The Wiltshire village of Bradenstoke is located on a hill, to the south of the River Braydon and north of Lyneham airfield. Bradenstoke was recorded in "The Doomsday Book" and is described as follows:
Edward holds BRADENSTOKE himself. Stremius held it before 1066; it paid tax for 16 hides and 1 virgate. Land for 10 ploughs. In lordship 7 1/2 hides of this; 4 ploughs there; 2 slaves. 8 villagers, 16 smallholders and 16 cottagers with 6 ploughs. A mill which pays 30d; meadow, 4 acres; pasture, 12 acres; woodland 1/2 league long and 3 furlongs wide. The value was £6; now £10. 1 hide and 1 virgate of land are attached to this manor, as the Englishmen proved. William of Picquigny holds this land.
The name Clack refers to a large mound west of the village of Bradenstoke which lies within the parish of Lyneham. First occurring in 1310, the name was applied to the settlement on the road to Bradenstoke Priory until the late nineteenth century. An old rhyme refers to four north Wiltshire villages as follows: “White Cleeve, Pepper Cleeve, Cleeve, and Cleveancy,/Lyneham and lousy Clack, Cus Mavord and Dantsey”[i.e. Clyffe Pypard, Lyneham, Christian Malford and Dauntsey]. ‘Lousy’ is derived from the Teutonic 'lleow', a hill.
The first edition of the 1 inch to 1 mile Ordnance Survey map (the ‘Old Series’), Sheet XXXIV, surveyed in the 1810s and revised continuously until the early 1890s, shows that hamlet as Clack. On the ‘New Series’ 1-inch map, published in 1892 and based on the 25-inch survey of the county in the 1870s and 1880s, the village is referred to as Bradenstoke cum Clack, and continues to be so marked on maps as late as the 1950s. Only with the advent of the Seventh Series of the 1-inch map, published in 1968, is the village named simply as ‘Bradenstoke’. The name Clack is preserved in the feature ‘Clack Mount’ marked on the Ordnance Survey maps from 1892 to the present; i.e. when the village’s original name of Bradenstoke comes to be used again.
In Kelly’s Directories, Clack is simply referred to as a hamlet within Lyneham, until 1867, when there is reference to Clack as a “new district, formed in 1866 for ecclesiastical purposes” from parts of the parishes of Christian Malford and Lyneham, and given the formal name of Bradenstoke cum Clack. The village is entered under that name in the directories from 1880 to 1920, and, from 1923 onwards simply as Bradenstoke, with reference to it being “formerly called Bradenstoke cum Clack”
At one time the village had two public houses: the Cross Keys which is still a going concern, and the Jolly Trooper which stood on the site of an older inn, the Saracens Head, which has recently been closed. The village square has the old Market Cross and now doubles as a war memorial.
The Augustinian Priory
The Augustinian Priory at Bradenstoke was founded in 1142 by Walter D'Evereaux, the father of the 1st Earl of Salisbury. The Priory was a victim of King Henry VIII's suppression of the Monasteries.
The Priory buildings remained intact until the late 1920's, when they were purchased by William Randolph Hearst and many of the stones from the Priory were shipped to St Donats in South Wales to rebuild the castle there. These stones form what is now known as "Bradenstoke Hall". The tithe barn which was part of the Priory buildings was dismantled and shipped to the USA. These stones were recently found in a warehouse, still in their original crates.
There are many legends about the Priory, one of which relates to "The Black Monk" who was supposed to have had an affair with an aunt of Jane Seymour, one of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. The Abbott, on finding out about this, is reputed to have had the Monk "walled up" alive near the entrance to the Priory, in fear of the King’s anger. When the Priory was dismantled in the late 1920's, three skeletons were in fact discovered walled up in the Priory. Another legend relates to Sir John Danvers of nearby Dauntsey who was known as "The Regicide", as he sat as a Judge and signed the death warrant of King Charles I. When Charles II was returning to England after Cromwell’s death, the regicides who were alive were rounded up and executed (those already dead were disinterred and their remains placed on display). Legend has it that a Danvers family servant disinterred Sir John’s body and secretly reburied it in the grounds of the old Priory, so that he could rest in peace.
All that now remains on the original site of the Priory is the tower.
Clack Mount is a polygonal island surrounded by a ditch. It is located on Bittlesea Farm, 250m north-east of the Priory. It consists of two mounds, the smaller of which is a WWII pillbox. The other mound measures 19m in diameter at the base and is 1.5m high. This is almost certainly, in its present form, a post-medieval prospect mount. A field survey has been carried out at the Priory and Clack Mount for English Heritage for management purposes. The survey was carried out over a period of nine days at a scale of 1:1000. Features that were recorded included part of the monastic range, fish ponds and garden earthworks.