The History of Collingbourne Kingston

Geography and Origins

From its source at Seymour Pond, Burbage, the River Bourne begins its seasonal southward course. Almost immediately it leaves its greensand origins and begins to cut its way through the chalk downland of Eastern Wiltshire. Along its banks and some three and a half miles from its source lies the community of Collingbourne Kingston. To the west, the ground rises to form the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain whilst to the east it similarly rises towards the downland, which rolls away across the nearby county boundaries into Berkshire and North Hampshire.

The Village, known collectively as Collingbourne Kingston, actually comprises three distinct geographically separated settlements, being the remnants of, or successors to, ancient tenures or manorial divisions. The Village is situated in an anciently worked landscape with remains of Neolithic and later prehistoric sites within the parish including a long barrow east of Brunton village and several barrows on the western downs. Oldhat barrow and another barrow lie on the parish boundary. There are also remains of ancient field systems on the east and north-east.

The settlements seem to have had their significant establishment in the sixth and seventh centuries, a fact reflected in that their names are all of Anglo-Saxon origin. The southernmost settlement is Collingbourne Kingston proper meaning the stream of Cola’s people with the later suffix Kingston used to differentiate it from our downstream sister village of Collingbourne Ducis. To its north lies Aughton from Aeffe’s tun or farm. Whilst these two members of the triad lie to the west of the Bourne, the third settlement, Brunton, from buhr hamtun, meaning the homestead of the fortification, is situated on the higher ground to the east of the stream. The A338 road links Collingbourne Kingston with the turning to Aughton. A minor no-through road running norther eastwards leaders to Brunton from Collingbourne Kingston, whilst a footpath connects Brunton to Aughton.

Recorded history for the settlements begins in the mid tenth century with a series of Anglo-Saxon charters. From then on, however, and until record collecting and keeping became established in more recent centuries, only occasional glimpses may be seen of those events that shaped the lives of past villagers and formed the patterns and fabric we see today.


The following chronological table is brief but will, hopefully paint a little background to the scene, which presents itself today.

903 AD King Edward the Elder grants land at Collingbourne towards the upkeep of his newly founded New Minster at Winchester. Economic collapse caused by the Viking wars render the holding more of a liability than an asset and the clergy sell it back to the Crown within a short time. To avoid future confusion, please note that the New Minster later comes to be known as St Peter’s Abbey, then from 1109 it becomes known as Hyde Abbey.

931 AD Already one of the biggest land holders in Wessex, the thegn Wulfgar of Inkpen is rewarded by King Athelston with lands a Collingbourne.

948 AD The now Earl Wulfgar dies. In his will, he grants the lands at Collingbourne to support his widow Aeffe. This holding comes to be known by her name ie Aughton (Aeffe’s tun). Upon her death, Aughton was incorporated in the manor we now call Collingbourne Kingston (see 1109 AD below) and once again reverts to the New Minster, Winchester.

1066 AD After their victory at Hastings, the Normans march on the Saxon capital at Winchester. After its surrender, William’s army divides, one half coming through the upper Bourne valley before turning east on its circuitous progress towards London.

1086 AD Brunton was part of the Chute manor, and held by St Peter’s Abbey, under the tenure of Croc the Hunter. His name being a reminder the Collingbourne Woods and Chute Forest are but remnants of a large royal hunting preserve with Ludgershall Castle, a hunting lodge.

1109 AD St Peter’s Abbey becomes Hyde Abbey. The Abbey held the Collingbourne manor until the dissolution and was known, therefore as Collingbourne Abbots. The later appellation of Kingston appears to be spurious as it never enjoyed direct crown connections.

The earliest mentions of a church at Collingbourne date from around this time although its foundation may be much earlier. Its original dedication to St John the Baptist by which name it was known at least until medieval times. At some time, and for reasons unknown, it became known by its present name, St Mary’s.

1253 AD Chute Manor, including Brunton, was granted by Henry III to his half-brother William de Valence. Those lands then became known as Collingbourne Valence.

1345 AD The Black Death. As a result of depopulation and the consequent economic upheaval, Aughton, then known as Collingbourne Affeston, appears to have been deserted or very much reduced.

1377 AD The parish had 164 poll-tax payers.

c1483 AD A perhaps native of the village, William Collingbourne, writes the famous satirical and scurrilous rhyme about the king, Richard III, and his ministers…

“The Cat, the Rat and Lovell the Dogge,
Rule all England under a Hogge.”

The three ministers were Sir William Catesby, Sir Richard Ratcliffe and Lord Lovell. The Hogge is a reference to the King’s crest, which was a boar. William was executed for his poetic efforts.

1544 AD Collingbourne Kingston manor was granted to Edward Seymour by Henry VIII. Seymour of Wolfhall, Burbage, was the brother of Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife and he was made Duke of Somerset in 1547. On Henry’s death, he became Lord Protector as a guardian of his nephew Edward VI. He was executed and attainted in 1552. The manor was taken back by the Crown, but then given to Seymour’s son, another Edward, who was later Earl of Hertford. The manor descended from the Seymours through the Bruce, Brudenell and Bruce-Brudenell families till 1929.

1642 AD 93 inhabitants contributed to the tax subsidy, which was the highest number of inhabitants for any parish in the hundred aside from Great Bedwyn.

1684 AD In this year, the Collingbourne Rector, together with eighteen other parishioners, petitioned for a license to be granted to Robert Fay for a victualling house in the Village. The reason given for the request was that many people became lost on the downs.

1689 AD The petition must have been successful because village lore says the William of Orange availed himself of the hospitality of an inn in the Village during a break in this progress to London to claim the throne.

1692 AD Brunton House was built by William Vince.

1722 AD The Falcon Inn, possibly the one visited by William of Orange, was renamed the Chequers.

1762 AD Turnpiking took place of the main road between Collingbourne Kingston and Aughton northwards on the higher ground to the west leaving Aughton by-passed. This is the present alignment of the A338. The partially completed new road is shown on the Andrews and Drury map of 1773. The map manages to transpose Alton (Aughton) with Brumton (Brunton).

1763 AD Most of Aughton’s open field system was enclosed.

1799 AD Brunton’s common land was enclosed.

1801 AD The census shown a population of 731.

1810 AD A three-arched red-brick bridge and a new lane were built to link Brunton with Collingbourne Kingston.

1817 to 1843 AD The strip lynchets to the north-east of Brunton were formed for allotments.

1819 AD In the 19th century, converts to the cause of non-conformity increased enormously in Wiltshire and in this year the first Methodist Chapel was built in Collingbourne Kingston. This comparatively modest building occupied the empty ground immediately to the north of the present old chapel.

1822 AD The current Barleycorn Inn, originally called the Cleaver was built in the early 19th century and appears in records in this year.

1824 AD Remainder of Aughton’s field and downland common was enclosed.

1840s AD The Cleaver was renamed the Collingbourne Kingston Inn and later upgraded to Hotel in the 1890s.

1841 AD The highest population for the Village was recorded in the census at 933 inhabitants with 239 in Collingbourne Kingston proper, 166 in Aughton, 234 in Brunton, and 291 in Sunton.

1845 AD The village school was built. Whilst open until 1978, attendance ranged from 28 to 130 children.

1850s AD The Windmill Inn was opened.

1880 AD The new vicarage was built.

1881 AD The census recorded 696 inhabitants.

1882 AD The single line Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway opened running alongside the Bourne. It was not until 1902 that it was double-tracked.

1911 AD The census recorded 748 inhabitants.

1914 AD The new Methodist chapel was built. The old chapel beame a Sunday School and meeting hall. Newspaper reports and photographs of the times show congregations of several hundred attending particular events. It is presumably an indication of the predominance of chapel going at the time that the Village’s memorial to those who fell in the Great War was erected within the fence to the front of the recently built chapel.

1929 AD The Savernake estate, which included most of the land and properties in the three settlements, was broken up and sold by George Brudenell-Bruce. Marquess of Ailesbury.

1930s and 1960s Village council house and bungalows were built as Ham Close and Cuckoo Pen Close.

1931 AD The census recorded 585 inhabitants.

1932 AD The Collingbourne Kingston railway halt opened on 21st April.

1934 AD The southern boundary of Collingbourne Kingston parish was redrawn. The hamlet of Sunton passed to the parish of Collingbourne Ducis.

1943 AD A Spitfire crashed into No 54 High Street taking off its thatched roof. The pilot was an early flying pioneer Hazel Jane Raines. Click here for the full story.

1951 AD Without the hamlet of Sunton, the census showed that the population had dropped to 440.

1961 AD The railway closed on 1st September as part of Dr Beeching’s reorganisation of the railways. For further information on the history of the railway together with photographs, visit

1964 AD The church disposed of the vicarage.

1974 AD The Village was designated a conservation area.

1978 AD The village school closed.

1985 AD The chapel closed. It was eventually sold at auction on 23rd July, 1987. The War Memorial was taken into the care of the Parish Council and moved to its present position near the southern approach to St Mary’s Church.

1991 AD The census recorded a population of 454 holding steady in the post-war years.

Details taken from pp126-139 A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 16, Kindwardstone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London 1999. Visit the following site for a full transcript.


Collingbourne Kingston is among those English villages which share the legend of a monstrous, avenging Black Dog. Our story says that two robbers who operated along the Bath Road robbed an old couple, killed them and set fire to their house. Neighbours raised a hue and cry and pursued them down through Everleigh where the murderers fled into Collingbourne Woods, not knowing that those with guilty consciences never went there at night for it was the haunt of the fearful Black Dog with its great yellow eyes as big as saucers that brought ill luck to all those that encountered it and death to evildoers. With their pursuers close behind, the miscreants ran deeper into the woods until fixed by a terrible gaze. They turned tail and ran screaming back up onto the downs only to run straight into the arms of those chasing them. They were taken to Devizes, tried and hanged. This happened in the 17th century but the Black Dog is still said to be seen in the woods and those without a clear conscience are strongly advised not to travel the road to Collingbourne Kingston at night.

On a happier note our second claim to folklore fame concerns the short road and track that runs down to the meadows on the south side of the churchyard and now known as Church Lane.

It seems that it was previously known as Goldhill as a certain Dame Pile (see monument in church), learning that King Charles I was to pass through the village during the Civil War, and being a staunch loyalist, met him at the top of the hill to give him all her valuables for the cause. This gift was described as a ‘lapful of gold’ and so the hill where the village cross now stands got its now forgotten name. Recent attempts by the Parish Council to get this traditional name officially adopted again were unfortunately thwarted.