Warminster is a town in western 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...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, by-passed by the A36
A36 road
The A36 is a trunk road and primary route in England that links the port city of Southampton to the city of Bath. At Bath, the A36 connects with the A4 road to Bristol, thus enabling a road link between the major ports of Southampton and Bristol. Originally, the A36 continued onto Avonmouth, but...

, and near Frome
Frome is a town and civil parish in northeast Somerset, England. Located at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, the town is built on uneven high ground, and centres around the River Frome. The town is approximately south of Bath, east of the county town, Taunton and west of London. In the 2001...

 and Westbury
Westbury, Wiltshire
Westbury is a town and civil parish in the west of the English county of Wiltshire, most famous for the Westbury White Horse.-Name:The most likely origin of the West- in Westbury is simply that the town is near the western edge of the county of Wiltshire, the bounds of which have been much the same...

. It has a population of about 17,000. The River Were runs through the town and can be seen running through the middle of the town park. The Minster Church of St Denys sits on the River Were. The name Warminster first occurs in the early 10th century.


The town was first settled in the Anglo-Saxon period, though there are the remains of numerous earlier settlements nearby, including the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 hill fort
Hill fort
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period...

s of Battlesbury Camp
Battlesbury Camp
Battlesbury Camp is the site of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort on Battlesbury Hill in Wiltshire in South West England. Excavations and surveys at the site have uncovered various finds and archaeological data.-Background:...

, Scratchbury Camp
Scratchbury Camp
Scratchbury Camp is the site of an Iron Age univallate hillfort located on Scratchbury Hill, near the village and civil parish of Norton Bavant in Wiltshire...

 and Cley Hill
Cley Hill
Cley Hill a prominent hill near Warminster in Wiltshire, England.A 26.6 hectare area of chalk grassland at Cley Hill was notified as a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1975.-Source:* -External links:...

, the latter a site operated by the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...


There are indications that a Middle Iron Age settlement may also have been situated just west of the town.

The town's prosperity following the growth of the wool trade in the Late Middle Ages caused the erection of many magnificent structures, including the Minster Church of Saint Denys, in a yew
Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may be now known as the English yew, or European yew.-Description:It is a small-...

 grove sacred from pre-Christian times, and including an organ originally destined for the then under-construction Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England, considered one of the leading examples of Early English architecture....



The town's name is thought to derive from the name of the River Were, which runs through the town, and from an Anglo-Saxon minster or monastery, which may have existed at, or close to, the present site of St Denys's Church. However, the only evidence for the possible existence of a Saxon monastery is in the place-name. It has also been suggested that "Were" may derive from the Old English "worian" to wander.

An alternative derivation of the town's name was made, in the late 1800s, by the historian John Jeremiah Daniell, who proposed "...the conjecture is admissible that WORGEMYN or GUERMIN is the name of an ancient Wiltshire chief, and that as Biscop-tre (Bishopstrow) means "the place of the bishop", so Warminster means "the head-quarters of Worgemyn, or Guermin".

On John Speed
John Speed
John Speed was an English historian and cartographer.-Life:He was born at Farndon, Cheshire, and went into his father's tailoring business where he worked until he was about 50...

's map of 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...

 (1611), the town's name is recorded as Warmister.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 the town became famous not only for its wool and cloth trade but also for its great prosperity as a corn market (it was second only to 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...

 in the West of England
West of England
The West of England is a loose and locationally unspecific term sometimes given to the area surrounding the city and county of Bristol, England, and also sometimes applied more widely and in other parts of South West England.-Use in the Bristol area:...

). Many of the buildings which survive in Market Place owe their origin to the great corn market days when they were used as stores and warehouses, or as inns and hostelries for the buyers and sellers who came from many miles around.

Civil War

During the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 (1642–1645) the town is thought to have changed hands at least four times between the Royalist
Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I and son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration...

 and Parliamentary
"Roundhead" was the nickname given to the supporters of the Parliament during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I and his supporters, the Cavaliers , who claimed absolute power and the divine right of kings...

 supporters. When James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 came to the throne in 1685 the local gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

 and the Wiltshire Militia supported him against the Duke of Monmouth
James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth
James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, 1st Duke of Buccleuch, KG, PC , was an English nobleman. Originally called James Crofts or James Fitzroy, he was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II and his mistress, Lucy Walter...

 who was defeated.

Warminster Bell Foundry

From around 1610-1710 there was a bell foundry operating in Warminster. It was in then Common Close, now called simply The Close. From 1620-1686 the proprietor was John Lott. This name may refer to one man working for 66 years or may be a father and son.
In 1707 a Richard Lott recast the tenor bell in Warminster Church for £46.00, however in 1737 a new tenor bell was required which was supplied by a Gloucester bellcaster.
John Lott was responsible for the casting of bells for Warminster tower in the 17c. and also at Chippenham
Chippenham may be:* Chippenham, Wiltshire* Chippenham * Chippenham, Cambridgeshire-See also:* Virginia State Route 150, also known as Chippenham Parkway, USA* Cippenham, Berkshire, UK...

, Frome
Frome is a town and civil parish in northeast Somerset, England. Located at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, the town is built on uneven high ground, and centres around the River Frome. The town is approximately south of Bath, east of the county town, Taunton and west of London. In the 2001...

 and other churches in Wiltshire and neighbouring counties. The book of Churchwarden Payments from Frome church noted in 1621, 1633 and 1662 payments in relation to bells made in Warminster. In 1682 John Lott attested the good condition of a bell in Frome tower, as noted in the Frome churchwarden’s accounts.

20th century

During the First World War thousands of soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada were camped in the villages around Warminster.

In the 1960s and early 1970s Cradle Hill became famous as the centre of alarm surrounding UFOs and crop circles with at least one author claiming that as many as 5,000 UFOs had been witnessed in the area.

Religious history

Warminster may have some pre-Christian roots; however, the modern town was founded in Anglo-Saxon times. In the northwest of 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...

, Warminster may have been a minster town in rural 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 town is divided into three Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 parishes, and is also served by other traditions and denominations. The three parish churches in the town are all in the episcopal area of Ramsbury
Ramsbury is a village in Ramsbury and Axford civil parish in the English county of Wiltshire. The village is in the Kennet Valley near the Berkshire boundary. The nearest towns are Hungerford about east and Marlborough about west. The much larger town of Swindon is about to the north.The civil...

, served by the Bishop of Ramsbury (Anglican)
Bishop of Ramsbury (Anglican)
The Anglican Bishop of Ramsbury is an episcopal title used by a suffragan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Salisbury, in the Province of Canterbury, England...


The Minster (St Denys)

The Minster Church, so called since the 19th century, dates back to the 12th century when it was built by the Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

. If there was an earlier Anglo-Saxon minster, it may have replaced it. Since then the church has been modified on several occasions. It was remodelled in the 14th century and additions were made in the late 15th or early 16th century, but by 1626 the church was reported to be “mightily in decay”. As a result, extensive repairs were carried out from 1626 to 1629. From 1887 to 1889 the Minster was mostly rebuilt in the perpendicular style by Sir Arthur Blomfield
Arthur Blomfield
Sir Arthur William Blomfield was an English architect.-Background:The fourth son of Charles James Blomfield, an Anglican Bishop of London helpfully began a programme of new church construction in the capital. Born in Fulham Palace, Arthur Blomfield was educated at Rugby and Trinity College,...

. All that remains of the old church are the central tower, south wall 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...

 and the south porch. During the late 20th century, a kitchen, lavatories and a meeting room were installed in the west end.

The worship is mainly Eucharistic and uses both traditional and modern Anglican services.
The Minster was part of the 'Cley Hill' team ministry, but this was changed on 1 December 2007 when it once again became the separate Parish of Warminster St Denys. The villages that had been part of the Minster benefice became the Cley Hill Villages, which incorporates the following churches:
  • Brixton Deverill
    Brixton Deverill
    Brixton Deverill is a village and civil parish on the River Wylye about south of Warminster in Wiltshire, England....

    : St Michael
  • Kingston Deverill
    Kingston Deverill
    Kingston Deverill is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. Its nearest towns are Mere, about away, and Warminster about to the north east.The Church of England parish church is called St Mary's.-External links:* at genuki.org.uk...

    : St Mary
  • Longbridge Deverill
    Longbridge Deverill
    Longbridge Deverill is a village and civil parish about south of Warminster in Wiltshire, England. The village is one of the Lower Deverills....

    : St Peter & St Paul
  • Corsley
    Corsley is a village and civil parish west of Warminster in Wiltshire, England, at . The parish includes seven hamlets: Corsley Heath , Lane End, Longhedge, Lyes Green and three Whitbournes...

    : St Margaret of Antioch
  • Corsley: St Mary
  • Chapmanslade
    Chapmanslade is a village and parish in the County of Wiltshire, in the south west of England.-Location:Its closest towns are Westbury and Warminster in Wiltshire, and the Somerset town of Frome is also nearby. Trowbridge is to the north.-Sources:...

    : St Philip & St James
  • Horningsham
    Horningsham is a small Wiltshire village forming part of the Longleat Estate and lying on the Wiltshire/Somerset border between Warminster and Frome.It has a peculiar form lying somwehere between a classic dispersed settlement and a nucleated village....

    : St John the Baptist

Christ Church

Christ Church, Warminster
Christ Church, Warminster
Christ Church is an Anglican church serving a parish on the southern side of Warminster, Wiltshire.-Services and style:The church is evangelical in tradition and the 9.30 family service on Sundays is lively, although the church welcomes people of all traditions, the 11am Sunday morning worship...

, serves a parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 on the southern side of Warminster. The church is evangelical
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 in tradition, although it welcomes people of all traditions.
The church was built in 1830 to serve what was then Warminster Common.
During the late 1960s an attempt was made to modernise the worship in the church, and a nave altar was built. This was a very controversial move and led, eventually, to a consistory court
Consistory court
The consistory court is a type of ecclesiastical court, especially within the Church of England. They were established by a charter of King William I of England, and still exist today, although since about the middle of the 19th century consistory courts have lost much of their subject-matter...

In 2004 Christ Church underwent a redevelopment project that removed the controversial nave altar and pews and created a modern and functional welcome/fellowship area in the lobby of the church building.

St John the Evangelist

St John's Church was built in a field called Picked Acre alongside Boreham Road. The 8 acres (32,374.9 m²) of land was given for a church and churchyard, together with an endowment for its upkeep by William Temple of Bishopstrow House in 1859. The church was completed in 1865.

The baptistry at the west end was designed by the architect Charles Ponting, with London glaziers James Powell and Sons
James Powell and Sons
The firm of James Powell and Sons, also known as Whitefriars Glass, were English glassmakers, leadlighters and stained glass window manufacturers...

 of Whitefriars providing the mosaic tile decoration around 1912.

Warminster Baptist Church

Warminster Baptist Church is located in North Row. The church was founded in 1810 in Meeting House Lane as Ebenezer Chapel; the street later renamed North Row. The church hall alongside it was erected in 1858. After Ebenezer Chapel it was known as North Row Baptist Church and then changed its name to Warminster Baptist Church. In 2000 an extension was erected to provide a new kitchen, toilet block and a porch joining up the church and hall. The church and hall have been completely redecorated recently in preparation for the 200th anniversary celebrations in 2010.

Foundation Christian Fellowship (FCF)

Established in 1986, FCF is a free church
Free church
The term "free church" refers to a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from government . A free church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seeks or receives government endorsement or funding for its general mission...

 that provides bible-based preaching and worship. The church meets in the Grace Christian Centre.

Warminster United Church

Warminster United Church is an ecumenical fellowship that is within the Methodist and Reformed tradition and situated in George Street.

St George's Roman Catholic Church

St George's Roman Catholic Church is located in Boreham Road.
The parish is on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in central southern England covering . It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, with a little in Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known...

 and reaches out into the Wiltshire countryside, serving the people of the town of Warminster and the many villages around; and also serves the Mass Centre of St Mary in Mere at the south part of the parish.

The Chapel of St Lawrence

The Chapel of St Lawrence, or "People's Church", is located in the Market Place.
The chapel is a 'peculiar', existing outside the control of the Church of England. It was traditionally endowed by two maiden sisters named Hewett in the early 13th century. It is now an independent foundation, held in trust since 1575 by twelve feoffees who are responsible for the preservation and upkeep of the chapel on behalf of the townspeople of Warminster who actually 'own' it. Saint Lawrence
Saint Lawrence
Lawrence of Rome was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258.- Holy Chalice :...

 was martyred by the Romans, being roasted to death on a gridiron. His festival is on August 10 and the patronal festival is held each year on the closest Sunday to this date. The chapel is in the Church of England parish of St Denys and, on the appointment of a new vicar, the feoffees invite that person to take services. From time to time other members of the clergy are invited to take services. A service of Holy Communion is held each Wednesday at 10.00am with evensong held on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 3.30pm during the winter months and 6.00pm during the summer.
Situated in the centre of the market town of Warminster the chapel is an oasis of calm in the midst of the traffic and commerce of the town. The chapel is opened every weekday and on Saturdays and many people take the opportunity to pop in and sit quietly in contemplation. The feoffees maintain a security rota and there is CCTV coverage. Inside the chapel there is a Scudamore organ, built in 1860 by Nelson Hall, an organ maker of the town, to a design by the vicar of Upton Scudamore
Upton Scudamore
Upton Scudamore is a village in Wiltshire, England, located about a mile north of the town of Warminster.In earlier centuries, it was often spelt Upton Skidmore. It appears on John Sexton's map of Wiltshire as simply Upton....

 the Rev. John Baron. At the west end there are the boards recording the names of the feoffees since the chapel was donated to the townsfolk up to the present day.
Stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

 windows date from 1855 and are of no particular importance. The one to the north celebrates Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

, the plain one to the south was probably decorative but suffered from bomb damage in the Second World War. The unusual chair to the north is modern, made by Matthew Burt of Sherrington
Sherrington is a village and civil parish on the River Wylye in Wiltshire, England.-Location:Sherrington is near Codford and Salisbury Plain...

. A visitors' book is always open. The tower is the oldest part of the chapel, dating from the 14th century and is accessed by an anti-clockwise spiral staircase. On the way up is the clock room, which houses a wrought iron clock built by William Rudd in 1764, and paid for by public subscription. It has no face, as at that time houses were standing in front of the chapel and a face would not have been seen. Higher is the belfry
Bell tower
A bell tower is a tower which contains one or more bells, or which is designed to hold bells, even if it has none. In the European tradition, such a tower most commonly serves as part of a church and contains church bells. When attached to a city hall or other civic building, especially in...

, which houses the curfew bell cast by John Lott of Warminster in 1652. His foundry was in the Common Close. This bell still sounds the curfew at 8.00p.m., but no longer sounds a rising bell at 4.00 a.m. From the roof a spectacular view of the town can be seen and a series of photographs, exhibited in the chapel, show this panoramic view. Outside, gargoyles look down, intended to frighten away devils.

The chapel acts as a focal point for many activities including the Cross raised on the front lawn at Easter and the Field of Remembrance in November. At the time of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981, and an international charity and fundraising figure, as well as a preeminent celebrity of the late 20th century...

, people came to lay flowers in the garden and, more recently, a Liverpool scarf was laid by someone to commemorate the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster
Hillsborough disaster
The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush that occurred on 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough, a football stadium, the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C. in Sheffield, England, resulting in the deaths of 96 people, and 766 being injured, all fans of Liverpool F.C....


Behind the chapel is a cottage originally used by the sexton
Sexton may refer to:*Sexton , a self-propelled artillery vehicle of World War II*Sexton , a church or synagogue officer charged with the maintenance of the church buildings and/or the surrounding graveyard; and ringing of the church bells...

 who had to ring the rising bell and the curfew. The bell rope once led into his cottage. This cottage was renovated by the feoffees in 2007 and the letting provides the chapel with its only regular source of income. In 2008 the Friends of the Chapel of St Lawrence (FOCSL) was established to support the work of the feoffees. The current priority for the feoffees is the preservation of the tower stonework and other items at a cost of approximately £40,000 and an appeal fund was launched in 2009 at the patronal festival.


Warminster has strong military connections. The name of the camp is Battlesbury Barracks and includes Harman Lines named for Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 recipient John Harman
John Pennington Harman
John Pennington Harman VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

–Burma 1944. It is the home of the Land Warfare Centre — formerly the Army's School of Infantry — and abuts the Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in central southern England covering . It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, with a little in Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known...

 Training area (SPTA), which is large enough to exercise a Battlegroup
Battlegroup (army)
A battlegroup , or task force in modern military theory, is the basic building block of an army's fighting force. A battlegroup is formed around an infantry battalion or armoured regiment, which is usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel...

 and which is dotted with Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 live-firing ranges. The Small Arms School Corps
Small Arms School Corps
The Small Arms School Corps is a small corps of the British Army responsible for maintaining the proficiency of the army in the use of small arms, support weapons and range management.-History:...

 and Headquarters
Headquarters denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top of a corporation taking full responsibility managing all business activities...

Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 are also based in the town.

During a training exercise in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the future Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, Robert Runcie
Robert Runcie
Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie, PC, MC was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991.-Early life:...

Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 crashed his tank into a house.


Warminster has five main suburban areas, namely Sambourne, Woodcock, Bugley, Boreham and Warminster Common

Warminster Park

The town park was created in the early 20th century and has since been a hugely popular attraction.

Local media

The town is covered by semi-local radio station More Radio Warminster on 107.5 MHz, which was previously known as Totalstar, and before that 3TR FM. WCR Community Radio (based next to the Assembly Rooms) broadcasts to the hospital in Warminster plus other homes and hospitals nearby. The town's own newspaper, the Warminster Journal is published every week. The Wiltshire Times is published every week, of which Warminster is a town included.

The Warminster UFO Flap

In the 1960s and early 1970s Warminster became the centre of a UFO flap that, at the time, was unprecedented in the UK.

The Warminster phenomenon began not with unidentified objects but with unidentified sounds; which is, perhaps, why the phenomenon came to be labelled the 'Thing'.

The genesis of the Warminster UFO phenomenon is described in Arthur Shuttlewood's The Warminster Mystery. Shuttlewood was a journalist with the Warminster Journal, the local newspaper. It was through this position that Shuttlewood first came into contact with the phenomenon.

The date on which the Warminster phenomenon started is a moot point. Flying Saucer Review reported that, in November 1961, four witnesses near Warminster witnessed a UFO leaving a trail of sparks. Two of the events reported by Shuttlewood in The Warminster Mystery as occurring in 1965 are also reported by Shuttlewood, in the Warminster Journal in December 1965, as having occurred in 1963 and 1964.

The history of the Warminster phenomenon as recounted by Shuttlewood, however, began early on Christmas morning, 1964. A number of witnesses were awoken by strange sounds, variously described as like twigs or leaves being drawn across a roof, or a chimney crashing to the ground, or roof tiles being forcefully rattled around. The sounds were witnessed in one case by as many as thirty individuals. Perhaps the strangest was that witnessed at 6.12am that morning by Mrs Marjorie Bye, who was walking to the Holy Communion service at Christ Church in Warminster. As she approached the church the air about her filled with strange sounds that she found disturbing, and made her feel weak and unable to move. These unidentified noises continued on an ad-hoc basis until at least June 1966. Roughly nine cases are described in The Warminster Mystery in which the only unusual phenomena are noises. Over the course of time this "noise" phenomenon receded and the visual phenomenon took its place to become the most important element of the Warminster phenomenon; the Warminster Thing became a UFO.

Through the early months of 1965, no UFOs were seen. The first UFO sighting recorded in The Warminster Mystery was around 19 May 1965, when three times during that week one witness saw unusual objects in the sky. The UFOs were silent, stationary and cigar-shaped, covered in winking bright lights, and gradually faded as the witness watched. On the 3 June 1965, a brightly glowing, cigar-shaped object was witnessed by a family in Heytesbury
Heytesbury is a village in Wiltshire, England, in the Wylye Valley, about three miles south of Warminster.-History:...

, a village near Warminster. The UFO remained motionless over the south of Warminster for almost half an hour. The UFO was also observed by two Warminster residents, who described the UFO as 'twin red-hot pokers', and by seventeen people swimming or fishing at Shearwater
Shearwater (lake)
Shearwater is a man-made freshwater lake near Crockerton village, close to the town of Warminster in Wiltshire. Part of the Longleat Estate, the lake is surrounded by mature woodland, and is popular with anglers, walkers and cyclists....

, a lake near Warminster.

Although UFO sightings had now commenced, the strange sounds still continued to be heard, and on the 10 August 1965 a connection between UFOs and the strange sounds appeared to be confirmed. At 3.45am, a local woman was woken by a terrible droning sound. When she looked out of her bedroom window she saw a bright object like a massive star. It remained visible for some 25 minutes, then the humming began to attenuate, and the UFO began to flicker; the noise finally stopped, and the object vanished from sight. As with the reports from earlier in the year, it was the noise that most disturbed the witness.

As the reports of strange sounds and unidentified lights in the sky began to flood in to Arthur Shuttlewood and the local papers, ufological groups and personalities became involved. Shuttlewood managed to place stories in the national papers. A public meeting was held in the town in August 1965 at which the topic of UFOs was discussed. The meeting was televised and reported in local and national papers. The media coverage led to an invasion of the curious over the bank holiday weekend. Public interest in the Warminster phenomenon was further piqued by the publication, in the Daily Mirror, of a photograph of a UFO, taken in daylight over the town by Gordon Faulkner at the end of August. Interest in the Warminster Thing had become national, and was later to become international. Ufologists and skywatchers flocked to Warminster.

UFOs continued to be seen throughout the decade subsequent to 1965. The hey-day of the mass skywatch was in the mid-1960s, but continued through to the mid-1970s. Cradle Hill became the centre of skywatching activities, but Starr (Middle) Hill and Cley Hill were also popular with skywatchers. Warminster's reputation as a UFO hotspot diminished towards the end of the 1970s, although UFOs do continue to be reported in the area. In the 1980s the growth of the crop circle phenomena in Wiltshire rekindled interest in Warminster's UFO connection.

Because of its notoriety, Warminster was subject to much experimental and playful hoaxing. It has also been suggested that the iconic image of the Warminster UFO, Faulkner's photo of 1965, was a hoax, although Faulkner maintains that the photograph is genuine.

The proximity of Warminster to Salisbury Plain and its military presence could explain some of the UFO sightings, as weapons testing and live firing is carried out on the Plain.

Every year since August 2007, veterans of Warminster's skywatches, joined by interested newcomers, have visited Cradle Hill to relive and retell some of their memories of the phenomenon. In 2009 and 2010, Paranormal/UFO-themed two-day conferences (caled Weird 09 and Weird 10) were held in Warminster. The conferences included presentations by experts in their fields, such as Paul Devereux
Paul Devereux
Paul Devereux is an author, researcher, lecturer, broadcaster, artist and photographer based in the Cotswolds, England. Devereux is a Research Fellow with the International Consciousness Research Laboratories group at Princeton University....

 [Earthlights, Ley Lines], Nick Pope
Nick Pope
Nick Pope worked for 21 years at the British Government's Ministry of Defence from 1985 to 2006. He is best-known for a job that he did from 1991 to 1994, where his duties included investigating reports of UFO sightings, to see if they had any defence significance...

 [Ex British MOD civil servant responsible for collating UFO sightings in the UK], Nick Redfern
Nick Redfern
Nicholas "Nick" Redfern born 1964 in Pelsall, Walsall, Staffordshire is a British best-selling author, Ufologist and Cryptozoologist now living in Dallas, Texas, U.S.....

 [UFO/Cryptozoology investigator and author], Malcolm Robinson [Paranormal/UFO investigator] and Dr. David Clarke [author of a number of books on UFOs and related subjects].


The town is served by Warminster railway station
Warminster railway station
Warminster railway station serves the town of Warminster, in Wiltshire, England.The station is operated by First Great Western and is a main station on the Wessex Main Line with regular services to Bristol, Cardiff, Southampton and Portsmouth, as well as a limited service to and from Bristol and...

, Bodman's Coaches and First Somerset & Avon
First Somerset & Avon
First Somerset & Avon Ltd provides bus services in Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath and West Wiltshire. It is part of First Group. First Somerset & Avon operates an extensive network of services in and around Bath, Bridgwater, Bristol, Taunton, Trowbridge, Wells, Weston-super-Mare and...

 buses, and is on the main A36
A36 road
The A36 is a trunk road and primary route in England that links the port city of Southampton to the city of Bath. At Bath, the A36 connects with the A4 road to Bristol, thus enabling a road link between the major ports of Southampton and Bristol. Originally, the A36 continued onto Avonmouth, but...

 (east-west) and A350 (north-south) trunk road
Trunk road
A trunk road, trunk highway, or strategic road is a major road—usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports, and other things.—which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic...


Notable people

  • William Aldridge
    William Aldridge
    -Biography:He was born at Warminster, in Wiltshire, in 1737. As a youth he spent a mere pleasure-seeking life. In his twenty-fourth year, however, he was seized with a passionate desire to be a preacher of the gospel, and was admitted to the Countess of Huntingdon's college at Treveca in South...

     (1737–1797), nonconformist minister
  • John Wallis Titt
    John Wallis Titt
    John Wallis Titt was a late nineteenth-century mechanical engineer and builder of a particular design of large wind engine.-Early life:...

    , established the Woodcock Ironworks in Warminster in 1876


Warminster is twinned with Flers
Flers, Orne
Flers is a commune in the Orne department in north-western France.The inhabitants are called Flériens.-Geography:Flers is bordered to the north by the communes of Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers and Aubusson, to the north-east by Ronfeugerai, to the west by La Lande-Patry and Saint-Paul, to the...

 in France.

See also

  • West Wiltshire Council election, 1999
    West Wiltshire Council election, 1999
    Elections to West Wiltshire District Council were held on 6 May 1999. The whole council was up for election and the Liberal Democrats held their overall control, winning twenty-seven seats while the Conservatives took ten, Independents four and the Labour Party two....

  • West Wiltshire Council election, 2003
    West Wiltshire Council election, 2003
    Elections to West Wiltshire District Council were held on 1 May 2003. The whole council was up for election and the Liberal Democrats lost their majority, leaving the council with no overall control....

  • West Wiltshire Council election, 2007
    West Wiltshire Council election, 2007
    Elections to West Wiltshire District Council were held on 3 May 2007. The whole council was up for election and the Conservatives took control.Most wards had boundary changes or were new...

  • Wiltshire Council election, 1993
    Wiltshire Council election, 1993
    Elections to Wiltshire County Council were held on 6 May 1993. The whole council was up for election and the result was no overall control, with the Liberal Democrats as the largest party...

  • Wiltshire Council election, 1997
    Wiltshire Council election, 1997
    Elections to Wiltshire County Council were held on 1 May 1997. The whole council was up for election and the result was no overall control, with the Conservatives as the largest party....

  • Wiltshire Council election, 2001
  • Wiltshire Council election, 2005
    Wiltshire Council election, 2005
    Elections to Wiltshire County Council were held on 5 May 2005. The whole council was up for election and the Conservatives held onto control.Most electoral divisions had boundary changes, and several were new, including three new two-member divisions, in Salisbury and Trowbridge.As with other...

External links

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