Rollestone, Wiltshire (Article by Arnold Burston - Rollestonian Spring 2003)

This is the last article* in Arnold Burston’s series “Rollestons of the World” – unless you know of any others that he can investigate?

Rollestone is a small village on the A360 between Devizes and Amesbury. In 1934 the parish was subsumed by the larger parish of Shrewton, which now also includes the parish of Maddington, which in turn includes the hamlets of Addiston, Bourton, Elston, Hamington, The Bustard and Netton. The Bustard, which is part of Rollestone, consists of a public house, two cottages and 40 permanent caravans.

Rollestone appeared in the Domesday book as part of the Dole Hundred, (a Hundred was a subdivision of a County having its own court). The entry reads: “Cuthwulf holds Rollestone. He himself held it. He there has six hides. There is land for 3 ploughs. In demesne are 2 ploughs and 5 slaves, with 1 villein and 2 bordars have 1 plough. There are 4 acres of meadow and half a league of pasture. It is worth £3”. Shrewton was worth £4 a year.

For the sake of comparison, note that, in the Domesday Book, our own Rolleston, in Offlow Hundred, was held by Henry de Ferrers: Henry holds Rolleston himself. Earl Morcarr held it. 21/2 hides. Land for 8 ploughs. In demesne 4 ploughs; 1 ancilla; 18 villeins and 16 bordars with a priest having 14 ploughs. A mill at 5s; meadow 50 acres; woodland pasture 3 laegues long and 2 leagues wide; arable land 2 leagues long and 1 wide”. Rolleston was worth £10 a year. A “hide” was a measurement of land used for tax assessment. An “ancilla” was a female slave.

Rollestone was transferred to Elstub Hundred some time between 1428 and 1524.

There is an army camp about three miles from Shrewton called Rollestone camp. During the First World War, it was used for Observation Balloon Reconnaissance training, and the balloon hangars are still in existence. The camp continued in use during the Second World War and is today used by troops training on Salisbury Plain. In 1980s the camp was used as an overspill prison during the prison officers’ dispute, and the prisoners were often seen in the village of Shrewton carrying out maintenance tasks.

The Church

Rollestone has its own church dedicated to St Andrew, which is now sadly redundant, as is Maddington Church. It is believed that Jane Seymour, the future wife of Henry VIII, was baptised at Rollestone church during a break in the journey between Southampton and London. The surrounding residential area contains the old vicarage and some of the oldest houses. From the church there are views of the water meadows and the river Till.

Arnold Burston.

*Previous Rollestonian Articles –
Rolleston, Australia (Autumn 2000)
Rolleston, New Zealand (Spring 2001)
Rolleston, Notts. (Summer 2001)
Rolleston, Leics. (Autumn 2002) 

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Last updated: 1 March 2003