Chiseldon parish is situated at the northern edge of the Marlborough Downs, south of Swindon. For the location in Google maps, click here.
The main settlement, Chiseldon village, takes its name from the Saxon ‘Ceosel Dene’ – stony or gravely valley. This refers to the steep-sided coombe running north from the centre of the village.
The name was first recorded in the 9th century when both Alfred the Great and his father referred to Chiseldon and its church in their wills, requesting that it be given to the monks of the abbey in Winchester. The major part of the parish remained in the ownership of Hyde Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries circa 1538.
The Saxon village was built around the head of the combe where springs supplied water, with a mill in the valley below and the church on the hillside above. The church was rebuilt by the Normans circa 1175.
Other settlements in the parish are the hamlets of Coate to the north, Burderop and Hodson to the west, Badbury to the east and Draycot to the south. The parish boundary was outlined in a 10th century Saxon charter and has remained virtually unchanged until the 20th century. It may be changed in 2017.
Traces of earlier inhabitants can be seen in the form of Roman roads and buildings, Iron Age finds, Bronze Age barrows and Neolithic artefacts. Two prehistoric trackways, The Ridgeway and Icknield Way, cross the parish from east to west.
The area was mainly agricultural until the Midland and South West Junction railway (M&SWJR) was constructed through the village in 1881. Many village men found work on the railway or in the railway works - new houses were built in the early 1900s to accommodate commuters working in Swindon.
A large military camp was built to the south of the village in 1914 and made a huge impact, the camp population being greater than that of the whole parish. The military presence continued until 1961, the same year as the closure of the railway.
With the arrival of the motorway across the north of the parish in 1971, Chiseldon became part of the M4 corridor, with associated housing expansion. Although now part of the Borough of Swindon, the parish retains much of its rural character.