Wiltshire Vol 12

Wiltshire Vol XII
Edited by: 
Elizabeth Crittall
First Published: 
1 December, 1983

This volume contains the histories of the hundreds of Ramsbury and Selkley and of the borough of Marlborough. The area is mostly on the Marlborough Downs in the north-east quarter of Wiltshire. The Kennet flows east through both hundreds and skirts the town of Marlborough to the south. Its valley and those of its tributaries have provided settlement sites, including those of Avebury, probably an important cult centre in the Neolithic Period, and the Roman town of Cunetio, and determined many lines of communication from earliest times. The area has always been predominantly agricultural. Tracts of rough downland, some the site of warrens from the Middle Ages, are still used for sport. In the 19th and 20th centuries racehorses have been trained on the downs notably at Beckhampton in Avebury and at Manton in Preshute. At Aldbourne Fustians were manufactured and bells were founded. Ramsbury hundred, which comprised Bishopstone in the Cole valley and the large parish of Ramsbury, belonged to the bishops of Ramsbury and contained a pre-Conquest see. It passed to the bishops of Salisbury, the site of whose medieval palace is marked by Ramsbury Manor. Littlecote House, once the home of the Darrells, dates mainly from the 14th and 16th centuries and is open to the public. An airfield was established in Ramsbury during the Second World War. The village is chiefly known as the home of the Ramsbury Building Society formed in 1846. Marlborough was a borough from the 11th century until 1974. It was represented in parliament from 1275 to 1885 and from the 18th century was a pocket borough of the Bruces. Its medieval castle was a favourite residence of Henry III and its site is now occupied by Marlborough College. Marlborough has long been important as a market town where main routes converge rather than as a manufacturing centre.