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Cricklade in 1836

CRICKLADE, a market and borough town in the northern extremity of the county of Wiltshire, in the hundred of Cricklade. The population, in 1831, was 1,506. It is situated in a level tract of country, on the south bank of the Isis, 84 miles W.N.W. from London, and 44 N.N.W. from Salisbury. The Thames and Severn canal passes near the town, and a branch canal, which forms a junction between the Wilts and Berkshire canal at Swindon, passes through it. The antiquity of Cricklade appears to be considerable. The name is derived by some writers from the British Cerigwlad, signifying abounding in stones. Others derive it from the Saxon craecca, brook, and laedian, to empty, the position being near the junction with the Thames of two small streams, the Churn and the Key. An improbable story is related by several antiquarians respecting the existence of a famous school of ancient learning at Cricklade, which on that account was originally called Greeklade, and it is added that the University of Oxford was formed by an emigration of professors and students from this town. Dr. Stukeley, in his ‘Itinerary,’ considers it to have been a Roman station but this perhaps is questionable. In subsequent periods, little of historical interest is recorded, except that in 1016 the town was plundered by Canute. In the parish of St. John are the remains of a priory founded in the reign of Henry III. It is now used in tenements for the poor. There was formerly an endowed free school, but the endowment is now lost. Two national schools for girls exist, and a charity, yielding £125 a year from 100 acres of land, is appropriated to the apprenticing of poor children.

The town consists of two parishes, St. Mary and St. Sampson. St. Mary's church is an ancient structure, with vestiges of Norman architecture ; in the churchyard is a Gothic cross with canopied niches. The church of St. Sampson is a spacious cruciform edifice, and presents a fine specimen of Gothic architecture. The tower is lofty, surmounted with parapets and pinnacles, and highly ornamented with niches and pedestals. There are two dissenting chapels, and Sunday schools supported by subscription. Cricklade has returned representatives to parliament since the reign of Edward I. In consequence of some notorious instances of bribery, the elective franchise was extended by 22 George 3, c.31, to the freeholders of several adjoining hundreds. (Report of the Cricklade Case, 8vo. 1785.) At present the borough is represented by two members ; the number of electors is 2,268 ; the bailiff is the returning officer. Petty sessions are held by the magistrates once a month, and a court of requests every third Saturday. The market-day is on Saturday, and a fair is held on the 21st of September. One in April, for cattle, has been discontinued.