Tisbury, Wiltshire

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The Square, looking up at High Street
Tisbury is located in Wiltshire
 Tisbury shown within Wiltshire
Population 2,253 (2011)
OS grid reference ST944291
District Salisbury
Shire county Wiltshire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Salisbury
Postcode district SP3
Dialling code 01747
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Salisbury
List of places

Coordinates: 51°04′00″N 2°04′49″W / 51.0668°N 2.0803°W / 51.0668; -2.0803

Tisbury is a large village approximately 13 miles (21 km) west of Salisbury in the English county of Wiltshire. With a population at the 2001 census of 2,056[1] increasing to 2,253 at the 2011 census.[2] It is an important local centre for communities around the upper River Nadder and Vale of Wardour. It is the largest settlement within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (larger nearby settlements such as Salisbury and Shaftesbury are just outside it).


An electoral ward with the same name exists. This ward starts in the north at Tisbury and stretches south to end in Donhead St. Mary. The total ward population at the 2011 census was 4,374.[3]


The village has some paleoanthropological significance. Evidence of early human activity in the Tisbury area comes from the Middle Gravel at Swanscombe a 400,000 year old stratum [4] in which skull framents of a young woman was found, the so-called Swanscombe Man. Along with the remains was found several fragments of Pseudodiplocoenia oblonga (also known as Isastraea oblonga), one of four Upper Jurassic species of coral unique to the Upper Portlandian of Tisbury.[5] This indicates that either the group of which Swanscomb Man belonged to traveled to the Tisbury area or were part of a trade network linked to the locality. The coral-bearing chert found at Swanscombe has been interpreted as being intentionally carved to represent the profile of a hominid head, making Tisbury the source of materiel used in what is possibly one of the World's oldest pieces of art.[6]

As in much of the Wiltshire downs, there is also evidence of Bronze Age settlement and traces of a probable henge monument with some evidence of settlement 3–4000 years ago. To the southeast of the village there is a quite large hill fort. Now known as Castle Ditches [7] this was referred to as Willburge in the charter of 984 A.D. At that time the village was known as Tisseburi. [8] A stone circle once stood in one of three adjacent fields, one which was known as Lost Stone Field, located near the junction of the Chicksgrove and Chilmark roads. These fields have been joined to form the present Cemetery Field. The last three remaining standing stones, removed in the latter part of the 18th Century now form part of the grotto at Old Wardour.[9]

The Saxon settlement came into the possession of Shaftesbury Abbey across the county border in Dorset. The administration centre was the monastic grange, still called Abbey Grange Place Farm. Its 15th-century thatched tithe barn, a Grade I listed building,[10] bears the largest thatched roof in England. The old Wardour Castle lies approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to the southwest of Tisbury.

The village's 13th-century prosperity came from the quarries that produced stone for the building of Salisbury Cathedral, and from the wool that supported a local cloth industry. The village suffered a serious setback with the Black Death in the mid-14th century but slowly recovered. To the South-west of the village center is the remains of the village of Wyck, abandoned at some time in the Middle Ages.[11]

The thatched tithe barn at Abbey Grange Place

Thomas Mayhew (31 March 1593 – 25 March 1682) who in 1642 established the first English settlement at Martha's Vineyard in North America, was born in Tisbury.

On John Speed's map of Wiltshire of 1611, the village's name is recorded as Tilburye: the cartographer or the engraver clearly having mistaken a long s for an l.

Sir Matthew Arundell of Wardour Castle, a great landowner and a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, was entombed in the Tisbury parish church, St John's, in 1598. The churchyard also holds the graves of Rudyard Kipling's parents, John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Kipling (née MacDonald), and contains the second oldest tree in Great Britain, a large yew tree which is believed to be around 4,000 years old.[12]

According to one source, "After a long and distinguished artistic career in India, the Kiplings moved to a residence along Hindon Lane which they renamed 'The Gables'. Their famous son visited them here and, whilst working on his novel Kim, his father (his illustrator) used the drawings of one of the pupils from Tisbury Boys' School as the model for the main character."[13] As of early 2013, The Gables, with five bedrooms and an adjoining cricket pitch, was for sale at a price of £950,000.

Some scenes in the 2009 film Morris: A Life with Bells On were filmed in Tisbury, including at the Tisbury Sports Centre[14] and other scenes were filmed at the nearby Compasses Inn at Lower Chicksgrove.

Tisbury has recently become home to The Ashley Wood Festival of the Acoustic Arts which is hosted at Ashley Wood Farm.


Tisbury railway station is on the West of England Main Line, placing its residents within commuting distance of London. The village is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from the A303 trunk road linking Andover with the West Country.


  1. ^ Wiltshire County Council – Wiltshire Community History Get Population/Census Information
  2. ^ "Parish population 2011.Retrieved 16 March 2015". 
  3. ^ "Ward population 2011.Retrieved 16 March 2015". 
  4. ^ Stringer, Chris (2006). Homo Britannicus. London, England: Penguin Natural History. 
  5. ^ Roniewicz, Ewa (1970). "Scleractinia From the Upper Portlandian of Tisbury, Wiltshire, England". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (The Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Paleobiology). Vol. XV (No.4). Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Later Acheulian Exotic Stones". www.originsnet.org. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Tisbury, Wiltshire
  8. ^ Tisbury Local History Society (1984). Looking Around Tisbury. Castle Cary, Somerset: Inkwell Design & Print. 
  9. ^ Drury, Jill; Drury, Peter (1980). A Tisbury History. Tisbury, Wiltshire: Tisbury Books. ISBN 0-9509596-0-X. 
  10. ^ Historic England. "Tithe Barn at Place Farm  (Grade I) (1318824)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Shaftsbury (Map) (Revised 1988 ed.). 1:25000. Pathfinder. Cartography by Ordnance Survey. Southampton: Ordnance Survey. 1954. Medieval Village of Wyck (site of) inset. § ST9428. ISBN 0-319-11261-6. 
  12. ^ Tisbury and Old Wardour Castle at visitwiltshire.co.uk
  13. ^ "A Victorian family house with excellent accommodation, gardens and land," Strutt & Parker, accessed 11 March 2013.
  14. ^ Mike Turner (13 February 2009). "With bells on! Salisbury basketball players' role in Morris dancing movie". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jackson, Ralph (Autumn 1983). "The Lockwood Kiplings at Tisbury, Wiltshire". The Hatcher Review 2: 278–284. 

External links[edit]