Welcome to the Laverstock Community Homepage
A Short History
Laverstock and adjacent Millford developed in the valley of the River Bourne. It is separated from its larger neighbour, Salisbury, by the railway line and 17th/18th century water meadows which are still actively farmed. It is also bounded to the east by the delightful Cockey Down and to the north finishes at St Thomas’s bridge, named after the murdered archbishop Thomas Becket, who probably walked this way on his journey from Salisbury to Clarendon Palace where he had meetings with Henry II. Its name is from the French word Laferce (skylark) and stoc or settlement partially enclosed by a stockade. Laverstock’s history has witnessed continuous activities from the earliest of times, there being evidence of Neolithic flint mining on Burrough’s Hill, through to today. It had very active pottery kilns in medieval times sufficiently distinctive to be known as Laverstock Ware. One unusual claim to fame for the village is the establishment of a mental asylum in the 19th century which became one of the largest private asylums in the country, pioneering some unusual treatments. Huge expansion in recent times has meant that the village has had to fight hard to retain its own separate identity from nearby Salisbury.
In 2018 we estimate that there were 1171 dwellings in Laverstock and Millford, an increase of 30 from the 2011 census, indicating the recent stability of the settlements. There are about 2630 residents, with the lowest number of occupants per dwelling, at 2.3, compared to the parish average of 2.5. This reflects the higher relative age profile, resulting from the longer history and greater stability of this area compared to most of the rest of the parish. In the census there were around 38% in the 60+ age group compared with a parish average of 24%.
The three secondary schools on Church road are an important part of the parish. Sited in beautiful semi rural surroundings, these serve the educational needs of a large surrounding area as well as our own parish.
Short Term Future
Wiltshire Council designates Laverstock as a small village and under current policy permits only infill development other than in certain exceptional circumstances. It is therefore expected to remain quite stable in terms of dwellings and population, and relative to the overall parish, to decline to less than a quarter on both measures by 2021.
For those with a particular interest in the history of Laverstock ……
River and Settlement – The river Bourne and the surrounding geology made the area around present day Laverstock ( in old records Laverstoke) an ideal place for our ancestors to live, work and hunt. Settlements would always favour a river valley environment, as it provided natural flowing fresh water, food, transport and even when in flood, defence. There is evidence of these ancient people working with the seasons, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements include roundhouses with separate pens for animals and evidence of farming.
Geology – The soil is predominantly flint and chalk and the remains of flint mining activity from the Neolithic period have been identified on Burrough’s Hill together with traces of several barrows.
Topography – on Cockey Down there are remains of Romano-British settlements and a cemetery, together with extensive field systems, tracks and paths and a corn dryer was found on Laverstock Down. This high landscape was a large and important agricultural area, situated to give maximum access to the sun and maximum warning of pending attack.
Countryside – The lie of the land made it ideal as there were already tracks and paths, crossing the valley and linking to major long distance route ways. The Romans built large roads close to the area and tracks lead across the countryside to meet them. Indications are that probably before the 13th century some of these paths and cart tracks linked Laverstock to the ports of Southampton and Bristol.
Industry – This landscape, the river and its geology gave rise to an important rural manufacturing industry. For about 200 years the potters of Laverstock provided some of the best quality jugs, pots and bowls for the kings of England. The many tracks allowed these ‘Laverstock Wares’ to move across the country and further afield. For a time the river Bourne is known to have been much faster flowing and there were two mills close by, identified on the Andrews’ and Durys 1773 map of Wiltshire as ‘Laverstoke Mill Manufactury ‘ and the other near today’s Milford Bridge as a ‘Toking Mill’.