Colerne (St. John the Baptist)

COLERNE (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union and hundred of Chippenham, Chippenham and Calne, and N. divisions of Wilts, 7 miles (W. by S.) from Chippenham; containing 1209 inhabitants. This place, formerly called Coldhorn, derives its name from its bleak situation upon the summit of one of the highest hills in the vicinity of Bath. The neighbourhood was the scene of many sanguinary conflicts between the Saxons and the Danes. About eighty years ago the village was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt of stone, without much regard to uniformity. The parish comprises by computation 3652 acres: stone of good quality for ordinary purposes is abundant, but is not quarried. A small fair for sheep and pigs is held annually. The Great Western railway passes about a mile and a half to the south of the church. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £9. 16.; net income, £92; patron, the Warden of New College, Oxford. There is also a sinecure rectory, valued at £16. 11. 10½., and annexed to the wardenship. The church is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a stately tower. Here is a place of worship for Independents; and a school is supported by subscription. The late Hon. Mrs. Forrester bequeathed property, which was expended in the purchase of thirty acres of land, for the poor. The ancient Wansdyke touches the parish in two places, constituting the boundary of the county: on Colerne Down is a double intrenchment, called Northwood Camp; and in the park is another fortification. Within the last few years a very beautiful Roman tessellated pavement, apparently forming the floors of several rooms, has been partly discovered in an arable field. There is a spring holding a quantity of lime in solution, the water of which incrusts, and gives the appearance of petrifaction to any thing upon which it falls.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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