National Gazetteer (1868) - Warminster


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"WARMINSTER, a parish, post and market town, in the hundred of Warminster, county Wilts, 4 miles S. of Westbury, and 9 from Trowbridge. It is a station on the Wilts and Somerset branch of the Great Western railway, on the river Willey, and near the south-western boundary of Salisbury Plain. It is a petty sessions and polling town, including the hamlets of Boreham and Bugley. Warminster is mentioned in Domesday Book as Guersminstre, and having been held in demesne by Edward the Confessor paid neither Danegeld nor Hidage. The manor subsequently came through the Mauduits, Hungerfords, Howards, and others, to the Thynnes, of Longleat.


The town chiefly consists of one long street, well paved and lighted with gas. There are three banks, a savings-bank, and a town-hall, which last was designed by Mr. Blore, and erected in 1830, at the expense of the Marquis of Bath. The town was formerly noted for its broadcloth manufacture, which is now extinct, but an extensive malting trade is still carried on, and silk weaving has been introduced. Petty sessions are held monthly at the townhall, also the July quarter sessions, and county court is held on the first Tuesday in every month. Camden supposed this place to have been the site of the Roman Verlucio, and the neighbourhood abounds in objects of antiquity, including several barrows, one of which is called "King Barrow".


The soil is chalky. The population of the parish in 1861 was 5,995, and of the town 3,675. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Sarum, value £324, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Denis, was rebuilt in 1724, and has a tomb of Edward III.'s time. The register dates from 1556. There is also the district church called Christ Church, the living of which is a perpetual curacy,* value £150. It stands on an eminence, and was built about 1830.


Near the townhall stands the St. Lawrence proprietary chapel, founded in Edward I.'s time, and rebuilt in 1725. Bishop Squire was born here in 1714. The parochial charities produce about £191 per annum. There are National, British, and infant schools, and a grammar school founded by the first Viscount Weymouth; also an athenæum and literary institute. Warminster Poor-law Union comprises 21 parishes, the poorhouse being situated at Sambourne Hill. The Independents, Wesleyans, Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and Unitarians have each a chapel. A large market for the sale of corn is held on Saturday. Fairs are held on the 22nd April, 11th August, and 26th October."

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