Place:Calne, Wiltshire, England

Alt namesCainesource: mis-spelling
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates51.433°N 2.005°W
Located inWiltshire, England
See alsoCalne Hundred, Wiltshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
North Wiltshire District, Wiltshire, England1974-2009
Wiltshire District, Wiltshire, England2009--
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

The civil parish of Calne was made a municipal borough in 1890, before the era of urban and rural districts began. It became part of the North Wiltshire District in 1974 and of the Wiltshire District unitary authority in 2009.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

In 978, Anglo-Saxon Calne was the site of a large two-storey building with a hall on the first floor. It was here that St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury met the Witenagemot to justify his controversial organisation of the national church, which involved the secular priests being replaced by Benedictine monks and the influence of landowners over churches on their lands being taken away. According to an account written about 1000, at one point in this meeting Dunstan called upon God to support his cause, at which point the floor collapsed killing most of his opponents, whilst Dunstan and his supporters were in the part that remained standing. This was claimed as a miracle by Dunstan's supporters.

Early market town

In 1086 Calne may already have been, as it was later, a market town on the main London–Bristol road, with 114 households and a church. 74 or more households were held almost outright by burghal tenure (as citizens of a borough), and the lordship of its large outlying land was divided between the king (of whom 45 burgesses were tenants) and the church.[1]

In the Middle Ages the king's successor as the lord of Calne manor and, as owner of the church's revenues, the treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, each had the right to hold a market and a fair in the town, with two triangular market places or fair grounds. A modest hospital was provided on a modest endowment from 1248 until it provided no accommodation in 1546 and was sold two years later by the Crown.[1]

Reflecting the large area of the king's estate, until the late 19th century Calne had tithings at Eastmead Street, Quemerford, Whetham, Whitley, and part of Beversbrook, all now within Calne parish; and furthermore Blackland, Calstone, Stock, Stockley and Studley, all now in Calne Without parish.


Calne had a significant woollen broadcloth industry in the 18th century, and evidence of this can be seen set around the triangular green by the parish church, where 24 listed buildings remain, five at Grade II* including the Tounson almshouses for the neediest poor[2] and Georgian era clothiers' houses. Nearby are some of the 20 original cloth mills along the Marden. St Mary's church was extended by the generous donations of rich clothiers and wool merchants in the 15th century.

Houses of the 17th and 18th centuries have external walls of stone and timber-framed walls inside. Most of the stone is limestone rubble, laid with ashlar dressings in houses of higher quality; the walls of many houses were rendered smooth. Until the 19th century, quarries beside the London road northwest and southeast of the town were sources of stone for building.[1]

A relic of 19th century lime extraction, a kiln, exists in the grounds of St Mary's School. This solid marine deposition is chiefly one chemical, calcium carbonate, and is dug in nearby pits for its main use in cement and as fertiliser on acid ground.[3]

Former canal

The Wilts & Berks Canal linked the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington, near Melksham, to the River Thames at Abingdon. Much of the traffic on the canal was coal from the Somerset Coalfield. As the canal passed through open country near Stanley, east of Chippenham, a short branch led through three locks to a wharf in Calne. The canal was completed in 1810 and abandoned in 1914.

Former railway

Calne's former railway station opened in 1863, the terminus of its own branch line of the Great Western Railway running east from Chippenham, with one intermediate stop: Stanley Bridge Halt. The opening of Black Dog Halt in the early 20th century provided insufficient demand to slow a progressive decline. The branch closed as a result of the Beeching Axe in September 1965, having suffered the ignominy of making the biggest loss per mile of any line in the country.

Wiltshire pork and ham

Subsequently, Calne's main industry other than being a small market town was the imposing Harris pork processing factory. The factory provided employment directly and indirectly to many of the residents until the early 1980s; at its closure in 1983 it employed over 2,000 people out of a town population of 10,000. It is said that the pork-curing industry developed because pigs reared in Ireland were landed at Bristol and then herded across England on drovers' roads to Smithfield, London, passing through Calne. The factory started in the second half of the 18th century when brothers John and Henry Harris started businesses which merged in 1888 as C. & T. Harris & Co. The factory has now been fully demolished and its site redeveloped as shops, housing and a library. As a result of the closure, unemployment in the town increased considerably and during much of the 1980s Calne suffered many of the economic restructuring problems more usually associated with large cities.

Research Tips

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Calne. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.