Broad Hinton is a Wiltshire village in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, latitude 51˚29’0”N, longitude 1˚50’0”W. It is 630ft above sea level and eight miles NW of Marlborough. The settlement of Uffcott lies within Broad Hinton parish and comes within the remit of Broad Hinton and Winterbourne Bassett Parish Council for local government purposes. Broad Hinton is part of the West Selkley Ward of Wiltshire Council.
Before the Norman Conquest, Broad Hinton (“Hinton” – hill town) was held by the Anglo-Saxon Wulfgar. Broad Hinton was then in the Selkley Hundred. Wulfgar was probably a Christian since elements of Saxon building remain in the church of St Peter ad Vincula. His fate is unknown but the Doomsday Book of 1086 shows that his lands were then owned by Gilbert de Breteuil, a Norman. Gilbert held five contiguous estates, including Broad Hinton, and built Bincknoll (say Bynol) Castle, a motte and bailey fortification still discernible today, to protect them. Incidentally, the Doomsday Book shows that, unlike nearby Clyffe Pypard, there were no slaves in Broad Hinton.
The church tower of St Peter ad Vincula is largely hidden by trees but there are two other major local landmarks. The first, visible for almost 30 miles, is three clumps of beech trees on the Ridgeway, 857ft above sea level. The Ridgeway is an 87miles pre-historic track which leads from the Sanctuary on Overton Hill, near Avebury, to Ivinghoe in Buckinghamshire. The second is the White Horse on Hackpen Hill (882ft). Robert Witt and Henry Eatwell cut this 90ft² horse in the chalk in 1838 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s coronation. During the Second World War, the horse was covered with turf to avoid giving German aircraft a reference point.
Apart from church records and the histories attached to the memorials in the church, not much of Broad Hinton’s history is accessible until relatively recent times. Census returns show a population of 550 in 1801. During the 19th century, Broad Hinton’s population peaked at 714 in 1851 and by 1901, halved to 347. The lowest point in the 20th century was 304 in 1931. New housing developments, notably Fortunes Field and Pitchens End (built 1986-8, pitchens are ancient cobbled paths) raised the population, including Uffcott, from 391 in 1961 to 640 by 2009. Households in the same period more than doubled from 112 to 250. This growth helped secure the future of Broad Hinton Church of England Primary School, which was founded in 1743 and has some 100 pupils.
Broad Hinton has two public houses – The Crown on the High Street and The Barbury Inn (formerly The Bell) on the A4361. Popularity of the local pubs led the local vicar to establish a Coffee Tavern in 1880 as teetotal competition. Although this thatched building survives as a High Street house, the business didn’t last long. Later opposition to drinking came from the Plymouth Brethren, who had a mission hall around 1900 in what is now the Post Office & Stores, and from the congregation of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, built in 1908 and which closed in the mid-1930s.
Broad Hinton’s shop was originally located in the two adjoining houses, dated 1746, before moving onto the High Street frontage. It took over the Post Office business in 1966 and so became Broad Hinton Post Office & Stores. Broad Hinton Post Office & Stores (01793 731258) is open 06.30-18.00 Monday-Saturday and 06.30-13.00 on Sunday.
Previous Post Offices had been in the middle of the thatched Well Cottages
Then, from about 1904, in Post Office Lane.
(Information here researched and collated by John Hutchings)