Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for AMESBURY

AMESBURY, a small town, a parish, a subdistrict, a hundred, and a district, in Wilts. The town stands in the valley of the Avon, 4 miles NW of Porton r. station, and 7½ N of Salisbury. It was formerly called Ambrosbury, Ambresbury, and Amblesberie: and it probably derived its name from the ancient British chief Ambrosins Aurelins. It dates from a high antiquity; and was the meeting-place of a synod, in the time of king Edgar, for settling disputes between the regular and the secular clergy. A densely-wooded hill in its western vicinity bears the name of Vespasian's camp, and is marked by military defences round an area of 39 acres, which are believed to have been first formed by the ancient Britons, and afterwards strengthened and held by the Romans. Stonehenge and the Cursus are only 1¼ mile beyond this hill; and several other ancient monuments are near. A monastery for 300 monks was founded at the town either by the British Ambrosins or by a contemporary churchman; and this was succeeded, about the year 980, by a Benedictine nunnery, founded by Queen Elfrida, on account of the murder of her son-in law, Edward, at Corfe Castle. The nunnery was converted by King Henry II. into a cell to the great convent of Font Everanlt in Anjou; became the retreat of several royal and noble ladies,-particularly Mary, danghter of Edward I., and Eleanor, queen of Henry III.; and rose again to be an independent monastery, one of the richest non-mitred Abbeys in England. A noble mansion now occupies the site of the Abbey, and bears its name. This was the seat of the Duke of Queensberry, built by Webb, from designs by Inigo Jones, and subsequently improved by the Earl of Burlington; it was also the retreat of the poet Gay, where he wrote the Beggar's Opera; and it passed, in 1824, to Sir Edmond Antrobus, Bart., and was afterwards in great measure rebuilt, and adorned with a Corinthian portico. The parish church belonged originally to the Abbey, was well restored in 1853, and contains rich features of the early pointed style. The town has fallen greatly into decay; but still possesses interest for sake of the attractions around it; and it has a post office‡ under Salisbury, a hotel, a Methodist chapel, two free schools, and a workhouse. The two schools have an en dowed income of £115; and other charities have £42. A weekly market was formerly held on Friday, but has been discontinued; and fairs are held on 17 May, 22 June, and 21 Dec. The immediate environs, along the Avon, are wooded and charming, while the country be yond is bleak and dreary, but celebrated for coursing. Prime pipe. clay is sometimes found in diggings; and famous loaches are canght in the streams. The parish contains also the hamlet of Little or West Amesbury. Acres, 5,890. Real property, £7,490. Pop., 1,138. Houses, 229. The property belongs chiefly to the estate of Amesbury Abbey. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £141.* Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Windsor.-The sub district comprises eight parishes. Acres, 27,363. Pop., 3,756. Houses, 783.-The hundred includes thirteen parishes, and parts of four other parishes. Acres, 35,832. Pop., 5,242. Houses, 1,104.—The district comprehends the subdistrict of Amesbury, containing the parishes of Amesbury, Woodford, Durnford, Wils ford, Bulford, Durrington, Milston, and Figheldean; the subdistrict of Orcheston, containing the parishes of Orcheston-St. Mary, Orcheston-St. George, Tilshead, Shrewton, Maddington, Rolistone, and Winterbourne Stoke; and the subdistrict of Winterbourne, contain ing the parishes of Winterbourne-Gunner, Winterbourne-Dantsey, Winterbourne-Earls, West Cholder ton, Newton-Toney, Allington, Boscombe, and Id miston. Acres, 62,420. Poor-rates in 1866, £5,049. Pop. in 1841, 7,706; in 1861, 8,127. Houses, 1,723. Marriages in 1866, 41; births, 234,-of which 18 were illegitimate; deaths, 129,-of which 39 were at ages under 5 years, and 6 were at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,563; births, 2,536; deaths, 1,636. The places of Worship in 1851 were 24 of the Church of England, with 4,195 sittings; 2 of Indepen dents, with 550 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 550 s.; 5 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 802 s.: and 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 130 s. The schools in 1851 were 21 public day schools, with 966 scholars; 9 private day schools, with 116 s.; and 24 Sunday schools, with 1,284 s.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small town, a parish, a subdistrict, a hundred, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Amesbury AP/CP       Amesbury Hundred       Amesbury SubD       Amesbury PLU/RegD       Wiltshire AncC
Place names: AMBLESBERIE     |     AMBRESBURY     |     AMBROSBURY     |     AMESBURY
Place: Amesbury

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