A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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The ancient parish of Wilsford lies on the west bank of the River Avon, 2½ miles south of Amesbury. The township of Normanton, which since 1885 has formed the northern section of the modern civil parish, was formerly a detached part of the parish of Durnford. (fn. 1) The ancient parish extended some 2½ miles from east to west, and 1½ miles from north to south. Its area in 1878 was 1,637 a. and that of the civil parish in 1951 was 2,294 a. (fn. 2) The population in 1801 was 99, and it rose slowly to 205 in 1951. There was a corresponding increase in the number of houses, from 23 in 1801 to 49 in 1951. (fn. 3)
The parish is made up of a narrow strip of land along the Avon, some 200 ft. above sea level, and in the west, of downland through which runs a valley, usually dry, but in which there is said to have been a stream in the 19th century, (fn. 4) which breaks through to the Avon at Lake. The downland rises to over 400 ft. on Rox Hill. The meanders of the river below Amesbury have left successive spurs of alluvium and gravel on either side of the river, and the meadows and fields of Wilsford and Normanton occupy the northern, and those of Lake the southern of these spurs in the parish. The footbridges at Wilsford and Lake give access only to the meadows of Durnford parish.
The road from Salisbury to Amesbury runs between the river and the downs, and along it lie the three settlements of Lake, Wilsford, and Normanton. The main road from Amesbury to Wincanton runs across the north-west tip, and the old Salisbury-Devizes turnpike through the extreme west, of the parish. (fn. 5) Several tracks converging on Stonehenge from the south-west run across Lake and Wilsford Downs. A line of pylons crosses the parish from north to south along the ridge of the downs.
The soil over the greater part of the parish is a light chalky loam on chalk subsoil, with a covering, where uncultivated, of poor grass and scrub. (fn. 6) Meadows occupy most of the narrow strip of alluvial soils along the river. The valley gravels between the meadows and the downs, and the lower slopes of the downs, are well wooded, and there are plantations of beeches and conifers on the downs. (fn. 7) The bottom of the dry valley, and the lower slopes of the downs which surround it, are pasture. The principal arable fields occupy the ridge behind Wilsford, Rox Hill above Lake, and the level high ground in the south-west of the parish beyond Springbottom and Westfield Farms. In 1878 the parish included some 900 a. of arable, 600 a. of pasture, and 100 a. of woodland. (fn. 8)
The road coming north from Salisbury enters the parish on the spur between Upper Woodford and Lake, and drops by a steep winding hill among trees into the valley at Lake. Lake House and its gardens stand between the road and the river, (fn. 9) and across the road from the house the dry valley, here called Lake Bottom, forms a stretch of parkland. Beyond Lake House, Lake Farm, now called the Grange, and its former farm buildings lie on the west of the road. The house is an 18th-century building of brick with bands of flint. The former farmyard has been grassed over to make a village green by the roadside and one of the barns was converted into a village hall in 1932. On the opposite side of the road, close to the river, are a group of houses of various dates including a thatched house adjoining the site of the former mill. Beyond Lake the road climbs again steeply among trees, and for a short distance there is a sheer drop to the river some 50 ft. below. Where the road begins to fall towards Wilsford there are some cottages with thatched roofs, forming a picturesque group on the bank of the river. Above these at the roadside the school has been built, with a playground on the opposite side of the road. Wilsford Manor, (fn. 10) the church, and the former farmhouse, now called the Red House, lie in trees to the east of the road. The farmhouse, a red-brick building, dates from about the middle of the 19th century. Westfield and Springbottom Farms, about a mile west of Lake and Wilsford respectively, each consist of two cottages and a separate block of farm buildings. A pumping house in Springbottom supplies the parish with water.
John Duke of Lake (c. 1585–1671) was Sheriff of Wilts, 1639–40. Two of his younger kinsmen took part in Penruddock's rising, and weapons and armour found in the river at Lake in the 19th century were thought to belong to the clubmen of this period. (fn. 11) The Revd. Edward Duke (1779–1852) was an antiquary and friend of Sir Richard Colt Hoare. (fn. 12) He built up a fine library and a collection of prehistoric and later antiquities, many of them found in the neighbourhood. Many of the items were bought by museums and learned societies when the collections were dispersed. (fn. 13) Joseph Lovibond, who lived at Lake from 1897 to his death in 1918, was a successful brewer. He had been mayor of Salisbury from 1878 to 1890. While at Lake he gained an international reputation for his scientific work on light and colour. (fn. 14)
Lord Glenconner, owner of Wilsford, 1902–1920, a wealthy Scottish landowner and industrialist, (fn. 15) was M.P. for Salisbury, 1906–20. His wife was active in artistic and literary circles, writing a number of books under the name of Pamela Tennant. (fn. 16) Both of the Glenconners were interested in spiritualism and held spiritualist meetings at Wilsford with a group of friends, among whom was Sir Oliver Lodge, the occupant of Normanton Manor. (fn. 17) Lady Glenconner's second husband was Viscount Grey of Falloden, the former Foreign Secretary.
The parish is very rich in archaeological features. Stonehenge stands at the head of the dry valley in Amesbury parish, and on the slopes of this valley in Lake, Wilsford, and Normanton there are more than 120 barrows. (fn. 18) The site of an Early Iron Age settlement has been identified on Rox Hill above Lake, and on Rox Hill and Lake Downs there are traces of an ancient field system which extends into Woodford. (fn. 19) A system of ditches and banks on Wilsford Down is thought to be similar to others known to be of Roman construction. (fn. 20)
In 1086 two estates are described in Wilsford, each of one hide, one held by Hamon de Masci of Hugh de Avranches, the other by a certain Hugh of Robert fitz Gerold. (fn. 21) The estates can only be conjecturally identified with the later medieval manors. Some of the lands of Hugh de Avranches, part of the honour of Chester, including what was probably Lake and Fisherton with 'Little Wilsford', may have come into the hands of William, son of Edward of Salisbury, in the early 12th century. He gave the chapel of Lake with its tithes and appurtenances to his foundation, Bradenstoke Priory, and to it Richard Cotel, probably the tenant of William's son Patrick, Earl of Salisbury, added a virgate in Lake. (fn. 22) Ten librates of land in Wilsford, which William also granted to the priory, were returned to Patrick in exchange for land in Wilcot. This land may later have been granted to Richard fitz Aucher, bailiff of William Longespée; (fn. 23) Bickton (Hants) and Fisherton Anger, which together with part of Wilsford later made up 1¼ fee, came into the hands of the Auchers in this way, and Wilsford land was held of them by the Theobold family in the early 13th century. (fn. 24) Lake manor continued to be held by the Cotels of the Earls of Salisbury until the 14th century. (fn. 25)
Some of the lands of Robert fitz Gerold, the other Domesday tenant in chief, were inherited by his nephew William de Roumore, Earl of Lincoln, and from him by Ranulph of Chester. (fn. 26) In 1229 Earl Ranulph granted tithes in Wilsford, formerly held of the Earl of Lincoln, to Roger, Succentor of Salisbury. (fn. 27) The church of Wilsford was part of the chapter's estate in the late 11th century. (fn. 28) Shortly after Earl Ranulph's grant, the manor of Wilsford was held by service at Salisbury Cathedral and the bishop later appears as its overlord. (fn. 29)
The earls of Salisbury appear to have remained overlords of LAKE in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1325 Alice, wife of Elias Lestraunge, suo jure Countess of Salisbury, sold estates in Wilsford and Lake, with many others to Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 30) These were forfeit to the Crown after Despenser's death, and may have been granted to William de Montagu, together with the Earldom of Salisbury, in 1337. (fn. 31) Before 1400 the manor was held of John de Montagu. (fn. 32) After his rebellion and death in that year the overlordship was forfeited to the Crown, but it was recovered in 1409 by his son Thomas, who held it by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 33) A knight's fee in Wilsford and Normanton remained in the hands of Elizabeth, widow of William Montagu, John's father, until 1415. (fn. 34) The lands were still held of the earldom in 1428, (fn. 35) but in 1450 it was said only that they were not held of the king, (fn. 36) and the overlordship thereafter disappears.
In 1324 John de Montford and Walter of Sampford Peverell, in what was probably part of a series of transactions, sold the tenancy of the manor, after the death of Mary and Robert de Taleworth, her husband, to Sir Elias Cotel and his wife Margaret, the daughter of John of Peverell of Sampford Peverell (Devon), with remainder to John Palton and his heirs. (fn. 37) Before 1400 it was held by Robert de Palton, who was succeeded in turn by his sons Robert and William. (fn. 38) In 1405 William settled his lands on another Robert de Palton, probably his son, (fn. 39) but he was himself still holding the manor by service of ¼ knight's fee in 1420, (fn. 40) and in 1446 and 1448 William made a further settlement of his estates, this time on himself and his wife and the heirs of their body. (fn. 41) When he died without issue in 1450 his heirs were his second cousins, Joan wife of John Kelly, and Agnes wife of Nicholas St. Lo. (fn. 42) In 1475 the manor was in the hands of John Cheyne of 'Pynne' and three others, who had received it from Richard Denshull, and it was by them granted to Robert Willoughby de Broke and 14 others. (fn. 43) In 1496 they in their turn granted it to the wardens of the fraternity and guild of St. Anne, Croscombe (Som.). (fn. 44) John Cheyne had been one of the parties to the settlement of 1446–8, and it is probable that these men were the executors of William de Palton, whose principal manor was Croscombe. In 1550 the dissolved guild's manor, the capital messuage of which was leased to Michael Duke, was sold by the Crown to Robert Thomas and Andrew Salter, merchant tailors of London. (fn. 45) They are said immediately to have sold it to John Capelyn, (fn. 46) and he in 1579–80 sold it to George Duke, the grandson of Michael. (fn. 47) Thereafter the manor was owned and normally occupied by members of the Duke family, in which it descended for nine generations. (fn. 48)
In 1897 the estate was sold by Jane, widow of the Revd. Edward Duke (1814–95), to Joseph Lovibond. (fn. 49) In 1912 when Lake House was largely destroyed by fire, Lovibond was living in a smaller house on the estate, called the Pleasaunce. (fn. 50) After Lovibond's death in 1918 the estate was purchased by Lord Glenconner and united with that of Wilsford. (fn. 51) The house was afterwards occupied by Capt. C. King and later by Lt. Col. F. G. G. Bailey, who acquired the combined estates after the death of Lord Glenconnor's widow, Lady Grey. (fn. 52) In 1956 the estates were in the hands of Col. Bailey's widow, Lady Janet Bailey.
It has been suggested that Lake House was re-built by George Duke soon after he acquired the manor in 1579–80. (fn. 53) The building has been considerably altered and enlarged but the character of the original work supports this suggestion. The house is of two stories, basement, and attics, and has stone mullioned and transomed windows, gabled roofs, and diagonally-set chimneys. The external treatment of stone and flint chequerwork is an outstanding example of this technique. The original building was L-shaped, the principal block facing west and the shorter arm running back behind its northern end. It has been suggested that this north wing may incorporate part of an earlier house. A parallel wing, partly filling the internal angle of the L, is said to have been built in the late 18th century to accommodate a Georgian staircase. The principal west front facing the road is symmetrical and has a projecting porch flanked by semi-octagonal bay windows, all three features being two-storied and surmounted by embattled parapets. At roof level is a line of five small gables. A shield above the doorway is blazoned with the three annulets of the Duke family. When the house was bought in 1897 by Joseph Lovibond (see above) it was thoroughly restored under the direction of Detmar Blow with the advice of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. It was considered to be a showpiece of restoration at a time when methods of restoring were the subject of much controversy. (fn. 54) At that time a room called the Justice Room existed, and it was said that there had formerly been a drawbridge across the stream behind the house. The collections and library of Edward Duke, which had formed a small museum, and had been visited by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, had been largely dispersed. (fn. 55) In 1912 the house was completely gutted by fire, destroying some fine internal fittings of the original period. (fn. 56) It was carefully restored, again under the direction of Detmar Blow. After the property had been acquired by Col. F. G. G. Bailey (see above) some important additions were made in the same style by the architect Mr. Darcy Braddell. A single-story dining hall with a large oriel window was built at the south-east corner, while the 18th-century wing adjoining it was given a gabled treatment. At the same time kitchens and offices on two levels, extending across the east part of the house, were added to the north of the dining hall.
Before 1247 the manor of WILSFORD was in the hands of the Verdun family, who were to maintain a taper continually burning before the high altar of Salisbury Cathedral. (fn. 57) Later in the century it was held by Theobald de Verdun of Theobald his father by the service of a ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 58) In 1316 the manor was held of the Bishop of Salisbury for a rent of 7 marks a year. (fn. 59) It was said to be held later in the 14th century by the service of maintaining a candle, (fn. 60) but in 1428 again as ¼ fee. (fn. 61) In 1426–8 the manor was held of the bishop but by what service was not known. (fn. 62) Thereafter the overlordship disappears.
Rose de Verdun held Wilsford before 1247, at which date the manor was in the hands of a keeper. (fn. 63) In 1258 it was held by John de Verdun; (fn. 64) he was succeeded by his son Theobald in 1274. (fn. 65) Theobald transferred the manor to his son Theobald, (fn. 66) who died in 1316 leaving four female heirs. (fn. 67) Wilsford was held in dower by Elizabeth de Burgh, his widow, until 1360, when it reverted to Thomas de Furnival, son of Joan one of the heirs of Theobald. (fn. 68) Thomas's son William died in 1383 and the manor was held in dower by his wife Thomasine. (fn. 69) William's only child, Joan, married Thomas de Neville, who became Lord Furnival, and their only daughter, Maud, married John Talbot, Lord Furnival and later Earl of Shrewsbury. (fn. 70) The manor descended with the Talbot earldom of Shrewsbury in the 15th and 16th centuries. (fn. 71) In 1570 John Duke took from George Talbot a lease of a farm in Wilsford for the lives of himself and his children John and Agnes. (fn. 72) The manor apparently came into the hands of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, through his marriage with Mary, co-heir of Gilbert Talbot, for on his death in 1630 he was said to be holding the manors of Wilsford and Stoke Verdon, and the jurors did not know of whom he held it. (fn. 73) In 1553 his father had bought part of the Bradenstoke land, (fn. 74) and in 1560–1 had sold land at Wilsford to William Daniel. (fn. 75)
In 1766 the manor of Wilsford was sold by William Hawkins to John Pinkney. (fn. 76) John and his successor Philip Pinkney were owners and tenants of other holdings in the parish and united the remaining freeholds with the manor. (fn. 77) Philip Pinkney was still holding the manor in 1832, but he was succeeded before 1846 by Giles Loder. (fn. 78) In the 1880's the estate was owned but not occupied by Robert Loder, and in 1889 it was put up for sale. The owner in 1890 was said to be Sir Edmund Giles Loder. The estate was acquired in the 1890's by Arthur Newall. (fn. 79) In 1903 Walter Young was lord of the manor and the estate was leased to Sir Edward Priaulx Tennant, Bart., created Lord Glenconner in 1911. (fn. 80) Glenconner shortly after bought the estate and after Lovibond's death in 1918 also became lord of the manor of Lake. (fn. 81) After Glenconner's death in 1920 his widow married Viscount Grey, (fn. 82) who lived principally at Wilsford until his wife's death in 1928. Thereafter the estate was in the hands of Glenconner's trustees until it was sold to Lt. Col. Bailey. (fn. 83) In 1932 the house was occupied by the Hon. David Tennant and his wife, the actress Hermione Baddeley. (fn. 84) Since their departure it has been occupied by the Hon. Stephen Tennant.
Wilsford Manor was built between 1904 and 1906 on the site of an older house. The architect was Detmar Blow, who had already worked on the restoration of Lake House, (fn. 85) and the interior woodwork was carried out by Ernest Gimson. The older house on the site was said to have been small and of no architectural importance, but the surrounding grounds suggested that a larger house had once stood there. Foundations of this larger house were found when the present house was being built, and some pieces of masonry from it were incorporated in the new structure. (fn. 86) The present house is a reproduction of a gabled 17th-century manor house with stone mullioned windows and walls of stone and flint chequer-work.
The small estate granted to Bradenstoke Priory by the earls of Salisbury was held by the priory until the Dissolution. In 1409 property of Bradenstoke in Wilsford was being leased to the Prebendary of Wilsford and Woodford at 14s. a year and half a hide in Lake for 16s. a year. (fn. 87) The property consisted in 1535 of a tithe portion in Wilsford worth 14s., a barn, and land in Lake rented at 14s. a year. (fn. 88) In 1545 tithes from lands in Wilsford and a barn in Lake both in the tenure of Robert South, and all other possessions of Bradenstoke Priory in those places were granted to John Pope. (fn. 89) Pope conveyed the site of the chapel and land to John Lambard in 1546. (fn. 90) In 1570–2 William Lambard sold to William and Robert Partridge the barn and parcels of land in Lake which had belonged to Bradenstoke Priory, all of which were held by Robert South. (fn. 91) George Duke bought the site of the chapel and a virgate of land from the Partridge family in 1599. (fn. 92) A messuage and land in the tenure of Edward Walter which had formerly belonged to Bradenstoke were acquired by William Earl of Pembroke and William Clerke in 1553. (fn. 93)
The prebendal estate in Wilsford and Woodford may be presumed to have existed in the early 13th century, by which time the two parish churches had been jointly appropriated to a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral. (fn. 94) A prebend was in existence by 1187 when £4 4s. 9d. was paid into the Exchequer from the income of the prebend of Woodford during the vacancy of the see of Salisbury. (fn. 95) The prebendal estate was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1838. (fn. 96) The prebend was endowed with lands and with the tithes of grain and hay in the two parishes except in the part of Lake from which all tithe belonged to Bradenstoke Priory. (fn. 97) The endowment presumably included the tithes granted to the chapter in 1229. (fn. 98) In 1291 and 1428 the prebend was said to be worth £20 (fn. 99) and in 1535 £28. (fn. 100) In 1405 the prebendal estate consisted of a mansus prebende occupied by the prebendary's farmer and his familia, two virgates and two tenements worth together 32s. a year, and meadow and grazing-rights, all in Wilsford, a hall and a barn in Woodford, and the tithes of grain and hay. (fn. 101) In 1650 the prebend was worth about £300, including 36s. rent in Woodford and 32s. rent-charge in Lake on land held by John Day. The prebendal estate had, however, been leased to John Bowles by indenture of 1632 for a term of three lives for £24 a year, and in 1650 the income arising from Woodford was said to be received by Bowles and that from Wilsford by John Duke of Lake. The estate then included tithes of grain and hay worth £280. (fn. 102) In 1813 the rectorial tithes of Wilsford and Woodford parishes, together with a barn and ½ acre of meadow in Woodford, were held for a term of three lives, for £24 a year, by the owner of the Heale estate in Woodford parish; the tithes of Wilsford and Lake were received by the owners of those estates who paid £6 and £3 a year respectively to the owner of Heale. (fn. 103) At the time of the Tithe Award of Woodford (1839) the rectorial tithes there were payable to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They were commuted for £640. There was one acre of rectorial glebe in Woodford which probably became submerged in Woodford manor when that property was transferred to the commissioners. In 1846 and 1847 the rectorial tithes of Wilsford and the prebend's part of the tithes of Lake were commuted for £150; they were then under lease from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. There were at that time 29 acres of rectorial glebe in Wilsford, which were purchased by Giles Loder after the confirmation of the Tithe Award. (fn. 104)
In 1203 Ralph Tebbald held a free tenement in Wilsford of Henry son of Richard, (fn. 105) and in 1243 John Theobold held 1/5 of a knight's fee in 'Little Wilsford' of Richard son of Richard Aucher, who held it of the Earl of Salisbury. (fn. 106) In 1330–1 a holding consisting of two carucates and other land in Lake, Wilsford, Normanton and Great Durnford was settled by John Aucher the elder and James Croye on John son of Thomas Aucher and then on Walter Norreys and his children. (fn. 107) In 1409 the Earl of Salisbury, in addition to the fee in Lake, held 1¼ fee in Bickton, Fisherton and Wilsford and ¼ fee in Normanton and Wilsford, which probably represent the former Aucher holding. (fn. 108)
A small holding in Wilsford was among the property granted by Henry II to the refounded priory of Amesbury, but its later history is unknown. (fn. 109) In 1490 a group of feoffees granted Normanton manor and land in Amesbury and Lake —all said to be held of 'the abbess' but by what service was not known—to Sir John Trenchard and his heirs. (fn. 110) Trenchard held the land in 1494 and was said to be holding it of 'the abbey of Amesbury' at his death. (fn. 111) Richard Trenchard held Normanton manor, and lands in Durnford and Lake leased to John Day. (fn. 112) In 1579–80 William Trenchard was said to have conveyed a messuage and 40 acres with appurtenances, to George Duke, who at the same time bought Lake manor. (fn. 113) There is no evidence that this land was in fact connected with Amesbury priory and it has been suggested that it was the former Aucher holding. (fn. 114)
The topography of the parish suggests that Lake and Wilsford, like Normanton, were in origin no more than farms lying along the river and the valley road, and that from the yard of each farm a track ran to the arable fields and the pastures on the downs. The manor-houses stand a short distance from the farmsteads. A small community has developed at Lake, where the mill is situated, but Wilsford has remained little more than a farm and a string of labourers' cottages.
In each of the Domesday manors there was land for one plough. (fn. 115) In one, possibly Lake, this was in demesne and there were only two servi and three cottagers. In the other, possibly Wilsford, there were one villein and three cottagers. Each estate included stretches of pasture, eight furlongs by one furlong and nine furlongs by two respectively, probably on the later Lake and Wilsford Downs. In each there were 6 a. of meadow. The first was worth 40s. and the second 60s. The mill was then attached to the second.
The land in Wilsford granted for a time to Bradenstoke Priory in the 12th century was worth £10. (fn. 116) The manor of Wilsford was described in inquisitions of 1274, 1316 and 1360. (fn. 117) There were in demesne in 1274 80 a. each worth 5d., in 1316 60 a. each worth 4d., and in 1360 60 a. each worth 3d. only when it was sown, two-thirds being sown every year. The acreage of demesne meadow also declined, the 9 a. of 1274 falling to 3 a. in 1316 and 4 a. in 1360, and its value fell from 1s. 6d. an acre to 1s. 3d. and 1s. The pasture for 6 oxen and 300 sheep of 1274, worth at the rates given 14s., was in 1316 valued at 5s. and in 1360 was said to be for 160 sheep.
The evidence about rents at this time is difficult to interpret. In 1274 the rents amounted to £3 4s. a year. By 1316 this had fallen to a little under £3, made up of nearly £1 from one free tenant, 6s. 8d. each from 3 other free tenants, and 3s. 4d. each from 6 'cottagers', who each held a third of a virgate. In 1360 the rents were worth £5 16s., but the large free tenant was giving only a render of pepper, and the other free tenants and the cottagers had been replaced by 4 virgaters each paying 16s., 3 half virgaters each paying 8s., and 4 cottars each paying 5s. In 1316 the manor was worth nearly 10 marks, of which 7 were paid to the bishop. Nothing was said about this rent payment in 1360.
In 1324 100 marks were given as consideration for the settlement of Lake manor on John de Palton, (fn. 118) and in 1400 £10 annual rent was paid for it. (fn. 119) In 1450 the manor consisted of 60 a. presumably in demesne, and 6 messuages. (fn. 120) Its annual value in 1496 was £12 6s. 8d., (fn. 121) and in 1548 was £12 15s. 4d. including heriots worth 12s. (fn. 122)
In 1548 the capital messuage of the guild of St. Anne of Croscombe at Lake was held for life by Michael Duke and others, together with the pasture, common, and other appurtenances of the manor, except the heriots, for £3 6s. 8d. rent, and 6s. 8d. for the render of a swan. Alice Duke held the arable lands of the demesne for £3 13s. rent. The free tenants paid £1 7s. 4d., and the customary tenants £3 9s. 8d. (fn. 123)
The lands of the glebe and the smaller holdings lay in both villages and included regular villein tenements. The Aucher holding in 1330–1 included two messuages and virgates both held by tenants for life. (fn. 124) The glebe in 1405 included an area of meadow and pasture for 100 sheep and 15 oxen, and 2 virgates, the tenants of which paid the same rent, 16s. each, as those of Wilsford manor in 1360. (fn. 125) In 1846 the acreage of the tithing of Lake, then 438 a. of arable, constituted 16 yardlands, or about 27 a. to a yardland; (fn. 126) the glebe in Lake at that time consisted of 29 a. The Bradenstoke land in Lake was described as half a hide in 1409. (fn. 127)
In the 14th century there was a three-course rotation of crops in Wilsford, and the meadows were common after the haymaking. (fn. 128) The existence of villeins and yardlands, and the crop rotation suggest that there was some kind of open field system. Both the fields and the numbers of tenants were, however, small, and inclosure by the gradual taking in hand of tenements by the lord would have been comparatively easy there. (fn. 129) No Inclosure Award for the parish has been found.
The 16 yardlands of Lake in 1846 were made up of 9 yardlands from which tithes were paid to the lord of the manor of Lake, and 7 from which they were paid to the prebendary and his successors, and to the vicar. (fn. 130) The tithing was divided territorially for this purpose, the 9 yardlands occupying the southern half, and the 7 the northern half of the tithing next to Wilsford. It is possible that this division represents a distinction of estates existing before 1599 when George Duke acquired the Bradenstoke land and with it apparently its tithes. (fn. 131) During the subsequent centuries Lake formed a unified estate with a landlord normally resident in the manor.
Many of the water-meadows are said to have been made during the time of John Duke of Lake (c. 1585–1671). (fn. 132) In the lawsuit of 1679 about the making of the water-meadows in Woodford, George Duke, John's successor, said that although it damaged the excellent fishing, John had condoned the building of the bay and weir there. (fn. 133)
Another substantial family, the Days, held property in Wilsford in the later 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 134) John Day held land of the Trenchard holding, (fn. 135) and a John Day senior of Wilsford died in 1574. (fn. 136) A John Day was a party to the transaction by which George Duke bought Lake, (fn. 137) and another was tenant of the glebe in 1650. (fn. 138) The last Day to appear in the parish registers was the John, who died in 1753. Some of the family's interests may have passed to the Pinkney family by marriage, for the Pinkney, who bought Wilsford manor in 1766, was John Day Pinkney.
In 1780, (fn. 139) in addition to the vicar's holding (taxed at about £3), the Lake estate (£42), and Wilsford manor (£20), there were two other tenements in the parish (£8 and £6). J. D. Pinkney was the part owner and tenant of one of these and united it with Wilsford manor in 1788. He and his successor, Philip Pinkney, were tenants of the other holding, and this Philip bought out in 1796–9. These purchases may represent the last stages in the absorption of the medieval freeholds and copyholds into the gentlemen's estates.
During this period Lake farm was leased to successive farmers, Richard, Joseph, and Thomas Chandler, Robert Pinkney, William Hutchins, and James Gray, but Wilsford was farmed by the Pinkneys, who were also tenants of the two small holdings until they acquired the freehold of them. The owner of Wilsford and the tenant of Lake were normally the joint tenants of the vicar's holding. The Pinkneys were probably connected by marriage with the Loders, who succeeded them before 1846, (fn. 140) the Loder born in 1786 being christened John Pinkney. (fn. 141) Loder broke with the Pinkney tradition of not leasing the estate, (fn. 142) but it was resumed by Lord Glenconner, who employed a farm bailiff, (fn. 143) and was continued in 1956 when an agent managed the combined estates.
There were 53 poll-tax payers in Wilsford and Lake in 1377. (fn. 144) Nineteen men of the village took the protestation oath in 1641–2. (fn. 145) There were in the 18th century about 20 families living in the parish, but the number of baptisms rose steadily towards the end of the century. (fn. 146) The 23 houses in Wilsford and Lake in 1801 were occupied by the same number of families; (fn. 147) 57 people were employed in agriculture, and only 4 in trades and manufactures. In 1831 there were still 23 families; of the 31 males over 20, 2 were occupiers employing labour, 23 were labourers employed in agriculture, and 2 were engaged in retail trades or handicrafts. There were also 6 female servants. (fn. 148) There were in 1841 11 houses and 49 people in Wilsford, and 13 houses with 74 people in Lake. Only 3 people in the parish had been born outside Wiltshire. (fn. 149)
The Tithe Award for Wilsford manor of 1846 (fn. 150) gives the acreage of the estate as 828 a., of which 324 a. were arable, 22 a. water-meadow, 13 a. pasture, and 410 a. downland. The whole was owned by Loder and 769 a. were leased by John Long, who occupied Down Farm, the modern Springbottom Farm. In Lake (fn. 151) there were 791 a., of which 438 a. were arable, 30 a. water-meadow, 291 a. meadow and pasture, and 22 a. plantations. The whole was owned by the Revd. Edward Duke (1814–95), 356 a. being leased to John Rawlence, who occupied the homestead opposite Lake House.
The principal arable fields of Lake in the 19th century (fn. 152) were the West Field, called Waste field in the Tithe Award, the North field, with a piece of arable called the Penning, Rox Hill, which probably included the piece known as the Brake Ground, and South, Middle and Inner Hams in the valley below the village. The down, sometimes called Maiden Down, was referred to as a sheep sleight or walk. In Wilsford the principal fields were known only as 'that towards Normanton', 'that towards Lake' and 'the Down arable.'
The parish became more heavily wooded in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 153) Trees covered a long strip of water-meadows below Lake, plantations of beeches were made on several pieces of arable, such as Starveall Plantation in Wilsford, and Middle Ham in Lake, and wind breaks of conifers were planted along paths and boundaries. Scattered trees and bushes appeared on the meadows, and on the pastures in the west of the parish where no deliberate planting took place. This change may have been connected with a decline in the numbers of sheep kept in the parish.
Few businesses, other than the mill, (fn. 154) have been carried on in the parish. There was a smith in Lake in the early 19th century, (fn. 155) and a building near the mill was still known as the smithy in 1956. For a short time in the 1880's a maltster of Bishop's Cannings had premises in the parish, (fn. 156) and about the same time John Brock, the miller, became a sub-postmaster. In the 1890's George Brock was postmaster and carrier to Salisbury.
Soon after her father bought Lake House in 1897, Miss Lovibond, who had been trained as a designer, became interested in spinning and weaving. Prompted by Mr. Lovibond's desire to find some means of checking the rural depopulation of that time, (fn. 157) she set up looms and other machinery in an upper room of Lake House. The village women were given the opportunity to learn the various processes, and a small industry was established. Wool was bought or taken in exchange for cloth direct from neighbouring farmers. Part of the cloth produced was retained by the women and part sold. Difficulties were experienced in disposing of the cloth and the project was not at first successful. (fn. 158) In 1900, however, cloth of the 'Stonehenge Woollen Industry' was exhibited at the Albert Hall. (fn. 159) It was said that some of the fabrics were facsimiles of those which the neighbourhood had produced a century before. (fn. 160) At first the cloth was not dyed, but by 1912 when the cloth had become fashionable, wool was being specially selected and part of it was dyed. (fn. 161) In 1919 there was a spinning and weaving class in Lake for disabled servicemen and another for the mentally defective, and it was said that there was work for everyone. Shortly afterwards the concern moved to Stratford-sub-Castle and to Amesbury, (fn. 162) and thence to Salisbury, where it had a shop until c. 1959. Three shops in London were still maintained in 1960.
By 1911 the postmaster at Lake kept a shop, and there were two shops in the parish in 1920. (fn. 163) Of the 24 people listed in a local directory in 1916, (fn. 164) however, 6 were carters, 4 labourers, 3 shepherds, and 2 dairymen. The only substantial group in the population besides the farm labourers were the domestic servants of the manor houses.
By 1880 a post office was established at Lake, (fn. 165) and the railway had reached Porton, 5 miles away. (fn. 166) Electricity was supplied to Wilsford in 1932 but the supply was not extended to Lake until 1948. (fn. 167) Water pumped from wells was still supplied by the landowner in 1956, and sewage disposal was entirely by septic pits. The thrice-weekly carrier service to Salisbury was replaced before 1939 by a regular bus service between Amesbury and Salisbury. (fn. 168) In 1956 tradesmen delivered by van from Amesbury and Salisbury, and the village shops and the post office had disappeared. There has never been an inn in the parish. It was estimated in 1956 that since 1951 the population had fallen to 146. (fn. 169) The villages were still small and the parish sparsely populated.
The parish is far enough from Amesbury and Salisbury to have escaped suburban and council estate development (1956). New cottages were built in the 19th century, and others have been rebuilt of more durable materials, but further increases in population have been met by the conversion of former farm buildings and the mill. During the first half of the 20th century the two estates have been united, Westfield Farm sold, and Lake Farm buildings become disused, and private residents, with private incomes or pensions, now live in the farm houses and the mill. In 1956, however, the two manors were still occupied by members of families which have owned land in the parish, and little appeared to have changed outwardly since the 19th century.
In 1086 the mill in Wilsford was worth 10s. (fn. 170) It was in existence in 1340 and was part of Lake estate in 1579–80. (fn. 171) In 1727 Robert Duke was tenant of the mill as well as of the farm at Lake. (fn. 172) In the 19th century the miller was tenant of the house and the mill buildings, three meadows called Mill Meadows and a withy bed. (fn. 173) The miller between 1846 and 1867 was David Brock. In 1880 John Brock & Sons were the millers. (fn. 174) By 1895, however, when George Brock, the postmaster and carrier, was no longer said to be a miller, the mill may have become disused. (fn. 175) In 1956 there was still a weir at the mill, but the buildings had been converted into a private house.
Wilsford church was among the possessions of the dean and chapter of Salisbury in the late 11th century. (fn. 176) The church has always been closely connected with that of Woodford. In 1599 the inhabitants of Wilsford, claiming that they were not receiving proper spiritual attention, said that Wilsford was the mother church and that the church of Woodford was a dependent chapel. (fn. 177) Woodford church had been appropriated to a prebend by 1187, (fn. 178) and the churches of Woodford and Wilsford are known to have formed the endowment of a single prebend in Salisbury Cathedral soon afterwards: the prebend of Woodford and Wilsford is first mentioned by that name in 1312, (fn. 179) but it is clear that by the early 13th century at latest the endowments of the two churches were united: the prebend was referred to sometimes as of Woodford (fn. 180) and sometimes as of Wilsford, (fn. 181) the number of prebends being constant. (fn. 182)
The prebend was in the gift of the Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 183) Although Wilsford and Woodford were, and remain, distinct parishes for all purposes, the cure of souls in both has been the responsibility of a single vicar since the 13th century at latest. The vicarage of the two churches together was in the gift of the prebendary of Wilsford and Woodford until 1842, when the advowson was transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 184) In the 16th century the advowson of the vicarage was three times granted out for one turn. (fn. 185) The vicarage was first mentioned in 1291 when it was valued at £6; (fn. 186) it was worth £6 in 1428 (fn. 187) and £13 10s. in 1535. (fn. 188) In 1340 the vicarial estate appears to have been valued at £11 8s. 2d., but there seems to have been some confusion between the vicarage and the prebend, for that sum included a valuation of what was probably later rectorial glebe. (fn. 189) The church was assessed twice in 1650. The first assessment, made by official surveyors, valued the vicarage at £60 a year, (fn. 190) the second, based on the evidence of parishioners, at £7. (fn. 191) Tithes constituted almost the whole endowment of the vicarage. In 1340 small tithes and tithes of the mill, including some hay, were worth £7 3s. 2d. (fn. 192) From at least 1405 (fn. 193) the vicars collected all tithes in Wilsford and Woodford except those of grain and hay and those from the lands of Bradenstoke Priory in Lake. The vicar's tithes from Woodford were commuted in 1839 for £180 5s., those from Wilsford manor in 1846 for £35, and those from Lake in 1847 for £17 10s. (fn. 194) Between 1842 and 1866 the benefice was augmented by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners out of the common fund with sums amounting to £207 a year, including £120 for a curate. (fn. 195) In 1953 the net annual income of the benefice was £496. (fn. 196)
In the early 15th century the vicar appears to have served the church of Woodford, and a chaplain that of Wilsford, and in 1405 a clericus parochie is named for Woodford. (fn. 197) Churchwardens' presentments from the 16th to the 19th century show that there was frequently, though not always, a curate in addition to the vicar, but they do not make it clear whether he was associated with one church or both. (fn. 198) In 1861 it was stated that until 1830 there had been no vicar resident in the parish for 300 years. (fn. 199) Edward Aubery, curate of Woodford in the early 1780's, complained of the poverty and inconvenience of his life in 'this fog-ridden bottom'. (fn. 200) R. M. Chatfield, vicar from 1830 to 1882, wrote of the poor condition of church property and church life in the two parishes in 1830. (fn. 201) but both improved during his residence at Woodford. Curates for Wilsford were licensed in 1844, 1884, 1893 and 1907. In the mid-19th century Edward Duke (1814–95), lord of Lake manor, acted as curate in both parishes and took the services in Wilsford church. (fn. 202) His son Edward acted as curate for Wilsford in 1890–3, (fn. 203) and was sometimes referred to locally as the Vicar of Wilsford. In recent times both parishes have been served together by the vicar, resident in Woodford. Religious activity in the two parishes in the first half of the 20th century seems to have been stimulated by the zeal of a number of distinguished residents. (fn. 204)
The church of ST. MICHAEL, Wilsford, stands in a small graveyard between Wilsford Manor and the Red House, formerly Wilsford Farm. There is a war memorial and a seat at the roadside near the entrance to the churchyard. In 1852 the church, with the exception of the tower, was completely rebuilt in Early English style at the expense of Giles Loder. (fn. 205) It comprises chancel, nave, small north transept, south porch, and west tower, and is built of flint and stone. The tower is Norman, but has been extensively restored. On its west front is a semi-circular arch of two orders and attached shafts; it has round-headed windows and a large rounded arch leads from the tower to the nave. Inside the church are a number of monuments to the Duke family. (fn. 206)
The church, then called a chapel, had a graveyard and a baptistry in the early 15th century. Glass windows in the chancel and the walls of the belfry were among the items said to be in need of repair in 1405 and 1412. (fn. 207) There were three bells in 1553. The three existing bells are dated 1572, 1585 and 1601. (fn. 208) In 1408 the church had all the necessary plate and vestments, but a gradual and a manual were lacking among the books. (fn. 209) No plate was recorded in 1553. The present plate was given by Giles Loder in 1857 and is of that date. (fn. 210) The parish registers begin in 1681 and are kept in a safe in the church. A new graveyard was laid out after the rebuilding of the church in 1857. There has never been a vicarage house, but the Red House may stand approximately on the site of the medieval prebendary's house.
The chapel and tithes at Lake were given to Bradenstoke Priory in the early 12th century. (fn. 211) The appropriation of this chapel by the priory was confirmed by Lucius III in 1182 and 1184. (fn. 212) The chapel fell into disuse before the 16th century, and its site, the tithes and some land were sold after the dissolution of the priory and came into the hands of the Dukes. (fn. 213) Its remains were thought to have been found in the garden of Lake House in the 19th century. (fn. 214)
No dissenter, either Protestant or Roman Catholic, was at any time reported to be living in the parish and no nonconformist chapel is known to have existed. The Prophet Barrows on Lake Down are so called because in 1710 a group of exiled Huguenots set up a standard on the largest of them and preached to the country people, who called them the French Prophets. The Huguenots are believed to have settled at Crockerton. (fn. 215)
In the mid 19th century courts leet for the half hundred which included Wilsford and Lake were held at Woodford, and 10s. for law day silver was paid by the two tithings. (fn. 216) No manorial rolls for the parish are known to exist. In 1405 a churchwarden (custos) was responsible for supervising repairs to the church fabric. (fn. 217) Between 1856 and 1894 a guardian and two overseers were normally elected with the two churchwardens at vestry meetings. (fn. 218) In 1894 and 1895 three parish meetings were held at which protests were made against what was thought to be the merger of the parish with Amesbury. (fn. 219) Since then no parish meetings have been held but general parochial matters are frequently discussed by the parochial church council.
An unendowed day school for 14 children existed in the parish of Wilsford in 1819. (fn. 220) A Sunday school was opened in 1831. It was attended by 17 boys and 15 girls in 1835. Nine boys and 6 girls also attended a day school. (fn. 221)
Wilsford and Lake Church of England School was erected in 1857 by the owner of Wilsford Manor. (fn. 222) By 1859 it was regularly attended by some 20 children, who were taught by a mistress. (fn. 223) The first parliamentary grant was paid in 1876. (fn. 224) The accommodation was 28 in 1910. (fn. 225) The construction of an additional class-room in 1915 increased it to 54. (fn. 226) Average attendance between 1876 and 1937 was never much over 30. (fn. 227) The school became a voluntary aided school under the Education Act of 1944. (fn. 228) In 1956 there were two mistresses, one of them part time, and two classes, for infants and juniors. The average attendance in 1956 was only 18. (fn. 229) In 1960 it was proposed to close the school and transfer the children to the school at Woodford.