tuuuuuuEdington (Ethandun)

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Edington is probably the ancestral home for this branch of Stokes Family. As mentioned in the Origins section my family can be traced back to there perhaps as early as the Fourteenth century. Coming from a family of farmers, as opposed to aristocracy, anything before 1597 (The introduction of Bishop’s Transcripts or parish records on the insistence of Queen Elizabeth I) is always going to require a bit of luck to piece together the true facts. 

The most notable thing to happen in Edington (according to historians and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles) is the Battle of Ethadune.  This is where Alfred united the Anglo Saxons together and banished the Vikings from Wessex once and for all.   After Hastings, it is the singular most important battle on British soil.  Alfred shaped England as we know it.  It was following the defeat of the Danes at Edington that he began the unification of the English Kingdoms into a single state.   Should the Danes had one Christianity were certainly not exist in England today.    World history would be so much different if Alfred would have lost on that day in Spring 878AD.   More details of the battle is covered in the King Alfred section.

It should be remembered that the population of Edington today is only nudging 1000.  Reading below it's surprising that such a small place contains such much fame and infamy. 


Edington is first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon chronicles which were written around the year 892.  The Latin translation of the 878 entry reads:

"878. In this year, at Midwinter, after Twelfth night, the army stole itself away to Chippenham, and harried the West Saxons' land, and settled there, and drove many of the people over sea, and of the remainder the greater portion they harried, and the people submitted to them, save the king, Alfred, and he, with a little band, withdrew to the woods and moor-fastnesses. And in the same winter the brother of Inwar and Halfdene was in Wessex, in Devonshire, with twenty-three ships, and he was there slain, and with him eight hundred and forty men of his force. And there was the standard taken which they call the Raven. And the Easter after, Alfred, with a little band, wrought a fortress at Athelney, and from that work warred on the army, with that portion of the men of Somerset that was nearest. Then in the seventh week after Easter he rode to Egbert's stone, on the east of Selwood, and there came to meet him all the Somersetshire men, and the Wiltshire men, and that part of Hampshire which remained of it on this side of the sea; after, he went from the camp to Aeglea, and one night after that to Edington, and there fought against all the army, and put it to flight, and rode after it, as far as the works, and there sat fourteen nights. And then the army gave him hostages with great oaths that they would depart from his kingdom; and also promised him that their king would receive baptism; and that they so fulfilled; and three weeks after, King Guthrum came to him, with thirty of the men who were most honorable in the army, at Aller, which is opposite to Athelney; and the king received him there at baptism; and his chrism-loosing was at Wedmore; and he was twelve nights with the king; and he largely gifted him and his companions with money".

There is much contention as to whether the Edington mentioned in the Chronicles is the Edington in Wiltshire.   The common consensus is that it is, so we will go with that and not argue over that at this point in time.  There is also another entry from Asser's Life of King Alfred which translated from Latin reads:

In the same year after Easter, King Alfred, with a few to help him, made a stronghold in a place called Athelney, and thence kept tirelessly making attacks upon the pagans with his Somersetshire retainers. And again in the seventh week after Easter he rode to Egbert's Stone, which is in the eastern part of the forest called Selwood--in Latin "Sylva Magna," in Welsh "CoitMaur"--and there met him there all the dwellers about the districts of Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, who had not through fear of the pagans gone beyond sea; and when they saw the king, after such great sufferings, almost as one risen from the dead, they were filled with unbounded joy, as it was right they should be; and they pitched camp there for one night. At dawn the next morning the king moved his camp thence and came to a place called Aeglea, and there encamped one night.  Moving his standards thence the next morning, he came to a place called Edington, and with a close shield-wall fought fiercely against the whole army of the pagans; his attack was long and spirited, and finally by divine aid he triumphed and overthrew the pagans with a very great slaughter. He pursued them, killing them as they fled up to the stronghold, where he seized all that he found outside--men, horses, and cattle--slaying the men at once; and before the gates of the pagan fortress he boldly encamped with his whole army. And when he had stayed there fourteen days and the pagans had known the horrors of famine, cold, fear, and at last of despair, they sought a peace by which the king was to take from them as many named hostages as he wished while he gave none to them--a kind of peace that they had never before concluded with anyone. When the king heard their message he was moved to pity, and of his own accord received from them such designated hostages as he wished. In addition to this, after the hostages were taken, the pagans took oath that they would most speedily leave his kingdom, and also Guthrum, their king, promised to accept Christianity and to receive baptism at the hands of King Alfred. All these things he and his men fulfilled as they had promised. For after three weeks Guthrum, king of the pagans, with thirty selected men of his army, came to King Alfred at a place called Aller near Athelney. And Alfred received him as son by adoption, raising him from the sacred font of baptism; and his chrism-loosing on the eighth day was in the royal vill called Wedmore. After he was baptized he stayed with the king twelve nights, and to him and all the men with him the king generously gave many valuable gifts.


Is was thought that after the death of Alfred, the village to his queen, and that by 965 or 968 Kind Edgar had granted Edington to Romsey Abbey.   For the next few hundred years the Abbess was patron of the rectory, the rector being the prebendary of Edington in the church of Sarum, leaving his parochial duties to the vicar.   


There are two entries in the Domesday book for Edington(referred to as Ethadune or Edendone) translated from Latin:

Land of the church of Romsey

* The church of St Mary of Romsey holds Edington.  Before 1066 it paid tax for 30 hides.  Land for 35½ ploughs.  Of this land 2½ hides in Lordship, 7 ploughs there; with 10 slaves.
* 21 slaves, 23 smallholders and 10 freedmen with 15 ploughs
* 2 mills which pay 19s
* Meadow 100 acres
* Pastures 1 league long and ½ league wide
* Woodland 10 furlongs long and 5 wide

Of  this land William holds 4½hides, Osmund 4 hides, Hervey 2 hides, Englishmen 5 hides, and 1 virgate of land.  The holders of these 15 hides and 3 virgates before 1066 could not be separated from the church.  There are 12½polughs there.  Value of the church's lordship, £30, of what the men hold, £18.

Land Hervey and other servants of the King

* Hervey of Wilton holds 1 hide in Edington from the King.  
* Osward held it before 1066.  
* Land for 1 plough.  3 smallholders.  
* Meadow and Pasture, as much as there is enough 1 hide.  Value 30s

The Hervey and Osward entries appear to co borate the Romsey details.


In the infamous N.V. book of 1316 'Edyngton" was referred to as a tun or enclosure of the Saxon tribe of Edings.


The Abbess nominated a rector for the last time, for a few years later a great change took place in the church of Edington owing to the influence of a famous native of the
place, William of Edington.


This was the year that saw the first change of hands of Edington for several hundred years.  William of 'Edington' inherited the village from the abbey of Romsey.   He was about 40 years of age at the time.    Mention is made in an old deed of his father, Roger, of his mother, Avise, and of his brother, John, but no surname is forthcoming, and it was then quite usual to be named after your birthplace during those times.   He was educated at Oxford.


William becomes Bishop of Winchester.


William of Edington  founded a college of twelve prebendaries and a dean- At the insistence of the famous Black Prince this was changed, and some Augustine monks of the order known as Bonhommes (Augstine Canons), who had a brotherhood at Ashridge' near Berkhampstead in Herts(their only settlement in the country), were introduced. The monastic building stood on the site of a farm house which now adjoins the churchyard and still contains some of their original masonry.   It was dedicated all in honour of our Lady, St. Katherine and All Saints. Six priests were appointed to serve it, of which the warden was still Prebendary.  By royal licence the prebendal revenues were given to it and other endowment secured.   But before this was fully accomplished the Bishop had enlarged his ideas.   The college would soon become a monastery (6 years later), and the monastic church would soon appear.   All but one (the Warden) of the secular college accepted the monastic vow- The title of Warden was dropped, and that of " Rector " substituted, the first-John of Ailesbury-coming from the House of Bonhommes, at Uxbridge, in Bucks.   This was believed to be on the 16th September, of possibly the year 1358. 


This year saw the first stone of the church laid on the site of a Norman building.  The day was July 3rd. The building was instigated by William, who preceded William of Wykeham in the bishopric of Winchester.   The church is effectively what we see today.  The church (SS- Mary, Katherine, and All Saints) served both canons and parishioners. It illustrates on a worthy scale and in a remarkably effective manner the transition from the Dec. to the Perp. style and, save for the porch, was entirely constructed between the years 1352-61 - It is a cruciform building with central tower- The Perp- S. porch is lofty and vaulted and has a double parvise or priests' room above- In the pavement of the 5- aisle an incised stone with the Winchester arms is reminiscent of the founder, and in the aisle itself are some of the original benches of carved oak.  The nave is 75 ft- long, with six arches on each side. Under one of these on the 5- side is an altar-tomb under a rich stone canopy, with a recess for the use of the priest.  This he designed, it is said, at the special request of the Black Prince, for a congregation of which we know very little, the Bonshommes, a sort of friars of English origin who followed the Rule called of St Augustine, and wore a blue dress similar to that of the Augustinian Hermits.  The east window of 14th-century glass represents the Crucifixion- The ceiling is Jacobean, but may be a copy of the original.

Along with the church, the first references of the woolen trade in Edington is mentioned, with reference to setting up mills, which were powered from the water of Luccombe springs in Bratton.


The Papal Bull granted him permission for his first scheme.   


William of Edington becomes Chancellor of England to Edward III


The Church  received it's dedication.    So all was built within nine years.   The church was consecrated by Bishop Wyvile of Sarum.


William of Edington Dies.   He now lies buried in Winchester Cathedral


The south porch of the church is completed according to Mr. Ponting, F.S.A.


During the rising of Jack Cade of 1449 or 1450, Ayscough, bishop of Salisbury, was brutally murdered by some Wiltshire yokels at Edington. He had retired here from his palace to escape the turmoil of the moment, but was pursued and dragged from the high altar, whilst in the act of celebrating mass, to the top of an adjoining hill, where his brains were dashed (possibly by stoning) out His body was stripped, his shirt torn into rags, and his palace at Salisbury plundered of ten thousand marks.  He was buried in the monastery at Edington, and Leland, writing a hundred years later in 1540, tells of a chapel and hermitage standing on the spot where he was slain- His ostensible offence was merely absenteeism, residence at court, that is to say, instead of at Salisbury- What a mortality there would have been among the Welsh bishops of the eighteenth century if such measures had been meted out to them also.   Absence with the king, whose confessor he was, and the absence of any hospitality in his diocese, were also sited for reasons of his death.  

The chancel screen dates from the 15th century- On the south and north walls of the chancel are eight elaborate niches, the headless figures of St- John and St- Mark remain.  The south door led into a long, narrow chamber, the use of which is unknown. The north door covers a recess or blocked up doorway.   According to Mr. Ponting, F.S.A., the upper stage of this porch, which, he considers, dates from the 15th century.   

The monastery was well endowed, and daring the Lollard troubles in the next century Sir John Rous, of Imber, allotted Baynton Manor to it.


Thomas Cromwell appointed rector in this year


All went well until in 1539 Edington Friary was dissolved with the rest, the rector, then newly appointed, Paul Bush, surrendering it into the hands of the King in exchange for the Bishopric of Bristol


Ultimately the monastery and its possessions (including the manor) passed into the hands of that Lord Seymour of Sudeley who married Catherine Parr.  Sir Thomas Seymour, the Protector's brother.   This dissolution of the monasteries was a major turning point in the religious affairs of England and ultimately took the country down the protestant road.


Lord Seymour of Sudeley.  was beheaded as a traitor, and later the Crown sold the property to Sir William Paulet (Pawletts/Pauletts), Marquis of Winchester and Earls of Wiltshire.  They erected a fine mansion on the site of the buildings from the old monastery materials, but this subsequently fell into decay and much of the material was transported to Erlestoke. Some of the offices were merged in a farm-house, and the Paulett arms may still be seen outside at the top of a leaden pipe. The conventual buildings were on the N. side of the church, and a doorway in the N- aisle communicated with the cloister - The massive stone walls of the abbey gardens, particularly the buttressed wall of the orchard, and the site of the old monastic fishponds, are almost the sole vestiges left of them.

On the outside of the north transept are four niches, probably garden seats added when the monastic buildings were bought by Sir William.  There are eleven Consecration crosses on the exterior of the church. South-west of the south porch is an ancient altar- tomb called the Dole Stone.

The next owner was Sir John Thynne, although the exact date is not known.


The monastery buildings were pulled down sometime before this year following the dissolution of the monesteries.   Edington was to pass through the hands of six dukes in the next 214 years.


On the 5- side (south) of the chancel is a fine monument of marble and alabaster to 5ir Edward Lewis (1630), gentleman of the Privy Council to Prince Henry, and afterwards to Charles I and his wife (Lady Anne Beauchamp).  It is beautifully carved, and around the plinth are the kneeling effigies of their daughter and four sons.  This was formerly within the altar-rails and its removal from there has revealed the remains of the old sedilia on the 5 - side of the altar.   The work dates from the 17th century.


The Belfry contains six bells, the oldest dating from 1640.   


The plaster panelled roofs to nave, crossing, and N- transept, date from this year.


But in the eighteenth century, after passing through the hands of the Duke of Bolton into that of the Taylors of Erlestoke, the present owners, most of the stone was utilized in the construction of the building which stands there now.  The ceiling dates from the 18th century.


The manor becomes the property of Joshua Smith.  From there it is thought have passed into the hands of the Duke of Bolton.


From the Duke of Bolton the manor passed to the Taylor family.    Against the North wall is a monumental group in white marble by the Chantrey, a memorial of Sir Simon Taylor (~1815).


Population according to the Census was 217 men and 233 women, giving a total of 450.


Population according to the Census was 206 men and 219 women, giving a total of 425.


Population according to the Census was 219 men and 213 women, giving a total of 432.


 The church was ably restored under the direction of Mr. Ponting, F.S.A., in 1887-91, at a cost of over £6,000


The current Churchyard cross on an old base.   The chancel is plaster work of the early 19th century.  Population according to the Census was 168 men and 174 women, giving a total of 342 in 84 houses.


The new GWR train line than runs through Edington was completed.  It forms part of the the main Paddington->Westbury->South-West line, which is serviced at the 125mph 'Inter-City' trains.  A station was built for Edington (and Bratton for that matter), but eventually fell into dis-use in 1952.


The late Bishop Wordsworth, bought the rectorial tithes and the advowson of the benefice, while Mr- Marsh, of Bratton, bought the Monastery Gardens.  The actual date could be 1919.    In a guide book Edington in this era was described as "Edington (Station on the G.W.R.). This village, with 1O1/2m, its beautiful church and its charming Monastery Tea Gardens, is a popular Wiltshire holiday resort".


Today Edington is home to around a 1000 people.


Description of the Church

The casual visitor to Edington is often struck with a shock of glad surprise upon seeing the church.  It is a cruciform building, with a massive central tower, and is rated very highly as an example of the transition from the Decorated to the Perpendicular style.   The church is full of interesting detail as well as beautiful in its proportions. The groined south porch has a priest's-room over it, while the arches which support the central tower are singularly fine. The tracery of the window is of a very high order, and the east window, as a blend of the Decorated and Perpendicular, is almost unique. Some of the original oak benches, though much mutilated, remain, while the marks on the stone floor show how many monumental brasses have been wrenched away by all kinds of despoiling hands. To those for whom family monuments mean something more than the carving of figures and canopies, Edington offers a good deal. There is an altar tomb in the nave from which effigies have been taken, but which bears the arms of the Cheneys of Brooke House, already alluded to, near Westbury. Beneath the rich canopy that covers it there is a recess that is thought to have been for the use of the priest while reciting the prayers for the dead. In the south transept is a recumbent stone effigy of an Augustine canon, with his head on a cushion and a barrel. This may or not seem quite appropriate ; but the effigy itself is thought to be one of the earlier abbots of the monastery.  There is a fine roodscreen still dividing the nave and chancel, while the wood carving of the altar is said to be of the time of James the First,. and is supposed to have come from the old mansion of Edington. The stone walls of the abbey gardens are still standing, and traces of the ancient fish-pond yet remain, while in the churchyard, which bounds the road, is a grand old yew tree of some twenty feet in circumference. and is a place in which to tarry.  The noble is dedicated to that of St- Mary, St. Katherine, and All Saints.

Above the nave, the clerestory windows contain 14th-century glass, representing St. William of Ebor, St. Cuthbert, St- Christopher, st- Audon and St. Ledger, and some glass in the aisles is of the same date. Under the south nave arcade stands the chantry and tom b of Sir Ralph Cheny, d- 1101, wvho mnarriedl Joan, daughter of Sir John Pavely of Brook House, North Bradley.   The paintings on the new screen are by Miss E- Warre, and represent, from north to south, the Black Prince, John of Ailesbury, St- Mary-the-Virgin, St. Katharine of Alexandria, St- Stephen, St. John-the- Evangelist, William of Wykeham (who helped in the building of the church) and William of Edingdon. In the south transept is the canopied tomb of an ecclesiastic, thought to be Thomas of Beckington, from the initials " T.B." and the rebus, a " beck" or " bough " growing out of a " tun" or barrel ; or John of Baynton, in which case the initials are " J.B-" aDd the rebus, a sprig of " bay" in " tun." The north transept was probably a Lady Chapel, and the niche on the east w all may have held a figure of Our Lady and the stars, the blue colouring and outline of a 1i1y. go to prove it.   Before leaving the church, the consecration crosses, which marked the sprinkling by the bishop with chrism at the dedication, should be mentioned- They are found on both inside and outside walls. 

The tracery of the E. window of the chancel is an excellent illustration of the merging of the flowing lines and fine tracery of the Dec. period into the stiffer and more formal Perp- style- The crossing and chancel are divided by the ancient rood-screen with loft over it, much restored- In the E- window of the N- transept is some old glass, and beneath, a piscina and a small mutilated niche are still in the wall- Note also the fine Jacobean pulpit with tester and some more old glass in the nave.

In the south transept is a very lovely altar tomb, one of the loveliest in all Wiltshire- There lies an effigy of a Bonhomme, his head resting on a cushion, his feet on a barrel- Above is a magnificent canopy with richly groined vaulting with a beautiful traceried arch before it and at each angle without, a niche, those in front containing figures of St- Peter and St. Paul. At the back is a blank space which Mr. Ponting considers was once filled with a stone panel upon which was carved a Crucifixion. The cornice is magnificently carved with a vine pattern in high relief and in the midst above all is the half figure of an angel bearing a shield, upon which is emblazoned a rebus-a branch or sprig growing from a barrel or tun. The mensa which supports the figure is moulded and beneath is carved the rebus five times repeated, the initials I B twice repeated, a 1amb with the same sprig and a Tudor rose. The front of the tomb is divided into four panels on two of which we see the rebus and on two the Tudor rose- For all this repetition, however, we do not know the name of the person buried here- The rood screen is, though perhaps less beautiful than we might expect, very interesting. It had a double row of stalls upon the eastern side ; but it is a late addition to the church and rich as it is, and its richness was added to in Elizabethan times, it is disappointing. Under the second arch eastward of the nave arcade on the south is the monument of Sir Ralph Cheney, who died in 1401, and was the husband of a daughter of Sir John Pavely of Broke House. It is large and altogether formed a sort of chantry. The font has been mutilated, but the pulpit is a fine one of the Jacobean time- Some of the old benches also remain. The last glory of the church is its fourteenth century glass. In the three light window in the east wall of the north transept is a noble Crucifixion. The clerestory windows, too, contain figures of bishops with inscriptions, and in the windows of the north aisle is some lovely heraldic glass. There in that lovely building one fails to understand how anyone could have had the heart to spoil it of anything and leave all empty and bare. The church owes very much to the care and knowledge of Mr. Ponting. Leland, who rather fully describes the church, speaks also of tt one Aschue, or Aschgogh, Bishop of Saresbyri in Henry 6 tyme, who was beheaded in a rage of the Commons for asking a tax of money as sum say, on an hill hard by Hedington; wher at this tyme is a chapelle and a hermitage. The body of him was buried in the house of Bonhoms at Hedington." This was Bishop Ayscough, who during Jack Cade's rebellion took refuge at Edington from the rising at Sarum, but the peasants dragged him from the very altar in the midst of Mass and stoned him to death hard by - His offence, according to them, was that he was a continual absentee and neglected his people - Where he lies in the church we do not know,


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