A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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The parish (fn. 1) is situated 4¾ miles south of Devizes. (fn. 2) It covers 1,846 a. and is long and narrow in shape. (fn. 3) From the north-eastern boundary at Mill Farm across Great Cheverell common, the terrace on which the village stands, over Great Cheverell Hill to its south-western boundary on Great Cheverell Down, the parish measures 4¼ miles. It is just over a mile wide at Townsend. Cheverell wood marks the northern boundary. A tributary stream of the Semington brook, which rises immediately north of the secondary Lavington-Westbury road, flows northwards past the village and the area known as the Green (see below) and marks the boundary between Great Cheverell and its easterly neighbour Little Cheverell. It has been suggested that 'Cheverell' is of Celtic origin and represents an amalgamation of kyuar (Middle Welsh, land to be ploughed in common) and ial (British, fertile or cultivated upland region), a thesis which the settlement's position above the clay vale on the comparatively high greensand ridge would support. The form 'Capreolum' (Latin capreolus, kid, roe-buck), used in the early 12th century, merely represents an attempt to render the name into Latin. (fn. 4)
The northernmost part of the parish, and a strip which extends along the eastern boundary as far as the Green, lie on the Portland Beds at c. 238 ft. (fn. 5) That stratum gives way about ½ mile south to the beds of Gault Clay situated below the 225 ft. contour line. The whole area, well watered by springs and small streams, was under permanent pasture in 1973. The use of the clay soils for arable cultivation in former times, is, however, attested by ridge and furrow marks directly east of Common Farm. (fn. 6) About ½ mile southwards the clay vale gives way to the scarp of the Upper Greensand ridge. The settlement stands there just above the spring line with the church on the highest point at c. 318 ft. Southwards the arable land of the parish, as in former times, extends over the greensand terrace and across the exposed chalk hill lands. The greensand is replaced south of the Lavington-Westbury road by successive narrow strata of Lower and Middle Chalk. There, on the western boundary with Erlestoke, the open expanse of chalk is broken by a plantation known as Folly wood situated just north of the crest of the Middle Chalk which stands at over 575 ft. To the south, eastward-flowing streams, now dry, formerly cut three shallow valleys through the Middle Chalk, exposing the underlying Lower Chalk for c. ½ mile. That hollow, which lies just below 425 ft. at its lowest point on the eastern boundary, was the site of Great Cheverell Hill and Glebe Hill Farms before land south of the Lavington-Westbury road was bought by the War Department in 1933. (fn. 7) It is sheltered to the south by the recurring Middle Chalk of Great Cheverell Hill which rises steeply for c. ¼ mile. There the Middle gives way to the Upper Chalk which rises to over 675 ft. immediately south of the course of the old Bath-Salisbury slow coach road (see below), in 1973, as formerly, the limit of the parish's arable land. (fn. 8) Southwards the land falls gently away across an open tract of rough pasture known as Cheverell Down, formerly occupied by the parish sheep runs. At its southern tip, and enclosed on three sides by the Upper Chalk, a dry valley on whose bed strata of Middle and Lower Chalk are successively exposed, lies below 450 ft. Since 1933 Cheverell Down has been included in the military training area based on Imber. (fn. 9)
Archaeological evidence attests human activity in Great Cheverell since at least the late Bronze Age, and it is likely that an area on Cheverell Down was settled in Roman times. (fn. 10) In 1334 the parish made the second largest contribution to the fifteenth of that year in the small hundred of King's Rowborough. (fn. 11) Great Cheverell's total of 73 poll-tax payers in 1377 was again second only to Market Lavington in the same hundred. (fn. 12) The number of inhabitants contributing to the benevolence of 1545 and the subsidy of 1576 was small compared with those of other parishes within the enlarged hundred of Swanborough. (fn. 13) When the population was first systematically enumerated in 1801, 457 people lived in Great Cheverell. (fn. 14) A temporary decline in 1811 was followed by an increase to 576 inhabitants in 1831. Thereafter the decline, caused by agricultural depression and low wages in the Devizes area, (fn. 15) began again and continued throughout the later 19th and earlier 20th centuries. In 1951, possibly because of the expansion of council housing, the population rose slightly to 351 people. There were 415 inhabitants in 1971, a rise attributable to the fact that staff from Erlestoke Detention Centre then lived in Great Cheverell. (fn. 16)
By 1513 Gangbridge provided access across the small stream which rose west of the road leading north from Great Cheverell past the Green. (fn. 17) Most roads which served the parish in 1773 either continued in use or could be traced as footpaths in 1973. (fn. 18) The village seems always to have been bypassed by the main thoroughfares. The slow coach road from Salisbury to Bath, a farm track in 1973, ran on a north-westerly course across Cheverell Down. (fn. 19) Similarly the secondary Lavington-Westbury road runs c. ½ mile south of the village on an east-west course below the chalk scarp. It was turnpiked shortly after 1757–8. (fn. 20) The lane to Mill Farm (formerly Winsmore's Mill) and to Worton (in Potterne), which branches off that which formerly led across Great Cheverell common to Marston (in Potterne), was apparently laid between 1773 and 1802. (fn. 21) The G.W.R. line to Westbury and the west of England was constructed through the north of the parish and opened in 1900. (fn. 22) The road leading northwards past the Green and one of the lanes providing access to Common Farm were then diverted over bridges.
'Morgoneslane', subject to flooding, is mentioned in the early 15th century and 'Millelane' in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 23) Both were probably in the northern part of the parish but their exact locations are unknown. The village was described c. 1700 as 'pleasantly situated on sandy ground . . . between hill and vale . . . upon an eminence above the vale to the north, by which it affords a most pleasant prospect for the space of 10 or 15 miles northward . . .' (fn. 24) The church stands on the ridge's highest point with the Manor House and earlier-19thcentury Manor House Farm to the west, Manor Farmhouse to the south-east, and the Old Rectory to the north. In the 18th century, as in 1973, the village extended eastwards from the church along Church Street and its eastern extension Low Street, both so named c. 1700, north-eastwards to the Green, and southwards along High Street to Townsend. (fn. 25) The junction of Church Street with High Street forms the central point of the village. The Glebe House, from which the glebe estate was farmed (see below), stands behind a small garden on the north side of Church Street to the north-west of that junction. (fn. 26) It is a two-storeyed house of chequered brick with stone dressings. Of early18th-century origin, the building has a later extension to the north and internally has been remodelled in the 20th century. Its south entrance front has been altered at various times. To the west of the junction stands the Bell inn, a substantial 18thcentury building so called by 1771. (fn. 27) Several large cottages of similar date, some of which incorporate 17th-century features, are found along High Street and also between that road and the southern end of the Green. Their size, and position close to and slightly raised above the road, give the village a crowded, closely built-up appearance. Most represent former copyhold farm-houses and each, as in former times, has a large garden at the rear. (fn. 28) That formerly called the Old House (the post office in 1973) stands at the south-east of the T-junction north of High Street directly on the road but high above it on a stone plinth. Formerly occupied by the Mattock family, it has 'J.M. 1770' picked out in contrasting brick on its north-west front. (fn. 29) No. 42 High Street is a small symmetrically-fronted brick house with stone dressings, tiled roof, and a central 'venetian' window at first-floor level. It was the home of the Potter family, manufacturers of sheep bells in the 19th century, and bears a stone date tablet inscribed 'E./H. Potter 1757'. (fn. 30) In the earlier 19th century, besides a number of cottages, some middle-class residences were built. Such are the small but stylish brick house with wrought- and cast-iron porch facing south down High Street; Laurel House (no. 48 High Street), the inscription 'M.S.S. 1843' on its chimney stack and a contemporary smithy and carpenter's workshop behind identifying it as the home of Mark Sawyer, a prominent local nonconformist and millwright; (fn. 31) and Highfield House on the north-east corner of High Street. The east side of the road running north from the village by way of the area called the Green is shown built up in the later 18th century. (fn. 32) That housing probably represented settlement on the edge of what was once, as the name of the area suggests, common land. Nothing of 18th-century date, except a house on the north-west corner of the Green junction, remains visible and existing buildings strung out along the east side of the Green are externally of 19th- and 20th-century date. Common Farm, which lies near the boundary with Erlestoke in the north-west corner of the parish, was probably built shortly after 1700 when much of the common was inclosed (see below). At one end of the house there is a contemporary dairy with cheese room above and these were later extended by the addition of a south wing. Apart from some private dwellings in the village and at the Green and Townsend, new building has been mostly limited to council housing. Several such houses were built between the First and Second World Wars at Townsend. A council estate was constructed east of High Street at Garston and Green Lane in the 1950s, and another at Hill Corner c. 1960. A small estate to house staff from the Erlestoke Detention Centre was built in that part of Erlestoke Park situated in Great Cheverell after the Second World War. It was considerably enlarged c. 1960. In 1973 two blocks of council flats and some garages were being built at Townsend. (fn. 33)
Manors and Other Estates.
Land to be identified with the later manor of GREAT CHEVERELL was thegnland T.R.E. It was acquired by William FitzOsbern, earl of Hereford (d. 1071), who afterwards exchanged it with the king for land in the Isle of Wight then attached to the royal manor of Amesbury. Thus in 1086 Great Cheverell was held by the king and deemed part of Amesbury manor. (fn. 34) Hamelin de Ballon afterwards received a royal grant of Great Cheverell. His grandson William, son of Hamelin's daughter and eventual heir Emmeline and her husband Reynold FitzCount, claimed in 1166 that Hamelin had been dispossessed of Great Cheverell. (fn. 35) The lands were later restored and some time in Henry II's reign Hamelin's estates, including Great Cheverell, were divided between William's brother Reynold and Geoffrey FitzAce and his wife Agnes, probably a sister of William and Reynold. (fn. 36) Reynold de Ballon was dispossessed of his share before 1179, probably by Robert Boveincurt, who forfeited it c. 1179. (fn. 37) The estate was restored to Guy de Boveincurt in 1190 and the same year Reynold de Ballon recovered it from him. (fn. 38) By 1207 the moiety had passed to Reynold's son John. (fn. 39) The FitzAce share may be identified with the lands in Great Cheverell which Richard of Cromhale, William of London, and Margery de Limesy, Hamelin de Ballon's heirs in a moiety of his lands, reconveyed to their overlord John de Ballon in 1227. (fn. 40) Thus re-united the manorial estate passed c. 1235 to John de Ballon's son and namesake. (fn. 41) The younger John died c. 1275 and was succeeded by his brother Walter de Ballon, on whose death shortly before 1288 the estate passed to his brother Reynold. (fn. 42) Reynold assigned a third of the manor in dower to Walter de Ballon's widow Iseult who married secondly Hugh de Audley. (fn. 43) In 1288 Reynold sold the manor, presumably including the reversion of Iseult's third, to Robert Burnell, bishop of Bath and Wells, and to Robert's nephew Philip Burnell. (fn. 44) Robert died in 1292 and Philip in 1294. (fn. 45) In 1295 the two-thirds of the manor of Great Cheverell of which Philip Burnell had died seised were assigned as dower to his widow Maud. (fn. 46) On her death late in 1315 or early in 1316 she was succeeded by her daughter Maud, wife of John de Haudlo. (fn. 47) The Haudlos settled two-thirds of the manor on themselves in tail male with remainder to the right heirs of Maud in 1316 and the following year dealt similarly with the reversion of Iseult de Audley's third. (fn. 48) That third escheated to the Crown on the forfeiture of Iseult's husband Hugh in 1321 but was restored to her after his death c. 1326, and certainly by 1339 had been reunited with the manor. (fn. 49) Maud de Haudlo was apparently dead by 1337 when the estate was held by her elder son Thomas, who like his younger brother (see below), assumed the name Burnell. In 1339 Joan, Thomas's widow, was tenant for life. (fn. 50) Joan (d. 1369) and her second husband Reynold de Cobham (d. 1361) surrendered the manor c. 1357 to her brother-inlaw Nicholas Burnell, upon whom the reversion had been settled in 1339 by his father John de Haudlo (d. 1346). (fn. 51) Nicholas was succeeded at his death in 1383 by his son Hugh (d. 1420), from whom the manor passed, in accordance with an earlier settlement, to Hugh's granddaughter Margery, her husband Edmund Hungerford, then both minors, and to Edmund's father Walter, later 1st Lord Hungerford, who retained it (see below). (fn. 52) The manor was thenceforth designated CHEVERELL BURNELL to distinguish it from the estate known as Cheverell Hales, acquired by Walter Hungerford in 1425 (see below). (fn. 53)
In 1442 Walter, Lord Hungerford (d. 1449), conveyed Burnell to trustees to endow an almshouse at Heytesbury. (fn. 54) The grant, however, did not have immediate effect. Walter apparently released his rights in the estate c. 1447 to his son Robert (d. 1459), who in 1458 enfeoffed trustees for the same purpose. (fn. 55) After Robert, Lord Hungerford's, death the feoffees conveyed some of his lands, apparently including Burnell, to his widow Margaret, suo jure Baroness Botreaux (d. 1478), with remainder to his son Robert, 3rd Lord Hungerford (attainted 1461 and executed 1464). (fn. 56) In 1462 Richard, duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), received a grant of Robert's lands, repeated in 1468. (fn. 57) Margaret Botreaux disputed the grants and in 1469 Gloucester agreed that the feoffees should continue to hold Burnell and pledged himself to apply to the king for licence to endow an alms-house at Heytesbury. (fn. 58) In 1472 Margaret and the feoffees were licensed to endow the alms-house with the manor of Cheverell Burnell. (fn. 59) The Hungerford family seem to have retained an interest in Burnell, most apparent during the later 16th century when the affairs of the alms-house appear to have been conducted irregularly. Burnell was forfeit to the Crown on the attainder of Walter, Lord Hungerford (attainted and executed 1540), but was restored in 1554 to his son Sir Walter Hungerford. (fn. 60) It was again in royal hands in 1585 when it was granted in socage to Theophilus Adams and Thomas Butler. (fn. 61) It was later restored, since in 1596 Sir Walter Hungerford died seised of Burnell and was succeeded there by his half-brother Sir Edward Hungerford. (fn. 62) Following the commission of enquiry into Heytesbury Hospital's affairs in 1607 Burnell was confirmed three years later as an endowment at its reincorporation. (fn. 63) The estate was retained by Heytesbury until 1863, when it was exchanged with Simon Watson-Taylor for land in Urchfont. (fn. 64) Burnell thereafter descended like Erlestoke in the WatsonTaylor family until the earlier 20th century. (fn. 65)
In 1919 the Great Cheverell estate was sold to J. H. and F. W. Green, who the following year sold Manor farm (56 a.), representing Burnell manor, and Cheverell Hill farm (552 a.), apparently formed from the hill land of both Burnell and Hales manors, to the executors of J. M. Coleman. (fn. 66) In 1933 Mrs. Mary Jane Wells and others sold Cheverell Hill farm to the War Department, owners in 1973. (fn. 67)
Edward Merewether tenanted the demesne of Burnell manor in 1438 and members of the same family remained tenants until c. 1480 when they became tenants of Hales manor (see below). (fn. 68) John Sheriff was lessee in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 69) John Harris occupied the demesne in 1562, although in the same year Heytesbury Hospital granted a term of 61 years to Leonard Parry of Salisbury. (fn. 70) The Harrises apparently remained resident tenants, however, and in 1616 Burnell was leased to Thomas Harris the elder. (fn. 71) At his death c. 1638 Thomas was succeeded there by his son John Harris. (fn. 72) John died c. 1660 and was succeeded by his widow Jane alias Joan and their son Thomas. (fn. 73) When Thomas died in 1664 the lease of Burnell was renewed to his mother. (fn. 74) In 1691 Jane Harris's grandson Thomas Harris Bruges became tenant. (fn. 75) He surrendered his lease shortly before 1723 and that year Heytesbury leased Burnell to Bruges's brotherin-law Isaac Warriner of Conock (in Chirton). (fn. 76) Thereafter Burnell passed in the Warriner family like the rectorial tithes of Conock to Gifford Warriner (d. 1820). (fn. 77) In 1826 a lease was granted by Heytesbury to George Watson-Taylor (d. 1841), whose son Simon acquired the freehold in 1863 (see above). (fn. 78)
Manor Farmhouse, which stands south-east of the church, incorporates a partly timber-framed range of the 17th century. There is an early-19thcentury extension to the south-west which probably replaced earlier buildings. The elaborate beams of the earlier range indicate a substantial house, which, the 17th-century date suggests, was probably built by the Harris family. In 1973 the house was a private residence.
By 1237 land at Great Cheverell, known from the mid 15th century as the manor of CHEVERELL HALES (see below), had been subinfeudated by the Ballons to Walter de Goderville. (fn. 79) The overlordship of the estate descended like the capital manor (see above) and is last mentioned in 1374. (fn. 80) On his death c. 1250 Walter de Goderville was succeeded by his elder daughter Joan, wife of Geoffrey Gascelyn (d. before 23 Aug. 1282). (fn. 81) Joan died before 28 Sept. 1287 and was succeeded by her son Edmund Gascelyn (d. 1307), and grandson Edmund Gascelyn, who in 1314 received a grant, repeated in 1320, of free warren in his lands at Great Cheverell. (fn. 82) When Edmund died in 1337 his estate, in accordance with a settlement made in 1326, passed to his widow Eleanor (d. 1349) and after her death to their son Geoffrey Gascelyn. (fn. 83) In 1373 Geoffrey leased the estate to Sir Ralph Cheyney for ten years. (fn. 84) On Geoffrey's death in 1374 a third of his estate was assigned to his widow Elizabeth (d. 1394) in dower, while the remainder passed to their younger daughter Christine, later the wife of Edward Hales. (fn. 85) She sold her Great Cheverell estate to Walter Hungerford, later 1st Lord Hungerford, in 1425 and thereafter it descended like the capital manor (Burnell) until 1920 when J. H. and F. W. Green sold Manor House farm (105 a.), representative of Hales manor, to Charles Butcher. The Manor House was then sold as a private dwelling. (fn. 86) Both the Manor House and the farm were afterwards owned by Mrs. Helena S. Bateson (d. 1958), whose trustees sold to Sir Delaval J. A. Cotter in 1959. (fn. 87) The Manor House was the property of Brigadier and Mrs. Oliver Brooke and the farm that of Mr. R. H. Fielding in 1973.
Hales was tenanted in 1426 by Roger Herbard and thereafter by various farmers until 1480 when a John Merewether worked the demesne. (fn. 88) A branch of the Merewether family remained resident there as tenants of Heytesbury Hospital until the later 17th century. (fn. 89) Known lessees include John Merewether the elder (d. 1583), who was granted a lease by Heytesbury in 1569, his son John the younger (d. 1613), and grandsons John (d. 1626), Richard (will pr. 1633), and Jeffrey (d. 1663). In 1654 Jeffrey Merewether surrendered his lease and Heytesbury granted Hales to Priscilla Merewether (d. 1672), his brother Richard's widow. (fn. 90) She apparently surrendered the lease c. 1669, when James and William Townsend acquired it. William released his interest therein to his brother James in 1680. (fn. 91) James Townsend the elder (d. 1730) surrendered Hales in favour of his son and namesake, who became lessee of Hales in 1725. (fn. 92) On his death in 1748 James the younger was succeeded by his nephew John Wadman of Imber, after whose death in 1793 Hales passed to his trustees, in whose hands it remained in 1802. (fn. 93) The farm, reckoned at 74 a. in 1833, was leased to Elias Bassett and William Barker in 1825. (fn. 94)
The Manor House stands directly west of the church and commands extensive views over the vale to the north. Its southerly garden, for which the greensand ridge provides natural terracing, is separated from the churchyard by a yew hedge of considerable age. The nucleus of the present house was probably built as a gentleman's residence by James Townsend the elder (d. 1730) to replace an earlier farm-house soon after he acquired sole interest in the Hales lease in 1680 (see above). Townsend's original house, U-shaped in plan with northwards-projecting arms, was of brick with stone dressings and had two storeys and an attic. It was enlarged in the early 18th century by the addition of a separate kitchen wing to the east, in 1973 linked to the house by a connecting range of later date. By 1773 the greensand scarp fronting the house to the north had been laid out as a park. (fn. 95) Townsend's great-nephew and eventual successor at Hales, John Wadman (d. 1793), seems to have remodelled the house externally and internally in the later 18th century, when it was known as 'the great house'. (fn. 96) The open court between the wings was then filled in to form a central entrance bay surmounted by a gable. A rainwater head inscribed '1781' on the north front may date the alterations. Further additions were made in the early 19th century, notably the insertion of a staircase in the space created by the infilling of the courtyard. The two-storeyed gazebo south-west of the house is probably of early-18th-century date. Its cellar is built into the bank behind the terrace south of the house, from which the upper storey is approached by a flight of steps. That storey, like the house, is of brick with stone quoins, and is surmounted by a pyramid slate roof with ball finial.
Ambrose Dauntsey (d. 1555) held a freehold estate of 2½ virgates of Hales manor in 1541–2. (fn. 97) The land seems eventually to have passed to Ambrose's grandson Sir John Dauntsey, who in 1630 died seised of 106 a. in Great Cheverell held in socage. (fn. 98) No more, however, is known of it.
In 1544 Nicholas Halswell conveyed an estate at Great Cheverell and other places to Thomas Horton (d. 1549). (fn. 99) Thomas's sons William and Edward dealt with it by fine c. 1554–5. (fn. 100) The younger, Edward, apparently retained it and died seised in 1603. (fn. 101) He was apparently succeeded there by his nephew and heir William Horton, since it was held by William's son Toby in 1618. (fn. 102) That year Toby Horton sold the estate to his kinsman Sir John Horton of Broughton Gifford. (fn. 103)
Members of the Merewether family, farmers of Hales manor (see above), also held small freeholds in the parish. John Merewether the younger (d. 1613) held 1½ virgate there which passed to his son and namesake (d. 1626). (fn. 104) Thomas, the brother of John (d. 1613), also had a small freehold which passed at his death in 1602 to his son, another Thomas, then a minor. (fn. 105)
In the 13th century the present parish was divided between two estates, later known as the manors of Cheverell Burnell and Cheverell Hales (see above). As extended in 1275 the capital manor, later known as Burnell, contained 81 a. of arable worth 8d. the acre, 15 a. of meadow worth 2s. the acre, pasture for 40 oxen at 6d. each beast, and pasture for 250 sheep at 1d. each animal. Assessed rents totalled £5 7s. 10d. and the whole estate was worth £14 2s. 1d. (fn. 106) Nineteen years later the estate was valued at £11 19s. 9d., a sum which included the rent of free men worth 14s. 3d., and rents of customary tenants and cottars worth £2 18s. 10d. at Michaelmas and £1 18s. 4d. at Easter. The sheep pasture was worth £1 5s., the several pasture 13s. 4d., 200 a. of arable were worth 2d. the acre, and 12 a. of meadow 1s. 6d. the acre. (fn. 107) In 1421 the 182 a. of arable land within Burnell manor were worth £2 5s. 6d., of which 104 a., worth 1d. the acre, were situated at the Ridge Way, on the hill and middle hill, and in the marsh. The marsh arable (20 a.) was then under pasture. The best arable, 42 a. worth 8d. the acre, mostly lay on the greensand soils, then known as East and West Sand, but also partly on the clay land. Some 21 a. were then worth 4d., and another 14 a. 2d. the acre. Of the 17 a. of meadow worth £1 6s., that in the 'Brodedaywyn', 'Cutdaywyne', and 'Watschip', totalling 10 a., was worth 2s. the acre, that in 'Horsgarston' (4 a.) worth 1s. the acre, and that in 'Northmede' (3 a.) worth 8d. the acre. Besides a sheep pasture on the hill worth £2 10s. there were beast pastures in the 'Smethe', 'Oldheye', and the 'Garston'. (fn. 108) In 1438 rents of free tenants amounted to 14s. 5d., while customary rents of tenants called 'nethermen' and 'overmen' were worth respectively £2 0s. 6d. and £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 109) During 1539–41 three freeholders held very small estates within Burnell manor. Eight copyholders, half of whom held two copyholds, and among whom members of the Mattock family were prominent, then paid rents totalling £11 17s., while another eight who held at will, including the demesne farmer, paid rents totalling £24 11s. 10d. (fn. 110)
In 1438 Edward Merewether tenanted Burnell demesne at £10 yearly. The farmer then received £2 0s. 8d. in rents from ten holdings and cottages within the demesne. (fn. 111) As described above, the demesne was afterwards leased by the Harris family as resident farmers in the 16th and 17th centuries, and by their kinsmen, the Warriners of Conock, in the 18th and earlier 19th centuries. (fn. 112)
The estate later known as the manor of Cheverell Hales contained 300 a. of arable worth 6d. the acre in 1287. Some 20 a. of meadow were worth 1s. 6d. the acre. There was pasture for 36 oxen at 6d. each ox, a several pasture for 5 plough horses at 8d. each horse, and another for 350 sheep at 1d. each animal. There were then 5 free tenants, while 8 customers who held between them 4 virgates of land owed works worth £2 9s. The total value of Hales was £14 13s. 3½d. (fn. 113) In 1349 the estate apparently contained 2 carucates of land; of the 120 a. of arable 80 a. were sown each year, while the remainder lay fallow. There were 12 a. of meadow worth 1s. the acre, a several pasture of 15 a. was worth 7s. 6d., and another which contained pasture for 200 sheep was worth 8s. 4d. Rents of free and villein tenants totalled £1 4s. (fn. 114) In 1542 the rents of 6 free tenants were assessed at £1 8s. 7d.: customary rents totalling £2 18s. 1½d. were then paid by 6 tenants, of whom one had a two-virgate holding, another, two half-virgates, three had half-virgates, and the sixth a cottage only. Ten tenants held at will, including Hugh Merewether the demesne farmer, and members of the Mattock family. (fn. 115)
In 1426 Hales demesne was farmed at £8 yearly. (fn. 116) The farm later became fixed at £9. (fn. 117) As described above, the estate was worked by various tenants in the earlier 15th century. During the later 15th, 16th, and earlier 17th centuries the Merewethers, and during the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries the Townsends, were established there as resident farmers. (fn. 118)
Few details are known of the sheep and corn husbandry upon which the parish's economy was based since earliest times. There were apparently 200 sheep within a moiety of Great Cheverell manor in royal hands in 1185. (fn. 119) Great Cheverell's connexions with the local woollen industry date from at least the early 16th century, when there was a fulling-mill at the northern tip of the parish (see below). The tenantry flock was stinted at 24 sheep to the yardland c. 1700. (fn. 120) At that time some 800 a. in the parish were sown yearly, and the excellence of the local barley for seed was particularly remarked upon. Dairy cows, which produced good butter and cheese, were then maintained on the low-lying pastures in the north of Great Cheverell. (fn. 121) There were many sheep in the parish in the later 18th century. (fn. 122) Appointments of two sheeptellers at the spring manorial courts are recorded from 1778. (fn. 123) In 1851 there was a self-employed sheepskin-dealer in the parish. (fn. 124)
In 1677 common meadow land was situated partly in Great Cheverell common and the north meadow in the north-west corner of the parish. (fn. 125) The common itself was reported to contain 349 a. in 1700. A narrow strip of land along the north-west boundary with Erlestoke was then inclosed by agreement of those tenants who had rights there. The two most substantial customary tenants, Henry and Thomas H. Bruges, received an allotment which later became known as Common farm. (fn. 126) As a copyhold within the manor of Great Cheverell, it passed like the lease of the Burnell estate from Thomas H. Bruges to the Warriners of Conock, tenants until the early 19th century. (fn. 127) George Watson-Taylor was admitted to the farm (61 a.) in 1827 and from him it passed to his son Simon, who, as described above, acquired the freehold in 1863. (fn. 128) Thereafter it became part of the Erlestoke estate and as such was bought in 1919 by J. H. and F. W. Green, who again offered the farm (198 a.) for sale in 1920 and 1921. (fn. 129) As a dairy holding with 40 cows, the farm was noted for the production of cheeses in the 19th and early 20th centuries. (fn. 130)
In the later 18th century, before parliamentary inclosure, Joshua Smith, owner of an estate at Erlestoke, began to acquire copyholds along the north-west boundary between Great Cheverell and Erlestoke in order to extend the park he had created at Erlestoke. At inclosure in 1802 he was allotted 38 a. to replace his land in the open fields and rights in the remaining commons of Great Cheverell. (fn. 131) At the same time he also acquired another two copyholds (84 a.), formerly held by Job Gibbs, in the north-west corner of the parish. (fn. 132) Similarly by 1802 Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, earl of Radnor, had acquired four small freeholds, for which in 1802 he received allotments totalling 140 a. in the north of Great Cheverell abutting his Little Cheverell estate. (fn. 133)
In 1802 arable was situated in the sand fields which stretched south from the village across the greensand soils to the Westbury-Lavington road, and in the clay fields, which lay south of that road and extended southwards from it across the Lower and Middle Chalk. (fn. 134) The arable hill fields occupied the succeeding beds of Lower and Middle Chalk as far south as the old Bath-Salisbury road which formerly led north-west across the chalk ridge to Tinhead (in Edington). Beyond lay the downland pastures of Great Cheverell, also inclosed at that time, as was the remainder of the common (see above) and the common meadows. Of the 1,463 a. so inclosed, Heytesbury Hospital, as lord, received an allotment of 235 a. for Burnell manor and another of 170 a. for Hales. As mentioned below, the rector received a substantial acreage to replace both tithes and glebe. Apart from the allotment mentioned above made to Lord Radnor, a further 247 a. of freehold land were allotted to at least nine owners of smallholdings. A total of 425 a. of copyhold land was allotted to 32 tenants of Heytesbury Hospital.
The process of consolidation of farms which had begun c. 1700 continued after inclosure. In 1833 the 521 a. of land in Great Cheverell held by lease of Heytesbury Hospital were divided amongst Burnell manor farm (275 a.) and another estate of 138 a., both tenanted by George Watson-Taylor, and that of Hales (74 a.), worked by Elias Bassett and William Barker. The 1,231 a. of copyhold land were then apportioned amongst 43 copyholds, of which 8, held by George Watson-Taylor, made a farm of 285 a. The only other copyhold farm of appreciable size at that date was that of 65 a. held by William Bartlett the elder and his son and namesake. (fn. 135) In 1863 most of the parish became part of the Erlestoke estate when, as described above, Simon Watson-Taylor acquired the freehold of the land held by Heytesbury Hospital in Great Cheverell. It remained part of that estate until the earlier 20th century. (fn. 136)
During at least the later 12th century Great Cheverell may have been included within Selwood forest. (fn. 137) Thereafter no woodland in the parish is mentioned. In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, local landholders pursued a tree-planting policy. By 1725 James Townsend, tenant of the Hales estate, had planted trees on Great Cheverell common. (fn. 138) The woodland (2 a.) on the glebe in the north-west corner of Great Cheverell was planted by the rector c. 1734 and known as the Coppice. (fn. 139) Henning coppice on the western parish boundary is mentioned in 1758. (fn. 140) In 1783 the rector reported that timber on the glebe of Great Cheverell included 30 oaks in Henning, 21 ash trees in the Home close, and elsewhere 41 elms. He stated that he had planted more elms in 1781 and another 50 in 1782. (fn. 141) In the earlier 19th century Joshua Smith, who, as described above, had acquired a small copyhold estate in the west of the parish to enlarge Erlestoke park, between 1802 and his death in 1819 planted Folly wood on the western parish boundary south of the WestburyLavington road, and Townsend wood south-east of Henning wood. (fn. 142) Similarly between 1802 and 1832 an earl of Radnor (probably Jacob, d. 1828), planted Greenlands wood east of the road to Worton (in Potterne) and Cheverell wood on the northern parish boundary. (fn. 143) Oak timber on the Heytesbury estate at Great Cheverell was valued at £5,000 in 1833. (fn. 144) Greenlands wood was grubbed up in 1957. (fn. 145) In 1962 Cheverell wood (33 a.), late the property of Miss Alice Bond, was offered for sale. (fn. 146)
In the 18th century John Mattock held at will of Heytesbury Hospital a dwelling called the Old House (see above), a mill-house, malt-house, and granary. (fn. 147) John's granddaughter Mary and her husband William Chandler were tenants c. 1771. The estate, including mill- and malt-houses, remained in the Chandler family until the early 19th century. (fn. 148) By 1834, however, the malt-house, then the property of William Bartlett the younger, had been converted into four cottages: no further mention is found of the mill-house. (fn. 149) In 1802 William Giles was copyhold tenant of Heytesbury Hospital at a brickworks on the Portland Beds at the Green north-east of the junction of the road from Common farm with that leading to Worton (in Potterne). (fn. 150) Seven men were employed there in 1851. (fn. 151) In 1855 and 1867 William Dunford was described as a brickmaker. (fn. 152) The Potter family, owners of Winsmore's (later Potter's) Mill, made edge-tools there until the early 19th century (see below). From at least 1827 to 1880 they made sheep bells, probably, as has been suggested, in the forge adjoining no. 42 High Street. (fn. 153) The business, which was afterwards taken up by William Lancaster (d. 1919) and carried on in a blacksmith's shop at Townsend, is described elsewhere. (fn. 154) In 1851 Mark Sawyer (d. 1853) employed 7 men and 3 boys to make machinery for the many near-by water-mills in workshops behind no. 48 High Street. (fn. 155) The business was carried on for a few years by his sons Joseph and Nathaniel but by 1867 had passed to the Dunford family who continued as mill-wrights until the early 20th century. (fn. 156)
As described elsewhere, in 1933 land in Great Cheverell south of the Westbury-Lavington road was acquired by the War Department. (fn. 157) The southern quarter, Cheverell Down, was afterwards included in one of the firing ranges of the Salisbury Plain area. The remainder, in 1973 mostly under arable cultivation, was leased by the War Department to local farmers, of whom the most substantial were W. J. Oram of White House, West Ashton, Trowbridge, and the executors of J. W. Nosworthy (d. 1972) of Great Cheverell. (fn. 158) In 1973 the parish was given over to mixed farming. Of the smaller pasture farms in the north of the parish, Manor House farm, Mill farm (110 a.), and Common farm (c. 140 a.), then had herds of dairy cows. (fn. 159) Marketgardening, noted as an occupation of the parishioners c. 1700, was still carried on south of the village on the greensand soils in 1973. (fn. 160)
Mill. In 1324 Henry and Walter Ennok and others held a small estate of the lord of the capital manor. (fn. 161) It is probably to be identified with that held in 1421 by John Stourton (cr. Baron Stourton 1448 and d. 1462), and named the following year as 'Ennokes'. (fn. 162) The first mention of a water-corn-mill attached to the estate occurs in 1449 when it was noted to be in poor condition. (fn. 163) The mill, to which 3 a. of pasture were attached, was used for fulling by 1526 and continued to be so used until at least the end of the 17th century. (fn. 164) The Stourtons retained the mill estate until 1544 when William, Lord Stourton (d. 1548), sold it to Thomas Long (d. 1562), whose widow Joan afterwards held it for life. (fn. 165) Joan died c. 1583 and was succeeded by her husband's nephew and heir Edward Long. (fn. 166) The estate, still known in 1613 as 'Enocks', passed c. 1622 to Edward's son Gifford (d. 1635), who held it of William Brouncker as of his manor of Melksham. (fn. 167) In accordance with a settlement made in 1631 the mill probably passed after Gifford Long's death to his son Edward. (fn. 168) At some date John Winsmore (d. 1697), members of whose family had leased the estate in the earlier 17th century, bought the freehold and devised it to his son Thomas. (fn. 169) In 1699 Thomas and his wife Deborah conveyed the estate, which comprised a water-mill, 3 a. of meadow, and 8 a. of pasture in Great Cheverell, to James Axford. (fn. 170) When offered for sale in 1784 the Winsmore mill estate comprised a moiety belonging to Richard Aldridge and another late the property of Isaac Axford, a bankrupt. The mill was let to Henry and James Potter in 1785. (fn. 171) James Potter (d. c. 1812), owner in 1802, made edge-tools at the mill, then called Potter's. (fn. 172) In 1837 the estate, then owned by the Watson-Taylors, contained a meal-mill, let to Edward Price, and an iron-mill tenanted by Thomas Williams. (fn. 173) Mill farm, estimated at 110 a., was devoted to dairying and owned by Mr. A. Coleman in 1973. (fn. 174)
The former mill-house and buildings are situated on the extreme north-eastern parish boundary on the south side of the lane to Worton (in Potterne). All are of later-18th- or earlier-19th-century date and stand in the apex of two north-westwardsflowing head-streams of the Bristol Avon which formerly fed the mill-pond. The former corn-mill stands north-west of that pond. An undershot wheel at its south-west end drove, through largely wooden gearing, three stones. A near-contemporary extension on the north-east apparently housed beltdriven static machinery. The former iron-mill, which stands south-east of the pond, retains a chimney. (fn. 175) Both buildings were used for storage in 1973.
Separate manorial courts for Burnell and Hales manors were held from at least the later 13th century. (fn. 176) Records are extant, with gaps, from 1421 to 1537. Both courts were generally held twice yearly on the same day, although the presentments of each homage were made and entered separately. (fn. 177) In 1422 the court of the capital manor, shortly afterwards named Burnell, was called that of Great Cheverell and its homage known as that of Eastcourt. The Hales homage was designated that of Westcourt. (fn. 178) Besides the usual small agricultural and tenurial matters, the Hales court dealt in 1422 with an alleged rape, and the Burnell court in 1436–8 with the case of the Felpot family, serfs who had left the demesne without the lord's permission. (fn. 179) Later records, extant from 1719, show the courts to have been merged at some date and thereafter known as the court of Great Cheverell manor. Still generally held twice yearly, the courts were mostly concerned with copyhold business. Although held until 1908, courts after 1887 were mostly formal. (fn. 180)
Overseers' papers dealing with the settlement, apprenticing, and removal of paupers cover the later 17th to the earlier 19th centuries. (fn. 181) No accounts are known to survive for that period. In 1835 Great Cheverell became part of Devizes poor-law union. (fn. 182) Paupers were apparently housed in cottages at the Green called the 'barracks' in 1852. (fn. 183) No other parish records except registers are known.
In the earlier 12th century Hamelin de Ballon gave the church of 'Capreolum', to be identified with that of Great Cheverell, with all the tithes and the priest's land belonging to it, to the abbey of St. Vincent at Le Mans (dép. Sarthe), probably for the endowment of a dependent priory at Abergavenny (Mon.). (fn. 184) At some date before 1288 the church reverted to the Ballons. In 1288 Reynold de Ballon, lord of the capital manor, granted the advowson to Robert Burnell, bishop of Bath and Wells (d. 1292), and to Robert's nephew Philip Burnell (d. 1294). (fn. 185) The advowson was assigned in dower in 1295 to Philip's widow Maud (d. 1315 or 1316). (fn. 186) Her right to present was in some way disputed by Edmund Gascelyn, under-tenant of the Burnells in the estate later known as Cheverell Hales (see above). (fn. 187) The rector he presented in 1314 was not instituted, however, and Maud shortly afterwards appointed a rector. (fn. 188) From at least 1307 until 1435 the rectors presented vicars to the bishop for institution: nothing, however, is known of the arrangements made for their support. (fn. 189) After Maud Burnell's death the advowson of the rectory descended with the capital manor and passed with it in 1420 to Margery and Edmund Hungerford and to Edmund's father Walter, later 1st Lord Hungerford. (fn. 190) Although Edmund and his father together presented a rector in 1435, Walter, Lord Hungerford (d. 1449), apparently retained the advowson. (fn. 191) It afterwards passed to his son Robert, Lord Hungerford (d. 1459), and then to Robert's widow Margaret, suo jure Baroness Botreaux. In 1476 Margaret Botreaux and trustees granted the advowson in fee to Thomas Tropenell. (fn. 192)
From Thomas (d. 1488) the advowson passed successively to his son Christopher (d. 1503), grandson Thomas (d. 1547), and great-grandson Giles (d. a minor 1553). (fn. 193) Giles's heirs, his sisters Anne, wife of John Eyre, Elizabeth, wife of William Charde, Eleanor, wife of Andrew Blackman, and Mary, wife of John Young, in 1557 conveyed the advowson to trustees, who the following year settled it on Mary and John Young. (fn. 194) By 1582 the advowson had been acquired by William Brouncker (d. 1596), from whom it passed to his son Henry (d. 1598), and grandson William, a minor, in whose place the Crown presented in 1601 and 1609. (fn. 195) Richard Goddard presented in 1623. (fn. 196) In 1640 the advowson, by then the property of William Gough and his wife Alice, was sold to John Davenant, bishop of Salisbury (d. 1641). Shortly afterwards the bishop gave the advowson to Queens' College, Cambridge, of which he had formerly been president. (fn. 197) In 1774 Queens' exchanged it with William Bouverie, earl of Radnor (d. 1776), for the advowson of Seagrave (Leics.). (fn. 198) The Radnors remained patrons of Great Cheverell until 1837 when William Pleydell-Bouverie, earl of Radnor (d. 1869), sold the advowson to the Revd. Robert Moulton Atkinson (d. 1873), who in 1841 presented himself. (fn. 199) Patronage rights were acquired c. 1865 by Miss Mary E. Ainge, who in 1865 presented Edward Gunner (d. 1885). (fn. 200) Gunner apparently acquired the advowson at some date. (fn. 201) Charles Richard Gunner of Bishop's Waltham (Hants) was patron in 1886. The rectory was in the gift of trustees, whose is unspecified, in 1892. Richard Henry Smith of Stroud (Glos.) was patron in 1912. The following year, in conjunction with J. H. Burn, rector 1892–1912, R. H. Smith transferred the advowson to Robert William Bourne upon whose death at an unknown date it passed to his widow, Mrs. Henrietta L. Bourne (d. c. 1956), whose trustees were patrons in 1973. (fn. 202) From 1936 the rectory was held in plurality with the united benefice of West Lavington with Little Cheverell. (fn. 203) Little Cheverell was detached from West Lavington in 1958 and united with the rectory of Great Cheverell, the patron of Little Cheverell being entitled to make the first presentation to the united benefice. (fn. 204) The Cheverells were disunited in 1965. (fn. 205) In 1968 Great Cheverell rectory was united with the benefice of Erlestoke and remained so in 1973. (fn. 206)
The church was valued for taxation at £8 in 1291 and throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 207) In 1341 that sum included a ninth part of the great tithes worth £5 6s. 8d., small tithes worth 9s., and land worth 10s. yearly. (fn. 208) The rectory was worth £16 10s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 209) The rector estimated its worth at £200 less outgoings in 1750 and 1766. (fn. 210) The net average yearly income of the benefice from 1829 to 1831 was £353. (fn. 211)
In the early 18th century tenants of estates in Great Cheverell were reported to have previously leased their own tithes. (fn. 212) In 1723, however, John Bartlett leased all the tithes for three years at £160 yearly. With his brother James he remained lessee in 1729. (fn. 213) Walter Post, rector 1731–c. 1772, took the tithes in kind from 1733. In 1750 he reported that those arising from Common farm (see above) had for some time past been farmed at £12 yearly. (fn. 214) The tithes were merged at inclosure in 1802 and an estate of c. 304 a., described below, was allotted to the rector. (fn. 215)
The glebe, first mentioned in the early 12th century, was reckoned at c. 30 a. in 1677, a total made up of small amounts of meadow and pasture in the north meads and the common, and c. 23 a. of arable land in the east and west fields. (fn. 216) When part of Great Cheverell common was inclosed c. 1700 the rector was allotted 10½ a. there to replace his pasture rights. (fn. 217) The small farm of c. 40 a. so formed, farmed from the building known in 1973 as the Glebe House and described above, was leased to James Bartlett in 1729. (fn. 218) From 1733 the rector farmed the glebe himself. In 1750 most of the glebe land lying in the common was under arable cultivation, although some 2 a. had been planted as a coppice by the rector c. 1734. (fn. 219) A considerable number of trees, including many elms, were planted on the glebe by Sir James Stonhouse, Bt., rector 1780–95. (fn. 220) At inclosure in 1802 14 a. directly north of the Rectory in Great meadow were allotted to replace glebe. (fn. 221) Thus, with the land allotted in place of tithes and mentioned above, an estate of c. 330 a. was formed. It lay chiefly south-east of the village in the East Sand and Clay fields and south of the Lavington-Westbury road in a narrow strip along the eastern parish boundary. (fn. 222) The rectory estate, then reckoned at 346 a. and worked as two farms, was sold on the instructions of the rector in 1918. The Glebe farm of 130 a. was sold to F. Giddings, whose family retained it for many years. (fn. 223) Most of the land was later sold to J. W. Nosworthy. (fn. 224) The remainder, reckoned at only 20 a. of pasture in 1970, and the Glebe House were then offered for sale in two lots. (fn. 225) The Glebe House was a private dwelling in 1973. (fn. 226) The Glebe Hill farm of 176 a. was sold in 1918 to James Chapman, who in turn offered it for sale in 1921. (fn. 227) In 1933 E. F. Chapman sold part of the hill farm (207 a.) to the War Department, owners in 1973. (fn. 228)
The parsonage-house mentioned in 1677 may be identified with a building which in 1802 stood directly north-east of that known in 1973 as the Old Rectory. (fn. 229) It was fronted in the later 18th century by two small formal gardens or 'courts'. (fn. 230) In 1783 it was described as of three distinct dates: constructed partly of rough stone, partly of lath and plaster, and partly of timber and brick, it was then roofed with tiles and stone slabs. (fn. 231) A pair of 18th-century brick gate-piers with stone cornices and vase finials, extant in 1973, marked the entrance to the driveway. R. M. Atkinson, rector, replaced that house in 1844. (fn. 232) The Rectory, as the new building was known, was unoccupied after 1936 (see above) and some time before 1939 was acquired by Frank L. Carter and his nephew Sir Charles Chitham. (fn. 233) Thenceforth called the Old Rectory, it remained in private occupation in 1973. The assistant curates who served the church in the late 1930s and early 1940s (see below), and from 1958 to 1963 the last resident rector, lived at the Parsonage. (fn. 234) That house, built c. 1938–9 at Garston, was later sold as a private dwelling and was known as 'Beech End' in 1973. (fn. 235) The rector then lived at Erlestoke (see above).
In 1574 it was noted that the profits of ½ a. called Racham close in Great Cheverell had formerly been used to maintain the church's Paschal taper. Tenanted by John Mante, the land was then worth 2d. yearly. (fn. 236) By will dated 1725 James Townsend (d. 1730) bequeathed 10s. chargeable on a house called Garnam's to the minister for a yearly Good Friday sermon. The charity was deemed lost in 1834. (fn. 237)
John Lybbe, presented in 1539, and his successor Richard Chandler (d. c. 1582), were also successively masters of Heytesbury Hospital. Both held additional preferments elsewhere. (fn. 238) An assistant curate was employed in 1550. (fn. 239) The rector, also incumbent of Little Cheverell, did not reside in 1783 and his assistant curate, who lived at Great Cheverell, also acted as assistant curate of East Coulston. (fn. 240) From 1829 to 1831 the incumbent, a prebendary of Salisbury cathedral, was also vicar of Britford. He employed an assistant curate at Great Cheverell. (fn. 241) The rector was non-resident in 1864 and the church was again served by an assistant curate. (fn. 242) The parish had resident assistant curates in 1939 and 1943. (fn. 243) In 1965 the incumbent of Worton with Marston and Poulshot was curate in-charge of Great Cheverell. (fn. 244) The curate-incharge from 1966 to 1967 lived at Erlestoke. (fn. 245) Notable incumbents include Owen Wood, rector 1601–9, dean of Armagh and a chaplain-in-ordinary to James I, and Sir James Stonhouse, Bt., rector 1780–95. (fn. 246) Richard Lawrence (d. 1838), rector 1796–c. 1806, was also incumbent of Rollestone from 1800. He later became archbishop of Cashel and wrote a number of theological works. (fn. 247) No weekday services were held in 1783: Holy Communion was then celebrated at Easter, Whitsun, Michaelmas, and Christmas. That year there were 35 communicants at Easter and 29 at Whitsun. (fn. 248) In 1864 two Sunday services were held, and weekday services on Good Friday and Christmas day only. The Sacrament was then administered to an average of 20 communicants at Easter, Midsummer, Michaelmas, and Christmas. (fn. 249)
The church of ST. PETER, so dedicated by 1705 but in 1476 to both St. Peter and St. Paul, (fn. 250) stands high on the greensand scarp at the western end of Church Street. It has a chancel with north vestry, nave with north chapel and south porch, and west tower. The herringbone flintwork of the chancel suggests a possible 11th-century date. It is more likely, however, to be a late example of this form of construction for the chancel's earliest features, the north and south lancet windows, south priest's door, and the recessed tomb in the interior north wall, are all of the earlier 13th century. The nave incorporates a fragment of early masonry in its north-west corner and among its furnishings is a 13th-century font. (fn. 251) As indicated by the surviving 14th-century tower arch, the nave had achieved its present length by that time. A three-light east window was also inserted in the 14th century. (fn. 252) The tower, which also existed by that date, was rebuilt and a crenellated upper storey with a southeast staircase turret added in the 15th century. A window on the south side of the chancel was inserted at that time. The church was apparently extensively remodelled by the Tropenell family, patrons 1476–1553 (see above). Some time during either the later 15th or earlier 16th centuries the nave walls were rebuilt in ashlar, square-headed windows inserted, a barrel-shaped roof constructed, and a south porch added. The porch retains a contemporary door. A north chapel, later known as the Townsend chapel (see below), was built in a style similar to that of the nave, but with a flatspan ceiling. Its roof was restored in 1699 and some bosses added. (fn. 253) By 1704 a gallery had been put across the west end of the nave and the ceiling of the roof above painted with angels on a blue background. (fn. 254) In 1749 the chancel was given a new double roof of oak and its side walls were partly rebuilt. (fn. 255) The whole church was restored and refitted under the direction of W. H. Woodman in 1868. (fn. 256) Apart from the removal of the gallery and the building of a vestry in the angle between the north chapel and chancel, structural alterations were limited to the chancel. The north and south walls were heightened, the arch and east end rebuilt, and the whole reroofed. In the north-east angle of the north or Townsend chapel, a large wall monument of white and grey marbles surmounted by a cartouche of arms commemorates James Townsend (d. 1730), a benefactor of the parish, and his wife Catherine (d. 1737). (fn. 257) The church clock is reputed to be originally of 1629. (fn. 258) Mrs. Helena S. Bateson (d. 1958), of the Manor House, by will proved 1959, bequeathed £500 to the rector and churchwardens of Great Cheverell to be invested and the annual income used to maintain the church fabric. (fn. 259)
There were three bells in 1553. (fn. 260) One, of medieval date from the Salisbury foundry and inscribed 'Sancte os munde [sic] ora pronobis', survives. A 'great bell' weighing 499 lb. was bought by the parish in 1698. (fn. 261) By c. 1700 there was a peal of five bells. Ringing was then one of the chief pastimes of the young men of the parish. (fn. 262) The whole ring, except the medieval bell and probably that of 1698, was either recast or replaced in the earlier 18th century. It was probably the 1698 bell which was recast in 1879 by Llewellins and James of Bristol. A new treble, cast by Mears of Whitechapel (London), and inscribed as the gift of Sir Charles Chitham, was added in 1949 and the whole peal then rehung. (fn. 263)
The king's commissioners allowed Great Cheverell to retain a chalice weighing 9 oz. in 1553. (fn. 264) The church plate in 1772 comprised silver chalice, flagon, and paten. (fn. 265) The chalice, described as of later-16th-century date in 1891, was no longer among the plate in 1973. (fn. 266) The parish then had a flagon and paten hall-marked 1842 and a cup of more modern design. (fn. 267) A register was reported c. 1700 to date from 1560. (fn. 268) The book was lost by 1783. (fn. 269) In 1973 registrations of baptisms ran from 1653, burials and marriages from 1654. Marriage entries are missing from 1754 to 1837. (fn. 270)
The slackness of two parishioners in attending church was reported in 1585. (fn. 271) Two were similarly presented in 1662. (fn. 272) One, Richard Amor (d. 1668), who had refused the minister altar dues and the Easter offering, was one of a group of Quakers at Great Cheverell attached to the Market Lavington meeting. (fn. 273) The Hudden family were Quakers in 1674. (fn. 274) Thomas Axford and the Paxton family were called 'anabaptists' the same year. Thus the eleven nonconformists enumerated in 1676 probably included others besides Quakers. (fn. 275) No nonconformists were reported in 1767 or 1783. (fn. 276)
In 1816 James Potter's house, occupied by Mark Sawyer, was certified for worship by Independents. (fn. 277) The congregation, which included James Potter the elder, bell-founder, his son and namesake, William Dunford, brickmaker, and other tradesmen from Great Cheverell and the surrounding area, built a chapel on lifehold land of the manor south-west of the cross-roads at the Green in 1833. (fn. 278) The chapel was later reconstituted Strict Baptist, with Mark Sawyer as minister and preacher, and was known as Little Zoar Baptist chapel in 1851. (fn. 279) That year Mark Sawyer (d. 1853) stated that 40 people had attended both morning and afternoon services on Census Sunday. (fn. 280) The chapel, which afterwards apparently became General Baptist, was leased from the lord of the manor in 1872 by G. Anstie of Devizes, who that year transferred it to the Wiltshire and East Somerset Baptist Association, which used it as a mission chapel until 1877. From then until at least 1907 it was a station of the Bratton Baptist chapel. (fn. 281) Little Zoar chapel, as part of the Watson-Taylor estate in Great Cheverell, was sold to the rector in 1907 and used firstly as a parish room and later as a village hall. (fn. 282) A new chapel, of red brick with stone dressings, was built directly east of the old one in 1907 and General Baptists still worshipped there in 1973. (fn. 283)
Thomas Dowding's house was used for worship by an unspecified denomination of Protestants in 1850 but no more is known. (fn. 284) A mission room registered by Wesleyan Methodists in 1891 flourished only for a few years. (fn. 285)
By will dated 1725 James Townsend (d. 1730) devised a newly-built cottage, then occupied by William Stevens, to whomever was willing to teach six poor children living in Great Cheverell. Anyone accepting the post would receive the rent of 1 a. of land at Marston (then in Potterne). He would also be allowed to take 100 willow or ash faggots yearly from trees Townsend had planted on Great Cheverell common, a right exchanged in 1802 for an acre of land in the marsh. (fn. 286) The free school apparently lapsed for some years in the later 18th century. In 1783 the school-house needed repair. That year three charity children were sent there. The rector then paid a schoolmaster at Great Cheverell to teach another 20 children. (fn. 287) Sixty pupils in addition to the charity children were taught at Townsend's school in 1808. (fn. 288) In 1818 the teacher's income from the land mentioned above amounted to £3 10s. Some 34 children then attended. (fn. 289) The cottage which housed the school stood in Church Street directly west of the Bell inn and in 1834 was let to William Boulton at £2 10s. yearly. (fn. 290) The parish clerk was master and then taught reading, writing, and the Catechism to the six charity children and to another 40 boys and girls whose parents made small payments. In 1835 the rector also contributed to the school's upkeep. (fn. 291)
In 1844 the rector, R. M. Atkinson, conveyed a small amount of glebe land as a site for a school, to be united with the National Society and managed by the rector and the archdeacon of Wilts. (fn. 292) The income from Townsend's educational charity was thenceforth applied to the National school. In 1858 50–60 children attended the two-room school, which stood on the north side of the road leading east to the Green. The instruction they received from their teacher, who had formerly been a pupil teacher at Devizes, was 'rudimentary'. (fn. 293) In 1876 a school board was formed and the school let to it until 1903 when the rector resumed possession. The income from the Townsend bequest was applied to a Sunday school until 1878. A Scheme established that year directed that the income should be divided and half used to pay the school fees of certain poor children attending the daily school, the remainder to finance the Sunday school. Schemes of 1892 and 1895 provided for the entire charity income to be spent on the Sunday school. The former school-house adjoining the Bell inn was sold c. 1900 and the purchase money of £60 invested in stock. In 1904 most of the £6 6s. 8d. income from Townsend's educational charity was spent on Sunday-school prizes. There was then a balance of £7 in hand.
In 1906 an average of 74 children had attended the day school during the past year. (fn. 294) It could accommodate 49 boys and girls and 30 infants in 1914 and over the past year an average of 51 children had attended. Thereafter the average attendance figures declined until the late 1920s, when numbers began to rise once more and in 1938 an average of 53 pupils attended the school. (fn. 295)
By deed of 1958 Mrs. Helena S. Bateson established a trust to help to maintain the school. The trust's income was c. £16 in 1970. (fn. 296) Another trust for the benefit of the school was registered in 1970. (fn. 297) The income of Townsend's educational charity, £13 in 1973, was then also applied to the school. (fn. 298) The 51 children then on the roll were taught by three teachers. Additional accommodation was provided in a temporary wooden classroom behind the school. (fn. 299)
Charities for the Poor.
By will dated 1725 James Townsend (d. 1730) devised land at Easterton (in Market Lavington), out of the income from which 40s. was to be spent each 21 December on clothing two unrelieved poor men or women, and a shillingsworth of bread distributed at church each Sunday by the parish clerk, beginning in November, to five or six poor people, any surplus being the clerk's perquisite. (fn. 300) In 1799 the Easterton land was exchanged at inclosure for c. 5 a. in the West Clay field there. The rent of £12 was used in 1834 to buy three grey coats, hats, and dresses distributed at Christmas. Twelve poor parishioners then received a 2d. loaf each Sunday from the parish clerk, who received £1 yearly for making the distribution. From 1867 to 1869 £16 was spent on clothing and bread. In 1904 the £10 rent from the Easterton land was spent in accordance with Townsend's wishes. In 1901 and 1902 5 men and 4 women, and in 1903 4 men and 6 women, received clothing. Distribution of bread began in December and those who received poor relief were also eligible. From c. 1941 clothing and bread were replaced by doles made each December to certain parishioners chosen by the churchwardens. In the 1950s yearly payments averaged £6 10s. In 1962 the Easterton land was let at £10 yearly. There was then a balance of £3 8s. 10d. in hand. (fn. 301) A rent of £25 yearly was received in 1973. (fn. 302)
Townsend also directed by will that the churchwardens and overseers should allow the poor yearly those branches, cut from trees he had planted on Great Cheverell common, which remained after an allowance, described above, had been made to the schoolmaster. (fn. 303) At inclosure in 1802 that right was exchanged for an allotment of c. 5 a. in the common. (fn. 304) The poor's ground, as it was called in 1834, lay on the northern parish boundary directly east of the lane which formerly led north-west to Marston (in Potterne). (fn. 305) Fifty-four poor families each had 14 p. there, free of both rent and tax. In 1904 eight or nine of the allotments were uncultivated, two were often held by one person, while others were worked by people who were not considered poor. The allotments, known as the 'poor plot', were administered by the parish council in the 1960s and were then still available at nominal rents to parishioners. Most plots, however, were then uncultivated. (fn. 306)
In 1834 the rector and parish officers considered themselves entitled, in accordance with the 1633 statutes of Heytesbury Hospital, to nominate a man from Great Cheverell to fill every fourth vacancy in the alms-house. (fn. 307) Old men from Great Cheverell were certainly received there in the 18th and earlier 19th centuries. (fn. 308) The 1633 statutes were set aside in the 19th century and in the 20th century men from the village were no longer entitled to preference when vacancies occurred.