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Bishops Cannings, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Bishops-Cannings, a village and a parish in Wilts. The village stands on the Kent and Avon Canal, 1½ mile S of Wans Dyke, and 3 miles NE of Devizes station on the G.W.R., and has a post office under Devizes, which is the money order and telegraph office. The parish includes the tithings of Bourton, Easton, and Coate. Acreage, 8873; population, 894. The principal estate belonged to the see of Salisbury from time immemorial, together with the lordship of the whole manor. It has now passed through the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to the Commissioners of Woods. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; net value, £211. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury. The church is Early English, with Anglo-Norman interior, is supposed to have been built about the same time as Salisbury Cathedral, was entirely restored in 1883-84, and contains an organ which cost £440, the gift of William Baley, a native who went round the world with Captain Cook. The Devizes Waterworks, situated in this parish, were erected in 1879.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWiltshire 
Ecclesiastical parishBishop's Cannings St. Mary 
HundredPotterne and Cannings 
Poor Law unionDevizes 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Bishops Cannings:



Church of England

St. Mary the Virgin (parish church)

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin, built during the 12th to the 15th centuries, is a large and beautiful cruciform structure in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, lady chapel, south porch and a central tower with turret, and a spire of the 15th century, 130 feet in height and containing 8 bells: the nave arcade is Transition Norman: the south porch has a groined stone roof, and seems to have been added in the Decorated period: within the porch are traces or a holy water stoup, and over the inner doorway is a bracket which formerly supported a small statue: the nave roof and clerestory are Penpendicular, and were probably added in the earlier half of the 15th century : the chancel is large, and has a grained stone ceiling: it contains a piscina of Early English date, and the remains sedilia: in the south wall of the south transept is another piscina with stone shell, probably indicating an altar here: at the northeast angle of the chancel is tbe ancient sacristy, having a grained stone roof and two small lancet windows deeply splayed internally: in the outer wall of the north aisle, on the west side of the small doorway, is another stoup: the chapel to the east of the south transept was dedicated to "Our Lady of the Bower"; in 1563 the churchwardens conveyed it by deed to John Ernle of Bourton, "to construct seats therin for the purpose of hearing devine service in the church, and also as a place of burial for himself and family"; against the north wall is a freestone monument to John Ernle, ob. 1571, with the arms of Ernle quartering Malwyn; and another monument to Edward Ernle, ob. 1656, of Etchilhampton, with a shield of arsm of Ernle quartered with Hungerford; immediately above, on the sill of the east window, is an old "undertaker's helmet" surmounted with the Ernle crest: the organ, erected in 1809, at a cost of 400 guineas, has since been enlarged, and the yearly interest of £600 was bequeathed by Mr William Bayley, a native of this village, who circumnavigated the globe with Captain Cook, and died in 1809, to keep the instrument in order and pay an organist: a curious oak chair with painted panels is preserved in the church: the stained east window was erected in 1860 by the clergy and churchwardens of the archdenconry of Wilts and other fiends to the Ven. William Macdonald M.A. 46 years vicar, who died in 1862: there is a brass to William Ewart and Joseph Christopher Ewart, both representatives in Parliament for Liverpool, and many mural tablets and floor stones: the church was restored in 1883-4, at t a cost of about £3,600, under the direction Mr. Charles E. Ponting, architect, of Marlborough, when the floors were relaid, the interior refitted and reseated with oak benches, carved by Mr. Harry Hems, of Exeter: there are sittings for 500 persons

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bishops Cannings from the following:


Online maps of Bishops Cannings are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online:

RegionSouth West
Postal districtSN10
Post TownDevizes