Parishes: Foxley

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1991.

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A P Baggs. Jane Freeman. Janet H Stevenson, 'Parishes: Foxley', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred, (London, 1991), pp. 83-89. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

A P Baggs. Jane Freeman. Janet H Stevenson. "Parishes: Foxley", in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred, (London, 1991) 83-89. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Freeman, Jane. Stevenson, Janet H. "Parishes: Foxley", A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred, (London, 1991). 83-89. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


Foxley (fn. 1) is 4 km. WSW. of Malmesbury. (fn. 2) The parish measured c. 735 a. in 1871. (fn. 3) It included a detached field of 6 a. to the east, and, from 1832, affixed to its south-east corner a total of 16 a. of Malmesbury common then allotted to the lord of Foxley manor and to the rector of Foxley. (fn. 4) In 1884 a small detached part of Norton parish, which separated Foxley from its own detached land, and the whole of Bremilham parish, apart from its detached pieces, were added to Foxley parish, thereafter 1,135 a. (fn. 5) (459 ha.). In 1934 the whole of that parish was transferred to Norton parish. (fn. 6)

Foxley was a parish of regular shape and was mostly bounded by prominent features. The northern boundary was marked by the Sherston branch of the Bristol Avon and the south part of the eastern boundary by a tributary of the river. The south-eastern boundary was marked partly by the same tributary and partly by an ancient road, the south-western partly by another tributary and another ancient road, and the whole of the north-western by the Roman Foss Way. Most of those boundaries had apparently been fixed by c. 1100. (fn. 7)

The land of the former Foxley parish slopes gently from c. 100 m. at the south-west corner to below 76 m. on the Avon in the north-east. Apart from the Avon and its eastern tributary three streams flow across it from west to east before joining to form a tributary of the Avon. Cornbrash outcrops over most of the former parish. The streams have exposed narrow bands of clay and deposited others of alluvium. Between the streams, the Cornbrash is covered by patches of Kellaways Clay in the north and south, and by small areas of gravel in the north and of head deposits in the south. (fn. 8) The predominantly flat, well drained land favours agriculture: there was much meadow land beside the streams (fn. 9) and the soils of the Cornbrash are suitable for growing cereals. (fn. 10) The Kellaways Clay in the north has long been wooded, and a walled park was made in the north-west: (fn. 11) parts of the wall survived in 1986. The polo ground of the Beaufort Hunt Polo Club was in the south-west corner of the parish in the earlier 20th century. (fn. 12)

Where it was the boundary of Foxley parish the Foss Way was for most of its length a green lane in 1986. The south-western end was from 1760 or earlier part of a route from Norton to Easton Grey (fn. 13) and was later made up. The Norton to Easton Grey road, part of the south-western boundary of Foxley parish, was called Narrow or Small Way in the 10th or 11th century, later Tetbury Way. The lane crossing the south of Foxley parish, and forming part of its south-east boundary, seems likely to have been the ancient Borough Way, (fn. 14) and from 1773 or earlier was called Honey Lane. (fn. 15) Two other roads cross the parish, each on the course which it followed in 1760. (fn. 16) An eastwest road linking Foxley and Bremilham with Malmesbury and Sherston was part of the main Oxford—Bristol road in the later 17th century, (fn. 17) but had been superseded by 1756 when the Malmesbury—Sherston road further north was turnpiked. (fn. 18) The Malmesbury—Sherston road through Foxley is linked with Honey Lane by a short north —south road, probably the road called King's Way in the 10th or 11th century. That and the Malmesbury—Sherston road have wide verges, and where they meet near Foxley church the verges widen further to form a triangular village green.

Where the Foss Way crosses the Avon, Foxley parish may have included a small part of the Roman settlement called White Walls. (fn. 19) Foxley, first mentioned in 1086, (fn. 20) has never been more than a small village. Early 14th-century taxation assessments were low, (fn. 21) the figure of 12 poll-tax payers in 1377 was the 19th lowest in the county, the parish had fewer than 10 households in 1428, (fn. 22) and 16th-century taxation assessments were also low. (fn. 23) In 1801 the population was 50. With fluctuations it had risen to 73 by 1881. The enlargement of 1884 added 31 to the population, which was 96 in 1891 and 108 in 1901. By 1931 it had fallen to 61. (fn. 24) In 1986 the population of the former Foxley parish may have been c. 35.

Foxley's church and rectory house, and almost certainly its early farmsteads, were built near the stream which forms part of the east boundary. In 1675 there were buildings west of the church on both sides of the Malmesbury—Sherston road as far as a sharp bend in the road (fn. 25) where the farmhouse which became the manor house stands. That house was enlarged, possibly in the 1680s, (fn. 26) and farm buildings were erected north of it. By 1760 a new stretch of road had been made to cut the corner and take traffic away from the manor house. The rectory house, glebe farm buildings, a small farmstead, and a small house then stood near the church, west of it were Foxley Manor and farm and other buildings, three cottages stood beside the road between the church and Foxley Manor, and two cottages stood beside Honey Lane. (fn. 27) There were 13 houses in the parish in 1811, (fn. 28) and the pattern of settlement had changed little by 1986. Near the church, part of a large barn behind the rectory house had been converted for residence, and there were 20th-century farm buildings on the site of the small farmstead. East of them, south of the Malmesbury—Sherston road, the small house standing in 1760 was extended in red brick in the 19th century. Nearby a pair of cottages was built between 1883 and 1899 (fn. 29) and a pair of council houses in 1944. (fn. 30) The stone farm buildings near Foxley Manor were not used after 1978: a barn was made into a house after 1982, and another was being converted in 1987. (fn. 31) Other buildings near Foxley Manor in 1986 included a small, apparently early 19th-century house and a building possibly surviving from an oxyard which stood south-west of the house in the 18th century. (fn. 32) Of the buildings beside the road between the rectory house and Foxley Manor in 1760 only an apparently 18th-century cottage at the west end survives. The others were replaced in the 19th century by a school (fn. 33) and a pair of cottages. A cottage built on the verge of Honey Lane in the earlier 19th century replaced one standing in 1760; the other cottage beside Honey Lane in 1760 was demolished between 1899 and 1921. (fn. 34)

Manor and other Estates.

Aldret held Foxley in 1066. Roger of Berkeley held it in 1084 and in 1086, when the estate included a house in Malmesbury, (fn. 35) later with an obligation to repair part of the town wall. (fn. 36) By 1089 Roger had given his daughter and rights over the estate to the abbey of Shaftesbury (Dors.). What rights he gave may later have been disputed: a title to the Foxley estate was confirmed to the abbey in 1089 by William II, (fn. 37) in 1121–2 by Henry I, before whom the abbess proved it against Alfred of Foxley, (fn. 38) in 1136 by King Stephen, (fn. 39) and in 1371, (fn. 40) but Roger or his descendants may have retained or recovered the lordship in demesne. The abbey was no more than overlord in 1242–3 (fn. 41) and 1275: (fn. 42) its overlordship was referred to in the 16th (fn. 43) and 17th centuries. (fn. 44) The lordship of FOXLEY manor may have descended with Eldersfield manor (Worcs.) from Roger's nephew William of Berkeley (fl before 1147) to William's son William (fl. 1195) and to the younger William's son Robert (fl 1210–12), (fn. 45) and in 1242–3 belonged to Simon of Eldersfield. (fn. 46) Simon was possibly the husband of Parnel de la Mare, (fn. 47) and thereafter Foxley manor descended in the de la Mare family, members of which held Hardwick manor in Eldersfield and Rendcomb manor (Glos.). (fn. 48)

Robert de la Mare, then bailiff of Startley hundred, may have held Foxley manor in 1255. William de la Mare held it in 1275: (fn. 49) he was presumably the Sir William de la Mare (fl. 1294) who held both Foxley and Hardwick (fn. 50) and the William de la Mare (d. by 1296), Parnel de la Mare's son, who held Rendcomb manor. (fn. 51) Foxley manor belonged to John de la Mare in 1334 (fn. 52) and he, a namesake, or namesakes possibly held it in 1332 (fn. 53) and 1361. (fn. 54) Robert de la Mare and John de la Mare of Hardwick may have owned it in 1365 and 1417 when, respectively, they each presented a rector. (fn. 55) John de la Mare, possibly the same, held the manor in 1428 when it was assessed as ½ knight's fee and said to have been formerly Richard of Stamford's. (fn. 56) In the 1430s the manor was held by feoffees, among whom was John de la Mare (d. by 1462) of Rendcomb, (fn. 57) and in 1457, when he presented a rector, possibly by William de la Mare of Hardwick. (fn. 58)

By 1485 Foxley manor had been acquired by John Moody of Eldersfield. (fn. 59) It was held in 1495 by his son Edmund, on whose death in 1509 it passed to his relict Elizabeth. (fn. 60) In 1535 Edmund's son John held the manor (fn. 61) which passed on his death in 1549 to his son John, then a minor. (fn. 62) In 1583 John Moody, with Anthony Webb or Richmond and Anthony's son Roger, possibly his son-in-law and grandson, sold Foxley manor to Anthony Hinton (fn. 63) who held it until his death in 1599. (fn. 64) In 1600 Hinton's son Thomas sold it to John Ayliffe of Grittenham in Brinkworth. (fn. 65)

The manor passed with Grittenham manor from John Ayliffe (d. 1631) to Sir George Ayliffe (d. 1643), John Ayliffe (d. 1645), and George Ayliffe (d. 1713) whose relict Judith held it until her death in 1716. (fn. 66) It passed to their son John (d. 1722) (fn. 67) and to their daughter Judith (d. 1737) who devised it to her cousin Susanna Strangways, wife of Thomas Horner. (fn. 68) Susanna settled it, from her death in 1758, on her daughter's brother-in-law Henry Fox, (fn. 69) from 1763 Baron Holland of Foxley. (fn. 70) Foxley manor passed from Lord Holland (d. 1774) to his son Stephen, Lord Holland (d. 1774), and was held by Stephen's relict Mary until her death in 1778. It descended to Stephen's son Henry, (fn. 71) Lord Holland, then a minor, who took the surname Yassall in 1800. After the death of Lord Holland in 1840 and of his relict Elizabeth in 1845 the manor passed to their son Henry Fox, Lord Holland (d. 1859). He devised it to his wife Mary (d. 1889) and she to his nephew Leopold Powys (fn. 72) who took the additional surname Fox in 1890. On Fox-Powys's death in 1893 Foxley passed to his nephew Thomas Powys, Baron Lilford (d. 1896), whose heir was his son John, Lord Lilford (d. 1945). (fn. 73)

In 1902 the land was sold by Lord Lilford to W. W. Turnor of Pinkney Park. Turnor was succeeded in 1931 by his grandson Maj. A. R. Turnor, the owner of Foxley farm, 700 a., and Foxley Manor in 1986. (fn. 74)

The oldest parts of Foxley Manor to survive are a long east—west range and a short north wing at its east end, both built in the early 17th century. Those parts may have been the L-shaped building to adjoin which a tall late 17th- or early 18th century house was built. (fn. 75) The new house was possibly built for George Ayliffe, who moved to Foxley in 1688, (fn. 76) and was standing in 1760. (fn. 77) In 1775 Mary, Lady Holland, planned to improve the house and to use it in summer, and members of the Fox family apparently lived in it in 1781. (fn. 78) The house was a farmhouse in the 19th century. The new part had apparently been completely demolished by 1844. (fn. 79) The main range of the old house was extended westwards in the early 19th century and a long service wing was added west of the north wing in the later 19th century. Further additions were made when it was restored c. 1920. (fn. 80)

Thomas de Mandeville and his wife Alice conveyed 1 yardland in Foxley to Walter de Rysum and his wife Alice in 1314. (fn. 81) It may have been the small estate in Foxley which passed from Thomas Bremilham to his son John and to John's son Richard (d. s.p. c. 1557). Richard was succeeded by his grandnephew Thomas Nicholas and great-grandnephew Robert Shipton. (fn. 82) The estate was possibly that, later called PLAYER'S farm, settled in 1639 by Edmund Hart on the marriage of his son Robert. In 1666 Robert's relict Margaret surrendered the estate to Edmund's grandson Robert Hart, who held the reversion. (fn. 83) The land passed, presumably by purchase, to Timothy Player (d. 1677 or 1678) who devised it to his wife Mary (fl. 1707) for life and afterwards to his son Robert (fl. 1738). (fn. 84) It passed to Robert's son Timothy who in 1760 sold Player's farm, 80 a., to Henry Fox. (fn. 85) It thereafter descended with Foxley manor.

Malmesbury abbey held land in Foxley for which, at the Dissolution, the lessee paid 5s. (fn. 86) It was possibly the land, 2 a. c. 1840, (fn. 87) later owned by the burgesses of Malmesbury and given by them to Mary, Lady Holland, in an exchange in 1872. (fn. 88)

Economic History.

Foxley was assessed as 2 hides in 1066. In 1086 there was demesne of 1 hide on which were 2 ploughteams and 3 servi; on the remaining land 4 villani and 3 coscets had a total of 3 teams, and there were a mill, 4 a. of meadow, and 8 a. of pasture. (fn. 89) Domesday Book ascribed no woodland to Foxley, a name which implies that woodland was then or formerly nearby, (fn. 90) and the theory that much of Malmesbury abbey's extensive woodland was in Foxley, where the abbey held little land and there were 5 teams on land for 4, (fn. 91) seems untenable. Foxley Grove was c. 12 a. in 1760, (fn. 92) 15 a. c. 1840, (fn. 93) and 18 a. in 1986. (fn. 94) There was no direct reference to a mill after 1086, but Old Mills was in the 18th century the name of a field beside the Avon, (fn. 95) and in the Middle Ages, when it belonged to Malmesbury abbey, (fn. 96) may have been the site of a mill.

In the later 13th century the lord of Foxley manor and four others holding land in Foxley surrendered to Malmesbury abbey their rights to feed animals in common on heath land. (fn. 97) That may have been to restrict the Foxley animals to a particular part of what was later called Malmesbury common, and in 1760 rights to feed cattle from sunrise to sunset in the corner of the common adjoining Foxley, c. 45 a., was claimed for the inhabitants of Foxley. (fn. 98) In 1783 the rector claimed similar rights for sheep and the right to cut furze. (fn. 99) When the common was inclosed in 1832 the lord of Foxley manor was allotted 15 a. and the rector 1 a. of that land. (fn. 100)

There may have been open fields and common pasture in Foxley parish in the Middle Ages. The apparently open fields referred to in the surrenders to Malmesbury abbey may have been there, (fn. 101) open field in the parish was referred to in 1572, (fn. 102) and North field, South field, and Foxley heath were referred to in 1608. The two fields had been divided into closes by 1608, but the rector claimed rights to feed in common on the heath 2 horses and 8 cattle in summer and 50 sheep in winter. (fn. 103) The heath may have been south of the Sherston road west of the village, where there may have been common pasture in 1675 (fn. 104) and fields were called Horseleaze and Cowleaze in 1760. (fn. 105) Bounded by the Sherston road, the Foss Way, and the Avon, Foxley park, c. 150 a., had been walled by 1675. (fn. 106) South of the Sherston road west of Foxley Manor lines of trees gave the appearance of parkland to more fields: (fn. 107) they may have been planted when the house was enlarged and the common pasture was inclosed, possibly in the 1680s. (fn. 108) The rector had no right to common pasture in Foxley in 1698. (fn. 109) By 1760 all the parkland had been converted to agriculture. Foxley green, c. 2 a., was then open pasture. (fn. 110) It remained so in 1986 but neither it nor the verges of the lanes was then used to feed animals.

The inclosure of land in Foxley may have been unimpeded because there were few farms. There are unlikely to have been more than two or three besides the demesne farm in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 111) In 1690 the demesne, which was not leased, was a mixed farm: 66 a. of cereals, 2 a. of vetches, and 6 a. of peas were grown, there were 45 a. of meadows, and 14 cows, 14 calves, 400 sheep, and 7 pigs were kept. (fn. 112) The three or more other farms then in the parish were smaller. (fn. 113) In the 18th century there were three farms, Foxley, Player's, 80 a., and the glebe, 95 a. after 1728. (fn. 114)

In 1760 the parish, including the former parkland, lay divided by hedges into c. 65 fields: most of the park north of the Sherston road was then arable. The parish was about two thirds arable, a third meadow and pasture. There were c. 7 a. or more of orchards. Player's farm was worked from buildings beside the lane north-east of the church: its land was a strip beside the parish boundary north and south of the buildings. The glebe included farm buildings beside the rectory house: most of the old glebe lay together in the south-west part of the parish, most of the new was along the southern parish boundary. Foxley farm was worked from the buildings north of Foxley Manor and an oxyard south-west of it. (fn. 115)

The parish included 440 a. of arable, 264 a. of meadow and pasture, and the 15 a. of woodland c. 1840. Foxley farm was 574 a., of which 553 a. were in a total of 26 fields, and Player's farm was 58 a. (fn. 116) From 1780 or earlier to c. 1862 c. 90 a. of the glebe were worked with Foxley farm, (fn. 117) and from 1842 Player's was added to Foxley farm, then 700 a. (fn. 118) Foxley remained the principal farm in the parish until c. 1920. (fn. 119) In 1863 the land beside the eastern boundary formerly Player's farm was given to the rector in exchange for the glebe in the west part of the parish, (fn. 120) and the glebe was thereafter cultivated separately from Foxley farm. (fn. 121) Arable was laid to pasture in the mid 19th century: in 1867 there were 279 a. each of grass and arable and a further 131 a. of grass sown in rotation. In the later 19th and earlier 20th century the grassland of Foxley farm was mainly for rearing sheep, with some cattle for beef. In the later 19th century cereals were grown on about two thirds of the arable. (fn. 122)

Foxley farm was 630 a. in 1910. (fn. 123) By 1927 it had been divided: 256 a. continued to be worked, as Manor farm, from the buildings near Foxley Manor, and 280 a. were worked with Cowage farm based in Bremilham. Other Foxley land had apparently been added to other farms worked from outside the parish. (fn. 124) The 280 a. were later worked as a separate farm from the buildings near Foxley church formerly part of Player's farm. (fn. 125) Sheep rearing continued in the parish until c. 1950. (fn. 126) From 1953 the whole of Foxley farm, 700 a., was worked by the owner. Cattle were kept until 1977, for milk before and for beef after 1974. In 1986 Foxley was an arable farm of 588 a. on which wheat, barley, and rape were grown in large fields: 112 a. of grassland were leased for summer grazing. The farm was worked mainly from new buildings near the church. (fn. 127) In 1986 cattle were grazed on the pastures south of Honey Lane and beside the eastern boundary stream.

Local Government.

The parish habitually appointed a single overseer. In 1719 and 1720 a total of £28 was spent on the poor: most was given in monthly doles, but in both years coal was given. (fn. 128) Between 1736 and 1752 the most spent in a year was £10, the least £2. Doles were given to a woman from 1736 to 1749: miscellaneous expenses included payments for funerals and clothing. (fn. 129) Expenditure was £14 in 1775–6, c. £11 a year 1783–5, £27 in 1802–3 when five adults were relieved continuously and two occasionally, and £16 in 1814–15 when two adults were relieved continuously. (fn. 130) It reached a peak of £62 in 1819–20, but in the 1820s and 1830s, at an average of c. £45, was very low even for a parish of Foxley's size. In 1835 Foxley joined Malmesbury poor-law union. (fn. 131) In 1974 it became part of North Wiltshire district. (fn. 132)


Foxley church was standing in the 12th century or earlier. (fn. 133) It may have originated as a chapel served from Malmesbury abbey since in 1291 it was called a chapel (fn. 134) and about then a pension from it was owed to the abbey, (fn. 135) but there is no later mark of Foxley's dependence on another church. The living was a rectory in 1300 (fn. 136) and remained one. An Order in Council of 1874 authorized the union of Foxley and Bremilham rectories: (fn. 137) they were united in 1893 when the rector of Foxley was appointed rector of Bremilham. (fn. 138) The united benefice was in 1986 united with the benefice of Sherston Magna with Easton Grey and Luckington with Alderton. (fn. 139) Although Foxley and Bremilham were to remain separate parishes under the Order in Council of 1874, presumably because Bremilham church had long been closed Foxley with Bremilham was considered a single parish in 1986. (fn. 140)

In 1334, and apparently in 1361 and 1365 when, respectively, John de la Mare and Robert de la Mare presented, the advowson was held with Foxley manor. (fn. 141) Robert Oughtred presented in 1388 and John Poulton and Richard Webb jointly in 1416, by what right is obscure. In the period 1417–57, when there were eight presentations, the advowson apparently passed with the manor: John de la Mare of Hardwick presented in 1417, John de la Mare, possibly the same, in 1420 and 1435, and William de la Mare in 1457; the four other presentations, in 1432, 1435, 1437, and 1439, were by feoffees who held the manor and included John de la Mare of Rendcomb. From 1485, when John Moody presented, to 1902 the advowson did pass with the manor. In 1575 Christopher Twinhoe presented by grant of a turn, (fn. 142) in 1840 the Crown presented after the incumbent was promoted to a bishopric, and in 1862 the university of Oxford presented because Mary, Lady Holland, was a Roman Catholic. (fn. 143) After Foxley and Bremilham rectories were united the owner of the advowson of Foxley had the right to present at two of every three vacancies of the united benefice. (fn. 144) John, Lord Lilford (d. 1945), remained patron and presented in 1902. (fn. 145) No presentation after 1893 by a patron claiming the third turn is known. Lord Lilford's right passed to his brother Stephen, Lord Lilford (d. 1949). (fn. 146) In 1946 the university of Oxford presented because Stephen, Lord Lilford, was a Roman Catholic, and in 1951 and 1953 that Lord Lilford's executors presented. The Crown, patron of Corston with Rodbourne, with which Foxley with Bremilham was held in plurality, presented in 1963. (fn. 147) From 1986 George Powys, Lord Lilford, the successor of Stephen, Lord Lilford, was a member of the board of patronage for the benefice of Sherston Magna, Easton Grey, Luckington, Alderton and Foxley with Bremilham. (fn. 148)

As might be expected for so small a parish the rectory was not highly valued in 1291 (fn. 149) or 1535, (fn. 150) but the exemption of the rector from taxation in 1545 on grounds of poverty (fn. 151) seems likely to have depended on more than the low value of the living. In 1650 the living was, at £50, more highly valued. (fn. 152) In 1728 it was augmented: Judith Ayliffe (d. 1737) gave land worth £400 on receiving £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 153) Thereafter the living was well endowed for such a parish. (fn. 154) In the earlier 19th century the rector compounded with his patron, the lord of Foxley manor, for the whole income of the benefice at £261, a sum found to exceed the true value of the living. (fn. 155)

The rector was entitled to all the tithes from the whole parish: in 1841 they were replaced by a rent charge of £189. (fn. 156) In 1341 the rector had 1 yardland and 5 a. of meadow. (fn. 157) In 1608 the glebe was c. 50 a. with pasture rights, in 1698 and 1704 c. 54 a. At the augmentation of 1728 the rector was given 36 a. of Foxley manor. In 1783 the glebe was 94 a., (fn. 158) to which 1 a. inclosed from Malmesbury common was added in 1832. (fn. 159) Lands were exchanged between the rector and the lord of the manor in 1863. (fn. 160) The glebe was 94 a. in 1887: (fn. 161) 37 a. were sold in 1903 and 48 a. in 1920. (fn. 162) There was a house on the glebe in 1341, (fn. 163) and it was repaired in the 1380s. (fn. 164) It presumably stood on the site of the later rectory house near the west end of the church. The present house is L-shaped, consisting of a south block and a long back wing to the east. The south end of the wing is apparently medieval: the wing was extended northwards in the 16th century or early 17th. In 1729 the south end of the house was demolished and replaced by a new block with a south entrance front of five bays. (fn. 165) Possibly about then, a stair and service block was built in the angle between the old wing and the new block. In 1783 the house, with walls and roofs of stone, had seven rooms on the ground floor, six on the first floor, outbuildings, and near it a farmyard. (fn. 166) In the early 19th century a small extension was built at the west end of the south block, and the house was partly refitted. The house was the glebe house of the united rectory (fn. 167) until it was sold, with the remaining 9 a. of glebe, in 1946. (fn. 168) Thereafter it was again partly refitted.

In 1300 the rector, William Martin, was licensed to visit Rome on condition that he appointed a chaplain to serve the church. (fn. 169) In 1417 William Scurion exchanged with Robert Benett the chaplaincy of Arundel's chantry in Canterbury cathedral for Foxley rectory. (fn. 170) Rectors may have been resident for much of the 17th century: (fn. 171) Richard Jeane (d. 1628) was also rector of Bremilham. (fn. 172) William Hart, rector 1645–78, (fn. 173) was approved of by parliamentary commissioners in 1650. (fn. 174) In 1662 the church was in poor repair and lacked the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Homilies, Jewell's Apology, and a surplice. (fn. 175) John Stumpe, rector 1679–1726 and rector of Bremilham to 1681, (fn. 176) was from 1689 vicar of Sutton Benger. George Ayliffe, lord of Foxley manor, refused to pay tithes from 1689 on the grounds that Foxley became vacant when Stumpe was inducted to Sutton Benger because it was valuable enough to be under the provisions of the Act of 1529 restricting plurality, but by Exchequer decree was ordered to pay. (fn. 177) Hart and Stumpe were both said to have held a service every Sunday, (fn. 178) but from 1698 or earlier Stumpe appointed a succession of curates to serve Foxley. The last, Simon Crook, (fn. 179) was rector from 1726 to 1763: (fn. 180) in the period 1727–9 the living was augmented, the rectory house was largely rebuilt, (fn. 181) and new plate and a bell were given. (fn. 182) In 1783 the rector, Seth Thompson, was vicar of Thatcham (Berks.), where he lived, and the curate also served Hullavington. The curate held a service every Sunday and communion thrice yearly. (fn. 183) In 1801 the curate was also curate of Hullavington and of Norton. (fn. 184) Philip Shuttleworth, rector from 1824 until he became bishop of Chichester in 1840, was warden of New College, Oxford, and not resident: his curate held a service every Sunday. (fn. 185) In 1851 the curate, who was vicar of Hullavington, claimed that two services were held each Sunday with congregations averaging 53. (fn. 186) From 1893 or earlier parishioners of Bremilham attended Foxley church. (fn. 187) From 1899 to 1946 the rectors were also vicars of Norton: (fn. 188) in 1903 the rector, who lived at Foxley, held communion thrice monthly at Foxley and a service there every Sunday. (fn. 189) From 1951 to 1983 Foxley with Bremilham was held in plurality with the vicarage of Corston with Rodbourne. (fn. 190)

Foxley church is undedicated. It stands on a low circular mound, is built of rubble and ashlar, and consists of a chancel, a nave with north transeptal aisle and south porch, and a west tower. (fn. 191) Its small size suggests that the nave was built in the 12th century or earlier, and a plain 12thcentury font is in the church. A north aisle with an arcade of three bays was built in the early 13th century, and the chancel, as suggested by its width, may have been rebuilt in the 13th century. In the 14th century the chancel was refenestrated and a north chapel was added to it. The tower was built in the 17th century. The aisle and the north chapel were demolished, probably in the late 17th century when the transeptal aisle was built to incorporate the centre and eastern bay of the arcade: 14th-century windows were reset in the new aisle and where the opening between the chancel and chapel was blocked. A monument records that the chancel was paved for the first time in 1708. (fn. 192) Also in the earlier 18th century the porch, in a simple classical style, was built, and much of the south wall of the nave was rebuilt: one, or possibly two, 15th-century windows were reset in the new wall. A west gallery was removed in 1902 or 1903 and the church was generally restored at intervals in the period 1902–33. (fn. 193)

Foxley is rich in plate which includes a silver-gilt cup made in 1572, a paten cover bearing the date 1606, and a silver-gilt set of chalice, paten, and flagon made by Paul Lamerie and given in 1727 by Judith Ayliffe (d. 1737). (fn. 194) In the late 18th century the plate was sometimes lent to Bremilham. (fn. 195) The church has one bell. It was renewed in 1729 when the same Judith Ayliffe gave a bell cast by Abraham Rudhall. That bell, which was cracked, was placed in Bremilham church and replaced by the Bremilham bell, possibly in 1923. (fn. 196)

The registers of baptisms and burials begin in 1713 and are complete. Those of marriages begin in 1715 and are lacking for 1753–85. (fn. 197)


The certifying in 1799 of a room for Independent meetings (fn. 198) is the only evidence of dissent in Foxley.


In 1818 there was a school for 18 children, (fn. 199) but it may have been that held on Sundays which was the only school in the parish in 1833. (fn. 200) A school held in the church was attended by 15 children on weekdays in 1846. (fn. 201) In 1858 a total of 16 Foxley and Bremilham children attended a school in a cottage in Bremilham: (fn. 202) that may have been the school attended by seven children in 1871. (fn. 203) A small school was held in the 1880s in a cottage in Foxley. (fn. 204) A school and schoolhouse were built in Foxley in 1894. (fn. 205) The school was attended by children from Norton and received money from the Anne Jacob and J. E. Jackson charities. (fn. 206) The average attendance was highest, at 32, in 1906, lowest, at 17, in 1913 and 1914. The school was closed in 1932. (fn. 207) In 1902 the rector furnished a room at the rectory house as a reading room and night school, then open three nights a week. (fn. 208)

Charity for the Poor.

John Ayliffe (d. 1631) required his heirs to give 40s. a year for quarterly distribution to the poor of Foxley. There is no evidence that any did so. (fn. 209)


  • 1. A map of the par. is below, s.v. Norton.
  • 2. This article was written in 1986. Maps used include, O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. VIII, XII–XIII (1888–9 edns.); 1/25,000, ST 88 (1958 edn.); 1/50,000, sheet 173 (1974 edn.).
  • 3. Census, 1871.
  • 4. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123; W.R.O., EA/142.
  • 5. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 348; O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. VIII, XIII (1888–9 edns.); W.R.O., Bremilham and Norton tithe awards.
  • 6. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 355 n.
  • 7. Arch. Jnl. lxxvi. 221–3; lxxvii. 46; P.R.O., IR 30/38/123.
  • 8. Geol. Surv. Map 1", solid and drift, sheet 251 (1970 edn.).
  • 9. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123.
  • 10. R. S. Barron, Geol. Wilts. 40.
  • 11. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2); below, econ. hist.
  • 12. Shell Guide Wilts. (1935), 39–40; Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1939); W.R.O., G 7/505/1; inf. from Countess Badeni, Norton Manor, Norton.
  • 13. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 14. The names Small Way and King Way on O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XIII. NW. (1925 edn.) follow attributions by G. B. Grundy in Arch. Jnl. Ixxv. 72–4. The attribution, by T. R. Thomson and B. J. Wallis on maps in W.A.S. Libr., of the name Borough Way to Honey Lane and of the name King's Way to a third road (below) seem more likely to be correct. The names are from Arch. Jnl. lxxvi. 221–3. For Tetbury Way, below, Norton, introduction.
  • 15. Andrews and Duty, Map (W.R.S. viii), pl. 13.
  • 16. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 17. J.Ogilby, Brit.(1675), pl.79.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 257, 260; L.J. xxviii. 581.
  • 19. V.C.H. Wilts. i (1), 68; WA.M. xxxviii. 249.
  • 20. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 70.
  • 21. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 301; P.R.O., E 179/196/8.
  • 22. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 309, 312, 314.
  • 23. Taxation Lists (W.R.S. x), 29, 53; P.R.O., E 179/197/ 155.
  • 24. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 348.
  • 25. Ogilby, Brit. pl. 79.
  • 26. Below, manor.
  • 27. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 28. W.R.O. 592/1.
  • 29. O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. XIII (1888 edn.), XIII. NW. (1900 edn.).
  • 30. W.R.O., G 7/360/7.
  • 31. Inf. from Maj. A. R. Turnor, Foxley Manor.
  • 32. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2); P.R.O., IR 30/38/123.
  • 33. Below, educ.
  • 34. O.S. Map 6", Wilts. XIII. NW. (1900, 1925 edns.).
  • 35. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 154, 212.
  • 36. Reg. Malm. i. 137; WA.M. xlviii. 80.
  • 37. Cal.Pat. 1370–4, 72.
  • 38. Reg. Regum Anglo-Norm. ii, p. 346.
  • 39. Ibid. iii, no. 818.
  • 40. Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 72.
  • 41. Bk. of Fees, ii. 743.
  • 42. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 272.
  • 43. P.R.O., C 142/24, no. 26.
  • 44. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 176.
  • 45. V.C.H. Worcs. iv. 77.
  • 46. Bk. of Fees, ii. 743.
  • 47. V.C.H. Glos. vii. 221.
  • 48. Ibid.; V.C.H. Worcs. iv. 79. V.C.H. Glos. x. 181 may be wrong to identify Hardwick as Hardwicke (Glos.).
  • 49. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 239, 272.
  • 50. Reg. Malm. ii. 155; V.C.H. Worcs. iv. 79.
  • 51. V.C.H. Glos. vii. 221.
  • 52. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 30.
  • 53. P.R.O., E 179/196/8.
  • 54. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 54.
  • 55. Ibid. 59; Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc), iii. 426.
  • 56. Feud. Aids, v. 235.
  • 57. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 123, 126–7, 129; V.C.H. Glos. vii. 221.
  • 58. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 148.
  • 59. Ibid. 169; Wilts. Pedigrees (Harl. Soc. cv/cvi), 135.
  • 60. P.R.O., C 142/24, no. 26.
  • 61. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 122.
  • 62. P.R.O., C 142/92, no. 112.
  • 63. Ibid. CP 25(2)/240/25 & 26 Eliz. I Mich.; Wilts. Pedigrees (Harl. Soc. cv/cvi), 155, 207.
  • 64. P.R.O., C 142/257, no. 85.
  • 65. W.R.O. 11/3.
  • 66. Above, Brinkworth, manors.
  • 67. W.R.O. 11/5–6; mon. in church.
  • 68. W.R.O. 11/8; 592/1; J. Hutchins, Dors. ii. 663.
  • 69. W.R.O. 11/11; Hutchins, Dors. ii. 663.
  • 70. For the Hollands, Complete Peerage, vi. 541–5.
  • 71. W.R.O. 11/154.
  • 72. Ibid. 11/161; Complete Peerage, vi. 545.
  • 73. Burke, Peerage (1959), 1374–5; Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1895).
  • 74. Inf. from Maj. A. R. Turnor, Foxley Manor; Wilts. Cuttings, xvii. 90, 95.
  • 75. Watercolour attributed to T. Hearne in possession of Maj. Turnor; see plate facing p. 220.
  • 76. P.R.O., E 126/16, f. 29.
  • 77. B.L. Maps, M.T 6e., 1 (2).
  • 78. Hist. MSS. Com. 42, 15th Rep., Carlisle, pp. 457, 751.
  • 79. e.g. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123.
  • 80. Inf. from Maj. Turnor.
  • 81. Feet of F. 1272–1327 (W.R.S. i), p. 86.
  • 82. P.R.O., C 3/167/52.
  • 83. W.R.O. 1269/18.
  • 84. Ibid. 11/138; 11/141.
  • 85. Ibid. 11/150–1.
  • 86. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 121–2.
  • 87. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123.
  • 88. W.R.O. 11/168.
  • 89. V.C.H. Wilts. ii. p. 154.
  • 90. Ibid. p. 11; P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 70; Ekwall, Eng. Place-Names (1960), 186.
  • 91. WA.M. xlviii. 538; V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 154.
  • 92. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 93. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123.
  • 94. Inf. from Maj. Turnor.
  • 95. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 96. Above, manor.
  • 97. Reg. Malm. ii. 155–6, 159, 161–3.
  • 98. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 99. W.R.O., D 1/24/97/3.
  • 100. Ibid. EA/142.
  • 101. Reg. Malm. ii. 155–6.
  • 102. W.R.O. 88/1/72.
  • 103. Ibid. D 1/24/97/1.
  • 104. Ogilby, Brit. pl. 79.
  • 105. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 106. Ogilby, Brit. pl. 79; Andrews and Dury, Map (W.R.S. viii), pl. 16.
  • 107. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 108. Above, manor.
  • 109. W.R.O., D 1/24/97/2.
  • 110. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2).
  • 111. Taxation Lists (W.R.S. x), 53.
  • 112. P.R.O., E 126/16, f. 29 and v.
  • 113. Ibid. E 134/3 & 4 Wm. and Mary Hil./5; W.R.O., D 1/24/97/2; ibid. 11/139.
  • 114. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2); W.R.O., D 1/24/97/3; ibid. 11/16.
  • 115. B.L. Maps, M.T. 6e., 1 (2); P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123; W.R.O., D 1/24/97/3; ibid. 11/16. For the glebe, below, church.
  • 116. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123; IR 30/38/123.
  • 117. W.R.O., A 1/345/184; ibid. 11/158.
  • 118. Ibid. 11/161.
  • 119. Ibid. Inland Revenue, val. reg. 9; ibid. G 7/515/5.
  • 120. Ibid. 11/166.
  • 121. Ibid. A 1/345/184.
  • 122. P.R.O., MAF 68/151, sheet 3; MAF 68/550, sheet 2; MAF 68/1120, sheet 9; MAF 68/1690, sheet 11; MAF 68/2260, sheet 14; MAF 68/2830, sheet 10; MAF 68/3373, sheet 10.
  • 123. W.R.O., Inland Revenue, val. reg. 9.
  • 124. Ibid. G 7/515/5; Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1927).
  • 125. Inf. from Maj. Turnor.
  • 126. P.R.O., MAF 68/3373, sheet 10; MAF 68/4589, no. 131; MAF 68/5055, no. 131.
  • 127. Inf. from Maj. Turnor.
  • 128. W.R.O. 592/1.
  • 129. Ibid. 592/4.
  • 130. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 566–7; 1818, 498–9.
  • 131. Poor Rate Returns, 1816–21, 188; 1822–4, 228; 1825–9, 219; 1830–4, 212; Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. App. D, 559.
  • 132. O.S. Map 1/100,000, admin, areas, Wilts. (1974 edn.).
  • 133. Below.
  • 134. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189.
  • 135. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 221.
  • 136. Reg. Ghent (Cant. & York Soc), ii. 842.
  • 137. Lond. Gaz. 15 May 1874, p. 2576.
  • 138. Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137C, pt. 1; Bristol R.O., EP/A/1/6, pp. 33, 47.
  • 139. Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137C, pt. 1.
  • 140. Ibid.; Lond. Gaz. 15 May 1874, p. 2576; above, Bremilham, church.
  • 141. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 30, 54, 59; above, manor.
  • 142. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. (index in W.A.M. xxviii. 221); Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc), iii. 426; above, manor.
  • 143. Complete Peerage, vi. 545; Bristol R.O., EP/A/3/155.
  • 144. Lond. Gaz. 15 May 1874, p. 2576.
  • 145. Bristol R.O., EP/A/1/6, p. 114.
  • 146. Burke, Peerage (1967), 1514.
  • 147. Bristol R.O., EP/A/3/155; inf. from Dioc. Registrar; Maj. A. R. Turnor, Foxley Manor.
  • 148. Burke, Peerage (1967), 1512; Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137C, pt. 2.
  • 149. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189.
  • 150. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 138.
  • 151. Taxation Lists (W.R.S. x), 29.
  • 152. W.A.M. xli. 6.
  • 153. C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty (1864), p. cxliii; W.R.O., D 1/24/97/3; Ch. Com. file, NB 5/82.
  • 154. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 834–5.
  • 155. Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137C, pt. 1.
  • 156. P.R.O., IR 29/38/123.
  • 157. Inq.Non. (Rec. Com.), 165.
  • 158. W.R.O., D 1/24/97/1–3.
  • 159. Ibid. EA/142.
  • 160. Ibid. 11/66.
  • 161. Glebe Lands Return, H.C. 307, p. 53 (1887), lxiv.
  • 162. Ch. Com. file 49475; W.A.S. Libr., sale cat. xvii, no. 64.
  • 163. Inq.Non. (Rec. Com.), 165.
  • 164. W.R.O., D 1/2/5, ff. 224v.–225.
  • 165. W.R.O., D 1/61/1B, pp. 8–9.
  • 166. Ibid. D 1/24/97/3.
  • 167. Crockford (1898 and later edns.).
  • 168. Inf. from Lt.-Col. J. H. Pitman, Foxley Ho.
  • 169. Reg. Ghent (Cant. & York Soc), ii. 842.
  • 170. Reg. Hallum (Cant. & York Soc.), p. 80.
  • 171. W.R.O., bishop's transcripts, bdle. 1.
  • 172. Subscription Bk. 1620–40 (W.R.S. xxxii), pp. 18, 40, where Jeane is called Faine. Cf. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i. 228; Wilts. Inq.p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 72.
  • 173. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. ii. 21, 35.
  • 174. WA.M. xli. 6.
  • 175. W.R.O., D 1/54/1/1, no. 67.
  • 176. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. ii. 33, 36–7, 60.
  • 177. W.N. & Q. ii. 60–1; P.R.O., E 126/16, ff. 29, 66v.; Spiritual Persons Act, 21 Hen. VIII, c. 13, s. 9.
  • 178. P.R.O., E 134/4 Wm. and Mary East./15.
  • 179. W.R.O., D 1/51/1, ff. 21v., 47, 66, 133v., 170v.
  • 180. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. ii. 60, 80.
  • 181. Above.
  • 182. Below.
  • 183. Vis. Queries, 1783 (W.R.S. xxvii), p. 105.
  • 184. P.R.O., HO 67/23, nos. 58, 63, 103.
  • 185. D.N.B.; Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137c, pt. 1.
  • 186. P.R.O., HO 129/252/2/13/16; HO 129/252/2/15/20.
  • 187. W.R.O. 11/175; above, Bremilham, church.
  • 188. Bristol R.O., EP/A/1/6, pp. 33, 97, 114; EP/A/3/155; EP/ A/7/3.
  • 189. Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1903 and later edns.); W.R.O. 592/4D.
  • 190. Crockford (1957–8 and later edns.); Bristol Dioc. Dir. (1983 and later edns.); Bristol R.O., dioc. rec, registrar's bdle. 98, Foxley; Ch. Com. file, NB 5/137c, pt. 2; inf. from Dioc. Registrar.
  • 191. Description based on J. Buckler, watercolour in W.A.S. Libr., vol. vi. 28 (1809).
  • 192. Mon. in church.
  • 193. Bristol R.O., EP/J/6/2/128.
  • 194. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 197.
  • 195. Vis. Queries, 1783 (W.R.S. xxvii), p. 43.
  • 196. Walters, Wilts. Bells, 91; W.R.O. 592/1; 592/4E.
  • 197. W.R.O. 592/1–3. Bishop's transcripts for earlier periods and for some of the missing entries are ibid.
  • 198. Meeting Ho. Certs. (W.R.S. xl), p. 54.
  • 199. Educ. of Poor Digest, 1027.
  • 200. Educ. Enq. Abstract, 1037.
  • 201. Nat. Soc. Inquiry, 1846–7, Wilts. 6–7.
  • 202. Acct. of Wilts. Schs. 10.
  • 203. Returns relating to Elem. Educ. 420–1.
  • 204. Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1885, 1889).
  • 205. P.R.O., ED 7/130, no. 130.
  • 206. Endowed Char. Wilts. (N. Div.), 482; below, Norton, educ.
  • 207. Bd.of Educ., List 21, 1919 (H.M.S.O.), 361; 1922, 360; 1927, 360; 1932, 408; P.R.O., ED 2/18423.
  • 208. W.R.O. 592/4D.
  • 209. Endowed Char. Wilts. (N. Div.), 481; W.R.O., wills, archd. Wilts., 1635, Ayliffe.