Red Book Publications

Volume I (part 1)

Edited by Elizaabth Crittall and R.B. Pugh, this volume was published in 1957.

It contains thematic entries on the 'Physique' of the county - the topography and geology - and an archaeological gazetteer.

This volume is not available online.

Volume I (part 2)

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall, this volume was published in 1973.

It includes accounts of Prehistoric, Roman, and 'Pagan' (i.e., pre-Christian) Saxon settlement in the county.

This volume is not available online.

Volume II

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall and R.B. Pugh, this volume was published in 1955.

It contains the following entries:

  • Anglo-Saxon Wiltshire
  • Anglo-Saxon Art
  • Introduction to the Wiltshire Domesday
  • Translation of the Text of the Wiltshire Domesday
  • Introduction to the Wiltshire Geld Rolls
  • Text and Translation of the Wiltshire Geld Rolls
  • Summaries of the Fiefs in the Exon Domesday
  • Index of Domesday Survey and the Geld Rolls

This volume is not available online.

Volume III

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall and R.B. Pugh, this volume was published in 1956.

It provides a religious history of the county including the following entries:

  • Ecclesiastical History 1087-1547
  • The Church of England 1542-1837
  • The Church of England since 1837
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Protestant Nonconformity
  • The Religious Houses of Wiltshire

The account of the medieval religious houses in the county is on British History Online.

Volume IV

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall, this volume was published in 1959.

The volume is primarily concerned with elements of the social an economic history of the county and contains the following entries:

  • [Agriculture]
  • [Industry]
  • [Transport]
  • [Taxation]
  • Table of Population, 1801 to 1951
  • Sport
  • Spas and Mineral Springs
  • Freemasonry
  • Royal Forests
    • Introduction
    • Braydon
    • Chippenham and Melksham
    • Selwood in Wiltshire
    • Savernake
    • Chute in Wiltshire
    • Clarendon and Melchet
    • Grovely
  • [Appendices]
  • Cranborne Chase

The full text is available on British History Online.

Volume V

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall, this volume was published in 1957.

The volume contains thematic accounts of the parliamentary and governmental history of the county, and of developments in medicine and public health.

This volume is available on British History Online.

Volume VI

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall this volume was published in 1962.

The volume details the history of Old and New Salisbury, Wilton, and the parishes of Underditch hundred.

This volume is available on British History Online.

Volume VII

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall with contributions from H.F. Chettle, W.R. Powell, P.A. Spalding and P.M. Tillott, this volume was published in 1953.

It contains entries on Bradford, Melksham, and Potterne and Cannings hundreds (including Bradford-on-Avon, Melksham, and Trowbridge).

This volume is on British History Online.

Volume VIII - Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall, this volume was published in 1965.

The volume contains accounts of Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds including the towns of Westbury and Warminster.

This volume is on British History Online.

Volume IX - Kingsbridge Hundred

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall with contributions from R.W. Dunning, K.H. Rogers, P.A. Spalding, Colin Shrimpton, Janet H. Stevenson and Margaret Tomlinson, this volume was published in 1970.

The volume contains contains histories of Swindon, Wootton Bassett, and nine rural parishes. Special attention has been given to the development of New Swindon after the coming of the G.W.R. works in 1845, and to the effects of that development upon the small and ancient market town of Old Swindon. Space is also devoted to Swindon's quarrying industry; which flourished for 200 years before the arrival of the G.W.R. works, and to the new industries which were attracted to the town at about the time the railway works began to decline in the 20th century. The rural parishes lie chiefly to the south and west of Swindon, and several have been influenced in recent years by the growth of their large industrial neighbour. Some are also shortly to be disrupted by the construction of the M4 motorway through their land. Much of that land lies in the rich dairy-farming region of the county, but in the south it climbs the chalk escarpment of the Marlborough Downs, where sheep were grazed in the Middle Ages. A study of Wootton Bassett has led to the suggestion that it was deliberately laid out as a small market town in the 13th century. The impact made upon Lyneham by the R.A.F. station there is considered in the history of that parish. Among the illustrations is one showing what the large and elegant house at Lydiard Tregoze looked like before rebuilding in the classical style in the 18th century. The volume contains a street plan and ten maps.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume X - Swanborough Hundred and the Borough of Devizes

Edited by Elizabeth Crittall with contributions from A.P. Baggs, D.A. Crowley, Ralph B. Pugh, Janet H. Stevenson and Margaret Tomlinson, this volume

The volume relates the histories of the borough of Devizes and of the 22 parishes in Swanborough hundred. It covers an area in the centre of Wiltshire, including the western end of the Vale of Pewsey, and ascending the escarpment of the Marl-borough Downs to the north and that of Salisbury Plain to the south. Eastwards Swanborough extends to the Cheverells and the heavy clay-lands of west Wiltshire. Within it stand Milk Hill and Tan Hill, the two highest points in the county, and along the ridge of the Marlborough Downs is a series of important prehistoric settlement sites. Through the hundred run the ancient track known as the Ridge Way, a small stretch of Wansdyke, the Kennet and Avon Canal, and one of the main railway lines to the west of England. Once noted for its sheep-and-corn husbandry, the region has more recently seen a great expansion of dairy-farming, particularly in the parishes of the Vale. Horticulture has also flourished on the greensand soils in the east and west. In 1975 the area remains almost entirely rural, although it includes R.A.F. Upavon and the land on Salisbury Plain is within the army's control. Most of the settlements are small, none now ranking as more than a large village, although Upavon had a market in the Middle Ages and Market Lavington had one until the 19th century. Almost all of the few industries have agricultural or horticultural connexions. Great Cheverell was once renowned for its sheep-bell makers. Jam is still made at Easterton. Devizes has a history of unusual interest for a town of its size. Its castle, scene of many stirring events in early times, was described in the 12th century as one of the most splendid in Europe. Its market, still held weekly in the 20th century, can be traced back at least to the early 13th. The central position of Devizes within Wiltshire gave it a claim to become the county town and has caused it to develop some of the characteristics of such a town.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XI - Downton Hundred; Elstub and Everleigh Hundred

Edited by Douglas Crowley, with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Elizabeth Crittall, Jane Freeman and Janet H. Stevenson, this volume was published in 1980.

This volume contains  contains the histories of two scattered hundreds. The parishes of Downton hundred are ranged along the southern county boundary, and those of Elstub and Everleigh hundred are centred on Enford in the Avon valley but have outliers throughout Wiltshire. Downton hundred represents the Wiltshire lands of the see of Winchester, Elstub and Everleigh the estates administered by the cathedral priory of St. Swithun, Winchester. Though lacking geographical cohesion, both hundreds are characterized by open downland and chalk streams. Much downland on either side of the Avon valley is now in Ministry of Defence ownership and Everleigh Manor is an army research laboratory. The downs and rivers have always afforded good sport. Cours-ing was formerly popular at Netheravon and Everleigh. Racehorses are still trained at Wroughton. Downton and Hindon, a 'new town' of the early 13th century, were local market centres. Both were parliamentary boroughs until 1832-. Some industries have been of more than local importance. At Westwood on the Somerset border limestone was quarried and woollen cloth and other textiles were made from the Middle Ages until the Second World War. Old Court at Avoncliff, later used as a work-house, was built to house textile workers c.1792. Sarsens cut at Overton in the Kennet valley were supplied to a wide market from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th. Tanning has flourished at Downton since the 17th century. Watercress for London, Bristol, and Plymouth has been grown in Bishopstone since 1890. Country houses include Standlynch, renamed Trafalgar, House, the nation's gift to Nelson's heirs in 1815, and Ham Spray House on the Berkshire border, the home of Lytton Strachey and the painter Dora Carrington in the 1920s.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XII - Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough

Edited by Douglas Crowley, with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Elizabeth Crittall, Jane Freeman and Janet H. Stevenson, this volume was published in 1983.

This volume contains the histories of the hundreds of Ramsbury and Selkley and of the borough of Marlborough. The area is mostly on the Marlborough Downs in the north-east quarter of Wiltshire. The Kennet flows east through both hundreds and skirts the town of Marlborough to the south. Its valley and those of its tributaries have provided settlement sites, including those of Avebury, probably an important cult centre in the Neolithic Period, and the Roman town of Cunetio, and determined many lines of communication from earliest times. The area has always been predominantly agricultural. Tracts of rough downland, some the site of warrens from the Middle Ages, are still used for sport. In the 19th and 20th centuries racehorses have been trained on the downs notably at Beckhampton in Avebury and at Manton in Preshute. At Aldbourne Fustians were manufactured and bells were founded. Ramsbury hundred, which comprised Bishopstone in the Cole valley and the large parish of Ramsbury, belonged to the bishops of Ramsbury and contained a pre-Conquest see. It passed to the bishops of Salisbury, the site of whose medieval palace is marked by Ramsbury Manor. Littlecote House, once the home of the Darrells, dates mainly from the 14th and 16th centuries and is open to the public. An airfield was established in Ramsbury during the Second World War. The village is chiefly known as the home of the Ramsbury Building Society formed in 1846. Marlborough was a borough from the 11th century until 1974. It was represented in parliament from 1275 to 1885 and from the 18th century was a pocket borough of the Bruces. Its medieval castle was a favourite residence of Henry III and its site is now occupied by Marlborough College. Marlborough has long been important as a market town where main routes converge rather than as a manufacturing centre.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XIII - South-West Wiltshire: Chalke and Dunworth Hundreds

Edited by Douglas Crowley, with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Elizabeth Crittall, Jane Freeman and Janet H. Stevenson, this volume was published in 1987.

Chalke and Dunworth hundreds are in south-west Wiltshire on the Dorset border. The parishes of Chalke hundred were united by being part of Wilton abbey's estate before the Norman Conquest, but most of the hundred is homogeneous. Long and narrow parishes lie north and south across the river Ebble and are characterized by extensive chalk downs. Until farmsteads were built on the downs in the 19th cen-tury, nearly all settlement was in small riverside villages. From the Reformation to the 19th century the earls of Pembroke owned most of the eastern parishes. Sheep--and-corn husbandry and more recently arable and dairy farming was the pattern of agriculture in all the parishes except Semley where there is a remarkable survival of common pastures. Dunworth hundred is largely in the Vale of Wardour, and land in most of its parishes belonged to the Barons Arundell of War-dour as successors to Shaftesbury abbey. It is an area of broken landscape and mixed farming in which only Tisbury has grown larger than an ordinary village. Except at Tisbury, there has been little manufactur-ing in the area, but Portland stone has been extensively quarried at Chilmark, Teffont Evias, and Tisbury, and greensand stone has been quarried at the Donheads. Partly because of its stone, Dunworth hundred is notable for its secular buildings. The castle at Wardour is the only one to survive in Wiltshire; Fonthill Abbey in Fonthill Gifford was the most remarkable house of its day in England. Among the many farm-houses of local stone which survive from the Middle Ages is Place Farm at Tisbury, which was frequently visited by the abbess of Shaftesbury and has the largest medieval barn in England. Except for Sedgehill parish and part of Donhead St. Mary parish both hundreds are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the exceptions are in a Special Landscape Area.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XIV - Malmesbury Hundred

Edited by Douglas Crowley, with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Jane Freeman and Janet H. Stevenson, this volume was published in 1991.

This volume contains the history of the town of Malmesbury and twenty surrounding parishes forming Malrnesbury hundred. The town evolved in the Anglo-Saxon period round the early monastic foundation: the town's position on a promontory between the Tetbury and Sherston branches of the Bristol Avon and the abbey's surviving buildings remain the town's most noticeable features. The abbey's estate included more than 20,000 acres in the twenty parishes, besides more outside the hundred. At the time of the Norman Conquest the town was as developed as any in Wiltshire, but after that it declined in comparison with neighbouring market towns, and its medieval street pattern, with the extension of the urban area into the adjoining parish of Westport, has persisted. In the surrounding parishes the abbey's lands were broken up at the Dissolution, but the Howards, earls of Suffolk and of Berkshire, built up a large estate centred on Charlton Park, the grandest mansion in the hundred. Among other large houses, Draycot House has been wholly destroyed, and Seagry House largely so. The rural parish churches include a fine example at Crudwell. The history of the landscape is traced in the inclosure of open arable fields from the 16th and 17th centuries; on the east the hundred adjoins Braydon forest, and the inclosure of the forest and its purlieus in the 1630s was also influential physically, socially, and economically. In the 20th century the area has been much affected by the building of the M4 motorway. One of the parishes which the road touches is Stanton St. Quintin, which might serve as a paradigm for the area, with its two villages (one with the church, manor house, rectory house, and school, the other with copyhold farmsteads and a nonconformist chapel), its manorial descent recorded without a break, its open fields and common pastures of which the location and dates of enclosure are known, its ancient woodland, possible lost village, hermitage, moated site, walled park, 20th-century housing, airfield, and motorway junction.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XV - Amesbury Hundred, Branch and Dole Hundred

Edited by Douglas Crowley, with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Jane Freeman and Janet H. Stevenson, this volume was published in 1995.

This volume contains the history of 25 parishes in Amesbury hundred and Branch and Dole hundred. Apart from the small towns of Amesbury and Ludgershall the site of a small royal castle in the Middle Ages and a parliamentary borough, the area was agricultural, with little woodland. The parishes lie on chalk downland, mostly on the south-east part of Salisbury Plain, bearing many marks of prehistoric activity. Stonehenge, with its hinterland a World Heritage Site from 1984, stands in Amesbury parish. Among monuments from the historic period the churches are small, medieval fortified houses at Sherrington and Stapleford have disappeared, the only manor house of more than local importance was that called Amesbury Abbey, and there is little medieval vernacular building. The numerous small villages lie close together beside the rivers Avon, Bourne, Till, and Wylye, flanked from the 17th century by water meadows. They depended on sheep-corn husbandry, and in many parishes open fields survived until the 19th century, enclosure being followed by the building of down-land farmsteads. In the 20th-centurv tanks have succeeded sheep over much of Salisbury Plain, where from 1897 the War Department bought estates for military training, closed roads, and set up firing ranges. Army camps were built at Tidworth, Bulford, and Larkhill, stimulating the growth first of Amesbury and Ludgershall, both with railway stations, and then of Durrington. Airfields and other military centres were established. To the south-west rural villages remain surrounded by farmland.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XVI - Kinwardstone Hundred

Edited by Douglas Crowley with contributions from A.P. Baggs, Jane Freeman, C. Smith, Janet H. Stevenson and Elizabeth Williamson, this volume was published in 1999.

This volume relates the history of the 15 parishes in Kinwardstone hundred in east Wiltshire. The hundred lay between two medieval royal forests, Savernake and Chute. It is generally fertile and was devoted to sheep-and-corn husbandry. Each of c. 45 villages and hamlets in it had its own set of open fields and its own common pasture, and there is evidence of colonization from some of the larger villages. Much of the common pasture was inclosed in the 17th century, most of the open fields were inclosed in the 18th. Outside the villages new farmsteads were built on downland in the 19th century, and in many of the villages in the later 10th century the sites of farmsteads were used for new housing. The largest villages are Great Bedwyn, which was an early borough and retains a small market square, Pewsey, which had a market in the 19th century and became a local shopping centre in the 20th, and Burbage. Only 12 parish churches stood in the hundred in the Middle Ages, when most of their revenues were taken by religious houses and prebendaries of Salisbury cathedral; their parishes were large and most villages lacked a church. Five new churches were built in the 19th century. A great estate in the hundred was accumulated by Protector Somerset, whose descendants built Tottenham House in parkland on the edge of Savernake forest. Notable among other secular buildings in the hundred is the red-brick almshouse for 50 widows which was built at Froxfield in the 1690s.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XVII - Calne

Edited by Douglas Crowley, this volume was published in 2002.

This volume contains the history of Calne, a market and industrial town in north Wiltshire, and the places around it.

Calne, a small town in north Wiltshire, stood on a large royal estate, and the witan met there - St Dunstan survived the partial collapse of a building at one meeting. It sent members to parliament from the thirteenth century, and it became a pocket borough in the eighteenth. The town stands on what until 1971 was the main London to Bristol road; markets and fairs were held, and inns flourished. It was also industrial: water-powered mills were used for fulling, and from the sixteenth century to the 1840s it was a centre for cloth making. The topography of the town, its growth, government and cultural life are fully explored, and churches, chapels and schools discussed. In Calne's hinterland most settlement was in small villages with open fields and commonable pastures. Bowood park was enclosed from the forest c.1618 and Bowood House was built in the park c.1727. The house, the changes to it by Robert Adam and others, and the redesigning of its park by 'Capability' Brown are fully described. In the nineteenth century many estate cottages were built. For the places around Calne the history of the settlement and churches in each village, the manorial descents, and the evolution of farming and farms are all traced, and there are architectural descriptions of the churches.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XVIII - Cricklade and Environs

Edited by Virginia Bainbridge, this volume was published in 2011.

Cricklade, the Anglo-Saxon borough fortified by Alfred against the Danes, is the market town at the heart of this volume. As a notorious rotten borough, its corruption influenced the passing of the 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act. The town and the surrounding parishes described here are bordered by Gloucestershire to the north and Swindon to the East. They extend along the upper Thames valley and over the Wiltshire claylands to the limestone ridge in the south. The royal forest of Braydon covered much of the area in the middle ages and provided extensive grazing for livestock. Although disafforestation took place under Charles I, agricultural exploitation was limited by poor soils and parts were later returned to woodland or nature reserve. The settlements of traditional limestone buildings were remote until canal and rail transport increased trade in dairy products and the expansion of employment opportunities in Swindon resulted in their residential development, and an annexation of a small part of the area by the growing town.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

England's Past for Everyone Publication

Codford: Wool and War in Wiltshire

Written by John Chandler, former Local Studies Librarian at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and later VCH County Editor in Gloucestershire and Consultant Editor for VCH Wiltshire, the book was published in 2007.

The Wiltshire village of Codford lies in the lush Wylye Valley, between Salisbury Plain to the north and the chalk escarpments of the Wiltshire Downs to the south. Most travellers on the A36 between Warminster and Salisbury will take the bypass through the southern edge of the parish. But, for those who care to leave their cars and wander through the village, Codford's past is displayed in its landscape, its streets and its buildings. The village and its surroundings are not only outstandingly beautiful, they are also rich in history. Codford is a quintessential English parish and, like every parish, has a story to tell. First mentioned in 901, its later development was subject to the twin influences of road and river. Codford: Wool and War in Wiltshire explores why the landscape and architecture of an agrarian parish look the way they do, and examines how its people, their livelihoods and social connections have made it what it is. From early Anglo-Saxon settlement to important military garrison, through lords and landowners, agriculture and religion, community organisations and the impact of two World Wars, this fascinating look into Codford's rich past will evoke the history of many similar places.

More information can be found here.