Downton is a large ancient Wiltshire village situated 6 miles south of Salisbury, just outside the New Forest National park. It straddles the River Avon and is surrounded by chalk downlands and water meadows
The Parish of Downton, and the Avon Valley landscape in which it sits, has a character developed over many centuries of human activity. It is predominantly rural with the village of Downton lying towards the southern end of the parish. The parish includes the hamlets of Charlton All Saints to the north and Standlynch to the east, and there are farms and scattered buildings within the rural area including the historic Trafalgar Park House.
People have lived in the Downton area for over 7,000 years, and evidence of Iron Age, Roman and Saxon settlements has been found. Early Neolithic finds and the remains of a Roman Villa (including a fine mosaic)are in Salisbury Museum. The village of Downton, being an historic crossing point, has the earthworks of a Norman motte and bailey castle lying within 18th Century Moot landscaped gardens overlooking the river. The Moot is a scheduled monument and part of the village is a conservation area containing over 80 listed buildings. Evidence of recent economic history (such as tanning and corn milling) can be seen in the old buildings and the mills that used to power local industry.
With its population of just over 3,000, Downton today is a thriving community. It has its own schools, shops, pubs and businesses, village hall and recreation areas – including a football pitch, bowling green and leisure centre with a gym and tennis courts. There are over 20 clubs or societies and a popular village band. Every year the Cuckoo Fair attracts around 20,000 visitors to over 250 craft and other stalls, plus live music, dance and other entertainments. The village is also well known for its fishing, its award winning local brewery and as a centre for exploring the River Avon and New Forest.
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