History – The Twentieth Century

World Wars, Spitfires & the demolition of the Manor

The Census population figures are:

1911 387
1921 363
1931 396
1951 374
1961 540
1971 533
1981 529
1991 703
2001 859

1914-18: 8 South Marston soldiers died in World War I & are commemorated on the War Memorial near the Church.

1918: the 1918 Auction Catalogue &; Map for the disposal of the Bell Estate can be compared with the 1840 Tithe Map & Apportionments Register to show the changes & new buildings in the village over that period.

The Bell Estate included 709 acres, the Manor House (built c.1860 in “the Tudor Style”, possibly imitating the original manor house & re-using some of its materials & features) & Lodge, 8 farms & 30 cottages, almost half of the land & buildings of the village:

Farms: Manor, St. Julien’s, Church, Rowborough, Priors Farley, Stones, South Marston &; Longleaze, all built c.1700-1800;

Cottages: Gordon, Leaze (2), built c.1750; Red House, Fairthorne (4), Old Post Office, Exton (2), Elm (2), River (4), all early 1800’s; Rowborough (2), St. Mary’s, Meadow, Manor (6), a ll1840-1870; Dryden (2), St. Michael’s, c.1890.

The following are Listed Buildings: the farmhouses at Marston, Longleaze, Hunts Copse, Nightingale, Church, Manor, Burton Grove (& Barn) & Priory Farms, Lock Keeper’s Cottage,  Red House & Gordon Cottage.  The Council’s Listing Descriptions give full details of these buildings & suggest that Priory Farmhouse is the oldest, built c.1650.

The Church also is Listed & the description refers to “doors C12 from earlier church, C13 chancel, C15 tower, West door [porch] & South Chapel 1886, 1886 restoration, Memorials [Duke, Freke, Southby] 1719-1770”.

The National Archive holds photographs of the School (1900) & Manor Farm (1920) & the National Monuments Record in Swindon holds more than 50 aerial photographs of the village from 1942 to 1988 (produced on 7 days notice if you telephone first & quote ref. 15980).

1938-45: the Air Ministry chose South Marston as a new site for aircraft production which began in 1940 with the Master & then Stirling Bombers & Spitfires for World War II.

1945-1985: Vickers-Armstrong purchased the aircraft site, built Spitfires, then Attackers, Swifts & Scimitars until 1961 & component parts for aircraft, hovercraft & the railway before selling the site to the Honda car manufacturer in 1985.

1985-2008:  Honda car production began in the 1980’s & continues today.  Part of the former Vickers site is a multi-business industrial park.

1980’s: the Victorian Manor house was demolished in the 1980’s & replaced by estates of new houses built in its grounds &; the adjoining fields.

We especially welcome any contributions to this section, maybe a project from the school, memories of those who lived through the war years, stories or photographs; in fact anything of interest during this century !

History – Victorian

1837 to 1901

The Bell Family Estate

The 1840 Tithe Map & Apportionments List which can be viewed at the Wilts & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham names all landowners & tenants & shows all buildings in South Marston in 1840 & provides a basis for tracing all post-1840 landownership & building in the village.
In 1840 a few absentee landowners owned more than half of the village’s 1646 acres, including the Earl of Carnarvon (South Marston Farm 209a., occupier William Pinniger, & Priors Farley Farm 100a., occupier John White), Alfred Batson (Marston Farm 123a., William Large), Rev. James Grooby (Manor Farm 115a., William Pinegar), Thomas Bunbury (Oxleaze Farm 75a., Henry Howes), Henry Coleman (Rowborough Farm 92a., Richard Love), Mary Crowdy (Stones Farm 59a., John Hall), John Phipp (Nightingale Farm 50 a., Harriet White), Mary Smith (Church Farm 68a., Thomas Smith), John Mountford (The Manor 31a., John White), Jon Kempster (Longleaze Farm 27a.).

The vicar was Rev. Edward Rowden, the Titcombe family owned Gordon Cottage & the cottage that once adjoined St Michael’s Cottage (which was yet to be built) & all other houses, owners & tenants can be seen. No houses are shown adjoining the South side of the road from Pound Corner to the Manor.

The 1840 Tithe Map also gives many field names, recalling the meadows “The Little Hayes, The Great Hayes & The Laines” South of the canal, the marsh “Great Marsh” (now The Carpenters Arms) , the former open fields “Munday’s Leaze & Denford’s Leaze” on the West side of Old Vicarage Lane & former owners “Ring’s Ground, Cusse’s Meadow, Horton’s Close & Blandy’s”.

The 1841 Census records the village population as 442.

David Backhouse in his history of Swindon pubs mentions 3 South Marston pubs of the 1840’s: the Carriers Arms (established 1827), the Carpenters Arms & the Royal Oak (a canalside pub, now Acorn Bridge Farm).

Alfred Bell bought the manor, farms and houses from the Earl of Carnarvon &; others in the 1850’s and acquired a village in a poor state. The Bells built new houses, built the school in the 1860’s & the Old Vicarage, demolished the Elizabethan manor house & replaced it, & refurbished & extended the church. The late 1800’s saw a similar transformation of the village’s buildings to that probably witnessed in 1200 & 1600 with old stone & thatched cottages replaced by Victorian “villas” of stone, brick & slate.

Do any pictures of the original manor house exist?

Farming declined &; an agricultural community became railway workers &; soldiers. The 1901 Census records the population as 348, a decline of 94 since 1841, probably due to the decline in agriculture & the relocation of workers into industrial Swindon.

The National Archive holds photographs of the school & the school children from the turn of the century.

Books by Alfred Williams & Cornelius Head (Nelus) give an insight into Victorian times.

In 1918 the Bell estate was dispersed & the 1918 Auction Catalogue & Map lists numerous village farms and fields, “old fashioned” cottages & “modern” Victorian villas.

History – Georgian

1714 to 1837

The Southby Family & North Wiltshire Cheese.

The Southbys appear to have purchased the manor from the Hungerfords in 1661 & the Southby & Duke families were prominent in the village from 1670 until 1800. The Church Records reveal more than fifty baptisms, marriages & burials for the families. John Southby was followed by Anthony Southby &; then Henry Southby & his wife, Elizabeth, who had ten children from 1689 to 1706; Robert & Jane Duke; and Anthony Southby (jnr) & his wife Anne who had ten children from 1719 to 1737. Both Southbys & Dukes have memorials in the Church.

National Archive documents held at the Wilts & Swindon History Centre include numerous Southby family deeds from 1661 to 1767, together with another 100 18th Century deeds for the village, but the content &; legibility is not clear!

Richard Southby who lived in Highworth appears to have sold the manor (“lately occupied by John Curtis”) to Francis Warneford of Sevenhampton in 1767 but it is difficult to explain why, 6 years later, the 1773 Andrews & Dury map of Wiltshire indicates the Southbys still to own the manor house. The 1667 deed from Southby to Warneford refers to a number of field names including Home Close, Home Ground, Didpitt, Sheep Close & Bare Furlong. “Bare Furlong” is probably the “Berefurlong” referred to in the Hungerford Cartulary as being part of the vast East Field in the 13th Century. Leaden Hill also referred to in deeds at this time was “Ledenhull” in 1365. Francis Warneford appears to have sold or leased the Manor to Mary Dyke.

The open expanses of arable fields and common marsh & meadow which had supported the Medieval villagers were gradually enclosed from 1400 onwards forming the field pattern which we see today. Enclosure was used to contain livestock but as demand for cheese & butter rose dairy farming became more intensive & new farmsteads began to appear. Most of the farmhouses which currently exist were built in the 1700’s (see Swindon Council’s Listing Descriptions) and by 1770 there were as many as fifteen farms. The new farms concentrated on cows and cheese (not milk, which could not be kept), many of the farms had a purpose built “cheese room” & North Wiltshire cheese was as famous as Cheddar.

The booming cheese industry & its transportation to new markets further afield following the construction of the canal & then the railway saw land bought in the village by wealthy local & national businessmen: the Frekes from Hannington, the Hippisleys & the Ashfordby-Trenchards from Stanton Fitzwarren, the Warnefords from Sevenhampton, Walter James James & the Earls of Carnarvon & Radnor (deeds in the National Archive).

The National Archive also holds bills for a dairy farm (1762-72) rented by Thomas Titcombe from the Hippisley Estate, a 1795 lease of Rowborough Farm (which now had a farmhouse) &; for the agricultural workers 30 deeds (1729-1906) for the Red House & 4 adjoining cottages (Fairthorne).

The 1801 Census records the village population a s 252. Common family names in the Church Records include Green, Smith, Whiteman, Wells, Jeffries, Bridges, Wilkins, Edwards, Titcomb, Sellwood & the farming families of Horton, Litten, Kempster, Pineger, Stone & Morse. Baptisms from 1813 also listed the occupations of the fathers, mainly labourers but also farmers, dairymen, fellmongers, lock-keepers, carpenters, shoemakers, carriers, blacksmiths & one soldier, William Kemble. William Kemble survived Napoleon, returned to life as a labourer, married Mary Spackman in 1813, suffered the deaths of his infant sons in 1814 & 1823 & left the village.

The Marriage register indicates occupation or place of origin from 1700 onwards, most newly weds being of this parish (“tp”) & or the surrounding villages. Burials from 1813 include the age of the deceased, several living into their eighties & one, John Mundy of the durable Mundy family, aged 92 at his death in 1825. Was he a descendant of Elizabeth Munday, the first recorded baptism in 1539?.

It is hoped that enthusiasts will contribute further information regarding the canal(1800) & the railway (1830); the National Archive holds documents regarding both.

The 1840 Tithe Map & Apportionments List gives a comprehensive picture of the village in 1840.

History – Stuart

1603 to 1714

Documentary Record & The National Archive

The Church Records indicate a village population of about 125 in 1603 & the village is mentioned as prosperous in the Wiltshire Inquisitions Post Mortem of Charles I (c.1630). Reference throughout the Inquisitions PM of South Marston residents Munday, Gyves, Organ, & Ringe to “land lately enclosed out of the marsh” or “of the common fields” suggests that enclosure had taken hold by 1600, forming most of the field patterns we see today (which are also shown on the 1840 Tithe Map).

The Church Records list five baptisms for the family of Mr James Goddard from 1599 to 1605, three baptisms for the family of his son, Thomas, from 1632 to 1636, one for Richard Goddard in 1653 and eight for James & Ellenor Goddard from 1653 to 1673. The Church Records indicate them to be gentry & they might have been part of the Goddard family who owned Swindon Manor at this time but although their arrival in the village coincided with the departure of the Hungerfords it does not seem that they purchased the manor which appears to have been sold by the Hungerfords to the Southbys in 1661 (following the expiry of the lease to Organ?).

The most burials in the Church Records, thirteen, occurred in 1644, including an un-named soldier, killed in a local skirmish in the Civil War? Family names recorded in this century included Akerman, Kinge, Bennett, Becke, Fisher, Walker, Wilde, Butler, Stone, Crook, Berry, Baker, Baily, Goldingham, Rogers, Powell, Humphryes, Waldron and Mundy.

The Mundy, Munday, Mundaie, Mundey, Mundie, Mundye name appears throughout the records from 1539 to 1840. In 1625 there are five consecutive burials for the Mundy family (one of the outbreaks of plague?) & the 1625 Inquisition Post Mortem of Henry Munday deceased states that he owned a house in the village &; 75 acres of land.

The National Archive includes wills, deeds & leases of several generations of Mundays (1604, 1666, 1676, 1679 & 1735) & the Wiltshire & Swindon Archive Catalogue Wills Search which reveals 120 wills of South Marston residents from 1500 to 1900 including 9 for the Mundys (1626, 1666, 1671, 1683, 1713, 1735, 1825).

The National Archive is an online database of historical documents held in museums across the Country & holds hundreds of deeds, documents, wills &; photographs for South Marston from 1500 to today, most are held at the Wiltshire &; Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, some are barely legible &; it would undoubtedly be a lifetime’s work to decipher them.  They include deeds of the Cusses & their farm (1620, 1632 &; 1658-1712), documents tracing the house, marriage, death, mortgages &; inheritance of the Akerman family & deeds heralding the arrival in the village of the Southbys in the 1760’s.

The 1629 Inquisition PM of Joan Gyves of Marlborough, daughter of Thomas Cullerne, refers to 70 acres of land at Great Rowborowe, East Rowborowe & Great Rowborowe Hamme & a lane called Rowborowe Lane but no farmhouse &; the National Archive includes deeds of the fields Great Rowborough (1712) & East Rowborough (1713).

The Goddards, Organs, Cusses, Mundays &; latterly the Southbys are the likely farming gentry &; employers in 17th Century South Marston.

Maps of Wiltshire from 1681 to 1744 indicate that South Marston was on a primary route, from Highworth to Marlborough.

History – Tudor

1485 to 1603

The Church Records & the Hungerford, Brynd & Cusse families.

South Marston Church Records 1539-1840 list all baptisms, marriages & burials in the village for that period and indicate a population of about 100 in 1550. They are a fantastic resource for family research.

The 1524 Will of John Hungerford of Down Ampney (in the National Archive) refers to the manor of Marston, the first documentary mention of a “manor” in the village since the acquisition by the Priory in 1210, but it is not clear if a manor house existed or if the Hungerford family lived in the village at that time.  The pattern of Hungerford ownership elsewhere suggests that their 15th Century sheep-farms were leased to tenant farmers in the 16th Century.Two Taxation Lists 1545 & 1576 list those taxed in the village in 1545 as Thomas Cusse, John Cusse, Joan Brynde, William Brynde, Elizabeth Brynde, Jane Brynde jnr. & John Bryan[t]. Three Cusses were listed among the eight taxpayers in 1576 but there were no Brinds. Either both taxes taxed only the rich, for there to be so few taxpayers in a village of 100 people, or there were only a few who were relatively comfortable & many poor barely scraping a living.

The Cusse family was prolific in baptisms and burials from 1540 to 1637 and may have farmed from Priors Farley. The National Archive holds deeds for a farm called Cusse’s Place from 1658 & Cusse’s Meadow is a field in Priors Farley. It might be the case that the Cusses farmed Priors Farley & the Bryndes Merston.

Joan Brind (or Brynd, Brynde etc characteristic of variable spelling) was buried in 1555 & her husband, Edmond Brynd, in 1543. Edmund’s Will of 1540 (National Archive) refers to his children, including William Brynd who succeeded to the family farm, & mentions Anthony Hungerford. William Brynd died in 1577 & is referred to in the burial record as “the farmer of Marston”. The Brinds are likely to have been part of the Brind family who farmed Wanborough & quite possibly leased the farm in Merston from the Hungerfords or were part of the Hungerford family. The National Archive holds a 1575 deed in Latin made between Brynd & Organ regarding a licence to alienate “a mansion house called Wynnings” which is again referred to 65 years later in the Inquisitions Post Mortem of Richard Organ (1640) & John Organ (1641). It might be a licence by the Hungerfords to allow the Brynds to assign the remainder of a lease on Merston manor & Wynnings, an early 16th Century manor house built by the Hungerfords & leased to the Brinds?

The Church Records first refer to the Hungerford family with the baptisms of four children of Mr Henry Hungerford (snr.) from 1576 to 1581. Henry appears to have taken up residence in the village in the 1570’s, shortly before the death of William Brynd, & died in 1581 but was not buried in the village. Henry’s Will of 1580(National Archive) refers only to “my lower house”, possibly with the manor house called “Wynnings” leased to the Organs?

1550 to 1650 witnessed the Great Rebuilding of houses in England & is likely to have been an era of re-building & re-planning in South Marston, possibly with houses relocated away from the manor estate (to ensure its privacy & reassert its “domain”) & built along new routes of village roads, with the Highworth to Marlborough road running North to South through the village.

Henry Hungerford’s widow, Elizabeth, appears to have married Mr Gyles Da nvers in 1581 & had a further five children between 1583 and 1590 before Gyles Danvers was buried in 1615. Mr Henry Hungerford junior (born 1576), had three children baptised from 1605 to 1620 & in the 1619 Inquisition of the estate of Hercules Burrges Henry jnr.was said to own Berton manor (Burton Grove or Bourton?). The National Archive has deeds for the “Manors of Barton (Beerston) & South Marston from 1615”.

Other family names of the fifteen hundreds in the Church Records include Munday, Tayler, Jenckins, Pinching, Edne, Grundie, Burgis, Lewis, Drue, Stephens, Fowler, Davis, Smarte, Slatter, Thatcher & many more; names which are familiar today.

History – Medieval

1066 to 1485

The Wiltshire Archaeological Society’s “The Rolls of Highworth Hundred 1275-1287” &; “Accounts And Surveys of the Wiltshire Lands of Adam de Stratton” and the Wiltshire Record Society’s “Court Rolls of The Wiltshire Manors of Adam de Stratton” (collectively referred to as “The Highworth Hundred Books”) provide an insight into medieval Merston.
Merston was part of the ancient Saxon administrative area of Wrth (Highworth &; around) which was governed by the manor of Sevenhampton which eventually passed to Adam de Stratton. The earthworks by Sevenhampton Church are a Scheduled Monument &; may be the remains of the medieval village & manor.
1066 to 1130: a discussion of the 1086 Domesday Survey is contained in the preceding section “Dark Ages”. The population of Norman England was about 2 million &; increased rapidly during the prosperous 13th Century to about 5 million.
The area now known as “Priors Farley” to the east of Rowborough Farm and Priory Farm to the south-west of the village might be evidence of Priory land but it is likely that the Priory owned land throughout the village as it was stated in 1300 to own “the manor of Marston”, quite probably the legal “ownership” of the village rather than a manor house.  Indeed there may well have been no Priory and no monks in the village at all, with the Priory’s interests being looked after by a bailiff, probably based at a farm near the church
The Highworth Hundred Books state that both South Marston &; the Priory of Farley had tithingman (lay policeman), suggesting separate communities; one, the common villagers (who nevertheless probably lived on Priory land &; owed services) and the other, the Priory servants, who lived at the Priory farm and were full-time employees.
The Highworth Hundred Books reveal a community at South Marston in 1280 of Eborard the chaplain, Willelmus the blacksmith, Walterum the miller, who worked the windmill which ground the corn, Thomas Poynant, Robertus Godchep, Willelmus Sculhard, Ricardum de Wyk (all tithingmen who served a one year term) & Willelmus Crome, Ricardum de marisco, Robertus Blech, Willelmus Wisside, Thomas Ward, Willelmus Ward, Agnes Warde, Agnes le Abbod, Matild Simond, the various farmers, shepherds & widows of the village.  Berton (presumably Burton Grove Farm) also existed as part of South Marston &; there was a significant de Berton family &; Robertus de Abendon, a landowner, who lived at Berton.  These were some of the people mentioned, others were not &; the community may have numbered between fifty &; two hundred.
A few villagers would have been freemen (freeholders, later called Yeomen, of land owned by the King, administered by the lord of the manor of Sevenhampton) or villeins (tenants, later called husbandsmen, of the local manor, owned by the Monks of Farley) or mere cottars who rented only hovels, or cottages, but held no land and peasant servants. The villagers worked their gardens &; allotments (tofts &; crofts) &; grew their crops on allocated strips of land spread throughout the open fields of the village, but in return they had to pay rent or taxes, attend the meetings of the local courts, help farm their landlord’s land (the Royal or manorial “demesne”) &; volunteer or pay for military service.
The Hungerford Cartulary refers to deeds which state that the village had two fields, the West &; the East, probably located either side of the brook from Hunts Copse to Rowborough Farm.  They would have been huge expanses of open arable land.  The land immediately adjoining the brook and much of the land to the south of the present A420 road would have been too wet for crops and instead would have been used as meadow (for producing winter hay for livestock) and pasture (grazing for livestock).  The rivulets and watery channels of the old marsh, primarily from the church down to the River Cole, can be seen in Aerial Photographs held by the National Monuments Record in Swindon.
It may well be the case that Medieval South Marston was a dispersed community due to the nature of the landscape, with the main village by the church, arable farming centres on higher ground at Burton Grove and Priors Farley and a wick (dairy farm) in the marsh, possibly at South Marston Farm where earthworks exist today.
The 1840 Tithe Award Map shows evidence of the Medieval East Field at Priors Farley: “The Old Feeding Ground”, “Long Great Feeding Ground”, “Upper Corn Ground”, “Corn Ground” and “Attertons Field”, the later shown in its strip form.  The stones which marked the strips in Attertons Field are shown on the plan to the 1918 Estate Auction.  Many field names can be traced back in deeds to medieval times.
The 1332 Wiltshire Tax List for “Southmershtone” reveals 24 taxpayers: Nicholas Poynant, Robert de Abyndone, Eleanor de Marisco, John Poynaunt, John atte Wyke, Robert atte Wyke, John Scolarde, Thomas Wythside, Thomas le Haywarde, William Felawe, the shepherd, Adam le Revehyne, Thomas Symmes, John le Riche, Thomas atte Stone, William le Clerke, Walter James, Thomas Richarde, Christine Beccle, Philip Warde, Walter Robat, Thomas Godshop, Maud atte Wydie &; William atte Leghe. There are some familiar names from 50 years earlier &; there is evidence of names changing from their earlier Norman origin/Latin spelling. There would have been children &; other, poorer villagers who were not subject to tax, suggesting again a community of fifty to two hundred, but how many were to die in the Black Death of 1349?
The Poll Tax of 1377 gives a village population of 93, indicating a tax of all inhabitants &; few or a hundred deaths from the plague. The Poll Tax of 1379 lists 15 names, presumably a tax of the wealthier only.  Three fields to the east of the church are called “dead pitts”; were they a Black Death burial ground?
The Hungerford Cartulary compiled by the Earl of Radnor in the 19th Century lists title deeds of lands acquired by the wealthy Hungerford family, principally in South Marston by Walter Hungerford in the 1440’s, including those which had been owned by Walter Hyldyet, Robert Hyldyet, Robert de Berton, John de Bertone, Richard de Abyndone, John de Borghton, Andrew le Heywarde, William le Cartere, William Hobbes, Robert Hobbes, John Marlebergh, John Longe, William Warde, John James, Richard Tybole, William Felawe, Andrew Pavy (alias Andrew Chipman), Robert Russell, Elizabeth Seyntomer &; Robert &; Joan More.  Elizabeth Seyntomer had held the manor of Bourton (presumably Bourton, not Burton Grove) from the Duke of York in 1405.
The Hungerford family’s principal residence was at Farleigh Hungerford &; there were obvious connections with the Priory of Monkton Farleigh, for whom it acted as administrator.  The Hungerford family may well have acquired the manor of South Marston from the Priory in the 15th Century and could have been the first dominant private landowner in the village.  From 1349 to 1430 subsequent reccurances of the plague continued to reduced the population; there were insufficient labourers to work the huge, open arable fields and new landowners turned to livestock farming, principally sheep, which required less labour, especially if fields became enclosed with fences, ditches and hedges.  The enclosure movement spelt the end of the medieval feudal system.1066 to 1485

The Monks of Farleigh & the Highworth Hundred Books.

The Wiltshire Archaeological Society’s “The Rolls of Highworth Hundred 1275-1287” & “Accounts And Surveys of the Wiltshire Lands of Adam de Stratton” and the Wiltshire Record Society’s “Court Rolls of The Wiltshire Manors of Adam de Stratton” (collectively referred to as “The Highworth Hundred Books”) provide an insight into medieval Merston.

Merston was part of the ancient Saxon administrative area of Wrth (Highworth & around) which was governed by the manor of Sevenhampton which eventually passed to Adam de Stratton. The earthworks by Sevenhampton Church are a Scheduled Monument & may be the remains of the medieval village & manor.

1066 to 1130: a discussion of the 1086 Domesday Survey is contained in the preceding section “Dark Ages“. The population of Norman England was about 2 million & increased rapidly during the prosperous 13th Century to about 5 million.

The area now known as “Priors Farley” to the east of Rowborough Farm and Priory Farm to the south-west of the village might be evidence of Priory land but it is likely that the Priory owned land throughout the village as it was stated in 1300 to own “the manor of Marston”, quite probably the legal “ownership” of the village rather than a manor house.  Indeed there may well have been no Priory and no monks in the village at all, with the Priory’s interests being looked after by a bailiff, probably based at a farm near the church

The Highworth Hundred Books state that both South Marston & the Priory of Farley had tithingman (lay policeman), suggesting separate communities; one, the common villagers (who nevertheless probably lived on Priory land & owed services) and the other, the Priory servants, who lived at the Priory farm and were full-time employees.

The Highworth Hundred Books reveal a community at South Marston in 1280 of Eborard the chaplain, Willelmus the blacksmith, Walterum the miller, who worked the windmill which ground the corn, Thomas Poynant, Robertus Godchep, Willelmus Sculhard, Ricardum de Wyk (all tithingmen who served a one year term) & Willelmus Crome, Ricardum de marisco, Robertus Blech, Willelmus Wisside, Thomas Ward, Willelmus Ward, Agnes Warde, Agnes le Abbod, Matild Simond, the various farmers, shepherds & widows of the village.  Berton (presumably Burton Grove Farm) also existed as part of South Marston & there was a significant de Berton family & Robertus de Abendon, a landowner, who lived at Berton.  These were some of the people mentioned, others were not & the community may have numbered between fifty & two hundred.

A few villagers would have been freemen (freeholders, later called Yeomen, of land owned by the King, administered by the lord of the manor of Sevenhampton) or villeins (tenants, later called husbandsmen, of the local manor, owned by the Monks of Farley) or mere cottars who rented only hovels, or cottages, but held no land and peasant servants. The villagers worked their gardens & allotments (tofts & crofts) & grew their crops on allocated strips of land spread throughout the open fields of the village, but in return they had to pay rent or taxes, attend the meetings of the local courts, help farm their landlord’s land (the Royal or manorial “demesne”) & volunteer or pay for military service.

The Hungerford Cartulary refers to deeds which state that the village had two fields, the West & the East, probably located either side of the brook from Hunts Copse to Rowborough Farm.  They would have been huge expanses of open arable land.  The land immediately adjoining the brook and much of the land to the south of the present A420 road would have been too wet for crops and instead would have been used as meadow (for producing winter hay for livestock) and pasture (grazing for livestock).  The rivulets and watery channels of the old marsh, primarily from the church down to the River Cole, can be seen in Aerial Photographs held by the National Monuments Record in Swindon.

It may well be the case that Medieval South Marston was a dispersed community due to the nature of the landscape, with the main village by the church, arable farming centres on higher ground at Burton Grove and Priors Farley and a wick (dairy farm) in the marsh, possibly at South Marston Farm where earthworks exist today.

The 1840 Tithe Award Map shows evidence of the Medieval East Field at Priors Farley: “The Old Feeding Ground”, “Long Great Feeding Ground”, “Upper Corn Ground”, “Corn Ground” and “Attertons Field”, the later shown in its strip form.  The stones which marked the strips in Attertons Field are shown on the plan to the 1918 Estate Auction. Many field names can be traced back in deeds to medieval times.

The 1332 Wiltshire Tax List for “Southmershtone” reveals 24 taxpayers: Nicholas Poynant, Robert de Abyndone, Eleanor de Marisco, John Poynaunt, John atte Wyke, Robert atte Wyke, John Scolarde, Thomas Wythside, Thomas le Haywarde, William Felawe, the shepherd, Adam le Revehyne, Thomas Symmes, John le Riche, Thomas atte Stone, William le Clerke, Walter James, Thomas Richarde, Christine Beccle, Philip Warde, Walter Robat, Thomas Godshop, Maud atte Wydie & William atte Leghe. There are some familiar names from 50 years earlier & there is evidence of names changing from their earlier Norman origin/Latin spelling. There would have been children & other, poorer villagers who were not subject to tax, suggesting again a community of fifty to two hundred, but how many were to die in the Black Death of 1349?

The Poll Tax of 1377 gives a village population of 93, indicating a tax of all inhabitants & few or a hundred deaths from the plague. The Poll Tax of 1379 lists 15 names, presumably a tax of the wealthier only.  Three fields to the east of the church are called “dead pitts”; were they a Black Death burial ground?

The Hungerford Cartulary compiled by the Earl of Radnor in the 19th Century lists title deeds of lands acquired by the wealthy Hungerford family, principally in South Marston by Walter Hungerford in the 1440’s, including those which had been owned by Walter Hyldyet, Robert Hyldyet, Robert de Berton, John de Bertone, Richard de Abyndone, John de Borghton, Andrew le Heywarde, William le Cartere, William Hobbes, Robert Hobbes, John Marlebergh, John Longe, William Warde, John James, Richard Tybole, William Felawe, Andrew Pavy (alias Andrew Chipman), Robert Russell, Elizabeth Seyntomer & Robert & Joan More.  Elizabeth Seyntomer had held the manor of Bourton (presumably Bourton, not Burton Grove) from the Duke of York in 1405.

The Hungerford family’s principal residence was at Farleigh Hungerford &; there were obvious connections with the Priory of Monkton Farleigh, for whom it acted as administrator.  The Hungerford family may well have acquired the manor of South Marston from the Priory in the 15th Century and could have been the first dominant private landowner in the village.  From 1349 to 1430 subsequent reccurances of the plague continued to reduced the population; there were insufficient labourers to work the huge, open arable fields and new landowners turned to livestock farming, principally sheep, which required less labour, especially if fields became enclosed with fences, ditches and hedges.  The enclosure movement spelt the end of the medieval feudal system.

History – Dark Ages

DARK AGES
AD 410 to 1066
Domesday &; Royal Land
The Roman Empire in Europe came under attack &; the Romans left Britain in the Fifth Century. The Britons who remained were over time raided by Saxons from Germany who settled in this area and they were raided by Vikings from Scandinavia. The Saxon King Alfred reigned in Wessex in the Ninth Century but the Vikings returned &; ruled from time to time until in 1066 the Saxon King Harold faced an invasion from William, the King of Normandy in France.

AD 410 to 1066

Domesday & Royal Land

The Roman Empire in Europe came under attack &; the Romans left Britain in the Fifth Century. The Britons who remained were over time raided by Saxons from Germany who settled in this area and they were raided by Vikings from Scandinavia. The Saxon King Alfred reigned in Wessex in the Ninth Century but the Vikings returned & ruled from time to time until in 1066 the Saxon King Harold faced an invasion from William, the King of Normandy in France.