WILTSHIRE ORIGINS - EARLY 14th
The Man from Salisbury
According to the cartulary, John de Woodford was `a gentleman son besyde Salesbury’ who travelled to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire in the early years of the 13th century where he married Alice Prest(on), the daughter of a wealthy Melton wool merchant.
"Here be-gynnyth a trewe Regist(re) copyed out of ffynes
and dedes selyd in wax. How that olde John off Wodford the age of that he
passed out Of this world was five score yere and seven. And he Was a
gentnlman son besyde Salesbury. And Come unto Melton Mowbrey and weddyd a
Merchant daughter there and his heyre."
The manor of Woodford formed part of the
ancient estates of the Bishop of Salisbury from before the Conquest until
as recently as 1869 when it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners who sold it in 1920. As the manor was in church ownership
for nine hundred years or more, few land or property transactions took
place within the manor and so very few records were created.
Unfortunately, this lack of written documentation limits research into the
people who lived within the manor.
The Woodford Valley and Old Sarum
The parish of Woodford is situated about two miles to the north of the modern city of Salisbury in Wiltshire near the site of the earlier settlement of Old Sarum. It is possible that a church on the site of the present building existed in Saxon times as the parish boundaries are pre-Conquest in date. The earliest work in the present church is 12th Century.
The outer ramparts of the fortifications at Sarum were probably first constructed around 1000 BC and were strengthened during the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age when a barbican was constructed outside the main gate.
The fort experienced little change until the Roman invasion in AD 53. Having subdued local resistance the Romans brought a period of relative stability. At Old Sarum this is indicated by the fact that the hill fort appears to have served as little more than a garrison. The Roman settlement was established some distance from the fort at the bottom of the river valley. It is clear that the settlement established here, though not large, would have been of some importance as four Roman roads converge on the old fort. Most probably Sarum would have been the site of a regular market and other forms of trading which depended on good transport and communications.
The Saxons fought over Sarum in a battle recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as having taken place in AD 552 when "Cynric fought the Britons at the place now called Salisbury, and won."
The fortress eventually did
change hands following the Norman invasion of 1066 and it was then that
the most striking remains seen today were first built. The hillfort was remodelled into a Norman Motte and
Bailey design. The first wooden fort was constructed in 1069 when the
central Motte was constructed. In 1070 William the Conqueror paid off his
entire army in the outer bailey of the new castle and in 1089 the major
landholders of William's kingdom gathered at Old Sarum to swear their oath
Today the area near Old Sarum is divided geographically into the settlements of Upper, Middle and Lower Woodford. It is still partially wooded and the River Avon flows through it on a north-south axis. There are several roads that cross the river at points which could have been the sites of earlier fords.
Whilst researching the origins of his family, the 19th century Masonic author and encyclopaedist, the Revd Adolphus Woodford (who was descended from the Northamptonshire Woodford family) commissioned research that led to `conclusive proof’ of a Woodford family descent from a Nicholas Woodford buried at Idmiston in Wiltshire in 1591. This material cannot be traced. However, it is worth noting that Idmiston is situated just seven miles east of the parish of Woodford. If the date of 1591 was an erroneous substitution for, perhaps, 1291, then this claim warrants further investigation.
K.H.Rogers, formerly Wiltshire County Archivist & Diocesan Records Officer (for information on Old Sarum).
For details of Adolphus Woodford see later page under his name.
Dictionary of English and Welsh Placenames.
contributions to this site are welcome.
© Stephen Butt 2005 - rev 18/09/05