Archeological digs on Pewsey Hill give an indication that there was a settlement here in the 6th century. King Alfred, who had defeated the Danes in 878 AD, owned much of the land in the Pewsey area.
The Domesday Book tells us that the Church (Hyde Abbey) held Pevesie (Pewsey) and that there were 46 villagers, 24 tenant farmers , 6 serfs and 7 mills. There was plough land, meadowland and pasture land. Savernake Forest in those days stretched as far west as Pewsey.
Poll Tax returns in the 14th Century show that Pewsey had few merchants. The majority of occupations were to do with the cultivation of the land and rearing sheep and cattle. There were a few craftsmen in the area such as:- Brewer, Carpenter, Miller, Smith, Tailor, Tanner, Wheeler and Weaver.
In Tudor times Duchess of Somerset owned the Manor of Pewsey. The timber framed cruck house at Ball corner, Bridge Cottage on the banks of the Avon and the Court House by the Church are the oldest houses in Pewsey dating from this time.
John Wesley preached at Pewsey Church in 1764. The rector at that time, Joseph Townsend, was a remarkable man, starting a free medical service and being largely responsible for the building of the first bridge over the River Avon. In 1836 Pewsey became the chosen site for the Union Workhouse, at that time there was a great deal of poverty and unemployment.
The Kennet and Avon Canal was opened in 1810, but it was the coming of the railway in 1862 that transformed Pewsey. It was no longer an isolated community.
The Bouverie’s, were the most prominent family at the turn of the century and lived in the Old Rectory, (a typical Georgian Style House). They had a great deal of influence over the church, the schools, the administrative and social life of Pewsey. In 1889, under Canon Bouverie, the church was completely restored.
In 1875 the Methodist Church was built and also, in the same year, George Whatley started at Avonside in the Foundry building (part of which is now the Heritage Centre). They traded as Iron and Brass Foundery as well as Water Engineers making water wheels, drills and pumps.
Howard Lampard, in 1912, founded a garage business, Woottons, where he had the first hand operated petrol pumps in Pewsey. He was also the pioneer of bus travel in the Vale.
Between the first and second World Wars the first Council Houses were built at the Crescent and a modern sewage disposal system was constructed.
The workhouse became Pewsey Hospital in 1930 and was taken over by the Mental Deficiency Committee as the centre of an Industrial Colony. It had 500 beds in 1938.
Pewsey has always had a large number of voluntary organisations - Sports, Social, and of course the Carnival. In 1951 with their support, the Parish Council purchased land for a Recreation ground and later, also due to voluntary effort, the swimming pool was built. Now on that site is a modern Sports Centre situated next to the Comprehensive and Primary Schools.
In 1989 again thanks largely to voluntary effort, the Bouverie Hall was opened, the name of the old hall kept by popular demand. Much of the community life is centred around this building.
Pewsey is growing community, with a supermarket and new housing estate built on the site of the old Pewsey Hospital.
Pewsey - The statue of King Alfred on the right looking towards River Street.
Pewsey Heritage Centre - High Street
Statue of King Alfred
Pewsey - St John The Baptist
Wesleyan Methodist Church - North Street, Pewsey