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Bromham, in the County of Wiltshire, is a small village about four miles northwest of Devizes, a parish in the hundred of Potterne and Cannings, union of Devizes, in the neighbourhood of the Kennet and Avon Canal. The village is steeped in history with the parish Church of St. Nicholas, dating back to the early part of the 12th century as its main focal point. Standing in the centre of the village, where three roads meet, its stupendous spire stretches over 60 feet above the top part of the church tower.
This fine church is believed to have replaced another wooden church dating back to Norman times and excavations have also unearthed traces of Roman settlements around the village. In the middle of the 18th century a considerable number of Roman coins were found during ploughing and relics were also found in various parts of the village.
The ancient houses of the village are built of timber and brick, facing the church on the east and south. The village was very involved in the woolen and weaving industries which was at its peak by the 15th century with several small clothiers in the parish, but this died out by the start of the Industrial Revolution. Today Bromham is more famous for its market gardening.
In the reign of King Edward the Confessor, later the English Saint Edward, The Lordship of Bromham, which had previously belonged to Earl Harold, afterwards King of England, was at the time of the Domesday Survey, in the hands of the Crown. The Manor of Bromham Battle, and afterwards the advowson of the church, were given to the Benedictine Monastery of St Martin at Battle Co. Sussex by King William II (Rufus), which had been founded by his father, King William I, AD 1067.
King Edward, and his wife, owned vast amounts of land around Bromham and throughout Wiltshire. Because of his wife's association with Bromham, he is remembered in the stained glass in the south-east window in St. Nicholas Church.
It appears, however, that William Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand, held property at Bromham in the reign of Henry VI, which he left, with his other estates, to his son and heir, Richard. However, Richard died without issue and his manor at Bromham was inherited by his cousin, John Bayntun.
In addition to the property thus occupied by the Bayntun family, an Act for Dissolving the Monastery was passed by King Henry VIII, and in 1538 the Abbey land at Bromham had become the freehold of its new lessee, Sir Edward Bayntun, the son of the above mentioned John Bayntun, by a grant of the Crown. Therefore, at this time, the two manors of Bromham and Battle became one and were known for ease of identification as the Manor of Bromham
Immediately Sir Edward set about building a mansion fit for a king. This was largely achieved by materials used from the ruins of Devizes Castle and an old manor house at Corsham and was decorated with stone carvings in the new and fashionable style.
Bromham House, as it was known, was a magnificent structure that was capable of concealing 700 men and both King Henry VIII and King James I stayed there on more than one occasion. Sadly it was destroyed, in a direct act of vandalism, by the Royalist troops from the Devizes Garrison during the Civil War and was burned to the ground on 5th May 1645.
The Bayntun family built another house at Spye Park, about two miles north of the village, and the archway or gatehouse to Sir Edward's original mansion, which had escaped the destruction, was carefully demolished and again rebuilt at the entrance to the new home, Spye Park House by the grandson of the above another Sir Edward.
Successive generations of the Bayntun family continued to live there until 1864 when John Bayntun Starky ran into financial difficulty and was forced to sell the house to the Spicer family. But four years later, in 1868, this house was also gutted by fire. The Spicers tore down the ruins and rebuilt Spye Park House, but it too met with the same fate and was destroyed by fire in 1974.
But the Tudor-style gatehouse again survived and is still standing and now serves as the only monument to the two fine houses of the Bayntun family. This landmark is known by locals as Spye Arch and stands at the top of Bowden Hill.
Today Bromham House Farm, a modern red brick building, stands a mile north-east of the village on the site of the former Bromham House mansion. There is no trace of any of the ruins of the house, but for a couple of foundation stones buried beneath the ground.
Sir Henry Bayntun built a row of Almshouses in the village in 1612. They were known as The College, or Hospital of the Poor and stood on the slope of the hill to the south-west of St. Nicholas Church and consisted of six two-room cottages. They were demolished in 1964 to make way for a modern housing estate.
Battle House, another Bayntun property, took its name from Battle Abbey and has not changed in appearance since it was built in the early part of the 18th century. It was the dower house of the Bayntun family. Whenever the head of the family died, the eldest son inherited and took over the family mansion, Spye Park House, and lived there. The widow of the deceased then moved out and into Battle House.