Portal:Wiltshire

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Introduction

County Flag of Wiltshire.svg

Wiltshire (/ˈwɪlt.ʃər, -ʃɪər/) is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2 (1,346 square miles). It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county town was originally Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge.

Wiltshire is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, and as a training area for the British Army. The city of Salisbury is notable for its mediaeval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, and the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere.

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Salisbury Plain warning sign.jpg

Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in central southern England covering 300 square miles (780 km2). It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, with a little in Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known landmarks. Largely as a result of the establishment of the Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain (ATE SP), the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in north-west Europe. Additionally the plain has arable land, and a few small areas of beech trees and coniferous woodland.

The boundaries of Salisbury Plain have never been truly defined, and there is some difference of opinion as to its exact area. The river valleys surrounding it, and other downs and plains beyond them loosely define its boundaries. To the north the scarp of the downs overlooks the Vale of Pewsey, and to the north west the Bristol Avon. The River Wylye runs along the south west, and the Bourne runs to the east. The Avon runs through the eastern half of the plain and to the south the plain peters out as the river valleys close together before meeting at Salisbury. From here the Avon continues south to the English Channel at Christchurch, Dorset.

Selected biography

Williamherbertarmor.jpg

William Herbert (1501–1570) was a Tudor soldier and courtier, a son of Sir Richard Herbert, an illegitimate son of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who later gained the title for himself.

William Herbert's early life was distinguished by intense ambition coupled with an equally fierce temper and hot-headed nature. Described by John Aubrey as a "mad fighting fellow," the young Herbert began his career as a gentleman servant to the earl of Worcester. However, after killing a city sheriff when he was arrested for unknown reasons in Bristol, he fled to France. Upon arrival, he immediately joined the service of King Francis I as a soldier, earning a reputation for courage and great skill on the battlefield. "In a short time he became eminent and was favoured by the king, who afterwards recommended him to Henry VIII of England, who much valued him, and heaped favours and honours upon him." For his service to King Henry, Herbert was granted the estates of Wilton, Remesbury, and Cardiff Castle, and his position as a man of means was secured. When the existing earldom of Pembroke became extinct, he became 1st Earl of Pembroke of a new creation.

Herbert's first wife was Anne Parr, a sister of Catherine Parr, one of the wives of King Henry VIII. He rose with the Parrs after his sister-in-law's marriage and was knighted in 1544. He had been granted Wilton Abbey and other lands by Henry VIII by 1544. He pulled down the abbey, and built the first Wilton House in the 1540s.

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