Ludgershall (St. James)

LUDGERSHALL (St. James), a parish, and formerly a representative borough and a market-town, in the union of Andover, hundred of Amesbury, Everley and Pewsey, and S. divisions of Wilts, 7½ miles (N. W. by W.) from Andover, and 71 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 554 inhabitants. This place, once called Lurgeshall, and Lutgashall, was of considerable extent, and is supposed to have been the residence of some of the Anglo-Saxon kings. A castle existed soon after the Norman Conquest, in which, about 1141, the Empress Matilda took refuge, in her flight from Winchester towards the castle of Devizes. No mention of the fortress occurring subsequently to the reign of Henry III., it is believed to have been dismantled shortly after that period, for the purpose of curtailing the power of the barons; but there are still some slight vestiges in a farmyard in the vicinity. The town, which is small, occupies a delightful situation on the verge of the county. The market, on Wednesday, has long been disused; there is a small pleasure-fair on July 25th. Ludgershall, which is a borough by prescription, sent representatives to all the parliaments of Edward I., to three of Edward II., and to three of Edward III.; between the 9th of Richard II. and the 9th of Henry V. no return was made, but from the latter period the returns were regular, until the 2nd of William IV., when the town was totally disfranchised. A bailiff is appointed at the court leet held by the steward of the manor on Michaelmas-day, when two constables are also chosen. The parish is situated on the road from Devizes to Andover, and comprises by measurement 1771 acres, of which 50 are coppice-wood: the soil is chalky in some parts, and in others a strong red loam; the surface is boldly undulated, rising in some parts into hills of moderate elevation. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £11. 6. 8.; net income, £274; patron, Sir Sandford Graham, Bart. The church is in the early English style, and contains some very ancient monuments. There is a place of worship for Baptists. The poor have the benefit of an estate producing £20 per annum. A few years since, the great seal of England used in the reign of Stephen was found in the vicinity.

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

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