infobox UK place

country = England
official_name= Warminster
population= 17,377
shire_district= West Wiltshire
shire_county = Wiltshire
region= South West England

constituency_westminster= Westbury
post_town= Warminster
postcode_district = BA12
postcode_area= BA
dial_code= 01985
os_grid_reference= ST875455
latitude= 51.2090

longitude= -2.1796

dablink|This article is about the English town. See also Warminster, Pennsylvania

Warminster is a town in western Wiltshire, England, by-passed by the A36, and near Frome and Westbury. It has a population of about 17,000 and is part of the West Wiltshire district. The town's name is believed to be derived from the name 'Were-minster'. The River Were runs through the town and can be seen running through the middle of the town park. The Minster church of St Denys sits on the River Were. The town was originally called "Minster-on-the-Were", this in time was shorted to Wereminster, which eventually became Warminster. Warminster Online, Accessed July 2007, online] The name Warminster first occurs in the early 10th century. Warminster Online, Accessed July 2007, online]


The town was first settled in the Saxon period, though there are the remains of numerous earlier settlements nearby, including the Iron Age hill fort Battlesbury Camp and Cley Hill, the latter a site operated by the National Trust.

There are indications that a Middle Iron Age settlement may also have been situated just west of the town. Alby's Warminster Pages Accessed January 2008, online]

The town's prosperity following the growth of the wool trade in the Late Middle Ages caused the erection of many magnificent structures, including the Minster Church of Saint Denys, in a yew grove sacred from pre-Christian times, and including an organ originally destined for the then under-construction Salisbury Cathedral.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages the town became famous not only for its wool and cloth trade but also for its great prosperity as a corn market (it was second only to Bristol in the West of England). Many of the buildings which survive in the Market Place owe their origin to the great corn market days when they were used as stores and warehouses, or as inns and hostelries for the buyers and sellers who came from many miles around.

Civil War

During the Civil War (1642-1645) the town is thought to have changed hands at least four times between the Royalist and Parliamentary supporters. When James II came to the throne in 1685 the local gentry and the Wiltshire Militia supported him against the Duke of Monmouth who was defeated. Virtual Warminster, Accessed July 2007, online]

20th Century

During the First World War thousands of soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada were camped in the villages around Warminster. Virtual Warminster, Accessed July 2007, online]

In the 1960s and early 1970s Cradle Hill became famous as the centre of a flap surrounding UFOs and crop circles with at least one author claiming that as many as 5000 UFOs had been witnessed in the area.

Religious History

Warminster is close to Stonehenge and may have some pre-Christian roots, however the modern town was founded in Anglo-Saxon times. In the North-west of the Diocese of Salisbury Warminster is a minster town in Rural Wiltshire. The Town is divided into three Church of England Parishes, and is also served by other traditions and denominations. The three Parish Churches in the town are all in the Episcopal Area of Ramsbury served by the Bishop of Ramsbury (Anglican) currently the Rt Rev'd Stephen Conway.

The Minster (St Denys.)

The Minster church dates back to the 1100’s when it was built by the Normans to replace the earlier Saxon minster. Since then it has been modified on several occasions. It was remodelled in the 14th century and additions were made in the late 15th or early 16th century, but by 1626 the church was reported to be “mightily in decay”. As a result extensive repairs were carried out from 1626 to 1629. From 1887 to 1889 the Minster was mostly rebuilt in the perpendicular style by Sir Arthur Blomfield. All that remains of the old church are the central tower, south wall of the chancel and the south porch. During the late 20th century, a kitchen, toilets and a meeting place were installed in the west end.

The worship is mainly Eucharistic and uses both traditional and modern Anglican services. There is a service of BCP Holy Communion at 8 O'clock every Sunday followed by a Sung Eucharist at 9.30 am. Informal worship is offered in the afternoons. Creche facilities and a Sunday school are always available.

The Minster was part of the 'Cley Hill' team ministry, but this was changed on 1st December 2007 when the Minster once again became a separate Parish of Warminster St Denys. The villages that had been part of the Minster benefice became the Cley Hill Villages which incorporates the following Churches:

Brixton Deverill: St Michael

Kingston Deverill: St Mary

Longbridge Deverill: St Peter & St Paul

Corsley: St Margaret of Antioch

Corsley: St Mary

Chapmanslade: St Philip & St James

Horningsham: St John the Baptist benefice

In 2007 Revd. Harvey Gibbons was installed as Priest-in-Charge of the Minster. In 2008 as Rector of Warminster St Denys and St. Mary's, Upton Scudamore

Christ Church

Christ Church, Warminster serves a parish on the southern side of Warminster. The Church is evangelical in tradition and the 9.30 family service on Sundays is lively, although the Church welcomes people of all traditions, the 11am Sunday Morning Worship service is more reflective in style and spirituality.

The Church was built in 1830 to serve what was then Warminster Common.

During the late 1960's an attempt was made to modernise the worship in the Church, and a nave Altar was built. This was a very controversial move and led, eventually, to a consistory court.

In 2004 Christ Church under went a redevelopment project that removed the controversial Nave Altar and pews, and created a modern and functional welcome / fellowship area in the lobby of the Church building.

The current Vicar, Peter Hunter was installed in 1997.

t John the Evangelist

St John's Church was built in a field called Picked Acre alongside Boreham Road. The eight acres of land was given for a church and churchyard, together with an endowment for its upkeep, by William Temple of Bishopstrow House in 1859. The Church was completed in 1865.

The baptistry at the west end was designed by architect Charles Ponting with London glaziers J Powell and Sons of Whitefriars providing the mosaic tile decoration around 1912.

Revd. Denis Brett is Rector of St Johns.

Warminster Baptist Church

Warminster Baptist Church is located in North Row.

From 2002 until 23rd March 2008 Rev. Martin Robinson was Minister of WBC Warminster Baptist Church "http://warminsterbaptistchurch.davesimpson.co.uk/" online]

Foundation Christian Fellowship

Established in 1986, FCF is a Free Church that provides Bible-based preaching and worship. The church meets in The Assembly Rooms in Warminster.

The Pastors are The Reverends Stephen and Janet Wood.

Warminster United Church

Warminster United Church is an ecumenical fellowship that is within the Methodist and Reformed tradition situated in George Street. Warminster United Church "http://www.unitedchurchwarminster.org.uk/" online]

t George's Roman Catholic Church

St George's Roman Catholic Church is located in Boreham Road.

The parish is on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, and reaches out into the Wiltshire countryside serving the people of the town of Warminster and the many villages around; and also serves the Mass Centre of St Mary in Mere at the south part of the parish.


Warminster has strong military connections.The name of the camp is Battlesbury Barracks and includes Harman Lines named for Victoria Cross winner John Harman -Burma 1944. It is the home of the Land Warfare Centre — formerly the Army's School of Infantry — and abuts the Salisbury Plain Training area (SPTA), which is large enough to exercise a Battlegroup and which is dotted with Royal Artillery live-firing ranges. The Small Arms School Corps and Headquarters Infantry are also based in the town.
During a training exercise in World War II, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie MC crashed his tank into a house. Warminster Online, Accessed July 2007, online]


Warminster has five main suburban areas, namely Sambourne, Woodcock, Bugley, Boreham and Warminster Common

UFO Sightings

In the 1960s and early 1970s Warminster became the centre of a UFO flap. Interestingly, the Warminster phenomenon began not with unidentified "objects" but with unidentified "sounds"; which is, perhaps, why the phenomena came to be labelled the 'Thing'.Arthur Shuttlewood, "The Warminster Mystery"]

The genesis of the Warminster UFO phenomenon is described in Arthur Shuttlewood's "The Warminster Mystery". Shuttlewood was a journalist with the "Warminster Journal", the local newspaper. It was through this position that Shuttlewood first came into contact with the phenomenon.

The date on which the Warminster phenomenon started is a moot point. "Flying Saucer Review" reported that, in November 1961, four witnesses near Warminster witnessed a UFO leaving a trail of sparks.Flying Saucer Review, 1961] Two of the events reported by Shuttlewood in "The Warminster Mystery" as occurring in 1965 are also reported by Shuttlewood, in the "Warminster Journal" in December 1965, as having occurred in 1963 and 1964.Steve Dewey and John Ries, "In Alien Heat"]

The mythological history of the Warminster phenomenon, however, began early on Christmas morning, 1964. A number of witnesses were awoken by strange sounds, variously described as like twigs or leaves were being drawn across a roof, or a chimney being crashed to the ground, or like roof tiles being forcefully rattled around. The sounds were witnessed in one case by as many as thirty individuals. Perhaps the strangest was that witnessed at 6.12 that morning by Mrs Marjorie Bye, who was walking to the Holy Communion Service at Christ Church in Warminster. As she approached the church the air about her filled with strange sounds that she found disturbing, and made her feel weak and unable to move. These unidentified noises continued on an ad hoc basis until at least June 1966. Roughly nine cases are described in "The Warminster Mystery" in which the only unusual phenomena are noises. Over the course of time this "noise" phenomenon receded and the visual phenomenon took its place to become the most important element of the Warminster phenomenon; the Warminster Thing became a UFO.

Through the early months of 1965, no UFOs were seen. The first UFO sighting recorded in "The Warminster Mystery" was around May 19th, 1965, when three times during that week one witness saw unusual objects in the sky. The UFOs were silent, stationary and cigar-shaped, covered in winking bright lights, and gradually faded as the witness watched. On the 3rd of June, 1965, a brightly glowing, cigar-shaped object was witnessed by a family in Heytesbury, a village near Warminster. The UFO remained motionless over the south of Warminster for almost half an hour. The UFO was also observed by two Warminster residents, who described the UFO as 'twin red-hot pokers', and by seventeen people swimming or fishing at Shearwater, a lake near Warminster.

Although UFO sightings had now commenced, the strange sounds still continued to be heard, and on the 10th of August 1965 a connection between UFOs and the strange sounds appeared to be confirmed. At 3.45 am, a local woman was woken by a terrible droning sound. When she looked out of her bedroom window she saw a bright object like a massive star. It remained visible for some 25 minutes, then the humming began to attenuate, and the UFO began to flicker; the noise finally stopped, and the object vanished from sight. As with the reports from earlier in the year, it was the noise that most disturbed the witness.

As the reports of strange sounds and unidentified lights in the sky began to flood in to Arthur Shuttlewood and the local papers, ufological groups and personalities became involved. Shuttlewood managed to place stories into the national papers. A public meeting was held in the town in August 1965 at which the topic of UFOs was discussed. The meeting was televised and reported in local and national papers, and led to an invasion of the curious over the Bank Holiday weekend. Public interest in the Warminster phenomenon was further piqued by the publication, in the "Daily Mirror", of a photograph of a UFO, taken in daylight over the town by Gordon Faulkner at the end of August. Interest in the Warminster Thing had become national, and was later to become international. Ufologists and skywatchers flocked to Warminster.

UFOs continued to be seen throughout the decade subsequent to 1965. The hey-day of the mass skywatch was in the mid-1960s, but continued through to the mid-70s. Cradle Hill became the centre of skywatching activities, but Starr (Middle) Hill and Cley Hill were also popular with skywatchers. Warminster's reputation as a UFO hotspot diminished towards the end of the 1970s, although UFOs do continue to be reported in the area. In the 1980s, with the growth of the crop circle phenomena in Wiltshire, interest was rekindled in Warminster's UFO connection.

Because of its notoriety, Warminster was subject to much experimentalDavid Simpson, "Conclusions From Controlled UFO Hoaxes"] and playful hoaxing. It has also been suggested that the iconic image of the Warminster UFO, Faulkner's photo of 1965, was a hoax, although Faulkner maintains that the photograph is genuine.Steve Dewey and John Ries, "In Alien Heat"]

In August 2007 and 2008 veterans of Warminster skywatches, joined by interested newcomers, have visited Cradle Hill to relive and retell some of the memories of the phenomenon.UFO Warminster, Accessed August 2008, online]


The town is served by Warminster railway station. Wilts & Dorest Buses, First Great Western Buses and is on the Main A36 (East-West) and A350 (North-South) Trunk roads.


* - Flers, France,



1 [http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getcensus.php?id=255 2001 census]

External links

General Warminster
* [http://www.warminster.co.uk/ Warminster - An Online Guide]
* [http://www.warminster-forum.co.uk/ Warminster Forum - Online Town Forum]
* [http://www.warminster.co.uk/chron.htm A Chronology of Warminster ]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/image_galleries/historic_warminster_photos_gallery1.shtml Historic Warminster photos] at [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire BBC Wiltshire]
* [http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk Wiltshire Times - Warminster reporter - Victoria Ashford]
* [http://www.warminster-forum.co.uk Warminster Website]
* [http://uk.geocities.com/lbblowed@btinternet.com/index.html Alby's Warminster]
* [http://www.warminsterhighburyyouth.com Warminster Highbury Youth Football Club]
* [http://suttonveny.co.uk The Village of Sutton Veny, Warminster]

Churches and Places of Worship
* [http://www.christchurchwarminster.org.uk/ Christ Church, Warminster]
* [http://www.unitedchurchwarminster.org.uk/ Warminster United Church]
* [http://warminsterbaptistchurch.davesimpson.co.uk/ Warminster Baptist Church]
* [http://www.st-georges-warminster.org.uk/ St Georges Roman Catholic Church]
* [http://salisburyanglican.org.uk/ Salisbury Diocese]

* [http://www.warminster-forum.co.uk Warminster Community Forum]
* [http://www.warminster-online.co.uk Warminsters Online]

UFO Phenomenon and Hoax
* [http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk/arc/00/hoaxreview.htm An Admission of Faked Photographs]
* [http://www.ufo-warminster.co.uk/ UFO Warminster - guide to the phenomena experienced during the 1960s and 70s]

Further reading on the UFO phenomena







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