"LUDGERSHALL, a parish and small town in the hundred of Amesbury, county Wilts, 14 miles S.E. of Marlborough, 15 N.E. of Salisbury, and 7 N.W. of Andover, its post town, where the London and South-Western railway has a station. This place, formerly called Lurgeshall and Lutgashall, was anciently of considerable extent, and is supposed to have been the residence of some of the Saxon kings. It lies in a low spot on a tributary of the river Avon, and after the Norman Conquest was a market town and borough by prescription, returning two members to parliament, at intervals from Edward I. to Henry V., and then till the passing of the Reform Bill, when it was disfranchised.
It is now only a good-sized village, situated on the road from Devizes to Andover. The houses are much scattered, and the inhabitants employed in agriculture. A castle of Norman build once stood here, which was held by the Clifford, Molin, and other families, and finally passed to the crown. The Empress Maude took refuge in this fortress in 1141, during her fight from Winchester towards the castle of Devizes. It was dismantled shortly after the battle of Lewes. There are still some slight remains of the walls to be seen in a farmyard near the village. A bailiff is appointed at the court leet held by the steward of the manor on Michaelmas-day, when two constables are also chosen.
The surface is boldly undulating, rising in some parts into hills of moderate elevation. The soil is chalky in some parts, and in others a strong red loam. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Salisbury, value £274. The church, partly of brick, is of ancient date, with a square tower surmounted by pinnacles. The interior has recently undergone thorough repair, and a slated roof has replaced a former flat one covered with lead. It is dedicated to St. James, and contains several effigies and very ancient monuments. The parochial endowments realise about £23 per annum. The Baptists and Primitive Methodists have each a chapel.
There is a good National school held in a convenient building, erected by the Messrs. Everett as a memorial to a deceased sister. Here are remains of the ancient market-cross, also an antique cross in the churchyard. About 76 years since, the great seal of England, used in the reign of Stephen, was found in the vicinity; and on Chidbury Hill is a heart-shaped plot of ground, encircled by a number of tumuli. Bid-I deaden House, erected by General Webb, and afterwards inhabited by the Duke of Chandos, is the principal residence. W. H. Mann, Esq., is lord of the manor. A pleasure fair is held on 25th July."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]