Westbury is a town and civil parish in the west of the English county of Wiltshire, below the northwestern edge of Salisbury Plain, about 4 miles (6 km) south of Trowbridge and a similar distance north of Warminster.
- Area:18.518 km2
- Elevation:74 m
- Local Government Area:Baw Baw Shire Council
Westbury is a town and civil parish in the west of the English county of Wiltshire, below the northwestern edge of Salisbury Plain, about 4 miles (6 km) south of Trowbridge and a similar distance north of Warminster. Originally a market town, Westbury was known for the annual Hill Fair where many sheep were sold in the 18th and 19th centuries; later growth came from the town's position at the intersection of two railway lines. The busy A350, which connects the M4 motorway with the south coast, passes through the town. The urban area has expanded to include the village of Westbury Leigh and the hamlets of Chalford and Frogmore.
A Romano-British settlement was found at The Ham, in the north of the parish, in the 1870s.The manor of Westbury, and the hundred with the same boundaries, was held by the king at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086. The Wiltshire Victoria County History recounts the fragmentation into manors, and traces their ownership. The ancient parish included Bratton, Dilton, Dilton Marsh, Heywood and part of Chapmanslade. Churches at Bratton and Dilton were dependent chapels of Westbury church.Westbury centres on its historic marketplace – although markets ceased to be held in the middle of the 19th century – and the All Saints' Church. This was built between c. 1340 and 1380 in a transitional style between the Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic and parts survive, but the church was rebuilt in the 1430s, when a clerestory, three chapels, and most of the central tower were added; the north chapel was given by William de Westbury and his father. The west window was donated in the 19th century by Abraham Laverton.The Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway was completed from near Chippenham, via Melksham and Trowbridge, as far as Westbury in 1848. That company was bought by the Great Western Railway in 1850, who over the next few years built lines onwards to Frome (to access the Somerset coalfield), then south to Yeovil and Weymouth, as well as southeast from Westbury to Warminster and then Salisbury. Westbury station was rebuilt in 1899 since it would become more important as a junction the next year, on the opening of the Stert and Westbury line. This was a faster route from London to Weymouth, which at Westbury crossed the route between the south coast and Bristol or South Wales. From 1906 the route from London was also used by trains to Taunton and Exeter.In 1894, Westbury parish was reduced in size when a new civil parish of Dilton Marsh was created from its western part (all the land west of the Biss), and likewise Bratton parish from its eastern part. A further reduction in the north created Heywood parish in 1896. Westbury Urban District was formed in 1899, with the same boundaries as the parish. It was abolished in 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, its area becoming part of West Wiltshire district. The district was in turn abolished in 2009 on the establishment of Wiltshire Council as a unitary authority.
Leighton House in the south of the town has been home to the Army Officer Selection Board and the Cadet Force Commissioning Board since 1949. Its planned disposal was announced in March 2016, and later that year the MoD estimated that the Selection Board would move to Sandhurst by 2024.
In common with nearby towns in the Avon valley, Westbury was a centre of the cloth industry from the later 15th century. By the start of the 19th century, Dilton Marsh was a centre of hand-loom weaving. The Phipps family were prominent among the clothiers, becoming the largest landowners by the end of the 19th century and occupying Leighton House (Westbury) and Chalcot House (Dilton Marsh). During that century the industry declined, until only the Angel and Bitham mills continued to make fine woollen cloth, having been acquired in the 1850s by Abraham Laverton; both mills closed in 1969. There were also tanning and glove-making businesses, some of them taking over the disused cloth mills for a time in the 20th century.Malting was another important industry from at least the 17th century. In the 1830s there were six firms active in Westbury and Westbury Leigh, but by 1960 only one remained. Iron ore was discovered just north of the town in the 1840s during construction of the railway; opencast mines were developed and furnaces built. Production declined toward the end of the century and had ceased by 1925. A chain of lakes and ponds near The Ham is evidence of the abandoned workings.
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 since the Anglo-Saxon period.The -bury part of the name is a form of borough, which has cognates in many languages, such as the German -burg and the Greek -pyrgos. It carries the idea of a hill or fortified town. In Wiltshire, -bury often indicates an Iron Age or Bronze Age fortified hill fort, and such a site is to be found immediately above the Westbury White Horse.
# Things to do
Pevsner states that the best houses in Westbury are near the church. His perambulation takes in the Market Place and the streets leading off it, then proceeds south and west. He notes the 1960s central shopping parade – two yellow brick ranges facing each other – and the former Barclays Bank, 1970, purple brick in brutalist style.Besides the Grade I listed All Saints' Church, the town has five Grade II* listed houses and one monument. Oldest among them is Ferndale House, now the Conservative Club, just east of the Market Place, which although altered dates from the early 18th century. In rendered brick, its front has two Palladian windows on each of the ground and first floor, all with small side lights.North of the Market Place, Bank House is an early 18th century house in red brick with stone dressings; its five-bay front, with a carved stone shell hood over the central door, is passed by traffic on the A350. Leigh House at Westbury Leigh, perhaps of slightly earlier date, is a similar structure.
In a central position on the Market Place, the early 19th century former town hall is in Bath stone ashlar and has a colonnaded front at street level, behind which shops were inserted in the 1970s. The first floor windows have balustraded aprons below, and above them the triangular pediment has the Lopes arms in the tympanum.Edgar House, off Edward Street south of the town centre, is a four-bay early 18th century remodelling of an older house, faced in stucco. The Grade II* monument is the Phipps mausoleum in the cemetery, on the Bratton road on the eastern edge of the town. Dating from around 1871 (for the burial of John Lewis Phipps), the stone monument has a basement, an octagonal chamber with four windows, and a short spire with lantern.
## White Horse
A well-known feature of the area is the Westbury White Horse, which overlooks the town from a slope up to Salisbury Plain, in Bratton parish about 1+1/2 miles (2.4 km) west of the town.Probably first made in the 18th century, its present form dates from 1778 when it was restored. In the 1950s it was decided that the horse would be more easily maintained if it were set in concrete and painted white.