Parishes: Highway

Pages 197-198

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Highway, which existed as a separate 'vill' in 1316, (fn. 1) has for ecclesiastical purposes always been a chapelry in the parish of Bremhill (see below—Church). In 1367 the manor of Highway was said to lie in the parish of Bremhill. (fn. 2) Highway was, however, described as a 'parish' in 1702 (fn. 3) and may have been constituted such by virtue of the Act of 1662 permitting the division of existing parishes. (fn. 4) It remained a civil parish until 1890 when it was merged with the parish of Hilmarton. (fn. 5)

Highway lies 4½ miles north-east of Calne and the former parish, although a detached part of the hundred of Potterne and Cannings, lay locally in the hundred of Kingsbridge. The village is situated on the Gault and Greensand strip at the foot of the north-western escarpment of the Marlborough Downs. To the east of the village the chalk uplands of the Downs rise to over 600 ft. To the west the land falls to less than 300 ft. on the flat lands of Kimeridge Clay at Highway Common. (fn. 6) Only minor roads lead to the village which comprises the chapel (see below), a few cottages and Highway Farm lying just west of the chapel. Highway Farm was probably the manor house. It has been much altered, rebuilt, and the interior modernized. One gable end with a large chimney stack and an oak door rehung to the porch are all that remain of the late 16th-century house.

In 1364 the capital messuage in Highway was said to be wholly destroyed. In the manor there were 2 gardens valued at 3s. 4d. a year and 308 acres of arable valued at 3d. an acre; 100 acres were valued at nothing because they were sandy, lay fallow, and could not be sown because they were in common. There were also 3 8 acres of several meadow valued at 12d. an acre; 12 acres of meadow in common valued at 8d. an acre; pasture for 20 oxen, worth 6d. a head; 68s. 3d. rents of free and bond tenants. The view of frankpledge and perquisites of the courts were worth 6s. 8d. a year, and the whole manor was valued at 11s. 3d. beyond reprises. (fn. 7) In 1366 the manor was valued at 13s. 4d. clear. (fn. 8) In 1569 it contained 16 messuages and gardens, 16 orchards, 300 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture, 8 acres of wood, and produced £1 in rent. (fn. 9) The same figures were given when the manor changed hands in 1640. (fn. 10)


The first reference to HIGHWAY occurs in a deed of 1065 in which Edward the Confessor confirmed the possessions of Malmesbury Abbey. Highway was said to comprise 11 hides and to have been given to the abbey by King Aethelred. (fn. 11) In 1086 Highway was amongst the possessions of the abbey and had paid geld for 11 hides. (fn. 12) Ralph Mortimer also held 1 hide in Highway which Toti had bought from the abbey for the lives of 3 men. 'Within that term' he 'could go with the land to what lord he pleased'. (fn. 13) Highway remained in the abbey's possession until 1219 and was confirmed by Eugenius III (1151) and Celestine III (1191). (fn. 14) In 1219 a dispute between the Bishop of Salisbury and the Abbot of Malmesbury was settled by the bishop surrendering his claim to jurisdiction over the abbey and receiving in return the manor of Highway and the patronage of the church of Bremhill and Highway and the chapel of Foxham (fn. 15) (see below—Church).

In 1220 Richard de Horton held the manor of the bishop at a fee farm rent of £10. (fn. 16) William de Horton held it in 1242–3. (fn. 17) In 1316 William de Highway and John Quyntyn occur as the tenants of the 'vill' of Highway. (fn. 18) The origin and subsequent descent of John Quyntyn's holding have not been traced. Other persons styled 'de Highway' and possibly members of the same family had held land in Highway. In 1268 a messuage and a virgate of land there had been granted to Stephen de Highway by Hugh de Gothyrst and Alice his wife. (fn. 19) In 1281 Adam de Highway had conveyed a messuage and 3 virgates to his son Nicholas and Agnes wife of Nicholas. (fn. 20) William de Highway (possibly the tenant of 1316) had conveyed to Henry le Blund in 1287 a messuage, a garden, a toft, and 64 acres of land and 4 acres of meadow. (fn. 21) Richard, son of William, put in his claim. In 1327 a Richard de Highway, possibly the same, settled the manor on his son John. Amongst those holding lands for lives in Highway at the time of this settlement were John son of William de Highway, Robert de Highway and Agnes his wife, and Adam de Highway and his wife Alice. (fn. 22)

In 1361 the manor of Highway was conveyed by Walter Freyn and Philippa his wife to Robert Gundwene and William atte Chambre to be held of the chief lord of the fee. (fn. 23) Robert and William assigned the manor in 1364 to the rector and brethren of the house of Bonhommes at Edington. (fn. 24) The property was then described as 'all the lands and tenements in the vill of Highway which make the manor in demesne and service' and was said to be held of Robert, Bishop of Salisbury at fee farm. Highway remained in the possession of the Bonhommes for only two years, for in 1366 they conveyed it to Sir Philip fitz Wuryn and Constance his wife in exchange for the manor of Bremeridge (Westbury). (fn. 25) In 1380 Sir Philip fitz Waryn and Constance his wife conveyed it to John de Stanshawe. (fn. 26)

The manor is next heard of in 1478 when Thomas Stanshawe, of Stanshawe (Gloucs.), acknowledged the receipt of £126. 13s. 4d. paid to him by Thomas de Leckhampton for the manors of Highway and Clevancy. (fn. 27) No indication of lordship is contained in the receipt.

The next mention of the manor of Highway is in 1569 in which year it was settled upon Ralph Cawley. (fn. 28) By a new agreement made in 1571 the remainders were settled successively upon Michael, Ralph, William, Charles, and Thomas, the settlor's second, fourth, third, fifth, and sixth sons respectively. (fn. 29) In 1603 Michael Cawley relinquished his claim to the manor in favour of William Cawley, presumably his brother. This is the last reference to the Cawley or Calley family in Highway. (fn. 30)

The manor was evidently acquired before 1621 by William Turner and Anne his wife. (fn. 31) In 1640 Richard Turner and Lucy his wife sold it to John Glanville, serjeant-at-law, for £600. (fn. 32)

The manor remained in the hands of the Glanvilles until 1702. Serjeant Glanville had been prominent in support of the parliamentary opposition to Charles I, but after 1640 went over to the king. He was imprisoned by the rebels (1645 to 1648) and later compounded for his estates. (fn. 33) He died in 1661. His grandson John Glanville of Broad Hinton sold Highway to Sir Charles Hedges of Compton Bassett in 1702. (fn. 34) Hedges, a large landowner in Wiltshire, was succeeded in 1714 by his son William, who survived until 1757. (fn. 35) The manor of Highway, however, was conveyed in 1743 to William Hart and Robert Maundrell, by Thomas Hedges, probably son of William. (fn. 36)

In 1805 the manor was in the possession of the Tonge family. William Norris Tonge (1777–1844) then held it along with his mother, Anne Eliza. (fn. 37) On his death it passed to his eldest son Augustus Henry, and subsequently to his second son Louis Charles (d. 1895) and his grandson Francis Henry. On the death of the latter in 1936 the estate passed to the Hon. Raymond Anthony Addington, son of the 4th Viscount Sidmouth, and son of Ethel Mary, sister of Francis Henry Tonge. (fn. 38)


The patronage of the 'church of Bremhill and Highway' (patronatus ecclesiae de Bremel et de Hyweie) and the chapel of Foxham were included in the grant of the manor of Highway to the Bishop of Salisbury in 1219. (fn. 39) This reference to what appears to be a combined church of Bremhill and Highway suggests that Highway was by this time annexed to Bremhill as a chapelry. It was so annexed in 1583 when the Bishop of Salisbury presented a clerk to the vicarage of Bremhill cum capella de Heighwaie, (fn. 40) and it appears to have remained a chapelry annexed to Bremhill until the present day.

The chapel of ST. PETER comprises chancel, nave, vestry, and south porch. At the west end is a bell-cote roofed with shingles. It was originally built in the 12th century but was almost entirely rebuilt in 1867 at the expense of Archdeacon Harris (d. 1874), Vicar of Bremhill, from plans by H. Butterfield. All that remains of the early church is part of the north wall of the nave containing a plain round-headed blocked doorway with a hood-moulding. Built into the later wall is part of a 14th-century grave slab. A pair of oak bier stools in the nave are probably of 17th-century date. A stone screen in the chancel has an early 15th-century oak capping richly moulded, painted, and gilded. The registers begin in 1745 and, except for a few years which have been torn out, are complete. The church plate comprises a chalice hall-marked 1760 and inscribed 'Highway Chappie 1761', 2 patens, and a flagon of plated metal'. (fn. 41) The late H. B. Walters writing in 1928 records two small bells uninscribed. (fn. 42)


  • 1. Feud. Aids, v, 205.
  • 2. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. iii, Westbury 61.
  • 3. C 54/4907, no. 1.
  • 4. 16 Car II, c. 12.
  • 5. Bounds of Wilts. (1918), 18.
  • 6. O.S. Map 1/25,000, 41/07; O.S. Geolog. Surv. map 1180 (24) sheet 19.
  • 7. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 333.
  • 8. Ibid. 34.0.
  • 9. C.P. 25(2) 239 Hil. 11 Eliz.
  • 10. C.P. 25(2) 511 East. 16 Chas. I.
  • 11. Reg. Malm. (Rolls Ser.), i, 323. Probably Aethelred 'the unready'. Aethelred I (866–71) is not known as a benefactor of the abbey but Aethelred of the Mercians (674–704) was. In Mr. E. E. Barker's opinion the charter is spurious but is probably based on fact.
  • 12. Dom. Bk. Wilts., ed. Jones, 34.
  • 13. Ibid. 110.
  • 14. Reg. Malm. (Rolls Ser.), i, 350, 360.
  • 15. Ibid. 391–5; 407–9; Sar. Chart. and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 88–94.
  • 16. Sar. Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 99.
  • 17. Bk. of Fees, 740. According to the late Canon J. E. Jackson a William de Horton held the manor temp. Edw. I: Aubrey, Topog. Coll., ed. Jackson 168.
  • 18. Feud. Aids, v, 205.
  • 19. Cal. Feet of F. Wilts., 1195–1272, ed. Fry, 55.
  • 20. Feet of F. 1272–1327 (W.A.S., Rec. Brch.), 20.
  • 21. Ibid. 28.
  • 22. C.P. 25(1)254/40 Trin. I Edw. III.
  • 23. C.P. 25(1)255/50 Mich. 35 Edw. III.
  • 24. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 332.
  • 25. Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.). 340.
  • 26. C.P. 25(1) 256/54 Hil. 3 Ric. II.
  • 27. C 54/330/m 175 C.P. 25(1)257/65 Mich. 18 Edw. IV.
  • 28. C.P. 25(2)239 Hil. 11 Eliz.
  • 29. C.P. 25(2)239 Mich. 13 and 14 Eliz.
  • 30. C.P. 25(2)369 East. 1 Jas. I.
  • 31. C.P. 25(2)527 East. 7 Chas. I Anne was perhaps a Cawley.
  • 32. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1640, 27.
  • 33. D.N.B.; W.A.M. xxiv, 73.
  • 34. C 54/4907, no. 1.
  • 35. Aubrey, Topog. Coll., ed. Jackson, Pedigree of Gore of Alderton, facing p. 47.
  • 36. C.P. 25(2)1233 Mich. 17 Geo. II. William had a son Thomas, cf. Jackson, op. cit.
  • 37. C.P. 43/889, rot. 219.
  • 38. Burke's Landed Gentry (1937); Kelly's Dir. Wilts. 1939.
  • 39. Reg. Malm. (Rolls Ser.), i, 403. Sar. Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 90–94. In all except one of these references to this grant, a single church either called Bremhill only or Bremhill and Highway is mentioned. Once, however, the plural is used (patronatus ecclesiarum de Bremel et de Hyivey: Sar. Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.) 90).
  • 40. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 231.
  • 41. J. E. Nightingale, Church Plate, Wilts. 136, and ex inf. the Revd. R. S. Rich, Hilmarton Vicarage.
  • 42. H. B. Walters, Church Bells of Wilts. 98. The church's inventory of 1928 and Kelly's Dir. Wilts. 1939, give only one bell.