New Wiltshire Community History Website

on Monday, 10 January 2022.

A place is its community and discovering how communities have been shaped and changed over time is a fascinating and enjoyable experience. The understanding of place is at the heart of the new Community History website, helping you to connect with the Wiltshire places and people that matter to you.

Wiltshire Community History covers 261 communities in the Wiltshire Council area—260 civil parishes and the lost village of Imber.

The histories include basic information for those interested in local and family history, such as maps, population figures, newspaper and printed map coverage, listed buildings, local authors and registration districts, as well as a series of FAQs for each community.

Nearly 200 of the larger communities have already been extended with the provision of short histories, articles on churches, chapels and schools, booklists and photographs both old and new. The remaining parish histories are currently being researched.

The Wiltshire Community History website, run by the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, is a work in progress, with additional material continuing to be added, and it is about and for the county’s communities. We welcome you to get in touch if you have any historical information you would like to share.

Colour postcard view of Chippenham High Street with Victorian lamp post including sign for 'Blackford Furnishing Ironmonger'
High Street, Chippenham, early 20th century P16481

Why not take a look today and begin your very own journey into the past Community History (wiltshire.gov.uk)

What’s waiting to be discovered?

Maps

Maps by Andrews and Dury of 1773, and of 1810 for every community. Some also have a map of the 1890s with the modern civil parish boundary imposed.

Map showing overview of historic principal street layout in Salisbury and nearby villages
Andrews & Dury’s map for Salisbury

A Parish History

A brief history from earliest times for the larger town and village. Includes prehistory, estimates of Domesday population, growth, industries, farming, commerce, families, services and utilities. A good introduction to the history of each community.

Three horse and carts are pulling bales of hay along a field with the Landsdowne monument at Cherhill.
Manor Farm, Calstone, 1958 P53881

Churches and Chapels

There is a brief history for many churches and chapels. Most are accompanied by pictures from both past and present.

A small stone building with central door and two windows either side, a semi-circular window above the door with stone-tiled roof curving over the window.
Monks Chapel, Corsham P53827

Schools

Histories of schools are provided for many communities; where school log books survive information from them is used to give an account of Victorian life in that school. Images include modern views, early photographs and 100-year-old plans.

Group of girls mostly in white pinafore dresses standing in front of stone school building
Guthrie’s Girls School pupils, Calne, c. 1907 P57383

Population

The number of inhabitants in each census year is given from 1801 to 2011.

Images

There are over 6,000 images including photographs from the 1850s until today. You can search under subject or place.

Square church tower with small spire on each corner behind autumnal hedges and under a blue sky.
St. Michael’s Church, Mere, 2003

Local Authors, Literary and Creative Associations

Details of local authors and creative people, such as Desmond Morris for Aldbourne, Edith Olivier for Wilton, and William Golding for Marlborough and Salisbury, are listed, as are literary settings for novels and poems. For example the Beckhampton Inn is the likely setting for The Bagman’s Story in Pickwick Papers.

Folk Arts

The Folk Arts pages contain information about traditional songs, biographies, folk plays and folk events such as mummers’ plays and church ales in the Wiltshire area, including songs collected by Alfred Williams.

Bibliographies and Text Images

For many communities there is a select list of books and journal articles. We have also scanned some older Wiltshire books and have nearly 10,000 pages available on the site. These can be searched by place, subject or personal name.

Every community has listings of local newspapers covering its area from 1736, and reference numbers of maps from the 1880s. The National Grid Reference number provided gives a link to modern maps for each community.

Timelines

We are also compiling timelines for towns and villages. Using these you can also view events in Wiltshire year by year.

Links

There are links to Wiltshire’s Historic Environment Record (over 31,000 sites), the Know Your Place online historic mapping resource, local history websites and more.

Your Community

The Wiltshire Community History website can give you a greater understanding of the place where you live, or where your ancestors lived.

Staff stood behind large tables with rows of butchered animals hanging behind.
Bowyer, Philpott & Payne Ltd, Trowbridge, 1905 P53431

All articles are especially written for Wiltshire Community History using both secondary and archival sources by staff, volunteers and students. 

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