Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire; the county town was Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Wiltshire is characterised by its high wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, as a training area for the British Army; the city of Salisbury is notable for its medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere; the county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton. Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology; the Mesolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church. At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire was agricultural. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was Parliamentarian; the Battle of Roundway Down, a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes. In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II.
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry lives on as Y Squadron, based in Swindon, B Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway. Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History website which has maps, demographic data and modern pictures and short histories; the local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond; when confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.
Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most linked with The Crammer in Devizes. Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a rural county, lies on chalk, a kind of soft, porous limestone, resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape; this chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, used for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges; the highest point in the county is the Tan Hill–Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m above sea level. The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology; the Marlborough Downs are part of a 1,730 km2 conservation area.
In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds. Part of the Cotswolds AONB is in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner. Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay vales; the largest of these vales is the Avon Vale. The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol; the Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour; the southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest. Chalk is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water; the main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury is situated between the chalk of marshy flood plains; the county has green belt along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon green belt, reaching as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban spr
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened
Mere is a small town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. It lies at the extreme southwestern tip of Salisbury Plain, close to the borders of Somerset and Dorset; the parish includes the hamlets of Barrow Street, Charnage, Limpers Hill, Rook Street and Southbrook. The A303 trunk road passed through Mere until a bypass was built on the northern edge of the town in 1976. There is a chiming town clock and a large 15th-century parish church; the steep slope of Castle Hill rises from the northwestern side of Mere. Local industry and commerce includes the Hill Brush company, large wholesale plant nurseries and Yapp's wine merchants. Evidence of prehistoric activity in the area is provided by bowl barrows, including four on Long Hill, overlooking the town. On the northwestern boundary of the parish is Whitesheet Hill, with barrows and an Iron Age hill fort, White Sheet camp. Mere had a church from the end of the 12th century; the Earl of Cornwall built Mere Castle on Long Hill, in the mid-13th century.
The castle was abandoned in the 14th century and today only earthworks remain. The Duchy of Cornwall still owns much land in the area. Mere Down, north of the town, has medieval Strip lynchets; the civil parish elects a town council. It is in the area of Wiltshire Council unitary authority, which performs most significant local government functions. An electoral ward with the same name exists; the ward starts in the east at West Knoyle, stretches through Mere, continues to Zeals and finishes in the northwest at Kilmington. The population of the ward taken from the 2011 census was 4,285; the Anglican church of St Michael the Archangel is from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, contains remnants from an earlier building. Pevsner describes its furnishings in considerable detail; the church is unusual in that it has 10 misericords. Restoration in 1856 was by T. H. Wyatt. In 1966 the church was designated as Grade I listed; the benefice was combined with West Knoyle in 1929, Maiden Bradley in 1976, forming the parish of Mere with West Knoyle and Maiden Bradley.
Mere Methodist Church was built as a Primitive Methodist chapel in 1846. It was de-consecrated in 2017 and sold at auction in April 2018, it is being converted for residential use. Mere United Reformed Church was built in 1868 as a Congregational chapel, joining the United Reformed Church at its formation in 1972. Precursors of the present building were a small Presbyterian chapel of 1700, an Independent chapel of 1795 and a larger chapel of 1852; the church of St Matthew was built in 1882 by C. E. Ponting, on a rural site at White Hill, 1.2 miles southeast of the town. It was a mission church, served by the clergy of St Michael's; the church closed in 2004 and was sold for residential use in 2008. St Mary's Roman Catholic church was built in 1946 after the community purchased a surplus Nissen hut. Woodlands Manor, 0.8 miles south of the town, is a Grade I listed manor house and chapel from the 14th century, restored to its 17th-century appearance in the 20th century. Buildings designated as Grade II* are the Old Ship Hotel a house dated 1711 the Ship Inn.
The town has a primary school. The local secondary school is Gillingham School, about 3.5 miles away. The present school was opened in 1965 at a new site, on Duchy land, as Duchy Manor Secondary School. Accommodation for younger children was added on the same site in 1992 and in 2004 the whole premises became the primary school. Earlier schools were, the British School, founded c. 1830 and from 1852 housed in the schoolroom under the new Congregational chapel taking over the whole building when the larger adjacent chapel was built in 1868. Secondly, the National School, opened near St Michael's in 1840, extended 1864, augmented in 1899 by the adjacent Grove Building, funded by Miss Julia Chafyn Grove of Zeals House; the schools amalgamated in 1922 and continued on the same sites as Mere First School and Mere Senior School Junior School. The town's library and museum are housed in the 1839 National School building, converted in 1970; the town centre has the George Inn and the Butt of Sherry. The Walnut Tree Inn is towards the south of the town.
The Monarch's Way long-distance recreational footpath passes through the town. The town is part of the West Country Carnival circuit; the nearest railway station is in neighbouring Dorset, on the Exeter to Waterloo line. Edward Henslow, British Army officer and first-class cricketer Pevsner, Nikolaus. Wiltshire; the Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Pp. 345–348. ISBN 0-14-0710-26-4. Mere Town Council Mere Museum St Michael's Church Media related to Mere, Wiltshire at Wikimedia Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain. In 1801, with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, that house was in turn replaced by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom; the Parliament of England developed from the Magnum Concilium that advised the English monarch in medieval times. This royal council, meeting for short periods, included ecclesiastics and representatives of the counties; the chief duty of the council was to approve taxes proposed by the Crown. In many cases, the council demanded the redress of the people's grievances before proceeding to vote on taxation. Thus, it developed legislative powers; the first parliament to invite representatives of the major towns was Montfort's Parliament in 1265. At the "Model Parliament" of 1295, representatives of the boroughs were admitted. Thus, it became settled practice that each county send two knights of the shire, that each borough send two burgesses.
At first, the burgesses were entirely powerless. Any show of independence by burgesses would thus be to lead to the exclusion of their towns from Parliament; the knights of the shire were in a better position, although less powerful than their noble and clerical counterparts in what was still a unicameral Parliament. The division of the Parliament of England into two houses occurred during the reign of Edward III: in 1341 the Commons met separately from the nobility and clergy for the first time, creating in effect an Upper Chamber and a Lower Chamber, with the knights and burgesses sitting in the latter, they formed what became known as the House of Commons, while the clergy and nobility became the House of Lords. Although they remained subordinate to both the Crown and the Lords, the Commons did act with increasing boldness. During the Good Parliament of 1376, the Commons appointed Sir Peter de la Mare to convey to the Lords their complaints of heavy taxes, demands for an accounting of the royal expenditures, criticism of the King's management of the military.
The Commons proceeded to impeach some of the King's ministers. Although Mare was imprisoned for his actions, the benefits of having a single voice to represent the Commons were recognized, the office which became known as Speaker of the House of Commons was thus created. Mare was soon released after the death of King Edward III and in 1377 became the second Speaker of the Commons. During the reign of the next monarch, Richard II, the Commons once again began to impeach errant ministers of the Crown, they began to insist that they could control public expenditures. Despite such gains in authority, the Commons still remained much less powerful than the Lords and the Crown; the influence of the Crown was increased by the civil wars of the late fifteenth century, which destroyed the power of the great noblemen. Both houses of Parliament held little power during the ensuing years, the absolute supremacy of the Sovereign was restored; the domination of the monarch grew further under the House of Tudor in the sixteenth century.
This trend, was somewhat reversed when the House of Stuart came to the English throne in 1603. The first two Stuart monarchs, James I and Charles I, provoked conflicts with the Commons over issues such as taxation and royal powers; the differences between Charles I and Parliament were great, resulted in the English Civil War, in which the armed forces of Parliament were victorious. In December 1648 the House of Commons was purged by the New Model Army, supposed to be subservient to Parliament. Pride's Purge was the only military coup in English history. Subsequently, King Charles I was beheaded and the Upper House was abolished; the unicameral Parliament that remained was referred to by critics as the Rump Parliament, as it consisted only of a small selection of Members of Parliament approved by the army - some of whom were soldiers themselves. In 1653, when leading figures in this Parliament began to disagree with the army, it was dissolved by Oliver Cromwell. However, the monarchy and the House of Lords were both restored with the Commons in 1660.
The influence of the Crown had been decreased, was further diminished after James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Bill of Rights 1689 was enacted. Duration of English Parliaments before 1660 History of borough status in England and Wales Lex Parliamentaria List of Acts of the Parliament of England List of Parliaments of England List of Speakers of the House of Commons of England Modus Tenendi Parliamentum John Cannon, Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832 J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; the Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain".
At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
House of Commons of Great Britain
The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant changes brought about by the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain. In the course of the 18th century, the office of Prime Minister developed; the notion that a government remains in power only as long as it retains the support of Parliament evolved, leading to the first motion of no confidence, when Lord North's government failed to end the American Revolution. The modern notion that only the support of the House of Commons is necessary for a government to survive, was of development; the custom that the Prime Minister is always a Member of the Lower House, rather than the Upper one, did not evolve until the twentieth century. The business of the house was controlled by an elected Speaker.
The Speaker's official role was to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, the like. The Speaker decided who may speak and had the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house; the Speaker also represented the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations. The title was first recorded in 1377 to describe the role of Thomas de Hungerford in the Parliament of England. By convention, Speakers are addressed in Parliament as Mister Speaker, if a man, or Madam Speaker, if a woman. In 1801, the House was enlarged to become the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, as a result of the Act of Union of 1800 which combined Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the members of the last House of Commons of England had been elected between 7 May and 6 June 1705, from 1707 they all continued to sit as members of the new House of Commons. The last general election in Scotland had been held in the autumn of 1702, from 1707 only forty-five of the members of the Parliament of Scotland joined the new house.
In Scotland there was no new election from the burghs, the places available were filled by co-option from the last Parliament. The constituencies which elected members in England and Wales remained unchanged throughout the existence of the Parliament of Great Britain. Table of Constituencies and Members of the ParliamentKey: BC - Borough or Burgh constituencies, CC - County constituencies, UC - University constituencies, Total C - Total constituencies, BMP - Borough/Burgh Members of Parliament, CMP - County Members of Parliament, UMP - University Members of Parliament. Sources: Chris Cook & John Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1760-1830 Colin Rallings & Michael Thrasher, British Electoral Facts 1832-1999 Elections in Great Britain Unreformed House of Commons List of Parliaments of Great Britain 1st Parliament of Great Britain 2nd Parliament of Great Britain List of members of the 1st Parliament of Great Britain List of Speakers of the British House of Commons "Parliamentary Register: Proceedings of the House of Commons 1775" 18th Century Parliamentary Papers