Great Wishford

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Great Wishford
St Giles Church, Great Wishford, seen from South Street
St Giles Church, Great Wishford
Great Wishford is located in Wiltshire
Great Wishford
Great Wishford
 Great Wishford shown within Wiltshire
Population 368 (in 2011)[1]
OS grid reference SU080355
Unitary authority Wiltshire
Ceremonial county Wiltshire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SP2
Dialling code 01722
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Salisbury
List of places

Coordinates: 51°07′08″N 1°53′10″W / 51.119°N 1.886°W / 51.119; -1.886

St Giles Church
St Giles Church
Wylye River
Oak Apple Field
Shatsford cottage

Great Wishford is a village and civil parish in the Wylye Valley in Wiltshire, England, 3 miles north of Wilton and approximately 5 miles northwest of Salisbury. It is situated at a curve in the River Wylye and has a triangular street layout comprising South Street, West Street and Station Road.


The village pre-dates the Norman conquest of 1066, but was only a hamlet at this time. The name has evolved over the years, with recorded names including Wicheford (meaning a ford where wych-elms grow), Witford, Willesford Magna (mid-16th century) and Wishford Magna (early 17th century). Set into the wall of the church is a series of nine engraved "bread stones" that record the price of bread from 1800 (during the Napoleon blockade) until 2000.

To the west of the village lies the Iron Age settlement and possible hillfort of Ebsbury.

Oak Apple Day[edit]

It is one of the few villages that still celebrates Oak Apple Day on 29 May each year. On this day, Great Wishford villagers claim their ancient rights to collect wood from Grovely Wood. This tradition is said to date back to 1603, when the charter of rights to collect wood in the Royal Forest of Groveley was confirmed by the Forest Court. The rights themselves date back several centuries before 1603. It is a matter of debate whether this tradition has been kept up continuously since the 17th century, or whether it was revived / re-invented in the late 19th century.

The events of a modern oak apple day include a "band" waking the villagers in the early hours of the morning, gathering oak branches from the woods at dawn, a village breakfast in the local pub (Royal Oak), then onto Salisbury, where there is dancing outside the Cathedral followed by claiming rights inside the cathedral by shouting "Grovely, Grovely, Grovely and all Grovely". (Although the charter requires just three 'Grovely's, tradition demands four - "Three for the charter and one for us", as it's usually expressed.) In the afternoon there is a formal meal, and other events for villagers in Oak Apple Field.

These days, most villagers put more effort into claiming their rights than in exercising them: the handcarts used to transport wood from Grovely seem to have entirely disappeared.


The village has the Royal Oak pub, Great Wishford Church of England Primary School, St Giles church, and a post office which has limited opening hours and no longer performs the function of village store. There is also a cricket pitch and a children's play area (re-modelled in spring 2009) which are shared with the neighbouring village of South Newton.

The Wylye river runs to the east of Great Wishford, and is used for trout fishing. Wilton Fly Fishing Club, which was founded in 1891,[2] is based in the village.


The A36 trunk road runs along the Wylye valley across the river from the village.

Great Wishford had a station on the Salisbury branch line (Great Western Railway) from 1856 until its closure in 1955. Trains now pass through the village on the Wessex Main Line between Salisbury and Bristol without stopping. Bungalows have been built where the station platform used to be, and the station master's house is now a private home.

The National Cycle Route 24 and the Monarch's Way long distance footpath pass close to the village.

Village activities[edit]

Like many villages in that part of Wiltshire, there are events organized throughout the year that bring villagers together, including talent shows, cultural evenings, a duck race, and breakfast at the station house.[citation needed]

Places to stay[edit]

Visitors to Great Wishford can stay in the village at the post-office (which has bed and breakfast rooms) and at the small caravan site.


External links[edit]