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Great Bedwin, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Bedwin, or Bedwyn, Great, a small old town and a parish in the hundred of Kinwardstone, Wiltshire. The town stands on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Wans Dyke, 5 miles SW of Hungerford, and has a station on the G.W.R., 66 miles from London. It is supposed to have been the Leucomagus of the Romans; and it was the Bedgwyn or Bedewind of the Saxons. It was the residence of Cissa, the Saxon viceroy of Wilts and Berks; and the scene, in 675, of a desperate battle between the forces of Wessex and those of Mercia. It enjoyed the privileges of a city under the Saxons, and retained them after the Conquest. It was a borough by prescription, and sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till disfranchised by the Act of 1832. It has an ancient church and a dissenting chapel. The church is cruciform, mixedly Norman and English, and built of flint; was restored in 1854; has a fine central tower; shows curious sculpturings on its round pillars, and rich Norman decorations on its obtusely-pointed arches; and contains interesting monuments of the Stokes and the Seymours. Dr. Willis, a physician of the 17th century, who founded a philosophical society at Oxford, the germ of the Royal Society of London, was a native. The town has a post office under Hungerford, and fairs on 26 and 27 July. Acreage, 9933; population of the civil parish, 1627; of the ecclesiastical, 723. The parish includes also the tithings of Crofton and Wolfhall, East and West Grafton, Martin, Wexcombe, and Wilton. The manor belonged once to the De Clare family; was granted by Henry VIII. to his brother-in-law, Sir E. Seymour; and passed by marriage to Thomas, Lord Bruce, second Earl of Ailesbury, in 1678, in whose family it still remains. Castle Hill, about a mile S of the town, takes its name from an ancient entrenchment in which large quantities of Roman bricks and tiles have been found. Chisbury, on Wans Dyke, 1½ mile N by E of the town, is a very fine Saxon camp of 15 acres, with rampart 45 feet high, and incloses an ancient chapel in Decorated English, now used as a barn. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; gross value, £210. Patron, the Marquis of Ailesbury. The vicarages of East Grafton and Savernake Forest are separate benefices. There is a Wesleyan chapel at Wilton, and a Primitive Methodist chapel at Wexcombe.

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 parishBedwin St. Mary 
Poor Law unionHungerford 

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 Great Bedwin:



Church of England

St. Mary (parish church)

The parish church of St Mary is a building of stone of the Late Norman period, and consists of chancel with aisles, nave of four bays, north and south transepts, and an embattled central tower containing a clock and 6 bells: in the south transept is an ancient monument, with recumbent figure of Sir Adam de Stokke, and in the chancel is a fine altar tomb, with recumbent effigy, to Sir John Seymour, father of Lady Jane Seymour, ob. 1536, and a brass with effigy to John Seymour, brother of Lady Jane, ob. 1510: there are memorial windows to Sir Thomas Fellowes Knt. and to George John, Lieut. 14th Hussars, son of Ernest, 3rd Marquess of Ailesbury, d. 1868: the east window was filled with stained glass by the 3rd Marquess, in memory of his father: the west window by the 5th Marquess to his father: the church was restored in 1854, at the cost of the 3rd Marquess of Ailesbury and parishioners, and affords 500 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Great Bedwin from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

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