Norton Bavant


Victoria County History



Elizabeth Crittall (Editor)

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'Norton Bavant', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8: Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds (1965), pp. 47-58. URL: Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Until the 19th century Norton Bavant parish was in three pieces. (fn. 1) The main part of the parish, which forms the present civil parish, lies north of the Wylye between Bishopstrow and Heytesbury. The smaller of the detached parts consisted of about 115 a. straddling the road from Warminster to Crockerton, south of Warminster Common and some two miles from Norton village, while the larger, about 246 a. on the Somerset border between Corsley and Longleat Park, lay six miles from Norton. This more distant part probably included the considerable amount of woodland belonging to the manor in 1086; (fn. 2) the smaller part probably also belonged to Norton then, as it certainly did by the mid-13th century. (fn. 3) The larger detached part was transferred to Corsley civil parish and the smaller to Warminster in 1884. (fn. 4) At the same time a small piece of Pit Mead which belonged to Norton was added to Sutton Veny. (fn. 5) This reduced the acreage of the parish to 1,856. (fn. 6)

In the main part of the parish a greensand level runs from the Wylye to a steep scarp of chalk north of the Salisbury road. The scarp runs across the parish from Middle Hill on the Bishopstrow boundary by Scratchbury to Cotley Hill on the Heytesbury boundary. Scratchbury and Cotley Hill are both over 600 ft. high. On the former is a univallate hill-fort, and on the latter a circular enclosure with an inner ditch. Beyond these heights the ground drops again to a broad valley of greensand, watered by a streamlet which runs into the Wylye at Heytesbury. North of this again are the high downs of the higher chalk of Salisbury Plain. There are many barrows in the parish, and Bronze age and Roman remains have been found. (fn. 7) The detached parts of the parish contain both greensand and clay. The village lies low beside the Wylye, secluded both from the WarminsterSalisbury road and from a minor road which leaves it for Sutton Veny. Norton Bavant House, with the vicarage and the church within its park, stands at the north-west end of the village. About 1775 the farm yard of the manor farm stood between the house and the churchyard, but the farmer occupied the house now called South Farm. This is an 18th-century house of 5 bays, of stone with tiled roof. The extensive range of thatched outbuildings adjoining it occupies what was c. 1775 the void site of a house. They were no doubt built when the park was enlarged so that the church was within it, and the old farm buildings cleared away. This was presumably done at inclosure. The rest of the houses are small and informally scattered about several roads and lanes. Middleton Farm lies north of the Salisbury road near the boundary with Bishopstrow, and North Farm is over the first ridge of hills north-east of Scratchbury. Butler's Coombe Farm lies in the former part of the parish south of Warminster, while in the other former detached part are Mad Doctor's Farm and a few cottages. A small village lay at Middleton in the Middle Ages. In 1377 there were 18 poll-tax payers there. (fn. 8) Twelve small closes where houses had stood were empty by 1538, and only two houses remained beside the farmhouse. (fn. 9)

There were 94 poll-tax payers in the parish in 1377. (fn. 10) In 1676 there were apparently 196 adults there. (fn. 11) Nothing more is known of its population until 1801, when it was 264. Between then and 1881 it varies intermittently between 250 and 290. The boundary changes of 1884 resulted in a loss of some 36 people and took place in a decade of considerable decline, due no doubt to agricultural changes. In 1891 there were only 163 people in the parish compared with 264 ten years before. Since then it has declined further to 128 in 1951. (fn. 12) Agriculture has always been the chief occupation of the inhabitants, although there was some clothing activity associated with the water mills on the Wylye between the 15th and 18th centuries. (fn. 13) In the 1860's Mr. Thomas Foreman's bathing and general pleasure grounds at Henford's Marsh were a summer attraction for the townsfolk of Warminster, and a brass band attended on Wednesday evenings. (fn. 14)

Cobbett had a high opinion of Norton Bavant and Bishopstrow. He was especially impressed by Middleton Farm when he passed this way in 1826, noting the fine trees surrounding the farm yard, which had 22 ricks in it, the turnpike road running through the arable land with great flocks on the downs on one side, and cattle 'up to their eyes in grass in the meadows' on the other. The air, he said, must be of the best in the world, and the country 'singularly bright and beautiful'. (fn. 15)


Alfred of Marlborough held NORTON in 1086. (fn. 16) Like most of his Wiltshire fief it formed part of the honor of Ewyas in the 13th century, the overlordship descending in the same way as that of Upton Scudamore. (fn. 17) Unlike Upton no undertenant was mentioned at Norton in 1086; it was probably among the Wiltshire fees of the honor held by the Scudamores in the 12th century, but its certain connexion with the family has not been established before 1216, when it had been forfeited by Peter Scudamore. (fn. 18) It descended in the same way as Upton (fn. 19) to another Peter Scudamore who died in 1293 leaving as heir to most of his Wiltshire estates except Upton, a daughter Alice, wife of Adam Bavant. (fn. 20) She was a widow then or soon afterwards, and her son Roger was still a minor in 1306. (fn. 21) He had been succeeded by his son, another Roger, by 1338. (fn. 22) Six years later the younger Roger granted almost all his estates in Wiltshire and elsewhere to the king. (fn. 23) The reason for his doing this is not fully clear, but there are indications that he was estranged from his wife Hawise. Certain feoffees successfully reclaimed the Wiltshire lands in 1344 because Roger had previously granted them an estate for the life of Hawise, to pay her and her children an allowance. (fn. 24) Roger died in 1355. (fn. 25) After his death Hawise alleged that in fact the property was entailed upon her and her issue, but the claim was apparently backed by a deed sealed with a forged seal which Roger had disclaimed before he died, and on her son and heir John leaving for Italy to become a Franciscan friar, she withdrew it. (fn. 26)

In 1358 the king granted Norton to William Thorpe and William Peek for their lives, and they ensured an annuity to Hawise; after their deaths it was to go to the Dominican nuns of Dartford in Kent. (fn. 27) Thorpe was connected with that house (fn. 28) and probably acting for it, for the nuns immediately began to exercise their rights at Norton. (fn. 29) Hawise finally surrendered all her right in 1361. (fn. 30) The last claimants to the Bavant inheritance were Joan, daughter of Roger and Hawise, and Sir John Dauntsey, her husband, who finally relinquished their right in 1373 in return for a grant of the manor of Marden. (fn. 31) From then on the nuns of Dartford held Norton Bavant unmolested until the Dissolution.

When Norton passed to the Crown, the lease of the manor farm was held by the Benett family, which had been prosperous in the village since the late 14th century. John Benett claimed to hold land there in 1390. (fn. 32) Another John, a clothier, died in 1461, (fn. 33) and a third John, also a clothier, flourished in the late 15th century. (fn. 34) He had apparently been succeeded by a son John in 1509. (fn. 35) Thomas Benett is mentioned in the family pedigree (fn. 36) as father of John, presumably the one who died c. 1543, (fn. 37) but in 1519 the nuns of Dartford let the farm to a William Benett. (fn. 38) This or another William obtained a renewal of the lease in 1544. (fn. 39) He died c. 1566, (fn. 40) and was succeeded by another William, who left the farm to his second son William at his death c. 1574. (fn. 41) The lease was renewed again on lives in 1583. (fn. 42) Seven years later William Benett bought in a 50-year lease in reversion of his own which had been granted to Sir Henry Woodrington. (fn. 43) Finally in 1609 the whole manor except certain leaseholds was granted in fee to George Salter and John Williams. (fn. 44) Two years later, sixteen tenants of the manor joined together to buy the freehold of their holdings. Of the purchase price of £1,842 10s., £1,069 was paid by William Benett, and it was agreed that he should hold the manorial rights with the farm. (fn. 45)

From that time Norton remained in the Benett family until the 19th century. William died in 1618. (fn. 46) His son Thomas died in 1653, and left Norton to his wife and then to the issue of his second marriage. (fn. 47) The eldest son John died without surviving issue in 1706; his brother William married Patience Bishop, heir to the Benetts of Pythouse in Tisbury. Their son Thomas bought back Pythouse, which had been sold in 1669, in 1725, and from that time the family was chiefly seated there. Thomas died in 1754 and was succeeded by his grandson William, who died without issue in 1781 and left all his estates to his widow. (fn. 48) This provoked a lawsuit in chancery which led to the manor being put up for sale in 1788. (fn. 49) It was bought by Catherine Benett, spinster daughter of Thomas (d. 1754). (fn. 50) At her death it passed back to her nephew John, son of Thomas Benett (d. 1797), to whom Pythouse had been left by will. He died in 1852 having outlived both his sons, and the estate passed to his grandson, John Edward Benett, who died unmarried in 1856. (fn. 51) The next heir was another grandson, Vere, son of John Benett's eldest daughter Lucy Harriet by the Revd. Arthur Fane. He assumed the surname of Benett, and, on his marriage to the daughter and heir of William Stanford, that of Stanford in addition. At his death in 1894 he was succeeded by his son, John Montagu Fane-Benett-Stanford, (fn. 52) who died in 1947 having outlived both his children. (fn. 53) Most of the Norton Bavant property north of the railway had been sold to the War Office in 1930, (fn. 54) and the remainder was sold after 1947. The house was bought by Sir Kenneth Nicolson, who in 1963 still occupied it. (fn. 55)

In the early 17th century the house called the farmhouse of Norton Bavant was ruinous, but the farmers of the demesnes had long occupied another house which was in good order. (fn. 56) This was no doubt the house which in 1618 consisted, beside domestic offices and servants' quarters, of only a hall, a parlour, and four chambers. (fn. 57) In 1641 Thomas Benett made a contract with John Thommes of Andover, bricklayer, to build a house in a meadow called the West Garden adjoining the previous house. Its dimensions were to be 65 ft. by 24 ft., which agrees well with the present north range of the house, as far back as a massive wall which separates the rooms on that side from the rest. This building was, however, probably added to another which is represented by the present east wing, for this retains several internal features of the earlier 17th century. (fn. 58) In 1654, moreover, the house contained hall, parlour, dining chamber, domestic offices and ten chambers, (fn. 59) probably more than could be contained only in the house specified in the contract. About 1700 the house was completely remodelled. The 'decent gable ends' of 1641 were replaced by a hipped tiled roof with dormers to the attics, and a west wing was added to make the house U-shaped. The mullioned and transomed windows and the shell hood on carved brackets over the north door are of this date, as are many internal features. In the late 18th century the space between the two projecting wings was filled in; the flat lead roof of this addition is dated 1774. Behind the house are detached outbuildings, one of brick with stone dressings and one of flint and stone chequerwork. The former is probably the separate brewhouse mentioned in the contract of 1641.

After Pythouse was bought in 1725, Norton House was not favoured by the family because of its low and damp position. (fn. 60) For many years in the 19th century it was the home of Etheldred and Anna Maria, maiden sisters of John Benett, M. P. Etheldred was noted for her skill in geology. She supplied a catalogue of fossils for Hoare's Modern Wiltshire, and is said to have been given a doctorate in Civil Law by St. Petersburg in the mistaken idea that she was a man. (fn. 61) After the death of the last sister in 1858, the house was let to a succession of tenants.

Domno held an estate in MIDDLETON before the Conquest. By 1086 it had passed to Osbern Gifford, and was held of him by the church of St. Stephen of Fontenay in Normandy (dèp. Calvados). (fn. 62) In 1242–3 it was said that the Abbot of Fontenay held one hide there in free alms by gift of the ancestor of Elias Gifford, (fn. 63) and in 1274 the estate was said to be held by the abbot of John Gifford as part of the barony of Brimpsfield (Glos.). (fn. 64) In 1293 it was taken into the king's hands as a possession of an alien house. (fn. 65) When this happened again in 1325, it was reckoned as part of the lands of the priory of Brimpsfield, which was a cell to Fontenay. (fn. 66) It remained in the possession of Brimpsfield, with intervals of confiscation during French wars, (fn. 67) until the priory was finally seized in 1414. (fn. 68) In 1428 it was held at farm of the king. (fn. 69) In 1441 Brimpsfield and its possessions were given by Henry VI to his newly-founded college at Eton. (fn. 70) They were resumed by Edward IV in 1461, (fn. 71) but restored to the college in 1467. (fn. 72) In spite of this various pensions were paid out of the property to royal servants and the royal household for much of the remainder of the 15th century. (fn. 73)

Eton College had let the Middleton estate at farm to John Dew by 1491. (fn. 74) Richard Dew held it early in the 16th century, but by 1538 it was held by William Benett (fn. 75) who also farmed the manor of Norton Bavant. It was probably the same William who died c. 1566 and left it to his younger son John. (fn. 76) He died at about the same time, (fn. 77) and it passed to his son William. (fn. 78) It was renewed to his trustees in 1566. By c. 1600 Augustine Poore held the farm. It was renewed to Thomas Robins of Ilfracombe in 1605 and 1611, and to Adam Poore of Longstock (Hants) in 1624 and 1633. In 1641 it was let to Margaret, widow of the John Turner, who acquired the freehold part of Middleton. (fn. 79) Ten years later a new lease was made to John Toogood of Norton. In 1666 and 1672 leases were made to John Slade the younger of Norton. (fn. 80) Slade still evidently held the farm from Eton in 1697, when he confirmed an under-lease to Nathaniel Houlton in 1689. (fn. 81) Houlton left his interest to his daughter Mary Woolley in 1714. (fn. 82) In 1708 John Summers evidently occupied both freehold and leasehold parts of the farm; a Mr. Warren held them in 1714 and 1720, (fn. 83) but both must have been tenants to the lessees under the college. By 1733 a Mr. Bayly held both parts. (fn. 84) He died about 1747, and was succeeded by his nephew William Bayly, a Warminster maltster, to whom leases were made in 1755 and 1770. He was succeeded by his widow Mary and then by his son James. James died c. 1836 and left the whole farm both freehold and leasehold to his grandson James Buckler Osborne Bayly, who held the farm until the 1860's. (fn. 85) The Eton College estate was sold to V. F. Benett-Stanford c. 1887, (fn. 86) and added to his Norton Bavant manor estate.

In 1086 Edward of Salisbury held 3 virgates of land in MIDDLETON which before the Conquest had belonged to Lewin and Alric. (fn. 87) A holding there under the Earls of Salisbury is regularly mentioned until the 15th century. (fn. 88) In 1242–3 it had been subinfeudated twice, to John de Strode, and under him to Edward of Middleton. (fn. 89) Edward was a juror for Warminster hundred in 1274, (fn. 90) and witness to a Bishopstrow deed, (fn. 91) which indicates that this is the Middleton where the fee held under Salisbury lay. Nothing more is heard of the tenants of this holding until the 15th century, when in 1467 John Barly and Margaret his wife, daughter and heir of John Bronker, conveyed the manor of Middleton to Sir Roger Tocotes. (fn. 92) Like the rest of Tocotes's property it was forfeited in 1484 (fn. 93) but restored by Henry VII. In 1508 a chief rent of 2s. 2½ d. for lands late of Robert Tocotes in Middleton was paid to the manor of Warminster; (fn. 94) this was for land in Sambourne which belonged to the manor. (fn. 95) In 1535 Sir Roger Tocotes sold it with much other Wiltshire property to William Stump. (fn. 96) Not long after this it had passed to the Button family of Alton Barnes. William Button was a free tenant of the manor of Norton Bavant for a cottage and certain pasture rights c. 1550 (fn. 97) and certainly held Middleton by 1572. (fn. 98) It descended in his family to Sir William Button, the first baronet, (fn. 99) who sold it to John Turner of Norton before 1633. Turner died in that year leaving a son and heir John, (fn. 1) who died in 1645. (fn. 2) The descent of the property is not known from that time until Nathaniel Houlton held it in 1692. (fn. 3) From that time it descended in the same way as the leasehold interest under Eton College, (fn. 4) and was probably acquired by the Benett-Stanfords in the late 19th century.

In 1609 it was supposed that the Eton College estate and the other part of Middleton should be equal in all respects, although then the Eton estate was slightly smaller and had less pasture rights and no buildings. (fn. 5) In 1769 they were believed to have been formerly one estate, and no one living knew what belonged to one and what to the other because they had been occupied together for so long. (fn. 6) The house and buildings at Middleton were built by J. B. O. Bayly c. 1857. (fn. 7)


In 1252 William le Fevere of Norton acknowledged that he held a free tenement and land in 'Rodhurst' and Norton of Godfrey Scudamore by rent and ward of the castle of Ewyas Harold. (fn. 8) His holding was that called in later times Butler's Coombe, formerly in the detached part of Norton near Warminster Common and now in Warminster. It takes its name from a family which had probably succeeded le Fevere before the end of the 13th century. Robert le Boteler, living in 1270, (fn. 9) was perhaps the father of John le Boteler who flourished between 1279 and 1300, (fn. 10) and was dead by 1319. (fn. 11) Edward le Boteler and Christine his wife were mentioned in the following year, (fn. 12) and in 1337 were described as of 'Rodhurst'. (fn. 13) In 1346 they let all their estate to their son John on condition that he should maintain them. (fn. 14) John left a son John who had apparently succeeded by 1375, (fn. 15) and was pardoned for a murder in 1393. (fn. 16) He left a sister and heir Maud Hartshorn, who in 1408 sold her brother's property to Sir Walter Hungerford. It lay in 'Rodhurst', and consisted chiefly of 64 a. of arable land and 300 a. of pasture. (fn. 17) John's wife Helen was still living in 1421, when the demesne lands of the holding were let to John King. (fn. 18) In 1451 the estate was let to William Middleton at a nominal rent. (fn. 19) By 1464 it was held by John Mervyn of Fonthill Gifford, who seems to have married a Hungerford, and soon afterwards the freehold of the property was granted to him. (fn. 20) It may then more certainly be identified with Butler's Coombe, for it was said to lie in Norton Bavant and near Crockerton.

Nothing more is known of the farm until the 17th century. Anthony Long was one of the most prosperous men in the parish in 1648, (fn. 21) and probably held the farm then, as he or a successor of the same name certainly did by 1683. At his death about two years later it passed to his son, another Anthony, who in turn left it to his son Robert in 1712. It was probably another Robert who died without issue c. 1785, leaving the farm to trustees to be sold. It was bought by John Gawen of Westbury, who died c. 1801, and in 1803 his trustees sold it to Lord Bath. (fn. 22) About 1820 the part of the farm east of the Crockerton road, which included the house, was conveyed to the Astleys of Boreham and remained in their possession until their estate was sold in 1884. (fn. 23)

The sale of the manorial lands to the tenants in 1611 made Norton a parish of many freeholds, most of which were eventually absorbed into the Benett estate. The largest of them consisted principally of a house called the Church House lying at the Cross in Norton, and 4 virgates of land. At the Dissolution this was held from the nuns of Dartford by Thomas Moore under a lease for 50 years granted in 1538. (fn. 24) It passed at his death to his son William. (fn. 25) A new Crown lease was made in 1582, which was assigned to Moore in the same year. In 1599 he assigned it to John Turner, who in the previous year had acquired a 40-year reversion. (fn. 26) At the sale of the manorial lands Turner bought both this and several other small holdings. (fn. 27) Before his death in 1633 he also acquired a virgate called Matthews's which Thomas Matthews bought in 1611. (fn. 28) Like Middleton Farm these lands descended to his son John who died in 1645. (fn. 29) After this their history is somewhat obscure; they did not descend in the same way as Middleton, but are almost certainly to be identified with the freehold estate held by John Marven by 1678. (fn. 30) By 1708 Thomas Benett had added it to his estate. (fn. 31)

Dartford Wood, the detached part of Norton Bavant near Corsley, was probably part of the manor in 1086, (fn. 32) and remained so until the Dissolution. In 1549 it was granted to William, Lord Grey of Wilton, in fee-farm. (fn. 33) He sold it to Sir John Thynne in the following year, (fn. 34) and it has remained part of the Longleat estate until the present day. After the Benetts obtained the manor, they asserted a claim to the land, but were unsuccessful in several lawsuits between 1637 and 1672. (fn. 35)


The topography of the main part of the parish of Norton Bavant makes the lay-out of its pre-inclosure farming clear. Meadow-land lay along the bank of the Wylye, while open field arable lay both on the greensand levels south of the chalk scarp joining Scratchbury Hill to Cotley Hill and in the trough of greensand between those hills and the high chalk of Salisbury Plain in the north of the parish. The chalk hills provided pasture land. The parish remained in open fields until 1809, and the history of its agriculture before then is largely of the change from demesne farming to leasing, and then the gradual consolidation of the smaller customary holdings with the farm.

In 1086 there were eight ploughs in the manor, of which two were on the demesne and six were held by 12 villeins and 8 bordars. It is not known why the value of the manor had fallen from £24 to £14 since 1066. (fn. 36) No more is known until the manor was extended in 1362, when the demesne consisted of 400 a. of arable land, 10 a. of several meadow, and another 20 a. of meadow, which was several only while the grass grew and was cut, and lay common for the rest of the year. There were then 24 bond tenants. (fn. 37) It is quite likely that the nuns of Dartford never farmed the demesne. The practice of letting the demesne must certainly have been of long standing when it is first met with in the early 16th century. Thomas Dew and John Dew are mentioned as former farmers in the series of leases to the Benett family from 1519. (fn. 38)

The first detailed picture of the agriculture of the manor is provided by a survey of 1604. (fn. 39) Although a number of free tenants paid rents, they were chiefly from former Bavant property in Tisbury and elsewhere, and apart from Middleton, which was manorially and agriculturally separate and is dealt with below, almost the whole of the main part of the parish was leasehold and copyhold land of the manor. (fn. 40) Thirteen copyholders held lands which were reckoned at 7 virgates and 11 small lands, as the half-virgates were called in this manor. Ten of them held either a single virgate or a small land, while the other three held totals of 1½, 2, and 2½ virgates respectively. In addition five tenants held by lease; one of them only held a small land, but two others held 2 virgates each and a third held the tenement called the Church House and 4 virgates. The fifth leasehold comprised the demesnes and 3 virgates and a small land. Thus by 1604 18 virgates and 13 small lands were divided between 18 tenants, of whom 7 held more than a single virgate. These holdings consisted almost entirely of open field arable land; the copyholds contained 261¼ a. of arable out of a total of 278½ a., and on the leaseholds, apart from the Benett holding, the proportion was 234¾ a. out of 247¼. The Benett leasehold contained 250 a. of arable land. The land lay in Home Field, evidently south of Scratchbury and Cotley Hill, and North Field, beyond them. More detailed accounts of land in strips show that the Home Field was divided into East and West Fields. (fn. 41)

Common meadows called Longham, Heathfield, Elsham, and Drowsen belonged to the demesne farm but the tenants probably had some hay from them beside the winter common which the survey mentioned. Two small several meadows also belonged to the farm, and most tenants had small closes near their houses. The downs provided common pasture for sheep, cows, and oxen. The stint of sheep for a small land varied between 9 and 16, and for a virgate was 40, making a tenant flock of about 700. These had pasture in the tenants' downs on Scratchbury and Cotley Hill and in the fields. The farm flock of 600 sheep had pasture in a several down of 120 a. and also winter pasture in the Cow Down and on Cotley Hill. It is likely that the winter pasture was shared with the tenant flock. The stint of other beasts for a small land was two or three and for a virgate four; the farm had 40, making a possible herd of about 130 head, which had pasture on the Cow Down in summer and in the fields and meadows in winter.

About this time it was reckoned that 518 a. of arable land were sown yearly; since, including Middleton, there must have been over 1,000 a. of field land in the parish, it is clear that a two-year course was followed. This land was said to produce from 280 to 350 quarters of wheat and about 400 quarters of barley, beside peas and vetches. (fn. 42)

Apart from mentioning two new closes at 'the Gore', the 1604 survey shows no sign of agricultural change. The vicarial glebe lay in many small pieces in 1609, but the abuttals, mentioning the 9 acres and the 40 acres of the farm land, show that the farm lands had been at least partly consolidated. (fn. 43) The Benetts were letting the farm at rack rent by 1611; it then included a several ground of 8 a. called New Leaze near the vicarage which had formerly been arable land. The sheep pasture was excluded from the lease, and the tenant was allowed the fold of his landlord's flock. (fn. 44) This practice of the landlord keeping the sheep himself was still followed in 1675; a lease for 4 years made then was in the form of an agreement for the tenants to sow the arable land 'thirds and tenths'. Since they agreed to carry the thirds and tenths into the landlord's barns, this was evidently a rent in kind, in which the lessee paid ⅓ of the produce beside the tithes. (fn. 45) By 1680 there were water meadows in Norton, and a reference to sowing the hookland no doubt means that some part of the fallow field was being cultivated. (fn. 46)

The sale of the manorial lands to the tenants in 1611 opened the way for the accumulation of the small freeholds created then into larger farms. It is likely that some smaller tenants had difficulty in raising the money, and quickly mortgaged their lands. In 1611 John Turner bought the freehold of his leasehold Church House and 4 virgates and also of a small land held by Ambrose Malyn in 1604. (fn. 47) Before his death in 1633 he had added to the holding another small land, and a virgate formerly held by the Matthews family. (fn. 48) The Benetts must have added to their estate in the same way; probably the acquisition from William Dew in 1703 of holdings in Norton which had once belonged to Richard Flower and John Whatley was by no means the first addition. (fn. 49) At about the same time they acquired the large estate formerly of John Turner called Marven's. (fn. 50) By 1733 Middleton Farm was the only estate of any size in the parish which did not belong to the Benetts. (fn. 51) At least some of the additions were probably let with the farm. In 1788 it contained 717 a., and the other leaseholds under the Benetts were insigniflcant by comparison. (fn. 52) In 1797 about 70 a. acquired from James Bayly in return for the great tithes of Middleton were added to the estate. (fn. 53)

A map of c. 1775 reveals the course of change since the early 17th century. The arable land still lay in two great stretches north and south of the scarp of the downs. Each of these was divided into three fields, East, Middle, and West near the village and Castle, Middle, and South beyond the scarp. Careful provision was made for the route of the village herd to and from the Cow Down, presumably so that it could keep to fallow land. This route followed a four-year cycle, so that the fields must have been in a four-year course. The strips of the farm land had been consolidated into larger pieces, generally between 5 a. and 30 a., but little of this had been done on other holdings. The Cow Down, of 196 a., provided pasture for as many black cattle as each holding could winter; adjoining it was the Farm Down solely for the farm flock, while Scratchbury, Cotley Hill, and the downs between them provided 230 a. of pasture for flocks belonging to other holdings. Common meadows stretched along the Wylye on either side of the Sutton Veny road. (fn. 54)

Little further change was made before the Inclosure Act of 1805. (fn. 55) One large inclosure in the North Field was ignored by the commissioners, presumably because it was still commonable. (fn. 56) In 1801 212 a. each were sown with wheat and barley and 163 a. with oats. There were small acreages of potatoes, peas, beans, turnips, and rye (fn. 57) . At the inclosure occupiers were ordered to allow new allottees to sow in 1½ bushel of grass seeds to the acre in the North Field, and ½ bushel grass seed and 10lbs. of clover in the Home Field. (fn. 58) Allotments were made to Benett in respect of the farm (595 a.), Marven's (200 a.), the tenantry lands (380 a.) and the rectorial glebe (83 a.). Only the vicar (39 a.) and one other freeholder (27 a.) were allotted any significant amount of land beside Benett. (fn. 59) Although the separate allotment for the tenantry was made, it seems that most of it was already in hand and let with the remainder of the estate as one or two farms. (fn. 60) North Farm was built by 1805, (fn. 61) although it had not existed in 1773. (fn. 62) The two farms were held together by J. M. Sidford from c. 1827. (fn. 63) In 1842 he only held North Farm, and South Farm was held by William Hayward. (fn. 64) Soon after that time William Melsome, a member of a well-known farming family, took both farms, comprising some 1,200 a. held at a rent of about £1,800. (fn. 65) He went bankrupt in the depression of the 1870's, (fn. 66) and was succeeded by Robert Coles who farmed much of Boreham, Bishopstrow, Middleton, and Norton. (fn. 67) A successful sheepbreeder, Coles was the last of the old sheep and corn farmers at Norton, for at his death Stratton and Co. took North Farm for part of their great dairying business. (fn. 68)

The small estates at Middleton contained together land for three ploughs in 1086, with small amounts of meadow, pasture, and wood, and one villein, two bordars, and a serf. (fn. 69) Middleton Brimpsfield had a demesne of 100 a. of arable land and 3 a. of meadow in 1294, and free and villein tenants paid 40s. (fn. 70) By 1538 all the villein tenements except two had been allowed to decay, and rents amounting to 66s. 8d. which had formerly been paid to Eton College were in default. The lands belonging to them were evidently let with the farm, and in the earliest surviving lease, of 1566, that sum was added to the rent of 26s. 8d. which had been charged in 1491. (fn. 71) A survey of c. 1500 mentions fields called North Middles, Brook Furlong, Burn Furlong, and Ash Furlong. (fn. 72) In 1609 arable land lay in Brook Furlong in South or Home Field, a field adjoining it, North Field, and Henchcombe. It amounted to 118 a., while 124 a. belonged to Sir William Button's farm; by this time these were the only two properties in Middleton. (fn. 73) From the late 17th century at least, one farmer occupied both farms, and it became difficult to tell what belonged to each owner. (fn. 74)

In 1770 the arable land belonging to the farm was conventionally divided into North Field, between the farm house and the down, and South Field, from the house down to the Wylye. This land was in four-year course, the fourth being a summer fallow. About 200 a. of field-land had had some 20 or 30 a. of downland broken up and added to it. About 40 a. more downland had been broken up some years previously but had by then gone back to grass, although it was still very coarse. The down supported a flock of some 250 sheep during the summer months. The farm was badly lacking in meadow land; it only had some 7 a. in the common meadows of Norton, all subject to winter common rights, and farmers had to rent other land to make enough hay. (fn. 75) Since the farm was all one tenancy and not subject to common rights, it was not included in the parish inclosure. More downland, of little value for sheep pasture, was broken up to grow turnips in 1853. (fn. 76)

The two detached parts of the parish differ from the main part in physical characteristics, which has much affected their agricultural history. Butler's Coombe lies at the edge of broken country, largely common until the 18th century and later part of Longleat Park. In 1252 a good deal of the estate was evidently 'the heath called Rodhurst', (fn. 77) and in 1408 it was conventionally described as 64 a. of arable land and 300 a. of pasture, (fn. 78) which was no doubt heathland. In the 18th century the farm consisted of 8 closes of land around the house, amounting to about 50 a. and probably used chiefly as meadow and pasture. About 1760 Robert Long, the owner of the property, inclosed 106 a. of heath land into four closes and cleared them for pasture; (fn. 79) they no doubt lay on the rising ground to the west of the Crockerton road. After the division of the estate in the early 19th century, (fn. 80) this western part remained part of the Longleat estate. The larger part of it was in 1842 called Heath Farm, farmed from the house now called Bore Hill Farm. (fn. 81) The old farmlands and the house which passed to the Astleys were let with lands in Bishopstrow, Warminster, and Sutton Veny amounting to well over 100 a. (fn. 82)

The woodland ½ league long and 4 furlongs broad, which belonged to Norton manor in 1086, probably covered the detached part of the parish adjoining Corsley. (fn. 83) In this part lay in 1362 the hamlet of Emwell where there were 10 a. of pasture and 60 a. of wood, the latter lying common. (fn. 84) The pasture and a grove called Emwell Coppice were let at farm at the Dissolution. (fn. 85) A piece of land at the north-west corner of the wood had been newly inclosed in 1549 while the rest of the tract consisted of Emwell Coppice and Dartford Wood. (fn. 86) A newly-built cottage in the south-west corner near Timbers Hill was let in 1588. (fn. 87) In the early 17th century the main part of Dartford Wood contained 170 a. well planted with trees, in which the tenants of Norton Bavant had common for their cattle; inclosures made from it comprised the 18 a. of Emwell Coppice 'anciently inclosed', 12 a. called Newleaze, no doubt the inclosure of c. 1549, and 8 a. 'of late times'. (fn. 88) In the mid-17th century much timber was cut down in the wood, and a survey of 1651 shows that land was being cleared for agriculture. Much of the western fringe of the wood consisted of closes of pasture and arable land with several cottages, while Emwell Coppice in the northeast and Tubb's Coppice in the south-west had been partly cut and sold by Sir James Thynne. The uninclosed part was then reckoned at 178 a., partly wood and partly a rabbit warren which had been mostly destroyed in the Civil War. The tenants of Norton made little use of their common rights because they lived too far away. (fn. 89) In the late 17th century Tubb's Coppice was let to be ploughed, the rent being respited while the tenants cleared the ground. (fn. 90) The wood was probably reduced to its present size in the 18th century. Mad Doctor's Farm stood at the north end in 1773. (fn. 91) In 1841 Dartford Wood and Ragland Coppice together contained 64 a. The remainder of the district consisted of the 89-acre Mad Doctor's Farm and several smaller holdings, all mixed arable and pasture land. (fn. 92) Almost all the district is now grazing land for dairy cattle, although the areas of woodland still remain.

The cloth trade in Norton is chiefly associated with the water mills on the Wylye. (fn. 93) Both mills in the main part of the parish were used as fulling mills in the 16th century. Among clothiers who occupied them may be mentioned some early members of the Benett family, (fn. 94) Geoffrey Hawkins, who moved to Bishopstrow later in the 16th century, (fn. 95) and the Everetts of Heytesbury in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 96) Robert Long, described as a clothier in 1753, (fn. 97) is probably to be identified with the owner of Butler's Coombe Farm. Weavers who lived in the village in the 17th and 18th centuries (fn. 98) must have worked either for the local clothiers or for masters in Warminster. A dyehouse adjoining Longbridge Fulling Mill was let in 1751. (fn. 99)

A field south of Mad Doctor's Farm adjoining Redford Water was called Brick Kiln Piece in 1842, (fn. 1) and the place where the earth was excavated can still be seen, but it is not known when it was worked. Stone quarries were worked in the late 18th century on the top of the downs north-east of the point where the Salisbury road now crosses the railway. A platform of chalk projecting at the top of the scarp and a channel extending from it down to the foot of the hill can still be seen. They were used for letting stone down, presumably by means of a winch. (fn. 2)


There were two mills at Norton in 1086. (fn. 3) A water mill belonged to the demesne of the manor in 1362; (fn. 4) it was probably the same mill which was let as a fulling mill to John Benett in 1486, (fn. 5) and was held with the demesne farm in the 16th century. (fn. 6) It passed with the farm to the Benett family, and descended with the manor until the 19th century. It was described both as a fulling mill and a corn mill in 1573, when it was held by a Bratton fuller, (fn. 7) but in 1625 it was described specifically as 'the grist mill'. (fn. 8) In 1788 it had recently been rebuilt and was used only as a corn mill, let at a rack rent of £42. (fn. 9) It continued in use as a corn mill until early in the present century. (fn. 10) The building is in 1963 used as a store house; it still contains its undershot wheel and much of its machinery.

Another fulling and corn mill in Norton was let by the Priory of Dartford in 1533 to Richard Bath alias Whitaker for 80 years. (fn. 11) The lease was assigned to John Benett, younger son of William (d. c. 1558), in 1560. (fn. 12) John's widow and her second husband underlet the mill to Geoffrey Hawkins of Norton, who 'planted himself there in the art of clothing'. (fn. 13) John's son William was able to buy in a reversion of the lease which was granted by the Crown in 1594, and he still held the mill in the early 17th century. (fn. 14) In 1609 the mill and a fishery in the river near it were granted to Edward Ferrers and Francis Philips at fee farm. (fn. 15) In 1611 William Benett of Norton made an agreement with William Benett of London that the latter should procure him a grant of the same mill, (fn. 16) and it is possible that it passed to him soon afterwards, although it is not certainly known to have belonged to the Benetts before the early 18th century. (fn. 17) In 1625 it was called Thresher's Mill from its occupier, Anthony Thresher. (fn. 18) In 1788 it was held on lives by Joseph Everett, (fn. 19) and it was still occupied by the Everett family in 1830. (fn. 20) It stood just above the bridge which carries the Sutton Veny road over the Wylye, where remains of the pond can still be seen.

A fee farm rent of 70s. 10d., the same as had been reserved on the lease of the mill in 1533, was charged by the Crown on it in 1609. (fn. 21) It subsequently passed into private hands; it belonged to William Levinz and his wife Anne in 1711. (fn. 22) In 1715 they conveyed it to Thomas Bennet of Salthrop in Wroughton. (fn. 23) Elizabeth Bennet, probably his widow, made the rent part of the endowment for the charity she founded at Broad Hinton and it was still paid to the trustees of that charity in the early 20th century. (fn. 24)

A mill at Henford's Marsh in the detached part of Norton Bavant south of Warminster is first heard of in 1332, when Robert Swoting assured it to Thomas of Helmesford and Joan his wife. (fn. 25) It subsequently passed to the Hungerford family; in 1421 the fulling mill called 'Wysshele' was let to Henry Tucker, (fn. 26) and in 1441 a chief rent of 2s. was paid to John Whissheley for 'Helmesffordesmull'. (fn. 27) By 1465 the 2s. rent belonged to Richard Page. (fn. 28) The mill seems to have passed from the possession of the Hungerfords by the mid-16th century. (fn. 29) Cecily Blake paid a chief rent of 22s. 6d. to the manor of Norton Bavant c. 1550 for closes near Henford's Marsh called Mill Mead and Westleyes (no doubt named from John Whissheley), and may well have occupied the mill itself. (fn. 30) John Blake paid the same rent in 1604. (fn. 31) Soon after this the mill belonged to Tristram Watts, who c. 1623 sold it to Francis Shergold. (fn. 32) In 1637 Shergold let the mill, which had been in ruins for many years to Joshua Abath, who rebuilt it and enlarged the watercourse to it. (fn. 33) It was used as a grist mill in 1678. (fn. 34) Edward Shergold owned the mill in 1691. (fn. 35) In 1733 John Gibbs paid the land tax for Shergold's mill, (fn. 36) and in 1773 it was owned by a Mrs. Halliday. It passed to the Astleys of Boreham c. 1796 (fn. 37) and remained part of their estate until it was broken up in 1884. It was then described as having been recently erected, and had five floors and modern machinery. (fn. 38) It remained in use until the early years of the present century, (fn. 39) and was pulled down just before the Second World War. (fn. 40)


There was no doubt a church at Norton Bavant in the mid-12th century, when Edward the priest of Norton was twice mentioned. (fn. 41) Part of a Norman font which was found re-used in the tower in 1894 also points to the existence of a church at that time. (fn. 42) The advowson was annexed to the lordship of the manor until the Dissolution; (fn. 43) it was reserved by the Crown when the rectory was granted away, and was exercised by the sovereign or the Lord Chancellor until 1955, when it was transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 44) Since 1956 the living has been held in plurality with Sutton Veny, where the vicar lives. (fn. 45)

The church was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 46) In 1373 the nuns of Dartford were licensed to appropriate the rectory. (fn. 47) At the Dissolution it was held on lease by Thomas Lovell of Stretton (Herts.) for 40 years at a rent of £12 16s.; it had previously been held by John Dew. (fn. 48) Further leases were made to Ralph Smethers in 1563, (fn. 49) John Middlecott in 1576, (fn. 50) Robert Whitwood in 1585, (fn. 51) and George Lazenby in 1593. (fn. 52) In the late 16th century the tithes were underlet at £50 a year. (fn. 53) In 1607 the rectory was granted in fee to Richard Roberts and George Tyte; (fn. 54) they subsequently sold it to Francis Phillips and Richard Moore, who surrendered it and obtained a new Crown grant in 1612. (fn. 55) Phillips and Moore sold it in the same year to James Spark of Horningsham, (fn. 56) who already held the leasehold interest in the rectory granted to Lazenby. (fn. 57) In 1614 Christopher Spark, son and heir of James, sold the rectory to Richard Pearce of Elm (Som.), (fn. 58) who bought a moiety for himself and a moiety on behalf of Simon Sloper of Warminster. (fn. 59) The rectory descended in moieties in the Pearce and Sloper families until 1681 when John Pearce of Elm and others conveyed their share to William Benett, lord of the manor. (fn. 60) Benett bought the remainder from Simon Sloper of Bath in the following year, (fn. 61) and from that time it descended in the same way as the manor.

Not all the great tithes of the parish belonged to the rectory. In 1842 Dartford Wood and all other lands in the detached part of Norton Bavant near Corsley were exempt from all tithes, while the other detached part south of Warminster paid all tithes, both great and small, to the vicar. (fn. 62) This arrangement, which was in force by 1609, (fn. 63) may date from the first endowment of the vicarage. The vicar also claimed tithes of hay throughout the rest of the parish except from the demesne farm in 1609; in 1842 he owned the tithe of hay from 46 a., presumably all the meadow-land in the parish, (fn. 64) which was perhaps also part of his original endowment. The tithes of the demesne farm were a cause of much controversy in the 17th century. Sixteenthcentury leases of it to the Benett family included all tithes arising from it, but the owners of the rectory alleged that this leasehold interest was not conveyed with the freehold of the farm. They were unable to make their claim good in several trials between 1674 and 1679. (fn. 65) In 1797 Thomas Benett conveyed the great tithes of Middleton Farm to James Bayly, the owner and lessee, in return for some lands in Norton. (fn. 66) By the time of the commutation of tithes the Benetts were evidently letting most of their property free of all tithes which belonged to them, and the award confirmed this arrangement. John Benett was awarded £12 for the great tithes of a small freehold belonging to James Knight, and £13 for some from his own lands. J.B.O. Bayly was awarded £60 for the tithe of corn and most of the tithe of hay of Middleton Farm. (fn. 67)

Nothing is known of any glebe land which belonged to the rectory before the 16th century. When it was let to Thomas Lovell in 1538 it included, beside the tithes, a tenement and 48 a. of land which had been held by John Dew, the previous lessee, and 6 a. of land called Marvens. (fn. 68) These lands were regularly mentioned as appurtenant to the rectory from then on, (fn. 69) and, whatever their origin, were generally described as glebe. In the late 16th century they were reckoned at 66 a., let at £23 a year. (fn. 70) At the inclosure of the parish in 1809 John Benett was awarded 38 a. of arable land and 45 a. of down for the rectory. (fn. 71) From the later 18th century the glebe was generally let with the farm. (fn. 72) The house belonging to the rectory and two barns were burnt down in the late 16th century, and the house had not been rebuilt some years later. (fn. 73) It was perhaps never replaced, for c. 1775 the parsonage yard contained only a barn. It stood south-east of the church on the side of the present road from the park gates to the main road. (fn. 74)

The vicarage was valued at £6 0s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 75) It was discharged from the payment of first fruits on the foundation of Queen Anne's Bounty; its value then was reckoned at £40 a year, but later in the century was said to be £50 or £60. (fn. 76) In 1783 the living was worth £63 or £64 a year. (fn. 77) The net income was £150 in 1835. (fn. 78) Three years later the living was endowed with £200 by Queen Anne's Bounty to meet benefactions of £200 by Edward Eliot, the vicar, and another £200 by trustees. (fn. 79) This and the commutation of the tithes raised the income to £228 by 1851. (fn. 80)

In 1609 the vicar claimed all tithes of the part of Norton near Warminster, and the small tithes and tithe of hay of all lands in the main part of the parish except the farm and certain new leazes taken out of the fields. (fn. 81) He collected his tithes in kind in 1770. (fn. 82) At the commutation the vicar was awarded £89 for tithes of hay, £44 for all tithes of the lands near Warminster, £15 for all the tithes of his own glebe, and £5 for the small tithes of the rectorial glebe. (fn. 83) In 1609 the vicar reckoned his glebe at 32 a. (fn. 84) and the terrier of 1783 records a similar amount. (fn. 85) At the inclosure the vicar was allotted 39 a. of field land in addition to the garden and pasture near the house. (fn. 86) It was let for £85 in 1851 (fn. 87) and for £96 in 1887. (fn. 88) J. M. Benett-Stanford bought the vicarial glebe in 1934 and added it to his estate. (fn. 89)

Little is known of any of the medieval vicars of Norton. Roger Lovell, instituted in 1531, survived the changes of religion into Mary's reign; it was said in 1556 that he had two benefices, but he was able to produce permission for this. The church was then without the necessary ornaments. (fn. 90) Nothing is known of any ejection in Elizabeth I's reign or during the Interregnum. John Berjew, vicar from 1638, was approved as a preacher by the Long Parliament in 1642, (fn. 91) and held Norton until 1662, when he was succeeded by his son of the same name. (fn. 92) William Wroughton, vicar 1736–49, was a pluralist, holding Norton as a second benefice to Westbury. (fn. 93) Thomas Fisher, 1765–94, held the living of Bishopstrow, where he resided, and performed one service on Sundays at Norton. The sacrament was administered four times a year to 7 or 8 people. (fn. 94) His successor, George Smith, held the perpetual curacy of Hill Deverill from 1798. (fn. 95) In 1851 the average congregation at morning and afternoon services was about 60, and there was a Sunday School of 30 children. (fn. 96)

There was a chantry at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr in the church in the mid-14th century; it belonged to the manor, but nothing is known of it after the lordship passed to the nuns of Dartford. (fn. 97) A chapel dedicated to St. Stephen stood in the buildings belonging to the Priory of Brimpsfield at Middleton. The oblations belonged to the Vicar of Norton. In 1443 the small thatched building was partly ruinous, and no more is known of it. (fn. 98)

The church of ALL SAINTS', a dedication mentioned in 1364, (fn. 99) stands now just inside the park gates of Norton Bavant house. It consists of a nave and chancel, south chapel off the middle of the nave, north porch and vestry, and western tower; of these only the tower and the arch into the chapel date from before 1838–40, when the rest of the church was rebuilt by William Walker of Shaftesbury. (fn. 1) The old church was on the same plan as the present, which was, however, 'somewhat enlarged'. (fn. 2) The arch into the chapel is of the 14th century, (fn. 3) and there can be little doubt that the chapel itself housed the chantry mentioned above. A piscina survived in it until the rebuilding. (fn. 4) The two lower stages of the tower are also of the 14th century; the upper of them has a moulded fireplace, the flue of which was blocked when a third stage was rebuilt or added c. 1500. The whole is surmounted by a moulded string course, with angle gargoyles and a battlemented parapet. At the north-east angle of the tower is a stair turret projecting to the north. It is carried well above the top stage of the tower, and has its own string course and battlements, crowned with a small stone spire. (fn. 5) The remainder of the church is of ashlar from Tisbury, in a vaguely Perpendicular style. It was built between 1838 and 1840, partly by church rates but mainly by subscription; John Benett, the lay rector, provided for the chancel and the chapel, while his sisters gave largely toward the remainder. (fn. 6) It was restored at the cost of John Torrance in 1868, while his widow restored the tower in 1894. (fn. 7)

The most noteworthy internal feature is the pair of 17th-century wrought-iron gates at the entrance to the chapel. In the chapel are many monuments of the Benett family from 1653 to the present century. Brasses of male and female figures with kneeling children below occupy an indented stone in which only the two upper shields survived at the beginning of the 19th century. One of the shields bears a merchant's mark and the initials W.B., and the other two pairs of shears. (fn. 8) In spite of this the present brass has an inscription to John Benett (d. 1461); this was mentioned by Hoare, who is not clear about the state of the brass in his day. (fn. 9) The font in use dates from the rebuilding of the church. Part of a Norman one was found re-used upside down as the lowest of the tower steps in 1894. (fn. 10)

There were three bells at Norton in 1553. One of them still remains, inscribed 'Sancte Tome Ora Pro Nobis'; it is thought to have been cast at Bristol in the late 14th century, and forms the third of the present peal of five. The first was added to the peal in 1894; the second is a re-casting of that date of a bell formerly dated 1656; the fourth is by Edward Lott, the Warminster founder, dated 1711, and the fifth is of 1656. (fn. 11) A tradition that the bells were taken to Norton from Bishopstrow seems to be unfounded, (fn. 12) at least for the bells dated 1656 and 1711, for each bears the name of a churchwarden who certainly lived in Norton. (fn. 13) There were four bells in the church by 1783. (fn. 14)

In 1553 Edward VI's Commissioners left a 9–oz. chalice at Norton and took 2 oz. of silver away. The plate in 1783 included a chalice dated 1576, but this has been replaced by one given by Anna Maria Benett in 1849. There are also three patents and a flagon, all given by members of the Benett family in the 18th century. A bowl, hallmarked 1696, and given by Etheldred Benett for use as an alms-dish in 1824, was originally made for letting blood. (fn. 15) The organ is by W. Sweetland of Bath, dated 1876.

In 1783 the vicarage was part brick and part stone covered with thatch, and contained a parlour, a kitchen, and two good and two smaller chambers. (fn. 16)


There were six sectaries in Norton Bavant in 1662. (fn. 17) Three Anabaptists and a Quaker were presented in 1674 with three others who did not attend church, (fn. 18) and two years later there were eight who refused to conform. (fn. 19) Houses were registered for worship by Independents in 1788, 1811, and 1832, (fn. 20) probably as stations of the New Meeting at Warminster, but no permanent congregation has ever been established in the village. (fn. 21)


In 1808 the employment of children in agriculture prevented a full time school, but in the winter evenings they were instructed in reading and the catechism. (fn. 22) In 1818 it was reported that the poorer children of the parish were generally taught to read, and that those unable to pay were instructed at the expense of certain individuals. (fn. 23) There was a school in 1833 for between 20 and 30 children supported partly by subscriptions and partly by payments from parents. (fn. 24) In 1843 grants were made by the state and the National Society towards converting a building as a school for about 40 pupils. (fn. 25) A cottage was conveyed as an endowment for the school in 1857, (fn. 26) and in c. 1858 the school was said to have an endowment of £400. (fn. 27) In 1871 it provided accommodation for 38 children; of the 24 who attended only 5 were boys. (fn. 28) Average attendance in 1919 was 27, (fn. 29) and in 1921 the school was closed. (fn. 30)


Catherine Mompesson at an unknown date left £20, the interest of which was to provide the poor with linen for shirts and shifts. The management of the charity was taken over by the Benett family in the mid-18th century. In 1841 Etheldred and Anna Maria Benett added £20 to the principal sum. By his will dated 1811 John Knight left £50 to provide payments for poor widows and orphans. George Smith, Rector of Norton from 1794, left £20 to provide blankets to be given away at Christmas to the deserving poor. Etheldred and Anna Maria Benett added £20 to it in 1841. (fn. 31) The income from all these three charities, which amounted in 1952–5 to £2 11s. a year, is distributed to needy people in the parish. (fn. 32)


1 The following maps were used: O.S. Maps 1/25,000, ST 84, 94 (Provisional edn.); 6" Wilts. LII (1st and later edns.); W.R.O. Inclosure and Tithe Awards.
2 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 142.
3 See p. 50.
4 See p. 90.
5 Bounds of Wilts. 16.
6 Census, 1881, 1891.
7 V.C.H. Wilts. i(1), 93, 142, 185, 210, 257, 268, 277.
8 Ibid. iv. 311.
9 Eton College MSS. Survey 1538.
10 V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 311.
11 W.N. & Q. iii. 537.
12 V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 354.
13 See p. 54.
14 Warminster Miscellany, June 1862.
15 Rural Rides, ed. G. D. H. Cole, ii. 389–90.
16 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 142.
17 See p. 80.
18 Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 285.
19 See p. 81.
20 Wilts Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 194; Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 152; for a small estate retained by the Scudamores in Norton, see Hist. MSS. Com. Hastings, i. 223, 245.
21 Rot. Parl. i. 202; Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, 561.
22 Wrottesley, Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls, 37.
23 Cat. Anct. D. v. A 11962; Cal. Close, 1343–6, 451.
24 Cal. Close, 1343–6, 456; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 166; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, 440, 543; 1345–8, 125; Cal Close, 1346–9, 92.
25 Cal. Inq. p.m. x, p. 314.
26 Cal. Close, 1369–74, 421–2; the reference to a son Roger in Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77, 196, is probably an error.
27 Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 126, 187.
28 V.C.H. Kent, ii. 181, where an account of the house will be found.
29 Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 245.
30 Cal. Close, 1360–4, 383.
31 K.B. 27/421 rot. 137d.; Cal. Close, 1369–74, 518; Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 370.
32 Cal. Close, 1389–92, 241.
33 M.I. in church.
34 Cal. Close, 1485–1500, 172; S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757 mm. 28d–29.
35 L. & P. Hen. VIII, i(1), p. 224.
36 Genealogist, n.s. xi. 249–50.
37 P.C.C. 26 Spert.
38 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757 m. 29.
39 L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx(1), p. 684; W.R.O. 413, Copy of Letters Patent.
40 P.C.C. Admons. 1559–71, ed. Glencross, 66; cf. W.R.O. 413, where there is a will dated 1558.
41 W.N. & Q. vi. 184.
42 W.R.O. 413, Letters Patent.
43 C 66/1342 m.1; W.R.O. 413, Assignment Woodrington to Benett.
44 C 66/1822 m. 19.
45 W.R.O. 413, Deed of Sale, Salter and Williams to Benett and Turner, and Arts. of Agreement between tenants, 1611.
46 C142/375/142.
47 W.R.O. 413, Will of Thos. Benett.
48 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, ped. opp. p. 78.
49 Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 24 March 1788; Lond. Gaz. 1788, p. 125.
50 W.R.O. 413, Deed Parry and others to Benett, 25 March 1789.
51 Ibid. Papers in Chancery suit, Benett v. Wyndham and others; cf. Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), which does not mention J. E. Benett.
52 Burke, Land. Gent. (1937).
53 W.A.M. lii. 132–3.
54 W.A.S. Libr. Devizes, TS. History of Norton Bavant by J. M. Benett-Stanford.
55 Ex. inf. Sir Anthony Rumbold and Sir Kenneth Nicolson.
56 Longleat MS. 8829.
57 W.R.O. 413, Inv. of Wm. Benett, 1618.
58 Ibid. Contract, 1641.
59 Ibid. Inv. of Thos. Benett, 1654.
60 W.A.S. Libr. Devizes, TS. History of Norton Bavant by J. M. Benett-Stanford.
61 Walters, Wilts. Bells, 95.
62 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 154.
63 Bk. of Fees, 743.
64 Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 276.
65 B.M. Add. MS. 6164, f. 38.
66 S.C. 6/1127/11.
67 Cal. Fine R. 1369–77, 362; 1377–83, 22, 36.
68 V.C.H. Glos. ii. 102–3, where St. Stephen of Fontenay in the diocese of Bayeux is mistakenly confused with St. Wandrille (Fontenelle) in Rouen diocese; Gallia Christiana (1874), xi. 155, 413.
69 Feud. Aids, v. 274.
70 Dugdale, Mon. vi. 1436; Rot. Parl. v. 81.
71 V.C.H. Bucks. ii. 170.
72 Cal. Pat. 1467–77, 63.
73 Ibid. 1461–67, 435, 532; 1467–77, 266; 1485–94, 26; Cal. Fine R. 1461–71, 149; 1471–85, 27, 31, 75; Cal. Close, 1461–8, 345; 1476–85, 371; Rot. Parl. vi. 303, 304, 500.
74 S.C. 6/Hen. VII/1473.
75 Eton College MSS. Survey. Thanks are due to Mr. H. N. Blakiston for guidance and access to the College MSS.
76 W.R.O. 413, Will dated 1558; see above, p. 48, n.40
77 P.C.C. Admons. 1559–71, ed. Glencross, 67.
78 C 3/179/57; C 2/Eliz. 1/85/30.
79 Eton College MSS. Deeds; see below.
80 Eton College MSS. Deeds.
81 C. P. 25 (2)/889/9 Wm. III Mich.
82 W.N. & Q. vi. 167.
83 W.R.O. 413, Ch. Rates, 1708, 1710, 1714, 1720.
84 Ibid. Land Tax Assessment, 1733.
85 Eton College MSS. Deeds and Letters; W.R.O. 132, Will of Jas. Bayly 1836.
86 Eton College MSS. Various papers; W.A.S. Libr. Devizes, TS. History of Norton Bavant by J. M. BenettStanford.
87 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 137.
88 e.g. Bk. of Fees, 719; Cal. Close, 1405–9, 458.
89 Bk. of Fees, 719.
90 Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 239.
91 B.M. Add. Ch. 26703.
92 C.P. 25(1)/257/65/12; the property was still remembered as Bronker's lands c. 1500: Eton College MSS. Copy Survey c. 1500.
93 Cal. Pat. 1476–85, 501.
94 Longleat MSS. Parcel XXVII, Rental 1508.
95 Eton College MSS. Survey of Middleton Brimpsfield, 1609.
96 W.R.O. 88, Deed Tocotes to Stump, 1535.
97 W.R.O. 413, Free Rental temp. Edw. VI.
98 W.N. & Q. vii. 212.
99 Wilts. Visitation Pedigrees, 1623 (Harl. Soc. cv-vi), 33–4; Complete Baronetage, i. 193.
1 Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 179–80.
2 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 80.
3 W.R.O. 413, Church Rate, 1692.
4 See above.
5 Eton College MSS. Survey 1609.
6 Ibid. Letter from Wm. Bayly 1769.
7 Ibid. correspondence from J. B. O. Bayly.
8 C.P. 25(1)/251/17/20.
9 Longleat MS. 9078.
10 Ibid. 9090; B.M. Add. Ch. 26696; Cal. Close, 1288–96, 112; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1242–1326 (Index Libr.), 250.
11 Longleat MS. 9129.
12 Ibid. 9131.
13 Ibid. 9143.
14 Ibid. 9153.
15 Ibid. 9172–3.
16 Cal. Pat. 1391–3, 303.
17 C.P. 25(1)/256/59/16.
18 S.C. 6/1061/23.
19 S.C. 6/1061/24.
20 S.C. 6/1061/25; Cal. Close, 1461–8, 272; 1468–76, 59; Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Dunworth, ped. opp. p. 20. Cf. Sir W. R. Drake, Fasciculus Mervinensis, 7.
21 W.A.M. xxxvii. 367; W.R.O. 413, Church Rate 1651; Robert and Henry Long of 'Botlars' are mentioned in the will of Thos. Long of Trowbridge, dated 1555 (P.C.C. 12 Chayre), but no Longs were taxed in the parish in 1545 or 1576.
22 Longleat MSS. Title Deeds of Butler's Coombe.
23 W.R.O. Land Tax Assessments and Tithe Award; Bishopstrow Parish Records, Eastleigh Estate Sale Catalogue, 1884.
24 C 3/120/68; C 3/129/58.
25 Req. 2/98/23.
26 W.R.O. 413, Survey of Manor, 1604.
27 Ibid. Agreement, Benett and Turner and other tens., 1611.
28 Ibid.; ibid. Survey of Manor, 1604; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 179–80.
29 See p. 50.
30 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terriers, 1609, 1678; W.R.O. 413, Church Rate, 1692.
31 W.R.O. 413, Church Rate 1708; Marven was still living in 1709: Eton College MSS. Survey, 1709.
32 See p. 47.
33 Cal. Pat. 1549–51, 70.
34 W.R.O. 413, Papers in Benett v. Thynne.
35 Ibid.; C3/396/30; L.R. 2/301, f. 223f; Longleat MS. 7345.
36 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 142.
37 Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 319–22.
38 See p. 48.
39 W.R.O. 413, Survey of Manor, 1604.
40 The biggest exceptions were probably the vicarial and rectorial glebe.
41 e.g. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 81–2; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 179–80.
42 Longleat MS. 8830.
43 Hoare, op. cit. 81–2.
44 W.R.O. 413, Lease Benett to Chambers, 1611.
45 Ibid. Lease Benett to Knight, 1675; the practice of leasing land in this way is mentioned in Longleat MS. 8830, c. 1590–1600.
46 W.R.O. 413, Letter Long to Benett, 1680.
47 Ibid. Survey of Manor, 1604, and Agreement Benett and Turner and tenants, 1611.
48 Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 179–80.
49 W.R.O. 130, Deeds Dew to Benett, 1703; earlier deeds relating to both properties are in W.R.O. 413. Whatley and Flower were the grantees in 1611.
50 See p. 51.
51 W.R.O. 413, Land Tax Assessment, 1733.
52 Ibid. Sale Particular, 1788.
53 Ibid. Deed of Exchange Benett and Bayly, 1797. They had been acquired from the families of Edwards and Chambers, both among the grantees in 1611.
54 Map penes Sir Kenneth Nicolson.
55 45 Geo. III, c. 74 (Priv. Act).
56 W.R.O. 135, Draft Inclosure Map.
57 H.O. 67/23.
58 W.R.O. 256, Minutes of Inclosure Commissioners.
59 W.R.O. Inclosure Award.
60 Ibid. Land Tax Assessments.
61 Ibid. Inclosure Award.
62 Andrews and Dury, Map (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), pl. 7.
63 W.R.O. Land Tax Assessments.
64 Ibid. Tithe Award.
65 W.R.O. 413, Rentals 1852–70; W.A.M. xlv. 338.
66 W.A.S. Libr. Devizes, TS. History of Norton Bavant by J. M. Benett-Stanford.
67 Ibid.; W.A.M. xlv. 339.
68 W.A.M. xlv. 340.
69 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 137–8, 155.
70 B.M. Add. MS. 6164, f. 38.
71 Eton College MSS. Survey, 1538, and Deeds; S.C. 6/Hen. VII/1473.
72 Eton College MSS. Copy Survey, c. 1500.
73 Ibid. Survey, 1538.
74 Ibid. Survey, 1709 and Correspondence.
75 Ibid. Survey and Map, 1770.
76 Ibid. Correspondence.
77 C.P. 25(1)/251/17/20.
78 C.P. 25(1)/256/59/16.
79 Longleat MSS. Title Deeds of Butler's Coombe.
80 See p. 51.
81 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
82 W.R.O. 160a Astley Settlement, 1849; Bishopstrow Parish Records, Eastleigh Estate Sale Catalogue, 1884.
83 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 142.
84 Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 319–22.
85 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757 m. 28d.
86 Cal. Pat. 1549–51, 70.
87 Longleat MS. 7343.
88 W.R.O. 413, Custom of Manor of Norton Bavant.
89 L.R. 2/301, f. 223.
90 Longleat MS. 10652.
91 Andrews and Dury, Map (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), pl. 7.
92 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
93 See below.
94 See p. 48.
95 Sess. Mins. 1563–92 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 61, 62; see above, p. 10.
96 Univ. Brit. Dir. (1798), iii. 262; Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830).
97 Wilts. Apprentices (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), p. 169.
98 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Chwdns'. Pres. 1662; Wilts. Apprentices (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), pp. 39, 103.
99 W.R.O. 413, Abstract of leases.
1 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
2 Map penes Sir Kenneth Nicolson.
3 V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 142.
4 Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 319–22.
5 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757 m. 28d.
6 See p. 48.
7 W.R.O. 413, Bond Benett to Whatley.
8 Longleat MSS. Parcel XXI, Hundred presentment, 1625.
9 W.R.O. 413, Sale Particular, 1788.
10 Warminster Miscellany, 25 March and 13 June, 1868; Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1911).
11 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757 m. 29.
12 W.R.O. 413, Survey of Manor, 1604.
13 C 2/Eliz. I/B. 5/30.
14 W.R.O. 413, Survey of Manor, 1604.
15 C 66/1821 m. 1.
16 W.R.O. 413, Agreement 6 Feb. 1611.
17 C.P. 43/547 rot. 95.
18 Longleat MSS. Parcel XXI, Hundred presentment, 1625.
19 W.R.O. 413, Sale Particular, 1788.
20 C.P. 43/990 rot. 5.
21 C 66/1821 m. 1.
22 C.P. 25(2)/980/10 Anne Trin.; probably Wm. Levinz, M. P. for Nottingham 1710–14: N. & Q. 2nd ser. iii. 515.
23 C.P. 25(2)/1077/1 Geo. I Trin.; W.R.O. 413, Accounts Benett and Bennet, 1722–32.
24 Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 557, 559.
25 C.P. 25(1)/254/42/15.
26 S.C. 6/1061/23.
27 S.C. 6/1061/11.
28 Tropenell Cart. ed. Davies, ii. 67.
29 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3918.
30 W.R.O. 413, Copy of Free Rental, Edw. VI.
31 Ibid. Survey of Manor, 1604.
32 C 2/Chas. I/S. 109/51.
33 C 6/154/113; W.R.O. 413, Lease Benett to Abath, 1637.
34 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terrier, 1678.
35 C.P. 43/431 rot. 58.
36 W.R.O. 413, Land Tax Assessment, 1733
37 W.R.O. Land Tax Assessments.
38 Ibid.; W.R.O. 160a, Settlements 1849 and 1873; Bishopstrow Parish Records, Eastleigh Estate Sale Catalogue.
39 Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1903).
40 Ex inf. the owner of Henford's Marsh Farm (1962).
41 Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i. 340, 349.
42 W.N. &Q. i. 475.
43 Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. passim.
44 Ibid.; Crockford; Sar. Dioc. Regy. Patronage Reg.
45 Ex. inf. Revd. D. V. Evening.
46 Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 181.
47 Cal. Pat. 1370–74, 327; Cal. Pap. Let. iv. 517.
48 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757; E 321/4/14.
49 Cal. Pat. 1560–3, 493; it is unlikely that this grant took effect; it included the lease of the Church House which Smethers never enjoyed: see above, p. 51.
50 C 66/1156.
51 C 66/1285 m. 12; Req. 2/89/52.
52 C 66/1404; Lazenby subsequently assigned his interest, which was still reversionary: W.R.O. 413, Watson to Reason, 1593; ibid. Pleadings in Sloper and Pearce v. Benett; C 2/Jas. I/S. 14/22.
53 Longleat MS. 8830.
54 C 66/1719 no. 2.
55 W.R.O. 413, Pleadings in Sloper and Pearce v. Benett; C 66/1900 no. 8.
56 C 54/2112 no. 13.
57 Moulton's 1930 Catalogue, 243.
58 W.R.O 413, Pleadings in Sloper and Pearce v. Benett.
59 W.R.O. 130, Agreements Sloper and Pearce, 1618, 1619, 1626; Moulton's 1930 Catalogue, 244.
60 W.R.O. 413, Deed Pearce to Benett; the Pearces seem to have claimed some right in the rectory as late as 1720: C.P. 25(2)/1088/6. Geo. I East.
61 W.R.O. 413, Deed Sloper to Benett.
62 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
63 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 81–2.
64 Ibid.; W.R.O. Tithe Award.
65 W.R.O. 413, Pleadings in Sloper and Pearce v. Benett; W.N. & Q. i. 540.
66 W.R.O. 413, Deed of exchange, Benett and Bayly.
67 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
68 S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1757; E 321/4/14.
69 e.g. W.R.O. 413, Deed Stockman and Good to Spark, 1612.
70 Longleat MS. 8830.
71 W.R.O. Inclosure Award.
72 Ibid. Land Tax Assessments and Tithe Award.
73 Longleat MS. 8829.
74 Map of Norton Bavant penes Sir K. Nicolson.
75 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 103.
76 Ecton, Thesaurus, various edns.
77 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Visitation Queries, 1783.
78 Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, H.C. 54, pp. 842–3 (1835), xxii.
79 Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty, pp. ccxxiv, ccxxxvi.
80 H.O. 129/10/260.
81 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 81–2.
82 Eton College MSS. Survey and Map, 1770.
83 W.R.O. Tithe Award.
84 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 81–2; apparently statute acres, for the no. of field acres is over 40.
85 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terrier, 1783.
86 W.R.O. Inclosure Award.
87 H.O. 129/10/260.
88 Retn. of Glebe, H.C. 307, p. 166 (1887), lxiv.
89 W.A.S. Libr. Devizes, TS. History of Norton Bavant by J. M. Benett-Stanford.
90 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Ep. Vis. 1556.
91 Shaw, Hist. Eng. Ch. 1640–60, ii. 302.
92 Foster, Alumn. Oxon. 1st ser. i. 112; cf. W.A.M. xxxiv. 175, where father and son are confused.
93 Venn, Alumn. Cantab. 1st ser. iv. 480.
94 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Vis. Queries, 1783.
95 Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues (1835), pp. 842–3; Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Heytesbury, 273.
96 H.O. 129/10/260.
97 Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 129; 1364–7, 1; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 319–22.
98 Eton College MSS. Surveys, 1443, 1538.
99 Cal. Pat. 1364–7, 1.
1 Pevsner, Wilts. (Buildings of England), 323.
2 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 79, and Addenda, 58.
3 C. E. Ponting, 'Notes on the Churches in the Neighbourhood of Warminster', W.A.M. xxvii. 266–8.
4 Hoare Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 79.
5 W.A.M. xxvii, 266–8.
6 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Addenda, 58.
7 Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1903).
8 W.A.M. xxxix. 400–1.
9 Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Warminster, 79.
10 W.N. & Q. i. 475.
11 Walters, Wilts. Bells, 147–8; W.A.M. xxvii. 267–8.
12 W.A.M. xxvii. 268.
13 e.g. 1656 bell, Walter Chambers: W.A.M. xxxvii. 367; 1711 bell, Geo. Knight: W.R.O. 413, Land Tax Assessment 1708. A Geo. Knight also appears on the 1656 bell, and the surname regularly occurs in the village in the 17th century.
14 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terrier, 1783.
15 Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 94–5; Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terrier, 1783.
16 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Glebe Terrier, 1783.
17 Sar. Dioc. R.O. Chwdns.' Pres. 1662.
18 Ibid. 1674.
19 W.N. & Q. iii. 537.
20 G.R.O. Retns. of Regns.
21 W.R.O. Retns. of Nonconformist Meetings, 1829; H.O. 129/10/260.
22 Lambeth Palace Libr. MS. 1732.
23 Digest of Returns to Cttee. of Educ. of Poor, H.C. 224 (1819), ix (2).
24 Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62 (1835), xliii.
25 Nat. Soc. files.
26 Return of Non-Provided Schools, H.C. 178 (1906), lxxxviii.
27 Acct. of Wilts. Schools, H.C. 27 (1859 Sess. 1), xxi (2).
28 Return relating to Elem. Educ. H.C. 201 (1871), lv.
29 Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1919.
30 Ibid. 1922.
31 Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 355–6.
32 Char. Com. Accts. File G. 31; ex. inf. Revd. D. V. Evening.

Fisherton de la Mere