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Population 418 [1]
OS grid reference
Unitary authority Wiltshire
Ceremonial county Wiltshire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Warminster
Postcode district BA12 7xx
Dialling code +44 (0)1985
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament South West Wiltshire
List of places

Horningsham is a small Wiltshire village forming part of the Longleat Estate and lying on the Wiltshire/Somerset border between Warminster and Frome. It has a peculiar form lying somewhere between a classic dispersed settlement and a nucleated village. It lies within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The village has the P's identified by Country Life (magazine) as essential to a successful village: a pub,[1] a post office, a place of worship, a primary school and public transport (although limited)[2] It also has a village hall.


Longleat House
At Baycliffe Farm, near the boundary with Maiden Bradley, is the site of an early Iron Age settlement. An entry in the Domesday Book describes the village as very small, being occupied by one cottager and four small holders.

The name ‘Horninges-ham’ means ‘Horning’s homestead’ in Old English.[3] The personal name probably comes from the uncomplimentary noun ‘hornung’ meaning ‘bastard’. For more information, see List of generic forms in British place names.
Close to the parish boundary on the road to Frome are the remains of Woodhouse Castle. In the 17th century it was owned by the Cavalier Arundel family and consequently attacked during the English Civil War. The damage was so severe that it was impossible to return to the castle when peace was restored. The family moved into Horningsham and built themselves a fine manor house below the church.
The parish changed hands several times before the Thynnes purchased it for the second time in 1716. The Vernon family, who held it during the 12th century, were the founders of the village church. The Stantors then held it for the next 200 years, selling to Sir John Thynne c. 1550. After the Civil War the manor was in the possession of the Arundels. Sir John Thynne (Longleat’s builder) had already increased the size of the parish by buying more land. His descendant Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath was very interested in forestry, and engaged Capability Brown to plant large plantations of beech and pine. Gradually forestry and farming were established as the two main sources of employment. The situation did not change until the late 20th century, when tourism took over.[4]

Cley Hill (just outside the village)

Church & Chapel

It has two places of worship, both of ancient origin. First, the parish church was founded in the 12th century but has been virtually rebuilt twice in 1783 and 1843. Secondly, a Congregational Church Chapel, known as the Old Meeting House. The Chapel was built in 1556. It was used by the Scotsmen employed by Sir John Thynne to help build Longleat House. The claim that this is the oldest Free Church in England is unsubstantiated, but it is believed to be the oldest still in use for worship.[5]

Primary School

The small but popular primary school has a complement of 60-70 pupils. Although small, the school has enjoyed sporting success in the Wiltshire Youth Games.[6]

Horningsham Cricket Club

The Horningsham Cricket Club (HCC) is a regular in the Three Counties League.

The Bath Arms

The village pub, The Bath Arms, is on The Common. Built in the 17th century it became a public house in 1732 when it was called The New Inn. It later changed to the Lord Weymouth Arms and then the Marquess of Bath’s Arms. In 1850 this was one of four pubs in the village, as well as an off-licence.

Local government and MP

Horningsham elects a parish council. Most local government services are provided by Wiltshire Council, which has its offices in nearby Trowbridge. The village is represented in Parliament by the MP for South West Wiltshire, Andrew Murrison and in Wiltshire Council by Fleur de Rhé-Philipe.

Community activities

Tractor pull at 2009 Fete

Horningsham has a flourishing cricket team with a junior and senior team. Adult volunteers maintain a successful Teenage Club.
In 2007 Horningsham became the Best Kept Village in West Wiltshire.
Every year and usually on the second Sunday in June, Lord Bath opens a well-attended village fete.

Geology and Geography

The village lies on middle chalk[7] and Warminster greensand[8] . The stream Redford Water rises in the village. It eventually runs into the River Frome. The centre of the village is at 162 metres above sea level.

Horningsham in the news

  • 85mph tractor blunder
  • Ex-tutor fights Lord Bath rent rise
  • Man who cried wolf is breeder of the pack
  • Art trail winds through valley

Horningsham in fiction

Horningsham was the reputed birthplace of Matthew Paulinus Hervey, (b. 1791 – d. not yet written), an officer of the fictional 6th Light Dragoons (formerly known as the 'Princess Caroline’s Own') which appear in the on-going 'Hervey' series of novels written by Allan Mallinson (a retired British Army Brigadier). Hervey’s father, the Venerable Thomas Hervey MA (Oxon), is portrayed as a Church of England cleric within the village who later receives a higher benefice, (Archdeacon of Sarum), within the Diocese of Salisbury. The countryside surrounding Horningsham is often referenced as Matthew Hervey thinks of home whilst on active service and periodically enjoys a measure of home-leave.

See also

Longleat House

  • Animal Park - television programme filmed at Longleat and in Horningsham


  1. ^ "The Bath Arms". Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  2. ^ "Wilts County Council". Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ Institute for Name Studies. "A Key to English Place-Names". Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "Wilts County Council - History". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  5. ^ "Church records are available on GENUKI". Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  6. ^ "horningsham". Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  7. ^ "CCW AONB". Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  8. ^ "Wiltshire Geology". Retrieved 2007-09-18. 

External links

  • Longleat
  • Center Parcs, Longleat Forest

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