Great Bedwyn is an Ancient Parish in the county of Wiltshire.

Other places in the parish include: Wexcombe, West Grafton, Martin, Crofton and Wolfhall, and Wilton.

Alternative names: Great Bedwin

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1538
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1585

Nonconformists include: Wesleyan Methodist

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BEDWIN, or Bedwyn (Great), a small old town and a parish in the district of Hungerford and county of Wilts. The town stands on the Kennet and Avon canal, Adjacent to the Hungerford and Devizes railway, near Wans Dyke, 5 miles SW of Hungerford; and has a station on the railway.

It is supposed to have been the Leucomagus of the Romans; and it was the Bedgwyn or Bedewind of the Saxons. It was the residence of Cissa, the Saxon viceroy of Wilts and Berks; and the scene, in 675, of a desperate battle between the forces of W essex and those of Mercia. It enjoyed the privileges of a city under the Saxons; and retained them after the Conquest.

It was a borough by prescription; and sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till disfranchised by the act of 1832.

It has an old-fashioned market house, which has ceased to be used, an ancient church, and a dissenting chapel. The church is cruciform, mixedly Norman and English, and built of flint; was restored in 1854; has a fine central tower; shows curious sculpturings on its round pillars, and rich Norman decorations on its obtusely-pointed arches; and contains interesting monuments of the Stokes and the Seymours.

The town has a post-office under Hungerford, and fairs on 23 April and 26 July.

Dr. Willis, a physician of the 17th century, who founded a philosophical society at Oxford, the germ of the Royal Society of London, was a native.

The parish includes also the tythings of Crofton and Wolfhall, East and West Grafton, Martin, Wexcombe, and Wilton. Acres, 10,420. Real property, £10,965. Pop., 2,263. Houses, 435. The property is divided among a few.

The manor belonged once to the Earl of Clare, and belongs now to the Marquis of Ailesbury. Castle Hill, about a mile S of the town, takes name from an ancient entrenchment in which large quantities of Roman bricks and tiles have been found.

Chisbury, on Wans Dyke, 1 ¼. mile N by E of the town, is a very fine Saxon camp of 15 acres, with rampart 45 feet high; and encloses an ancient chapel, in decorated English, now used as a barn.

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; and, till 1864, was united with another charge. Value, £212. Patron, the Marquis of Ailesbury. The vicarages of East Grafton and Savernake-Forest are separate benefices. There is a Wesleyan chapel at Wilton. Charities, £37.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BEDWIN, GREAT (St. Mary), an incorporated market-town and a parish, in the union of Hungerford, hundred of Kinwardstone, Marlborough and Ramsbury, and S. divisions of Wilts, 5½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Hungerford, 23 (N.) from Salisbury, and 70½ (W. by S.) from London; including the tythings of Crofton with Wolfhall, East and West Grafton, Martin, Wexcombe, and Wilton; and containing 2178 inhabitants.

This place, supposed by Dr. Stukeley to be the Leucomagus of Ravennas, derives its name from the Saxon Beeguyn, or Bedgwyn, expressive of its situation on an eminence in a chalky soil. It was anciently a city of great extent, and the metropolis of Cissa, one of the three sons of Ælla, the Saxon chieftain, who invaded Britain in 477; and Cissa, when viceroy of Wiltshire and part of Berkshire, is said to have enlarged and strengthened Chisbury Castle, now a noble relic of Saxon earthwork, about a mile to the north-east of the town, in the parish of Little Bedwin.

In 674, a battle was fought here between Wulfhere, King of Mercia, and Æscuin, a nobleman in the service of Saxburga, Queen of Wessex; in which, after a desperate struggle, the latter was victorious.

The parish comprises by measurement 9353 acres of land, chiefly arable, with a good quantity of wood and some pasture and down; the soil consists principally of mellow earth, resting on chalk. The surface presents numerous softly rounded eminences, crowned with luxuriant plantations overhanging the picturesque valleys; and to the south the hills rise higher, and stretch towards Salisbury Plain.

The Kennet and Avon canal passes through the parish, and affords a medium for the conveyance of excellent coal. The market is on Tuesday; and fairs are held on April 23rd and July 26th: the market-house is an ancient building situated in the principal street.

A portreeve, who is customarily called mayor, a bailiff, and other officers, are annually chosen at the court leet of the lord of the manor.

The borough sent representatives to all the parliaments of Edward I., from the close of whose reign to the 9th of Henry V., there were frequent intermissions; but since then it constantly returned two members, until its disfranchisement by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £8. 10. 10.; net income, £212; patron and impropriator, the Marquess of Ailesbury.

The church, the only remaining one of seven which are said to have anciently existed here, appears to have been erected at various times, and exhibits good specimens in all the styles of architecture, from the Norman to the later English. It is a cruciform structure, with a lofty embattled tower rising from the intersection; and contains several ancient memorials, among which are the figure of a Knight Templar, and the monument of Sir John Seymour, father of the Protector Somerset, and of Lady Jane Seymour, consort of Henry VIII., who was born at Wolf Hall, now a farmhouse, in the parish.

At East Grafton is an incumbency in the gift of the Vicar. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. Half a mile to the north-east are some vestiges of a Roman building, now scarcely discoverable; and a fine tessellated pavement was preserved till within the last few years. Dr. Thomas Willis, a celebrated physician, was born here in 1621.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog


Census returns for Great Bedwin, 1841-1891

Church Records

Baptisms, 1861-1967 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Savernake Forest (Wiltshire)

Bishop’s transcripts for East Grafton, 1844-1880 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of East Grafton (Wiltshire); Church of England. Parish Church of Great Bedwin (Wiltshire)

Bishop’s transcripts for Great Bedwin, 1585-1880 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Great Bedwin (Wiltshire)

Hungerford, Marlborough & Wantage : Wesleyan Methodist Circuits historic roll 1899-1904 Author: EurekA Partnership

Parish register transcripts, 1538-1900 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Great Bedwin (Wiltshire)

Parish registers for East Grafton, 1844-1927 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of East Grafton (Wiltshire)

Parish registers for Great Bedwin, 1538-1955 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Great Bedwin (Wiltshire)

Court Records

Court and visitation papers, 1623-1640 Author: Church of England. Peculiar Court (Savernake Forest)

Court rolls of the pleas of Savernake Forest held at Morleigh (Leigh Hill), Wiltshire, 1371-1381


Great Bedwyn families in the 19th Century Author: Hodgson, John Dryden


Estate survey in Burbage Savage, Wiltshire, 1760 Author: Manor of Burbage Savage (Wiltshire)

Estate survey in Collingborne, Wiltshire, 1706-1776 Author: Manor of Collingbourne-Ducis (Wiltshire); Manor of Collingbourne-Kingston (Wiltshire); Manor of Shalbourn (Wiltshire); Selkley (Wiltshire : Hundred)

Estate survey in Pewsey, Wiltshire, 1552-1730 Author: Manor of Pewsey (Wiltshire)

A valuation of lands in the parishes of Great Bedwin, Little Bedwin and Preshute in the county of Wilts : the property of the earl of Ailesbury Author: Pryce, B.

Poorhouses & Poor Law

Hungerford Union : workhouse births and deaths 1866-1914, pauper’s service book 1877-1917 Author: EurekA Partnership

Overseers rate book and miscellaneous parish records, 1786-1887 Author: Great Bedwin (Wiltshire)

Probate Record

Index to wills, 1639-1799 Author: Church of England. Prebendal Court (Lord Warden of Savernake Forest)


Land tax assessments in Great Bedwin, Wiltshire, 1780-1881 Author: Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Wiltshire)

Vital Records

Hungerford Union : workhouse births and deaths 1866-1914, pauper’s service book 1877-1917 Author: EurekA Partnership


Vision of Britain historical maps


  • County: Wiltshire
  • Civil Registration District: Hungerford
  • Probate Court: Court of the Peculiar of the Dean of Salisbury
  • Diocese: Salisbury
  • Rural Deanery: Pre-1847 – None, Post-1846 – Marlborough
  • Poor Law Union: Hungerford
  • Hundred: Kinwardstone
  • Province: Canterbury

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