Local History

A short history of Rushall

 

Rushall in 1773 - Taken From Andrews' and Durys' Map

 Can you spot where you live?

 

----------ooOOoo---------- 

  •  There has been a settlement at Rushall for many centuries. Although the village name suggests an Anglo-Saxon origin there are traces of pre-historic field systems and earthworks within the parish. The name "Rushall" roughly derives from the Saxon " Ruste's Halh". This most likely translates as "A nook of land belonging to a man called Ruste". Certainly this description fits very well with the topography of the village. Rushall was once part of the Manorial Estates belonging to Saxon royalty. For a while it belonged to King Harold's mother (Gytha) before being passed on and eventually out of royal hands. During the early middle ages a church was built in the village and it was later dedicated to Saint Matthew. A charter granting an annual fair was made in 1285, although this appears never to have been officially taken up. Tithe records show a village population of around 150 people during the 1300's and that the village was centred on agricultural based economies.

----------ooOOoo----------

  •  Research into the village shows that until c1775 it would have looked somewhat different to its modern day layout. The village once had a substantial highway running between Church Lane and the driveway beside Avon Villa. This road ran along a similar alignment to the course of the River Avon and can be clearly seen in the small map above. There is evidence suggesting that several cottage sized buildings once stood along the route before it was closeed in the late 18th century. Within living memory there was also a row of Elm trees which followed the line of the old road across the fields. Church Lane now only leads over the River Avon and into "France Farm". Apparently this farm was originally named "Francis Farm" but there are local claims that "France Farm" became so named as one had to cross water to reach it. By 1780 the crossing to the farm was made from Church Lane over the lovely stone bridge which still stands near to Rushall Church.

----------ooOOoo----------

  •      In 1749 a wealthy Gentleman named Edward Poore purchased almost the entire parish of Rushall as his new estate. He later destroyed parts of the original layout of the village, in order to improve and beautify his estate. It is certain that his contractors flattened houses and closed off the old road across the field from the Church. This work was required in order to turn the area into private park land, fronting onto the new Manor House. The Poore Manor House was built next to the Church but was demolished less than 100 years later, around 1839. Seemingly this was as a consequence of Poores' Rushall estate being split up between family heirs and then sold off in pieces. The site of the short lived Manor House can still be seen as the large grassy mound next to Rushall Church.

----------ooOOoo----------

  • The church itself has an impressive "ha-ha" wall around it to keep livestock out of the cemetery. The isolated position of the church, combined with its sunken ditch gives the effect of making the church look as if it is adrift on an island. This often leads to questions from visitors about why the church is so far removed from the village. The answer being that before the Poores' landscaping and demolition work was carried out the church had in fact been near the heart of the village. What we now know as Church Lane was in fact a main road between Rushall and Upavon and the Church was situated on what was originally part of the village high street (Although the road was never known by that name).

----------ooOOoo----------

  • The village had a set of Stocks (and still does) set up near to the turnpike, where the crossroads with Church Lane and the A342 Devizes road now lies. Stocks would have served the purpose of punishing minor offenders as publicly as possible and also were often the cheaper equivalent to a Lock Up or Blind House. By placing Stocks beside a main junction it ensured that the maximum number of people would see the person in the stocks and would be discouraged from ending up the same way. As a form of punishment Stocks fell largely out of use by the 1800's

----------ooOOoo----------

  • Historically the village has always been concerned with agriculture, farming and rural crafts. In modern times there has been a gradual shift towards a mixed population of local workers and families, retired people and those who have moved to the village for a rural lifestyle but who work elsewhere. The population of the village has remained relatively constant throughout the years, at an average of 150 residents. Although this average number increased during the agricultural booms of the 1600's and 1800's to about 250 persons, before slowly shrinking back again. Today Rushall remains a wonderful example of a thriving community and it is hoped that it remains so for many generations yet to come.

 

 

History by Mark Lewis - Drawn from sources including Victoria County History of Wiltshire and Wiltshire County Records Office