Stone bridge over and buildings around the Marden
in the central conservation area
Calne shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Dialling code||01249 (Chippenham)|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Calne is on a small river, the Marden that rises 2 miles away in the Wessex Downs, the only town on that river, on a short branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal[n 1]. It is on the A4 road national route 19 miles east of Bath, 6 miles east of Chippenham, 13 miles west of Marlborough and 16 miles southwest of Swindon. Wiltshire's county town of Trowbridge is 15 miles to the southwest, with London 82 miles due east as the crow flies. According to the 2011 Census, Calne had 17,274 inhabitants.
- 1 History
- 2 Economy
- 3 Landmarks
- 4 Transport and infrastructure
- 5 Shopping
- 6 Education
- 7 Demography
- 8 Media and communications
- 9 Representatives
- 10 Notable inhabitants
- 11 Local places of interest
- 12 Sports clubs
- 13 Suburbs
- 14 Twin towns
- 15 Nearest towns and cities (centre to centre)
- 16 Nearest villages and hamlets
- 17 See also
- 18 Notes and references
- 19 External links
In AD 978 Anglo-Saxon Calne was the site of a large two-storey building with a hall on the first floor. It was here that St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury met the Witenagemot to justify his controversial organisation of the national church, which involved the secular priests being replaced by Benedictine monks and the influence of landowners over churches on their lands being taken away. According to an account written about 1000, at one point in this meeting Dunstan called upon God to support his cause, at which point the floor collapsed killing most of his opponents, whilst Dunstan and his supporters were in the part that remained standing. This was claimed as a miracle by Dunstan's supporters.
- Early market and coaching town
In 1086 Calne may already have been, as it was later, a market town on the main London-Bristol road. The church in it was well endowed, 74 or more households in it were held almost outright by burghal tenure (as citizens of a borough), and the lordship of its large outlying land stood divided between the king, of whom 45 of the burgesses were tenants, and the church. In the Middle Ages the king's successor as the lord of Calne manor and, as owner of the church's revenues, the treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral each had the right to hold a market and a fair in the town, on a similar street pattern, with two triangular market places or fair grounds. A modest hospital was provided on a modest endowment from 1248 until it provided no accommodation in 1546 and was sold two years later by the Crown.
- Growth in the wool industry
Calne had a significant woollen broadcloth industry in the 18th century, and evidence of this can be seen set around the triangular green, The Green, by the parish church, where 24 listed buildings remain, five at Grade II* including the Tounson almshouses for the neediest poor Georgian era clothiers' houses and nearby are some of the 20 original cloth mills along the Marden. St Mary's church was built to the immediate north by the generous donations of rich clothiers and wool merchants in the 15th century and is among a minority of medieval churches which are Grade I listed.
Houses of the 17th and 18th centuries have external walls of stone and timber-framed walls inside. Most of the stone is limestone rubble, laid with ashlar dressings in houses of higher quality; the walls of many houses were rendered smooth. Until the 19th century quarries beside the London road north-west and south-east of the town were "apparently" according to D.A. Crowley's county history of 2002, the main sources of stone for building.
A relic of 19th century lime, a kiln, exists in the grounds of St Mary's School. This solid marine deposition is chiefly one chemical, calcium carbonate, and is dug in nearby pits for its main use in cement and as fertiliser on acid ground.
- Former railway
Calne's former railway station opened in 1863, the terminus of its own branch line of the Great Western Railway running east from Chippenham, with one intermediate stop: Stanley Bridge Halt. The opening of Black Dog Halt in the early 20th century, provided insufficient demand to slow a progressive decline. The branch closed as a result of the Beeching Axe in September 1965, having suffered the ignominy of making the biggest loss per mile of any line in the country.
- Calne as a centre for Wiltshire pork and ham
Subsequently, Calne's main industry other than being a small market town was the imposing Harris pork processing factory and provided employment directly and indirectly to many of the residents until the early 1980s - at its closure in 1983 for example it employed over 2000 people out of a town population of 10,000. It is said that the pork-curing industry developed because pigs reared in Ireland were landed at Bristol and then herded across England on drovers' roads to Smithfield, London, passing through Calne. The factory started in the second half of the 18th century when brothers John and Henry Harris started businesses which merged in 1888 as C. & T. Harris & Co. The factory has now been fully demolished and its site redeveloped as shops, housing and a library. As a result of the closure, unemployment in the town increased considerably and during much of the 1980s Calne suffered many of the economic restructuring problems more usually associated with large cities. A legacy to this day survives with gastronomic plaudits for the techniques developed.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Calne saw rapid expansion compared to most other towns in the South West region, with a population which the district council projected to peak at around 19,000 by 2015 but which has since been surpassed by approval of more homes being built than the council estimated that demand would require in its earliest plans. The Lansdowne Park housing development (completed in late 2008) has substantially increased the physical scale of the town, creating an entirely new northwestern suburb, including a new primary school, a medical centre and a small shopping area. This area in particular has attracted professional workers from traditionally more expensive areas such as Bath, Bristol, Marlborough and as far afield as the 'silicon valley' towns of central Berkshire. Lansdowne Park 's name reflects the development's proximity to the seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne, whose family have resided at the nearby Bowood House country estate since 1784.
The Porte Marsh Industrial Estate on the north side of the town now provides the bulk of the town's internal employment. It is home to around 100 companies in predominantly light industries and information technology. The Belgian company Deceuninck has invested considerably in this area and operates two large facilities at Porte Marsh, in production and distribution. Another significant employer is the Exception Group, a large electronics company. In 2006 plans to build a cement production plant on the Porte Marsh site were vigorously opposed by local residents and planning permission was refused by the council.
Aside from the completion of Lansdowne Park, smaller pockets of new housing were built. In October 2007, approval was given for the creation of a major new £1m Football Foundation outdoor facility at Beversbrook on Calne's northern edge, which officially opened in April 2009.
Plans with the promise of additional DCLG funding or subsidy were partly executed made by the abolished quasi-local government association, the South West Regional Assembly of 2008 to build 13,700 additional dwellings within the former District of North Wiltshire during the period 2006-2026, including here. As such a series of planning applications were considered with the best selected on merit, according to the criteria set by local politicians and officials. In a survey conducted via the Town Council's free leaflet in early 2010, 90% of respondents replied that the town should retain a character as a market town rather than expand significantly beyond 20,000 inhabitants to regional hub informal status, such as held by Chippenham. The body spends approximately half of its income on parks, open spaces and the Beversbrook sports facility and levies a total annual precept of £1.1m spread across households and businesses, with reserves of almost £1m.
Arts and tourism
Tourism is described in local places of interest below with details of the surrounding historic and landscape attractions. Within the town the annual Calne Music & Arts Festival was established in 1975.
Calne is not averse to modern sculpture, and one of its largest public works, The Head, casts a fuller shadow and appears incomplete in the brain section, metaphorically pointing to the challenges of the future.
Notable buildings in the town include St Mary's Church, an array of houses on The Green and the Town Hall. Of particular note is Calne Library which has won awards for its innovative design and was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.
Since the demolition of Harris pork factory and the completion of the first phase of redevelopment/regeneration in 2001, Calne has seen actual Cotswold stone, similar to local limestone, being used and smart red brickwork, formerly reserved for fine historical buildings. A substantial amount of scaffolding was used across Calne town centre throughout 2007-2008 to enable the renovation of prominent buildings.
The town's church between the river and triangular green is Grade I listed and lavishly extended, as noted under history. Its nave built in 1160-70 forms the core of the church. Its wall monuments are notable in date and subject respectively: to William Norborne, d.1659, to Benedict John Angell, d.1836; and three wall tablets to "Boswell, King of the Gipsies", with a central horse relief.
Transport and infrastructure
The town centre suffers traffic congestion, with the A4 through the town close to gridlock during rush hour, due to single-file traffic between Curzon Street and Wood Street, with eastbound traffic having priority. A northern bypass road (part of the A3102 road) was completed in 2001.
Calne is equidistant (12 miles) from the M4 motorway at Junction 16 (Wootton Bassett/Swindon West) to the north east of Calne, and the westbound M4 junction 17 just north of Chippenham to the northwest. The nearest main passenger airport is Bristol, 38 miles to the south west. Calne has no train or bus station, though in March 2007 it was designated as a National Express coach stop on route 403 from Bath to London via Heathrow Airport. The service runs once a day and has wheelchair-accessible coaches.
Calne has Sainsbury's, Co-operative and Iceland supermarkets. The town has witnessed transient enterprises wherein the Great Recession[n 2] units on the dated Phelps Parade fell vacant. A large extension of the Co-operative's predecessor in its central location was completed in September 2007 and in acquisitions, offering a broader range of goods, Tesco Express opened in the Lansdowne Park district in December that year[n 3],
As part of the New Heart of Calne initiative, a section of the outdated Phelps Parade was redeveloped in 2009, using part Cotswold stone and part red brick, a new glass roof section and roof lining, and a future large-scale redevelopment is anticipated, although not confirmed.
The John Bentley School 's history goes back to the original Bentley's School, opened in 1664 using an endowment left by John Bentley in 1662. In 1901 this was amalgamated with Calne Technical School as a school of science for boys aged 9–17. This became known as Calne County School and later Calne County Secondary School. Girls were admitted from 1903 and in 1908-9 new buildings were added to the nucleus of buildings dating from 1842. The school was later called the Bentley Grammar School. In 1957 it moved to a new building in the angle of the London and Melksham roads. In 1974 the grammar school merged with Fynemore School in Silver Street to form the John Bentley Comprehensive School, later the John Bentley School. Until 1998 both sites were used. After the buildings in Silver Street were given up new buildings were erected on the site of Bentley Grammar, and existing ones improved.
Calne had other small schools, some based in houses (e.g. one in Curzon Street in which girls were trained for domestic service). Another example was a small boarding school for boys open in 1842 on the site of a former factory in Silver Street, called William Jacob's School. This was attended by Reg Birkett, the international sportsman, who played football and rugby for England in the 1870s.[n 4]
The nearest university is the Bath campus at Claverton Down in Bath, 18 miles to the west. The university's Oakridge campus in east Swindon is 20 miles to the north west. Bath Spa University lies 23 miles away, at its Newton Park campus, west of Bath.
- The John Bentley School, a local comprehensive high school on the southern periphery of the town.
- St Mary's School, an independent school for girls.
- Cherhill CofE School – Middle Lane, Cherhill
- Derry Hill CofE Primary School – Church Road, Derry Hill
- Fynamore Primary School – School Road
- Heddington CofE Primary School – Church Road, Heddington
- Hilmarton Primary School – Church Road, Hilmarton
- Holy Trinity CofE School – Quemerford
- Priestley Primary School – Prince Charles Drive
- St Dunstan CofE Primary School – William Street
- Saint Edmund's RC Primary School – Duncan Street
- St Margaret's Preparatory School, a mixed day preparatory school that shares the 25 acre Curzon Street site with St Mary's.
In analysis of this subject, the town is currently two civil parishes, one wholly urban and suburban and the other wholly rural and very sparsely inhabited, forming part of the substantial green buffer to the town. These parishes are Calne and Calne Without. Until the late 19th century no such division was made: the land of Calne was determined by residents in or associated with the vestry beating the parish bounds, usually annually, see ecclesiastical parish. Calne Without is not considered here as it is covered by other hamlet settlements. Statistics from 1911-1961 are for the successor Metropolitan Borough which covered a slightly smaller area.
In 2011 the population reached 17,274 living in 7,113 homes.
Media and communications
Notably in local radio, BBC Wiltshire and Heart Wiltshire are supplemented by community station - Eartunes. The town was served by Brunel FM, which went into liquidation. The frequency has since been taken over by Total Star.
As a result of boundary changes, Calne has become part of the North Wiltshire constituency, currently held by Conservative James Gray, at the 2010 General Election. It is the constituency's largest town and lies at its southern edge.
A Saint Edmund and John Pym (with prominent adult careers in the 13th and 17th centuries respectively) lived in Calne as did the athlete Walter Goodall George who held the world record for the mile from 1886 to 1915. George also held more than 13 world records for running at the time and still holds a world record simply for holding the mile record longer than anyone else. There are two plaques in Calne to commemorate his life, one in front of the Town Hall and one at ground level just inside the recreation grounds.
The country estate of Bowood House lies near Calne. It was here that Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774; there is a plaque in the town centre commemorating this. Jan Ingenhousz repeated Joseph Priestley's experiments and found it was sunlight which acted upon the plants to create oxygen. There is a pavement display outside the Millennium Library in Calne in his honour.
There is also a plaque on the wall of the house where Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed from 1814 to 1816 as part of the Morgan household whilst writing his Biographia Literaria.
The singer-songwriter-author Julian Cope resided in a small village 4.3 miles east of Calne, towards Avebury, until 2006, and lived in Calne itself for some years before he moved with his family to the village.
The actor David Hemmings lived in the Old Mill in Calne for many years up until his death in December 2003. His funeral was held at St. Mary's Church.
In 2008 the singer-songwriter Robbie Williams purchased a £7 million property in the nearby Parish of Compton Bassett. Compton Basset House came complete with gamekeeper lodgings, tennis court, helipad and extensive grounds. The property is approximately 3 miles to the east of central Calne. Compton Basset House was also previously owned by the famous architect Sir Norman Foster (now Baron Foster of Thames Bank) of "Gherkin" fame, who sold it in 1992.
The family seat of Charles Petty-Fitzmaurice, 9th Marquess of Lansdowne, Bowood House is approximately 3 miles southwest of the town.
Local places of interest
In common with the surrounding villages, hotels cater to the following attractions:
- Cherhill White Horse - 3.4 miles east of central Calne, carved into the south face of Cherhill Down in 1780, situated south of Cherhill village and clearly visible from the A4 Calne - Marlborough road. Cherhill Down rises to 262 metres (860 ft).
- Lansdowne Monument - situated close to the summit of Cherhill Down, the 38 m high (125 ft) stone needle provides views of Calne and the surrounding landscape. The mountains of South Wales and Cleeve Hill in the western Cotswolds can be seen on exceptionally clear days.
- Bowood House (including the 1 km long Bowood Lake) - an English Heritage site, is 3.1 miles to the west of Calne, accessible via the village of Derry Hill.
- Avebury stone circle & Avenue (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - Europe's largest neolithic stone circle site is 7.5 miles east of Calne on the A4361 route towards Wroughton.
- Silbury Hill, the largest neolithic structure in Europe, is situated 7.5 miles east of the town on the A4 route near Beckhampton.
- North Wessex Downs AONB - the range's highest summit is the Tan Hill-Milk Hill ridge near Allington, at 295 m (968 ft) above sea level, 9 miles southeast of Calne. This area is popular with hill walkers, and several hills over 250 m (820 ft) high are situated adjacent to Calne.
- Salisbury Plain - the northernmost point of the plain is 12 miles to the southeast of Calne, slightly to the southeast of Devizes.
- Stonehenge is 24 miles south of the town.
Blackland Lakes is a large camping site on the southern edge of Calne which is popular with anglers and tourists alike. The 'lakes' themselves are in fact large angling pools.
- Calne Town F.C.
Founded in 1886, Calne Town F.C. play in the Western Football League First Division at the tenth highest tier of the English league system. Their Bremhill View ground is located on the north side of the town close to the A3102 bypass.
- Calne R.F.C.
According to their website, the rugby club was formed in the late 1920s, in part due to the influx of Welsh to the area during the depression. The Junior Imperial League, forerunners of the Young Conservatives formed the club under the presidency of either Mr Drewett or Mr L. Taylor.
The team's first match was probably in Drewett ’s field where now stands Braemor Road. Their inaugural game against a Bath XV team was played on the Recreation Ground to which Calne returned in the late 1970s as a permanent home, which despite ground disputes and uncertainty - remains their home to date.
It appears that a lack of local interest forced the club to fold in the late 1930s however, in 1960 the club was re-formed as Old Bentlians, though it was not exclusively an "old boys" club it did use the pitches at Bentley Grammar School.
The club currently fields a 1st and 2nd XV, alternating home games on Saturday's, and also a junior team who play on Sunday's.
- Calne SMaRTT
St Mary's Running and Triathlon Team are based at St Mary's School Sports Centre, Calne in Wiltshire. The club was founded in January 2007 welcomes all abilities from the complete novice to experienced athlete. They organise an annual 10 km multi-terrain running race called the SMaRTT Smasher. The start/finish is at Marden House and is an out and back route along the cycle path towards Chippenham. The Wednesday night coached running session (7.00pm - 8.00pm) focuses on interval training which includes a group warm up and drills. They also meet throughout the week for various swim and bike sessions as well as longer group runs. These are arranged through their Facebook page for members only.
Calne Divers was formed by a group of local divers to provide training to local people. The club is a member of the Sub-Aqua Association and offer try-dives to all that are interested. Training is available up to Dive Supervisor level, and all training fees are included in the club membership. The group is partly funded by the National Lottery.
As of 2011 Calne is also represented in the West of England Basketball Association (WEBBA), although home games are played at the Olympiad leisure centre, Chippenham, home of the 'Olympiad Flames' with which Calne basketball is officially affiliated.
Quemerford, Lansdowne Park, Curzon Park, Castlefields, Calne Marsh, Lickhill.
Calne is twinned with the towns of :
- Charlieu in France
- Eningen in Germany
- Caln Township in Pennsylvania, USA, was so named because it was established by people from Calne in the early eighteenth century.
Nearest towns and cities (centre to centre)
- Lyneham (9.5 km / 6 miles)
- Chippenham (10 km / 6 miles)
- Devizes (13.5 km / 8.5 miles)
- Melksham (14 km / 9 miles)
- Royal Wootton Bassett (16 km / 10 miles)
- Corsham (17 km / 10.5 miles)
- Marlborough (21 km / 13 miles)
- Trowbridge (24 km / 15 miles)
- Swindon (25.5 km / 16 miles)
- Bath (30 km / 19 miles)
- Bristol (47 km / 29 miles - on A420 route)
- Salisbury (53 km / 33 miles)
- Welsh border nr. Chepstow (63 km / 39 miles)
Nearest villages and hamlets
Calne is surrounded by numerous settlements including :
Notes and references
- This canal reached from the Kennet and Avon Canal at nearby Melksham to Abingdon which changed counties from Berkshire to Oxfordshire.
- This term is in use among global economists and is of various periods in different countries and so loosely described as the Global recession 2008-2012.
- Tesco Express replaced a One Stop grocery franchise.
- At the time his sports, football and rugby, had different codes regarding remuneration of players and profession, as such he was described as dual-code.
- "Population Density, 2011". Area: Calne (Parish). Office for National Statistics.
- D.A. Crowley (Editor) (2002). "Calne: The town to c.1800". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 17: Calne. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 34–41.
- Five Grade II* listed building at The Green
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1247409)". National Heritage List for England.
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1247413)". National Heritage List for England.
(17th-century rear wing and a front range of c. 1750 with a Palladian five-bayed façade)
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1247437)". National Heritage List for England.
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1270902)". National Heritage List for England.
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1270992)". National Heritage List for England.
- "7 The Green (east side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- "20 The Green (south side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- "Priestley's House, 19 The Green (south side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- "The Tounson Almshouses, 10-13 Kingsbury Street (south west side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- St Mary's Church - detailed Grade I listing
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1271365)". National Heritage List for England.
- "Church of St Mary, Church Street (east side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- Lime Kiln - detailed Grade II listing
English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1271034)". National Heritage List for England.
- "Lime Kiln at ST 9950 7136, in Grounds of St Mary's School, Curzon Street (north side)". English Heritage Images of England.
- "Calne's Heritage". Calne Heritage Centre.
- "Calne History". Shout Out: Calne.
- "Calne Connection, Issue 50, August 2013" (PDF). Calne Town Council.
- "Crowds revel in royal visit". Gazette and Herald. 13 December 2001.
- D.A. Crowley (Editor) (2002). "Calne: Education". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 17: Calne. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 111–114.
- "The John Bentley School, Calne". Wiltshire Council.
- Population from 1801 until 1961 from Vision of Britain Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Calne Rugby Football Club - History".
- "Wiltshire's Own Lost City of Atlantis". The Independent. 20 July 2007.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Calne.|
- Calne travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Calne Town Council
- Wiltshire Council
- Calne Music and Arts Festival
- Historic Calne photos
- St Mary's Running and Triathlon Team
- Calne at the Open Directory Project