History of Dilton Marsh

This information was sent to me by Sue Vernall.

The Civil Parish of Dilton Marsh was created in 1894 out of the Western Part of the Ancient Parish of Westbury. It lies, therefore, in the extreme West of the County, and it's western boundary is the county boundary between Wiltshire and Somerset. Until 1934 the parish extended South-Westwards to include the houses on the North side of the village street at Chapmanslade, but in that year Chapmanslade became a Civil Parish and the south-west corner of Dilton Marsh was transferred to it.
The parish of Dilton Marsh comprises 2,507 acres squared and is roughly square in shape with a projecting tongue of land in the north-east corner. It is low lying and nowhere reaches a height of over 250 foot. The soil of the north and west is clay, but the south-eastern part of the parish lies mostly on the upper greensand and the extreme south east corner touches upon the chalk of Salisbury Plain. The southern part of the parish is well wooded. Much of it is occupied by the park of Chalcot House. Black Dog Woods, once part of the forest of Selwood, which began in Berkley (Som.) and run through Chapmanslade, extend for over half a mile into the south-western corner of the Parish. There is also some woodland on the western boundary near Standerwick (Som.) The Biss Brook forms the eastern boundary of the parish and a stream named the Alleburne enters the parish in the north and runs through the Fairwood estate.

The main railway line from London to the West of England runs across the parish from East to West, and the line between Westbury and Warminster, opened in 1851, runs southwards for about two miles just within the eastern boundary of the parish. There is a halt for Dilton Marsh on this line at the extreme east end of the village.
No main roads run through the parish, but the main road between Bath and Warminster forms its south-western boundary for about a mile. The secondary road from Westbury enters the parish at a point called Penknap. Here it forks and the northern branch crosses the parish and leads to the main Bath-Warminster road, while the southern branch leads to Chapmanslade and Frome (Som.). Just beyond Penknap a road leads north towards Penleigh and leaves the parish near Fairwood House.

The village of Dilton Marsh lies along the northern branch of the secondary road from Westbury, which forms the village street, and along two smaller roads leading off either side of it. The church, built in the 19th century, stands on the south side of the street, approximately in the middle of the village. There is little evidence of any building before the late 18th century. The houses on both sides of the street are spread out, and many stand in fair sized gardens well back from the road. These houses are mostly cottages, often in blocks of two or more, and many of them were clearly built for the hand-loom weavers who, in the early 19th century, worked in their homes for the clothiers of Westbury and Warminster. At the tike of the Inclosure Award some of these craftsmen were allotted small parcels of land in front of their houses forming the verge of the road. Many of the houses are brick, but others are of stone rubble with red brick dressings, and in some instances the front walls only are brick. One unit on the north side of the road, opposite the church, consists of a terrace of 4, two-storied weavers' cottages with a three-storied, double fronted master's house at one end. Behind the masters house is a two-storied workshop with wide windows to each floor. Thes buildings which probably date from c. 1830, have front walls of red brick and are of rubble behind. Along the narrow road branching south from the village street the cottages are close packed and at all angles to the road.

There is a brick and tile works on the east side of the parish just north of the Dilton Marsh halt, and north of this a line of disused iron quarries stretches for about a mile. On this side of the parish there are several rows of red brick houses of late 19th and early 20th century date, very probably built for workers at the nearby Leigh works, the leather works of Charles Case & Son. These works occupy the former cloth mill called Boyer's Mill standing beside the Biss Brook, which forms the boundary between Dilton Marsh and Westbury Leigh. Boyer's House, a large, early 19th century building, stands in fairly extensive grounds on the Westbury Leigh side of the stream. On the west side of the same stream and thus in Dilton Marsh, although in fact situated at the west end of the village street of Westbury Leigh, is Bridge Farm, formerly the Apple Tree Inn. This is an L-shaped building, originally timber framed, and of 16th or early 17th century date. The front facing the street dates from the late 18th century. It is of stone ashlar with pediments to the first floor windows, a central carved panel below the parapet, and a doorway with an enriched freeze.

At the west end of Dilton Marsh village there is a small council estate built since the Second World War. In the 19th century this end of the village was called Dilton's Lower Marsh. From a point in this neighbourhood called Redpit a smaller road branches off the secondary road and forms a loop joining the larger road again about half a mile west of Dilton Marsh Village. The houses along this loop road form the hamlet of Stormore, called Stormore Common or St. Maur Common or Green in the 19th century, and thus presumably part of the former manor of Westbury Seymour, or St. Maur. Many weavers lived at Stormore in the early 19th century and here, as at Dilton Marsh, some of the cottages still bear traces, often on the back elevations, of the wide wondows beneath which the hand looms stood.

Chalcot Park is the largest estate in the parish. In its finely landscaped park there is the site of a Romano-British settlement from which much pottery has been excavated. There are also several other large farms and houses in the parish. On the Biss Brook, about two miles north of Penknap are Penleigh House and Farm, standing on either side of a private road leading through fields to Westbury. North of Penleigh House, also on the Biss, are Brook Farm and Mill. The farm can be approached either from the east by a road from the Ham in Westbury, or from the West by a private road called Brook Drove. On the western boundary of the parish is Fairwood House, a mainly 19th century house, standing in a large park. Two farms, both called Fairwood, lie to the south east and south west of the park. At the western end of the Fairwood Estate is an area known as Stourton Bushes, presumably named after the Lords Stourton who had a manor in Westbury in the 15th and 16th centuries. South from Stourton Bushes is Five Lord's Farm. According to Hoare, the boundaries of the five manors of Westbury Stourton, Arundell and Seymour, Leigh Priors and Bremeridge met at this point. Severeal of their boundary stones are said to have stood until the time of inclosure in 1808. Bremeridge Farm, which gave its name to one of the Westbury manors, lies in an isolated position about two miles north of the village of Dilton Marsh


The Villages of Dilton and Dilton Marsh