Berwick St John

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Berwick St John
Church of St. John the Baptist, Berwick St. John - - 1123399.jpg
St John the Baptist parish church
Berwick St John is located in Wiltshire
Berwick St John
Berwick St John
Location within Wiltshire
Population332 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceST947223
Civil parish
  • Berwick St John
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townShaftesbury
Postcode districtSP7
Dialling code01747
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
WebsiteBerwick St John
List of places
51°00′00″N 2°04′37″W / 51.000°N 2.077°W / 51.000; -2.077Coordinates: 51°00′00″N 2°04′37″W / 51.000°N 2.077°W / 51.000; -2.077

Berwick St John is a village and civil parish in south-west Wiltshire, England, about 5 miles (8 km) east of Shaftesbury in Dorset.

The parish includes the Ashcombe Park estate, part of the Ferne Park estate, and most of Rushmore Park (since 1939 the home of Sandroyd School).


The parish is at the head of the Ebble valley, in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[1] The village lies on a minor road between Donhead St Mary and Alvediston. The Ox Drove, a medieval drovers' road from Dorset to Salisbury, crosses the parish from west to east about a mile south of the village; most of its route survives as a track.[2]

Winklebury Hill overlooks the village. In the extreme west of the parish, Win Green hill, at 277 metres (909 ft), is the highest point of Cranborne Chase. The southern part of the parish is forested and includes a golf course.


The 2011 Census records the parish population as 438, but this figure combines the civil parish with Alvediston to the east, for reasons of confidentiality of other detailed figures. The county council have obtained and published key statistics for each parish showing that Berwick St John's population stood at 332 in that census. The combined area is 28.68 km2[3][4] In 1861 residents numbered a maximal 499 but this had fallen to a low of 258 at the 1971 census.[4]


The area has several prehistoric sites. Winklebury (or Winkelbury) Camp, on a spur of the hill south-east of the village, is a hillfort some 6 hectares (15 acres) in area, protected by a bank and ditch, with evidence of occupation in the Bronze Age, Iron Age and the Romano-British period.[5] In the south of the parish are a Bronze Age settlement known as South Lodge Camp,[6] and a late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement at Rotherley Down.[7]

Part of Wilton Abbey's Chalke estate from the 10th century, the parish was established by the 13th century. Soon after the Dissolution, Berwick St John manor was bought by Sir William Herbert (from 1551 earl of Pembroke). His grandson sold it in 1608 to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, and in turn his grandson sold it in 1671 to Baron Ashley (from 1672 earl of Shaftesbury), whose descendant the 5th Earl sold the manor in two parts in 1792. The lordship and land including 750 acres of woodland in the south-east around Rushmore House were bought by George Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers; the estate was held by the Barons Rivers until 1880, when it was inherited from the 6th Baron by his cousin Augustus Henry Lane-Fox who took the additional surname Pitt-Rivers. He was a noted ethnologist and archaeologist, who excavated many local sites. In 1984 the estate remained in Pitt-Rivers ownership.

A farm in the second part of the 1792 sale was bought by a tenant, then from c.1842 became part of the Ferne House estate.[2] The Wiltshire Victoria County History traces the ownership of other estates at Bridmore, Upton Lucy and Ashcombe.[2]

The Old Rectory, close to the church, dates from 1798[8] with additions in the next century.[9]

Religious sites[edit]

There was a church at Berwick St John by the early 13th century, linked to Wilton Abbey and (for part of the next century) Shaftesbury Abbey.[2] The rectors acquired farmland and woodland, partly in exchange for tithes; in 1783 there were 50 acres of arable and meadow, and after relinquishing 19 acres of woodland in 1829 the rector held 55 acres. These landholdings were sold in 1930.[2]

The Church of England parish church of St John the Baptist is cruciform with a tower over the crossing. It was built in the 14th century but heavily restored in 1861 under the direction of the Gothic revival architect Henry Woodyer; the nave was lengthened and the tower re-erected. Stained glass windows from the same period are by Hardman & Co.[8] The building is Grade II listed.[10]

The tower has a ring of six bells. Robert I Wells of Aldbourne cast the second, third and tenor bells in 1767. Robert II Wells cast the fifth bell in 1788. John Warner & Sons of Cripplegate, London cast the treble and fourth bells in 1885.[11] Some 220 graves in the churchyard have been catalogued.[12]

St John's parish is a member of the Chalke Valley benefice.[13]

Ebenezer Baptist Chapel was built in 1828 and closed in 1984.[14] A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1875 and closed sometime before 1964.[15]


The village has a pub, the Talbot Inn, which dates from the mid-17th century.[16]

There is no primary school. A school which was built in 1835 took children of all ages until 1935; it was closed in 1963.[17] Sandroyd School, at Rushmore House, is an independent preparatory and pre-preparatory school for children aged 2–13.[18]

Land at Win Green was bought by the National Trust in 1937;[2] they provide a small car-park and describe the site as a "prominent landmark with fine views".[19]

Winklebury Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest; other sites lie partly within the parish at Pincombe Down, Rotherley Downs and Win Green Down. The Cranborne Chase SSSI includes Chase Woods, in the south-east of the parish.[20]

Notable residents[edit]

John Priaulx, rector in the 17th century, went on to become Archdeacon of Sarum.[21] Other notable rectors include Peregrine Bingham from 1817, biographer and poet.[22]

Charlotte Grove (1773–1860), known for the diary she kept for much of her adult life, was the daughter of Thomas Grove of Ferne House and became the wife of the rector.[23]

Lieutenant General Sir Robert Jeremy "Robin" Ross, Commandant General Royal Marines from 1994 to 1996, has lived in the village since at least 2007,[24] and in 2011 was a churchwarden.[25]


  1. ^ "Map of the AONB Area". Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Freeman, Jane; Stevenson, Janet H. (1987). "Parishes: Berwick St John". In Crowley, D. A. (ed.). A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 13. Victoria County History. University of London. pp. 16–27. Retrieved 13 November 2021 – via British History Online.
  3. ^ "Area: Berwick St. John (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b Berwick St. John Census Information (1801 to 2011) Wiltshire County Council. Retrieved 5 May 2016
  5. ^ Historic England. "Winkelbury Camp (19191)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  6. ^ Historic England. "South Lodge camp (1020962)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Rotherley Down (1020963)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b Orbach, Julian; Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (2021). Wiltshire. The Buildings Of England. New Haven, US and London: Yale University Press. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-300-25120-3. OCLC 1201298091.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Old Rectory, Berwick St. John (1249867)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Church of St John (1130720)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  11. ^ Dawson, George (5 December 2013). "Berwick St John S John". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Graveyard". Berwick St John Village. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Chalke Valley Churches". Archived from the original on 21 June 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Ebenezer Baptist Chapel, Berwick St. John". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Berwick St. John". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Talbot Inn, Berwick St. John (1184015)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Berwick St. John Church of England School". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Sandroyd School". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Win Green". National Trust. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  20. ^ "MAGiC Map: Berwick St John". Ordnance Survey. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  21. ^ Horn, Joyce M. (2003), Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857, vol. 10, pp. 12–14
  22. ^ Cooper, Thompson (1885). Bingham, Peregrine (1754–1826) (DNB00) . Vol. 5. Smith, Elder & Co – via Wikisource.
  23. ^ Hawkins, Desmond (1995). The Grove Diaries: The Rise and Fall of an English Family, 1809-1925. University of Delaware Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780874136005.
  24. ^ "Letters to The Daily Telegraph". 12 June 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  25. ^ "Church News". 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012 – via Internet Archive.

External links[edit]