CALNE, a market town and municipal borough in the Chippenham parliamentary division of Wiltshire, England, 99 m. west of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901) 3457. Area, 356 acres. It lies in the valley of the Calne, and is surrounded by the high table-land of Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs. The church of St Mark has a nave with double aisles, and massive late Norman pillars and arches. The tower, which fell in 1628, was perhaps rebuilt by Inigo Jones. Other noteworthy buildings are a grammar school, founded by John Bentley in 1660, and the town-hall. Bacon-curing is the staple industry, and there are flour, flax and paper mills. The manufacture of broadcloth, once of great importance, is almost extinct. Calne is governed by a mayor, four aldermen and twelve councillors.
In the 10th century Calne (Canna, Kalne) was the site of a palace of the West-Saxon kings. Calne was the scene of the synod of 978 when, during the discussion of the question of celibacy, the floor suddenly gave way beneath the councillors, leaving Archbishop Dunstan alone standing upon a beam. Here also a witenagemot was summoned in 997. In the Domesday Survey Calne appears as a royal borough; it comprised forty-seven burgesses and was not assessed in hides. In 1565 the borough possessed a gild merchant, at the head of which were two gild stewards. Calne claimed to have received a charter from Stephen and a confirmation of the same from Henry III., but no record of these is extant, and the charter actually issued to the borough by James II. in 1687 apparently never came into force. The borough returned two members to parliament more or less irregularly from the first parliament of Edward I. until the Reform Bill of 1832. From this date the borough returned one member only until, by the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, the privilege was annulled. In 1303 Lodovicus de Bello Monte, prebendary of Salisbury, obtained a grant of a Saturday market at the manor of Calne, and a three days' fair at the feast of St Mary Magdalene; the latter was only abandoned in the 19th century. Calne was formerly one of the chief centres of cloth manufacture in the west of England, but the industry is extinct.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)