfield, Church Hills, and Ballard's Ash. Throughout the 19th century the Midgehall farms in Lydiard were farmed by tenant farmers as part of the large estate extending over several parishes and belonging first to the earls of Clarendon and then to the Meux family. The whole estate was broken up and sold in lots in 1906. (fn. 227)
Besides the Bolingbroke and Midgehall estates, the three farms belonging to Charterhouse, namely Mannington, Toothill, and Whitehall had a combined acreage of nearly 500 a. in the 19th century. (fn. 228) These farms were sold in 1919 and the greater part of their lands were acquired by the Wiltshire County Council and converted into smallholdings for exservice men. (fn. 229) Of the other farms of any considerable size in the parish in 1966, Can Court had over 200 a. and the two Studley farms well over 100 a. each.
There is almost no evidence of any occupation in the parish other than farming. In the later 14th century linen and woollen cloths were stolen from a house in Midgehall, suggesting a possible connexion with the cloth trade. (fn. 230) But no other evidence of a concern with this trade has been found. After the construction of the Wilts. and Berks. Canal across the parish in c. 1804 a wharf was made at Hay Lane. But it was very small and could never have been very busy. The wharf seems to have been chiefly important for the public house built beside it which attracted a little trade but mostly apparently from undesirable characters. (fn. 231) In the 20th century the proximity of Swindon has provided the parish with ample opportunities for employment there. In spite of this, however, the parish has been very little built-up and retains a remarkably rural and unsophisticated appearance.
Towards the end of the 17th century, when the earliest surviving parish records begin, there were two overseers for the whole parish. (fn. 232) As in some other parishes in the region, liability to serve in this office was for a time attached to certain farms. In 1674, for example, one overseer was appointed for Chaddington, and in 1708 one was said to serve for Can Court. (fn. 233) Sometimes in the 19th century there were four overseers. In 1856 there were two for the tithing of Midgehall and two for the tithing of Hook. (fn. 234) In 1881 a salaried assistant overseer was appointed. (fn. 235) In the mid 19th century the parish had two constables. (fn. 236) At about the same date there were four surveyors of the highways, two for each of the two tithings mentioned above. (fn. 237)
The earlier 19th-century vestry records show that body to have been active and responsible in its attempts to deal with the widespread unemployment and distress which prevailed in the parish. In 1821 a plan devised by the magistrates for dealing with unemployment having failed, the vestry decided to subsidize to some extent the wages of those not in regular employment. (fn. 238) In the summer months of the following year, however, the vestry decreed that farmers should pay the full wage. (fn. 239) For the next few years rates of pay for mowers during the summer months were agreed in vestry meetings. (fn. 240) In 1825 the vestry ordered that all employers of regular labour were to accept a certain number of unemployed and rates of pay were fixed. (fn. 241) The vestry was still occasionally regulating wages in 1853 at meetings to which all the paymasters of the parish were summoned. (fn. 242)
In spite of these measures, there was much distress in the parish. In 1823 Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Clarendon gave £5 each to buy coal for the poor. (fn. 243) In 1845 the vestry held a special meeting of all rate- payers to consider the cases of young men wishing to emigrate to America, and as a result the churchwardens and overseers were authorized to raise £8 towards expenses. (fn. 244) The following year it was decided to raise money on the poor rates to assist emigration to Australia, and in 1851 £200 were borrowed for the same purpose. (fn. 245)
The early meetings of the parish council, formed in 1894, were very largely concerned with a dispute over responsibility for the new burial ground at Hook. (fn. 246) By 1880 the need for a new ground was urgent. It was impossible to enlarge the parish churchyard since it lay so close to Lydiard Park and Lord Bolingbroke refused to permit it. (fn. 247) In 1888 the churchyard was closed and the vestry set up a committee to deal with the problem. (fn. 248) Eventually in 1891 an offer from Lord Bolingbroke of a field at Hook called 'Ables' was accepted and the new burial ground was made there. (fn. 249)
The church of Lydiard Tregoze is first mentioned in 1100 when Harold of Ewias gave it to St. Peter's Abbey, Gloucester, along with other endowments, to found a cell at Ewias (Herefs.). (fn. 250) The benefice was not, however, appropriated to St. Peter's and has always been a rectory. In 1956 it was united with that of Lydiard Millicent. (fn. 251)
Harold's gift evidently conveyed the advowson to the Abbot of Gloucester, but in 1280 the abbot granted it to John Tregoze (d. 1300), in exchange for that of the church of Burnham (Som.). (fn. 252) The advowson thus became re-attached to the lordship of the Tregoze manor. (fn. 253) In 1331 when William and Sybil de Grandison demised the manor to their daughter, Agnes de Northwood, for life, the advowson was included, and Agnes presented in 1342 and 1348. (fn. 254) But when in 1347 Peter de Grandison, heir of William and Sybil, granted the reversion of the manor, after Agnes's death, to Roger and Sybil de Beauchamp, the advowson was expressly excluded from the grant, and Peter presented in 1349, although by then the manor had passed to Roger and Sybil. (fn. 255) On Peter's death in 1358 the advowson, unlike the manor, passed to his brother, John de Grandison, Bishop of Exeter, who presented in 1362. (fn. 256) Two years later, however, the bishop conveyed the advowson to Roger and Sybil, and so advowson and lordship again came into the same hands. (fn. 257)
Thenceforth until the 19th century the lords of the Tregoze, later St. John, manor nearly always exercised the patronage. (fn. 258) In 1430 and 1431 Robert Shottesbrook, whose wife, Edith, was the widow of John Beauchamp and held the manor for life, presented, and in 1486 Oliver Seymour was patron. Oliver's identity has not not so far been established. In 1498 Elizabeth Bigod, widow of Oliver St. John (d. 1497), presented, and in 1513 Nicholas Saunders presented in the right of his wife, Jane Iwardby, widow of John St. John (d. 1512). In 1612 presentation was by the President of Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1780 the patronage was exercised by George Watson, to whom it was sold for one turn. In the 19th century it was again sold for single turns, in 1839 to Mrs. Martha Collins, (fn. 259) and in 1878 to Francis Sharp Powell. (fn. 260) Thereafter the patronage was exercised by the lord of the manor until 1944 when it was transferred to the Bishop of Bristol. (fn. 261)
In 1291 the church was assessed for taxation at £11 10s., including an annual pension (30s.) paid to the Prior of Ewias. (fn. 262) In 1341 it was claimed that the earlier assessment was too high, since allowance had to be made for the glebe estate, valued at just over £4. (fn. 263) In 1535 the net value was £10 5s. 5d., after the deduction of the pension and an annual payment of 11s. 3d. to the Archdeacon of Wiltshire. (fn. 264) In 1835 the average gross income was £651 and £23 were deducted for permanent, unspecified, annual payments. (fn. 265) When the possibility of selling the advowson was being considered in 1868, the living was said to be worth £889 16s. 10d. This was made up of £639 16s. 10d. for commuted tithe, glebe valued at £200, and a parsonage house reputed to be worth £50. Set against this were outgoings calculated at £100. (fn. 266)
The land of the manor of Midgehall was held to be exempt from the payment of tithe on the grounds that it belonged to Stanley Abbey, a Cistercian house. (fn. 267) But in 1228 an agreement was reached whereby the abbey agreed to pay 8s. annually in lieu of all tithes in kind due from its lands in the tithing of Midgehall. (fn. 268) In 1341 great tithes reckoned to be worth 6s. 8d. were also owed by the Abbot of Stanley from 2 virgates of land at Studley. In the same year the Prior of Bradenstoke owed great tithes worth 20s. from 8 virgates, presumably at Chaddington. (fn. 269)
By 1677 the governors of the Charterhouse had compounded with a money payment for the tithes due from their estates within the parish. For Mannington and Toothill they paid 16s. annually; for Whitehill 8s. (fn. 270) The sum paid for Midgehall was by this date 50s. and included contributions from all copyholders on the manor. (fn. 271) Studley Farm paid 4 nobles and Can Court 5 nobles. A payment of £20 was made for lands described as 'the ancient demesnes of Lydiard Tregoze'. The rest of the parish paid tithes in kind. (fn. 272) By 1783 the tithes due from the tithing of Chaddington had been commuted. In Midgehall tithing exemption was still claimed in some cases on the grounds that the land had once belonged to a Cistercian abbey. But Lord Clarendon, lord of the manor, paid the 8s. which had been agreed upon in 1228. (fn. 273) Thus when the tithe award was made in 1841 no tithes were being paid in kind. That year a gross rent-charge of £630 18s. 5d. was substituted for the various compositions then in force and from this £27 were deducted if the glebe was occupied by the rector. (fn. 274)
In 1341 there was one carucate of land attached to the church. It was valued then at £2 17s. 4d. and rents and services due from tenants were worth 6s. 8d. (fn. 275) In 1677 the glebe estate comprised some 87 a. This lay mainly in two blocks. One, of about 42 a. divided between two meadows called Parsonage Close and the 'Hamme', lay immediately north of the church. The other, of about 30 a. divided between three arable fields called Prinnells, Claypiece, and Blacklands, lay about ¼ mile east of the church. (fn. 276) In 1830 the rector exchanged the block of glebe north of the church, and the fields called Prinnells and Claypits, estimated in all at 61 a., with Lord Bolingbroke for 73 a. lying in a compact block south of the house which was between c. 1830 and 1956 the rectory. (fn. 277) The glebe estate after this exchange had been made and at the time of the tithe award comprised 90 a. (fn. 278) In 1868 the land was partly in hand and partly let. (fn. 279)
At the time of the exchange the rector conveyed to Lord Bolingbroke the parsonage house and its grounds. (fn. 280) This lay immediately east of the church. In 1783 it was described as a stone-built house, roofed with slate. (fn. 281) That year the rector found the house to be 'indifferent' and lived in Wootton Bassett. (fn. 282) Four years later the house was still in need of repair, but it was said that it could have been made 'a decent house'. (fn. 283) It was, however, abandoned in 1830 and a new one built outside the park on the east side of the road running north to Lydiard Millicent. (fn. 284) This remained the rectory house until the union of the benefices of Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent in 1956 when the rector went to live in Lydiard Millicent.
In addition to the glebe the rector was entitled to the first crop of hay from two meadows belonging to Lord Bolingbroke called Brook, or High Mead, and Parsonage Mead. (fn. 285) In 1704 an alternative name for both meadows was Cut and Go Mead and they lay on either side of the way to Swindon. In 1844 the rector surrendered his rights in these meadows in exchange for a meadow called East Freshbrook belonging to Lord Bolingbroke. (fn. 286)
The gift of the church of Lydiard in 1100 to endow a cell of Gloucester Abbey at Ewias resulted in an annual payment from the church of Lydiard Tregoze to the Prior of Ewias. In 1291 this pension was £1 10s. (fn. 287) But in 1359 Gloucester Abbey withdrew the monks from Ewias on the plea that the revenues of the cell no longer sufficed even for the maintenance of a prior. (fn. 288) Thenceforth and until the Dissolution the pension was paid to Gloucester, the parent house, although in 1428 it was still said to be for the Prior of Ewias. (fn. 289) By 1535 the amount paid was £1. (fn. 290) After the Dissolution the pension was granted to the newly created Dean and Chapter of Gloucester, (fn. 291) and was paid to them until extinguished in 1886. (fn. 292)
Edward VI's commissioners reported a piece of land for the maintenance of a lamp in the church in 1548. (fn. 293) In 1563 the land, with more elsewhere, was granted to Cecily Pickerell of Norwich in part payment of a debt owed to her late husband by the late Duke of Somerset. (fn. 294) Nothing more is known of the lamp in the church. No evidence has been found to support Aubrey's suggestion that there was once a hermitage in Lydiard. (fn. 295)
Little is known of any of the rectors of Lydiard. In 1304 licence was granted for William of Radnor, presented to the living that year, to study in Oxford for two years. (fn. 296) Two rectors, Walter Elyot in 1445, and Alexander Thornton in 1576, were deprived of their living, but it is not known why. (fn. 297) Timothy Dewell, who was presented in 1645 and was rector until his death in 1692, had sympathy with Presbyterianism and was one of the Wiltshire signatories to the Testimony of Ministers of 1648. (fn. 298) He seems to have been on friendly terms with his patron, Sir Walter St. John (d. 1708), and when some of the St. John children were ill with smallpox they were sent to lodge with Dr. Dewell and his wife at Lydiard. (fn. 299) Dewell's memorial stone in the church records his fluency as a preacher. (fn. 300) Richard Miles, presented in 1780 and rector for 59 years, lived, at least during the early part of his incumbency, in Wootton Bassett, but by 1783 had a curate residing in the parish. (fn. 301) In 1831 the curate was paid an annual salary of £75. (fn. 302)
The exemption from tithe claimed by the tithing of Midgehall on the grounds that its lands belonged to a Cistercian house (see above) gave rise to a custom known locally as the 'Word Ale'. (fn. 303) This was a court held annually just after Michaelmas, usually in the manor-house, and attended by tenants of the manor. At it were recited the words: 'You are to pray for the Abbot of Stanley and all the monks of the Cistercian Order by whom we are all tithe free, tithe free.' The court, held in great secrecy, was followed by a feast. The custom persisted until 1939, but has been held only once (in 1948) since the Second World War. (fn. 304)
The church has stood for so long so far from any village that it may well have played a somewhat restricted part in the life of the parish. With its wealth of St. John family monuments it tends to give the impression of a private chapel rather than of a parish church. Little can be said of the influence upon church life of the patrons of the living, although their mark is left so clearly upon the furnishings of the church. John St. John (d. 1576) was accused by the churchwardens in 1556 of detaining certain church goods. (fn. 305) Sir Walter St. John (d. 1708) was accused of being 'a rogue and a rebel, an anabaptist and a quaker'. (fn. 306) But the accusation probably derived more from Sir Walter's political sympathies than from his religious ones, although he was apparently the friend as well as the patron of the nonconformist, Timothy Dewell.
In 1668–9 Holy Communion was celebrated six times—on Whit Sunday, All Saints' Day, Christmas Day, Palm Sunday, Easter Day, and Low Sunday. Four quarts of wine were used for each of the first four celebrations and five quarts each for Easter Day and Low Sunday. Twopence was spent on bread on every occasion. (fn. 307) In 1676 there were 139 communicants. (fn. 308) In 1783 a service was held every Sunday, but only in the mornings. An afternoon service was considered quite impracticable because of the demands of the local dairy farms. Holy Communion was said to be celebrated four times a year when there were 16 or 18 communicants. (fn. 309) On 30 March 1851 150 people attended church in the morning and the congregation over the past year was thought to have averaged between 150 and 200. Attendance, it was pointed out, depended greatly upon the weather, since the church was so far from any village. On a fine day in summer the church was said to be quite full. (fn. 310) In 1964 there was either a morning or an evening service every Sunday. (fn. 311)
The church of ST. MARY lies within a stone's throw of Lydiard Park and the churchyard adjoins the back premises of the house. The church comprises a chancel with south chapel, a nave with north and south aisles, the north aisle sometimes being called the Midgehall aisle, (fn. 312) a west tower, a south porch, and a south-west vestry. The tower has a parapet with pierced quatrefoils and 4 pinnacles. The south chapel, south aisle, and south porch are all battlemented. There are 3 dormer windows in the south side of the nave roof and at the east end of the roof there is a small sanctus-bell turret.
Externally the church appears to date from the 15th century, but close examination of the interior shows that it is of 13th-century origin. (fn. 313) The nave, the second and third arches of the north arcade, and the eastern three-quarters of the north aisle date from that century. The three-bay south arcade and the south aisle were added in the later 14th century. A scheme of enlargement and general improvement was begun in the 15th century, probably at the instigation of Oliver St. John (d. 1437) and Margaret Beauchamp his wife, who succeeded to Lydiard in 1420 and died in 1482. (fn. 314) The chancel was rebuilt, the south chapel, west tower and south porch added, the north aisle extended westward to the full extent of the nave, and the windows of the aisles completely remodelled. Somewhat later, in c. 1500, two small windows were inserted high in the east wall of the nave, and in the later 17th century the easternmost arch of the north nave arcade was formed.
In 1633 Sir John St. John (d. 1648) re-designed the south chapel to form a mortuary chapel for his family. Only the 15th-century east wall and window were retained. The south wall was rebuilt and Sir John's work was commemorated above the entrance to the chapel from the outside on a stone panel carved with his and his wives' arms. Between the chapel and the chancel an open Tuscan screen was built. About the same time the round-headed windows flanking the east window of the chancel were inserted, as were the clerestory windows in the north wall of the nave, which were remodelled in the 19th century. In the 18th century two dormer windows were inserted in the south side of the nave roof and a third was added in the 19th century. The vestry is also a 19th-century addition. At the beginning of the 20th century the church was restored under the direction of C. E. Ponting, who uncovered a number of medieval wall-paintings. (fn. 315) Some idea of the appearance of the church at the beginning of the 19th century may be had from a south-east view painted by John Buckler in 1810, (fn. 316) and from an early 19th-century model preserved in Lydiard Park.
John Aubrey, writing c. 1670, remarked of the church 'for modern monuments it exceeds all the churches in this county'. (fn. 317) The number and richness of the furnishings are scarcely less impressive in the 20th century. This is almost entirely due to one man Sir John St. John (d. 1648), (fn. 318) the designer of the south chapel. The most elaborate of the monuments is the so-called triptych standing against the north wall of the chancel. This comprises a series of painted panels, four of which are hinged to open and two of which are removable. They stand upon a carved stone plinth and above is a pedimented entablature of painted wood. In the tympanum of this is a portrait of Margaret Beauchamp (d. 1482) through whom the St. Johns claimed common ancestry with the sovereign. The triptych was erected, although not exactly in the form it takes today, in 1615 by Sir John to commemorate his parents. The two central doors open to reveal the life-size painted figures of Sir John St. John (d. 1594) and his wife Lucy Hungerford (d. 1598) kneeling upon a tomb. To the left stands Sir John, the younger (d. 1648), the erecter of the monument, and his first wife Anne Leighton; to the right are his six sisters with shields of arms at their feet. When the central leaves are closed, their outer surfaces and the panels and leaves flanking them bear an elaborate display of painted heraldic genealogical tables of the St. John family. These tables were originally based upon the genealogical work of Sir Richard St. George, Clarenceux King of Arms, (fn. 319) and Sir John's uncle by marriage, but many additions were made subsequently.
Having remodelled the south chapel, Sir John erected within it in 1634 a large canopied monument to himself and his two wives, Anne Leighton (d. 1628) and Margaret Whitmore, who did not die until 1637. In her arms Anne clasps her thirteenth child at whose birth she died. Sir John died in 1648 at Battersea, where he lay in state amid circumstances of great pomp, before his body was brought to Lydiard for burial in the vault he had prepared beneath the south chapel there. (fn. 320) The interment at Lydiard was probably also accompanied with some ceremony. Aubrey visiting the church only about twenty years later, remarked upon the numerous pennons, standards, and banners, as well as other trappings of knightly prestige, which then decorated the chancel and St. John chapel. (fn. 321) In 1964 three helmets and a number of iron brackets from which pennons were once suspended remained on the walls of the chancel and the south aisle.
Sir John is also responsible for the glass, probably Flemish, in the east window of the chancel, which shows the descent of the manor of Lydiard to himself. The olive tree in the centre light and the flanking figures of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, are a rebus on the name Oliver St. John. Sir John's last monument stands against the north wall of the chancel and is to his fourth son Edward, who died in 1645 of wounds received when fighting for the king at the second battle of Newbury. (fn. 322) This is sometimes called the 'golden cavalier'.
Among other St. John monuments is that in the south aisle erected by Sir John's father to his parents Nicholas (d. 1589) and Elizabeth (d. 1587). Also on the south side of the church are the monument erected by Sir Giles Mompesson to his wife, Katherine (d. 1633), eldest sister of Sir John St. John (d. 1648), and one by Michael Rysbrack to John, Viscount St. John (d. 1748), the rebuilder and embellisher of Lydiard Park. (fn. 323)
The elaborate coloured and gilded wrought-iron communion rails date from c. 1700 and were probably commissioned by Sir Walter St. John (d. 1708). Sir Walter may also have installed the curved ceiling of the chancel painted with sun, moon, and stars. The coloured and gilded oak chancel screen is surmounted by a carving of the Stuart royal arms. The font dates from the 13th century. New box pews were placed in the nave in the 19th century but some of the earlier ones survive, including the St. John and Midgehall family pews. The pulpit is Jacobean.
In 1553 there were four bells. (fn. 324) By 1670 there were five. (fn. 325) Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are dated 1635, and thus date from the time of Sir John St. John's works within the church. Number 4 was recast by Abraham Rudhall, of Gloucester, in 1757. Number 5, by William and Robert Cor, is dated 1701, and bears the elaborate ornamentation characteristic of the work of those founders. (fn. 326) In 1964 the tower was stripped and the bells rehung in a new frame. The old 4th bell was recast, and a new treble added in memory of Canon W. H. Willetts (rector 1936–55) and Mrs. Willetts. The ring was retuned to the key of F sharp. (fn. 327)
'A great clock', presented by 'Lady —' belonged to the church in 1670 and may have been the clock in the tower which was there in 1783. (fn. 328) A clock in the tower is shown in the model of the church mentioned above, but it does not appear in the painting of the church done by John Buckler in 1810.
A chalice (14 oz.) was left for the church by Edward VI's commissioners and 8 oz. of plate removed for the king's use. (fn. 329) In 1964 all the church plate dated from the 17th century. There were two large flagons with domed covers. One is hall-marked 1650 and the cover is inscribed 'The gift of Deborah Culme, Daughter of Sir Charles Pleydell of Midghall'. Deborah Culme was the second daughter of Sir Charles Pleydell and wife of Benjamin Culme, sometime Dean of St. Patrick's Dublin, who died at Midgehall in 1657 and was buried at Lydiard. The second flagon, similar in design, is hall-marked 1663, and inscribed on the cover 'The gift of Lady Eliz. Newcomen Daughter of Sir Charles Pleydell of Midghall'. Elizabeth Newcomen was an elder sister of Deborah Culme. There are also a paten, hall-marked 1669, and likewise the gift of Deborah Culme, and a chalice and paten hall-marked 1649, both engraved with the St. John crest. (fn. 330) The registers begin in 1666 and are complete.
In 1645 Sir John St. John created a trust to administer an annual rent-charge of £10 from land which he had acquired from Edward Pleydell. By his will dated the same year Sir John directed that this money should be spent upon the upkeep of the chapel he had reconstructed, then called the 'new aisle', and also upon the maintenance of the 'old aisle', the chancel, and all his family monuments and vaults. Aisles and vaults were to be inspected every Easter Monday when £1 was to be spent on providing dinner or supper for the inspectors. (fn. 331)
In 1834 the rent-charge had not been paid for more than 50 years. Such repairs as had been done had been paid for by Lord Bolingbroke, but monuments and aisles were said to be in much need of attention. After 1834 the arrears were made good and payments resumed for a time, but by 1901 they had lapsed again. At some time before 1880 £100, made up of unapplied income, had been invested, (fn. 332) but accounts had been kept irregularly and it was impossible to trace the regular receipt and application of the income. In 1964 the income, which consisted of the interest on an investment of £50, was spent on insuring the monuments. (fn. 333)
One dissenter was reported in the parish in 1676. (fn. 334) In 1822 the house of John Ferris was licensed as a place of worship for nonconformists. (fn. 335) The denomination of this group is not known, but in 1827 a Primitive Methodist church was formed in the parish and became part of the Brinkworth Circuit. (fn. 336) The early 1830s was a time of great activity for this circuit and in 1832 the Revd. S. Turner conducted a remarkable missionary service at Hook. (fn. 337) By the end of it 20 people had professed conversion. The next year premises at Hook, held and occupied by William Ind, were licensed for use as a chapel. (fn. 338) This may have been superseded by a house belonging to Richard Wolford, for in 1837 this also was licensed as a chapel. (fn. 339) A chapel was built in 1840 but Lord Bolingbroke claimed as his the land upon which it stood and the building had to be surrendered to him at valuation. (fn. 340) Thenceforth for many years the congregation met in a cottage which was partially converted to form a chapel. (fn. 341) In 1886 a small iron chapel was built and was enlarged three years later. (fn. 342) By 1907 the debt on this had been paid, but a local Primitive Methodist minister described the village as 'somewhat derelict materially' and as 'presenting great problems'. (fn. 343) The same chapel was still in use in 1964.
A site in Hay Lane was acquired in 1887 and a small Primitive Methodist chapel was built and licensed for worship the following year. (fn. 344) This became part of the Swindon Circuit and in 1964 a service was held once a month. (fn. 345)
There was no school in the village in 1819. (fn. 346) By 1835 there was a day school with 50 children, of whom 26 were paid for by Lord Bolingbroke and the rest by their parents. There was also a Sunday school with 50 boys. (fn. 347) In 1859 the school, which stood in the south-west corner of Lydiard Park in Hook Street, consisted of one small room with flagged floor and bare walls, which had been added on to a cottage. (fn. 348) Here 30 children were taught by an elderly man and his daughter. In 1860 the site of the present (1965) school at Hook was acquired and a school built with aid from the National Society. (fn. 349) In 1906 average attendance was 75. (fn. 350) In 1938 it was 47. (fn. 351) In 1965 the Lydiard Tregoze Junior and Infants' School was closed and the children transferred to Lydiard Millicent. (fn. 352) The cottage school of 1859, although derelict, still stood in 1965.
In c. 1692 Thomas Hardyman and Timothy Dewell (rector 1645–92) gave £20 each to be invested for the benefit of the poor of the parish. (fn. 353) The rector and churchwardens decided to use this money to build some cottages 'for the use and benefit of the parish'. In 1733 Viscount St. John gave some land at Hook Common as a site and here the cottages were built. It is probably because of these cottages that part of Hook Street was called Almshouse Lane in 1766, although they were not, in fact, almshouses. (fn. 354) In c. 1800 the cottages were let for £3 each a year, £1 of which was paid to Lord Bolingbroke and £2 to the poor. In 1834 the payments to the poor had lapsed and in 1901 the charity was reported to be irretrievably lost.
Richard Miles (rector 1747–1839) gave £700 for investment so that blankets and bedding could be distributed every Christmas to the poor, not already receiving parochial relief. In 1901 the interest on this was £19 and the year before 68 people had received a blanket. The income of the charity was about £17 in 1960, and in that year most of it was distributed to the poor in vouchers, but a small amount was used to buy various small comforts. (fn. 355)