The village was formed from the two parishes of Codford St Mary and Codford St Peter. The two adjacent villages grew together and their union was formalised in 1928 with the approval of the union of the benefice of the two Codfords. Six years later the two parishes became one. Both churches however are still in use today. The village also incorporates the Tything of Ashton Gifford, a settlement that was cleared to make way for the principal house of the village in the early 19th century.
A possible neolithic hillfort or enclosure lies to the north east of the village, Codford Circle.
Anglo-Saxon records show that in the year 906 the area was known as 'Codan Ford' probably meaning 'the ford of Coda' (a man's name). The river which is forded is called the Wylye, which may mean winding, treacherous or tricky stream.
The Codford area has had a long history with Anzac soldiers and during World War I large training and transfer camps were established for the tens of thousands of troops waiting to move to France. Codford also became a depot in 1916 for the men who had been evacuated from the front line and were not fit to return to the front.
Codford's 'Anzac Badge' was the idea of an Australian Brigade Commander during World War I who wished to leave a visible memento of his brigade when it departed. This consists of a gigantic Rising Sun badge (measuring 53 x 45 metres), carved into the grass of 'Misery Hill' (exposing the underlying bright white chalk) in 1916.
The soldiers of 13 Trg Bn AIF who maintained the badge as a form of punishment named the site 'Misery Hill'
The meticulously maintained Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery nearby is the second largest New Zealand War Grave Cemetery in the UK, and contains the graves of 97 Anzac troops, 66 New Zealanders, and 31 Australians, plus 1 Welsh Guardsman from WWII. The effect of two World Wars still resonates in the local community and there is still a sense of welcoming towards Australians and New Zealanders. Codford villagers hold a remembrance ceremony on 25 April [Anzac Day] at 6.30am each year.
The Australian Rising Sun Badge and the War Cemetery are now the only visible reminders of a period when hundreds of troops from Britain, Australia and New Zealand were stationed in and around Codford.
See the panel above for the images described below.
1771 map of Codford St Mary (Ref: WSA: 415/31)
The earliest depiction of Broadleaze is on the earliest map of Codford St Mary, dated around 1771. This was made by William Wapshire for the then lord of the manor, Thomas Walker, esq., of Soho Square, at the time he acquired the manor. Broadleaze (here spelled Broadleas) is shown as a large, roughly rectangular tract of land, presumably pasture, edged with trees, with a couple of projections into what was then the Marsh, or Codford Great Marsh.(Ref: WSA 415/31). Its eastern boundary abutted the land to the south of what is now Home Close; its northern boundary was the High Street; the boundary to the west was the eastern boundary of Codford St Mary; and, as mentioned, its southern boundaries protruded into the Marsh.
1814 manorial map of Codford St Mary (Ref: WSA: 202/1 MS)
The intervening years are silent on Broadleaze, though a manorial map of Codford St Mary of 1814 shows the area as a vast open space. On careful examination, the original outline of the 1771 'Broadleas' can be picked out and superimposed on the map (see below), but it would appear that there have been no further changes since 1771.
1839/40 Tithe Award map for Codford St Mary (Ref: WSA: T/A Codford St Mary)
Nothing more is learned until the Tithe Award and its map of 1839/40. Broadleaze is now shown as an orchard, of which there were several in the village, and with an almost continuous rectangular boundary. According to the Award, it was owned and occupied at this time by James Slade, a prominent landowner, who owned property and land in both Codfords. He lived at The Beeches, at what is now the Woolhouse, which he probably had built in the early years of the 19th century. He ran the farm, later known as Bury Farm, with his nephew Thomas Slade Whiting.
At this time, Broadleaze consisted of about 5 acres and its southern boundary ran roughly where it does today – on the line of the A36 by-pass.
1886 1st edition OS map (Ref: WSA: OS 1886)
On the 1886 1st edition OS map, the land is still depicted as orchard, occupying some 4.242 acres, with a western strip abutting the eastern boundary of Codford St Peter and with its western side having a largely indented outline. This indented strip was 1.310 acres, bringing the total acreage to just over 5.5 acres.
1901 OS map (Ref: WSA: OS 1901)
By the time of the 1901 OS map, the odd-shaped western strip has been subsumed and the area is once more meadow or pasture and this situation continued onto the 1924 OS map.
Extract from 1913 Sales particulars of Codford St Mary lands (Ref: WSA 1438/15)
In 1913, there was a sale of freehold properties in Codford St Peter, Sherrington and Codford St Mary, on 31st October of that year.
Extract from 1913 sale map (Ref: WSA 1438/15)
Lot 8 consisted of three areas of land, numbered 144, 71 and 81 on the OS maps of the time. Field 144 belonged to Codford St Mary parish and was a dry pasture called Long Close, consisting of 1.549 acres. This was the area which had been taken into the Broadleaze area at the time of the Field 77 was called Broad Close and formed the bulk of what is now Broadleaze; it contained 5.552 acres and below it, to the south west was Field 81, Brasier Close, an area of Water Meadow of 5.706 acres. Fields 71 and 81 were both in Codford St Mary. The frontage onto the High Street was about 580 feet and the land of Mr Edwards and Mr Alec Dear (who owned the Woolstore) surrounded the western and southern parts of the area for sale.
All images are courtesy of the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office, Chippenham.
1771 map of Codford St Mary
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