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History of Warneage Wood

Warneage Wood lies adjacent to the old Roman Road, Ermine Way. Earthworks indicate the possibility of a medieval settlement of the site.

The wood was named after Warneage Farm, which stood on the western edge of the site. The farm belonged to Emily Longspee, the widow of Stephen Longspee, Lord of the manor of Wanborough, who founded a chapel dedicated to St Catherine in 1270. The estate associated with the chapel was looked after by two chaplains and a clerk. The senior chaplain was also known as ‘Warden’ and the estate was his Wardenage, which later became shortened to Warneage. The chapel remained standing until the repressive reign of Edward VI in the 1540s.

Warneage Farm was the main farmhouse on the manor estate. In 1888, farmer John Wells lay in wait for the thieves who were plundering his cider store. One of the culprits was local carpenter David May who was shot dead by Farmer Wells and now reputedly haunts the site of the farm which stood on the western edge of the wood.

The many fruit trees remaining in the hedgerows are testimony to the local cider-making industry. In 1888, William Morris wrote in the Swindon Advertiser that Warneage Farm was used to store cider when the last occupants moved.

The name Warneage Wood was chosen by the local community to reflect the history of the area.