Draycot Cerne

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Draycot Cerne
Church of St James - Draycot Cerne (geograph 2824189).jpg
Church of St James
LocationDraycot Cerne, Sutton Benger, Wiltshire, England
Nearest cityChippenham
Coordinates51°30′23″N 2°05′44″W / 51.50639°N 2.09556°W / 51.50639; -2.09556Coordinates: 51°30′23″N 2°05′44″W / 51.50639°N 2.09556°W / 51.50639; -2.09556
Draycot Cerne is located in Wiltshire
Draycot Cerne
Location of Draycot Cerne in Wiltshire

Draycot Cerne (Draycott) is a small village and former civil parish in Wiltshire, England, about 3 miles (5 km) north of Chippenham.


The parish was referred to as (Medieval Latin:) Draicote in the ancient Domesday hundred of Startley when Geoffrey de Venoix ("the Marshal")[1] was lord and tenant-in-chief in 1086.[2] The morpheme dray is common in England's place names, yet unused elsewhere in the English language, so is considered an ancient Celtic word. By the 14th century, the old village was known as Draycot Cerne, in part to differentiate it from similarly named villages in other areas of England. The suffix Cerne is the French surname of the lords of the manor.[3][4]

The ancient parish of Draycot Cerne comprised three manors: Draycot Cerne, Knabwell (or Nables) and a detached part at Avon, near Kellaways.[5] The old village of Draycot Cerne (also known in the 19th century as Lower Draycot), close to the church and Draycot House, was removed by Henry Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley after 1865 and Upper Draycot was renamed Draycot Cerne. All of the cottages and farms of Draycot Cerne were on the Draycot Estate, belonging to Draycot House.

The parish of Draycot Cerne, together with Seagry parish to its north, was added to Sutton Benger civil parish in 1934. In 1971 all land north of the newly built M4 motorway, including part of the former Draycot parish, was transferred to a recreated Seagry parish.[5]

It is possible that Draycot Cerne lent its name to the town of Dracut, incorporated in 1701 in Massachusetts.[citation needed]

Parish church[edit]

St James's Church was built around 1260. It is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[6]

The benefice was united with Seagry in 1939[7] but in 1954 the union was dissolved,[8] and for church purposes the village is now within the parish of Kington Langley.[5]

Draycot House[edit]

A medieval manor has occupied the site since the 14th century.[5] Old Draycot House was probably built for John Long in the mid 15th century. The house was extensively re-modelled, over the years, by the Long family. In 1773–75 Sir James Tylney-Long (1736-1794) added a new south front, and east and west wings around the core of the medieval manor.[9][10] Further work was undertaken in 1864, after Lord Cowley's inheritance.[11] The house was demolished in 1952-4.[12]

The Long family of Draycot Cerne[edit]

The following family members were active in English politics:

Between 1412 and 1610, the Long family held Draycot House jointly with South Wraxall Manor, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.

Other members:

The Draycot Estate[edit]

The Draycot Estate covered 4300 acres at its maximum extent, covering the whole of Draycot Cerne, Kellaways, Sutton Benger and Seagry, parts of Startley, Little Somerford, Christian Malford and Kington Langley.[13] It was the main land-holding of the Tylney-Long baronets in Wiltshire.[13]

The Draycot Estate in Wiltshire was part of a much larger estate, in several English counties including:

Notable people[edit]

  • John Buckeridge (c. 1562–1631), theologian. Born in Draycot Cerne.[30]
  • John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697), an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer, was a frequent visitor to old Draycot House.[13] His biography, by Ruth Scurr, was illustrated on the front cover with a watercolour of Aubrey and Sir James Long, 2nd Baronet of Draycot hunting together.[31] Some of the correspondence between Aubrey and Sir James Long, at the Bodleian Library, is published in Early Modern Letters Online.[32] Other letters were directed to Aubrey via Robert Hooke at Gresham College.[33]
  • John Britton (antiquary) (1771-1857) was educated at Draycot House school, although he later complained about the quality of the teaching.[13]
  • Francis Kilvert (3 December 1840 – 23 September 1879), the diarist, was a frequent visitor to Draycot Cerne, when he was in Wiltshire.[34][35]
  • Henry Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley inherited the former Long family estate of Draycot Cerne, in 1863, from his cousin the 5th Earl of Mornington, and he lived there in retirement until his death on 15 July 1884.

Prince Franz von Hatzfeldt-Wildenburg of the House of Hatzfeld and his wife, Clara, leased Draycot House between 1896 and 1915. He was the owner of Ascetic's Silver, the winner of the 1906 Grand National. She was the adopted daughter of the American billionaire Collis Potter Huntington.[13]


  1. ^ RootsWeb: Geoffrey de Venoix le Marshal, accessed June 2017
  2. ^ Open Domesday Online: Draycot Cerne, accessed June 2017
  3. ^ The Place Names of Wiltshire (English Place-Name Society), pp. 69-70, 72-73.
  4. ^ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 23, page 862.
  5. ^ a b c d "Victoria County History - Wiltshire - Vol 14 pp75-82 - Parishes: Draycot Cerne". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  6. ^ "St James' Church, Draycot Cerne, Wiltshire". The Churches Conservation Trust. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  7. ^ "No. 34643". The London Gazette. 7 July 1939. p. 4652.
  8. ^ "No. 40149". The London Gazette. 16 April 1954. pp. 2286–2287.
  9. ^ WSA 190:1
  10. ^ Draycot House, by Geraldine Roberts, accessed June 2017
  11. ^ WSA 1001/1-7
  12. ^ http://www.lostheritage.org.uk/houses/lh_wiltshire_draycothouse_info_gallery.html
  13. ^ a b c d e f Hand of Fate. The History of the Longs, Wellesleys and the Draycot Estate in Wiltshire. Tim Couzens 2001 OCLC 49204947
  14. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol8/pp218-234
  15. ^ ERO D/DCy P1, P2A & P2B
  16. ^ ERO D/Dcy P3A
  17. ^ ERO D/Dcy E124
  18. ^ ERO D/DCy E122
  19. ^ ERO D/Dw T28-39
  20. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol8/pp227-240
  21. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol4/pp175-182
  22. ^ ERO D/DCw T13-18
  23. ^ HRO 10M48/I
  24. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp99-101
  25. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp8-13
  26. ^ ERO D/Dcy E8
  27. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol1/pp363-367
  28. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol3/pp279-280
  29. ^ http://west-penwith.org.uk/cowley.htm
  30. ^ http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/jbuckeridge.html
  31. ^ http://www.ruthscurr.co.uk/books.html
  32. ^ http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/forms/quick?everything=Sir+James+Long&search_type=quick
  33. ^ Bodleian Library Ref MS Aubrey 12 ff. 267-268. July 16th 1676.
  34. ^ http://www.christmas-time.com/ct-christmas1870.htm
  35. ^ http://www.wshc.eu/blog/item/how-did-you-spend-christmas.html

External links[edit]

Media related to Draycot Cerne at Wikimedia Commons