Great Bedwyn

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Great Bedwyn
View from Great Bedwyn bridge.JPG
View eastwards from Great Bedwyn showing river, canal and railway
Wiltshire UK location map.svg
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Great Bedwyn
Location within Wiltshire
Population1,353 (2011 census) [1]
OS grid reference SU278645
Civil parish
  • Great Bedwyn
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Marlborough
Postcode district SN8
Dialling code 01672
Police Wiltshire
Fire Dorset and Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
UK Parliament
Website Parish Council
List of places
UK
England
Wiltshire
51°22′44″N1°36′07″W / 51.379°N 1.602°W / 51.379; -1.602 Coordinates: 51°22′44″N1°36′07″W / 51.379°N 1.602°W / 51.379; -1.602

Great Bedwyn is a village and civil parish in east Wiltshire, England. The village is on the River Dun about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) southwest of Hungerford, 14 miles (23 km) southeast of Swindon and 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Marlborough.

Contents

The Kennet and Avon Canal and the Reading to Taunton line both follow the Dun and pass through the village. Bedwyn railway station is at Great Bedwyn and is the terminus of the rail commuter service via Reading and London Paddington.

The parish lies within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It includes the hamlets of Crofton and St Katharines, together with Tottenham House and part of its estate, Tottenham Park.

History

Romans

A Roman road between Cirencester and Winchester crosses the parish, with Crofton on its route. [2] Castle Copse, south of Great Bedwyn village, is the site of a Roman villa. [3]

'Bedanheafeford', the Battle of Bedwyn

The battle of 'Bedanheafeford' between Aescwine of Wessex and King Wulfhere of Mercia in 675 is alleged to have been fought near Great Bedwyn. [4] The battle was originally recorded in the 675 AD entry of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . [5]

A.H. Burne interpreted 'Biedanheafde' as an early version of Bedwyn, the derivation of the name being "the head of the Bieda" or "Beda", a stream running through the Bedwyns. [6] However placename interpretation is tenuous evidence for the battlefield location; the site of the battle has also been claimed for Beedon in Berkshire, and elsewhere.

The discovery of a number of skeletons at Crofton in 1892 by J.W. Brooke was later used to substantiate a local battlefield location. An account of the battle of Bedwyn was published by local historian Maurice Adams in 1903. [7] However, only excavation of these graves will confirm if they contain battlefield victims.

Brooke recorded that "I cannot assign any period to them, but the field over them is paved with flint weapons. On one visit I observed children building miniature castles with human femur and tibiae." In a letter to Maurice Adams, B.H. Cunningham described the graves, five to seven in number, "radiating from a common centre like the spokes of a wheel". Unfortunately he had made no notes of his finds and was writing from memory. Mrs M.E. Cunnington's study of Saxon grave sites in Wiltshire noted that there was no evidence to support the belief that the Crofton site contained Saxon graves. [8] Nearby finds consisted only of a La Tène earthenware pot.[ citation needed ] As the graves are within the site of a causewayed camp this is not surprising. Maurice Adams would not have known about the Crofton camp as it was undiscovered until an aerial survey in 1976.

Given the lack of evidence, Maurice Adam's confidence in a Bedwyn battlefield site cannot be shared. Until more substantial evidence about the Crofton graves can be gathered, there is no reason to suggest that the Bedwyn location, for an obscure 7th century battle, is anything more than a myth.

Reference in the will of King Alfred the Great

Will of Alfred the Great, AD 873-888, mentions Bedewindan (11th-century copy, British Library Stowe MS 944, ff. 29v-33r) Will of Alfred the Great (New Minster Liber Vitae) - BL Stowe MS 944, f 30v.jpg
Will of Alfred the Great, AD 873–888, mentions Bedewindan (11th-century copy, British Library Stowe MS 944, ff. 29v–33r)

The last will and testament of King Alfred the Great contains reference to Bedwyn. Describing his elder son Edward's inheritance he writes "And I grant him the land at Cannington and at Bedwyn and at Pewsey ..." [10] The Bedwyn of King Alfred was a large estate, whose territory included the modern parishes of Great and Little Bedwyn, Grafton, and Burbage. Bedwyn continues to enjoy an enduring royal pedigree. It belonged to the crown in 788, when part of the estate was granted to a crown servant called Bica. King Alfred's descendants held the estate until it was granted to Abingdon Abbey by King Edgar in 968. However the estate was recovered by King Athelred a few years later, and was recorded as a crown estate in the Domesday survey of 1086. [11] Although most of the estate had passed into private hands by the end of the mediaeval period, the execution of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, in 1552 resulted in the temporary return of much of Bedwyn to the crown. The disastrous finances of his descendants resulted in the great sale of 1929, and much of the former Bedwyn estate was purchased by the Crown Estate. They remain one of the largest landowners in modern Bedwyn.

Religious sites

Church of St. Mary

The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin has 12th-century origins. [12] Beneath the church are substantial remains of a Saxon church begun in AD 905. In the chancel is a memorial to Sir John Seymour, father of King Henry VIII's wife Jane Seymour. The church is designated as a Grade I listed building, [13] and a 14th-century limestone cross in the churchyard is Grade II*. [14]

Thomas Willis (1621–1675), the great Oxford physician and natural philosopher, was born at Great Bedwyn on 27 January 1621 and was baptized on 14 February at the church. [15]

Church of St. Katharine

Built by T.H. Wyatt in 1861 as the estate church for Tottenham House. Grade II* listed. [16]

Methodist chapel

A Methodist chapel was opened c. 1810 in Church Street, Great Bedwyn. [2] It was replaced by a chapel built in 1875 in Brown's Lane; this chapel closed in 1967. [17]

Canal and railway

The Kennet and Avon Canal was opened from Hungerford to Great Bedwyn in 1799, and from Great Bedwyn to Devizes in 1809. [2] There are four locks in the parish: Burnt Mill Lock and Bedwyn Church Lock near the village, and two of the Crofton flight to the southwest.

In 1862 the Great Western Railway built the Berks and Hants Extension Railway from Hungerford to Pewsey and Devizes, closely following the north bank of the canal, with a station named Bedwyn at Great Bedwyn. There are regular services to Reading and London Paddington, and the station is a railhead for Marlborough which is served by buses that connect with the trains.

Schools

A National School was built in Church Street, Great Bedwyn in 1835 [18] and extended in 1856, becoming a Church of England primary school in 1963. The school moved to a new building on the outskirts of the village in 1994. [19]

In the northwest of the parish, a church school was opened at St Katharine's in 1865 and continues in use. [20]

The National School at East Grafton, opened in 1846, was used by children from Crofton; this school closed in 2011. [21]

Local government

The civil parish elects a parish council. It is in the area of Wiltshire Council unitary authority, which performs all significant local government functions.

In 1895 the southern portion of Great Bedwyn parish (south of the railway, including Wolfhall and East Grafton) became a new parish called Grafton. [2] Wolfhall was transferred to Burbage parish in 1988. [22]

Parliamentary representation

Great Bedwyn was a parliamentary borough which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1295 [2] until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.

The parish now falls within the Devizes constituency.

Related Research Articles

Wiltshire County of England

Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county town was originally Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Within the county's boundary are two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire and Swindon, governed respectively by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.

Hungerford Human settlement in England

Hungerford is a historic market town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, 8 miles (13 km) west of Newbury, 9 miles (14 km) east of Marlborough, 27 miles (43 km) northeast of Salisbury and 60 miles west of London. The Kennet and Avon Canal passes through the town from the west alongside the River Dun, a major tributary of the River Kennet. The confluence with the Kennet is to the north of the centre whence canal and river both continue east. Amenities include schools, shops, cafés, restaurants, and facilities for the main national sports. The railway station is a minor stop on the London to Exeter Line.

Devizes Town in Wiltshire, England

Devizes is a market town and civil parish in the centre of Wiltshire, England. It developed around Devizes Castle, an 11th-century Norman castle, and received a charter in 1141 permitting regular markets, which are held weekly in an open market place. The castle was besieged during the Anarchy, a 12th-century civil war between Stephen of England and Empress Matilda, and again during the English Civil War when the Cavaliers (Royalists) lifted the siege during the Battle of Roundway Down. Devizes remained under Royalist control until 1645, when Oliver Cromwell attacked and forced the Royalists to surrender. The castle was destroyed in 1648 on the orders of Parliament, and today little remains of it.

Pewsey Village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England

Pewsey is a large village and civil parish at the centre of the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire, about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Marlborough and 71 miles (114 km) west of London. It is within reach of the M4 motorway and the A303 and is served by Pewsey railway station on the London to Taunton line.

Wilton Windmill

The Wilton Windmill is a five-floor brick tower mill located on a chalk ridge between the villages of Wilton and Great Bedwyn in the southern English county of Wiltshire.

Crofton Pumping Station Grade I listed pumping station in Great Bedwyn, United Kingdom

Crofton Pumping Station, near the village of Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, England, supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water.

Bishops Cannings Human settlement in England

Bishops Cannings is a village and civil parish in the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire, England, about 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Devizes. The parish includes the village of Coate and the hamlets of Bourton, Horton and Little Horton.

Burbage, Wiltshire Human settlement in England

Burbage is a village and civil parish in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, England. It is about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Marlborough and 20 miles (32 km) west of Newbury.

Grafton, Wiltshire Human settlement in England

Grafton is a civil parish in Wiltshire, England, in the Vale of Pewsey about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Marlborough. Its main settlement is the village of East Grafton, on the A338 Burbage - Hungerford road; the parish includes the village of Wilton and the hamlets of West Grafton, Marten and Wexcombe.

Bedwyn railway station

Bedwyn railway station serves the village of Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, England. It is 66 miles 33 chains (106.88 km) measured from London Paddington. It is also, along with Pewsey, a station serving the market town of Marlborough which is 6 miles (10 km) away. A bus from the town connects with most trains on Mondays to Saturdays.

Savernake Forest 4500 acre forest in Wiltshire, England

Savernake Forest stands on a Cretaceous chalk plateau between Marlborough and Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, England. Its area is approximately 4,500 acres.

River Dun (River Kennet) river in Wiltshire and Berkshire, United Kingdom, a tributary of the River Kennet

The River Dun is a tributary of the River Kennet flowing through Wiltshire and Berkshire in England. Its main source is in the parish of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire and it flows 16 kilometres (10 mi) for its whole course ENE into Berkshire, where it discharges into the Kennet at Hungerford, which has a smaller average flow and width upstream of that point.

Crofton Locks

Crofton Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England.

Wilton Water lake in the United Kingdom

Wilton Water is a small reservoir, southwest of the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire, which supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water. The reservoir lies in the parish of Grafton and collects rainfall from the eastern end of the Vale of Pewsey and the surrounding hills.

Wulfhall or Wolfhall is an early 17th-century manor house in Burbage, Wiltshire, England. A previous manor house on the same site, in the parish of Great Bedwyn, was the seat of the Seymour family, a member of which, Jane Seymour, was queen to King Henry VIII.

Little Bedwyn Human settlement in England

Little Bedwyn is a village and civil parish on the River Dun in Wiltshire, England, about 3 miles (4.8 km) south-west of the market town of Hungerford in neighbouring Berkshire. The parish includes the hamlet of Chisbury.

Savernake, Wiltshire Human settlement in England

Savernake is a civil parish immediately south and southeast of Marlborough in Wiltshire, England. The settlements in the parish are the hamlets of Cadley,Clench Common and Forest Hill. Savernake Forest covers the eastern half of the parish.

John Blackwell was an English civil engineer, known for his work as superintending engineer of the Kennet and Avon Canal under John Rennie and later as the canal company's resident engineer.

Manor of Tottenham, Wiltshire

Tottenham is a historic estate in Wiltshire, England, centred on Tottenham House, a large Grade I listed country house in the parish of Great Bedwyn, about 5 miles southeast of the town of Marlborough. It is separated from the town by Savernake Forest, which is part of the Tottenham Park estate. The site of the house was part of the much larger Savernake Forest, and was under the control of the Esturmy family. The land passed to the Seymour family by marriage in the 15th century. The original house was probably built by Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford in about 1575, when it was known as Totnam Lodge. In 1675 the estate passed to Lady Elizabeth Seymour, who married Thomas Bruce, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, passing the house to the Bruce family. In 1721 Elizabeth Seymour's son and heir, Charles Bruce, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury, rebuilt Totnam Lodge to the design of his brother-in-law the pioneering Palladian architect Lord Burlington, and parts of the grounds, including the kitchen garden, were laid out by Capability Brown from 1764 to c 1770. The house underwent a number of further rebuilds, and the current house, containing more than one hundred rooms, mostly dates from the 1820s, having then been remodelled by Charles Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Marquess of Ailesbury. It incorporates parts of the earlier houses on the site which were built by the Seymour family formerly of nearby Wulfhall, about one mile to the south. In 1818, Charles Brudenell-Bruce, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, added stables to the design of Thomas Cundy II.

References

  1. "Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics . Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Victoria County History – Wiltshire – Vol 16 pp8-49 – Great Bedwyn". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  3. Historic England. "Castle Copse Roman Villa (224845)". PastScape. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  4. Pearson, Michael (2003). Kennet & Avon Middle Thames:Pearson's Canal Companion. Rugby: Central Waterways Supplies. ISBN   0-907864-97-X.
  5. Kirby, D.P. (2002). The Earliest English Kings. Routledge. ISBN   1134548133 . Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  6. Burne, Alfred (1950). The battlefields of England. London: Methuen. ISBN   0-06-470833-0.
  7. Adams, Maurice (1903). Savenake, Wolfhall, Tottenham & the Battle of Great Bedwyn. London: not known.
  8. Cunnington, M.E. (1934). "Wiltshire in Pagan Saxon Times". Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. Devizes. 46.
  9. Charter S 1507 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine at the Electronic Sawyer
  10. Crossley-Holland, Kevin (1999). The Anglo-Saxon World an Anthology. Oxford University Press. p. 264. ISBN   978-0-19-283547-5.
  11. Wolf Hall in the Domesday Book
  12. "Church of St. Mary, Great Bedwyn". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  13. "Church of St Mary the Virgin". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2006.
  14. Historic England. "Churchyard Cross, Great Bedwyn (1034045)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  15. Robert L. Martensen, ‘Willis, Thomas (1621–1675)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2007
  16. Historic England. "Church of St Katherine, Great Bedwyn (1183857)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  17. "Brown Street Methodist Chapel, Great Bedwyn". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  18. Historic England. "School, Great Bedwyn (1300349)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  19. "Great Bedwyn C. of E. Primary School". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  20. "St. Katherine's Church School, Savernake". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  21. "Grafton Primary School". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  22. "Where exactly was Wolfhall?". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. July 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2015.

Further reading