Cricklade

CRICKLADE, a market town and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Highworth, Cricklade, and Staple, in the county of Wilts, 40 miles N. of Salisbury, 25 from Devizes, and 3½ from the Purton station of the Great Western railway. It is a very ancient place, supposed to be the Cerigwlud of the Britons, though others derive its name from two Saxon words, Crecca, "a brook", and ladian, "to empty", as the small rivers Churn and Key here join the Thames; which takes its rise on the Gloucestershire border.

Being situated on the Roman road from Corinium or Cirencester to Spine, it was a place of considerable importance in the Saxon times, before it was plundered by Prince Ethelwald in 905, when he marched to oppose the election of Edward the Elder to the throne. In 1016 it was again plundered by Canute the Dane. From the reign of Edward I. it occasionally returned members to parliament until 1782, when in consequence of notorious bribery the elective franchise was extended to the adjoining hundreds of Highworth, Staple, Kingsbridge, and Malmesbury, except that part of the latter now included in the borough of Malmesbury.

At the passing of the Reform Act its limits remained unaltered, Cricklade, Brinckworth, and Swindon being appointed the polling-places. The town, which is pleasantly situated in a champagne country on the S. bank of the river Isis or Thames, consists principally of one long street, paved and lighted with gas. It is a borough by prescription, and is nominally governed by a bailiff and town council, appointed by a jury at the court-leet of the lord of the manor.

It is the head of a deanery, of a Poor-law Union comprising 14 parishes, and of a superintendent registry, but is included within the Swindon new County Court district. The town of Cricklade is divided into two parishes, that of St. Mary and that of St. Sampson. The former is a rectory value £83, in the gift of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

The church of St. Mary is an ancient Norman structure, with a handsome stone cross of one shaft on a flight of steps in the churchyard. The latter is a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £365, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury.

There are also chapels belonging to the Independents and Wesleyan Methodists. The charities amount to £289 per annum. Here was a school founded by Robert Jenner, goldsmith, of London, in the year 1652. There are some remains of a priory founded in the reign of Henry III. Saturday is market day. A cattle and cheese market is held on the third Tuesday in each month, and a fair on the 21st September.

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

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