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Warminster in 1843

Warminster is in the hundred of Warminster, 100 miles from the General Post-Office, London, by the South Western Railway to Basingstoke, and from thence by Andover, Amesbury, and Heytesbury. Camden proposed to fix here the Verlucio of Antoninus, but other antiquaries reject this opinion. The parish has an area of 5,450 acres, and comprehended, in 1831, 1,308 houses, namely, 1,236 inhabited, 57 uninhabited, and 15 building ; with a population of 1,275 families, or 6,115 persons, more than one-third agricultural.

The town is in a very healthy situation, close to the western border of Salisbury Plain, in the valley of the Wily, to the north of the river itself : it consists of several streets, the principal one extending along the road from Salisbury to Frome. The principal street is well paved ; and the general appearance of the town is neat and respectable. The parish church stands on the north side of the town, on the Bath Road, and is dedicated to St. Denis : it is a spacious and handsome church, built of stone ; the tower is of the time of Edward III, the rest of the church was rebuilt early in the last century. A new church, called Christ Church, has been built within the last few years ; and there is a chapel in the centre of the town, dedicated to St. Lawrence, founded as early as the time of Edward I, and now used as a chapel-of-ease. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Presbyterian-Unitarians.

There is a handsome town-hall erected by the marquis of Bath, with a handsome suit of rooms for assemblies, public meetings, 8c. The market is held on Saturday, and there are three yearly fairs. The market is a considerable corn-market, though it has been injured by the rivalry of Devizes, which has the advantage of canal navigation. The October fair is called, by way of eminence, ‘the great fair,’ and is a considerable sheep, cattle, and cheese fair. The woollen manufacture which was formerly carried on is now almost extinct, and the silk manufacture, which was introduced some time since, scarcely, if at all, exists. Only seven men were employed in manufactures in the parish in 1831.

The living is a vicarage of the clear yearly value of £324, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Wylie, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Salisbury. The vicar presents to the perpetual curacy of Christ Church, which is of the clear yearly value of £150.

There were in the parish, in 1831, thirty-seven day-schools of every kind, with 911 scholars, namely, 494 boys and 417 girls: and nine Sunday-schools, including the national school, which was a day-school also, with 1,061 scholars, namely, 555 boys and 506 girls ; giving above one in seven of the population under daily instruction, and above one in six under instruction on Sundays. Of the day-schools, twenty-three schools, with 359 scholars, were dame-schools or other schools for small children ; one was a national school with 140 boys and 60 girls, and 40 girls additional on Sundays : one was a Lancasterian school with 80 girls ; and one was an endowed grammar-school with 48 boys.