Parishes: Axford

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.

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A P Baggs, Jane Freeman, Janet H Stevenson, 'Parishes: Axford', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough, ed. D A Crowley( London, 1983), British History Online [accessed 14 July 2024].

A P Baggs, Jane Freeman, Janet H Stevenson, 'Parishes: Axford', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Edited by D A Crowley( London, 1983), British History Online, accessed July 14, 2024,

A P Baggs, Jane Freeman, Janet H Stevenson. "Parishes: Axford". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Ed. D A Crowley(London, 1983), , British History Online. Web. 14 July 2024.

In this section


Axford was the westernmost tithing of Ramsbury parish, with downland on both sides of the Kennet. Its north, south, and west boundaries were those of the parish. Its east boundary with Park Town tithing cannot now be precisely plotted, but it passed a short distance east of Axford, or Priory, Farm, and thence ran southsouth-west through Hens Wood and northnorth-west perhaps near the western edge of Blake's Copse. (fn. 1) Within such boundaries, which would have enclosed some 2,500 a., there were in the Middle Ages almost certainly two tithings, Axford to the west and Ashridge to the east. (fn. 2) Axford village was presumably in Axford tithing and on or near its present site. Ashridge tithing presumably included the manor house and farmstead of Axford manor, Axford Farm, but since the manor was never called Ashridge the tithing may have taken its name from another hamlet, possibly one on the high ground west of the valley in which Burney or Upper Axford was so called in the later 19th century. (fn. 3) The tithing included land there (fn. 4) but the existence in the Middle Ages of a hamlet there called Ashridge has not been established. The tithings were merged in the 17th century. (fn. 5)

Axford was first mentioned in 1163. (fn. 6) In the later Middle Ages and the 16th century it was apparently a village of medium sized farmsteads, (fn. 7) and it was of average wealth c. 1523. (fn. 8) Most of its buildings are beside the Ramsbury-Marlborough road which, except at the east end of the village, is on chalk, (fn. 9) but the oldest surviving, Riverside House, the south range of the Red Lion, and a pair of possibly timber-framed cottages, all apparently 17th-century, are on the gravel south of the road, a fact which suggests that the focus of the village has moved north since the 17th century. On the south side of the road Church Farm was built near the west end of the village c. 1830. It faces south and there are 19thcentury farm buildings south of it. At the east end of the village is an 18th- or 19th-century thatched cottage much enlarged. The Red Lion, extended northwards in the 19th century, was an inn in 1867. (fn. 10) Also on the south side of the street are several cottages, houses, and bungalows of the 19th and 20th centuries. On the north side of the street there were a few buildings in the late 18th century and the early 19th: (fn. 11) apart from a brick and thatched cottage possibly of the 18th century at the west end, none survives. The church, the school, and two nonconformist chapels were built there in the later 19th century. Three estate cottages were built at the east end c. 1900, 24 council houses in the earlier 20th century, and a few houses and bungalows since then. Coombe Farm south-west of the village was a farmstead in the early 17th century or earlier. (fn. 12) House Barn north-east of the village was standing in 1773. (fn. 13) A house was built before 1839 (fn. 14) and was enlarged in the 20th century: in 1981 most of the farm buildings at House Farm were 20th-century. Axford Street was so called in 1727 when the road south of the Kennet and parallel to it was called Mead Lane. (fn. 15) The lane linking Axford Street and Mead Lane near Church Farm crosses the Kennet on an early 19th-century brick bridge of five arches.

On the gravel near the Kennet between Axford village and Ramsbury Manor there were in the Middle Ages a manor house with a chapel and a farmstead probably with a mill. (fn. 16) The single inhabitant associated with Axford prebend in 1428 may have been the tenant of Axford Farm. (fn. 17) In the 17th century there was a larger manor house, possibly north-west of the farmstead, (fn. 18) but settlement has never grown there and no more than Axford Farm remains. A westward diversion of the Axford-Ramsbury road west of Ramsbury park between 1773 and 1828 isolated it. In 1773 there was apparently no building at Burney, where Burney Farm had been erected on the east side of the Axford-Aldbourne road by 1828. (fn. 19) In the mid 20th century additional farm buildings were erected on the west side of the road. East of Burney Farm a farmstead called Upper Axford, later New Buildings, was built between 1839 and 1885. (fn. 20) Kearsdown Farm in Sound Bottom was possibly built in the earlier 19th century: it was demolished in the mid 20th century. (fn. 21) South of the river Coombe Farm was the only house in the 20th century and possibly much earlier.

There were 62 men living in Axford tithing in 1773. (fn. 22) The population rose from 428 to 485 between 1821 and 1841. (fn. 23)

Manors and Other Estates.

The land of Axford, although sometimes referred to as if the lord of Ramsbury manor also held a manor of Axford, (fn. 24) was all part of Ramsbury manor. (fn. 25) More than half the land was a freehold, perhaps formerly the demesne, of that manor and itself came to be reputed Axford manor. (fn. 26) The remainder, held customarily, passed as part of Ramsbury manor from the bishops of Salisbury to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford (d. 1552), to the earls of Pembroke, and to Henry Powle who sold more than half of it between 1677 and 1681. (fn. 27) The portion then unsold remained part of Ramsbury manor: the portion sold then was bought back in parcels by the lords of Ramsbury manor in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In 1981 nearly all of both portions belonged to Lady (Marjorie) Burdett-Fisher and Maj. F. R. D. Burdett-Fisher. (fn. 28)

Between 1677 and 1681 Powle sold 13 of 22½ copyhold yardlands and 80 a. of 90 a. held by lease. (fn. 29) A holding of 2¾ yardlands, later called COOMBE farm, was bought by Thomas and Simon Appleford in 1678. Simon Appleford (d. 1727), possibly the joint purchaser, devised the land to Thomas son of Stephen Appleford. (fn. 30) Thomas (d. 1763) was succeeded by his son Thomas who in 1784 sold Coombe farm to his own son Thomas (d. 1790). (fn. 31) That Thomas Appleford devised the farm to his wife Mary for her widowhood with reversion successively to his father, his sister Mary Kemm, and Robert Vaisey, apparently a relative. In 1804 Mary Appleford and Thomas Appleford conveyed the farm to Vaisey (d. 1834). (fn. 32) Vaisey's relict Elizabeth Vaisey held the farm, 244 a., until her death in 1854 when it passed to her son Robert Vaisey. (fn. 33) In 1886 Sir Francis Burdett bought part of the farm, perhaps c. 100 a., from Vaisey and added it to his other land in Axford. (fn. 34) The descent of the remainder is not clear until 1929 when it was bought from the executors of Frederick James Leader (d. 1927) by Percival and John White. It was later assigned to Percival (d. 1977), whose relict Dorothy White owned Coombe farm, 132 a., in 1981. (fn. 35) Coombe Farm is an early 17th-century timber-framed house encased in brick in the late 18th century. The north side of the house was heightened in the later 19th century. Inside the house 16th- and 17th-century panelling has been reset. Farm buildings mostly of the 19th century are around a yard north of the house.

A holding of 2½ yardlands called STONE LANE was bought in 1678 by Thomas Crosby who by will dated 1683 devised it to his daughters Anne and Mary. (fn. 36) One of the daughters married Jonathan Knackstone (d. 1728). (fn. 37) A moiety passed to Knackstone's daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Appleford (d. 1763) and to Thomas's son Thomas, and it became part of Coombe farm. Knackstone devised the other moiety to his granddaughter Mary Appleford who in 1756 married Robert Vaisey of Stitchcombe in Mildenhall. (fn. 38) The moiety was apparently united with Coombe farm by Robert Vaisey (d. 1834). (fn. 39)

In 1677 Thomas Whityeatt (d. 1679) bought more than 3 yardlands later called RIVERSIDE farm. (fn. 40) He was succeeded by his son Thomas (d.s.p. a minor in 1691) and by his daughter Mary (d. 1731), who in 1693 married John Moore (d. 1696). (fn. 41) The estate, which was added to, (fn. 42) passed, possibly soon after John's death, to John's brother George (d. 1729). It passed from father to son in the Moore family to George (d. 1748), Jonathan (d. 1818), George (d. 1820), and George Pearce (d. 1884). By 1839 it had been reduced to 59 a. (fn. 43) It was sold after the death of G. P. Moore. In 1901 it was bought by Ellen Jane Pegler and from her in 1920 by William Berryman, who in 1927 sold it to Sir Francis Burdett. (fn. 44) The land belonged to the Burdett-Fishers in 1981. (fn. 45) Riverside House is an early 17th-century timber-framed farmhouse which had a threeroom plan. A west wing incorporating a parlour and a staircase, with woodwork of high quality, was added c. 1700.

The freehold which became AXFORD manor may have belonged to Ralph de Brewer in 1198. (fn. 46) In 1200 he claimed to hold land in Dorset through a grant by Jocelin de Bohun, bishop of Salisbury 1142–84, to Richard son of Hildebrand, a claim disputed by the prebendary of Axford, and his right to his Axford estate may have arisen from a similar grant of the bishop's demesne land in Axford. (fn. 47) In 1217 Ralph forfeited that estate for rebellion and Henry III granted it to Roger de Clifford. (fn. 48) In 1250 it belonged to Robert of London and the name of his successor, Hildebrand of London, (fn. 49) suggests that it had descended to him from Jocelin's presumed grantee. The manor, rated as 2 knights' fees, was held by Hildebrand in 1275. (fn. 50) Hildebrand's son Robert of London, a minor at his father's death, entered on it in 1288. (fn. 51) His successor Hildebrand of London held it in 1315. Hildebrand, who had sons Robert and Richard and a daughter Maud, then settled the manor on himself and his wife for their lives and in succession on those three siblings in tail. (fn. 52) Robert of London succeeded his father between 1347 and 1366. (fn. 53) Richard seems to have died without issue. (fn. 54) In 1367 Robert settled the manor on himself and his wife Elizabeth for their lives with remainder to John of Ramsbury and his wife Mabel, presumably relatives of Maud who married Robert of Ramsbury. (fn. 55) In 1383, however, Robert of London (d.s.p.) conveyed the manor to trustees who in 1391 settled it on his relict Elizabeth, daughter of John Lovel, Lord Lovel (presumably him who d. 1347), with remainder to John, Lord Lovel (d. 1408), presumably her brother, and his wife Maud in tail. (fn. 56) Elizabeth died before 1403 and the Lovels entered on the manor, (fn. 57) successfully resisting a challenge by Mabel of Ramsbury: (fn. 58) Maud held the manor after her husband's death. (fn. 59) In 1414 Maud (d. 1423) and her son John, Lord Lovel, sold the manor to trustees, apparently of Sir William Esturmy (d. 1427). (fn. 60) Although in 1385 Thomas Calstone of Littlecote had quitclaimed the manor to Robert of London's trustees, (fn. 61) in the 1420s the rights of Esturmy, his trustees, and their grantee John Esturmy were disputed by Calstone's son-in-law William Darell of Littlecote, claiming his wife Elizabeth Calstone's right as the great-granddaughter of Maud of London. (fn. 62) Arbitration was arranged but the outcome is obscure. (fn. 63)

Axford manor was acquired by the Darells, presumably by arbitration but possibly by judgement or purchase, and Elizabeth held it at her death in 1464. (fn. 64) It descended like Littlecote manor to her great-great-grandson Sir Edward Darell (d. 1549), (fn. 65) who before 1548 conveyed it to his wife's grandfather Sir William Essex as security for payment of a legacy to her father Thomas Essex (knighted in 1549). (fn. 66) Sir William (d. 1548) devised the manor to his grandson Edward Essex. (fn. 67) The death of Sir Edward Darell, having devised much land to a mistress and leaving his son William a minor, (fn. 68) and of Sir William Essex at about the same time increased the opportunity for further dispute over title to the manor. It was later claimed that Thomas Essex had refused Sir Edward Darell's proffer of the legacy. In 1561, under duress it was claimed, Edward Essex sold the manor to his tenant Hugh Stukeley (d. c. 1588), against whom William Darell later began proceedings for its recovery. (fn. 69) Possibly to help him win the battle at law, which was long and fought partly while he was in the Fleet prison in 1579, (fn. 70) Darell seems to have offered to sell the manor on its recovery to Henry, earl of Pembroke, then owner of the copyhold lands of Axford in Ramsbury manor. (fn. 71) Darell did recover Axford manor, 'craftily' it was said. (fn. 72) He may have entered on it before 1583 when he was in dispute with Pembroke over the felling of its trees but when actions at law were incomplete. (fn. 73) In 1588, when Stukeley still hoped to recover it, Darell sold it in reversion to Sir Francis Walsingham on terms similar to those of his sale of Littlecote manor to Sir Thomas Bromley. (fn. 74) After Darell's death in 1589 Walsingham entered on the manor. He died in 1590 leaving as heir his daughter Frances who in that year married Robert Devereux, earl of Essex. (fn. 75) In 1601 the rights to the manor of Walsingham's relict Ursula and his daughter Frances and the claim of Hugh Stukeley's son Thomas were bought by Gabriel Pile (knighted in 1607). (fn. 76)

Axford manor passed at Pile's death in 1626 to his son Francis (created a baronet in 1628, d. 1635), and afterwards to Sir Francis's sons Sir Francis (d. c. 1649) and Sir Seymour (will proved 1681). (fn. 77) It descended from Sir Seymour to his son Sir Francis and Sir Francis's son Sir Seymour. (fn. 78) In 1707 a Bill to permit the sale of the manor was rejected by the House of Commons, and in 1708 a similar Bill, said to be necessary to save Sir Seymour and his family from starvation, was rejected by the Lords. (fn. 79) Sir Seymour died in 1711 leaving a son Sir Seymour no older than three. A Chancery decree of 1714 or 1715 permitted a sale, and in 1719 Sir Seymour's relict Jane, wife of Abel Griffith, and brother Gabriel sold 279 a. of woodland to Francis Hawes, a director of the South Sea Company. (fn. 80) After the company collapsed the land was confiscated by parliamentary trustees who in 1724 sold it to Richard Jones, lord of Ramsbury manor. (fn. 81) In 1744 Sir Seymour Pile sold the remainder of Axford manor to Jones's brother William. (fn. 82) The whole of it descended with the Axford part of Ramsbury manor, so that in 1981 nearly all the land of Axford belonged to the Burdett-Fishers. (fn. 83)

Hildebrand of London (fl. 1275) seems to have lived at Axford, (fn. 84) and his successors may have until the late 14th century. John Esturmy was said to be 'of Axford' in 1428. (fn. 85) In the 17th century a large house was apparently built for the Piles, presumably for Sir Gabriel Pile soon after 1601. It may have stood north-west of the Londons' house, where a field still exhibits signs of disturbance. The house, called Axford House in 1701, (fn. 86) was in 1707 said to be too large for the estate and to need repair. (fn. 87) Its demolition was commissioned after the sale of 1744. (fn. 88) Thereafter farmers lived in the Londons' house, Axford Farm, as they may have done since the earlier 15th century. (fn. 89) The site of Axford Farm, where Lady Burdett-Fisher lived in 1981, may have been moated. The main range of the house is of rubble with ashlar dressings. It has at its east end a 14th-century chapel, now divided by an inserted floor, and near its west end an elaborately moulded late medieval roof truss which was possibly at the centre of an open hall. A north wing was added in 1660, (fn. 90) and the inside of the main range has frequently been altered.

Although it was said in 1341 that tithes in Ramsbury parish were paid to none but the prebendary of Ramsbury and the vicar of Ramsbury, (fn. 91) in the later 15th century the prebend of Axford was apparently endowed with tithes arising from land in Axford. (fn. 92) The prebend was valued at 32s. in 1226, £5 in 1291, and £4 or £6 in 1535. (fn. 93) In the late 15th century it was leased to the Darells. (fn. 94) AXFORD PREBEND, whatever its endowment, was acquired with Ramsbury prebend by Edward, earl of Hertford, in 1545 and, since it was held by the Crown in 1567, seems to have been given to the Crown with Ramsbury prebend in 1547. (fn. 95) In 1571 Hugh Stukeley claimed, perhaps unrealistically, all tithes from Axford as part of Axford manor: (fn. 96) on the other hand, in the early 17th century all tithes of Axford were claimed as parts of Ramsbury prebend and of the vicarage. (fn. 97) The evidence suggests that the tithes arising from the land of Axford manor belonged to Axford prebend while the tithes of Ramsbury manor's land in Axford belonged to Ramsbury vicarage and Ramsbury prebend. At his death in 1626 Sir Gabriel Pile owned Axford prebend and from then, if not earlier, the land of Axford manor and its tithes were merged. (fn. 98)

Economic History.

Axford was divided lengthwise between to the west the lands of Ramsbury manor in Axford and, more extensive, to the east the lands of Axford manor: (fn. 99) until the later 18th century the two parts were nowhere merged for agriculture. Apart from woodland nearly all the Ramsbury manor land was held customarily. (fn. 100) The virtual lack of Ramsbury manor demesne land, the great size of Axford manor and its proximity to Ramsbury Manor, and the clarity of the division suggest that Axford manor originated in an early grant of a large demesne farm by a bishop of Salisbury, possibly Jocelin de Bohun, bishop 1142–84. (fn. 101) The lands of both manors south of the Kennet were within Savernake forest until 1228. (fn. 102)

The division of Axford between Axford manor and Ramsbury manor may already have been clear in the 1290s when Bishop Longespee allowed Robert of London to have a chase between their lands north of the road through Sound Bottom. Robert's surrender in exchange of his rights in a common pasture and waste (fn. 103) perhaps completed the division. The land of Axford manor was a strip, possibly as much as 1,500 a., extending from Whiteshard Bottom to Hens Wood. Its eastern boundary with the agricultural land in the north part of Park Town tithing is obscure; further south Axford manor marched with the old park north of the Kennet and with the new park south of the Kennet through Hens Wood. (fn. 104) Its western boundary with the land of Ramsbury manor began where the parish boundary makes a bend east of Mere Farm in Mildenhall, ran SSE. to the east end of Axford village, and south of the Kennet ran SSW. towards Puthall Farm in Little Bedwyn. (fn. 105) A large part of Hens Wood was apparently in Axford: the lord of Ramsbury manor had over 5,000 trees in the Axford portion in the later 16th century, and Axford manor included 279 a. of woodland, mostly presumably there, in 1701. (fn. 106)

Axford manor was assessed as 4 carucates in 1331. (fn. 107) In 1403, and presumably much earlier, it consisted of demesne and customary land. The demesne was in hand. It included sheephouses and folds said to be at Axford and Ashridge, a several pasture, woodland, and a rabbit warren. The customary tenants had a common pasture. (fn. 108) In the mid 16th century free fishing in the Kennet and free warren were claimed for the manor. (fn. 109) The demesne was apparently in hand in 1589 when wheat was sold for £31 and £5 2s. 2d. was paid in wages in 6 months. A reference of 1590 is the last to a copyhold of Axford manor. (fn. 110) In 1707 the woodland was in hand. All the agricultural land, possibly over 1,000 a., was then held by lease as a single farm. (fn. 111) After it was reunited with Ramsbury manor in 1744 (fn. 112) Axford farm was leased to William Cox, who was ejected in 1755 for arrears of rent and for leaving the land uncultivated. (fn. 113)

The customary tenants of Ramsbury manor in Axford held the strip of land, possibly 750 a., at the west end of the parish. They cultivated it in common until it was inclosed by private agreement in 1727. The arable land was in two fields. North field, 280 a. between the Kennet and the road through Sound Bottom, included 8 a. between Axford Street and the river. South field contained 194 a. south of Mead Lane. North of North field Hillworth was a pasture for ewes and cattle in the 16th century but was later ploughed, and as the Heath, c. 63 a., became part of North field. South of South field, adjoining Hens Wood and Puthall farm, was a down, c. 74 a., apparently for cattle. Between the fields a marsh and several islands in the Kennet, c. 32 a., were commonable. (fn. 114) The meadows there may have been watered in the mid 16th century. (fn. 115) North of Sound Bottom and apparently adjoining Sound Copse in Mildenhall was the site of Kearsdown Farm, a croft called Caresden, within which there was a rabbit warren: it had been inclosed by the late 13th century. It was held customarily and in 1462, when the rabbit warren was held separately, was more than 50 a. (fn. 116) The rabbit warren was last mentioned in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 117) The copyhold was 'roofless' c. 1600: part of the land was wooded until converted then to arable. (fn. 118) Thereafter Caresden was added to the other c. 40 a. of inclosures appended to copyholds. (fn. 119)

The Axford tenants of Ramsbury manor held 22 yardlands and in the Middle Ages owed many customary services. (fn. 120) By 1396 services from half the holdings had been commuted, and it is unlikely that many of the remainder were performed since the lord of the manor then had little agricultural land nearby. (fn. 121) In 1462 rents totalled £8 1s. 10d. There were twelve tenants and several of the holdings were large: three holdings exceeded 75 a. (fn. 122) In the mid 16th century the yardlands were nominally 24 a. with the right to feed 60 sheep and several other animals. (fn. 123) Pigs were stinted at five to a yardland in 1633. (fn. 124) In contrast with those holding in Ramsbury Town, Whittonditch, and Eastridge tithings the Axford copyholders, except one or two, held no land elsewhere in the parish. (fn. 125) They were apparently a small yeoman group of comparatively equal resources many of whom, especially in the 17th and 18th centuries, shared the name Appleford. (fn. 126) In 1567 seven held between 50 a. and 100 a., four between 25 a. and 50 a., all with pasture rights. (fn. 127) After the period 1677–81 the 13 yardlands sold by the lord of Ramsbury manor were mingled with those still held by copy and lease in farms which by 1727 had become fewer and larger. Of c. 643 a. inclosed then c. 185 a. were copyhold and leasehold, c. 458 a. freehold. There were holdings of c. 205 a. and c. 154 a. possibly worked from, respectively, the buildings near the river at the east end of Axford Street which became Riverside Farm and others near the west end of the street which became Church Farm. Coombe farm, c. 120 a., had buildings south-west of the village, but the other three holdings, each of fewer than 60 a., presumably had buildings in the street. (fn. 128)

In the later 18th century the Joneses, lords of Ramsbury and Axford manors, divided Axford farm into Burney or Upper Axford or New farm, with buildings beside the Axford-Aldbourne road, and Axford farm, and leased some land with Stock Close farm in Aldbourne. (fn. 129) Of the previously commonable land they took in hand the copyholds and leaseholds and bought some of the freeholds. (fn. 130) In 1839 Coombe, which had grown by inheritance to 244 a., Riverside, 59 a., and a holding of 60 a. were the only farms not owned and leased by their successor. Burney, 657 a., Axford, 519 a. including 117 a. of wood and buildings at Axford Farm and House Farm, and Church, 490 a. including a brick kiln near Hens Wood and 121 a. of wood, were then the principal farms in Axford: 97 a. of arable at Whiteshard Bottom, 10 a. of meadow near Ramsbury Manor, and 35 a. of Blake's Copse were separately leased, possibly still as part of Stock Close farm. Of c. 2,200 a. in Axford two thirds were arable. (fn. 131) In 1880 Church farm was 417 a. and Stock Close farm included 142 a. in Axford. From 1885 to 1929 Axford, 709 a., and Burney, still 657 a., were leased with Park farm in Ramsbury, 807 a., to Henry Wilson and his sons. (fn. 132) In the mid 20th century Burney, including New Buildings, and Axford, including House Farm and Kearsdown Farm, remained large and compact farms. (fn. 133) In the later 20th century they and Church farm were in hand: in 1981 c. 2,000 a. of agricultural land in Axford and more in Aldbourne were used from House Farm and Stock Close Farm for sheepand-corn husbandry. (fn. 134) Coombe was then a separate farm. (fn. 135)

Ramsbury manor included a mill at Axford in 1330, (fn. 136) but the only mill known to have been there later was that of Axford manor at Axford Farm, referred to in the mid 16th century and in the later 16th century when it was leased. (fn. 137) It was mentioned in 1601, (fn. 138) but not afterwards until 1839 when there was apparently a mill on the site. (fn. 139) An undershot wheel survives there.

For permission to inclose given by him as lord of Ramsbury manor in 1727 those holding land in the west part of Axford gave up the right to fish in the Kennet to Richard Jones, who acquired the remainder of the fishing in Axford with Axford manor in 1744. (fn. 140)

Local Government.

Records of the courts held in 1403 for Axford manor include presentments by the homage, the bailiff, and inspectors of carcasses. The courts protected the lord's rights over his bondmen, customary tenants, and pastures by ordering the return of a bondman from Salthrop in Wroughton, binding a tenant to rebuild a house burned down because of his negligence, listing payments for pannage and agistment, and in other ways. (fn. 141) Courts held for the manor in the later 16th century possibly dealt only with copyholds since then and later common husbandry in Axford was regulated in Ramsbury manor court. (fn. 142) The Axford tithingman attended and was appointed at Ramsbury law hundred. (fn. 143)


A church at Axford, presumably a chapel of ease, was recorded in 1288 as having been used for baptism in 1267. (fn. 144) There is no later reference to it. In the 14th century a chapel was built at Axford Farm, presumably for private use, and in the early 15th century the lord of Axford manor paid yearly for right of burial at Ramsbury. (fn. 145)

A chapel of ease dedicated to ST. MICHAEL and served from Ramsbury was built at Axford in 1856. (fn. 146) In 1864 it was nearly always full for the weekly services: communion was held on the Sundays after Christmas and Easter and on Trinity Sunday. There was no right of marriage in it until 1940. (fn. 147) The chapel, designed by William White, (fn. 148) is a plain rectangular building of banded brick and flint with a slate roof. It has 19th-century plate (fn. 149) and no bell.


A house in Axford was registered in 1818 for worship by dissenters. (fn. 150) In 1851 an Independent congregation of 35 was served from Ramsbury on Census Sunday and by 1885 a Congregational chapel had been built north of the street near the east end of the village. (fn. 151) It had been closed and demolished by 1899. (fn. 152) A Methodist chapel west of the church was opened in 1888. It had apparently been closed by 1972. (fn. 153)


Children living in Axford presumably attended Ramsbury or Mildenhall schools until 1874 when the Ramsbury school board built a school and schoolhouse in the east part of Axford village. (fn. 154) Average attendance at the school was 59 in 1906–7. It had fallen steadily to 28 by 1927 and in 1931 the school was closed. (fn. 155)


  • 1. Axford inclosure award: W.R.O., TS. transcript in 154/ 2; map of Ramsbury manor, 1676, penes Lady (Marjorie) Burdett-Fisher, Axford Farm: microfilm copy in W.R.O.
  • 2. Ashridge was first mentioned as a tithing in 1268: P.R.O., JUST 1/998, rot. 33; Axford in 1559: B.L. Add. Ch. 24440.
  • 3. O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XXIX (1889 edn.).
  • 4. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 156.
  • 5. Above, Ramsbury, local govt.
  • 6. Sar. Chart. and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 34.
  • 7. W.R.O., bishop, Liber Niger, f. 101 and v.; First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7.
  • 8. P.R.O., E 179/197/161.
  • 9. Geol. Surv. Maps 1", drift, sheets 266 (1974 edn.), 267 (1947 edn.).
  • 10. Kelly's Dir. Wilts.
  • 11. Andrews and Dury, Map (W.R.S. viii), pl. 12; O.S. Map 1", sheet 34 (1828 edn.).
  • 12. W.A.M. xix. 263; below, manors.
  • 13. Andrews and Dury, Map (W.R.S. viii), pl. 12.
  • 14. Map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. B. Croucher, 25 Ashley Piece.
  • 15. Inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2.
  • 16. Below, manors, econ. hist.
  • 17. Feud. Aids, v. 288; below, manors. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 314 wrongly infers that there was then no other inhabitant of Axford.
  • 18. Below, manors.
  • 19. Andrews and Dury, Map (W.R.S. viii), pls. 12, 15; O.S. Map 1", sheet 34 (1828 edn.).
  • 20. Map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. Croucher; O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. XXIX (1889 edn.); 1/25,000, SU 27 (1960 edn.).
  • 21. O.S. Map 1", sheet 34 (1828 edn.); 1/25,000, 41/27 (1947 edn.); 1/50,000, sheet 174 (1974 edn.).
  • 22. W.R.O. 1883/3.
  • 23. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 356.
  • 24. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 265.
  • 25. W.R.O., bishop, Liber Niger, ff. 95, 101 and v.
  • 26. Below; below, econ. hist.
  • 27. Above, Ramsbury, manor; First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7; W.R.O. 1883/59, bargain and sale, Pembroke to Whitley and Cratford; bargain and sale, Powle to Jones.
  • 28. Below; W.R.O., Axford land tax; inf. from Maj. F. R. D. Burdett-Fisher, Harbrook Farm.
  • 29. W.R.O. 1883/59, bargain and sale, Pembroke to Whitley and Cratford; bargain and sale, Powle to Jones; 1883/64.
  • 30. Ibid. 1574/1, abstr. of title, Coombe farm; 500/3.
  • 31. Ibid. 1574/1, abstr. of title, Coombe farm; abstr. of title, Knackstone's; 500/4.
  • 32. Ibid. 1574/1, assignment of mortgage; bond, Vaisey to Appleford; conveyance, Vaisey to Phelps.
  • 33. Ibid. note of succession duty; P.R.O., HO 107/1686; map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. B. Croucher, 25 Ashley Piece.
  • 34. W.R.O. 1883, loose papers in rent bk. 1880; rental, 1888.
  • 35. Inf. from Mrs. D. White, Coombe Farm; Mr. R. T. Walton, New Ho., Manor Lane, Baydon; Mrs. J. S. Burrows, Grove Farm, Mildenhall.
  • 36. W.R.O. 1574/1, abstr. of title, Knackstone's.
  • 37. Ibid. fam. notes; 500/3.
  • 38. Ibid. 1574/1, abstr. of title, Knackstone's; abstr. of settlement, 1756.
  • 39. Ibid. Axford land tax.
  • 40. Ibid. 1883/59, bargain and sale, Pembroke to Whitley and Cratford; 1883/64/8.
  • 41. This descent of the Whityeatts and Moores has been provided by Mr. R. K. Lloyd, Riverside Ho.
  • 42. Inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2.
  • 43. Map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. Croucher.
  • 44. Inf. from Mr. Lloyd.
  • 45. Inf. from Maj. Burdett-Fisher.
  • 46. Pipe R. 1198 (P.R.S. N.S. ix), 73.
  • 47. Cur. Reg. R. i. 135, 347; below, econ. hist.
  • 48. Pat. R. 1216–25, 42.
  • 49. P.R.O., CP 25(1)/283/13, no. 251.
  • 50. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 265; a pedigree of the Londons is in B.L. Lansd. MS. 205, f. 61.
  • 51. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 453.
  • 52. Feet of F. 1272–1327 (W.R.S. i), p. 126.
  • 53. Ibid. 1327–77 (W.R.S. xxix), p. 131; Cal. Pat. 1345–8, 307.
  • 54. W.N. & Q. vii. 266.
  • 55. Feet of F. 1327–77 (W.R.S. xxix), p. 131; B.L. Lansd. MS. 205, f. 61.
  • 56. B.L. Harl. MS. 1623, ff. 10, 12v.; Lansd. MS. 205, f. 61; P.R.O., CP 25(1)/256/56, no. 13; Complete Peerage, s.v. Lovel.
  • 57. P.R.O., SC 2/208/11.
  • 58. Ibid. CP 40/574, rot. 255d.; CP 40/578, rot. 238 and d.
  • 59. Cal. Close, 1405–9, 414–15.
  • 60. B.L. Harl. MS. 1623, f. 18v.; P.R.O., CP 25(1)/256/60, no. 9; ibid. C 139/28, no. 22; Cal. Close, 1413–19, 458.
  • 61. Cal. Close, 1385–9, 79.
  • 62. W.N. & Q. vii. 265–9.
  • 63. P.R.O., E 326/9671.
  • 64. Ibid. C 140/12, no. 13; B.L. Lansd. MS. 205, f. 61v.
  • 65. Above, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 66. P.R.O., SP 46/45, f. 216; Berks. Pedigrees (Harl. Soc. lvi), 25.
  • 67. P.R.O., SP 46/45, f. 216; V.C.H. Berks. iv. 253.
  • 68. Above, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 69. P.R.O., SP 46/45, ff. 173, 216; ibid. CP 25(2)/239/3 Eliz. I Trin.; ibid. PROB 11/73 (P.C.C. 28 Leicester, will of Hugh Stukeley).
  • 70. e.g. ibid. SP 46/44, ff. 64, 158.
  • 71. Hall, Soc. in Elizabethan Eng. 292; above.
  • 72. Hist. MSS. Com. 58, Bath, iv, p. 211.
  • 73. P.R.O., SP 46/44, ff. 82–4.
  • 74. Ibid. PROB 11/73 (P.C.C. 28 Leicester, will of Hugh Stukeley); W.R.O. 1883/96/1; above, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 75. P.R.O., C 3/378/10; D.N.B. s.vv. Devereux, Walsingham.
  • 76. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/242/43 Eliz. I Hil.; CP 25(2)/242/43 & 44 Eliz. I Mich.; ibid. C 3/378/10; for the Stukeleys see Burke, Ext. & Dorm. Baronetcies (1838), 511.
  • 77. Wilts. Pedigrees (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 151; Burke, Ext. & Dorm. Baronetcies (1838), 413–14; P.R.O., PROB 11/367 (P.C.C. 122 North).
  • 78. Burke, Ext. & Dorm. Baronetcies (1838), 414.
  • 79. Ho. of Lords MSS. N.S. vii, pp. 55–6, 349–50, 561.
  • 80. W.R.O. 1883/95, assignment to Hawes; cf. Ho. of Lords MSS. n.s. vii, p. 349.
  • 81. W.R.O. 1883/95, bargain and sale.
  • 82. Ibid. 1883/96/14.
  • 83. Above; above, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 84. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 453.
  • 85. Feud. Aids, v. 267–8.
  • 86. W.R.O. 1883/95, mortgage, Pile to Wall.
  • 87. Ho. of Lords MSS. n.s. vii, p. 55.
  • 88. W.R.O. 1883/96/12.
  • 89. e.g. W.A.M. x. 258; inf. from Mr. G. W. Wilson, Rudge Manor Farm, Froxfield.
  • 90. Date on bldg.
  • 91. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 175.
  • 92. P.R.O., SP 46/45, ff. 64, 70.
  • 93. Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), ii. 73; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 182; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 76, 152.
  • 94. P.R.O., SP 46/45, ff. 64, 66–70.
  • 95. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 411; P.R.O., E 310/26/154; above, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 96. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/239/13 Eliz. I East.
  • 97. Ibid. REQ 2/5/155; ibid. C 2/Jas. I/A 5/63.
  • 98. W.A.M. xxxv. 490; W.R.O. 1883/95, mortgage, Pile to Wall.
  • 99. Inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2; ibid. tithe award.
  • 100. e.g. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7 (1567).
  • 101. Above, manors.
  • 102. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 417–18.
  • 103. D. & C. Sar. Mun., press IV, box C 3/Ramsbury/16.
  • 104. Map of Ramsbury, 1676, penes Lady (Marjorie) Burdett-Fisher, Axford Farm: microfilm copy in W.R.O.
  • 105. Inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2; ibid, tithe award.
  • 106. Ibid. 1883/95, mortgage, Pile to Wall; P.R.O., SC 12/22/91.
  • 107. W.R.O., bishop, Liber Niger, f. 95.
  • 108. P.R.O., SC 2/208/11.
  • 109. Ibid. CP 25(2)/239/3 Eliz. I Trin.
  • 110. Ibid. SP 46/45, f. 292; ibid. REQ 2/261/13.
  • 111. Ho. of Lords MSS. n.s. vii, p. 55.
  • 112. Above, manors.
  • 113. W.R.O., Q. Sess. enrolled deeds, loose deed 1.
  • 114. Inclosure award: ibid. transcript in 154/2; cf. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7.
  • 115. Wilton Ho. Mun., survey, 1550s, pp. 292–3.
  • 116. D. & C. Sar. Mun., press IV, box C 3/Ramsbury/16; W.R.O., bishop, Liber Niger, f. 101 and v.
  • 117. P.R.O., SC 12/22/90.
  • 118. Ibid. REQ 2/5/155; W.R.O. 1883/6; ibid. bishop, deposition bk. 53B.
  • 119. W.R.O. 1883/59, bargain and sale, Pembroke to Whitley and Cratford.
  • 120. Ibid. bishop, Liber Niger, ff. 95v. sqq., 101 and v.; First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7.
  • 121. D. & C. Sar. Mun., press I, box 8, no. 12B; above, Ramsbury, econ. hist.
  • 122. W.R.O., bishop, Liber Niger, f. 101 and v.
  • 123. Wilton Ho. Mun., survey, 1550s, pp. 292–6.
  • 124. Ibid. manor ct. bk., various par., 1633–4, f. 15v.
  • 125. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 148–67.
  • 126. e.g. P.R.O., E 179/196/161; of the 12 allottees under the 1727 Axford inclosure award 7 were Applefords and 2 married Applefords: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2.
  • 127. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 163–7.
  • 128. Above, manors; inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2; ibid. Axford land tax; tithe award; map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. B. Croucher, 25 Ashley Piece.
  • 129. W.R.O. 212a/27/27, acct. of rents; ibid. Axford land tax.
  • 130. Ibid. tithe award; Axford land tax; P.R.O., CP 43/805, rott. 62 and d., 64d.-66d.
  • 131. Map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. Croucher.
  • 132. W.R.O. 1883, rent bk. 1880; letter bk. 115.
  • 133. Ibid. 1883, misc. plans.
  • 134. Inf. from Maj. F. R. D. Burdett-Fisher, Harbrook Farm.
  • 135. Local inf.
  • 136. D. & C. Sar. Mun., press I, box 8, no. 12A.
  • 137. B.L. Add. Ch. 24440; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/239/3 Eliz. I Trin.; ibid. SP 46/45, f. 208.
  • 138. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/242/43 & 44 Eliz. I Mich.
  • 139. Map of Ramsbury, W. div., penes Mrs. Croucher.
  • 140. Inclosure award: W.R.O., transcript in 154/2; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/1233/17 & 18 Geo. II Trin.
  • 141. P.R.O., SC 2/208/11.
  • 142. Ibid. REQ 2/261/13; ibid. C 3/378/10; B.L. Add. Ch. 24440–1; Wilton Ho. Mun., manor ct. bk., various par., 1633–4, ff. 13v., 15v.
  • 143. Above, Ramsbury, local govt.
  • 144. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 453.
  • 145. W.R.O., dean, Chaundler's reg. f. 126 and v.; above, manors.
  • 146. W.R.O., bishop, consecrations, bdle. 5, no. 58.
  • 147. Ibid. bishop, Ramsbury vis. queries, 1864; inf. from Dioc. Registrar, Minster Chambers, Castle St., Salisbury.
  • 148. Pevsner, Wilts. (2nd edn.), 103.
  • 149. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 162–3.
  • 150. W.R.O., bishop, return of cert. places.
  • 151. P.R.O., HO 129/121/2/11/19; O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XXIX (1889 edn.).
  • 152. O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XXIX. SE. (1900 edn.).
  • 153. Ibid.; date on bldg.; Statistical Returns (Dept. for Chapel Affairs), i. 49.
  • 154. P.R.O., ED 7/131, no. 230; O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XXIX (1889 edn.).
  • 155. Bd. of Educ., List 21 (H.M.S.O.).