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Marlborough in 1843

Marlborough is in Selkley hundred, 75½ miles from the General Post-office, London, by the Great Western Railway to Reading, and from thence by the Bath road through Newbury and Hungerford. Some antiquaries have proposed to fix the Roman station Cunetio, of Antoninus, at Folly Farm, close to Marlborough ; and the evidence in favour of this opinion is strong. There was a castle at Marlborough in the time of Richard I, which was seized during his imprisonment by his brother John ; but on Richard’s return it was reduced under the king’s power. A parliament or assembly was held here in the time of Henry III, the laws enacted in which were called the Statutes of Malbridge, one of the older forms of the name, which in Domesday is written Marlberge. The site of the castle is covered by a large house, which was a seat of the dukes of Somerset, and was afterwards used as the Castle Inn. Within the last year this building has been fitted up as a Clergy School, and has been opened with good prospect of success. The mound of the ancient keep is in the garden. The municipal and old parliamentary borough comprehends the two parishes of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Peter and St. Paul, the statistics of which in 1831 were as follows :-

St. Mary the Virgin
Inhabited houses : 300
Uninhabited houses : 12
Building : 7
Total houses : 319

Families employed in agriculture : 27
Families employed in trade etc : 232
Others : 118
Total persons : 1849

St. Peter and St. Paul
Inhabited houses : 244
Uninhabited houses : 5
Building : 2
Total houses : 251

Families employed in agriculture : 9
Families employed in trade etc : 180
Others : 137
Total persons : 1577

Total acres of both parishes : 170

The parish of Preshute or Manton was added by the Boundary Act for parliamentary purposes, and enlarged the population to 4186 persons.

The town of Marlborough consists chiefly of one wide street running from east to west, and lined with houses, irregularly built, and many of them old. Most of the houses are of brick. The streets are roughly paved on each side with large boulders or pebbles from the downs adjacent. The market-house for cheese, butter, and corn, is at the east end of the street: it is an ancient building, having in its upper story a council-chamber, assembly-rooms, and court-house. The shambles or butcher’s-market are near it. The churches are both in the main street; St. Mary’s is at its eastern end, near the market-house ; it is an old church with a freestone tower at the west end, with a Norman doorway enriched with zigzag ornaments : the church of St. Peter and St. Paul is near the western end of the street, adjacent to the Castle Inn, and has a lofty square tower with battlements and pinnacles. There are, on the south side of the street, some remains, now converted into a private house, of an ancient priory for the regular Canons of St. Augustine. There are several Dissenting places of worship in the town.

The trade of Marlborough is not great ; it is chiefly in coal, corn, and malt. Before the opening of the Great Western Railway, it was a great thoroughfare, and one of the chief posting towns between London and Bath and Bristol. There is a small market on Wednesday, and a more important one on Saturday; and several yearly fairs. Marlborough is a borough by prescription; the corporation, under the Municipal Corporations Reform Act, has four aldermen and twelve councillors, but no commission of the peace. It sends two members to parliament : its boundaries were enlarged by the Boundary Act.

The living of St. Mary’s is a vicarage of the clear yearly value of £100, with a glebe-house: that of St. Peter and St. Paul is a rectory of the clear yearly value of £130 : both are in the rural deanery of Marlborough, in the archdeaconry of Wilts, and the diocese of Salisbury.

There were in the borough, in 1833, twelve day-schools of all kinds, with 531 scholars, namely, about 205 boys and 236 girls, and 90 children of sex not distinguished in the return; giving between one in six and one in seven of the population under daily instruction. One of the day-schools was a small but well-endowed grammar-school ; and one, a national-school, with 67 boys and 95 girls, was also a Sunday-school. There were besides, two Sunday-schools with 117 boys and 154 girls; giving in all 433 children, or one in eight of the population, under instruction on Sunday.

Henry of Marlborough, an historical writer of the four-teenth and fifteenth centuries; Obadiah Sedgewick and Christopher Fowler, eminent puritan divines of the seventeenth century ; John Hughes, the poet and dramatist ; Harte, the historian of Gustavus Adolphus ; and the well known Dr. Sacheverell, were all natives of Marlborough.