Marlborough has been of importance since the Romans occupied Britain, where, 1 1/2 miles (2.4km) east at Mildenhall (Cunetio) was a station. There was a mint at Marlborough in Norman times and in the royal forest of Savernake kings hunted.
This market town, a borough since 1204, which has an exceptionally wide high street was once on the main stage coaching route from London to Bath.
With a church at each end, the high street is lined with interesting buildings, some with fine 18th century facades.
During the Civil War there was fighting here. In the lanes beyond the high street are the older timber-framed buildings. This is because the centre of Marlborough was destroyed by fire three times. Once in 1653, then again in 1679 and yet again in 1690. An act of Parliament banned thatched roofing in the town after this.
A group of houses on the northern side of the High Street survived the fires. These were above what is known as the Colonnade. The pillars are still there fronting shops beneath fine gabled buildings. The Hermitage, also in the High Street dates from the early 1600's, while the Castle and Ball isn't much younger.
Marlborough Collage founded in 1843 stands on the site of the old castle. In its grounds is `Maerl's Barrow', the legendary burial place of Merlin.
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul, now redundant and used as a community centre, was where Cardinal Wolsey was ordained in 1498. There is now nothing left of the original church of St. Mary on this site except for a large Norman doorway rebuilt into the west side of the tower, and a pillar of the same period built into the west wall of the nave. The town suffered badly at the hands of the Royalist troops and much of the church of St. Mary's was destroyed in the fire of 1653 and so much more became unsafe that it had to be pulled down leaving little more than a shell. The rebuilding was paid for by public subscription, giving free rein to Puritan views. It was simply laid out, the altar coming out into the nave and tall round arches standing on Tuscan columns.
Marlborough Town Hall, opened in 1902, was built in the ‘Dutch' style, which was very popular with the Edwardians.
Vibrant main street and market
View down Kingsbury Street, Marlborough
The church at the left is St Mary's (see detailed description below). The white structure at the lower centre is a pillbox left over from the second world war.
The church, which is listed Grade I has had a long and, at times, traumatic history. The origins of the church as it stands today go back to the 12th century when a Norman church was built on the site of an earlier one. There are only a few traces of the original Norman structure to be found but the west doorway is a fine example of its kind. The church was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin in 1223. In the 15th and early 16th centuries the aisles were rebuilt and enlarged. The west tower was built at about the same time. In 1642 during the English Civil War Marlborough was besieged by Royalist forces