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Calne, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Calne, a municipal borough of the North-west or Chippenham parliamentary division of Wiltshire. The town stands on the river Marden, is the terminus of a branch railway from the G.W. from Chippenham, 99 miles from London, and of a branch canal from the Wilts and Berks, 5½ miles E by S of Chippenham. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office. Its environs are a fine mixture of dale and hill, and adjoin on the SW the Marquis of Lansdowne's seat of Bowood. It rose originally from the ruins of a Roman station, dates from the Saxon times, and was the scene of the synod in 977, at which St Dunstan presided, for settling the disputes respecting the celibacy of the clergy, when all present, except the president, went down by the falling in of the floor. It is a quaint old place, but a number of large modern houses have been built in recent years. It consists of one long chief street and a few minor ones. The town is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. A good system of sewerage was carried out in 1880. The town originally returned two members to Parliament, but lost one member in 1832, and was disfranchised in 1885 under the Redistribution of Seats Act. A new hospital for infections diseases has been built at Northfields. It had an hospital so early as the time of Henry III., and has two banks, a parish church, a chapel of ease, five dissenting chapels, and a workhouse. The old town-hall was taken down in 1882, and a handsome new one was erected on the site of the old town mill. The church is Early English, with traces of Norman, has a pinnacled tower by Inigo Jones, 93 feet high, and has been restored. The chapel of the Free Christians was erected in 1868, and is a structure of some elegance. The free school was founded in 1660 by John Bentley, and has an endowed income of £54, with two scholarships at Queen's College, Oxford. The workhouse is at Northfield, and cost about £5000. A large public recreation ground was opened in 1891. The field was purchased and artistically laid out at a cost of about £5000, and presented to the town by Mr Thomas Harris. A large cloth trade was formerly carried on, but has become extinct. The most important branches of trade now are two very large establishments for curing bacon. Population of the municipal borough, 3495. Acreage of the parish, 10,250; population, 5518. The municipal borough is called the parish of Calne Within; the parish of Calne Without includes the tithings of Blackland, Calstone, Quernerford, Stock, Stockley, Studley, Whetham, Whitley, and part of Beversbrook. The manor was given by Edward I. to the Cantilupes, and passed to the Zouches. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; value, £793. Patron, the Bishop of Salisbury. The vicarage of Christchurch, at Derryhill, is a separate benefice.

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 parishCalne St. Mary 
Poor Law unionCalne 

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

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1527.

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



Church of England

Free Church, Church Street

The Free Church, in Church street, erected in 1867, at a cost of £,6,000, has sittings for 300 persons.

St. Mary the Virgin (parish church)

The church of St. Mary the Virgin, standing in the middle of the town, is a large edifice in the Perpendicular and Norman styles, with some portions of modern date, and consists of chancel, with chapels, nave, aisles, south porch, the chapel of St. Edmund of Abingdon, formerly called the "Horse market" and a tower, rising over one of the transepts, and containing a clock with chimes and 9 bells: the original central tower fell in 1638: the arcades between the nave and aisles are Norman; the clerestory Perpendicular; the chancel is in part in the Renaissance style: the stained east window was presented in 1891 by Miss Maria Gabriel: the reredos, of Corsham stone, designed by the late Mr. J. L. Pearson R.A., F.S.A. and illuminated in gold and colour, was the gift of Mrs. Murray, of Highlands, Calne: there are several other stained windows: in 1908 a new organ was presented by H. G. Harris esq. of Castle House, Calne: in 1908-10 an Epiphany chapel was erected by Mrs. Duncan as a memorial to her late husband, Rev. Canon Duncan, for 42 years (1865-1907) vicar of Calne, to whose memory a baptistery was also added by the parishioners: the church also retains all ancient parish chest banded with iron: the church was restored and enlarged in 1864 by Mr. Slater, architect, at a cost of £1,100, and further restored in 1882-3 under the direction of the late Mr. J. L. Pearson R.A. when a screen was erected between the aisle and St. Edmund's chapel and an interior lobby provided to the west door, and in 1891 the chancel was widened, the total cost amounting to £2,300: there are now 800 sittings.


Baptist Chapel, Castle Street

The Baptist chapel, Castle street, founded in 1660, and rebuilt in 1815, has 350 sittings. The building was registered for the solemnisation of Marriages on 5th July 1837.

Zion Baptist Chapel, Wood Street

Zion Baptist chapel, Wood street, erected in 1836, will seat 250 persons.


Primitive Methodist Chapel, London Road

The Primitive Methodist chapel, London road, has 200 sittings.

Wesleyan Chapel, Silver Street

The Wesleyan chapel, Silver street, erected in 1876, at a cost of £2,200, will seat 400; a new organ was provided in 1893.

Society of Friends

Society of Friends Meeting House, Wood Street

The Society of Friends meeting house in Wood street, erected in 1816, has 150 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Calne from the following:


Online maps of Calne 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 districtSN11
Post TownCalne