History of Dilton and the Church

The cover of this booklet said that it was printed and published by W. Michael, Bookseller, Westbury, Wilts.

The Manor of Daleton or Dylton, was formerly a place of note for the manufacture of Broad and Narrow Woolen cloths; but is now reduced to a small village. It is situated in the hundred and Parish of Westbury.

In an old record, is the following entry relating to the ownership of Dilton:-
"In the reign of Henry III (1250), - son of King John - Godfrey de Escudamore, Prior of Farley, Monachor or Monet, (of the) Church of Westbury, Wilts, held of Richard de Anesye, Dilton and Bratton."

The Manor of Dilton formerly belonged to the Hungerford family, of Farleigh Castle, in the county of Somerset. It was sold by Sir Edward Hungerford, of Corsham, in the year 1608 (or near about), to Sir Stephen Fox, Knt., who sold it to the ancestor of Thomas Peckham Phipps, Esq., of Little Green in the county of Essex, A.D. 1687, formerly of Heywood House, in the Parish of Westbury, Wilts.

In the year 1797, Thomas Peckham Phipps Esq. sold the manor of Dilton, together with two pieces of arable land, with the Lord's Rent reserved on same, for 300 to the Marquis of Bath. Thomas Phipps Esq. (father of Thomas Peckham Phipps Esq.) in the year 1717, sold to Paul Phipps Esq. of Westbury Leigh, Wilts (one of the ancestors of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps Esq. of Leighton House), the large farm at Dilton known by the name of 'Lower Farm'.
Thomas Phipps Esq. (the grandfather of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps Esq.), bought the 'Upper Farm' at Dilton, of a Mr. Chivers, formerly of Upton Scudamore, Wilts.

For many years previous to the year 1707, one, Mr. Thomas Hanson held the 'Great Farm' at Dilton, on lease for a term of years from Thomas Phipps Esq. of Heywood House, Westbury Wilts. This Mr. Thomas Hanson had a son, then living at Dilton - a Mr. Humphrey Hanson - who carried on the clothing business at Dilton, in a large mansion that formerly stood on the same spot of ground where Mr. Jno. Waldron erected his clothing factory, about the year 1811.

In the year 1811 there were three mills standing in Dilton, the motive power for which was obtained from the River Biss, which rises a short distance from the village. The business carried on was principally the manufacture of woolen goods. Mr. John Waldron occupied a mill for the manufacture of broad cloth. One, owned by Mr. Edmund Hooper, and occupied by Mr. Joel Hague, was used as a 'Scribling' and 'Spinning' manufactory. The other was a Grist Mill, owned by Mr. John Waldron, and occupied by Mr. John Salisbury.

We now come to a period when several surveys were made of the Parish of Westbury, of which Dilton is a tything. When the Parish of Westbury was surveyed in 1797, by Messrs. Gale and Sturge, for a new Poor Rate, their survey and valuation of the Tything of Dilton was as follows:-

a. - 1903
r. - 1
p. - 9

s. 17
d. 11

In the year 1807, another Rate was made when the value at which it was assessed was -
s. 11
d. 0

In 1809 the Land Tax of the Tything of Dilton which was "exonorated" was 3: 10: 4, and that which was "not exonorated" was 27: 2: 10.

Another survey of the Parish of Westbury, Wilts, was made by a committee of Leaseholders, for the purpose of assessing a new Poor Rate, and was commenced on April 19th, 1811, and completed in November the same year.

From this survey we find that Dilton had increased considerably in extent, as well as in its annual value, when compared with the survey which was made in 1797. The extent and annual rental from this survey of 1811 was -

a. - 2795
r. - 1
p. - 11

s. 17
d. 8

The writer of an ancient manuscript makes the following note:-
In the old Manor House at Dilton, was formerly a suit of armour; T. Rewtlut seeing the helmet and breast plate in 1770, or thereabout.
The Steward of the Marquis of Bath - Mr. Thomas Davies - held his Court at the Manor House, near Dilton Mill, on the 15th December 1797.
In the village of Dilton is a very old chapel annexed to the Parish Church of Westbury. It was built on or about the year 1100. The building consists of a chapel, the length of which is 46 ft. and breadth 19 ft., with a chancel 23 ft. in length by 16 ft. 6 inch in width. The dimensions of the north aisle is 45 ft. by 9 ft. 6 inches. The chief entrance is on the south side by a porch 7 ft. 3 inch by 7 ft. 3 inch.
In the south window, the east side of the Pulpit, is a pane of old stained glass, with letters inscribed on it, supposed to signify Richard II. It is believed that the person that stained the glass was directed so to do to commemorate the first foundation, or building of the Chapel. It appears that the tower and spire, also the north aisle of this chapel are more modern. The pillars and windows are of the form of those built in the reign of King Henry III, or King Edward I.
On the top of the spire is a cross of iron; and in the tower are two bells, without date or letters. In the burying ground, adjoining the Chapel, is a very large and beautiful yew tree. It's height is 50 feet and circumference at the bottom near 12 feet. There is a small quantity of Glebe Land that belongs to the Chapel. This Chapelry has the right to appoint its own Chapelwardens and keep registers of Births, Christenings, Marriages and Burials. The inhabitants of the Liberty of Dilton choose Chapelwardens every year, on Easter Tuesday; and Surveyors of the Highways for the Liberty every year at Michaelmas.

There are, also many donations and gifts to the poor that attend this Chapel.

The following is a Copy of the contents of the Old Register Book made in the year 1810:-

"A Register Book of Christenings, Weddings, Births and Burialls, of Dylton, from the first year of the Reigne of our Soveraygne Lady Elizabeth. Date this present 1600. Collected and written by Gryffen Lewes, Minister theare, the first day of October 1600. This register began, November, 1585, and ended February 25th, 1676.
Richd. Culverhouse, Richd. Kinden 1600
George Bland, Curate, December 21st, 1634
Johanis Bradish, Vicar, Dylton, March 25th, 1645.

Be this registered and recorded for the information of all those whome in after times in may concern, for ever, that the Churchyard belonging to the Chaple (or Chappell), of Dilton, for the ease and help of the inhabitants there, who did, formerly, to their great trouble and charge, bury their dead at Westbury: Was Consecrated and set apart, for to be a place for those inhabitants belonging to the said Chappell to bury their deade in, by the Right Reverend Father in God, John Devenant, Bishop of Sarum, in and on the Feast of Saint Bartholemew, being in the four-and-twentieth day of August, in the Year of Our Lord 1631. Doctor Henchman being Chanter, who then preached the consecration sermon; Mr. Andrew Greeves being Vicar; Mr. Wm. Jackson, Curate and lecturer and Dilton and Westbury; Mr. Thomas Bennett Parson, Mr. Anthony Self (farmer), William Pearce, and Richard Bailey being Churchwardens and Robert Minty, Clerk."

The chapel of Dilton, or Dylton in it's early period, had land left to it by William de Ansey. The following is an interesting extract, the first part of which is taken from the Records in the Tower of London:-
"Hundred rolls of Westbury, Wilts, in the Tower of London.
Rotuli Hundredum de Westbury, Wilts.
Wilhelmus Clericus Bayliff
Ralph de Maundeville, Robert de Plugnett, (and 10 others) -
They say that William de Ansey, his father and Richard de Ansey ( son of Richard de Ansey), held his lands in Bratton and Penly, by 'Serjanty', to wit:- to go with his lord, the King, for eleven days, with his acquiterments. The same William (William de Ansey) has alienated to the Prior of Farley, half a vergate (a Vergate or Yard Land was 25 to 35 acres, or one fourth of a Plough land or Carucate) of land in Dulton, or Dilton, and another half vergate of land to the Chapel in Dulton or Dylton, in the Hundred of Westbury, aforesaid"

In the reign of King James I, A.D. 1614, "a note or terrier of all the Gleab Lands, Gardens, Orchyards, Houses, Tenements, and portions of Tithes belonging unto the Parsonage and Vicarage of the church of Westbury, was made and subscribed by the Vicar and Churchwardens, April 12th, 1614". In it we find that, "at Dylton there belongeth to the Vicarage, one house with a garden, and the ground wherein the Chapel is; by estimation containing three yards. Also thereunto belongeth of areable, in the fields of Dilton, or Dylton, three and twenty acres and a half."

From time to time good and holy men have bethought themselves to hand down to posterity their names by the giving of land and money for the benefit of the poor of Dilton, amongst whom was Anthony Self, who was buried at Dilton Chapel, June 11th 1639; William Gilbert; Christopher Pierce; John Cable; William Turner; and John Whatley.
In the year 1679, John Whatley (constable of Westbury Hundred), by the consent of the inhabintants of Dilton, did with the said moneys mentioned in the Wills of the aforesaid donors, purchase in the name of Mr. Ivie, Minister, Stephen Whatley and William Withey, Chapelwardens of Dilton, a certain quantity of land, the annual rents of which were to be employed according to certain directions which were drawn up by them, for the benefit of the poor of Dilton. These amalgamated Charities are now called the "Castley Charity"; the proceeds of which are expended in gifts of clothing and bread. The former is distributed at Christmas, and the latter during Easter Week.
Another Charity in which the poor of Dilton have a share, is the "Honeybridge Charity", bequeathed by John Wilkins, Clothier, formerly of Dilton, whose Will bears the date of 1729. It is for gifts of apparel, viz: to "such poor of and within the Liberty of Dilton, or as belongeth or coming to the Church, and as having no alms of the Parish."

Many who read the history of the Church will be in doubt as to the reason why it was built in such a thinly populated district. But when we find that Dilton was formerly, with so many more houses, as well as two large Cloth or Woolen Mills, and a Grist Mill, in full employ, it seems to have been a much more populous place than it now is; and remembering too, that Dilton Marsh church was not built till a comparitivly recent date, we shall better understand why this church was built; the villagers of Marsh being in the habit of attending the old Church until the erection of the new one in their own village.

The morning preachers at Westbury, chosen by the Parishioners and who preached at Dilton Church, obtained very large congregations. The following three names are well remembered by many old inhabitants. The Rev. James Beesly, who came in 1814; the Rev. F. Reyroux, in July 1832; and the Rev. Mark Cooper in 1836. The last named after leaving the parish where he was greatly beloved and held in high esteem, was appointed to the Vicarage of Bramshaw in the New Forest, where he remained for some years; he was then presented to the Deanery and removed to Southhampton.

In connection with Dilton Church there was a well attended Sunday School for the children of Dilton and the district round. A lady residing at Penleigh, most kindly and assiduously undertook the somewhat arduous post of Superintendant to a mixed school. Some, still residing in the parish, recall her name with grateful love.

The singing at the church, was, in those days, of the primitive style, but bright and hearty withal. The choir often had the assistance of Mr. I. Tucker - composer of the well known tunes, some of which are still in use in many parishes.

In reading of the Charities left by the former wealthy inhabitants to their poorer neighbours of Dilton, we cannot but be struck by the fact of the very considerable decay in the village, as compared with former years, since, at present were the Charities confined solely to the people of the place, instead of including the district, there would not be a sufficient number of recipients; but being left to the district, as well as the village, a comparatively large number are permitted to share in the bounty.


The Villages of Dilton and Dilton Marsh