A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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About five miles south-east of Marlborough, Huish lies below the southern scarp of the downs. (fn. 1) The roughly square parish is crossed east-west by the scarp. Its land rises above 850 ft. on Huish Hill, sloping gently northwards to about 700 ft., and more steeply southwards to about 500 ft. All the geological strata associated with the scarp face outcrop on its land: they are Upper Greensand, and Lower, Middle, and Upper Chalk, overlain in the north-east by Clay-with-flints and in the south by a very small area of valley gravel. The northernmost land of Huish, part of the dip slope of the downs, can be used for tillage or pasture. The steep slopes of Huish Hill have prevented ploughing, but the more gently sloping land below it favours arable cultivation, and the southernmost part of the parish is meadow land. The Clay-with-flints deposits in the north-east of the parish can support dense woodland and Huish was part of Savernake forest until 1330, (fn. 2) but by the mid 16th century there were only 58 a. of woodland in the parish, (fn. 3) and by the 19th century Gopher wood, 22 a. on Draycot Hill, was all that remained. (fn. 4)
The boundaries of Huish were described in 1573. (fn. 5) Huish does not seem to have been affected by the 17th-century disputes over the title to and rights over parts of the down (fn. 6) and the parish boundaries of 1803 seem to have been identical with those of 1573. (fn. 7) North of Huish Hill they followed the courses of three dry valleys at the heads of Hursley and Clatford bottoms, but the southern boundaries were not marked by geographical features or wellused roads. In 1803 they enclosed some 671 a. In that year, when the common fields of Oare were inclosed, the land in Oare belonging to the lords of Huish was deemed part of Huish parish. It comprised several small plots of land in and around Oare village, and the westernmost allotments of the previously commonable land. (fn. 8) Huish thus increased in area to 754 a. and its eastern boundary took its modern line much closer to Oare village in the south and east of the dry valley in the north. When the village of Oare expanded in the 19th century, part of it, including the school, was situated in the parish of Huish. (fn. 9) The detached areas of Huish in Oare became part of Wilcot parish in 1885 when Huish was reduced to 738 a. (fn. 10)
The first settlement in the ancient parish was probably on the upland where a number of archaeological discoveries has been made, and a number of ancient earthworks has been found. (fn. 11) An upland village or hamlet called Hillwork, possibly sited near Draycot Hill, was mentioned in the 13th century, (fn. 12) but it was not referred to afterwards and probably disappeared. Later upland settlements included the pair of cottages called Heath Cottages, some cottages near Hill Barn, (fn. 13) and cottages on Huish Hill. The Huish Hill hamlet, near the site of a Romano-British settlement in Oare, (fn. 14) existed at least by the late 18th century. (fn. 15) In 1840 it consisted of ten cottages, five in Huish and five in Wilcot, (fn. 16) and a chapel was built there later. (fn. 17) The hamlet began to be abandoned in the 1920s, (fn. 18) and the last cottage was demolished c. 1957. (fn. 19) Lowland settlement in Huish first took place around the spring line. From the 12th to the early 14th century there were dwellings there and the church and Huish Farm were built on near-by sites. (fn. 20) The main part of the village, however, was situated along the back lane from Oare to Draycot Fitz Payne. At least from the 18th century, but probably earlier, it was the largest settlement of the parish. There were 66 residents of the village in 1864, almost exactly half the number for the whole parish. (fn. 21)
Huish is isolated from the main routes of the area. The village stands a mile from the MarlboroughUpavon road at Oare, and because of its small area and its isolation the parish has long been one of the least populous of the hundred. An early-14thcentury taxation assessment was low, (fn. 22) there were only 22 poll-tax payers in 1377, (fn. 23) and the parish contained fewer than ten households in 1428. (fn. 24) Taxation assessments of the 16th and 17th centuries were also low, (fn. 25) and in 1801 the population of the parish was only 82. It rose to 128 by 1831, remained almost constant until 1901, but declined to 30 by 1971. (fn. 26)
In 1970 there were still one or two buildings on the upland at Huish Hill but most of the village was on the lowland. Among the buildings beside the Oare-Draycot road are a pair of 17th-century cottages with chalk-block walling, a range of six cottages dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries with chalk and some sarsen walling, two pairs of 18th- or early-19th-century cottages, and the Old Rectory. The church and Huish Farm, built after the previous farm-house was burned down in 1864, (fn. 27) stand some distance north of them. Oare School and Cold Blow, a thatched house by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis with a range of stable buildings east of it, (fn. 28) stand in the east of the parish in Oare village.
Huish belonged to Richard Esturmy in 1086 but did not pass to his kinsmen. (fn. 29) Robert Doygnel held it c. 1163, (fn. 30) and from at least 1198 to 1212 the manor of HUISH still belonged to a Robert Doygnel, possibly the same man or perhaps his son. (fn. 31) Geoffrey Doygnel (d. 1227–8) subsequently held it. (fn. 32) After his death Richard of Durnford had custody of the land because Geoffrey's son Robert was a minor. (fn. 33) Robert entered c. 1239 (fn. 34) and died c. 1247, (fn. 35) when his own heir was a minor. Custody of the manor was granted to Silvester de Everdon (d. 1254), bishop of Carlisle, (fn. 36) probably a kinsman of Robert or his wife, (fn. 37) and it passed to Walter de Rudham, a keeper of the bishopric's temporalities. (fn. 38) Silvester Doygnel, presumably Robert's son, held Huish from at least 1267 until his death in 1293. (fn. 39) His son Peter entered in 1300 and held it until his death in 1345. (fn. 40)
Under a settlement of 1344 Huish was held by Peter's widow Agnes until her death in 1349. (fn. 41) Peter Blount, Peter Doygnel's grandson, was her heir because his brother Thomas and his wife were both dead. (fn. 42) After Peter Blount's death in 1361 while still a minor and without issue, the manor passed to John son of Nicholas Cotteleye. (fn. 43) It was subsequently in dispute. (fn. 44) Sir John de Roche and Willelma his wife acquired it in 1381 from John de Garton and his wife, (fn. 45) and their acquisition was licensed by the king. (fn. 46) After Roche's death in 1400, however, John, Lord Lovel, entered the manor (fn. 47) and held it until his death in 1408. (fn. 48) His son John was deprived of the manor in 1411 when the claims of Roche's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Walter Beauchamp were re-established. (fn. 49) The land was restored to Lovel after he petitioned the king, (fn. 50) but in 1412 Lovel granted it to Beauchamp and his wife as part of a bargain involving Earlscourt in Wanborough. (fn. 51) In 1413 Beauchamp sold it to Sir William Esturmy. (fn. 52)
The manor was again disputed after Esturmy's death in 1427. John Stafford, bishop of Bath, and others claimed it as Esturmy's feoffees, (fn. 53) and their occupation was licensed by the king. (fn. 54) John Bird of Marlborough, however, apparently established a superior claim, (fn. 55) presumably based on the conveyances which took place between Esturmy and himself and others in 1418 and 1425. (fn. 56) He held the manor from 1428 at the latest until his death c. 1445, (fn. 57) and his widow Isabel held it until her own death in 1476. (fn. 58)
Before Isabel Bird's death, however, the title to the manor was again disputed. John Michell (d. 1473) successfully claimed the reversion after Isabel's death against Isabel Seymour in 1472, (fn. 59) and his title passed to his widow Alice (fl. 1494) and daughters Isabel, wife of Thomas Beke, Christine, wife of William FitzGeoffrey, and Elizabeth, later Elizabeth Hall. (fn. 60) The manor passed to Michell's heirs despite another attempt by Isabel Seymour and her son Alexander to deprive them of it. (fn. 61) Thomas Beke apparently held the whole of it from 1476 to his death in 1491 (fn. 62) when it passed to his son Marmaduke (d. 1501). (fn. 63) Before Marmaduke's death, however, two-thirds of the manor were acquired by Elizabeth Hall (fn. 64) and the other third, presumably the portion of Christine FitzGeoffrey who died in 1478, (fn. 65) by John Seymour, grandson of Isabel Seymour. (fn. 66) Although Marmaduke was said to have died holding the manor, (fn. 67) by 1504 it was divided between Elizabeth Hall and Sir John Seymour. (fn. 68)
In 1505 Edward Dudley successfully impleaded Elizabeth Hall for her land in Huish. (fn. 69) At least after Elizabeth's death c. 1507 Dudley apparently occupied the whole manor despite Sir John Seymour's attempts to disseise him. (fn. 70) Seymour entered it again in 1509, however, (fn. 71) and lawsuits by Robert Benger, claiming the title of Elizabeth Hall, and Sir John Dudley, son of Edward Dudley, claiming the title of Alice, widow of John Michell, failed to remove him. (fn. 72) In those proceedings Seymour based his claim on his descent from Roger Seymour who married Maud, daughter of William Esturmy. (fn. 73)
The manor passed in 1536 to Sir John Seymour's son Edward, created duke of Somerset in 1547, and subsequently descended with the Somerset and Hertford titles until the death in 1692 of Sarah, duchess of Somerset. (fn. 74) By her will, dated 1686, Huish was assigned to the trustees of the Froxfield Hospital. (fn. 75) They held it until 1921 when H. H. Dew bought it from them. (fn. 76) He sold it in the same year to W. B. Strong (fn. 77) and it passed to Mr. J. B. Strong who owned it in 1970.
Huish was reckoned a hide and 1½ virgate in 1086. There was a plough and 4 serfs on the demesne, and 3 villeins and 4 coscez shared 2 other ploughs. There were only 4 a. of meadow land but there was woodland a league long by 4 furlongs broad. In 1086 the township was valued at 60s. having earlier been worth 30s. (fn. 78)
Even in the Middle Ages the manor of Huish was not coincident with the land of the village. It had holdings in Fyfield, Clench (Milton Lilbourne), and Oare (Wilcot). (fn. 79) About 1247 the demesne was valued at 40s., assized rents at 33s., and meadow land at 6s. 8d. (fn. 80) Pasture rights on the upland above Huish were disputed in the mid 13th century. (fn. 81) All the pasture of Huish manor was used in common and large numbers of sheep were kept. (fn. 82) In 1363 Huish was said to include 240 a. of arable, 6 a. of meadow, several pasture for 18 oxen and 6 avers, and common pasture. (fn. 83) In the period when the title to the manor was disputed the demesne was probably leased.
In the mid 16th century the three customary tenants of the manor in Huish paid rents totalling £2 8s. a year. The farmer of the demesne paid £4 13s., some of which, however, was paid for land in Oare. The land of Huish was thus worth about £6 a year in rents to the lord. It was arranged in four bands running east-west across the parish. There were 27 a. of several meadow land south of the back lane from Oare to Draycot. North of that lane lay two open fields, West field, 127 a., and East field, 120 a. They were divided by the path running across the downs from Huish to Marlborough along Hursley bottom. Further north Huish Hill afforded pasture for a flock of 940 sheep, and beyond that Cow down was used by a herd of 67 other animals. There were five farms on the land. The demesne farm, later called Huish farm, included 140 a. in Huish and 61 a. in Oare; Parsonage farm had 30 a. in Huish and 2 a. in Oare; and the three copyholds amounted to 117 a. The farmer had rights to pasture 400 sheep, the rector 100, and the copyholders 440. (fn. 84)
The arrangements for farming at Huish were greatly altered in the 17th and 18th centuries. Cow down was inclosed in the mid 17th century. (fn. 85) Some of the allotments, called the Hill grounds, were later converted to arable. (fn. 86) Between 1677 and 1705 part of the sheep-down, probably the northeastern part, was also inclosed, and sheep stints were reduced by 30 per cent. (fn. 87) At the same time a third arable field, Middle field, was created out of the other two. (fn. 88) In 1785 there were still three lowland arable fields, then called West field, North field, and Picked field, some 175 a. in all. There were some 45 a. of inclosed lowland arable and about 50 a. of meadow land. Apart from Gopher wood, then 19 a., the upland was divided almost equally between Tenantry down, 196 a., and inclosed land, mainly arable, 200 a. The farmer could feed 280 sheep on Tenantry down, the rector 70, and the copyholders 294. (fn. 89) The number of farms in the parish increased in the 17th and 18th centuries. Stubnail farm, which included the woodland of Huish, was created in the 17th century but was later annexed to Huish farm. (fn. 90) All three copyholds were also divided, but two of the six farms thus created were part of Huish farm by 1785. (fn. 91)
Arrangements for cultivation in Huish took their modern form between 1773, when the trustees of Froxfield Hospital resolved not to renew copies except for cottages, (fn. 92) and 1803, when the common fields of Oare were inclosed. As a result of the trustees' decision all their land in Huish was by 1801 merged into Huish farm. (fn. 93) The trustees were also able to extinguish the rights of others in the common fields and pasture of Huish by exchanges with the rector of Huish and John Pontin of Oare under the Oare inclosure award of 1803. (fn. 94) The whole of Huish was thereafter cultivated in severalty. In 1803 Edmonds's farm in Oare also became part of Huish. In 1840 there were thus only two farms in the enlarged parish, Huish farm, 655 a. including some 20 a. of glebe leased by the tenant, George Young, and Edmonds's farm, 83 a. There were 512 a. of arable, 176 a. of pasture, 32 a. of meadow, and 22 a. of woodland. (fn. 95)
The upland part of Edmonds's farm later became part of Huish farm which, when it was sold in 1921, comprised nearly all the modern parish of Huish. There were 409 a. of arable, 130 a. of upland pasture, 100 a. of lowland pasture and meadow, and 21 a. of woodland. (fn. 96) In 1970 the farm was largely devoted to arable cultivation and the rearing of cattle for beef.
Although the lords of Huish manor withdrew their men from the hundred court and claimed assize of bread and ale in the 13th century, no records of their courts have survived. (fn. 97) Neither are there any records of later government in the parish which in 1835 became part of Pewsey poor-law union. (fn. 98)
There was a church at Huish by 1291. (fn. 99) Since late-13th-century foundations exist near the present building, (fn. 100) the church was probably built shortly before that date. Silvester Doygnel held the advowson at his death in 1293 (fn. 101) and it passed with the lordship of the manor. (fn. 102) Doubt, therefore, sometimes existed about who was entitled to present, and the right was occasionally disputed. After the death of Peter Blount while a minor in 1361 the king presented, (fn. 103) and, although John Cotteleye had the right of patronage, the bishop collated by lapse in 1362 (fn. 104) and again in 1392. (fn. 105) Presentations were subsequently made by the Lords Lovel and by Sir William Esturmy, but in 1428 rival presentations were made by Esturmy's feoffees and by John Bird. (fn. 106) Nine presentations were made between 1428 and 1472 by Bird and his widow (fn. 107) and the patronage thereafter passed to Thomas Beke. (fn. 108) In 1488, however, the bishop collated, again possibly by lapse. (fn. 109) The advowson subsequently passed with the manor to the Seymour family, (fn. 110) and later to the trustees of Froxfield Hospital.
In 1924 the rectory was united with the perpetual curacy of Oare, the patronage being shared by the Froxfield trustees and the archdeacon of Wiltshire. (fn. 111) The united benefice was held in plurality with the vicarage of Wilcot from 1951 and united with it in 1962. The bishop of Salisbury was added to the patrons of the new united benefice. (fn. 112) In 1972 that benefice became part of Swanborough benefice within which the parishes of Huish and Oare were united to create a new parish called the parish of Huish and Oare. (fn. 113)
Huish church was worth £4 6s. 8d. in 1291, a very low comparative value. (fn. 114) Its net annual value was still only £7 in 1535. (fn. 115) In 1812 it was worth £200 a year, (fn. 116) and, with an average income of £178 net, was one of the poorer livings of the hundred 1829–31. (fn. 117) The rector also received about £5 10s. a year from funds set up by Gabriel Thistlethwaite in 1708 and by his will proved 1722. (fn. 118) Payments of £2 10s. a year were still made in the 1960s. (fn. 119)
The rector received all the great and small tithes of Huish as it was before 1803. (fn. 120) They were paid in kind in 1672 (fn. 121) and were valued at £82 in 1785. (fn. 122) In addition he received tithes from four estates in Oare. He took the whole tithe from nearly all the customary land of the lords of Huish in Oare which became part of Huish in 1803, a third of the great tithe arising from Reeves's farm, two-thirds from Pontin's farm, and 6s. 8d. in lieu of tithes from Benger's farm. (fn. 123) In 1839 the tithes arising from land then in Oare were commuted for a rent-charge of £15 16s. (fn. 124) Those arising from Huish as it was then were commuted for a rent-charge of £192. (fn. 125) The tithes from some land in Huish, previously part of the customary land in Oare, belonged to John Pontin of Oare and were commuted for a rentcharge of £1 15s. (fn. 126)
In the mid 16th century the rector's glebe consisted of some 10 a. of meadow land, 19 a. in the fields of Huish, 2 a. in the fields of Oare, and feeding for 100 sheep, 3 oxen, and 2 horses in the common pastures of Huish. (fn. 127) An allotment of 6 a. was acquired when Cow down was inclosed in the mid 17th century. (fn. 128) The glebe was leased to the farmer of Huish in the 18th century when there were 18 a. of lowland arable and 9 a. of upland. (fn. 129) In 1803 the rector gave up his land in the common fields and his rights in the common pastures of Huish in exchange for land south of the Oare-Draycot lane. (fn. 130) The glebe, thus consolidated in the south of the parish, amounted to some 25 a. in 1840. (fn. 131) Most of it was leased (fn. 132) and yielded a rent of £35 in 1851. (fn. 133) The former glebe-house, the Old Rectory, was built in 1812. (fn. 134) It is a two-storey, double-fronted, building of brick with a mansard roof. The roof follows the curves of the two shallow bows flanking the central doorway which has a Doric porch.
In 1410 Thomas Milward, the rector, was licensed to go as a pilgrim to Rome. (fn. 135) Under a codicil of the will of Sarah, duchess of Somerset, the rector of Huish was also chaplain of Froxfield Hospital. (fn. 136) Charles Mayo, presented 1775, lived in Beechingstoke where he was rector, but nevertheless held a weekly service at Huish in 1783 and celebrated Holy Communion four times a year for some ten communicants. (fn. 137) In 1812 there were said to be only three communicants. (fn. 138) The church was subsequently served by a resident rector who in 1851 held services for average congregations of more than 30 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon. (fn. 139) He administered the Sacrament to four communicants in 1864 but complained that many of his parishioners found it more convenient to attend the Methodist chapel on Huish Hill or the new church at Oare. (fn. 140)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS is of stone in Early English style and has chancel, nave, south porch, and north vestry. A church was probably built on approximately the same site in the late 13th century, and excavations have revealed the south-east buttresses of that church and the foundations of a chapel built to the north of the chancel. Some 14th- or 15th-century tiles were found at the same time. (fn. 141) The church was in bad repair in 1672. (fn. 142) In 1688 the spire was taken down and a frame for the bells erected at the west end of the church. (fn. 143) The need to rebuild was acknowledged in 1751. (fn. 144) The church was said to be in danger of collapse in 1784 and the following year a new church was built. (fn. 145) The 18th-century church consisted of a nave, a small chancel, and a south porch. It was shorter than the earlier church. (fn. 146) By the 1870s the church was again in need of repair and it was extensively restored in 1879 when the vestry was added. (fn. 147) The nave has an arch-braced roof and the chancel has a barrel-vaulted roof with an embossed ceiling and ball-flower ornaments in the wall. The church was reroofed in the 1960s. (fn. 148)
The chapel built to the north of the chancel in the late 13th century was refurbished in the 15th century, possibly by Isabel Bird, but the purpose of its original foundation and the date of its demolition or collapse are unknown. (fn. 149)
Only 4½ oz. of plate were left in the parish in 1553 when 1 oz. was taken for the king. There was no silver in the church at all by 1891 when vessels of pewter and plated-metal were used. (fn. 150) In 1553 Huish had two bells. By the 19th century there was only a single bell cast at Warminster in 1668 and recast in 1883. (fn. 151) In 1785 a miniature font, still in the church, replaced an earlier one. (fn. 152) It was itself replaced in 1879. The registers date from 1603. (fn. 153) No burials were recorded before 1703 and no marriages before 1684 or between 1754 and 1784. The registers are otherwise complete. (fn. 154)
No dissenters lived in Huish in 1676 (fn. 155) and there is no evidence of nonconformity in the parish before 1863 when a Primitive Methodist chapel on Huish Hill was first registered. (fn. 156) It was probably used by residents of Oare as well as of Huish but had room for only 50 people. It was abandoned when the hamlet on Huish Hill was deserted in the 1920s, (fn. 157) and demolished c. 1940. (fn. 158)
There were no day-schools in Huish until c. 1843 when a schoolroom was erected. In 1859 an elderly woman taught about ten children in it. (fn. 159) By 1904 the children of Huish were probably sent to school at Oare. (fn. 160) The schoolroom remained, however, and was still in use in 1970 as the parish reading room. The new school built at Oare in 1914 was situated in the parish of Huish. It served both parishes (fn. 161) but only one or two children of Huish attended it in 1970.
Charities for the Poor.
Children from Huish were among the 'manor boys' preferred as beneficiaries of the Broad Town apprenticing charity set up by the duchess of Somerset under her will proved 1704. (fn. 162) Charles Mayo (d. 1829), rector of Huish, left £100 to buy clothing for old people and bibles and prayer books for children. In the early 20th century the annual income of £2 10s. was usually accumulated for three years and then spent on blankets, (fn. 163) but in 1964 £14 16s. was spent on prayer books for the young. (fn. 164) People of Huish also benefited from the E. H. Rogers Sick Poor Fund set up under his will proved 1910 to help the needy of Huish and Oare. (fn. 165)