Page’s quoted from:

Somerford Magna the history of a village in north Wiltshire

by Portia Hobbs.


First published 1982 by Alan Sutton Publishing Limited at 17a Brunswick Road, Gloucester.

Copyright c Portia Hobbs 1982

ISBN: 0-950-7937-0-1


Chippenham written by Joseph Chamberlain (not the Prime Minister). Describing the building of Chippenham town bridge at the beginning of the nineteenth century. it says that as the £800 lent by Thomas Sealey of Great Somerford had been expended he was asked to lend another £400 as well. There were five Thomas Sealeys living then and there is no saying which one of them it was. A present member of the family tells me they have never come across any record of the loan being repaid.

So far we have been looking at the landowners and those who provided employment, but let us not forget the cottagers who did the work to make the wealth to pay their own wages, employ the trades people and keep the community alive. A necessary and far from vicious circle. It is possible to extract names from the registers, but in most cases that is all. The four originals, Knapps, Turtles, Porters and Miles were all here, of course, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the Comelys were growing fewer. At least nine families who stayed for three or four gener­ations were gone by 1900. One of these was the Hunt family which included William, a baker and publican, and (George a cordwainer, harness maker , shoe maker and one time tenant of the Volunteer Inn who died, alas, in Malmesbury Union, (what were his sons doing about it?) These sons were Francis and John Hunt. Francis owned a cottage in West Street and they had a flourishing blacksmith's business opposite West Street farm.

We know something, too, of the I Higgs. Isaac Higgs was assessed on his blacksmith's shop, garden and orchard in 1830, and Daniel, who was made constable in 1842 and 51, was renting a field and working as a smith with his brother until at least 1867. The site of this smithy is not given, perhaps it was the one which flourished at the crossroads under lames Lewis at the end of the century. In any case the fact that Hunts were established in the same village shows that there was work enough for two. The last discovered reference to Daniel is not so happy. We read in the North Wilts Herald of 1861 that 'Daniel and John Higgs, blacksmiths, were summoned by Malmes­bury magistrates to show cause why they should not contribute to the maintenance of their aged mother, Elizabeth Higgs, now chargeable to the parish. It \vas the opinion of all the ratepayers in the parish that her sons were in a position to maintain her. Daniel had a freehold house and two cows. The defendant said he had taken up money on the house and the cows gave very little milk and only had the run of the lane. Daniel was ordered to pay 1s 6d. and John 1s. per week. The Higgs family later moved to Little Somerford where they were living and working, highly' regarded, in the smithy and garage until the 1970s. Their descendants are still here.

Of the other families which have been in the village sometimes as much as two hundred years there is little to tell at this period except their names. Far





































Two new houses have now been built on the Manor House garden next door.

The Manor House, an old farmhouse, not one of the original Manor Houses, which was given this name during the nineteenth century. Owned in the sixteenth century by the Alexanders. It was greatly enlarged by the Beak family. Brigadier and the Hon. Mrs. A. LI. Palmer left here for Sark in 1975. This house has now been made into two.

                                                                                                                Somerford Manor, William Jeremy and Alison J .f .Davies from Bristol since 1977. Mr Davies, son of a Swiss mother and a Welsh father, is a chartered surveyor with an office in the city. Mrs. Davies, from Surrey, worked in the Post Office as a trainer of staff. Nicolas goes to private school, Emma is an infant. During the alterations stones dated 1767 were uncovered, as well as chimneys built of numbered stones, presumably so marked by an earlier rebuilder. An Adam fireplace has been restored.

Somerford I louse, Robert and Martine Morcom Harneis and family.

The part called The Annexe, once used by the butler, housekeeper, etc. was occupied in 1969-78 by Janet Allen, housekeeper, now in Seagry, who came from a small-holding at Toothill, Swindon. David works on the farm at Cadenham Manor and Katheryn is in the office at R.f.C. Electronics. Both went to Great Somerford and Malmesbury Schools.

No.61 Eva M. Dee 1955-77. Mrs. Dee died 1978.

She taught infants in Great Somerford School for many years before and after her marriage to Mr. Percy (Jack) Dee. Joan (Mrs. Gittins) is at Flamborough, Diana (Mrs. Riley) in Co. Durham. This cottage and the one next door are used by Mrs. Tim Palmer.

No. 62 Helena M Carter (nee Bye) since 1929

Mrs. Carter's father and brother were millers at Kingsmead, her parents lived with her till their deaths. Her husband was the local postman. She was school caretaker for eighteen years, but broke her leg in a cycling accident in 1954 and then went to Ecko factory for thirteen years more. Ruth Scott next door is her daughter. Robert Elmer a land surveyor at Chippenham, and Caroline (Mrs. Vincent) at Wootton Basset are grandchildren who have lived here.

This cottage is on the site of an old forge, which, with the other stone houses at this end of West Street, all date from the mid-seventeenth century.

No.63 Harry and Ruth Scott since 1977

The Hunt family of blacksmiths lived here in the 1800s. Mr. Scott is a builder and decorator, he married Mrs. Ruth Elmer in 1977. Angela his





































daughter, who was at school here, is Mrs. Roger Smith at Crudwell.

S'hipton’s Lane (once Grudge’s Lane) joins West Street here. It contains two

bungalows. built 1966-7

No. 1 Widmore Percy H. Wissenden original owner, and Phyllis Kane (Mrs. Florence Wissenden died 1977)

Mr. Wissenden retired from Bromley Kent after 43 years with British Rail. Mrs. Kane is his daughter. Georgina, granddaughter, is Mrs. Derek Stoneham and David is in Sherston.

No. 2 Paul and Ellen Scott since 1972

Mr. and Mrs. Scott came from Singapore (formerly Lincolnshire)

He is a Londoner and she is from Co. Durham. Mr. Scott is an R.A.F. fitter and Mrs. Scott teaches at Little Somerford School. Colin and Pamela are away at boarding school.

West House. Ralph and Evelyn Eatock since 1970

This was one house with West Villa next door and belonged in the mid eighteenth century to the Shipton family (hence Shipton's Lane). Mr. and Mrs. Eatock, originally from Wigan, added extra rooms and a garage. Mrs. Eatock was headmistress of Lea and Garsdon School from 1948 and organist of Lea Church. She is active here in Sunday School, Church, choral society, Coffee Pots and the Women's Fellowship.

West Villa Herbert and Joyce Cotton. Mrs. Cotton has been here since her marriage when a Land Girl to John Martin in 1947. He died in 1969. Stephen Martin lives with them and Ann is a specialist teacher in Coventry.

Westerton Farm Cottages. An old farmhouse divided. The Matthews family lived here till the 1920s.

1  Elfed and Pauline England since 1974. Mr. and Mrs. England came from Cyprus (to Manor Park) in 1972, both are Welsh. Mr. England, formerly R.A.F. Police, has been with Pye T.M.C. Malmesbury as senior security officer since 1977. Mrs. England is cook for Mrs. T. Palmer, she belongs to the Coffee Pots, church choir, Parochial Church Council, women's Insti­tute, and served on the bell committee. Neal, Russel and Nicola go to Malmesbury School. All three are bell ringers.

2  Darryl Mogg from Kirby Gate, Leicestershire since 1974 He was valet to Col. Tim Palmer and the farm manager.

West Street farm (fomerly Cockerells or Cottrclls)

Cynthia Palmer since 1962 (Col. C.T. Llewellyn Palmer died 1978) Mrs. Palmer coaches riders and helps to run equestrian events. She is in the