Great Bedwin, Wiltshire
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.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Bedwin St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Hungerford|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
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:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Wilton)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online: