Broughton Gifford



St Mary's Church, Broughton Gifford ..

St Mary’s Church, Broughton Gifford


Broughton Gifford is the easternmost parish of the Bradford Hundred, bordering on Melksham. It was not a part of the Manor of Bradford that was given to Shaftesbury Abbey in 1001, and was still in the King’s hands at the time of Domesday Book in 1086. However, it was a part of the Bradford Hundred under the Abbess of Shaftesbury, who also held Broughton Church. It went on to be part of the Bradford & Melksham Rural District.

Etymology Broughton, broc-tun, might derive from broc, a badger, or just from the brook that flows near the church. The Gifford family held medieval estates all over the country, many of which had their name attached (eg. Stoke Gifford in Gloucestershire).

The land The parish is mainly situated on clays of Middle-Upper Jurassic date, running down to the River Avon in the south at Monkton and Challymead.

Settlement The present village consists of a small original nucleus around the church and a long winding strip development along the road to the north. Two former areas of ‘waste’ land, Broughton Gifford Common and Norrington Common, are now partly surrounded by houses. Next to the River Avon there are small settlements at Challymead and at Monkton, which was sometimes known as Broughton Parva (Little Broughton) and formerly belonged to Monkton Farleigh Priory.

Buildings There are around 70 listed buildings, the outstanding ones being the parish church, Monkton House, Gifford Hall, Broughton Manor House and Hollybrook House.

Economy The 2001 Census recorded a population of 822 inhabitants in the parish. Due to the nature of the underlying clay, farming is mainly sheep and cattle rearing, as part of the “cheese” area of Wiltshire’s “chalk and cheese”.  Formerly the village was known for its geese, leading to the residents being called “ganders’. There was formerly a timber yard and E.A. Gore’s mattress factory. Mortimer’s freight transport, founded in 1866 and now called Broughton Transport Solutions, is based in the village and there is a printing works. There is a primary school, have been two public houses –The Bell on the Common and sometimes The Fox [& Hounds] (closed late in 2017 under the name Rusty Stag), but no shop or post office. Church Farm has had a large meat-supply business until recently. Broughton was served by a halt on the Wilts, Somerset & Weymouth Railway from 1905 to 1955. The village is now largely a dormitory for workers in Melksham, Chippenham and elsewhere. The proximity of Melksham means that Broughton now looks towards that town, rather than its ancient links to Bradford.

Bradford on Avon Museum holds very few objects from Broughton Gifford. We are looking for old photographs and postcards as well as 3-dimensional items; can you help? Some Roman coins and various social history items are in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes. .