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Farmland by Swallowcliffe - geograph.org.uk - 353444.jpg
Farmland, Swallowcliffe
Wiltshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Swallowcliffe shown within Wiltshire
Population 174 (in 2011) [1]
OS grid reference ST965271
Civil parish
  • Swallowcliffe
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Salisbury
Postcode district SP3
Dialling code 01747
Police Wiltshire
Fire Dorset and Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
Website www.swallowcliffe.com
List of places
51°02′35″N2°03′07″W / 51.043°N 2.052°W / 51.043; -2.052 Coordinates: 51°02′35″N2°03′07″W / 51.043°N 2.052°W / 51.043; -2.052

Swallowcliffe is a small village and civil parish located approximately 13 miles (21 km) west of Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Its centre is one mile north of the A30.

Salisbury Cathedral city in Wiltshire, England

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 40,302, at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder, Ebble, Wylye and Bourne. The city is approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Southampton and 30 miles (48 km) from Bath.

A30 road Road in England

The A30 is a major road in England, running WSW from London to Land's End. It is 284 miles (457 km) long.



The parish of Swallowcliffe is composed of chalk escarpments and greensand terraces to the south and upper greensand wooded hills to the south-west; also to the northeast, where Swallowcliffe Wood is prominent. Cutting through the hills south to north is the spring filled valley where the village first developed.

Chalk A soft, white, porous sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate

Chalk is a soft, white, porous, sedimentary carbonate rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is an ionic salt called calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite shells (coccoliths) shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores. Flint (a type of chert) is very common as bands parallel to the bedding or as nodules embedded in chalk. It is probably derived from sponge spicules or other siliceous organisms as water is expelled upwards during compaction. Flint is often deposited around larger fossils such as Echinoidea which may be silicified (i.e. replaced molecule by molecule by flint).


Greensand or green sand is a sand or sandstone which has a greenish color. This term is specifically applied to shallow marine sediment, that contains noticeable quantities of rounded greenish grains. These grains are called glauconies and consist of a mixture of mixed-layer clay minerals, such as smectite and glauconite mica. Greensand is also loosely applied to any glauconitic sediment.


From medieval times to the 20th century, Swallowcliffe was a rural backwater, its inhabitants engaged in agriculture and associated crafts and trades. Much of the Open field system, possibly Saxon, survived until the enclosures of the late 18th century. From 1742, with the new Earl of Pembroke as the owner of SWALLOWCLIFT manor, the 18th century estate maps show the developing settlement pattern, with the Norman church at the hub.[ citation needed ]

Anglo-Saxons Germanic tribes who started to inhabit parts of Great Britain from the 5th century onwards

The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th century, and the direct ancestors of the majority of the modern British people. They comprise people from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, their descendants, and indigenous British groups who adopted many aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and language; the cultural foundations laid by the Anglo-Saxons are the foundation of the modern English legal system and of many aspects of English society; the modern English language owes over half its words – including the most common words of everyday speech – to the language of the Anglo-Saxons. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period in Britain between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement and up until the Norman conquest. The early Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an English nation, with many of the aspects that survive today, including regional government of shires and hundreds. During this period, Christianity was established and there was a flowering of literature and language. Charters and law were also established. The term Anglo-Saxon is popularly used for the language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century. In scholarly use, it is more commonly called Old English.

Enclosure was the legal process in England of consolidating (enclosing) small landholdings into larger farms. Once enclosed, use of the land became restricted to the owner, and it ceased to be common land for communal use. In England and Wales the term is also used for the process that ended the ancient system of arable farming in open fields. Under enclosure, such land is fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or more owners. The process of enclosure began to be a widespread feature of the English agricultural landscape during the 16th century. By the 19th century, unenclosed commons had become largely restricted to rough pasture in mountainous areas and to relatively small parts of the lowlands.

Earl of Pembroke title in the Peerage of England

The Earldom of Pembroke is a title in the Peerage of England that was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title, which is associated with Pembroke, Pembrokeshire in West Wales, has been recreated ten times from its original inception. With each creation beginning with a new first Earl, the original seat of Pembroke Castle is no longer attached to the title.

The 19th century was a period of reform and renewal. In 1843 a new church was built [2] away from the spring soaked valley and soon afterwards, the tannery by the stream was closed and the house became the Royal Oak public house. With Pembroke patronage, a new vicarage and a school were built to the west of the old village heralding, in that direction, 20th-century development. The sale of the Swallowcliffe Pembroke Estate in 1918, mainly to tenants, marked the end of an era of aristocratic landlords in the locality. The population of Swallowcliffe had reached a peak of 371 in 1871, before falling in consequence of agricultural depression and changes in farming methods. [1]

Tanning (leather) process of treating animal skin to produce leather

Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides of animals to produce leather. A tannery is the place where the skins are processed.

The Great Depression of British Agriculture occurred during the late nineteenth century and is usually dated from 1873 to 1896. The depression was caused by the dramatic fall in grain prices following the opening up of the American prairies to cultivation in the 1870s and the advent of cheap transportation with the rise of steamships. British agriculture did not recover from this depression until after the Second World War.

The modern development of Swallowcliffe stemmed from the rapid social change of the 20th century, accelerated by improvements in transport and two world wars. Mechanisation played its part in the exodus from agricultural employment. Already by c.1908, a new principal farmhouse had been built on the outskirts of Swallowcliffe and the Manor Farmhouse, like the Mill, (c.1900) shifted to private ownership and use. This set the trend within the village for the rest of the century, with small farmsteads, laborer's cottages, wheelwright and blacksmith shop, village general store, post office, schoolhouse and barns to follow. The exodus from the land continued, while the demand by incomers for the accessible country abode, to "improve" for full or weekend use, expanded. Social change is mirrored in this change of ownership. By the Millennium, the transformation of the old village was clear, with only a few of its inhabitants "born and bred" in Swallowcliffe or working in its ancient tradition of agriculture.


A Saxon bed burial dating to the seventh century AD was discovered within a reused Bronze Age barrow on Swallowcliffe Down in 1996. The burial was that of a young female aged between 18 and 25, laid on an ash-wood bed with elaborate iron-work fittings, and surrounded by a collection of grave-goods of high quality. The full report was published by English Heritage in 1989. [3]

A bed burial is a type of burial in which the deceased person is buried in the ground, lying upon a bed. It is a burial custom that is particularly associated with high status women during the early Anglo-Saxon period, although excavated examples of bed burials are comparatively rare.


The Anglican Church of St Peter, built in 1842–43, is Grade II* listed. [4]

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

Listed building Collection of protected architectural creations in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

The Royal Oak pub closed in 2007 and reopened in 2015 after it was bought by a consortium of villagers. [5] [6] The building is from the early 18th century and is Grade II listed. [7]

The village has no school. A National School was opened in 1843 and closed in 1973. [2]

Notable residents


All information courtesy of Swallowcliffe.com

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  1. 1 2 "Wiltshire Community History – Census". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Victoria County History – Wiltshire – Vol 13 pp177-185 – Parishes: Swallowcliffe". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  3. Speake, G. (1989) A Saxon Bed Burial on Swallowcliffe Down: Excavations by F de M Vatcher. English Heritage.
  4. Historic England. "Church of St Peter, Swallowcliffe (1263108)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  5. "The Royal Oak" . Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  6. "The Royal Oak Inn – A new lease of life". swallocliffe.com. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  7. Historic England. "The Royal Oak, Swallowcliffe (1250756)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 May 2015.

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