Great Chalfield

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Great Chalfield
All Saints Parish Church, Great Chalfield (geograph 4291887).jpg
All Saints Parish Church, Great Chalfield
Grid reference: ST860632
Location: 51°22’5"N, 2°12’7"W
Post town: Melksham
Postcode: SN12
Local Government
Council: Wiltshire

Great Chalfield, also sometimes called by its Latin name of Chalfield Magna, formerly East Chalfield and anciently Much Chaldefield, is a small village and ancient parish in the Bradford Hundred of Wiltshire. Its nearest towns are Melksham, about three miles away to the north-east, and Bradford-on-Avon, at about the same distance to the south-west.

It contains a notable manor house, Great Chalfield Manor.


At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) it was found that the manor of Chalfield had belonged to Wallef in the time of King Edward and possessed half a mill worth eighteen pence. This suggests that the two Chalfields (Great and Little, or East and West) shared a water-mill which stood on the stream which lies between them. A corn mill was operating at Great Chalfield in 1645 while it was occupied by a Parliamentary garrison.[1]

The 15th-century manor house, Great Chalfield Manor, is a Grade-I listed building[2] now owned by the National Trust,[3] having been given to it in 1943, with nine acres of land and an endowment fund, by Major R. F. Fuller, the lord of the manor.[1]

In 1676, Great Chalfield had only eighteen residents.[4] In 1831 the population was 83.[5] The civil parish was abolished in 1884 and its area incorporated into the new civil parish of Atworth.[1]

A detailed parish history was published by the Wiltshire Victoria County History in its volume 7 (1953).[1]


The small Church of England parish church, adjacent to the manor house, is dedicated to All Saints and has a chancel, a nave, a vestry, a south chapel, a bell-cote crowned by a short octagonal spire, and a porch on its west side. Of the original 14th-century church only part of its nave survives, a new chancel having been built about 1480, when the porch and south chapel were added. The present vestry was added to the east of the chapel in 1775. There are traces of wall paintings and of panels depicting the life of St Katherine, which were described in 1760 before being whitewashed over. The vestry screen may date from the late 15th century, and an oak pulpit is late-17th century. The organ case is richly decorated and looks mediæval but is modern.[1] The church was designated as Grade-I listed in 1962.[6]

The parish registers survive for the following dates: christenings 1545–1991, marriages 1608–1993, burials 1581–1985.[5] Today the church is part of the benefice of Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt.[7]

Notable people

In the 15th century Thomas Tropenell (c. 1405–1488) built much of the small village of Great Chalfield, including the manor, where he lived, and amassed a large landed estate.[8] The Tropenell Cartulary manuscript, still kept at Great Chalfield Manor, was compiled for him.

In 1809, the antiquary Richard Warner was appointed rector of the parish. He may never have resided,[1] but in 1830 The Edinburgh literary journal noted "Some of our readers may perhaps ask Who is the Rev. Richard Warner? We can only answer, that he is the Rector of Great Chalfield, Wilts".[9]


  • Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, in Examples of Gothic architecture (1821), A historical account of the Manor House and Church at Great Chalfield, Wiltshire online.
  • Thomas Larkins Walker, The History and Antiquities of the Manor House and Church of Great Chalfield, Wiltshire, illustrated by Twenty-eight Plates of Plans, Elevations, Sections, Parts at large, and a Perspective View (1837)[10]
  • H. P. Pafford, ed., Accounts of the parliamentary garrisons of Great Chalfield and Malmesbury, 1645–1646 (Wiltshire Record Society, vol. 2, 1940)


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Great Chalfield)
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Great Chalfield, in R. B. Pugh and Elizabeth Crittall (eds), A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7 Bradford hundred (1953) online at
  2. National Heritage List 1250902: Great Chalfield Manor
  3. "Great Chalfield Manor and Garden". National Trust. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  4. Donald A. Spaeth, The Church in an age of danger: parsons and parishioners, 1660–1740 (2000), p. 54
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chalfield Magna at, accessed 29 November 2010
  6. National Heritage List 1250904: Church of All Saints, Great Chalfield
  7. "All Saints Church". Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  8. J. T. Driver, 'A Perilous, Covetous man: the career of Thomas Tropenell, Esq. (c. 1405–88)' in The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine vol. 93 (2000), pp. 83–87: "Thomas Tropenell esquire and lawyer appears to have spent most of his life in the south-west, especially in Wiltshire... his building of the fine manor house at Great Chalfield".
  9. The Edinburgh literary journal vol. 3 (1830), p. 308
  10. Reviewed in Civil Engineer and Architects' Journal (vol. 1, 1838), p. 19