Parishes: Manningford Bruce

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.

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A P Baggs, D A Crowley, Ralph B Pugh, Janet H Stevenson, Margaret Tomlinson, 'Parishes: Manningford Bruce', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10, ed. Elizabeth Crittall( London, 1975), British History Online [accessed 22 July 2024].

A P Baggs, D A Crowley, Ralph B Pugh, Janet H Stevenson, Margaret Tomlinson, 'Parishes: Manningford Bruce', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Edited by Elizabeth Crittall( London, 1975), British History Online, accessed July 22, 2024,

A P Baggs, D A Crowley, Ralph B Pugh, Janet H Stevenson, Margaret Tomlinson. "Parishes: Manningford Bruce". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Ed. Elizabeth Crittall(London, 1975), , British History Online. Web. 22 July 2024.

In this section


The ancient parish was situated 2 miles south-west of Pewsey. (fn. 1) Long and narrow in shape, it measured 4¼ miles from its north-western boundary near the secondary Pewsey-Woodborough road to its southeastern boundary on Bruce Down. It was only a little over ½ mile wide at its broadest point near Dragon Lane. (fn. 2) Its area was estimated at 1,113 a. in 1931. In 1934 it was merged with the civil parish of Manningford Bohune and the ancient parish of Manningford Abbots, its neighbours to the west and east respectively, and became part of the new civil parish of Manningford (3,356 a.) (fn. 3) The former western boundary of Manningford Bruce ran west of the fir plantation and Lock wood, followed the lane from Manningford Bohune common southeastwards to the main Devizes-Pewsey road, and beyond that road continued south-eastwards for 2½ miles on to Bruce Down. The former eastern boundary of the parish ran south-eastwards from the Pewsey-Woodborough road east of Frith copse and Dragon Lane across the Devizes-Pewsey road and thence south-eastwards parallel to the western boundary. The southernmost boundaries were marked in 1971 by a line of beech trees, planted at an unknown date to replace firs known as Grant's Firs and planted by John Grant (d. 1866), owner of the Manningford Bruce estate in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 4) The ancient nucleus of Manningford Bruce is situated between the Avon and the DevizesPewsey road; there is also scattered settlement along the lane running northwards from that road towards Wilcot. The name 'Manningford' partly derives from the ford on the Avon which until 1934 was within the ancient parish. In 1275 the settlement was known as Manningford Petri, either from its connexion with the FitzPeter family or from the church dedication, and in 1279 as Manningford Bruce from its new lords, the Breuse family. (fn. 5) 'Bruce' was later sometimes corrupted to 'Crucis', as in 1773 and 1783. (fn. 6)

From the 425 ft. contour line in the north of the ancient parish the soils of the Upper Greensand slope gently away south-eastwards for just over a mile and were mostly under arable cultivation in 1971. (fn. 7) The greensand is also well wooded. The fir plantation in the north-west corner of the parish was probably established by John Grant, the planter of the firs mentioned above, in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 8) To the south the Avon flows on a southwesterly course and the low-lying alluvial soils of its banks bear a thick cover of wood and undergrowth. From the alluvium a bed of River and Valley Gravel extends south for ½ mile and the oldest part of the settlement lies there at about 337 ft. An expanse of Lower Chalk, formerly occupied by the parish's open fields, stretches away southwards for 2 miles and rises gradually across the scarp of the downs. Beyond, on Bruce Down, which provided sheep pasture for the parish until the 19th century, the Lower Chalk is surrounded to the east, west, and south by banks of Middle Chalk. A stratum of Upper Chalk succeeds the Middle Chalk and rises to above 625 ft. at the southern boundary.

Archaeological evidence extending from the Neolithic to the Romano-British periods attests prehistoric activity within the ancient parish. Visible traces on Bruce Down include two ditches of unknown date, a bowl-barrow, and an enclosure of ½ a., possibly of Iron-Age or Romano-British date, which lies south of Bruce field barn. (fn. 9)

Manningford Bruce had 37 poll-tax payers in 1377, one of the smaller totals for Swanborough hundred as then constituted. (fn. 10) In 1801 the parish's population was 213 and that number increased steadily until 1851 when 275 people lived there. Afterwards the population slowly declined and in 1931, shortly before the amalgamation of the three Manningfords in 1934 (see above), there were 194 people in Manningford Bruce. (fn. 11)

Lanes which served the ancient parish in 1723 could still be traced as tracks in 1971. (fn. 12) One led westwards from Townsend Lane (in 1971 Dragon Lane, see below) to All Saints church at Manningford Bohune common. Others shown on a map of 1812 provided more direct access across the fields from the neighbouring settlements of Manningford Bohune and Manningford Abbots, and from the later 19th century were probably used by children from those settlements attending Manningford Bruce school. (fn. 13) 'Andrews' bridge' is mentioned in 1722, 1723, and 1754, and a 'town bridge' was ordered to be repaired in 1741, but their exact locations are unknown. (fn. 14) The river Avon in 1812 was apparently forded by the lane along which the settlement lay, but by 1838 a bridge of some kind seems to have been built. At some date a humpbacked bridge was built across the Avon. By 1971, however, it had been replaced by a flat concrete structure. (fn. 15) West of the ford the river was diverted into two channels in the 18th century, possibly to water the adjoining meadows. (fn. 16) By 1971 those meadows had been flooded to form a lake, then well stocked with trout. (fn. 17) The Berks. & Hants Extension Railway, constructed across the northern tip of the parish, was opened in 1862. (fn. 18)

The pattern of settlement at Manningford Bruce is essentially the same as in 1723. (fn. 19) In the 18th century the manor-house, church, rectory-house, and some cottages were grouped round a semi-circular lane running northwards from the DevizesPewsey road. (fn. 20) All that remained in 1971 were the east and west arms of that lane. The easterly one led to the former Rectory (in 1971 known as Manningford Bruce House), church, and manorhouse, while the westerly one provided access to the Hold and one or two cottages. The Hold, obscured by a high brick wall, was formerly attached to a small estate within the manor. It was converted from cottages in the 19th century and is a brick building of three bays with modern additions and alterations. (fn. 21) Some distance to the east the Old Manor House, known in 1838 as Lower Farm, stands along the lane to Wilcot, from which it is separated by a long thatched flint wall. (fn. 22) The original 17th-century house is made up of two bays on either side of a central stack, with a roughly contemporary service wing to the north. The gabled south entrance front has a two-storeyed porch sheltering a panelled door dated 1635. That date appears again on an eastern gable. In the early 19th century the principal entrance front was extended to the west; more rooms were added in the angle between the 17th-century ranges and the interior was extensively remodelled. The 'church lane' is mentioned in 1722 and 1741, and Swanborough Ash, Cross, and Loines Lanes in 1770, but their exact locations are not known. (fn. 23) During the 17th and 18th centuries scattered settlement occurred along the lane winding northwards from the Devizes-Pewsey road towards Wilcot. A few thatched cottages of 17th- and 18thcentury date, some partly timber-framed and others of brick, stand between the Old Manor House and the Avon on the west side of the lane. Some, notably that known as the White House, a 17thcentury cottage with later brick casing, have been modernized as middle-class residences. (fn. 24) During the 18th and early 19th centuries another small settlement, comprising some thatched brick cottages, grew up further to the north along the edge of a tract of common land. (fn. 25) That area, on the former eastern boundary of the ancient parish, became known as Townsend and Townsend Lane is so called in 1812. (fn. 26) The lane was known as Dragon Lane in 1971. In the 1950s the Pewsey rural district council built a housing estate, known as the Ivies, south-west of Dragon Lane. (fn. 27)

Mary Nicholas (d. 1686), daughter of Thomas Lane of Bentley (Staffs.) and first wife of Edward Nicholas (d. 1706), lord of Manningford Bruce, is buried in the church. (fn. 28) She is considered, like her sister Jane, to have had some part in the escape of Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651, and is reputedly the original of Alice Lee in Sir Walter Scott's Woodstock. (fn. 29)

Manor and Other Estates.

T.R.E a tenant named Edward held an estate at 'Maniford', which may be identified with the manor of MANNINGFORD BRUCE. It was held in 1086 by Grimbald the goldsmith (aurifaber). (fn. 30) It had passed to Peter FitzHerbert (d. c. 1235) by 1210, (fn. 31) who was succeeded in it by his sons Herbert FitzPeter (d. c. 1248) and Reynold FitzPeter (d. 1286). (fn. 32)

In 1275 Reynold FitzPeter conveyed the manor to William de Breuse (d. 1290 or 1291); in accordance with a settlement of 1281, William was succeeded in two-thirds of it by his son Peter (d. ante 20 Apr. 1312) and in the remaining third by his widow Mary as her dower. (fn. 33) The estate was then considered to belong to the constabulary of England, held by the earls of Hereford. (fn. 34) Peter afterwards conveyed his share to his mother for her life, so that she held the entire manor at her death c. 1326. (fn. 35) It then reverted to Peter's heir, his son Thomas de Breuse. (fn. 36) After Thomas's death in 1361 the manor, then held in chief, passed to his widow Beatrice for life under the terms of a settlement made in 1337, and, at her death in 1383, descended to her son Thomas. (fn. 37) Thomas died in 1395, his infant son and daughter shortly afterwards, and Manningford Bruce passed to his sister Beatrice's daughter Elizabeth, wife of William Heron and suo jure Baroness Say. (fn. 38) Elizabeth died without issue in 1399 and was succeeded by her widower, styled Lord Say. (fn. 39) On his death in 1404 the manor reverted to the Breuse line, represented by Elizabeth Lady Say's cousin, George Breuse, son of her grandfather Thomas de Breuse's brother John. (fn. 40) George Breuse died seised in 1418 and was succeeded by his great-greatnephew Hugh Cooksey (d. 1445), descendant of his sister Agnes. (fn. 41) On Hugh's death the manor passed to his widow Alice, afterwards wife of Sir Andrew Ogard. At her death in 1460 she was succeeded by Hugh's sister and heir, Joyce Beauchamp (d. 1473). (fn. 42) Joyce was succeeded in turn by her son John Greville (d. 1480), and grandson Thomas Greville alias Cooksey. (fn. 43) Thomas's heirs were his kinsmen Thomas, earl of Surrey (d. 1524), and Maurice, Lord Berkeley (d. 1506), the coheirs of Aline, Lady Mowbray, granddaughter of William de Breuse (d. 1290 or 1291) by his first wife. (fn. 44) In 1501 the earl of Surrey and Lord Berkeley allotted Manningford Bruce in dower to Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Greville alias Cooksey and at that date the wife of Edward Stanley. (fn. 45) At an unknown date the manor was allotted to either Maurice, Lord Berkeley (d. 1506), or to his son and namesake (d. 1523), or to his second son Thomas, Lord Berkeley (d. 1533). It descended with the title to 1565 when Henry, Lord Berkeley (d. 1613), sold it to Edward Nicholas. (fn. 46)

Edward Nicholas (d. 1582) was succeeded by his son Robert (d. 1602), after whose death the manor was held for life by his widow Jane. (fn. 47) By 1630 Manningford Bruce had passed to her son Sir Oliver Nicholas, cup-bearer to James I and carver to Charles I. (fn. 48) Oliver was succeeded there by his son Edward who was in possession by 1664. (fn. 49) Edward Nicholas died in 1706 and the manor passed to his widow Susanna for life and after her death to Anne, his daughter by his first wife Mary (née Lane), and wife of John Busfield. (fn. 50) Anne Busfield died in 1722 and was succeeded by her son Nicholas. (fn. 51) Nicholas died in 1738 and was succeeded at Manningford Bruce by his brother Oliver Busfield (d. 1762). From Oliver the estate passed to his niece Anne, the daughter of his deceased brother Thomas, and wife of John Rowland Desse. (fn. 52) In 1770 William Desse, eldest son of John Rowland Desse and his wife Anne, was owner and that year sold it to Prince Sutton. (fn. 53) On Prince Sutton's death in 1779, the estate passed to his son James (d. 1801), whose coheirs were his daughters Eleanor, who married Thomas Grimston Bucknall Estcourt, and Sarah, who married James Matthews. Eleanor and Sarah held the manor in 1812. (fn. 54) By 1816 it had been bought by John Grant (d. 1866), who was succeeded there by his son-in-law Alexander Meek (d. 1888), grandson Alexander Grant Meek (d. 1917), and great-grandson Ernle Grant Meek (d. 1944). (fn. 55) Ernle Grant Meek was succeeded by his sisters Elizabeth Muriel Grant Meek (d. 1950), and Bridget Edith Grant Meek (d. 1956). Bridget Grant Meek devised the estate to her kinsman Major W. W. Dowding, owner in 1971. (fn. 56)

The manor-house is situated north-west of the church and probably stands on the site of an earlier house, depicted in 1723 as L-shaped with a threebay west front and a two-bay south front. (fn. 57) That house was either rebuilt or extensively renovated in the later 18th century. (fn. 58) It was replaced in the early years of the 19th century, probably soon after John Grant (d. 1866) acquired the estate (see above), by a south-facing house of grey brick five bays wide with a service wing to the west. That wing contains re-used fittings from the earlier house, and a lintel dated 1803 has been reset on the west wall of the main block. To the west a red-brick stable range of 19thcentury date retains original stalls and loose-boxes. The extensive rectangular lawn which fronts the house is surrounded by numerous trees and shrubs including a well-established cedar. A large walled kitchen garden lies to the east.

A small estate at Manningford Bruce was charged in 1291 and 1318 with the payment of a yearly pension of 20s. to the priory of Hamble (Hants). (fn. 59) The land, to which a mill had once been attached, comprised two virgates and some meadow land in the later 14th century. (fn. 60) John Marshmill held the estate in 1392. (fn. 61) At that date the pension of 20s. was payable to Bishop Wykeham of Winchester, who had bought the property of certain alien houses, including the possessions of Hamble Priory, to endow Winchester College. (fn. 62) In 1480 John Marshmill the younger conveyed the land to his daughter Katharine and her husband Robert Andrews, and in 1495 Katharine, then a widow, granted the land to her son Richard. (fn. 63) By 1604 William Thorwell held the estate. (fn. 64) It was afterwards acquired by the Kent family of Boscombe, who, it was claimed in 1669, had not paid the annual 20s. pension due to Winchester College for the preceding 39 years. (fn. 65)

Economic History.

T.R.E. an estate at 'Maniford', to be identified with the later manor of Manningford Bruce, paid geld for 6½ hides and was worth £5. In 1086 it contained land for four ploughs, of which two were on the demesne. There were 1 villein, 10 coscez, and 2 bordars with 1 plough elsewhere on the estate. Meadow land was estimated at 20 a. and the pasture measured 12 furlongs in length and 12 in breadth. The estate was then worth £6. (fn. 66)

In 1327 the demesne was said to contain 200 a. of arable land worth 2d. the acre and 8 a. of meadow worth 1s. the acre. Additionally a pasture held in severalty was worth 10s. yearly to the lord. On the entire estate, which was worth £10 12s. yearly, there were 13 virgaters, 7 half-virgaters, and 11 cottars, who together paid a total rent of £5 14s. 4d. (fn. 67) In 1361 the demesne arable was reckoned at 320 a., of which 240 a. were worth 3d., and the remaining 80 a. 2d., the acre. There were still 8 a. of meadow worth 1s. the acre. The whole estate contained pasture for 4 cattle, 24 oxen, and 200 sheep. Nine virgaters, 3 half-virgaters, and 9 cottars there paid rents totalling £7 3s. 9d. The entire manor was then worth £15 16s. 5d. to the lord, who also had another small estate called the 'Frith' held of the abbess of Lacock and worth £1 4s. 4d. yearly. That small estate, which probably lay in the north-east corner of the parish, contained 60 a. of arable, 5 a. of meadow, 4 a. of wood, and an unspecified amount of pasture. (fn. 68) A north field within the manor is mentioned in the earlier 15th century and pasture then lay in Winter, Summer, and Ox downs, the 'fryth', the 'Breche', and the 'Hatfield', and meadow in Upmead, the 'garston', and the 'Dykemede'. (fn. 69)

In the later 16th century the demesne was farmed by William Noyes (d. 1557), and afterwards by his son, another William. There were at least 400 wethers and 100 ewes on the farm in 1557. (fn. 70) Stephen Pyke was tenant in 1757. (fn. 71) In 1770 William Barnes farmed Manningford farm (550 a.), which then comprised 25 a. of woodland, 219 a. of arable, 51 a. of meadow, and 253 a. of downland on which a flock of 700 sheep was maintained. (fn. 72) Henry Barnes farmed the demesne in 1793. (fn. 73) It was estimated at 615 a. in 1812. (fn. 74)

Besides the demesne farm, there were 3 copyholds and 7 leaseholds within the manor in 1770. (fn. 75) John Grant (d. 1810) apparently acquired a number of them and was succeeded in the estate so formed by his son, also John Grant (d. 1866), who in 1812, some years before he bought the manor, held by copy and lease eight small estates totalling 314 a. (fn. 76) The most substantial were Grace's (65 a.), Carpenter's (80 a.), and the Hold (117 a.), all of which had farm-houses attached to them. Another farm of 96 a. was leased from the lord of the manor in 1812 by Charles Alexander, who farmed it from the house known in 1971 as the White House. The Revd. George Wells (probably the patron of the rectory, d. 1839) held 71 a. by copy, made up for the most part of a holding called Rangers, which was farmed from a house standing near the site of the present (1971) Rectory. (fn. 77)

By 1812 most land round and to the north of the settlement had, with the exception of a rectangular common at Townsend, been inclosed. (fn. 78) Lains furlong, which probably formed a small part of that common, was inclosed in 1731, and the Rye field in 1736. (fn. 79) Old inclosures totalled 358 a. in 1812. The open fields, known as Farley Piece, Wise's Piece, Gurmoor, Great and Middle Pennings, Lower, Middle, Upper, and Second fields, extended southwards across the expanse of Lower Chalk between the Devizes-Pewsey road and the scarp of the downs. A total of 738 a. was inclosed in 1812, of which 500 a. were allotted to T. G. B. Estcourt, presumably as representative of his wife Eleanor and sister-in-law Sarah, for the demesne farm, 114 a. to John Grant for his leaseholds and copyholds, 81 a. to Charles Alexander for his leasehold, and 43 a. to the Revd. George Wells for his copyhold estate. (fn. 80)

Alexander and Wells retained their estates in 1838. By that date John Grant (d. 1866) had acquired the freehold of the entire manorial estate. His demesne farm (819 a.), then worked by Joseph Stratton from Lower Farm (called Old Manor House in 1971), comprised 509 a. of arable in the north of the parish and to the south of the Devizes-Pewsey road, while pasture (268 a.), lay on the downs and in numerous small closes south of the Avon. Three water-meadows, Plank's, North, and South meadows, bordered the south-west bank of the river. (fn. 81)

The estate comprised about 1,000 a. in 1971 and was worked by the Dowding Farming Company. It was made up of Manor and New Barn farms and devoted to mixed farming. (fn. 82)

In 1086 the tenant of the Manningford Bruce estate was entitled to a two-thirds share, worth 12s. 6d., in a mill at 'Maniford'. The remaining third was attached to the Manningford Bohune estate (then in Wilsford). Whether the mill stood in Manningford Bohune or Bruce is not known. (fn. 83) In the earlier Middle Ages there was apparently a mill known as Marshmill in the parish. Its exact location is unknown and no trace remained of it by the later 14th century. (fn. 84)

Local Government.

Records of courts survive for 1748, 1766, and 1767; by that date, however, they dealt exclusively with admittances to copyhold estates. (fn. 85) The parish records include accounts of overseers of the poor for various years in the earlier 18th century, summary overseers' accounts for certain years in the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries, and records of poor-rates levied in 1716 and 1757. Yearly sums disbursed by the two overseers of the poor increased from about £8 or £9 in the earlier 18th century to about £22 in the mid 18th century. (fn. 86) Manningford Bruce became part of Pewsey poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 87) The overseers also apparently acted as surveyors of highways and the wayman's account was often included with the overseers' accounts, as in 1726, 1729, and 1732. (fn. 88)


Bruce church was built in the late 11th or early 12th centuries (see below). The first mention of it, however, occurs in 1291. (fn. 89) The rectory was united with that of Abbots in 1926. (fn. 90) After the severance of the chapelry of Manningford Bohune from the vicarage of Wilsford in 1939, the southern mediety of the chapelry, including Manningford Bohune village, was merged with the united benefice, which since 1967 has been held in plurality with the rectory of Everleigh. (fn. 91)

The first recorded presentation of a rector was made in 1341 by Mary de Breuse (d. c. 1326), who then held the manor for life. (fn. 92) The advowson afterwards descended with the manor until the 18th century. (fn. 93) During that time the right of presentation was often assigned or sold. In 1395 the right to present at every other turn was assigned to Thomas de Breuse's widow Margaret, a right which she seems to have relinquished a few years later. (fn. 94) John Attewode presented in 1438 and in 1508 Edward Staveley and his wife Elizabeth did so. (fn. 95) The king presented in 1540 and 1605, Richard Smith of West Kennett (in Avebury) in 1679, and Robert Nicholas and Thomas Smith in 1713. (fn. 96) In 1722 Anne Busfield, who then held the manor, presented John Wells. (fn. 97) He bought the advowson from Oliver Busfield, lord of the manor, in 1762. (fn. 98) On Wells's death in 1763 it passed to his widow Sarah, and from her to their eldest son, the Revd. Joseph Wells (d. 1805), on whose death it descended to his nephew the Revd. George Wells (d. 1839), son of the then rector. (fn. 99) By 1845 it had been acquired by J. Barnard, probably of the Bedford banking house of that name. (fn. 100) The Barnard family retained it, although in 1880 they delegated their right of patronage to the rector, Alexander Grant, who thus presented his successor. (fn. 101) In 1919 the advowson, then vested in Mrs. Bertha Mary Barnard of the Hoo, Kempston (Beds.), was transferred to the bishop, who, after the union of the rectories of Manningford Bruce and Manningford Abbots in 1926, was entitled to present at every other turn. (fn. 102)

The rectory was assessed for taxation at £5 6s. 8d. in 1291 and 1428. (fn. 103) It was worth £10 13s. 6d. in 1535. (fn. 104) During 1829–31 its net average yearly income was £233, a sum which may have represented the value of the rectorial tithes. (fn. 105) The rector was allotted a rent-charge of £310 to replace those in 1838. (fn. 106)

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries the rector had c. 1 a. of glebe, made up of a close near the churchyard and a meadow on the south bank of the Avon. That ground, called Moor coppice, was bounded on the west by the road from Wilcot and on the east by the parish boundary. (fn. 107)

The south range of the former Rectory, in 1971 called Manningford Bruce House, incorporates part of a timber-framed building and is probably identifiable with the rectory-house mentioned in 1678. (fn. 108) That house was encased in brick and its west end extended northwards to form a new west entrance front in the 18th century, probably by George Wells, rector 1763–1815. (fn. 109) The house was further extended and extensively remodelled in the earlier 19th century. It became the rectory-house of the united benefice after the union of the rectories of Manningford Abbots and Manningford Bruce in 1926. (fn. 110) The house was sold in 1964 to Major R. S. Ferguson, who carried out much internal restoration and modernization. (fn. 111) A new Rectory for the united benefice was built at the junction of the DevizesPewsey road with the lane leading to Wilcot. (fn. 112)

Bartholomew Parsons (d. 1642), instituted to the church in 1605 and later incumbent of Collingbourne Kingston and Ludgershall, was a well-known Royalist preacher. (fn. 113) A successor, Thomas Baylie (d. 1663) instituted in 1621, represented Wiltshire at the Westminster Assembly of 1642 and later expressed Fifth-Monarchist views. (fn. 114) During most of the 18th, and also in the earlier 19th centuries members of the Wells family, as patrons of the church (see above), presented relatives to the benefice. On the death of John Wells, rector 1722–63 and purchaser of the advowson, his widow Sarah presented their youngest son George Wells (d. 1815). On his father's death George Wells the younger (d. 1839), then owner of the advowson, presented his younger brother John (d. 1842), as rector. John Wells was also rector of Boxford (Berks.), and possibly did not always live at Manningford Bruce. (fn. 115) During 1829–31 he employed an assistant curate there who received a yearly stipend of £50. (fn. 116)

In 1783 services were held once on Sundays alternately in the morning and afternoon. Additionally prayers were read on Good Friday and on the day following great festivals. Celebrations of the Holy Communion, apparently well attended, were held on the great festivals, the three Sundays following those festivals, and at Michaelmas. (fn. 117) Services were still held once on Sundays in 1812, and the Sacrament was then administered four times a year. There were estimated to be 30–40 communicants in the parish. (fn. 118) In 1851 it was reckoned that during the previous year an average congregation of 63 had attended morning services and one of 75 those held in the afternoons. (fn. 119) Services in 1864 were held each Sunday afternoon and on alternate Sunday mornings.

Holy Communion was celebrated on the first Sunday in each month as well as on certain other Sundays in the year. Great festivals were marked by 'a high celebration of the Blessed Sacrament' with sermon. Weekday services were frequent. Congregations at all services were generally small, and the incumbent complained that many of his parishioners attended church at Upavon. (fn. 120)

The church of ST. PETER, so dedicated by 1291, is built of coursed flint with ashlar dressings and has a chancel with apse and nave with south porch. (fn. 121) Both nave and chancel are structurally of the late 11th or 12th centuries, although some 19thcentury antiquaries considered them to be earlier. (fn. 122) Features of that date include two windows in the chancel, the chancel arch, a window on the north of the nave and the jamb of another opposite it, the north doorway (now blocked), and the south doorway. Few structural alterations have been made to the original building. A south porch was added in the 13th century and a west window inserted. Alterations of the 15th century resulted in the enlargement of the south nave window, the lowering of the pitch of the nave roof, and the addition of a western bell-tower. The walls may have been rendered at that time. (fn. 123) The church was restored under the supervision of J. L. Pearson in 1882. (fn. 124) He rebuilt both nave and porch to a steeper pitch, replaced all the roofs, and added the bell-turret with leaden spire. He also removed the external plasterwork to reveal the flint walls laid herring-bonewise. Internally he decorated the walls of the chancel and apse but his work appears otherwise to have entailed only careful repairs and not alterations. The restoration revealed a wall-painting of the Last Judgment beneath the plaster of the north wall of the nave. Most of the church furniture was renewed. The memorial windows and the reredos, painted by the firm of Clayton & Bell to the design of J. L. Pearson, were given by the Meek (later Grant Meek) family. Mary Nicholas (née Lane and d.1686), first wife of Edward Nicholas (d. 1706), is commemorated by a wall monument surmounted by a cartouche of arms on the north side of the chancel. (fn. 125)

The king's commissioners allowed the parish to keep a chalice in 1553. In 1891 and 1971 the plate comprised a chalice of the later 16th century and a paten hall-marked 1881, the gift of the Bliss family. There were also in 1891 two pewter plates and a flagon inscribed 1727. Of that set only one plate survived in 1971. (fn. 126) The church had two bells in 1553. In 1971, as in the earlier 20th century, there were two bells, the second of which, cast by the Salisbury bellfounder John Wallis, was inscribed 'IW 1592'. (fn. 127) Extant registrations of baptisms date from 1657, marriages and burials from 1658, and are complete. (fn. 128)


Two nonconformists of unknown denomination were recorded at Manningford Bruce in 1676. (fn. 129) In 1864 the rector reported that there were 44 dissenters, some of whom belonged to a 'methodist conventicle', probably identifiable with that reported to meet in the parish schoolroom. The rest were described by the rector as 'Baptists or Fatalists, and Methodists with Upavon Crookites'. (fn. 130) In spite of considerable dissent in the ancient parish, no nonconformist chapels were built there.


The parish had two charity schools attended by some 40 children in 1808. (fn. 131) In 1818 two privately supported schools were each attended by some 30 children. There were also two smaller schools in the parish, one attended by 18, the other by 8 children. Those schools were also attended by children from Manningford Abbots. (fn. 132) In 1833 a day-school, attended by 31 boys and girls, was supported by subscriptions and by small payments from the children. Numbers had decreased because the children from Abbots then attended a school in their own parish. (fn. 133) A thatched one-storeyed schoolroom was built c. 1841 and, still in use in 1971, stood south of the White House along the west side of the lane to Wilcot. It was later considered the property of the lord of the manor. (fn. 134) Between 25 and 35 boys and girls, including children from Manningford Bohune, were taught there in 1859. (fn. 135) The school then received a small sum yearly from George Wells's charity, described below. (fn. 136) In 1881 there were some 80 children on the roll since after 1873 children from Manningford Abbots again attended, and in 1896 it was customary for that parish to make a yearly contribution of £17 10s. towards the school's upkeep. (fn. 137) An average of 66 pupils, probably from all three Manningfords, attended in 1905–6. (fn. 138) Thereafter numbers declined. In 1942 there were only 28 children on the roll. Of those, juniors were taught by a head teacher and infants by an assistant. (fn. 139) The school, leased by the Manningford Bruce estate to the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Finance since 1903, was conveyed to that body in 1945. (fn. 140) In 1971 some 60 children from the three Manningfords were taught there by a master and two part-time assistants. Additional accommodation was then provided in a mobile classroom. (fn. 141)

In 1838 the Revd. George Wells (d. 1839), patron, transferred to trustees shares to be sold after his death and the capital reinvested. (fn. 142) The income was to be used to teach poor children reading and the Catechism. If there were no suitable children, the income was to be distributed to the poor generally. Income was £10 in 1838 but in 1855 only £2 8s. which was then paid into the school's general funds. (fn. 143) The rector and churchwardens, as trustees, were directed by a Scheme of 1898 either to award prizes not exceeding 10s. to children living in Manningford Bruce, or otherwise to use such sums for the children's benefit. Some £9 14s. 7d. which had accumulated was then invested to produce 4s. 8d. yearly. In 1901 income was £2 12s. 8d. At that date the trustees had again let funds accumulate and had £9 in hand because, it was said, of the difficulty of omitting children from the other two Manningfords who also attended the school. In 1971 income was £1 yearly and £11 10s. was then in hand. (fn. 144)

Charities for the Poor.

John Grant (d. 1866) bequeathed £1,000 stock, the income to be distributed among the poor at the discretion of three named relatives and after the death of the last by the rector and churchwardens. (fn. 145) In 1901 the income was £27 10s. During the winter months weekly payments of 6d. were made to a few widows, and the remaining money distributed in kind. It later became customary to allow the annual income of some £20 to accumulate over three years, at the end of which time the total sum was then used to buy blankets for the elderly. In the mid 1960s the charity income was £25 yearly. Blankets were given in 1964 and in 1965 to 18 and to 22 parishioners respectively. (fn. 146) In 1969 20 blankets were distributed. (fn. 147)


  • 1. This article was written in 1971. References to later years are dated.
  • 2. The following maps have been used: O.S. Maps 1", sheet 167 (1960 edn.); 1/25,000, 41/15 (1951 edn.); 6", Wilts. XLI., XLII. (1888, 1889 edns.).
  • 3. Census, 1931.
  • 4. W.R.O., Inclosure Award and Map; Tithe Award and Map and see p. 115.
  • 5. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 320 and see p. 114.
  • 6. W.R.S. viii, pl. 11; xxvii, pp. 162–3.
  • 7. The following paragraph is based on maps listed in 11. 2 and on Geol. Surv. Map 1", drift, sheet 282 (1959 edn.).
  • 8. W.R.O., Inclosure Award and Map; Tithe Award and Map.
  • 9. V.C.H. Wilts. i (1), 84, 257, 267; W.A.M. lvii. 76.
  • 10. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 310.
  • 11. Ibid. 353 gives population figures.
  • 12. W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2.
  • 13. W.R.O., Inclosure Award Map and see pp. 112, 118, 214.
  • 14. W.R.O. 950/19, chwdns.' acct. bk. 1686–1768.
  • 15. W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2; W.R.O., Inclosure and Tithe Award Maps and ex inf. Mr. G. R. Lee, Old Manor Ho.
  • 16. W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2; W.R.O., Inclosure Award Map.
  • 17. Ex inf. Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 286–7.
  • 19. W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. See p. 116.
  • 22. W.R.O., Tithe Award and Map and see p. 116.
  • 23. W.R.O. 950/19, chwdns.' acct. bk. 1686–1768; sale cat. Man. Bruce manor 1770 penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 24. See p. 116.
  • 25. See p. 116.
  • 26. W.R.O., Inclosure Award and Map.
  • 27. Wilts. Cuttings, xxi. 355.
  • 28. W.A.M. xxvi. 2 and see pp. 115, 118.
  • 29. W.A.M. xxvi. 3.
  • 30. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 162.
  • 31. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), ii. 483–4; Complete Peerage, v. 465.
  • 32. Bk. of Fees, ii. 741; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 274; Complete Peerage, v. 465 and see p. 63.
  • 33. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 188; Complete Peerage, ii. 302, 308 n.; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 386; W.R.S. i, p. 20.
  • 34. The overlord is wrongly called the earl of Hertford: Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 386.
  • 35. Ibid.; W.A.M. xii. 16; Cal. Fine R. 1319–27, 396.
  • 36. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 386; Cal. Mem. R. 1326–7, p. 244.
  • 37. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 278; Cal. Inq. p.m. xv, p. 367.
  • 38. C 136/86/7; Complete Peerage, ii. 308–10.
  • 39. Complete Peerage, ii. 308–10; xi. 477–8; Feud. Aids, v. 221.
  • 40. Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 100–3.
  • 41. C 138/35/48; Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 102–3; V.C.H. Surr. iii. 336.
  • 42. C 140/44/32; Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 102–3.
  • 43. C 140/44/32; C 140/77/72; Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 102–3.
  • 44. Coll. Topog. et Gen. vi. 74; Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 102– 3; Complete Peerage, ix. 379 sqq.; ii. 132–5; ix. 610–15; xii (1), 513.
  • 45. E 326/5701.
  • 46. Complete Peerage, ii. 135–8; C 142/106/87; Cal. Pat. 1563–6, p. 266.
  • 47. C 142/197/79; C 142/269/101.
  • 48. B.M. Add. MS. 34,008, ff. 5 sqq.; C.P. 25(2)/509/6 Chas. I East.; J. G. Taylor, Our Lady of Batersey, 328.
  • 49. C.P. 25(2)/744/15 & 16 Chas. II Hil.
  • 50. B.M. Add. MS. 34,008, ff. 43–49; B.M. Add. Ch. 37,609.
  • 51. W.R.O. 950/2, par. reg. 1703–97; C.P. 43/558 rot. 130; W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2.
  • 52. Abstr. of title of T. G. Estcourt, wife Eleanor, and Sarah C. Sutton penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 53. C.P. 25(2)/1446/11 Geo. III Mich. no. 601; abstr. of title of T. G. Estcourt etc. (see n. 52 above).
  • 54. W.A.M. xlii. 99–100; W.R.S. xxv, p. 98; W.R.O., Inclosure Award and see pp. 121, 208.
  • 55. C.P. 25(2)/1448/57 Geo. III Mich. no. 474; W.R.O., Tithe Award; 950/3, par. regs.; mon. in ch. to A. Meek; W.A.M. xl. 79; Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1939); Harrow Sch. Reg. 1885–1949, ed. J. W. Moir, 245.
  • 56. Ex inf. Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor and memorial tablet in ch.
  • 57. W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Map M.2.
  • 58. Sale cat. Man. Bruce manor 1770 penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 59. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 195; Reg. Martival (Cant. and York Soc.), iii. 49.
  • 60. Winch. Coll. Mun., Man. Bruce 13159 and see p. 116.
  • 61. Winch. Coll. Mun., Hamble 10706.
  • 62. Ibid.; V.C.H. Hants, ii. 223.
  • 63. Winch. Coll. Mun., Man. Bruce 13155, 13156.
  • 64. Ibid. Man. Bruce 13158.
  • 65. Ibid. Man. Bruce 13161, 13157.
  • 66. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 162.
  • 67. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 447–8.
  • 68. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 278–9.
  • 69. C 139/52/77.
  • 70. W.N. & Q. v. 299–300.
  • 71. W.R.O. 950/19, chwdns.' acct. bk. 1686–1768.
  • 72. Sale cat. Man. Bruce manor 1770 penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 73. Survey of Man. Bruce manor 1793 penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 74. W.R.O., Inclosure Award.
  • 75. Sale cat. Man. Bruce manor 1770 (see n. 72 above).
  • 76. W.R.O. 950/3, par. reg. and see above, p. 115.
  • 77. W.R.O., Inclosure Award and Map.
  • 78. Ibid.
  • 79. Ibid. 950/19, chwdns.' acct. bk. 1686–1768; 950/2, par. reg.
  • 80. Ibid. Inclosure Award and Map and see pp. 115, 117.
  • 81. W.R.O., Tithe Award and Map and see p. 113.
  • 82. Ex inf. Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 83. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 162, and see below, p. 211.
  • 84. Winch. Coll. Mun., Man. Bruce 13159 and see p. 115.
  • 85. Ct. bk. penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor.
  • 86. W.R.O. 950/19.
  • 87. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. H.C. 595, p. 560 (1836), xxix (1).
  • 88. W.R.O. 950/19.
  • 89. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189.
  • 90. Ibid.; Lond. Gaz. 30 May 1924, p. 4297; W.A.M. xlvi. 114 and see above, p. 111.
  • 91. Lond. Gaz. 30 May 1924, p. 4295; Crockford (1969– 70), and see below, pp. 212, 223.
  • 92. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 13 and see above, p. 114.
  • 93. Phillipps, op. cit. (index in W.A.M. xxviii. 225), and see pp. 114–15.
  • 94. C 136/86/7; Cal. Close, 1392–6, 451; 1399–1402, 473; Suss. Arch. Coll. viii. 102–3; Cal. Pat. 1396–9, 356.
  • 95. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 128, 186.
  • 96. Ibid. 209; ii. 4, 36, 52.
  • 97. Ibid. ii. 57 and see above, p. 115.
  • 98. Abstr. of title of T. G. B. Estcourt, etc. penes Major W. W. Dowding, Man. Bruce Manor and see p. 115.
  • 99. Burke, Land. Gent. (1846), ii. 1547; W.R.O. 950/2, par. reg. 1703-97; 950/3, list of patrons and incumbents; Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. ii. 81, 94, 98; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, 1523 and see below, p. 119.
  • 100. W.R.O. 950/3; Joyce Godber, Hist. Beds. 444–5.
  • 101. W.R.O. 950/3; Venn, Alumni Cantab. i (2), 160.
  • 102. Lond. Gaz. 27 June 1919, p. 8083; 30 May 1924, p. 4297.
  • 103. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189; Feud. Aids, v. 283.
  • 104. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 150.
  • 105. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues [67], pp. 840–1, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 106. W.R.O., Tithe Award.
  • 107. Sar. Dioc. R.O., Glebe Terriers, 1671, 1678, 1705; W.R.O., Inclosure Award and Map; Tithe Award and Map.
  • 108. Sar. Dioc. R.O., Glebe Terrier, 1678; ex inf. Major R. S. Ferguson.
  • 109. W.R.S. xxvii, p. 163; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715– 1886, 1523.
  • 110. Lond. Gaz. 30 May 1924, p. 4297.
  • 111. Ex inf. Major R. S. Ferguson.
  • 112. Ex inf. the incumbent.
  • 113. D.N.B.
  • 114. Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 40.
  • 115. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. ii. 57, 81; W.R.O. 950/3, list of patrons and incumbents; Burke, Land. Gent. (1846), ii. 1547; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, 1523; V.C.H. Berks. iv. 48.
  • 116. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues [67], pp. 840–1, H.C (1835), xxii; V.C.H. Berks. iv. 48; W.R.O. 950/3, list of patrons and incumbents.
  • 117. W.R.S. xxvii, pp. 162–3.
  • 118. W.A.M. xli. 134.
  • 119. H.O. 129/261/1/17.
  • 120. Sar. Dioc. R.O., Vis. Queries, 1864.
  • 121. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189.
  • 122. W.A.M. xxv. 270 sqq.
  • 123. The low-pitched roof, bell-tower, and rendered walls may be seen in a SE. view of the church in 1806 by John Buckler: W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, vol. iv. 9.
  • 124. For an acct. of the restoration see Pevsner, Wilts. 296; Wilts. Cuttings, xvi. 286–7.
  • 125. See pp. 114–15.
  • 126. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 170; ex inf. Major R. S. Ferguson, Man. Bruce Ho.
  • 127. Walters, Wilts. Bells, 132, 296; ex inf. the incumbent.
  • 128. At county record office in 1973: W.R.O. 950/1A–8.
  • 129. W.N. & Q. iii. 537.
  • 130. Sar. Dioc. R.O., Vis. Queries, 1864; W.A.S. Libr., Devizes, Revd. J. Wilkinson's par. hist. colls. (Man. Bruce).
  • 131. Lambeth MS. 1732, return of schs. in Salisbury dioc.
  • 132. Digest of Returns to Sel. Cttee. on Educ. of Poor, H.C. 224, p. 1032 (1819), ix (2).
  • 133. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 1042 (1835), xliii and see above, p. 112.
  • 134. Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1890); Return of Non-Provided Schs. H.C. 178, p. 40 (1906), lxxxviii.
  • 135. Acct. of Wilts. Schs. H.C. 27, p. 32 (1859 Sess. 1), xxi (2).
  • 136. Ibid.
  • 137. Wilts. Cuttings, i. 186; W.R.O. 956/31, letter, Pawley Smith to Everett, 1896 and see p. 112.
  • 138. Return of Non-Provided Schs. (1906), p. 40.
  • 139. Bd. of Educ., List 21 (H.M.S.O. 1914, 1922, 1927, 1932, 1936, 1938); W.R.O. 950/32, head teacher's annual rep. 1942.
  • 140. W.R.O. 950/27, memo. of agreemt. between A. Grant Meek and S.D.B.F.; 950/36, letter, Campbell Laverton to Cook, 1949.
  • 141. Ex inf. Major R. S. Ferguson, Man. Bruce Ho.
  • 142. All information, unless otherwise stated, from Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), lxxxi, pp. 307–8 and see p. 117.
  • 143. See above.
  • 144. Ex. inf. the incumbent.
  • 145. All information, unless otherwise stated, from Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), lxxxi, pp. 308–9, and see above, p. 115.
  • 146. Char. Com. file 202304.
  • 147. Ex inf. the incumbent.