Wiltshire


Unlike the other counties of Wessex, Wiltshire has no coastal boundaries. To the southwest is Dorset with Hampshire to the southeast. Somerset is to the west. Gloucestershire to the north with the tip of Oxfordshire jutting in between there and Berkshire which is on the eastern boundary.

Formerly an agricultural county its economy is diverse today. Besides agriculture, the army inhabit Salisbury Plain and Swindon and Malmesbury are home to national and international manufacturing companies.

The county's name was originally Wiltonshire, the county town being Wilton. Nowadays the county town is Trowbridge to the west.


The Town Bridge in Trowbridge
The Town Bridge in Trowbridge

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Ruth Riddle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence Geograph

Trowbridge, the county town. Is situated in the west side of the county, about 12 miles from Bath in Somerset. The name possibly derives from a hamlet of Trowle or it could be an even older name treow-brycg which means Tree Bridge.

The Kennet and Avon canal to the north was responsible for some development of the town as coal could be brought from the Somerset coalfields easily. In the 1800's the town was referred to as “The Manchester of the West” as it had over 2,000 woollen mills.

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Wilton is not far from Salisbury. At one time Wilton was the county town. The town was famous for its carpets and a factory still exists. Being close to Salisbury Plain the area is significant to the army.

Wilton House Gardens are open to the public and well worth a day out.

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Salisbury

This is probably Wiltshire's most well known city - the only city in Wiltshire.

The view of Salisbury from Old Sarum
Salisbury in the valley below Old Sarum
Photo © L Temple
The city is located in a valley where five rivers meet.

Salisbury Cathedral of St Mary recently celebrated the 750th anniversary of its consecration. Its spire, the tallest in the UK, was painted by John Constable in several landscape paintings. The west front is magnificent. There are only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta and one is in the Chapter House of the Cathedral. The city is old and there are the inevitable ghosts, Ghost tours can be made.

Salisbury International Arts Festival is held in late May. Music, Film, Literature, Art, Dance and even spectacular free outdoor events - all are represented in a feature packed programme.

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Moonrakers

Folk in the county are nicknamed Moonrakers. Smuggling was a profitable business if the Excise Men could be kept at bay. The story goes that one day in order to ruffle the surface of a pond to hide the booty in there from the Excise Men, the smugglers took rakes and pretended they were raking in a large round cheese. The cheese was in fact the reflection of the moon in the pond. The Excise Men decided the men were mad and went away.

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Stonehenge

Pictured on this website's banner, is probably the county's most well known feature. A prehistoric site and one of the most famous in the world. Large standing stones are surrounded by earthworks and it is of the Neolithic and Bronze Age eras. Burial grounds have also been found. The age of the monument is still being researched, but it is said to be at least 5000 years old. The site itself while being owned by the Crown is run by English Heritage and the National Trust own the surrounding land.

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An even older, but contemporary, prehistoric site and like Stonehenge a UNESCO World Heritage site, is Avebury Ring, close to Avebury village. Neolithic, it is one of the largest such sites in Europe. The site consists of several circles of standing stones with a massive ditch and external bank. It is run by the National Trust.

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Swindon while situated in Wiltshire is in fact a Unitary Authority and so does not concern the Wiltshire authorities. Many national and international companies are in Swindon and the town was named an “Expanded Town”. With this and the many industries in the area, Swindon is developing fast. The Museum of the Great Western Railway celebrates the Steam era of railways and Swindon's major role.

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Mere is a small, active, attractive town on the Wiltshire and Dorset border in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Nearby is Stourton, whose pretty church has a monument to Henry Hoare II born in 1705 and died in 1785. The Hoare family owned Stourhead before the Stourton family and the Mere's and it went back again to the Hoare's. They gave the property to the National Trust in 1946, but still retain some rooms. Stourhead is a world famous Palladian mansion and landscape garden of the 1700's and open to the public. Views are stunning.

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Wiltshire with its rolling open countryside of Salisbury Plain, small attractive villages, busy market towns, really magnificent stately homes, ancient standing stones, Salisbury Cathedral and so much more, it is a county that should not be missed.

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Other pages that may be of interest

Events in Wiltshire

Family History in Southwest England

Wessex

Famous People of Wessex

Devon

Dorset

Hampshire

Isle of Wight

Somerset


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Melksham
Melksham
Photo Author – Jontibingo. Licensed under Creative Commons.


Useful Information

Events in Wiltshire

There are plenty of events throughout the year in Wiltshire. Short breaks centred around these events can be quite an idea!

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Accommodation

Generally plentiful in Wiltshire, but during busy periods it is advisable to book.

Plans include a hotel? There are some good ones here

There are some delightful cottages around the county. Probably one near where you would love to stay.

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Car Rentals

Want a cute car? Large car? Small car? Whatever you need you will find it here. You will probably find your favourite car hire firm here and Car Rentals do not add a penny to their price for looking all over for you!


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Why not travel by Coach

If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express. They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.

Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!

Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!


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Trains

Virgin Trains is an excellent main line railway.

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More Public Transport

Traveline is a very useful resource for public transport throughout Wessex, even local buses. There are other pages on Traveline for other parts of the country.


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Wilton House, Wilton
Wilton House Wilton

Stourton
Stourton




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