A Short History Of Melksham

The name Melksham is derived from Melchoir's enclosure.
This norseman founded a settlement on the bank of the river Avon probably where there was shallow water to allow crossing, or at a narrow point where fallen trees could span the water. An area of water meadow would be required to feed the animals, and the enclosure would also be close to a ready supply of wood to be used for fuel and making shelters.
The Melksham Forest extended along the river to Cippa's enclosure.(Chippenham)

The Domesday Book of 1086 assessed the Lordship of Melksham, which belonged to William the Conqueror, as 84 hides, and the Melksham Forest covered 8,400 acres.
This vast area of forest became the favourite hunting ground of the Tudor kings.

In 1158 the estate of Melksham was handed to Humphrey de Bohun III, but, in 1184, King Henry II reclaimed it as a crown possession.
It stayed in royal hands until King Henry III gave the lordship to Alice, Countess of Devon, for life in 1257.
On her death the title reverted to Amesbury Priory.
In 1286 a Royal Charter granted the Prioress rights of tenure and a second Royal Charter gave her free warren.

During the reformation Amesbury Priory was dissolved and an Act 0f Parliament returned the Melksham estate to King Henry VIII.

In 1541 the king granted the estate to Sir Thomas Seymour, who then sold it to Henry Brouncker.
He died Lord of the Manor in 1569 and the title passed to his son, Sir William.
Melksham was passed down two more generations to another William Brouncker before it was conveyed to Sir John Danvers, who married into the family, in 1634.

John Danvers died 1655 and the lordship of Melksham passed to his son, who then conveyed the estate to Walter Long the Younger, of Wadden.
The lordship has remained in this family until recently, having passed to Viscount Long of Wroxall.

In an extraordinary turn of events, a local businessman and entrepreneur, William Spiers, purchased the title at auction, on May 30th 2000.
Shall we see the coat of arms on the lorries?

For further information about Melksham please go to The Melksham Directory