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Codford History


The Codford of the 21st Century was once three settlements, Codford St Mary, Codford St Peter and Ashton Gifford. The two Grade I listed churches of St Mary and St Peter after which the villages were named, are still regularly used. The village is very much a ‘chalk and cheese’ settlement; to the south the tranquil and beautiful Wylye Valley while to the north the vast open landscape of Salisbury Plain. The Army and agriculture are the joint threads that run throughout the recent and the distant past.

Codford has Bronze Age and Romano- British settlements, Saxon origins, was recorded in Domesday, is documented through the medieval period and was turned into military encampments during both World Wars. In September 1914 no less than 24,000 troops arrived in the neighbourhood of Codford for training. In the Great War the main nationalities represented were from Britain, Australia, & New Zealand though other nations were also present at times. While the other Wylye Valley villages had 12 camps in all, Codford had 15 probably due to the village’s location at the edge of Salisbury Plain and proximity to the main railway line. A camp railway with a route length of over two and a half miles from Codford Station was built serving Camps 5,6,7,13,14 & 15.

During WWII the British, the Americans and the Poles predominated. Among the troops stationed in Codford were 6th Guards Armoured Brigade consisting of 4th Grenadiers, 4th Coldstream & 3rd Scots Guards as well as 2nd Battalion of the Welsh Guards were in Codford from autumn 1941-April 1943. They were followed by the American 3rd Armored Division who arrived in September 1943 and left June 1944. Codford was the demobilisation centre for the Polish troops at the end of WWI- many of whom settled in the area.

Codford and Domesday

Of the 335 Wiltshire settlements recorded in the Domesday survey only 29 churches and 197 mills are mentioned. Coteford and Schetone account for two mills. Present day Codford during the period before 1066, and at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, was comprised of four settlements. Present day Codford during the period before 1066, and at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, was comprised of four settlements.

The first local reference is to Humphrey De Lisle who appears to have held no land outside Wiltshire under that name in 1086. It was Robert who held Ashton from Humphrey. Prior to 1066 it was held by Kenwin. It appears the settlement was made up of about 50 people with 32 oxen. The half mill at 6s 3d is completed by the fourth parts at 3s and 3s 1˝ d at Codford.

The first Coteford reference is to land of William of Eu . Bernard holds Coteford from William. Before 1066 it paid tax for one and a half hides – there was reference to the fourth part of a mill which pays 3s; This was obviously a small settlement with about the same number of people as oxen, possibly 16 of each!

The second Coteford entry is for land held from the King by Waleran Venatoris in 1086 and that Erlebald had held it prior to the Norman Conquest when it had paid tax, usually an equal number of pence to each hide of land. This landholding probably refers to Codford St Mary held as East Codford by Oliver de Ingham, a descendent of Waleran. The settlement was the most substantial both in value and in size- it had its own mill and perhaps 80 inhabitants with 88 oxen. The third mention of Coteford in Domesday is land of Osbern Giffard. It records that Osbern himself holds Coteford. Aelfric held it before 1066. The holding included the fourth part of a mill. Estimated population 27 people with 16 oxen. Codford St Peter is the probable location for the land in question.

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