was known as ‘Stoche’, (meaning settlement),
and the area was well wooded, having lain within the boundaries
of Braydon Forest. It was from the 12th century that the
settlement was called Bradenstoke, and this was applied to
the area surrounding Bradenstoke Priory, which was founded
during that time.
The name ‘Clack’, (which means hill), first
appears in this parish in 1310 and refers to a mound lying
to the north-east of Bradenstoke Farm. Until the later 19th
century this name was applied to the hamlet which followed
the road to the priory. There is documentary evidence from
the Wiltshire Notes and Queries that Canon Jackson considered
the name of Clack to originate from the noise of a mill.
Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue, Clack is described as "A
tongue, chiefly applied to women; a simile drawn from the
a water-mill". Certainly, as children, memories may bear
the delights of a cuff on
and to beware of our tongues going
like a miller's clack. But Clack Mill was pulled down by
Mr. Goddard Smith of Tockenham, who held the farm under a
lease from the descendants of the Earl of Abingdon, for which
he was threatened with legal proceedings.
The area was also known by the name ‘Lousy Clack’,
(taken from the teutonic ‘lloew’, meaning hill),
and resulted in its inclusion in the local rhyme about places
in the neighbourhood with steep escarpments or cliffs. The
rhyme runs: White Cleeve, Pepper Cleeve, Cleeve and Cleavancy,
Lyneham and Lousy Clack, Cris Mavord and Dauntsey.
The name Bradenstoke was revived in the 20th century and
by 1968 the whole village was known by this name.
The site of the Augustinian priory of Clack founded in 1142
by Walter DEvereaux. Some of its ruins are still to
be seen in the farmstead known as Bradenstoke Abbey, but
its great barn and guest house were taken down and carted
away, some to St Donats castle in South Wales, and
the Tithe barn to the USA, by William
Randolph Hearst where they have recently been re-discovered
still in the original shipping crates.
The story goes that the barn was dismantled stone by stone
and taken to the site of the magnates castle at San
Simeon, California. He lost interest in the barn project
and sold the stonework to an hotelier who wanted to use it
for wedding receptions. Permission was refused because of
earthquake zone restrictions.
The residents of Bradenstoke have been trying for a Lottery
grant to try and persuade the hotelier to sell them their
barn and return it to its rightful setting.
Although flanked to the south by the RAF Lyneham airfield,
the hamlet of Bradenstoke remained relatively unchanged,
still resembling the compact medieval village, which had
been dominated by the buildings of Bradenstoke Priory to
the south-west. Most of the priory buildings were removed
The village consists of a single narrow street, closely
built up on both sides. In a widening near the middle of
the street on its south side stands the base and part of
the shaft of an ancient cross first mentioned in 1546-7.
South of this the church of St. Mary was built in 1866. On
the opposite side of the street is Providence Chapel, dating
A few of the houses have exposed timber framing while others,
although altered and refronted, show traces of their timber
construction. It is probable that several are of medieval
origin, among them a partly refronted house at the corner
of the road to Dauntsey, which has heavy curved braces to
A house to the west of Providence Chapel, now three dwellings,
has a jettied upper story with a continuous moulded bressummer,
probably dating from the early 16th century. Two brick houses
carry date-stones of 1762 and 1788. Several thatched roofs,
and others of stone slate, add to the picturesque appearance
of the street.
In 1859 older children from the hamlet of Clack attended
the school at Lyneham, while the younger children were taught
by a young woman in a cottage. A few children went to a school
at Christian Malford.
Then in 1860 a National School was built in the hamlet and
in 1875 some of the income from the Broome charity was allotted
to the school. This particular school stood opposite the
church of St Mary. However, school charity funds were only
applied to Bradenstoke once in 1889. In 1899 it was decided
that when the cost of building Lyneham School had been discharged, ¾ of
the income of the Broome charity was to apply to Lyneham
while the last ¼ was to be known as Broome’s
In 1902 there was an average of 69 boys and girls being
taught by a headteacher and an assistant in the school’s
two rooms. In 1905 it was noted that the Broome’s Bradenstoke
charity had been used for school prizes for 2 or 3 years,
but in this particular year was used instead to maintain
an evening school in the buildings at the National School.
The school known as Bradenstoke C.E. Controlled Primary School
was closed in July 1966 and its pupils attended the Lyneham
Within the last 100 years (1887) a new road was made out
of the forest road from Dauntsey via Bradenstoke to Lyneham.
This new road now by-passes the junction with Clack Hill,
and continues rising in stages up to what is known as The
Banks. There is now an entrance further along the road on
the right hand side leading to Bradenstoke. Before the new
by-pass was made, the road ascended Clack Hill and formed
the main street of Bradenstoke. There were two toll-gates;
one at the top of Clack Hill and the other at the eastern
end of the village, known then as Holloway (Holly Way). This
was a steep escarpment which led to Lyneham. This road was
lowered after the new by-pass was made.
Whilst the entrance to the village from the B4069 has been
much developed during the 1970's, there is still a feeling
of unity within the village, and considerable architectural
and historical interest in many of the buildings which are
often timber framed, some remaining unfaced. Clack Mount
and the ruined Abbey add further historical interest.
The undercroft of Bradenstoke Priory is
considered by many to be the monument most at risk in Wiltshire.
is part of the range containing the fourteenth-century hall
and guest house accommodation. The superstructure of the
range and that of a fifteenth-century tithe barn were demolished
and removed by Randolf Hurst and rebuilt variously in Wales
and the USA in 1929.
The remains of the undercroft have deteriorated
considerably through neglect and are now the subject of
English Heritage funded emergency repairs. Owing to the dangerous
nature of the building the first stage of this work was
emergency propping up of the remaining vaulting to enable
clearance of fallen debris and structural recording.
New Lease of Life
Medieval ponds and a Victorian orchard
are being restored at Bradenstoke Abbey, near Lyneham, Wiltshire,
of the Augustinian priory of Clack founded in 1142, thanks
to support from Defra.
Only ruins remain today after US newspaper
magnate, William Randolf Hearst, sent his architect on
a tour of Europe, 70
years ago, to find buildings which could be incorporated
into his castle at St Donat's in Wales. The architect bought
the abbey's buildings, and the King's Lodgings at Bradenstoke,
built by Henry II, were then dismantled
and transported to St Donat's.