Salisbury: The expansion of the city; Milford

Pages 90-93

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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In the early 19th century Salisbury still lay largely within its medieval limits, (fn. 1) within which there was little space available for new building. One area, the Friar's Orchard south of St. Ann Street, came into the market c. 1807, and in succeeding years was covered with terraces of small houses. (fn. 2) Expansion outwards, however, was at first in the form of well-to-do villa residences. Its direction was governed by the availability of land, for much property north, east, and south of the city was held either by ecclesiastical owners, who were unable to grant a freehold interest, or by large landowners who were unwilling or prevented by entails from selling. (fn. 3) The earliest outward growth of the city was therefore largely to the west beyond Fisherton Street. (fn. 4) By 1811 a few houses had been built on the south side of Wilton Road west of its junction with Devizes Road, (fn. 5) and by 1833 there were some on the west side of Devizes Road. (fn. 6) A number of houses of the early and mid-19th century still stand on both sides of Wilton Road; good examples are the Paragon, built by 1842, (fn. 7) and Montague Villas. In 1851 it was said that more villas would have been built in Fisherton if drainage and paving there had been better. (fn. 8) The improvement of these by the Local Board, and the opening of the railway stations at Fisherton in 1856 and 1857 (fn. 9) stimulated further growth. By 1860 Windsor Road and Windsor Street, both consisting of terraces of smaller houses, were built, (fn. 10) and similar development south of Fisherton Street (Dew's Road and adjoining roads) followed the conveyance in 1861 of lands belonging to the Hayter Trustees to Charles Dew, a Salisbury solicitor. (fn. 11) Churchfields Road was partially built by 1864. (fn. 12) Further development east of Wilton Road followed the closing of the county gaol in 1870; (fn. 13) by 1879 part of its site, bounded by Gas Lane, Meadow Road, and St. Paul's Road, had been built with terraces of small houses, (fn. 14) and these were extended east to Middleton Road by the 1890's. (fn. 15) By 1879, too, building between the south side of Wilton Road and the railway had extended as far west as the Skew Bridge and on the north side as far as Bemerton Lodge; it consisted both of villas and terrace houses. (fn. 16)

On the north and east of the city, expansion was intermittent, and at first only took place where land happened to come into the market. Among the earliest developments were two groups of villas which were well isolated from the city at the time they were built. Those in Glenmore Road adjoin the London Road cemetery, and were probably built soon after it was opened in 1857. Another group in Park Lane, north of the present Victoria Park, are of similar date. Near Milford station a number of houses had been built on the former Waterloo nursery by 1864. (fn. 17) After 1860, when the Church Commissioners bought out the leasehold interest in the manor of Milford, some parts of it were let on 999 year building leases. (fn. 18) As a result, the estate of large houses called Elm Grove was laid out in 1864, (fn. 19) and some similar development took place south of Milford Hill on what had been the grounds of a large house built by Dr. Richard Fowler (d. 1863). More important expansion to the north occurred after the sale of the Wyndham estate in 1871. (fn. 20) What had formerly been the park was built over in the 1870's and 1880's with the roads between College Street and Campbell Road. (fn. 21) The last twenty years of the 19th century saw considerable further development, mainly of small houses. To this period belong Highfield Road, part of Ashley Road, and Clifton Road, all off the Devizes road; (fn. 22) Hamilton Road and nearby roads north of Wyndham Road; and Manor Road, Bourne Avenue, and Fairview Road, the latter dated 1881, to the east of the London road. (fn. 23) Rampart Road was laid out in 1895 on the line of the old city ditch, (fn. 24) and St. Mark's Avenue probably begun when the church was built in 1892. (fn. 25) Scamell's Road, originally intended to link Fisherton and Milford, was built to connect St. Paul's Road and Castle Road by Thomas Scamell in 1894. (fn. 26)

Apart from the Alderbury Union workhouse (now Meyrick Close) near the Odstock road built in 1878, (fn. 27) little building took place south of the Avon before 1900. Early in the 20th century, however, new housing spread to Harnham; Ayleswade Road and the north side of Downton Road were apparently built at this time, and Bouverie Avenue and adjoining roads (the Coombe Road estate) were begun by 1905. (fn. 28) What had been the grounds of the house called Belle Vue at the north of Endless Street were built over, and a number of terraces were built among older houses south of the Wilton road. (fn. 29) Small houses spread up the Devizes road, and Palmer Road and Bedford Road were probably built before 1914. After 1918 the growth of the city was accelerated by the building of estates of both council and private houses. The earliest council houses at Macklin Road south of the Devizes road were built in 1920. (fn. 30) Further out, between the Devizes and Wilton roads, the Pembroke Park estate, which had been started before the war, was covered with both private and council houses in the twenties and thirties. Other council schemes north of the city were the Waters Road estate of 1924 and the Butts estate of 1929–30, both west of Castle Road. Private houses were built at Kingsland Road and associated roads north of the Devizes road, but more extensive private development lay east of Castle Road. Here most of the area bounded by Beatrice Road, Wyndham Road, and St. Mark's Avenue was built over between the wars. East of the city the council scheme at Wain-a-long Road was begun in 1924. To the south-west the Netherhampton estate, of both council and private houses, was begun in 1921.

During the Second World War two large factories were built on the outskirts of the city, one south of the Netherhampton road and one west of Castle Road. In 1960 both were still in use. After the war housing needs led to the development of large new areas, especially north of the city. Between the Devizes and Wilton roads the Bemerton Heath council estate was begun in 1946, and its extension, the Westwood estate in 1950. The Bemerton Heath estate houses are centrally heated and supplied with hot water from a communal system run by the city. West of Castle Road the Butts Farm and Paul's Dene estates of private houses were built, while north of the London Road cemetery the large council and private estate at Bishopdown was begun in 1957. (fn. 31) To the south private houses were built at the Netherhampton Road estate and south of Ayleswade Road. Apart from housing, development in the newer parts of the city has included schools at Bemerton Heath and Westwood, (fn. 32) the police headquarters in Wilton Road opened in 1956, (fn. 33) and the crematorium at Bishopdown opened in 1960. (fn. 34) A College of Further Education near St. Martin's Church is being constructed at the time of writing (1960).


The part of the bishop's manor of Milford outside the bounds of the medieval city remained rural until the 19th century and was still partly so in 1960. It had no separate parish church, and it was doubtful whether it was extra-parochial or belonged to the parish of Laverstock or that of St. Martin's, Salisbury. (fn. 35) Its tithes were paid to St. Martin's, and in 1829 that parish claimed church rates as well. An assize jury gave the verdict that part of Milford, the limits of which they did not know, belonged to St. Martin's. The inhabitants of Milford acquiesced in paying the rates from then on, but went on maintaining their own poor. (fn. 36) In 1835 the part of Milford nearest to Salisbury was included within the city boundary. (fn. 37) In 1894 that part of the parish was constituted the parish of Milford Within, and the remainder Milford Without. (fn. 38) In 1904 part of Milford Without was added to Salisbury, and the remainder added to Laverstock. (fn. 39) Since then successive boundary extensions have brought most of the old district of Milford into the city. (fn. 40)

The bishop's manor of Milford included all the land between the city boundary and the Bourne south of the Stratford boundary. (fn. 41) The name was in use by the 13th century. (fn. 42) The first lease of the manor as a whole was made in 1549 to Sir William Herbert (later Earl of Pembroke, d. 1570), for 99 years absolute at an annual rent of £90 14s. (fn. 43) A further lease, made in 1637 to Philip, Earl of Pembroke (d. 1669), became void when the property was alienated during the Civil War, and in 1661 began a series of leases on lives to members and connexions of the Henchmans, the family of Bishop Humphrey Henchman. (fn. 44) The last of these, made to William Henchman in 1748, apparently became void in 1764, when a new lease was made to William Beckford of Fonthill (d. 1770). It was renewed to his son William in 1782, (fn. 45) and to him again in 1832. (fn. 46) In 1838 Beckford assigned his interest, apart from his life estate, to his son-in-law Alexander, Duke of Hamilton (d. 1852), who renewed the lease in 1846. In 1860 the leasehold interest was bought from his son William by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for over £43,000. (fn. 47) and the manor was not again leased. All the property of the Commissioners in Milford has since been sold. The manor house stood at the southeast of the road junction in the village; it was used as a farm in the 18th and 19th centuries, (fn. 48) and rebuilt in an Elizabethan style for R. Gerrish in 1902. (fn. 49)

Little is known of the agrarian organization of Milford in the Middle Ages. In the late 14th century the homage of the manor acknowledged that there were 25 virgates of land paying by ancient custom 2s. 6d. a virgate. (fn. 50) The pastures of the manor supported a demesne flock of 470 sheep by 1283–4. (fn. 51) Meadows called Morewyne Mead, Long Mead and Ham Mead lay adjoining the Avon in the 14th century, (fn. 52) and in 1441 a meadow called New Mead had been inclosed 'under Laverstock', no doubt meaning in that part of Milford east of the Bourne. (fn. 53) By 1330 126 a. of demesne land were held by 16 tenants at will, who included John le Nug and Richard of Tidworth, both prominent citizens of Salisbury. (fn. 54) The first known lease of a large part of the demesne to one holder was made in 1523 to Anthony Erneley, formerly of the bishop's household. He was granted a 40-year lease of 'all the demesne lands, meadows and pastures of the new ditch, with the grange and fold at the sheephouse commonly called the farm of Bishopsdown'. With this property went 16 a. of demesne arable, of which 7 a. lay at 'Sareslitellond', 4 a. by the ridgeway at Paul's Dene, and 5 a. in 'Whyttenhyll'. (fn. 55) The significance of the reference to the ditch is not clear, but it may refer to land in the Bugmore area. The lease no doubt included all the bishop's pasture land at Bishopsdown, but not all his demesne arable in the fields, for the remainder was leased out in small parcels to other tenants. Thus in 1542 a lease of 5½ yardlands included 3 a. of arable of the demesnes alias overland or bordland, (fn. 56) and references to bordland annexed to copyholds and leaseholds continue into the 18th century. (fn. 57)

When the manor was first leased as a whole in 1549 (see above), Bishopsdown Farm was reserved from the lease, and continued to be separately dealt with in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 58) The first lessee, Anthony Erneley, died in 1530, (fn. 59) and his interest passed to Henry Uvedale, husband of his daughter Isabel, who renewed the lease for 62 years in 1540. (fn. 60) Before the end of the century the lease was held by the Bailey family; John Bailey held it in 1597, when it was said that the farm consisted of 398 a. of land which was inferior to that of the rest of the tithing. (fn. 61) He died in 1600 and the farm descended to his son John (d. c. 1611), whose widow Mary and sons Thomas and Robert held it in 1630. (fn. 62) In 1650 the farm consisted of 33 a. of meadow, 52 a. of pasture, 239 a. of arable, and 152 a. of down, and was held at a rent of £32 a year. (fn. 63) The lease was renewed to Robert Bailey in 1661, (fn. 64) but in the early 18th century the lord farmer of the whole manor succeeded in having it included in his lease, (fn. 65) and it was let by subsequent lord farmers on rack leases until the final surrender of the manor in 1860. (fn. 66) In 1827 it was a compact farm of 480 a., mainly arable land, consisting of all the northern part of the tithing, held at a rent of £580 a year. (fn. 67)

In 1650, apart from Bishopsdown Farm and a few cottages and orchards, the bishop's manor consisted of 5 leasehold and 14 copyhold tenements varying in size between 100 and 10 acres, and totalling about 700 a. in all. The largest leasehold included 'the mansion house of the farm' and 4 yardlands. (fn. 68) In the 18th century this holding, farmed from the manor house, was called Milford Farm (see above). (fn. 69) In 1735 it included 40 a. of arable in the common fields, 2 closes, and 4 a. of meadow. (fn. 70) This land was leased in 1798 with 45 a. of land in addition. (fn. 71) The whole, still called Milford Farm, was subsequently divided, and was held by two or more occupiers in the 19th century. In 1827 one part consisted of 86 a. of arable and meadow land on both sides of the London road north of Weeping Cross, and another of the manor house and 32 a. south of Milford village. Both were held as copyholds at rack rent; the occupier of the former, J. G. Coombs, held 3 other copy and leaseholds, farming about 200 a. in all from the house now called Little Manor in Milford. (fn. 72)

Much of Milford remained uninclosed until the end of the 18th century; the only older inclosures were chiefly water-meadows along the Avon and the Bourne and small closes round the fringes of the city. In 1800 the open arable land of the manor was inclosed under an Act of the previous year. (fn. 73) The land affected lay on the higher ground between the village and Bishopsdown Farm; it is not known whether it had previously been divided into more than one field. (fn. 74)


  • 1. See p. 71.
  • 2. W.R.O. 451/331, plan of 1807 and other papers. See p. 80.
  • 3. Much land near the city is unsuitable for building either because of its low level or excessive slope; this naturally governed development as well.
  • 4. Rammell, Report, 19–20.
  • 5. O.S. Map 1" Wilts, sheet xv (1st edn.).
  • 6. G. O. Lucas, Survey Map, 1833.
  • 7. W.R.O. Fisherton Anger tithe award.
  • 8. Rammell, Report, 20.
  • 9. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 286.
  • 10. Bothams, Plan, 1860.
  • 11. Char. Com. file 6869; W.R.O. 451/73 includes plan of building plots for sale. See below, p. 194.
  • 12. Sar. Corp. MSS. Local Bd. Min. Bk. 1861–65.
  • 13. See p. 182.
  • 14. O.S. Map 6" Wilts. sheet LXVI (1st edn.).
  • 15. Sar. Corp. MSS. Local Bd. Min. Bk. 1895–98.
  • 16. O.S. Map 6" Wilts, sheet LXVI (1st edn.).
  • 17. W.R.O. 451/311, sale particulars.
  • 18. Ch. Com. file 82300. See p. 92.
  • 19. W.R.O. 451/73, plan.
  • 20. See p. 84.
  • 21. W.A.M. xli. 314; F. Highman, Plan of Salisbury, 1884.
  • 22. Clifton Road was new in 1897: Sar. Corp. MSS. Local Bd. Min. Bk. 1895–98.
  • 23. O. S. Map 6" Wilts. sheet LXVI (2nd edn.).
  • 24. Sar. Corp. MSS. Council Min. Bk. 1894–98.
  • 25. See p. 155.
  • 26. Wilts. Cuttings v. 85.
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1939).
  • 28. W.A.M. xxxv. 330.
  • 29. e.g. in Ashfield Road, Charnwood Road and Nursery Road.
  • 30. Information about council house building was supplied by the Town Clerk.
  • 31. Salisbury Times 1 Feb. 1957, 14 Aug. 1959. The form Bishopdown, rather than Bishopsdown, has been adopted by the city council as the name of the estate.
  • 32. See p. 168.
  • 33. Western Gaz. 28 Sept. 1956.
  • 34. See p. 117.
  • 35. Hoare, Mod. Wilts., Alderbury Hundred, 110. It was returned in the Census Reports as a tithing of Laverstock 1801–31, and of St. Martin's 1841–71.
  • 36. Hoare, op. cit., 110.
  • 37. See p. 71.
  • 38. Bounds of Wilts., 21.
  • 39. Ibid. 10–11.
  • 40. See pp. 71–72.
  • 41. The other part of Milford, east of the Bourne, was not held by the bishop. It included two estates, called in the Middle Ages Milford Pichard and Milford Richard, which are reserved for treatment in the parish history of Laverstock, as are Milford and Momworth mills, neither of which were bishop's property.
  • 42. See p. 69.
  • 43. Ch. Com. no. 136776, p. 54; Hatcher, Salisbury, 574. This lease was apparently assigned, or the property underlet, for in 1608 Thomas Batt claimed to hold 1/6 of the manor which had been allotted to him in severalty by agreement: C2 James 1 B.1/16.
  • 44. Hatcher, op. cit., 574, where details of the successive leases are given.
  • 45. Ch. Com. no. 136779, p. 80. Cf. Hatcher, op. cit. 574, but the first lease to Beckford was made in 1764 and surrendered in 1782.
  • 46. Ch. Com. no. 136780, p. 93.
  • 47. Ibid. pp. 93, 157, 160, 323.
  • 48. Ibid. no. 136221; ibid no. 160669 and map no. 13819.
  • 49. E. E. Dorling, Wilts. and Dorset at opening of 20th Cent., 60.
  • 50. D. & C. Sar. Deeds 1/1/9.
  • 51. S.C. 12/16/63.
  • 52. Sar. Corp. MSS. Box 4, folder marked 'Various 1600–30'.
  • 53. Hatcher, Salisbury, 242.
  • 54. D. & C. Sar. 2/8 box labelled 'Bailiff's Compotus Rolls'.
  • 55. Ch. Com. no. 136777, f. 68d. The 16a. of arable still went with the farm in 1661: ibid. no. 136776, f. 57.
  • 56. Ibid. no. 136777, f. 125.
  • 57. Ibid. File 11149, survey c. 1750; ibid. no. 136221, lease 1798.
  • 58. Ibid. no. 136299.
  • 59. Hoare, Mod. Wilts., Alderbury Hundred, 109.
  • 60. Ch. Com. no. 136777, f. 94; Hutchins, Hist. Dors. (1861–70), iii. 144.
  • 61. E 178/2438.
  • 62. W.A.M. xlix. 456.
  • 63. Ch. Com. no. 160751.
  • 64. Ibid. no. 136776, f. 57.
  • 65. Ibid. no. 136299. The date at which it was included is uncertain, but it was let at rack by 1745: ibid. File 11149.
  • 66. e.g. ibid. nos. 136218, 160669, 160671.
  • 67. Ibid. no. 160669 and Map no. 13819.
  • 68. Ibid. no. 160751.
  • 69. This farm is to be distinguished from the Milford Farm east of the Bourne marked on Andrews and Dury's Map of 1773 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch., pl. 6) and on O.S. maps.
  • 70. Ch. Com. File 11149.
  • 71. Ibid. no. 136221.
  • 72. Ibid. no. 160669 and Map no. 13819.
  • 73. 39 Geo. III, c. 76 (priv. act).
  • 74. W.R.O. Stratford and Milford inclosure award.