Steeple Langford

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Steeple Langford
Steeple Langford - - 478790.jpg
Salisbury Road
Steeple Langford is located in Wiltshire
Steeple Langford
Steeple Langford
Location within Wiltshire
Population515 (in 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSU038374
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSalisbury
Postcode districtSP3
Dialling code01722
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°08′10″N 1°56′49″W / 51.136°N 01.947°W / 51.136; -01.947Coordinates: 51°08′10″N 1°56′49″W / 51.136°N 01.947°W / 51.136; -01.947

Steeple Langford is a village and civil parish on the River Wylye in the English county of Wiltshire, 6 miles (10 km) northwest of Wilton. It has also been called Great Langford or Langford Magna.

The parish contains two hamlets on the other (south) side of the river: Hanging Langford and Little Langford (formerly a separate civil parish). To the west, along the road from Salisbury, is the settlement of Bathampton.

Steeple Langford contains thatched cottages and has several lakes created by the flooding of worked-out gravel pits.[2]


There is little doubt that the element 'Langford' refers to a ford over the River Wylye, around which the village grew up. The name 'Steeple Langford' has generally predominated over the alternative of 'Great Langford', and it has long been presumed (for instance, by William Cobbett) that the first element of this name refers to an architectural steeple. However, early forms of the name include 'Stapel', 'Steppul', and 'Staple' Langford, and one writer on the origin of the place-name has suggested that

"the prefix Staple sometimes indicates that to a town was granted the privilege of holding a market. Probably a stapol or pole may have been set up to show this to all who passed through. Or the ford may have been protected by stakes".[3]


The Church of England parish church of All Saints is a Grade I listed building.[4] The font is Norman,[5] but the church also contains some pre-Conquest stonework and sculpture.[6]

A carved medieval roof boss in the north aisle of the church represents a dog, its body coiled and surrounded by foliage.[7]

In 1857, when the chancel of the church was demolished, a slab of Purbeck marble was found, about 26 inches by 14, bearing an incised portrait of a man wearing a long robe, his hands raised to hold a plain shield or receptacle, with a horn hanging on a strap from his left shoulder. This was tentatively identified as Waleran Venator (Waleran the Huntsman), who held land in the parish and was patron of the living in the 11th century, which was the approximate date of the chancel.[8] However, from the costume being of a later date, Alan de Langford, Verderer of Grovely Wood at the end of the 13th century, has also been suggested.[9]

John Murray noted in 1859 that the church "contains a rich altar-tomb to one of the family of Mompesson, but it has long lost the steeple which formerly distinguished it".[10]

The parish registers now held in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre cover the years 1674–1924 (christenings), 1674–1980 (marriages), and 1674–1873 (burials).[11]


Steeple Langford has a rich archaeological history. Neolithic finds in the parish include flint tools, a polished axehead and pottery, as well as a bowl barrow and the remains of a round barrow; from the Bronze Age axeheads, a palstave and a chisel;[12] from the Iron Age pottery, a rotary quern fragment and a circular enclosure; from the Romano-British period coins, a polished and painted pebble,[12] and a needle; from the Saxon period a spearhead and a silver brooch; medieval strip lynchets; and field systems and earthworks of various dates. At Hanging Langford Camp, a Mesolithic flint axe and Romano-British brooches have been found.[12]

The Domesday Book records that:

Waleran himself holds Langford. Osulf held it in the time of King Edward, and it paid geld for 10 hides. The land is 5 carucates. Of this there are 5 hides in demesne, and there are 2 carucates and 5 serfs; and there are 8 villans, and 4 bordars with 3 carucates. There is a mill paying 15 shillings, and 30 acres of meadow. The pasture is half a mile long and 2 furlongs broad. It was, and is, worth £10.[13]

Sir Lawrence St Martin, a descendant of Waleran, died c 1320 in possession of 'Stupel Langford'.[14][15]

In the time of King Edward III, John de Steeves held Steeple Langford in return for a knight's service.[3]

As result of the Penruddock uprising of 1655, three men of the parish, Nicholas Mussell, yeoman, and Henry Collyer and Joseph Collier, gentlemen, were found guilty of high treason against Oliver Cromwell.[16]

Arthur Collier, a metaphysician, a native of the parish and rector from 1704 to 1732, is notable for his Clavis Universalis (1713).[17]

As a child of about ten in the 1770s, William Cobbett spent a whole summer in the village, and his happy memories of his stay led him to take one of his 'Rural Rides' into Wiltshire some fifty years later. However, he wrote in 1826 that

I remembered, very well, that the Women at Steeple Langford used to card and spin dyed wool... I have, I dare say, a thousand times talked about this Steeple Langford, and about the beautiful farms and meadows along this valley... When I got to Steeple Langford, I found no public-house, and I found it a much more miserable place than I had remembered it. The Steeple, to which it owed its distinctive appellation, was gone; and the place altogether seemed to me to be very much altered for the worse.[18]

In June 1795, it was reported that some 120 sheep had been killed at Steeple Langford by a freak hailstorm.[19]

The population of the parish was 501 in 2001, much the same as in 1801, having peaked at 628 in 1861.[20]

A detailed history of the parish is contained in Volume XV: Amesbury hundred and Branch and Dole hundred (1995) of A History of the County of Wiltshire.


Children of Steeple Langford attend the primary school at Codford (Wylye Valley Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School)[21] and secondary schools further afield.

A National School was built in 1861 and continued as a Church of England Aided school from 1954. Due to falling numbers, in 2005 the school merged with the Codford school, with teaching at both sites; the Steeple Langford site closed in 2010.[22]


The settlement at Bathampton (or Batham) survives as Bathampton House which is Grade II* listed.[23]


The Salisbury to Westbury branch line was built across the parish, bisecting Little Langford and passing close to Hanging Langford. Langford station was opened at the same time as the line, in June 1856, but closed in October 1857.[24]

Langford Lakes[edit]

Three lakes created by gravel workings alongside the River Wylye have been turned into a wildlife reserve called the Langford Lakes Nature Reserve, under the ownership of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve has an area of fifty acres, and species include mallard, gadwall, tufted duck, common pochard, northern shoveller, Eurasian wigeon, kingfisher, great crested grebe, common tern, osprey, brown trout, greyling, otters, and water voles.[25]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  2. ^ Michael Billett, Thatching and Thatched Buildings (2nd edition, 1988), p. 156
  3. ^ a b John C. Longstaff, Notes on Wiltshire Names, pp. 115–116
  4. ^ Historic England. "Church of All Saints, Steeple Langford (1318701)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  5. ^ Edward Hutton, Highways and byways in Wiltshire (1928), p. 167
  6. ^ Simon Draper, Landscape, settlement and society in Roman and early medieval Wiltshire (2006), p. 79
  7. ^ Alex Woodcock, Liminal images: aspects of medieval architectural sculpture in the south of England from the Eleventh to the Sixteenth centuries (2005), p. 58
  8. ^ 'Proceedings at the Meetings of the Archaeological Institute, 6 November 1857' in The Archaeological Journal, Volume 15 (1858), p. 75 online
  9. ^ The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 204, p. 72 online
  10. ^ John Murray, A handbook for travellers in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire (1859), p. 77 online
  11. ^ Steeple Langford at
  12. ^ a b c Steeple Langford archaeology at
  13. ^ William Henry Jones,Domesday for Wiltshire: extracted from accurate copies of the original pp. 105–106 online
  14. ^ Jones, op. cit., p. 221 online
  15. ^ Inquisitiones post mortem, 12 Edw. II, Branche hundred, 171
  16. ^ Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, A complete collection of state trials and proceedings for high treason, Volume 5, p. 795 online
  17. ^ Martin C. Battestin & Ruthe R. Battestin, Henry Fielding: A Life, p. 392 online
  18. ^ William Cobbett, Cobbett's weekly register, Volume 59, p. 774 for September 23, 1826, online
  19. ^ European Magazine, June 1795, vol. 27, pp. 420–430, quoted in Notes and Queries, 3rd series, IV, 1 August 1863, p. 99 online
  20. ^ Steeple Langford population since 1801 at
  21. ^ "Wylye Valley Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Steeple Langford School". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  23. ^ Historic England. "Bathampton House, Steeple Langford (1146200)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  24. ^ Oakley, Mike (2004). Wiltshire Railway Stations. Wimborne: The Dovecote Press. p. 73. ISBN 1904349331.
  25. ^ Langford Lakes Nature Reserve at
  26. ^ Arthur Collier in Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1910–1911) online
  27. ^ The Gardens of England and Wales (1966), p. 115: "THE MILL HOUSE, Steeple Langford (Gen. Sir John & Lady Whiteley)"

See also[edit]

External links[edit]