National Gazetteer (1868) - Wootton Bassett

WOOTTON-BASSETT, a parish and market town, formerly a representative borough, in the hundred of Kingsbridge, county Wilts, 18 miles N. of Devizes, 37 N.W. of Salisbury, and 82¾ W. of London by the Great Western railway, on which it has a station. It is mentioned in Domesday survey as Wodetun. It sent two members to parliament until disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832, and is still governed under charters of Henry VI. and Charles II. by a mayor, 2 aldermen, and 12 capital burgesses. The broadcloth manufacture, for which it was once famous, has now entirely disappeared.

In 1857 the town was presented with one of the Russian guns taken at Sebastopol. The population of the parish in 1861 was 2,191. The town, which has rapidly improved during the last few years, consists principally of one street nearly half a mile in length. The older houses are in general indifferently built, and many thatched. It contains a town hall, market house, and two branch banks. The streets are clean and well lighted with gas. The Wilts and Berks canal passes within half a mile S. of the town, and at Whitehill Farm is a chalybeate spring. The old manor-house, once a royal residence, is now converted into a farmhouse.

The land in the vicinity is hilly, but wooded and fertile. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Salisbury, value £540. The parish church is dedicated to All Saints, or St. Bartholomew. Some years since, while cleaning the S. wall, a rude painting was discovered, representing the murder of Thomas-a-Becket. The Independents, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists have chapels. The free school, founded and endowed ill 1688 by Richard Jones, with £25 per annum, is now amalgamated with the National schools. There are also British, infant, and Sunday schools.

There are traces of an ancient hospital, dedicated to St. John, which, in the reign of Henry IV., was given to the priory of Bradenstoke in this county. Market day is Tuesday. Fairs for cattle are held on the second Tuesday in every month, and statute fairs for hiring on the Tuesday before the 6th April and first Tuesday in October. The estate belongs to the trustees of Sir Henry Meux, Bart.

BARKENHAM, a village in the hundred of Kingsbridge, in the county of Wilts, 2 miles from Wootton Bassett. [This place doesn't seem to exist any longer -RRL 2010]

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