Chalke Valley Churches

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  • History - Alvediston

History - Alvediston


Alvediston parish lies at the head of the Ebble valley 15 km. WSW of Salisbury. Lands which later formed ALVEDISTONmanor were among 100 mansiunculae (small dwellings) at Chalke granted by King Edwy to the nuns of Wilton in 955. Wilton Abbey held the whole of Alvediston in 1066 and all except the estate called Trow in 1086. It had a church in the 12th century, and had become a parish by the late 13th. The Church was called ST. MARY'S in the mid 18th century.

The manor - first recorded by name in 1165 - passed to the Crown at the Dissolution; and in 1541 to Sir William Herbert (cr. earl of Pembroke in 1551); descending to Reginald Herbert, earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, who sold it in 1918Alvediston was perhaps more prosperous than the average medieval parish in Chalke hundred: in 1377 it had 111 poll-tax payers. The 1801 population of 217 had dropped to 160 by 1811; increasing to 281 by 1871 – falling to c.100 in the following century.

West of the Church are Church Cottage and Church Farm, the site of the demesne farmstead of Alvediston manor, and east of it is the Old Vicarage. The early 18th century Manor House, a double-pile red-brick house, was restored between 1938 and 1948 using panelling and ornament from other houses. Anthony Eden, earl of Avon (Prime Minister 1955–7), lived there from 1966 until his death in 1977.

The downs and deep valleys further north and south were pastures, with a warren north of Norrington. Norrington Farm stood beside the Ebble in the Middle Ages; John Gawen (descended from King Arthur’s Sir Gawain) who built Norrington Manor in 1377, is commemorated as the recumbent knight in armour, under the Church’s south window. Owners of Samways are remembered in the north aisle.

There was a day school at Alvediston in 1818, with 20 children in 1833. In 1858 a school for 30 infants was held in a cottage. The National day school (1864) was replaced by a new National school, and a teacher's house, built 1870-1872: attendance rose from 30 in 1890 to 45 in 1911. After numbers fell to 15 (1919) the school closed in 1922: Alvediston children went to Berwick St. John and Ebbesbourne Wake.

St. Mary’s Church

Alvediston church stands on the chalk above the northern bank of the Ebble. Of the 12th-century building, only the font and nave survive - the chancel is 13th century; the north, and south transept (chapel) are 14th century. In 1585 the church was said to be 'down' and rebuilt in the next century when two bells (1630 and 1640) were hung in the new tower – a third bell was added in 1811. In 1865, T. H. Wyatt extensively restored the Church: public subscription paid for the west window in memory of the Rev'd Philip Soulieu Desprez, the first resident Vicar for 300 years, who oversaw the restoration, and the building of both the vicarage and National day-school. A further major restoration occurred in 2009, following the commissioning of a memorial to the former Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, from the sculptor Martin Jennings.

There were vicars of Alvediston from 1299 until the mid 16th century. In 1344 the bishop of Salisbury was patron, this passed in 1449 to King's College, Cambridge, which became patron of the vicarage of Alvediston, and of Broad Chalke with Bower Chalke and Alvediston, but from 1584 or earlier they were held as one benefice until the perpetual curacy of Alvediston was created in 1861.

In 1535 the annual value of Alvediston vicarage was only £10, but 1830 values were £336 for the vicarage of Broad Chalke with Bower Chalke and Alvediston, including hay tithes, tithes of wool and lambs except from Norrington farm, and other tithes, bar corn, from the whole parish: replaced by a rent charge of £80, which in 1861 became the endowment of the perpetual curacy, with £16 yearly from King's College. A vicarage house, 'much in decay' in 1668, was demolished when a new house was built (1862–3): sold in 1947.

There were frequent 16th century complaints of clerical neglect of Alvediston. Without a resident Vicar there had been in 1553 no sermon for two years. The 17th century, non-resident, curates conducted services and catechized but did not preach; until in the 1830s the curate was required to hold a service every Sunday and a parishioner paid £20 a year for a second Sunday service to be held. In 1851 there was again one weekly service, attended by a congregation of 92 on Census Sunday. In 1864 communion was celebrated on Easter, Whit, and Trinity Sundays and once a month; of the 18 communicants, 15 usually received the sacrament.


  • Church Office
  • Byworth,
  • Meadow Close
  • Dinton, Salisbury
  • SP3 5HY

07890 262376
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