Ansty is a tiny picturesque parish secreted amongst the downs and woods of south west Wiltshire. Narrow roads in the village disappear from the main street only to reappear a hundred yards or so further along creating a rabbit warren of lanes. Stone cottages with thatched roofs and an ancient pond with willow trees along its banks form a mesmerising backdrop to this historic village.
In 1211, Ansty was granted to the Order of Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem by Sir Walter de Turbeville. The Order settled in the village and founded a preceptory or commandery (manorial estate); they built St. James' Church, the village pond and a hospice with a guest house where they ministered to pilgrims and injured knights returning from Crusades in the Holy Land.
The Parish Church
Dating from 1230, the church of St James is cruciform in the Early English style with chancel and nave, two transepts and a small western belfry with one bell. In July 2011 the church celebrated the 800th anniversary of the granting of the title deeds of Ansty Manor to the Order of Knights Hospitaller.
The History of Modern Wiltshire published in 1829 records that in the year 1775 there were fifteen burials of which twelve died of smallpox and "ill as this (church) Register has been kept, it is much superior to the latter, than which nothing can be more disgraceful to the Curates of this Parish.”
St John the Evangelist (R C)
From 1594 until 1946 the Manor of Ansty was in the possession of the Roman Catholic Lords Arundell of Wardour. It is not surprising therefore to find that throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the majority of the inhabitants of Ansty were Catholic and it is unlikely that this changed much through to the mid 20th century. In 1905, the 12th Lord Arundell of Wardour provided a Mass Centre - St. John the Evangelist - but by the early 1960's services were being held there just once a month. The Chapel closed in 1962 and is now a private house. Catholic Ancestors 1791 & 1844
A house in the village was certified for Independents in 1816 which was not welcomed by all. The meetings were often disrupted by crowds ringing cow bells and generally causing a disturbance; in 1818 Revd William Easton, a Chaplain of Ansty, along with James Jerrard and seven others, were found guilty of riot at Salisbury Assizes. Conspiracy & Riot 1818
WW1 and WW2
At the time of the First World War, the population of Ansty was about 200 and events far away probably had little effect on the practicalities of the day to day lives of the parishioners. Apart from the absence of their menfolk in the village, there would have been no obvious signs to the people of Ansty that the country was at war. But it was not only sons, husbands and fathers who had gone, most of their horses had gone too - from lightweight hunters to heavy cart horses, all required for the war effort leaving the farms bereft of their best working animals.
The men of Ansty who lost their lives are commemorated on a plaque in St James Church. Three were born in the village, others were living and working there, including brothers Bertram and George Baker; one man (T Jenkins) remains unidentified.
Newspapers are a treasure trove of information for family history researchers and social historians. You may find your ancestors mentioned in the court columns either as the perpetrator or the victim of crime - alcohol related offences, poaching and theft were the most common misdemeanours at the Petty Sessions in the 19th century and are reported with endless monotony. Primarily, articles shown are those that contain names of parishioners to assist family history researchers. These should not be presumed to be the only articles that appear in the given years, or that there are no articles in any of the years omitted.
Contributing to Photo Galleries etc
The information and images on this page are of great interest to researchers in the UK and worldwide who are tracing their family history. If you would like to share photographs of your ancestors who were born or married in Ansty, picture postcards of the village or any other information relating to the village, please email us. Your contribution will be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Friendly Societies played an important part in many people's lives between the 18th and early 20th centuries; they provided financial and social services to mainly working class parishioners, often according to religious, political, or trade affiliations. Accompanied by the much famed Ansty band, brightly coloured and intricately woven pictorial banners were proudly displayed in parades around the village on society anniversaries and fete days.
Alvediston, Donhead St. Andrew, Swallowcliffe, Tisbury and Wardour are all within 3 miles of Ansty. The nearest towns are Shaftesbury 7 miles and Gillingham 12 miles, both in neighbouring Dorset. The city of Salisbury is 14 miles distant.
A census was not taken in 1941
1801 - 242 1811 - 230 1821 - 327 1831 - 348 1841 - 329 1851 - 367 1861 - 298 1871 - 229 1881 - 293 1891 - 247
1901 - 217 1911 - 227 1921 - 246 1931 - 213 1941 - n/k 1951 - 163 1961 - 144 1971 - 115 1981 - 124 1991 - 100
Civil Registration District
1837 - 1936 Tisbury Registration District, 1936 - 1974 Mere Registration District, then Salisbury
Registers held at WSHC
Voters Lists 1912
Service Register 1946
In Days Gone By
The Village Today
The Order of Knights was dissolved during the reign of Henry V111 and many of the buildings destroyed during the Dissolution. Thereafter, from 1594 until 1946, the Manor of Ansty was in the possession of the Lords Arundell of Wardour. For more on the Arundells, go to the Wardour page.
The last Lord Arundell lost his life in the second world war and with no heir to follow him, the Wardour Estate was broken up after 350 years. Ansty's cottages and farms were sold, mostly to the tenants. The security of employment that the Arundells had provided for so long was at an end and the population of the village began to dwindle.
The only public house, the Arundell Inn, was renamed the Maypole Inn in 1973 but sadly serves ale no more; it is now a private house. The Ansty maypole, famous throughout the county since the 16th century, still stands proudly at 50ft in the centre of the village. The pole is replaced every twenty years or so and, by tradition, the new pole has to be in position between sunrise and sunset on a single day otherwise the right to erect it in the road is surrendered.
During World War 2, there were visible reminders of the war all around - soldiers billeted in neighbouring villages and endless military convoys on the road to Shaftesbury and Warminster. The names of two men who lost their lives are commemorated on the plaque in St James Church - Gordon Frank Brown and John Percival Owen New, the latter was buried in St James' churchyard.
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