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Warminster from Cley Hill
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The Church of St Denys (the Minster), Warminster.

 

The Minster church dates back to the 1100’s when it was built by the Normans to replace the earlier Saxon minster. Since then it has been modified on several occasions.

 

It was rebuilt or re-modeled in the 14th century and additions were made in the late 15th or early 16th century, but by 1626 the church was reported to be “mightily in decay”. As a result extensive repairs were carried out from 1626 to 1629, with additional work taking place at several dates during the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

From 1887 to 1889 the Minster was mostly rebuilt in the perpendicular style by Sir Arthur Blomfield. All that remains of the old church are the central tower, south wall of the chancel and the south porch.

 

The Obelisk, Silver Street, Warminster.

 

This three sided obelisk marks the site of the old mediaeval market cross which went missing many years ago. Situated at the junction of Silver Street, Church Street and Vicarage Street the Obelisk also marks the old town centre and market place which dates back to Saxon times.

 

During the early part of the 13th century the market moved east to its current site at the Market Place and High Street. The earliest mention of this new market was in 1204 AD.

 

By moving the market to his own lands, a local nobleman could claim the market rents and tolls for himself. This is apparently what happened at Warminster, the Maudit family being the owners of the town at the time.

 

 

 

Wren House and the Tudor House, Warminster.

 

I have little information on either of these houses, except that their names would appear to be self explanatory.

 

The Tudor House appears to be a typical half timbered Tudor building, but with a layer of mortar or similar rendering covering the outside walls. As I understand it, this was a traditional method of construction used to protect the timbers from the elements.

 

Wren house was reputedly built by the celebrated Christopher Wren. He certainly had links with Warminster. He was born in East Knoyle approximately 15 miles to the south of the town, and employed at least one master mason from Warminster when building St Paul’s Cathedral, after the Great Fire of London.

 

 

 

The Boating Lake, Warminster, Town Park.

 

Situated in the centre of the town, and originally the town rubbish tip, our town park was officially opened by the Marquis of Bath on 26 July 1924. It had been constructed as a work creation scheme for the town's unemployed and the plans included a lake, bandstand and public swimming pool.

 

Later a children's playing field was built to commemorate the death of King George V (d.1937). A paddling pool was added in 1947 and the play area extended in the 1970's.

 

In 1977 the Ridgeway Slope was landscaped to mark the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II (it, too, was a work creation scheme for the unemployed). The swimming pool was converted into a rock garden in 1997, and a skate board area added some time later.

 

 

 

Smallbrook Meadows, Warminster.

 

Following the course of the River Were, Smallbrook Meadows Local Nature Reserve extends from the eastern end of the town park to the River Wylye. Footpaths allow walkers to travel right into the centre of town without really leaving the countryside.

 

The West Wiltshire District Council purchased the land in the 1970's and leased it to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Since that time the nature reserve has developed into a diverse range of habitats, becoming a haven for local wildlife.

 

This picture shows Dowding's Meadow which was a water meadow during the 17th and 18th centuries. The meadow would have been deliberately flooded in late winter in order to produce early grass for cattle and sheep.

 

 

 

The Turnpike Cottage, Hensford Marsh.

 

Formed in 1727, the Warminster Turnpike Trust controlled a network of roads in and around Warminster. It extended from Heytesbury and Corton in the east to East Knoyle in the south. This included part of the old coach road from London to Exeter, Warminster being one of the stopping points.

 

The task of the Trust was to maintain those roads, which they had to fund themselves. In order to do this they were permitted by Act of Parliament to erect gates, or "turnpikes", and charge tolls for the use of the roads.

 

Turnpike, or Toll, Cottages were built to house the gatekeepers and their families. This is one of Warminster's last surviving examples - and certainly the most picturesque.

 

 

 

The old Hollow Way to Corsley.

 

Situated just south of Cley Hill and accessible from the car park this track was, for centuries, the main route between Warminster and Corsley.

 

With the passage of time the track surface wore into the ground, eventually forming a deep hollow. Hence the term "Hollow Way". The track surface is bare soil which turns to mud in wet weather and may well have been impassible in winter even for pack horses. Certainly wheeled vehicles of any size would have found it hard going.

 

It was roads such as this that were replaced by the turnpikes. After it's formation in 1757 the Frome Turnpike Trust replaced the hollow way with a new turnpike that is now the A362.

 

 

 

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