Downton history header


Downton, England is an ancient town with history being recorded as early as the Norman and Saxon eras. The town was visited by King Henry II in 1157-8 and King John in 1206, 1207 and (approx.) 1208. It was one of the first towns established in that area, and is now just a sleepy little village.

Recently added to this page is a link to the Downton Buildings Archive. This website is hosted by a member of the Downton Museum and Archive group and details the history of many buildings in Downton and the surrounding area. Many tidbits of Downton history not found elsewhere (at least by this researcher!) are included with the building histories, including the names of the former occupants.


  • Kirby's 1885 History of Downton
  • Downton - British History On-Line
  • Downton - Wiltshire County Council
  • The Borough Cross
  • The Mills
  • The Tannery
  • The Moot
  • Charlton-All-Saints


  • Downton ~ 7000 years of an English Village
    Pictures of Downton
    Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810


    An even earlier account of Downton's history is now available. A book called "Downton and Cerdic 519 AD" has recently been completed by Michael Slade. He had mentioned to me that he would like the book to be available on the internet, but before we could discuss it further, he sadly passed away. He had sent me a copy of his book just a short time ago, and his family has graciously allowed me to create a web version to put on my site. A great deal of research was done by the author and I hope you enjoy the read as much as I. The book has been reproduced in it's entirety, including all maps and graphics.


    Downton and Cerdic 519 AD
    Birthplace of King Arthur's Kingdom of Wessex and England


    The trade directories include a brief history of the town and list some Eastman family members and their trades at the time.
    Trade Directories
  • Trade Directory Introduction
  • Universal British Directory, 1793-1798
  • Pigot's Commercial Directory, 1830
  • Pigot's Commercial Directory, 1842
  • Kelly's Commercial Directory, 1855
  • Post Office Directory, 1867


  • In 1509, England was under the rule of the infamous Henry VIII. Everyone in England at that time was Catholic. Henry spent his time entertaining himself and left the kingdom in the hands of Thomas (Cardinal) Wolsey. Henry's wife was Catherine of Aragon, daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella were the ones who financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

    By 1534, Henry had given up on the possibility of Catherine bearing him a son to inherit the throne. He went to Wolsey, who was head of the Catholic church in England and asked him to annul the marriage so he would be free to marry again. Wolsey denied the request and Henry responded by declaring himself the head of the Church of England. This needed the consent of Parliament, which they gave because anyone who questioned Henry's authority was immediately beheaded for treason.

    The Anglican Church allowed divorce so Henry remarried and had his son. When he died in 1547, his son, Edward, took the throne. Edward's reign was brief because he soon died and his sisters took the throne. Eleven years, and several changes of religion passed before Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1558. During that time, the religion of the country had gone from a mixture of Catholic and Protestant, to strict Catholic, and with her ascension to the throne, back to the Anglican religion that Henry VIII had instituted.

    This period must have been difficult for the people. They had been told time and again to change their religious practices. Those who questioned these frequent changes were quickly arrested, imprisoned, or even beheaded.

    The Eastman family was in Charlton, "Dounton Manor" as early as 1539. It is in these tumultuous times we begin the tracing of the Eastman name.*

    *Source: Roger Eastman