St. Michael and All Angels parish church
Urchfont shown within Wiltshire
|Population||954 (as of 2001)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Urchfont is a small, rural village to the north of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, about seven miles from the market town of Devizes. The civil parish includes the hamlets of Wedhampton (grid reference SU060577) and Lydeway (SU052578). The population of Urchfont ward is 1,690, according to the 2001 Census.
History of the name
The name of Urchfont is possibly derived from Latin fons meaning 'spring, fountain, well' (cf. fount), and the first element may be a lost personal name such as Eohric. Over 100 variations of the spelling are recorded; e.g. Lerchesfonte (1086), Erchesfonte(e) (1175, 1605), Erkesfonte (1175), Archesfunte (font)(1179, 1376, 1426), Ur(i)chesfunte (1242, 1289), Orchesfunte (1259), Orcheffunte (1428), Archfounte al. Urshent (1564), Urchefount al. Urshent (1611), Urshent al. Erchfont (1695). Shown to the left is the present-day village hall, erected in 1929-1930, which bears the name "Erchfont". Locally, the colloquial pronunciation of Urchfont is Ushant.
- Sergeant Thomas Gray VC was born in Urchfont in 1914. An Air Observer/Navigator in the Royal Air Force, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross when he was killed in action in 1940.
- The cricket scorer, Bill Frindall, (nicknamed 'The Bearded Wonder') lived there until his death.
The Urchfont Scarecrow Festival was the first of its kind in Wiltshire. Apart from being cancelled in 2001 because of the threat from Foot and Mouth disease, the festival has taken place every year since 1997. To date over £100,000 has been raised for local charities.
- Crittall, Elizabeth (ed.); Baggs, A. P.; Crowley, D. A.; Pugh, Ralph B.; Tomlinson, Margaret (1975). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 10: Swanborough hundred; the borough of Devizes.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (revision) (1975). The Buildings of England: Wiltshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 0 14 0710.26 4.
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