1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Warminster

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WARMINSTER, a market town in the Westbury parliamentary division of Wiltshire, England, looj m. W . by S. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 5547 Its white stone houses form a long curve between the uplands of Salisbury Plain, which sweep away towards the north and east, and the tract of park and meadow land lying south and west. The cruciform church of St Denys has a 14th-century south porch and tower, at Lawrence's chapel, a chantry built under Edward I., was bought by the townsfolk at the Reformation. Warminster has also a free school established in 1707, a missionary college, a training home for lady missionaries and a reformatory for boys. Besides a silk mill, malt houses and engineering and agricultural implement works, there is a brisk trade in farm produce.

Warminster appears in Domesday, and was a royal manor whose tenant was bound to provide, when required, a night's lodging for the king and his retinue. This privilege was enforced by George III. when he visited Longleat. The meeting of roads from Bath, Frome, Shaftesbury and Salisbury made Warminster a busy coaching centre Eastward, within 2 m., there are two great British camps: Battlesbury, almost impregnable save on the north, where its entrenchments are double; and Scratchbury, a line of outworks encircling an area of some 40 acres, with three entrances and a citadel in the midst. Barrows are numerous. Longleat, a seat of the marquesses of Bath, lies 5 m. S.E ., surrounded by its deer park, crossed from N. to S. by a long and narrow mere. The house is one of the largest and most beautiful examples in the county, dating from the close of the 16th century. Its name is derived from the " leat " or conduit which conveyed water from Homingsham, about 1 m. south, to supply the mill and Austin priory founded here late in the 13th century The monastic estates passed at the Dissolution to the Thynne family, who buOt Longleat. Sir Christopher Wren added certain staircases and a doorway. In 1670 the owner was the celebrated Thomas Thynne satirized in Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, and Bishop Ken found a home at Longleat for twenty years after the loss of his bishopric.