Kington St Michael's History
Villager Tim Storer has kindly composed a comprehensive history of the parish.
Kington St Michael was originally called Kington, indicating a royal farm or manor, and was first recorded in a Saxon document in 934 AD.
The village is sited on a brash limestone outcrop and remains a street village in pattern to this day. The church of St Michael and All Angels dates back to the twelfth century (the story of St Michael) There used to be a sheep market held in the area in front of the Almshouses, and other markets held in enclosures nearby (the area in front of 77 and 78 Kington St Michael, for example). "The Jolly Huntsman" pub was originally called "The White Horse" and contained the brewery at the back of its premises. The wells supplying the water are 80 feet deep and are still accessible to this day. It is reputed that there was a tunnel between "The White Horse" and "The White Hart" opposite (today a private dwelling house). A smaller hostelry on the main street was located at what is now 75 Kington St Michael.
Here are details of the Domesday map.
(An old postcard showing the Alms Houses, circa 1920s - kindly provided by Tim Storer)
The Manor House was rebuilt in the 1860's by Squire Herbert Prodgers. He also gave the village its school and schoolhouse, which was used until the late 1970s when the current school was built.
The Village undertook a twelve year battle to save the old school premises for the benefit of the Parish, and is probably one of the very few in the country which retained their premises once they ceased to be used for educational purposes. The Reversioner for the property, a Mrs Rogers, gave the building back to the Village in the 1980s. The Parish Council was subsequently able to gain hold of the schoolhouse and the playground land, with a change in the law with regard to charities.
A major fund raising exercise in the village enabled the whole building to be converted into a well-used Parish Hall, which was given charitable status by the Parish Council at that point. The complex of old and new Parish Halls will be of major benefit to the area in the years to come. Here is a history of the acquisition of the village hall.
Squire Prodgers and his gatehouse
The old Manor House, demolished in the late 1800s The old Manor House (Circa late 19th century)
(Thanks to David West for providing the picture on the left from the Parish Plan)
Originally Kington St Michael included the the hamlet of Kington Langley, but this became a seperate parish in 1865. The burial grounds are maintained in the Parish Church, and the two villages retain responsibility for the six Almshouses located in Kington St Michael. Lands in the parish were bestowed upon Glastonbury Abbey and a house of Benedictine nuns was established at The Priory. For further information visit Wiltshire County Council's website.
The hamlet of Easton Piercy is now part of the parish of Kington St Michael but until late in medieval times was a separate village and parish with its own small chapel, graveyard and cross. The chapel was taken down around 1610. The early name was Easton Piers from the Piers family who owned the manor in the mid 12th century. Easton Piercy was part of the Malmesbury Hundred.
Kington St Michael Priory
Kington St. Michael Priory was a Benedictine priory of nuns. Founded before 1155, the priory was dissolved in 1536.
Parts of the priory buildings from the 13th and 15th centuries were incorporated into the present Priory Farm, where there is also modern rebuilding on old foundations.
The last Prioress of Kington was Dame Marie Denys, a daughter of Sir William Denys (1470–1533) of Dyrham, Gloucestershire and Lady Ann Berkeley, da. of Maurice, de jure 3rd Baron Berkeley (d.1506). She had previously been a nun at Lacock Abbey, and had just taken up her new appointment at the start of the Dissolution of the Monasteries; in the summer of 1535 the King's visitors came to Lacock and made a favourable report. John ap Rice wrote that he had 'founde no notable compertes there' and commended the nuns of Lacock for their familiarity with their rule and constitutions, he informed Thomas Cromwell that Dame Marie Denys, 'a faire young woman of Laycock', had been made Prioress of Kington, where the visitation had revealed a less satisfactory state of affairs. The report of the Commissioners of 1536 upon Kington was however favourable.
Marie Denys lived until at least 1571 when she was bequeathed by the will of her brother Sir Walter Denys (1501–1571) his second best bed, situated at the home of his second wife at Codrington, near Dyrham: "Item I geve my second best bed with blanketts coverled, bolster thereunto belonginge being nowe in Codrington unto my sister Marye Denys"In 1221 a house for paupers was built in the parish at The Priory - visit www.workhouses.org.uk and enter "Kington St Michael" in the search box for details.
The image below is of "The Annunciation to Mary", which was once held in the Benedictine Priory at Kington St Michael.
To find out more about The Priory please visit the British History website.
Visit www.wiltshiretreasures.org/ and enter "Kington St Michael" in the search box to view artifacts related to the village.
Another interesting website is the OodWooc website, compiled by Duncan & Mandy Ball. It contains 229 photographs of Kington St Michael church & churchyard. Do have a good look around it, as there are lists of those buried plus photos of gravestones.For local historical information visit Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre's website
View Wiltshire Community Histories on Wiltshire Council's website here, (which includes Kington St Michael) then select the parish you wish to view.
Know Your Place – West of England, the digital mapping project that is putting your neighbourhood’s heritage on the map www.kypwest.org.uk.
To view the Wiltshire On-line Parish Clerk's website click here - you will need to log in before searching for Kington St Michael. This has details of baptisms, marriages and burials from as early as 1791 to around 1911.
Wiltshire On-line Parish Clerk's website contains supplementary pages for Kington St Michael.
The Rev J E Jackson wrote about Kington St Michael in the The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Magazine No. X, Vol. IV, June 1857, is available to read on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
You can view The Return of Owners of Lane, Kington St Michael 1873.
Kington St Michael Map and Tithe 1842
Please click here for the corresponding tithe.
Those of you with good memories will recall that there used to be a clock in the window of the Old Village Hall (facing onto the road, next to the telephone kiosk). This had been bought to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but sadly it wore out in the 1990s and was irrepairable. However, due to popular demand, the Village Hall Management Committee bought a new clock and it has been put up in its rightful place.
The Pond Area, Stubbs Lane
Have you ever why the pond area is called that when it really looks more like a stream? Years ago the land there and Tor Hill and Home Farm (now Home Farm House) all belonged to Kington Manor. Home Farm had a herd of Jersey cattle which were led down cobbles to water at the pond. Subsequently the pond area has reduced in size and, presumably, the cobbles hidden beneath. (Thanks go to Robbie Duckett for this information).
N.B. take a look at the 1842 map to see the size of the pond.
Something in the water!
Taking the waters in Kington St Michael? Unlikely as it seems, Wiltshire had its own fair share of mineral springs and wells. Thirty one places in the county had water which contained minerals thought to contain curative properties (the vast majority of these sites are found at the junction of two or more geological formations), including Kington St Michael. For more information please take a look at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre website.
"A Topographical Dictionary of England"
Excerpt From "A Topographical Dictionary of England". Author: Samuel Lewis (editor); year published 1848.
"KINGTON (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Chippenham, N. division of the hundred of Damerham, Chippenham and Calne, and N. divisions of Wilts; containing, with the tythings of Easton-Piercy and Langley, 1173 inhabitants, of whom 531 are in the tything of Kington, 3 miles (N. N. W.) from Chippenham. The parish is situated on the road from Chippenham to Malmesbury, and comprises by measurement 4000 acres; the soil is clay, sand, and stone brash, and the surface is flat, but not subject to inundation. There are several quarries of good building-stone. A fair for cattle and sheep is held on the 6th of October.
The ancient manor-house near the church was the country residence of the abbots of Glastonbury. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £8. 9. 4½., and in the gift of the Earl of Mornington. The church, of which the tower and north aisle have been rebuilt within the last 60 or 70 years, has some fine Norman details. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents. Isaac Lyte, alderman of London, who died in 1659, erected six almshouses, which he endowed with £20 per annum; and Mrs. White, in 1821, bequeathed the interest of £200 for their further endowment.
In the parish are considerable remains of three religious houses, the principal of which, a Benedictine nunnery, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded before the time of Henry II., as a cell to the abbey of Glastonbury; the revenue, at the Dissolution, was £38. 3. 10.: the remains have been converted into a farmhouse. Mr. Britton, the antiquary, is a native of the parish."
For more information on Kington St Michael's history visit www.british-history.ac.uk/ and enter Kington St Michael in the "search" box.
A Hundred was an administrative area, a group of several parishes. Up to the 15th Century a Hundred had its own court to deal with minor offences. The courts continued with very few functions until 1886. The names of the hundreds were often used for Poor Law Unions and for Rural District Councils. You will find some tax records grouped by hundred in record offices, notably Land Tax. The Victoria County History, which has individual histories of the towns, parishes and hamlets of a county, is arranged by Hundred.
Kington St Michael was in the Damerham Hundred, however Easton Piercy was in the Malmesbury Hundred.
Kington St Michael's Old Businesses
The village has had three pubs! At 3 Kington St Michael was the White Hart, which took its name from an earlier White Hart at 76 Kington St Michael. Now there is The Jolly Huntsman (previously called the White Horse). The village bakery was located at 85 Kington St Michael and this later became a post office and shop. There was a blacksmith next to the White Hart at 3 KSM and the village carpenter lived in Wheelwright Cottage (fomerly Woodbine Villa), 48 Kington St Michael.
For some years there used to be another grocery shop in the unit next to Kington St Michael Club. In the early days there were no houses between the Old Chapel (built in 1830 as the Bethesda Baptist Chapel) and Stanton Lane, so the village was divided into "top" and "bottom".