Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for WILTON

WILTON, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Wilts. The town stands on the river Wiley, in the peninsnla at the confluence with the Nadder, and on the London, Yeovil, and Exeter railway, 3 miles W by N of Salisbury; was known to the ancient Britons as Caer-Giulo, to the Saxons as Wiltan; took these names, and its present one, from its position on the Wiley: was the capital of Wessex, and gave name to Wiltshire; acquired a college in 773, converted into a nunnery or abbey about 800; witnessed the overthrow of Beornwulf of Mercia by Egbert of Wessex, in 823; was the scene of the first grant of tithes to the clergy in 854; witnessed a defeat of the Danes, by Alfred, in 871; became the seat of a diocese from 906 till 1050; was burnt by the Danes, under Sweyne, in 1003; was fired again, by the Empress Maud, after routing Stephen, in 1143; recovered speedily from its disasters, and was large and flourishing till 1244; suffered then severe and permanent loss by the diversion from it of the great western road; was visited by Queen Elizabeth in 1579,-by Prince Henry, in 1603; acquired under the Herberts, in the time of Elizabeth, a staple of cloth and carpet manufacture, which became famous in connexion with the town's name, and continues still to prosper; had for natives John of Wilton of the 13th century, John of Wilton, of the time of Edward III., Thomas of Wilton, of the time of Edward IV., and perhaps Massinger who died in 1639; is a borough by prescription, first chartered by Henry I., and governed by a mayor, 5 aldermen, and a number of burgesses; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I., and now sends one; includes, as a town, some houses in three parishes contiguous to Wilton parish; comprises, as a parliamentary borough, 12 entire parishes, and 6 parts; borrows much consequence from the vicinity of Wilton House, the seat of the Earl of Pembroke; consists chiefly of one street, with neat and cheerful aspect; and has a post-office‡ under Salisbury, a r. station with telegraph, a hotel, a town hall, an ancient cross, a modern church, two dissenting chapels, an endowed school with £150 a year, an ancient alms-house-hospital with £29, other charities £130, gasworks, a weekly market now nearly obsolete, and sheep fairs on 4 May and 12 Sept. The nunnery or abbey of about 800 became Benedictine; acquired a mitred rank; and was given, at the dissolution, to Sir W. Herbert, the first Earl of Pembroke. Wilton House occupies the abbey's site: was rebuilt by Wyatt; contains a rich collection of marbles, paintings and ancient armour; and stands in a richly ornate park. The modern church superseded an ancient one, now partly taken down; was built in 1844, at a cost of £20,000; is in the Lombardic style, elaborately ornate; has a campanile tower, 120 feet high; and contains a very elegant altar-tomb, of the late Countess of Pembroke, erected in 1864. Electors of the p. borough in 1833, 214; in 1863, 264. Pop. in 1851, 8,607; in 1861, 8,657. Houses, 1,814.

The parish comprises 1,791 acres. Rated property, £4,812. Pop. in 1851, 1,804; in 1861, 1,930. Houses, 398. The living is a rectory, united with Bulbridge rectory, Ditchampton vicarage, and Netherhampton p. curacy, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £400.* Patron, the Earl of Pembroke.—The sub-district contains eleven parishes, and comprises 23,845 acres. Pop., 5,770. Houses, 1,228.—The district includes also Bishopstone sub-district, and comprises 55,304 acres. Poor rates in 1863, £8,348. Pop. in 1851, 10,742; in 1861, 10,674. Houses, 2,264. Marriages in 1866, 80; births, 345,-of which 24 were illegitimate; deaths, 193,-of which 58 were at ages under 5 years, and 8 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 805; births, 3,345; deaths, 2,233. The places of worship, in 1851, were 24 of the Church of England, with 4,942 sittings; 6 of Independents, with 1,444 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 140 s.; 3 of Wesleyans, with 252 s.; and 5 of Primitive Methodists, with 517 s. The schools were 25 public day-schools, with 1,462 scholars; 15 private day-schools, with 281 s.; and 28 Sunday schools, with 1,812 s. The workhouse is in South Newton.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Wilton AP/CP       Wilton SubD       Wilton PLU/RegD       Wiltshire AncC
Place names: CAER GIULO     |     WILTAN     |     WILTON
Place: Wilton

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