St. Michael and All Angels parish church
|Population||1,075 (in 2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Urchfont is a rural village and civil parish in the Vale of Pewsey to the north of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of the market town of Devizes. The parish includes the hamlets of Wedhampton (grid reference ) and Lydeway ( ). The population of Urchfont taken at the 2011 Census was 1,075.
History of the name
The name of Urchfont is often thought to derive from the phrase "Church Fountain" and is possibly derived from Latin fons meaning 'spring, fountain, well' (cf. fount), or 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 by local villagers, which bears the name "Erchfont". Locally, the colloquial pronunciation of Urchfont is Ushant and in the modern day, it is often known as "Urnt".
The village is in the 'Urchfont and the Cannings' electoral ward. This ward starts in the south at Easterton, stretches through Urchfont to end in the north at Bishops Cannings. The population of this ward taken at the 2011 census was 4,350.
There are also many local sports clubs and societies and the village has its own tennis courts, cricket pitch and skittle alley (within The Lamb Inn pub).
- 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 after he was killed in action in 1940.
- Singer Elvis Costello has a summer home in the village.
- The cricket scorer Bill Frindall (nicknamed 'The Bearded Wonder') lived there until his death.
- Major Charles Ingram who allegedly cheated on the ITV game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire" lives nearby and is occasionally spotted enjoying a local ale in The Lamb Inn.
The Urchfont Scarecrow Festival
The Urchfont Scarecrow Festival (a registered charity) was the first of its kind in Wiltshire. While other Wiltshire villages, including local rivals Lacock, have now established their own festivals on a similar model, the Urchfont festival predates them, having been established in 1997, and is among the best attended. The idea was first brought to the village by a resident who saw a similar festival in Derbyshire. Apart from being cancelled in 2001 because of the threat from Foot and Mouth disease, the 21 festivals to date have taken place on the weekend of the first bank holiday in May every year, and have grown to become a major local event attracting large numbers of local and national visitors while raising money for local charities and good causes.
Approximately 50 themed scarecrows made by villagers are distributed around the village, and visitors can buy a trail map which provides clues as to the identity of each scarecrow.
Past festivals have included:
- 1997-2000 Non-Themed Scarecrows
- 2001 Cancelled (Foot & Mouth)
- 2002 Characters for the Young at Heart
- 2003 Professions
- 2004 Book Titles
- 2005 Songs & Music
- 2006 The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
- 2007 Film Titles
- 2008 Scarecrow Pursuits
- 2009 Musicals – Stage & Screen
- 2010 Pairs
- 2011 Advertisements
- 2012 A, B, C
- 2013 Singers
- 2014 Myths & Legends
- 2015 At the Oscars
- 2016 A World of Firsts
- 2017 From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
- 2018 It's Showtime!
- Crittall, Elizabeth (ed.); Baggs, A. P.; Crowley, D. A.; Pugh, Ralph B.; Stevenson, Janet H.; Tomlinson, Margaret (1975). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 10: Swanborough hundred; the borough of Devizes.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1975). Cherry, Bridget, ed. The Buildings of England: Wiltshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 0 14 0710-26 4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Urchfont.|
- "Wiltshire Community History - Census". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- Parish Council
- "Parish population 2011". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Wiltshire Council - Wiltshire Community History
- "Urchfont and The Cannings ward 2011". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Historic England. "Church of St Michael and All Angels, Urchfont (1364609)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Urchfont". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Urchfont C of E Primary School". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- Historic England. "Urchfont Manor (1035857)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Urchfont Scarecrow Festival Charity". Charity Commission. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- "Scarecrow Festival". Urchfont Parish Council. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
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