Great Cumberwell

South Wraxall, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Cumberwell on Andrews & Dury's map 1773


An estate of Cumberwell, already separated from the Manor of Bradford, was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086.

The manor became part of the Liberty of Castle Combe and descended with it through the Middle Ages. The name seems to suggest that there may have been remnants, or at least a memory, of the Romanised Welsh-speaking people living there when the Anglo-Saxons arrived in the 6th century.

There was a chapel here which was mentioned in 1542 and the estate of John Bailey, yeoman, who was occupying Cumberwell at his death in 1598, included the lease of the parsonage of Cumberwell.

The estate was acquired by the Button family of Alton Barnes in the 16th or 17th centuries, passing on the death of Sir Robert Button c1679 to Charles Steward, his nephew who probably built a great house there and laid out the park. Steward died in 1698 after falling from a horse (there is a monument to him in Holy Trinity Church in Bradford). A relative of the Buttons, Heneage Walker, sold the estate to John Allen Cooper, a Trowbridge clothier, in 1723 and it passed by marriage to Sir Edward Bayntun in trust for his grandchildren. The Rev Dr Robert Taunton bought it -33 acre park, mansion and stables- in 1786. The house, except for one wing, was destroyed by fire in 1790 and the estate was sold in 1820 for £15,400 to John & Thomas Clark, more Trowbridge clothiers.

The old house was a large building and it was described in the late 18th century as containing 30 apartments and an old chapel, which may have been the one mentioned in the Middle Ages. It was situated on what is now a wooded knoll to the north of the present farm, where there are said to be still traces. Cumberwell became part of the new parish of South Wraxall in 1884.

gate piers of Great Cumberwell, Avebury ManorThe house and estate declined into a farm and various parts were demolished or removed. In 1903 Erlysman Pinckney of South Wraxall purchased the estate from Mrs Dorcas Clark, who had inherited it from John and Thomas Clark. Pinckney demolished the remains of the house, using the materials to build new cottages. The stone gate piers were sold and removed to Avebury, where they now form the entrance from the Swindon Road to the National Trust’s Avebury Manor.

The James family, which had owned the land as dairy farmers from 1939, began to diversify the farm in 1992 by removing the dairy herd and developed much of it into a landfill site and began a golf course, which opened as Cumberwell Park in 1994. The family continue to farm many acres from the old Pinckney estate, stretching as far as Monkton Farleigh village and have recently purchased 90 acres of Ford Farm, South Wraxall.