Corsham is a historic market town and civil parish in west Wiltshire, England. It is at the south-western edge of the Cotswolds, just off the A4 national route, which was formerly the main turnpike road from London to Bristol, 7.5 miles (12.1 km) east of Bath and 4.5 miles (7.2 km) west of Chippenham.
Corsham was historically a centre for agriculture and later, the wool industry, and remains a focus for quarrying Bath Stone. It contains several notable historic buildings, such as the stately home of Corsham Court. During World War II and the Cold War, it became a major administrative and manufacturing centre for the Ministry of Defence, with numerous establishments both above ground and in the old quarry tunnels. The early 21st century saw some growth in Corsham’s role in the film industry.
Corsham appears to derive its name from Cosa’s hām, “ham” being Old English for homestead, or village. The town is referred in the Domesday book as Cosseham; the letter ‘R’ appears to have entered the name later under Norman influence (possibly caused by the recording of local pronunciation.), when the town is reported to have been in the possession of the Earl of Cornwall. Corsham is recorded as Coseham in 1001, as Cosseha in 1086, and at Cosham as late as 1611 (on John Speed’s map of Wiltshire). The Corsham area belonged to the King in Saxon times, the area at the time also had a large forest which was cleared to make way for further expansion.
There is evidence that the town had been known as “Corsham Regis” due to its reputed association with anglo-saxon Ethelred of Wessex, and this name remains as that of a primary school.
One of the towns that prospered greatly from Wiltshire’s wool trade in medieval times, it maintained its prosperity after the decline of that trade through the quarrying of Bath stone, with underground mining works extending to the south and west of Corsham.
Numbers 94 to 112 of the High Street are Grade II* listed buildings known as the “Flemish Weavers Houses”, however there is little cogent evidence to support this name and it appears more likely to derive from a handful of Dutch workers who arrived in the 17th century.
Corsham also contains the historic Georgian house, The Grove, opposite the high street, a typical example of classic Georgian architecture.