For other uses, see Warminster (disambiguation).

Market Place, Warminster
 Warminster shown within Wiltshire
Population 17,490 (in 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceST875455
Unitary authorityWiltshire
Ceremonial countyWiltshire
RegionSouth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town Warminster
Postcode district BA12
Dialling code 01985
Police Wiltshire
Fire Dorset and Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK ParliamentSouth West Wiltshire
List of places

Coordinates: 51°12′18″N 2°10′52″W / 51.205°N 2.181°W / 51.205; -2.181

Warminster (/ˈwɔːrmɪnstər/) is a town and civil parish in western Wiltshire, England, by-passed by the A36 (between Salisbury and Bath) and the partly concurrent A350 between Westbury and Blandford Forum. 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.[2]


Early history

The main settlement at Warminster dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period, although there is evidence of pre-historic settlements at in the Warminster area, especially at the nearby Iron Age hill forts, Battlesbury Camp, Scratchbury Camp and Cley Hill. Two Roman Villas have also been discovered in the area, as have caches of Roman coins.[3]

By the 10th century, Warminster included a royal manor and an Anglo-Saxon Minster, with the residents largely associated with the estate. The royal manor was passed to new lords in the 12th century, during which time the township started to grow. During the 13th century, a market was set up at Warminster, and by 1377 the town had 304 poll-tax payers, the tenth largest in Wiltshire.[3]


The town's name has evolved over time, known as Worgemynstre in approximately 912 and it was referred to in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Guerminstre. The town name of Warminster is thought to derive from the River Were, a tributary of River Wylye which runs through the town, and from an Anglo-Saxon minster or monastery, which existed in the area of St Denys's Church. The river's name, "Were" may derive from the Old English "worian" to wander.[4]

Civil war

During the English Civil War, between 1642 and 1645, the town was the site of a few incidents. A major for the "Roundheads", Henry Wansey was besieged in Warminster, while a force under Edmund Ludlow entered a skirmish on Warminster Common whilst trying to relieve him. By 1646, the town had suffered £500 (equivalent to £73,369 in 2015) worth of damages by supporting the Roundheads.[3]

Post-medieval prosperity

The market at Warminster was the focus of the town's prosperity, with significant wool, clothing and malting trades established by the 16th century and continuing to be the economic backbone of the town until the 19th century.[3] The market also included a significant corn trade throughout the period and was regarded as the second largest corn market in the west of England in 1830. Unlike many markets of the time where farmers would take sample to market, Warminster's corn market required a sack from each load of corn to be available to customers, that each purchase must be agreed between 11am and 1pm and paid for by the end of the day.[5]

The town had a large amount of accommodation for visitors to the market, and in 1686 it was ranked fourth for number of places to stay in Wiltshire, with 116 beds. By 1710 there were approximately fifty inns and alehouses in the town. The town was an early adopter of the Turnpikes Act to improve the roads around the town. Unlike many roads improved at the time which would link to towns, Warminster chose to improve seven roads around the town, all under three miles long.[3]

Despite the prosperity, one settlement of houses near Warminster Common had a poor reputation. William Daniell wrote in 1781 that people were living in unplastered hovels with earth floors and that piles of filth poisoned the stream bringing typhus and smallpox. The people were considered rude and drunk criminals. Daniell and members of the clergy were keen to help the residents, and by 1833 the area was considered clean and respectable.[3]

Victorian era and twentieth-century

The town was significantly redesigned in after 1807 when George Wansey, who was from a family of clothiers in Warminster, left £1,000 (equivalent to £71,775 in 2015) to improve the town, provided it could be matched by fundraising. The money was spent on demolishing houses to widen roads, allowing for new houses to be built. In 1851, a railway line from West[3]

In 1907, a committee was put together to advertise the town, creating a town guide and advertising in national publications. Unfortunately the committee could not come to an agreement with Lord Bath over the location of a new hotel. Between 1937 and 1961, a military presences formed at Warminster, with the addition of camps, a permanent Barracks at Battlesbury, married quarters and workshops for vehicle repairs.[3]


Warminster falls under two levels of local government, Wiltshire Council and Warminster Town Council. The town council was established in April 1974, after the reorganisation which removed the Warminster Urban District Council which had been established in 1894. The town is divided into four wards, called Warminster West, Warminster East, Broadway and Copheap. The first three elect four councillors each, whilst the last elects a single councillor, creating a total of thirteen councillors. Two of the councillors are elected to act as mayor and deputy mayor.[6] Warminster falls in the parliamentary constituency of Wiltshire South West, currently held by Conservative Party[7]


Warminster is located in south-west Wiltshire, near to the Somerset border. The town is surrounded by six hills, providing shelter and security for early settlers. The area is made up of chalk, which provides good drainage to the nearby River Wylye, providing plenty of arable and pasturable land near to the village. The Wylye is a tributary of the River Avon. Warminster is also close to Selwood Forest.[5]

Climate data for Bath (Nearest climate station to Warminster)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 45.7
Average low °F (°C) 35.4
Average rainfall inches (mm) 3.248
Source: Met Office[8]


The Domesday survey of 1086 revealed 30 residents, largely craftsmen for the royal demesne, but the population had grown by 1377 to 304 poll-tax payers, the tenth largest village in Wiltshire. In 1665, the population had increased to 354 households, approximately 1,800 people. The area contained by the turnpike gates included 2,605 people in 1781.[3]

Historical population of Warminster
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Population 4,932 4,866 5,612 6,115 6,211 6,285 5,995 5,786 5,640 5,563 5,547
Year 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Population 5,492 5,387 5,176 - 7,660 9,860 13,554 15,089 16,267 17,377 17,490

Census: 18012011[1]


As Warminster is in an area of fertile land, much of its early economy was through farming, especially corn. William Daniell commented in 1879 that Warminster lay 'in the midst of a fine corn-country', and Warminster's market provided the backbone of the economy through the 16th to 19th centuries. Alongside corn, wool and clothing were traded and there were a number of maltings in the town.[3] Warminster Maltings was established in 1855 and are now the oldest maltings in Britain that are still in operation.[9]

Warminster's clothing trade suffered greatly in the early 19th century, as the there was no suitable river to power machinery during a period of industrialisation.[10] At the same time its malting trade declined but remained important.[3] In 1855, William Morgan commissioned the Warminster Maltings, now the oldest working maltings in Britain.[11] By 1860, the town had adopted new trades in brewing and iron-founding, so it did not suffer greatly from the loss of the other trades.[3] One example was the Woodcock Ironworks, which was set up by John Wallis Titt in the town in the mid 1870s to manufacture agricultural machines.[5]

During the 20th century, the economy became more dependent on the Army and associated service industries, but other new businesses came into the area, such as chicken rearing, banana ripening and shoe component manufacture. During the late 20th century and early 21st century, the leisure industry has grown in Warminster, with Longleat and Center Parcs Longleat Forest being significant employers.[5]


Warminster has a number of local venues which facilitate cultural events for the community. This includes a library, museum, five theatres and cinemas, eleven halls and a number of pubs.[12] There are many festivals and events held annually within the area including Warminster festival, Vintage bus run and heritage open days.[12]

Warminster is twinned with Flers in France.[13]


Warminster Park

Close by to Warminster is stately home Longleat, which has included Longleat Safari Park since 1966; the first drive-through safari park outside Africa, home to over 500 animals, including giraffe, monkeys, rhino, lion, tigers and wolves.[14][15] The town includes a theatre, the Warminster Athenaeum, an 1858 Grade II listed building.[16] The Warminster Lake Pleasure Grounds were laid out in 1924 and facilities include tennis courts, play area and boating lake.[17] They were officially opened by the Marquess of Bath on Saturday 26 July 1924.[18]


The east of the town is situated along the A36 road and the Warminster service station is on the route.[19] The Warminster railway station, opened in September 1851, is managed by Great Western Railway[20][21]

Religious sites

Warminster includes several churches,[22] including Christ Church,[23] Church of St. Denys,[24] Warminster Baptist Church[25] and Church of St John the Evangelist[26] which are listed buildings. It also includes St George Catholic Church[27] and Chapel of St. Lawrence[28]


Warminster has a long history of sporting activities, with many clubs established in the 19th century. Warminster Cricket Club was created in 1838. Its facilities at Sambourne Road have been shared with the local hockey team[29] and the Warminster Table Tennis Club.[30] The West Wilts Hockey Club has origins dating back to 1899[31] and as of 2016, has 13 adult teams.[32] The architect, John Henry Taylor designed the towns Elm Hill golf course in 1891.[33]

The Division One Warminster Town Football Club began around 1878 and the site at Weymouth Street was renovated and expanded in the 1990s.[34] The town has competitive swimming clubs, which began Wiltshire County Amateur Swimming Association in 1907 but was later divided to create the Warminster and District Amateur Swimming Club in 1973.[35] The Marquess of Bath is the President of Warminster Rugby Club which began in 1977. In 1997, the club established its base at the West Wilts District Council owned Folly Lane multi-sports site.[36]

More recent additions have been the Warminster Sports Centre run by Wiltshire Council,[37] the Warminster Running Club,[38] and the Warminster Adventure Sports Club.[39]


Warminster includes fifteen primary schools, one middle school[40] and three secondary schools. These include the fee paying Warminster school, which was founded in 1707,[41] Kingdown School which became an academy in 2011[42] and Bishopstrow College, a school to prepare international students for boarding school.[43]

Public Services

Wessex Water supplies the town's water and sewage services,[44] with water hardness in the town centre reported as 250 mg/l.[45] The Distribution Network Operator for both electricity and gas is SSE plc.[46] The carbon footprint of the county totalled 3.476 million tonnes (3,421,000 long tons; 3,832,000 short tons) in 2011, approximately 10% of the carbon emissions for the West Country.[47]

The town is served by the Warminster Community Hospital, under the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,[48] although the hospital does not include an Accident and Emergency department, the nearest is at the Royal United Hospital in Bath[49] while ambulances are from the South Western Ambulance Service.[50] The town comes under Wiltshire Police's jurisdiction,[51] and its retained firefighters are provided by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service[52]

Notable people

Cultural references

UFO history

Warminster was the location for a number of UFO sightings during the 1960s and 1970s. The first sighting was recorded by Arthur Shuttlewood on December 25, 1964 and he compiled a dossier of further sightings over the following year before giving it to the Daily Mirror to publish. The Daily Mirror's story gained the town some notoriety for UFO sightings, including a BBC documentary in 1966, several books published on the sightings,[60][61] a 2009 conference on UFOs[62] and a 2015 mural.[63]


  1. 1 2 "Wiltshire Community History - Warminster Census". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. Warminster Online, Accessed July 2007, online
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Warminster: Introduction". A history of the county of Wiltshire. London: Victoria County History. 8: 90–96. 1965. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  4. Mills, A. D. (2011). A dictionary of British place names (Revised ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 484. ISBN 9780199609086.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Wiltshire Community History". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  6. "Growing Town, Growing Services" (PDF). Warminster Town Council. 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  7. "Wiltshire South West". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  8. "Warminster climate". Met Office. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  9. "History: The spiritual home of malting barley". Warminster Maltings Limited. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. "Warminster". Warminster Museum. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. Wiltshire Magazine, Oct/Nov 2011, pages 44-45
  12. 1 2 Holt, Shona. "Joint Strategic Assessment for Culture: Warminster Community Area" (pdf.). Warminster and Villages Community Partnership. p. 2. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  13. "Westminster Town Website, Wiltshire, UK.". Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  14. Tourist Information UK
  15. Picture The UK
  16. "Athenaeum (Warminster)". The Theatres Trust. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  17. "Doomsday Reloaded: Lake Pleasure Park, Warminster". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  18. Danny Howell, Warminster And District Archive No.4, May 1990
  19. "Warminster Services". Motorway services online. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  20. Oakley, Mike (2004). Wiltshire Railway Stations. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press. ISBN 1-904349-33-1.
  21. "Warminster (WMN)". National Rail Enquiries. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  22. "Warminster: Church". A history of the county of Wiltshire. London: Victoria County History. 8: 117–124. 1965. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  23. "Christ Church, Warminster". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  24. "Parish Church of St Denys (The Minster Church), Warminster". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  25. "Baptist Church, Warminster". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  26. "Church of St John the Evangelist, Warminster". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  27. "Wiltshire Community History: Roman Catholic Church of St. George, Warminster". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  28. "A brief history & notes of interest". The Chapel of St Lawrence, Warminster. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  29. "About Warminster Cricket Club". Warminster Cricket Club. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  30. "About the club: History of the Warminster table tennis club". Warminster Table Tennis Club uk. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  31. "Club history". West Wilts Hockey Club. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  32. "Team information: West Wilts Hockey Club". West Wilts Hockey Club. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  33. "Welcome to West Wilts Golf Club". West Wilts Golf Club: Established 1891. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  34. "Warminster Town Club History". Waminster Town FC. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  35. "About us". Warminster and District Amateur Swimming Club. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  36. "Warminster Rugby Club: A Potted History and its future aims". Warminster RFC. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  37. "Warminster Sports Centre". Places for people. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  38. "Home". Warminster Running Club. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  39. "EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WASC". Warminster Adventure Sports Club. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  40. "Schools in Warminster, Wiltshire". All the schools. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  41. "A brief history of Warminster School". Warminster School. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  42. "Our school". Kingdown School. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  43. "The College". Bishopstrow College. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  44. "About us". Wessex Water. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  45. "Water quality". www.wessexwater.co.uk. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  46. "Power and gas suppliers in Warminster". Find Energy. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  47. "Wiltshire carbon footprint". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  48. "Great Western Hospital". Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  49. "Urgent care results for Warminster, Wiltshire". NHS Choices. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  50. "Welcome to SWASFT". South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  51. "Warminster". Police UK. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  52. "Warminster". Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  53. Grosart, A. B. (2004). "Aldridge, William (1737–1797), Independent minister". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/316. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  54. Parkinson, David (2004). "Bartholomew, Frederick Llewellyn [Freddie] (1924–1992), actor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/57356. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  55. Brent, Lesley (2006). "Billingham, Rupert Everett [Bill] (1921–2002), immunologist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/77375. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  56. Cowie, Leonard W. (2004). "Buckler, Benjamin (1716/17–1780), antiquary". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3862. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  57. Goodwin, Gordon (2004). "Huntingford, Henry (1787–1867), classical scholar and Church of England clergyman". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14240. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  58. Moss, Michael (2004). "Philipps, John Wynford, first Viscount St Davids (1860–1938), financier and politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35507. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  59. Jeremy, David (2004). "Wansey, Henry (1751–1827), woollen manufacturer and traveller". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28668. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  60. Goodman, Kevin (20 May 2010). "The mystery of Warminster's 'UFO'". BBC Wiltshire. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  61. Austin, Jon (2 September 2015). "UK town 'invaded by UFOs and eerie noises that killed flocks of birds and stopped cars'". Express. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  62. Ashford, Victoria (1 September 2009). "Warminster UFO conference seeks the truth". Wiltshire Times. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  63. Goodman, Kevin (20 May 2010). "The mystery of Warminster's 'UFO'". BBC Wiltshire. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.