National Gazetteer (1868) - Castle Combe

CASTLE-COMBE, a parish and village in the hundred and union of Chippenham, in the county of Wilts, 6 miles to the N. W. of Chippenham, its post town, and 11 N. of Bath. It was the site of a castle founded in the reign of Richard I. by Walter do Dunstanville, which afterwards passed to the Badlesmeres and Scropes, and was dismantled before the beginning of the 15th century. The castle was built on the summit of a hill northward of the village, near the site of the old British encampment. The great Roman road called the Fossway, leading from Bath to Cirencester and Lincolnshire, passes along the north-western boundary of the parish. Castle-Combe was formerly a market town, under a grant obtained by the Badlesmeres. The market has long been disused.

The living is a rectory in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £383, with 25 acres of glebe land, in the patronage of G. Poulett Scrape, Esq. The church is dedicated to St. Andrew, and was restored in 1851. It is an ancient building in the early English style, with a tower 80 feet high supported by buttresses. The Rev. Joseph Hunter, the antiquarian, considered the chancel to belong to the 12th century, and the body of the church to the reign of Richard II. The tower is of later date, having been built in 1434. The most remarkable feature in the body of the church is the arch that separates the nave from the chancel. It contains, in good preservation, six figures in canopied niches; they represent St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James, and three others. There were four several altars in use in this church in the 15th century, dedicated to St. Mary, the Holy Cross, St. Andrew, and St. Nicholas. There are fifteen windows, all with stained glass: that at the E. end is of the 13th century; it has been carefully preserved, and its form is extremely rare-perhaps unique. In the N. aisle is a monument of a recumbent knight; it belongs to the early part of the 13th century. The figure is considered to represent one of the Dunstanvilles, barons of Castle Combo.

There is an old market cross in the village. The Independents and Baptists have chapels, and there is a National school. The charitable endowments consist of a bequest for education, worth £5 a year. Castle-Combe House, the seat of the Scrope family, who have held the property since the middle of the 13th century, stands in a pleasant sheltered valley, watered by a small stream, and surrounded by wooded hills. In the park are many noble trees. Its present owner, George Poulett Scrope, Esq., M.P. for Stroud, is lord of the manor, on the antiquities of which he has written a work of great legal and antiquarian interest.

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]