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Downton, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Downton, a small town, a parish, and a hundred in Wilts. The town stands on the river Avon, with a station on the L. & S.W.R., 90 miles from London, and 6½ SSE of Salisbury, under which it has a post, money order, and telegraph office. It carries on brick-making, malting, tanning, paper-making, basket-making, and wool-sorting, has fairs on 23 April and 2 Oct., and was formerly a market-town. It is a borough by prescription, and it sent two members to Parliament till disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832. It was a royal manor, bestowed by Kenwalch in 650 upon his new church at Winchester. The Bishops of Winchester were lords of the manor until recent times, when it passed by purchase to the Earl of Radnor. It possessed importance in the Saxon times, and contains a grand antiquity called the Moot. This includes extensive earthworks of singular struc-tnre, originally a British defensive work: a large central conical mound, terraced to form a place where Saxon parliaments or courts of justice were held, whence its name "Moot" is derived. It is maintained in good preservation and is surrounded by an old-fashioned garden. Downton has an ancient stone cross called the Borough Cross, also three bridges, a, fine old church, and five dissenting chapels. The seat of the bishops stood at a place called Old Court, and was thrice visited by King John. The church is cruciform, has a fine chancel and a central tower, dates partly from the time of Henry I., underwent restoration in I860, and contains a very ancient font and interesting monuments of the Dun-combes, the Fevershams, and others. The old parsonage, a. structure of the time of Elizabeth or of James I., was long the residence of the Raleighs, and was the birthplace of Dean Raleigh, the nephew of Sir Walter, and that also of Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, the hero of Gibraltar. The parish includes the tithings of Charlton, Wick and Walton, Borough, Church, East Downton, and Hamptworth, and comprises an area of 12,494 acres; population of the civil parish, 3430; of the ecclesiastical, 2151. The Moot House was the seat of the Shuckburghs. Barford, now pulled down, was the residence of the Lords Feversham, and passed by purchase to Earl Nelson. Trafalgar House, Earl Nelsons seat, is adjacent to Barford. The living is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of Nunton, in the diocese of Salisbury; joint net value, £196. Patron, Winchester College. The vicarages of Charlton and Redlynch are separate benefices within the civil parish.

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 parishDownton St. Lawrence 
Poor Law unionAlderbury 

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1599.

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



Church of England

Morgan's Vale chapel

The church, at MORGAN'S VALE, erected in 1896 as a chapel of ease to St. Lawrence, Downton, at a cost of £2,200, is a structure of brick, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel and nave, and will seat 160 persons.

St. Lawrence (parish church)

The church of St. Lawrence is a large cruciform edifice of flint and stone in mixed styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch, transepts and a massive embattled central tower, with four pinnacles, containing a clock and 6 bells: there are monuments to Anthony (Duncombe), 1st Baron Feversham, of Downton, who died 18 June, 1763, and to Sir Charles Duncombe, who died in 1711, and others of this family: a lych-gate was erected in 1894 with money left for the purpose by the late Rev. Canon Payne, formerly vicar of the parish: the carved oak choir stalls were given in memory of the late Mr. Squarey: the church was restored in 1860, and affords 700 sittings.


South Lane Baptist chapel

South Lane Baptist chapel, erected in 1857, is a building in a plain Italian style, and will seat about 350 persons.


Primitive Methodist Chapel
Wesleyan Chapel

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Downton from the following:


Online maps of Downton 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 districtSP5
Post TownSalisbury