Rowley and Wittenham

earthworks on the site of Rowley village


The Bradford Hundred manors of Rowley and Wittenham ceased to exist some time ago; Wittenham especially seems to be completely lost.

Wittenham was mentioned as being on the border of the Bradford land that was given to Shaftesbury Abbey in 1001 and appears in Domesday Book as Withenham where it was rated for 5 hides of land. It was named in 1315 as a vill of the Bradford Hundred.

Rowley was noted in 1320, like Wingfield, Wittenham, Trowle and Westwood, as a vill within the Forest of Selwood. It was often referred to as Rowley alias Wittenham and gradually became the more important of the two. It was a parish in its own right, with a church dedicated to St Nicholas.

After Rowley came into the hands of the Hungerford family, an Act of Annexation was passed in 1428 to amalgamate the parish of Rowley with that of their land at Farleigh Hungerford, across the river Frome in Somerset. Although the ecclesiastical parishes were joined, the people of Rowley, who were very few in number, were to look after their own church and were excused from contributing to the church of Farleigh.

The land itself remained within the Hundred of Bradford, with the manor attached to Iford and stayed within Wiltshire, so the parish of Farleigh Hungerford was in strange position of lying in both Somerset and Wiltshire. With the Divided Parishes Act of 1882, Rowley became part of Somerset.

The village of Rowley became completely depopulated and all that remains today are earthworks in fields either side of the lane from Westwood to Farleigh Hungerford.

Various small parcels of land of Wittenham were scattered throughout the neighbouring parishes, especially it seems around Midway in Wingfield.

stone on the boundary between Rowley and WestwoodThis unusual stone, a piece of quartzite not found in this area, lies precisely on a corner of the boundary between Westwood and Rowley



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