The Church of St. Mary the Virgin
|Population||249 (in 2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
|Website||Alton Barnes, Alton Priors and Honeystreet|
Alton is a civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The parish includes the adjacent villages of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors, and the nearby hamlet of Honeystreet on the Kennet and Avon Canal. It lies in the Vale of Pewsey about 6 miles (10 km) east of Devizes.
The boundaries of Alton Barnes parish were established in the early 10th century, and the ancient parish became a civil parish in 1866. Alton Priors was a chapelry of Overton parish, now West Overton, and became a separate civil parish in 1866. In 1934 the civil parishes of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors were abolished and merged to form the new civil parish of Alton.
The Ridgeway, an ancient trackway, passes through Alton Barnes (although this section is not part of the Ridgeway National Trail, which begins further north). The Wansdyke, an early medieval earthwork, crosses the north of the parish on the Marlborough Downs.
Alton is a civil parish with an elected parish council. It is in the area of the Wiltshire Council unitary authority, which is responsible for all significant local government functions, and is represented in the council by Paul Oatway, who succeeded Brigadier Robert Hall in 2013.
Each of the two villages has a Church of England parish church. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Alton Barnes is partly Saxon, built in the 10th and 11th centuries. The nave has characteristic Anglo-Saxon features: typically tall, narrow proportions and (visible at the west end) long-and-short quoins. The south door was added in the 14th century. The original chancel was as wide as the nave, but it was demolished and replaced with a brick one in 1748.
There was a Saxon chancel arch but this was removed in 1832. There was a Victorian restoration in 1875 and a further restoration in 1904 directed by the local architect Charles Ponting. What survives is a Grade I listed building.
All Saints at Alton Priors was built in the 12th century and retains its original Norman chancel arch. The nave has two 14th-century ogee-headed windows and the west window is 15th-century. As at Alton Barnes, the original chancel has been demolished and replaced with one built of brick. There is a distinctive brass plaque to local landowner William Button (1526–1591), with complex artwork and inscription. All Saints is a redundant church in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is a Grade II* listed building.
The Kennet and Avon Canal, opened in 1810, crosses the parish. A wharf at Honeystreet served the local area and a rural industrial area developed around it, including a firm of barge builders – Robbins, Lane, and Pinniger – who continued until the 1950s.
The Barge Inn was built at Honeystreet in 1858, replacing an earlier building, to cater for those living and working on the canal. It was designated as Grade II listed in 1987. In 2010, following the closure of the business, local volunteers successfully applied for funding to aid its reopening from the Village SOS lottery fund. In 2011 the project was the subject of episode 2 of Village SOS on BBC One. The group ceased to run the pub in October 2012.
William Button (by 1503–1547, politician) is buried in Alton Priors church.
Distinguished rectors of Alton Barnes include Richard Steward (c. 1593–1651, royalist churchman), rector from 1630; William Crowe (1745–1829, poet) from 1787; and Augustus William Hare (1792–1834, writer) from 1831.
In popular culture
The Barge Inn at Honeystreet was a filming location for a 1998 episode of Inspector Morse, an adaptation of The Wench Is Dead. In 2013 the white horse, Adam's Grave and the Barge Inn featured in an episode of Walking Through History, presented by Tony Robinson on Channel 4.
The Barge Inn at Honeystreet is the sole pub in the parish. Alton Barnes has a village hall.
Alton Barnes white horse
The figure is the third largest white horse in Wiltshire. The Pewsey White Horse can be seen from Milk Hill (the location of the horse). The figure is featured in Staying Out for the Summer, a music video for a song of the same name by Dodgy.
For April Fool's Day in 2003 and 2014, the horse was temporarily transformed into a zebra, which in the latter case was created by applying black stripes, made from plastic sheeting, across the horse.
Since the late 1970s Wiltshire has become known for crop circles (patterns created by flattening a crop, usually of cereal). In 1990 a pattern at Alton was used on the cover of the Box Set compilation by rock band Led Zeppelin.
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- McLean, Patrick (4 August 2016). "Concerns raised over another sale of the Barge Inn". Gazetter & Herald. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
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