Semley is a village in Sedgehill and Semley civil parish in Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

. The village is about 3 miles (4.8 km) north-east of Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury is a town in Dorset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Wiltshire border 20 miles west of Salisbury. The town is built 718 feet above sea level on the side of a chalk and greensand hill, which is part of Cranborne Chase, the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset...

 in neighbouring Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...



Semley seems to have been part of an estate that King Eadwig granted to the Benedictine
Order of Saint Benedict
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of St. Benedict. Within the order, each individual community maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests...

 Wilton Abbey
Wilton Abbey
Wilton Abbey was a Benedictine convent in Wiltshire, England, three miles from Salisbury on the site now occupied by Wilton House. A first foundation was made as a college of secular priests by Wulfstan, Ealdorman of Wiltshire, about 773, but after his death was changed into a convent for twelve...

 in AD 955. The Abbey retained the manor
Manorialism, an essential element of feudal society, was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market...

 of Semley until the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

, when it surrendered all its lands to the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

. In 1541 Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 granted Semley to Sir Edward Bayntun and his wife Lady Isabel, but in 1572 their son Francis restored it to the Crown.

In the same year Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 granted Semley to Matthew Arundell or Wardour Castle
Wardour Castle
Wardour Castle is located at Wardour, near Tisbury in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Salisbury. The original castle was partially destroyed during the Civil War...

, who was knighted in 1574. Sir Matthew's son Thomas Arundell
Thomas Arundell, 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour
Sir Thomas Arundell, 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour was the eldest son of Sir Matthew Arundell of Wardour Castle in Wiltshire , and Margaret Willoughby, the daughter of Sir Henry Willoughby, of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire...

 was created Baron Arundell of Wardour
Baron Arundell of Wardour
Baron Arundell of Wardour, in the County of Wiltshire, was a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1605 for Thomas Arundell, known as "Thomas the Valiant". He was the grandson of Sir Thomas Arundell and Margaret Howard, sister of Queen Catherine Howard. Arundell had already been...

 in 1605. The Wardour estate has held land at Semley ever since, but between 1806 and 1820 the 9th and 10th Barons sold off 882 acres (356.9 ha) of the manor. By 1839 about 550 acres (222.6 ha) at Semley remained in the Arundell family. In 1962 Mr. R.J.R. Arundell sold Legatt's Farm and in 1985 he owned about 440 acres (178.1 ha) at Semley.

Hook Manor is a Jacobean
Jacobean architecture
The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated.-Characteristics:...

 manor house
Manor house
A manor house is a country house that historically formed the administrative centre of a manor, the lowest unit of territorial organisation in the feudal system in Europe. The term is applied to country houses that belonged to the gentry and other grand stately homes...

 built in 1637-37. It is built of local stone quarried about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away at Tisbury
-Places:*Tisbury, Wiltshire, a town in England**Tisbury railway station*Tisbury, Massachusetts, United States, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Named after Tisbury, Wiltshire....

. the south porch may have been added in 1655 and the hall had been divided into a smaller room and two passages by 1815. In 1935 the house was remodelled to designs by the architect T. Lawrence Dale
T. Lawrence Dale
Thomas Lawrence Dale, FRIBA, FSA was an English architect. Until the First World War he concentrated on designing houses for private clients...

, who reunited the hall and added a neighbouring room to enlarge it. Dale also removed the porch, added a staircase and a service wing.

John Benett of Pythouse
Pythouse, sometimes spelt Pyt House and pronounced pit-house, is a country house near Tisbury in Wiltshire, in the west of England....

 bought the 882 acres (356.9 ha) of Semley Manor that the Arundells sold between 1806 and 1820. By 1839 his total estate at Semley amounted to 1064 acres (430.6 ha), but by 1847 about 350 acres (141.6 ha) of the land he had bought from the Arundells had been re-sold. The bulk of Benett's acquisitions at Semley remained with his heirs until his grandson Vere Fane Benett-Stanford died in 1894 and his widow became married to Charles Thomas-Stanford
Charles Thomas-Stanford
Sir Charles Thomas-Stanford, 1st Baronet , born Charles Thomas, was a British Conservative Party politician from Brighton. He sat in the House of Commons from 1914 to 1922.- Early life and family :...

 in 1897. The estate then passed to John Benett's great-grandson John Fane-Benett-Stanford, who died in 1947. In 1952 the estate sold Amberleaze Farm and Glebe Farm.

Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster
Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster
Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster KG, PC , styled Viscount Belgrave from 1802 to 1831 and Earl Belgrave from 1831 to 1845, was an English politician, landowner, property developer and benefactor....

 had bought Bowmarsh Farm and Hart Hill Farm and in 1847 bought Westwood Farm from John Benett. This gave him a total of about 350 acres (141.6 ha) at Semley. This estate descended by the Marquess's daughter Octavia to her husband Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet
Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet
Colonel Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet was the son of Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 6th Baronet...

. After the death of the 7th Baronet in 1903 and Lady Octavia in 1921, their son Walter Richard Shaw-Stewart held about 850 acres (344 ha) at Semley. He then sold off about 250 acres (101.2 ha) including Westwood Farm between 1924 and 1927.

Church and chapels

By 1191 Semley had a Rector and therefore presumably a parish church
Parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....

. The Church of England parish church
Church of England parish church
A parish church in the Church of England is the church which acts as the religious centre for the people within the smallest and most basic Church of England administrative region, known as a parish.-Parishes in England:...

 of Saint Leonard
Leonard of Noblac
Leonard of Noblac or of Limoges or de Noblet , is a Frankish saint closely associated with the town and abbey of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, in Haute-Vienne, in the Limousin of France.-Traditional biography:According to the romance that...

 was rebuilt in the 19th century to designs by Thomas Wyatt
Thomas Henry Wyatt
Thomas Henry Wyatt was an Irish British architect. He had a prolific and distinguished career, being elected President of the Royal Institute of British Architects 1870-73 and awarded their Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1873...

. The rebuilding of the chancel
In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar in the sanctuary at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building...

 was in 1866 and the remainder of the church was demolished and replaced in 1874-75. The new church is a Gothic Revival
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

 building in Perpendicular Gothic style with a tall west tower that has a spire on its stair-turret. A late-13th century effigy of a priest was salvaged from the north porch of the mediaeval church and is re-set in the new church.

In 1553 St. Leonard's had a ring
Change ringing
Change ringing is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called "changes". It differs from many other forms of campanology in that no attempt is made to produce a conventional melody....

 of four bells. One of these was cast by Robert Burford of London in about 1410 and remains in use at St. Leonard's today. William Cockey of Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 cast the present treble bell in 1733. Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Whitechapel Bell Foundry
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a bell foundry in Whitechapel in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London. The foundry is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain...

 cast four more bells including the present tenor in 1878 to complete St. Leonards' present ring of six.

In 1976 the Diocese of Salisbury
Diocese of Salisbury
The Diocese of Salisbury is a Church of England diocese in the south of England. The diocese covers Dorset and most of Wiltshire and is a constituent diocese of the Province of Canterbury. The diocese is led by the Bishop of Salisbury and the diocesan synod...

 united St. Leonard's benefice with Sedgehill
Sedgehill Secondary School is a coeducational school in south-east London, England. In 2008, the School had just over 1,800 pupils with over half from ethnic minorities.Has been a Specialist School for the Performing Arts for since 2003....

. In 1985 East Knoyle
East Knoyle
East Knoyle is a small village and former civil parish in Wiltshire, in the south west of England. The parish lies on the A350 road about nine miles south of Warminster, fifteen miles west of Salisbury, and two miles south west of Hindon, at grid reference ST880305...

 was added to the benefice. The parishes of Charlton, Donhead St Andrew and Donhead St Mary have since been added to form the present Benefice of Saint Bartholomew.

Semley and East Knoyle had a Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 congregation by about 1820 and opened a Particular Baptist chapel at Semley in 1823. It was still in use for worship in 1985. The chapel is built of stone and slate and was made a Grade II listed building in 1987.

Semley had a Methodist
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 congregation by 1810. It worshipped in members' homes until 1877 when a small, red-brick Wesleyan Methodist
Wesleyan Methodist Church (Great Britain)
The Wesleyan Methodist Church was the name used by the major Methodist movement in Great Britain following its split from the Church of England after the death of John Wesley and the appearance of parallel Methodist movements...

 chapel opened at St. Bartholomew's Hill. It closed in 1964.

Economic and social history

Semley's farmland has long been mostly pasture. Its small amount of arable land was partly enclosed
Enclosure or inclosure is the process which ends traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land. Once enclosed, these uses of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceases to be common land. In England and Wales the term is also used for the...

 by the 14th century and mostly enclosed by the 16th century. Semley's pasture was mostly common land
Common land
Common land is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel...

 in the Middle Ages but about 500 acres (202.3 ha) were enclosed between 1599 and 1769. Proposals to enclose the remaining 300 acres (121.4 ha) of Semley's common pasture were defeated in 1813 and 1836 and they remained in common in 1985.

A National School
National school (England and Wales)
A national school was a school founded in 19th century England and Wales by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education.These schools provided elementary education, in accordance with the teaching of the Church of England, to the children of the poor.Together with the less numerous...

 for the parish was built in 1841. A teacher's house was built in 1866 and a second classroom, for infants, was added in 1882. It is now Semley Church of England Voluntary Aided
Voluntary aided school
A voluntary aided school is a state-funded school in England and Wales in which a foundation or trust owns the school buildings, contributes to building costs and has a substantial influence in the running of the school...

 Primary School.

In 1859 the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway
Salisbury and Yeovil Railway
The Salisbury and Yeovil Railway linked Salisbury , Gillingham and Yeovil in England. Opened in stages in 1859 and 1860, it formed a bridge route between the main London and South Western Railway network and its lines in Devon and Cornwall. Its trains were operated by the LSWR and it was sold to...

 was completed through the parish and opened Semley railway station
Semley railway station
Semley was a railway station in Wiltshire, England. It was served by trains on the West of England Main Line and was the railhead for the town of Shaftesbury, Dorset, to the south....

 at Sem Hill about 500 yards (457.2 m) west of the village. British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

ways closed the station in 1966 but the railway remains open as part of the West of England Main Line
West of England Main Line
The West of England Main Line is a British railway line that runs from , Hampshire to Exeter St Davids in Devon, England. Passenger services run between London Waterloo station and Exeter...

. Semley's public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

, the Benett Arms, has traded as such since at least 1867. It may be the same as the New Inn at Semley recorded in 1855 and 1865.

Much of Semley's pasture had long been devoted to dairy farming, and in about 1871 one Thomas Kirby started a business close to Semley station buying milk and sending it by rail to London. Kirby expanded his business with other depots in south Wiltshire and Dorset in the 1880s. By 1889 it was trading as Semley and Gillingham Dairies, and in 1890 it became Salisbury, Semley and Gillingham Dairies. United Dairies
United Dairies
This article is about the former dairy products manufacturing and distribution company. For the United Dairies record label, see Steven Stapleton...

 (Wholesale) Ltd. bought the business in 1920 and added a factory at Semley by 1924. In 1928 United Dairies added milk pasteurisation and storage facilities and a cheese-making facility. In 1944 the cheese room was converted to an egg store. In 1959 United Dairies merged with Cow & Gate to form Unigate
Uniq plc is a British food manufacturer. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.-History:...

. By 1985 Unigate had closed the Semley factory and it was being divided into smaller units for industrial use.
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