1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cricklade

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CRICKLADE, a market town in the Cricklade parliamentary division of Wiltshire, England, 9 m. N.W. of Swindon, on the Midland & South-Western Junction railway. Pop. (1901) 1517. It is pleasantly situated in the plain which borders the south bank of the Thames, not far from the Thames & Severn Canal. The cruciform church of St Sampson is mainly Perpendicular, with a fine ornate tower, and an old rood-stone in its churchyard. The small church of St Mary has an Early English tower, Perpendicular aisles and a Norman chancel-arch. There is some agricultural trade.

Legend makes Cricklade the abode of a school of Greek philosophers before the Roman conquest, and the name is given as “Greeklade” in Drayton’s Polyolbion. It owed its importance in Saxon times to its position at the passage of the Thames. During the revolt of Æthelwald the Ætheling in 905 he and his army “harried all the Mercian’s land until they came to Cricklade and there they went over the Thames” (Anglo-Sax. Chron. sub anno), and in 1016 Canute came with his army over the Thames into Mercia at Cricklade (ibid.). There was a mint at Cricklade in the time of Edward the Confessor and William I., and William of Dover fortified a castle here in the reign of Stephen. In the reign of Henry III. a hospital dedicated to St John the Baptist was founded at Cricklade, and placed under the government of a warden or prior. Cricklade was a borough by prescription at least as early as the Domesday Survey, and returned two members to parliament from 1295 until disfranchised by the Redistribution Act of 1885. The borough was never incorporated, but certain liberties, including exemption from toll and passage, were granted to the townsmen by Henry III. and confirmed by successive sovereigns. In 1257 Baldwin de Insula obtained a grant of a Thursday market, and an annual three days’ fair at the feast of St Peter ad Vincula. The market was subsequently changed to Saturday, and was much frequented by dealers in corn and cattle, but is now inconsiderable. During the 14th century Cricklade formed part of the dowry of the queens of England. In the reign of Henry VI. the lordship was acquired by the Hungerford family, and in 1427 Sir Walter Hungerford granted the reversion of the manor to the dean and chapter of Salisbury cathedral to aid towards the repair of their belfry.