Downton in 1843
Downton is in the hundred of Downton, 6 miles south-south-east of Salisbury, and 91 from the General Post-Office, London, by the South-Western Railway to Basingstoke, and thence by Andover and Salisbury. The place was of some importance in the middle ages, and had a castle of which extensive earthworks remain ; but no historical notices or traditions of interest are connected with the place. Downton sent members to parliament, but with some interruptions, from the time of Edward I until the Reform Act, by which it was disfranchised. The parish has an area of 11,420 acres, and contained, in 1831, 715 houses, namely, 693 inhabited, 14 uninhabited, and 8 building, with a population of 783 families or 3,519 persons, about half agricultural. The town consists of a long straggling street, stretching across the Avon, over the three arms of which there are three bridges ; and of one or two other streets. It is neither paved nor lighted. The church is a large cross church, with nave and side aisles, chancel, and transept, with a tower at the intersection of the nave and transept : it contains a number of monuments. There is an ancient stone cross, called ‘the borough cross,’ at which the parliamentary elections were formerly held. The borough is not noticed in the Municipal Corporations Reform Act. The market has been discontinued for many years.
The living of Downton with Nunton is a vicarage, united with the perpetual curacy of Redlynch, of the joint clear yearly value of £571, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Wilton, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Salisbury. There were in the parish, in 1833, thirty-eight day-schools of all kinds, with 621 scholars, namely, 243 boys and 378 girls ; giving above one in six of the population under daily instruction. Of these schools, two were national schools, with 48 boys and 47 girls ; and were supported partly by endowment, partly by subscription. There were at the same time nine Sunday-schools, four of them national schools, with 589 scholars, namely, 253 boys and 336 girls ; giving about one in six of the population under instruction on Sundays.