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Local History

Monkton Farleigh (Farleigh in Old English was “fern leah” which translated as a ‘woodland clearing’) lies in the northwest corner of the Bradford Hundred area. In southern England, a Hundred was the administrative division below that of the Shire, or County. Hundreds and Shires came into being in the Saxon period, perhaps as early as the 7th century. On the western and northern sides much is covered by woodland and steep wooded slopes go down into the valley of the Avon and its tributary, the By Brook, which are both in Somerset.

The settlement grew up where several springs break out at the junction of the limestones and the clay that covers them. It lies close to the London – Bath Roman road and a large hoard of Roman coins was found in the village. Many of the fields around show signs of Iron Age farming.

A monastery of Cluniac monks dedicated to St Mary Magdalene was founded at Farleigh in 1125 by Humphrey de Bohun II, who endowed the priory with the manor of Farleigh.The Priory was dissolved in 1536 and the manor was granted by Henry VIII to Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, later Duke of Somerset. There are few remains of the monastery and its church within the grounds of the Manor House. The most visible is the Monks’ Conduit (a well house and water source) west of Farleigh Rise, said to be 14th century in origin. Several carved stones, including the head of a knight in chain mail, a priest and a corbel in the shape of a head, excavated from the site of the priory are in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes.

The King’s Arms was built in the 17th Century, on the site of the old Priory. The oldest part of the inn was possibly built by the monks in 1090, believed to be as an estate office where they could administer and officiate the affairs of the Farleigh property


Local Walks and Places to Visit