Orcheston (OR-Chest-ton) is a civil parish and village in Wiltshire, England, lying on Salisbury Plain less than a mile north-west of neighbouring Shrewton. The present-day parish combines the two former parishes of Orcheston St Mary and Orcheston St George and includes the hamlet of Elston.

Flood Cottages, Orcheston - geograph.org.uk - 373142.jpg
Flood Cottages, Orcheston
Orcheston is located in Wiltshire
Location within Wiltshire
Population339 (in 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSU059453
Civil parish
  • Orcheston
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSalisbury
Postcode districtSP3
Dialling code01980
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°12′25″N 1°55′01″W / 51.207°N 1.917°W / 51.207; -1.917Coordinates: 51°12′25″N 1°55′01″W / 51.207°N 1.917°W / 51.207; -1.917

History and descriptionEdit

The village is recorded in the Domesday Book, with the spelling Orchestone.[2][3]

The two civil parishes of Orcheston, based on the two Church of England parish churches of St Mary and St George, were united into a single civil parish in 1934 and into a single ecclesiastical parish in 1971.[4]

The parish gives its name to the 'Orcheston long grass' (Agrostis stolonifera), also called 'Creeping Bent', the most commonly used species of Agrostis.[5][6][7] The Rough-Stalked Meadow Grass (Poa trivialis), is also called Orcheston Grass,[8] and in the early 19th century there was something of a controversy among botanists as to which was the true Orcheston Grass.[9][10]

The source of the River Till is near the village; the entire river is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).[11]

As of 2009, Orcheston contains about sixty-five houses, of which twenty-six are listed buildings, and has a single parish council.[12] Almost all local government services are provided by the Wiltshire Council unitary authority.


St Mary's Church dates from the 13th century and is Grade II* listed.[13][14] In 1971 the benefice was united with those of Chitterne and Tilshead;[15] today the church is part of the Salisbury Plain benefice, which also includes the churches at Shrewton.[16]

St George's Church is also from the 13th century and also Grade II* listed.[17][18] Having been declared redundant in 1982, it is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[19]

Notable peopleEdit

Maurice Roy Ridley (1890-1969), writer and poet, Fellow and Chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford, was born in Orcheston. Dorothy L. Sayers is reputed to have based the appearance of her fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey on Ridley.

Mick Channon, footballer and racehorse trainer, was born in the village.


  • 'Orcheston St Mary', in A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume XV (1995)
  • 'Orcheston St George' in A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume XIX (work in progress)
  • Peter Daniels, Around Amesbury in old photographs (1990)


  1. ^ "Wiltshire Community History - Census". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  2. ^ Richard Tomkins, Wiltshire Place Names (1983), p. 79
  3. ^ Orcheston at probertencyclopaedia.com
  4. ^ Frederic A. Youngs, Guide to the local administrative units of England (1980), page 546
  5. ^ William George Maton, Observations on the Orcheston long grass in Transactions of the Linnean Society, v. 5 (1800), pp. 28-31
  6. ^ William Bingley, Useful knowledge: or, A familiar account of the various productions of nature (1831) page 33 online at books.google.com
  7. ^ William Withering, An arrangement of British plants (1796) page 144 at books.google.com
  8. ^ Martin John Sutton, Permanent and Temporary Pastures (1929), p. 60
  9. ^ 'An Account of the Grasses and Produce of the Orcheston Meadow in Wiltshire, by Mr Tanner', in The Farmer's Magazine (1813)
  10. ^ 'Fiorin Grass', in Retrospect of philosophical, mechanical, chemical, and agricultural discoveries (volume for 1815) page 174 at books.google.com
  11. ^ "River Till SSSI". Natural England. August 2000. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Orcheston". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  13. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Mary, Orcheston (1181876)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Church of St. Mary, Orcheston". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  15. ^ "No. 45435". The London Gazette. 19 July 1971. p. 8137.
  16. ^ "Orcheston". Salisbury Plain Benefice. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  17. ^ Historic England. "Church of St George, Orcheston (1024021)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Church of St. George, Orcheston". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  19. ^ "St George, Orcheston". Churches Conservation Trust. Retrieved 8 October 2010.

External linksEdit