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 (very roughly 600 acres or 240 hectares) and a mill belonging to the Bishop of Coutances in Normandy which had been held by someone called Alvet or Alfgeat before the Norman Conquest in 1066. It had a church in 1299 and was named in 1315 as a vill of the Bradford Hundred.

Rowley was not recorded  in the Domesday Book, but was first noted in 1320, like Wingfield, Wittenham, Trowle and Westwood, as a vill within the Forest of Selwood.

The two became combined at some time and were often referred to as Rowley alias Wittenham. Rowley gradually became the more important of the two, with Wittenham disappearing altogether. Rowley was a parish in its own right, with a church dedicated to St Nicholas, probably the one previously recorded as Wittenham.

When the manor of Rowley came into the hands of the Walter, 1st Lord Hungerford, an Act of Annexation was passed in 1428 to amalgamate the ecclesiastical parish of Rowley with that of their parish 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. Rowley became the Wiltshire part of the large Hungerford hunting park, most of which was on the Somerset side of the River Frome.

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. Under the provisions of the Divided Parishes Act of 1882, Rowley became part of Somerset.

The village of Rowley became almost completely depopulated and all that remains of the village today are earthworks in fields either side of the lane from Westwood to Farleigh Hungerford. Bradford on Avon Museum Research Group has been carrying out geophysical exploration of th parts of the site, including some small excavations.

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 and might have been a boundary marker




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