Arms of Devizes
|Population||16,834 (2021 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
From the 16th century Devizes became known for its textiles, and by the early 18th century it held the largest corn market in the West Country, constructing the Corn Exchange in 1857. In the 18th century, brewing, curing of tobacco, and snuff-making were established. The Wadworth Brewery was founded in the town in 1875.
Standing at the west edge of the Vale of Pewsey, the town is about 10.5 miles (16.9 km) southeast of Chippenham and 11 miles (18 km) north-east of the county town of Trowbridge. It has nearly five hundred listed buildings, some notable churches, a town hall and a green in the centre.
A new castle was built in stone by
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the town of Devizes developed outside the castle with craftsmen and traders setting up businesses to serve the residents of the castle. The first known market in Devizes was in 1228. The original market was in the large space outside St Mary's Church, rather than in the current Market Place, which at that time would have been within the castle's outer bailey. The chief products in the 16th and early 17th centuries were wheat, wool and yarn, with cheese, bacon and butter increasing in importance later.
In 1643, during the
From the 16th century, Devizes became known for its textiles:
In 1794, a meeting at the Bear Hotel decided to raise a body of ten independent troops of yeomanry in the county of Wiltshire. These would later be brought together to form the
Devizes has more than 500 listed buildings, a large number for a town of its size. The Trust for Devizes has a Town Trail map which provides a guide to many of them.
The town was a coaching stop for
In 1853 the
In 1999, a
Devizes lies about 90 miles (140 km) west-southwest of
Devizes is a
The town is within the area of the
The town has four
Devizes is part of the
The council has
Devizes has always been a market town and the market square is still used for that purpose every Thursday, and for farmers' markets on the first Saturday of each month. Indoor traders set up each day in the historic Shambles, off the market square.
There are over 70 independent retailers in the town centre, many around the Market Place, Little Brittox and Brittox (both pedestrianised), and in Sidmouth Street. At the town's wharf on the canal, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust has a small museum and cafe.
Construction of the new Devizes Health Centre, a 1,588sq m, two-storey building, began in 2021. This will replace the services at Devizes Community Hospital and provide a range of outpatient and GP services.
There is a lively arts and culture community in the town, with the Arts Council funded Devizes International Street Festival attracting thousands to the town for two weeks leading up to August Bank Holiday each year, beginning with a long-standing "confetti battle" where, at a given signal – usually cannons firing confetti hundreds of metres into the air – the public are invited into the Market Place to throw as much confetti as possible at one another.
The annual Devizes Arts Festival has a broad spectrum of musical events, poets and authors, literary talks, comedians and other performers. Past performers and acts include John Simpson, Fay Weldon, The Real Thing, Barb'd Wire ska band, Neville Staple band and the String Sisters. Each autumn, the Devizes Food & Drink Festival includes opportunities to dine in unusual places.
There is an active thespian community that performs at the Wharf Theatre, a former warehouse alongside canal.
The local radio station is Fantasy Radio, a community radio station that broadcast on 97 FM. 
The Gazette and Herald is the town’s local weekly newspaper.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2017)
In 1857 the
Devizes has bus connections to surrounding towns including Swindon (via Avebury), Trowbridge, Salisbury, Bath and Chippenham, each of which have rail services. Devizes also has a daily National Express coach service to and from London Victoria, via Heathrow Airport. There is a regular bus service to and from Stonehenge.
The Kennet and Avon Canal was built under the direction of John Rennie between 1794 and 1810, linking Devizes with Bristol and London. Near Devizes the canal rises 237 feet (72 m) by means of 29 locks, 16 of them in a straight line at Caen Hill. In the early days the canal was lit by gas lights at night, enabling boats to negotiate the locks at any time of day. The canal fell into disuse after the coming of the railways in the 1840s, but was restored between 1970 and 2003 for leisure uses. The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust run a museum at The Wharf in Devizes. The town is the starting point of the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon.
National Cycle Route 4 follows the canal towpath through the town.
Devizes School, a secondary school with a sixth form, takes pupils from the town and surrounding area. It is situated in the grounds of the Southbroom House estate and the Grade II listed house forms its administrative core. The school's logo is a lion, in commemoration of the circus lions that were found on the school grounds in 1980.
Devizes has six primary schools: St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Southbroom St James Academy, Southbroom Infants' School, Wansdyke Community School, Nursteed Community Primary School and The Trinity CofE (VA) Primary School. Nearby is Rowde CofE Primary Academy in the adjacent village of Rowde.
Long Street has had a number of private schools, beginning in the 18th century and proliferating in the 19th. Brownston House, a Grade I listed building, was the home of Miss Bidwell's Ladies Boarding School from 1859 to 1901. A private Devizes Grammar School was established in Heathcote House in 1874 by the Reverend S.S. Pugh and carried on until 1919 by his twin sons.
The closest third-level institution is the University of Bath.
Church of England
The two 12th-century churches, St. John's and St. Mary's, are Grade I listed buildings. They serve the parish of St. John with St. Mary which has always had one rector.
St. John's stands close to
St. Mary's was built in the 12th century to serve the town outside the castle walls. Only the chancel survives, the rest being rebuilt in the 15th century, including the fine west tower. The east window is from 1852, and there was restoration in 1854 (Carpenter and Slater) and 1875–6. Since c. 2010, St. Mary's Parochial Church Council have been exploring conversion of the church into a performance and community venue.
The church of St. James, Southbroom, stands on the edge of the green, next to the pond known as the Crammer. It was a chapelry of St Mary's, Bishops Cannings until 1832. The civil parish of Bishops Cannings extended as far as the church until 1835, when the boundaries of Devizes borough were expanded. St. James's is first recorded in 1461. The tower is 15th-century while the body of the church was rebuilt in 1831–2; the east window is by Wailes. After completion of the Le Marchant Barracks in 1878, St. James's became the garrison church of the Wiltshire Regiment. The building is Grade II* listed and underwent an internal re-ordering in 2008. Today the church is evangelical in style.
St. Peter's Church, west of the town centre, was built in 1865–6 to designs of Slater & Carpenter; the south aisle was added in 1884. St Peter's is Anglo-Catholic, with episcopal oversight by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
The Catholic church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was opened in 1865 and extended in 1909. St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School is adjacent to the church.
Salem Chapel, New Park Street, was built in 1838 by a pastor and followers from Maryport Street, who had left because of divisions in the congregation. They rejoined the parent body in 1895 and the building was used by the Open Brethren, later by Devizes Christian Fellowship and (since the mid 1980s) Rock Community Church.
The New Baptist Church was opened in 1852 during the pastorship of Charles Stanford. It replaced an adjacent Presbyterian chapel of 1791, which had been shared with disenchanted Baptist members from Maryport Street. The church continues in use as Sheep Street Baptist Church.
The old Methodist Chapel in New Park Street was then used by the Salvation Army for many years until it was demolished. The Salvation Army then raised funds to build a hall on Station Road which opened in 1971; the Scout Hut on Southbroom Road was a temporary home in the late 1960s after the New Park Street hall was condemned. The Corps was closed in the 2010s, membership having dwindled from a peak in the 1970s, ending around one hundred years of association with Devizes.
A chapel was built at Northgate Street in 1776, at first for
Devizes is policed by Wiltshire Police, who have their headquarters on London Road in the town. Policing of Devizes was the responsibility of the City of Salisbury Police until Wiltshire Constabulary was founded in 1839 under the County Police Act 1839. It was the first county police force founded in the country, hence its motto 'Primus et Optimus – The First and The Best'. The force is one of the largest employers in the town.
The headquarters site also houses the
Fire and rescue services in Devizes are provided by
Each year at Easter the 125 miles (201 km)
Devizes Hockey Club plays in the Premier 1 Hockey League.
- Sir Harold Walter Bailey (1899–1996), eminent scholar of Khotanese, Sanskrit and the comparative study of Iranian languages
- James Bittner (born 1982), professional footballer, played for Plymouth Argyle
- David Domoney (born 1963), Chartered Horticulturalist and television gardener, co-presenter of Love Your Garden
- Fanny Duberly (1829–1902), soldier's wife who accompanied her husband during the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny
- Paul Fletcher (born 1965), member of the Australian Parliament, former Govt. Minister and, as of 2022, Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, born at Devizes
- Margaret Guidofrom 1986.
- Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), artist.
- Simon May (born 1944), songwriter
- Richard of Devizes (fl. late 12th century), English chronicler.
- Clive Robertson (born 1965), actor
- Andy Scott (born. 1949), lead guitarist of the band Sweet
- William Heath Strange (1837–1907), physician and founder of Hampstead General Hospital, now the Royal Free Hospital
- William Sylvester (1831–1920), recipient of the Victoria Cross
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