History


Down Ampney was notable in medieval times as one of the 'seats' of the powerful Hungerford family (their principal seat was at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset) and a number of elaborate family monuments survive in the village church.

The Old Vicarage in Down Ampney was the birthplace of Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1872. A tune he composed (used for the hymn "Come Down, O Love Divine") is titled "Down Ampney" in its honour. Find out more about Ralph Vaughan Williams.

During World War II, the airfield RAF Down Ampney saw action, with planes flying to and from via the runway whilst serving in the war. The church has a stained glass window in commemoration of the planes that flew from the airfield for the Battle of Arnhem, 1944. Find out more about the Down Ampney Airfield.

Aside from the airfield, a school older than 150 years, a multi-use games area for younger residents, tennis club, village hall, thriving village shop & Post Office and the church mentioned above, which evidently dates back to before the bubonic plague, are also present in the current arrangement of the village.

For more about the World War II history of the village you can contact the RAF Down Ampney Association, or read the village's What's in a Fieldblog. The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society website is also a great source of further information about the famous composer and his life.

Many people come to visit the village to see the birthplace of the British composer - Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was born in the Vicarage.  There is a display about his life and work in the church, which is open every day.

The ancient church of All Saints' was built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century and is now on the edge of the village because the centre of gravity of the village moved when the plague struck.  This Grade I Listed building is positioned in a quintessentially English setting.  In 2017, it featured in Channel 4's 'Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages'.

The War Memorial at the east end of the village is a lasting memorial to villagers who served in the First and Second World Wars.  Down Ampney itself was home to over 3,000 service personnel during the Second World War as an RAF based was here from 1944-1947.  There is also a Memorial Stone to personnel who served at RAF Down Ampney at the end of the old airfield.

At the other end of the village there is a the base of an old preaching cross, which is an historic monument.

The land around the village was once the estate of the Hungerford family and then the Earls of St German (the Eliot Family).  More recently it has been owned and managed by the Co-op, and - since 2016 - is owned by the Wellcome Trust.  Within the parish are two relatively new vineyards - one is at Poulton Hill on the road between Down Ampney and the neighbouring village of Poulton.

We hope you enjoy your visit to our website - and hope you might come and visit our village.

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