Village History

Marden, with an area of 1,286 a., lies in the Vale of Pewsey 5½ miles south-east of Devizes. (fn. 1) A long narrow parish typical of those which stretch across the northern scarp of Salisbury Plain, it is ¾ mile wide near Marden Cowbag on the escarpment. The river Avon forms the northern boundary of the parish and from the river the land rises gradually southwards for 3¼ miles across meadow land, up the escarpment to the crest of the downs. From the crest the land dips gently away over a mile-long tract of downland known as Marden Down. The village lies near the river in the north of the parish along a secondary road known for part of its course as Marden Street.

The extreme north of the parish lies at about 343 ft. on the alluvial soils of the Avon bed. (fn. 2) Southwards the land rises almost imperceptibly across the edge of the greensand vale, which lies west of Marden Street, and the bed of River and Valley Gravel, which lies to the east. In 1970 these low-lying soils were occupied by rich pastures, some of which were used as water-meadows until the earlier 20th century. (fn. 3) South of the village the land rises gently across the Lower Chalk and at the junction of the Lower Chalk and Middle Chalk a height of 400 ft. is reached. The former open fields lay on the comparatively level chalk terrace and large unfenced arable fields, sheltered to some extent by the scarp of the Plain, still typified the area in 1970. At Marden Cowbag the Middle and Upper Chalk rise steeply in succession to form part of the north-facing scarp of Salisbury Plain, which stands at over 600 ft. Southwards from the crest the downs, formerly the sheep-runs of the parish, drop away across the Clay-with-flints and Middle Chalk to below 500 ft. Here a stream, which anciently flowed eastwards to join the river Avon north of Enford, has cut a shallow valley, now dry, through the Clay-with-flints.

Evidence of early-Iron-Age settlement has been found in the north-east corner of the parish. (fn. 4) A ditch of unknown date, locally called 'the long ditch', runs eastwards along the valley on Marden Down. (fn. 5) A small univallate earthwork, also undated, lies to the south. (fn. 6)

Marden made one of the smallest contributions in Swanborough hundred to the fifteenth of 1334. Such later taxation assessments as have been examined were also low. (fn. 7) There were 162 inhabitants in 1801, a number which increased until 1871 when there were 247 people in the parish. Thereafter the population declined until 1931 when there were 138 inhabitants. It rose to 148 in 1951 but had declined to 90 in 1971. (fn. 8)

The main road between Devizes and Upavon crosses the parish from west to east and the Ridge Way runs through the south of the parish along the crest of the downs. A secondary road leads northwards from the Devizes road through the village to Beechingstoke and at the entrance to the village a lane branches westwards to Chirton. That lane and the road through Marden were turnpiked in 1840. (fn. 9) Other roads which served the parish in the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries could be traced as tracks in 1970. (fn. 10) Two formerly provided more direct access to neighbouring villages: one, an eastwards continuation of the Chirton-Marden lane, led eastwards to Wilsford, while the other ran north of the house called the Grange west to Chirton Street, entering the village near the church. The downland tracks, two of which were called Hinder Way and Acre Ditch in the early 19th century, ceased to be used after the War Department bought Marden Down in 1898. (fn. 11)

The nucleus of the village clusters round the church, which stands on slightly higher ground at Marden Street's north-western end. Cob's Lane, mentioned in 1772, can be identified with the narrow track which runs north of Orchard Cottage eastwards towards Wilsford. (fn. 12) It took its name from the low cob wall which encloses the garden of Orchard Cottage to the north. Marden Manor stands in park-land west of the street at the entrance to the village. The Green, which lay immediately east of the Manor, is first mentioned in 1566. Part was apparently taken into the manor park when the house was built and its grounds laid out in the early 19th century. (fn. 13) At the same time cottages bordering the Green were apparently demolished. Other cottages fronting the road on the east side of the Green were replaced by red-brick ones in the early 20th century by George Harris, then owner of Marden Manor. (fn. 14) A range of 18th-century brick cottages with thatched roofs abuts the east side of the churchyard. A pair of brick cottages, also with thatched roofs, stands, fronted by gardens, on a bank behind the former school, and may have been the parish houses mentioned in the early 19th century. (fn. 15) North-east of the church a timberframed cottage of the 17th century originally formed a range of three dwellings. A Swan inn, mentioned in 1670 and 1765, is reputed to have occupied a cottage near the church. (fn. 16) The New Inn, a late-19th-century building, stands opposite the driveway to Marden mill. South of the Vicarage a late-18th-century brick house with thatched roof has a brick extension on its west side which gives the building a T-shaped plan. The Grange, which stands to the south, was rebuilt on the site of an earlier house of the same name after the Second World War. (fn. 17) Manor Cottage, the farm-house of Manor farm, stands on the east side of Marden Street and is an early-19th-centurycottage orné. Marden House Farmhouse, an 18th-century building of chequered brick with a slated roof, stands at the south-eastern end of Marden Street.

John Phillips (d. 1874), the geologist, was born at Marden in 1800. He worked on the Geological Survey of England from 1840 to 1844 and from 1854 until his death was Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. His published works includeGuide to Geology (1834) and The Geology of Oxford and the Valley of the Thames (1871). (fn. 18)

Manor and Other Estates.

An estate at Marden held T.R.E. by Wenesi had passed to Hugh son of Baldric in 1086. (fn. 19) By 1226 Marden was apparently held of the honor of Leicester and was included in that part of it allotted to Margaret, countess of Winchester (d. 1235), sister and coheir of Robert, earl of Leicester (d.s.p. 1204). (fn. 20) Marden is last mentioned as a fee of the honor in 1242. (fn. 21)

In 1086 Walter de Rivers held Marden of his father-in-law Hugh son of Baldric. (fn. 22) Before 1205 Robert de Bonezboz, a Norman, had held the manor of MARDEN but by that date had forfeited it to the Crown. (fn. 23) Thereafter two keepers, William de la Ferté (d. c. 1216), appointed by the Crown in 1205, and Ralph Gernon, appointed as William's successor in 1216, administered the estate. (fn. 24) In 1229 Marden was granted to Gilbert Basset and at his death in 1241 he was succeeded there by his brothers, Fulk Basset, bishop of London (d. 1259), and Philip Basset (d. 1271). (fn. 25) Under the terms of a royal grant of 1261 Marden was held for life after Philip's death by his widow Ela (d. 1298). (fn. 26) On Ela's death, Marden passed to Philip Basset's grandson by his first wife, Hugh Despenser the Elder (executed 1326). In 1327 the manor was granted for life to Queen Isabel (d. 1358), and in 1359 to Queen Philippa (d. 1369) for life. (fn. 27) On Queen Philippa's death it was let to farm for ten years to Michael Skilling. (fn. 28) In 1373 Sir John Dauntsey and his wife received a royal grant of the manor. (fn. 29) Sir John died in 1391 and was succeeded by his son John (d. 1405), and grandson Walter (d.s.p. 1420). (fn. 30) Walter's heir was his sister Joan, wife of Sir John Stradlyng, and on her death in 1457 she was succeeded at Marden by her son Edmund Stradlyng (d. c. 1461), and grandson John (d. 1471). (fn. 31) John's heir was his infant daughter Anne (d. 1539), later the wife of Sir John Danvers (d. 1514). (fn. 32) She was succeeded by her grandson Silvester (d. 1551), whose heir was his son John (d. 1594). (fn. 33) Sir John was succeeded in turn by his three sons, Sir Charles (d. 1601), Henry, earl of Danby (d. 1644), and Sir John (d. 1655). (fn. 34) The manor descended like that of Market Lavington to Sir John's daughter Anne (d. 1659), wife of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley. (fn. 35)

Her coheirs were her daughters Eleanor and Anne, and Marden was apparently allotted to the elder, Eleanor (d. 1691), wife of James Bertie, Lord Norreys (cr. earl of Abingdon 1682 and d. 1699). (fn. 36) Marden thereafter descended with the earldom of Abingdon until the death of Willoughby, the 3rd earl, in 1760. (fn. 37) In accordance with the terms of his will, Marden manor was sold c. 1764 and was apparently bought by George Willy (d. 1770). (fn. 38) He was succeeded there jointly by his nephews Willy Sutton (d.s.p. 1775) and James Sutton (d. 1801). (fn. 39) After 1801 Marden was owned by James Sutton's widow Eleanor, who held the estate c. 1812. Shortly afterwards it appears to have been divided and sold. (fn. 40) The land lying west of Marden Street (362 a.), and known in 1970 as Manor farm, was acquired by John Young (d. 1837), who was succeeded there by his daughter Elizabeth (d. 1840) and son-in-law Stephen Richmond Neate (d. 1874). (fn. 41) Stephen Young Neate succeeded his father but before 1898 had sold the farm to Thomas Harris, who in 1898 sold 133 a. of downland to the War Department. (fn. 42) Mrs. George Harris owned the farm in 1907 and in 1912 sold it to Mrs. James Wells. (fn. 43) In 1970 Manor farm, worked from Manor Cottage, was owned by Captain G. P. Stradling. (fn. 44) The land east of Marden Street, known in 1970 as Marden House farm, was acquired c. 1812 by Joseph Gilbert. (fn. 45) It was owned in 1841 by Ernle Warriner (d. 1850), and by 1855 by Giles Loder (d. 1871) of Wilsford House, near Salisbury. (fn. 46) Giles Loder was succeeded by his son Robert (later Sir Robert) Loder (d. 1888), who in 1874 sold it to William Fulbrook Atherton. (fn. 47) By 1898 Marden House farm had passed to William Thomas Richens Atherton, who that year sold 217 a. of downland to the War Department. (fn. 48) In 1970 it was owned by Mr. J. H. Noble and farmed in conjunction with Puckshipton farm (in Beechingstoke). (fn. 49)

Marden Manor, known as Marden House in 1841, was reputedly built on the site of some cottages by John Young, who, as described above, acquired that half of the manorial estate later known as Manor farm in the early 19th century. (fn. 50) The house was attached to Manor farm until 1912 when Mrs. George Harris sold it separately from the farm to Mr. J. W. Kingstone, who had tenanted it for some years. (fn. 51) The house, which stands in wooded parkland in an angle formed by Marden Street and the lane to Chirton, is a square early-19th-century brick house with a hipped slate roof. Although apparently all of one build, the back half contains three storeys and the front half two storeys of much taller rooms, with a large central staircase hall lit from above by a domed lantern. The south entrance front, which comprises three wide bays, is faced with ashlar. The central bay, which projects slightly, contains a doorway with a fanlight and a Doric porch, approached by three steps; above the porch a cast-iron balustrade forms a balcony to the firstfloor French window. On the north side of the house a lean-to wing of red brick may have formed part of an earlier farm-house. Gardens enclosed by a thatched cob wall lie to the north.

Marden rectory was appropriated by Bradenstoke Priory in 1267. (fn. 52) Its value consisted of all the great tithes of the parish except those allotted to the vicar. (fn. 53) It was worth £6 13s. 4d. in 1291 and 1341. (fn. 54) At the Dissolution it passed to the chapter of Bristol cathedral. In 1588 the appropriators were entitled to 3 a. of glebe in the common meadows of Patney and to a smaller quantity in those of Marden. (fn. 55) The rectory was valued at £58 13s. 8d. above its customary letting value of £8 in 1649; the tithes were then worth £44 3s., and the glebe amounted to 38 a., a total which comprised, as before, land in the common meadows of Marden and Patney, and in addition a large parcel of arable land in the open fields of Marden. (fn. 56) At inclosure in 1812 the appropriators were allotted 37 a. in place of glebe in the open fields of Marden. (fn. 57) The glebe was estimated at 45 a. in 1841, and in the same year the appropriators were allotted a rent-charge of £206 to replace their tithes. (fn. 58) Bristol chapter's property was vested in 1862 in the Church Commissioners, who were authorized to sell. (fn. 59) In 1873 they sold the rectorial glebe (43 a.) to Robert Pile and Stephen Richmond Neate, owner of the estate later known as Manor farm. (fn. 60)

In 1534 the prior of Bradenstoke let the rectory to Thomas Carpenter at £8 yearly, a rental which remained constant throughout the 16th and earlier 17th centuries. (fn. 61) Earlier lessees of the estate included Nicholas Hobbs, vicar 1544–c. 1554, who, with John Hoode of Chirton, was granted a lease in 1539. (fn. 62) In 1627 a lease was granted to Edward Green, a London goldsmith. (fn. 63) William Gunn, vicar 1636–c. 1685, was lessee for some years in the later 17th century. (fn. 64) Thereafter, throughout the later 17th, 18th, and earlier 19th centuries the rectory was leased to successive members of the Hayward family. (fn. 65)

Economic History.

In 1086 Marden was reckoned at ten hides and contained land for eight ploughs. An unspecified number of demesne hides were worked by two ploughs, while the tenant lands supported five ploughs. There were 24 a. of meadow and pasture three furlongs long and two furlongs broad. The value of the estate had increased from £7 T.R.E. to £10 in 1086. (fn. 66)

The manorial estate was leased out certainly from the 16th century. In 1551 the demesne and three smaller farms (see below), all held by undertenants, were leased to Robert Nicholas. (fn. 67) Other lessees were Roger Dune of Cirencester (1566–7), and Thomas Browne (1567–9), who in 1569 sold his interest therein to William Lavington (d. 1590). (fn. 68) In 1579 Lavington negotiated a new lease which specifically excluded the three small farms mentioned above. (fn. 69) The land then leased is probably identifiable with that known in the 18th century as the 'great farm'. That estate continued to be leased as a whole and in 1765 was reckoned at 371 a. (fn. 70) By 1780, however, it was farmed in moieties of 134 a. and 136 a. each. One moiety was then farmed in hand by the lord of the manor, while the other was leased out. (fn. 71) The moieties, probably much enlarged by the acquisition of copyhold land, were sold as separate farms shortly after 1812. (fn. 72) One farm, reckoned then at 362 a. and including the 'little farm' (see below), was known as Manor farm in 1970, while the other, reckoned at 550 a. c. 1812, was known as Marden House farm in 1970. (fn. 73)

Four serfs worked the demesne in 1086 and elsewhere on the estate there were 10 villeins, 14 coscez, and 2 bordars. (fn. 74) In 1331 five tenants held yardlands and there were in addition fifteen unspecified customary tenants. All tenants owing works had by that date commuted them for money payments. (fn. 75) In 1765 and 1780 there were, besides the 'great farm', the three small farms mentioned above, and another small leasehold, formerly copyhold. (fn. 76) There were also ten copyhold estates. The three small farms were known as Butler's farm, 'Gony's', and 'Watt Robins' in 1551. (fn. 77) Butler's farm was known as the 'little farm' in 1765 and 1780. By the later date it was farmed in hand by the lord of the manor, (fn. 78) and subsequently came to be merged in Manor farm.

A west field and a north and an east mead within the manor are mentioned in the later 16th century. (fn. 79) By 1705 the east and west fields had apparently been subdivided, and a west field by Acre Ditch, a little east field, and a barley field are mentioned. (fn. 80) In 1780 the common pastures included 314 a. on the downs, formerly known as the Cow and Old Farm downs, and another 156 a., which probably lay in the north of the parish and comprised Gooseham common, Lakes common, Ruslet common, and Greenhill. The common meadows were known as Lammas meadow, Lot meadow, and Midsummer ground. The 556 a. of open arable land stretched from the southern outskirts of the village up to the scarp of the downs, and comprised Every Year's land (93 a.), Wheat field (129 a.), Hitching field (155a.), Barley field (148 a.), and Summer field (121 a.).

Only 100 a. within the manor had been inclosed by 1780 and each tenant then held a few acres within the old inclosures. (fn. 81) Most of the parish, therefore, was inclosed in 1812, when 1,052 a. were allotted to Eleanor Sutton as lady of the manor. The open arable fields were then known as Clay, Sand, and Hill fields, and Greenhill cliffs, the common meadows as Lot, North, and Gooseham meadows, while the pasture remained as in 1780. (fn. 82)

A shepherd, drover, carter, and ploughman worked on the manor in 1331. (fn. 83) Then, and until the 19th century, the parish's economy was based on corn and sheep. In 1331 350 sheep were pastured on the down, a small number which may represent a tenant flock. (fn. 84) In 1705 there was a flock of 1,300 sheep in the parish. (fn. 85) Tenants in 1765 were allowed to pasture 40 sheep for each yardland they held. Leasehold tenants then had a total of 880 sheep and the copyholders 340 sheep. The farmer of the 'great farm' was entitled to pasture 520 sheep and the farmer of the 'little farm', 200 sheep. (fn. 86) Similar numbers of sheep were maintained in 1780, when they were divided between the down flock and the smaller field flock. (fn. 87)

Besides the later Manor farm (447 a.) and Marden House farm (549 a.), there were two other fairly large freeholds in Marden in 1841. One of 63 a. probably identifiable with the later Grange farm was owned by Joseph Hayward (d. 1851), and another of 89 a., probably to be identified with Hawthorn farm, by Henry Hayward. That of 63 a. included two water-meadows: one, known as the common mead, lay on the south bank of the river Avon and another called Home close lay directly west of the house known in 1970 as the Grange. Another two watermeadows near the common mead were known as the upper and lower meads in 1841. (fn. 88) No woodland was accounted for in 1086. (fn. 89) Presumably Marden, like its neighbours, was sparsely wooded, and in the 18th century parishioners were presented for felling trees and enjoined to plant trees on the common land. (fn. 90) By 1841 some 29 a. of woodland had been planted on the downs and much could still be seen there in 1970. (fn. 91) In 1898 all the downland in Marden south of the Ridge Way, which amounted to 340 a., was sold to the War Department. (fn. 92) The land formed part of one of the Salisbury Plain firing ranges in 1970 and was then leased to Mr. Henry Horton of Wilsford. (fn. 93)

There were four farms in the parish in 1970 as in 1841: Manor farm, Marden House farm (in 1970 farmed in conjunction with Puckshipton farm in Beechingstoke), Grange farm, and Hawthorn farm. Large unfenced arable fields, on the site of the former open fields, then stretched southwards from the village to the scarp of Salisbury Plain. A few people were employed on farms within the parish in 1970 but most then worked outside it.

Mill. A mill at Marden paid 7s. 6d. in 1086. (fn. 94) It was probably attached to the manorial estate during the earlier Middle Ages. (fn. 95) Before 1426 Henry Sparrow had acquired the mill and in that year his widow Alice granted it to John White. (fn. 96) In 1457 he conveyed it to his daughter Maud and her husband Robert Crocher. (fn. 97) The mill passed to their cousin and heir John Crocher alias White, who in 1496 conveyed it to Gregory Morgan. (fn. 98) By 1509 Robert Rogers had acquired the mill and it apparently passed, like land at Oare (in Wilcot), to William Button (d. 1547) and descended to his son, another William. (fn. 99) The mill remained in the Button family and descended, like the manor of Lyneham, to their successors, the Walker-Heneages. (fn. 100) John Walker-Heneage (d.s.p. 1806) owned the mill in 1780. (fn. 101) By 1841 George Hutchins was owner. (fn. 102) Jasper Wells had acquired the mill by 1855 and owned it until 1894 when it was sold to George Hibberd. (fn. 103) Edgar M. Hamlin was owner in 1907 and was still miller in 1923. (fn. 104) By 1927 A. J. Brown had bought the mill and established a pig-breeding concern, the Marden Pedigree Pig Company Ltd., there. (fn. 105) Frederick Taylor was owner in 1939, and shortly after the Second World War, the mill was bought by Mr. E. Plank, who produced animal feeding stuffs there in 1970. (fn. 106)

In 1970 Marden mill, approached by a drive running north-west from the Marden-Beechingstoke road, lay among former water-meadows on the south bank of the river Avon in the north of the parish. It comprised an early-19th-century dwellinghouse, the mill building to the east with a datetablet inscribed 'G.H. 1842', and another building to the west bearing a tablet inscribed 'J.W. 1876'. The mill could be operated by steam power in 1894. (fn. 107) The water-wheel was removed in 1932 and replaced by a water turbine. (fn. 108) Corn was ground electrically in 1970. (fn. 109)

Local Government.

Courts for Marden manor are recorded for 1561–3, and for 1751–90 in a series of rough drafts with gaps at intervals. Drafts for 1767–72 have been entered in a court book. (fn. 110) A grant of view of frankpledge had apparently been made by 1331. (fn. 111) The 18th-century courts are generally designated views of frankpledge and courts baron. Views and manorial courts were held on the same day, generally yearly, and their business recorded together. At the views tithingmen were appointed while at the manorial courts officials such as haywards, beast-tellers, and sheep-tellers were appointed, small agricultural matters presented, and manorial customs recited. The lord of the manor was frequently asked to provide new stocks in the 1750s. In 1754, 1755, and 1756 Richard Hayward was presented for felling trees in Gooseham and for inclosing common land, and in 1772 a bridge was ordered to be placed at the end of Cob's Lane. (fn. 112)

Parish rates were levied for unknown purposes in 1673, 1690, and 1693. (fn. 113) Marden became part of Devizes poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 114) In 1844 the Devizes guardians administered some parish houses which stood east of the church. (fn. 115) It is not known how long they were used as such.