The village lies on the southern banks of the headwaters to the Christchurch Avon, beneath the north facing chalk scarp of Salisbury Plain. It is some four miles south west of Pewsey and was originally built on the alluvial gravels of the river valley around a number of drove lanes. It is a designated Conservation Area and lies within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A substantial Romano-British settlement has been identified above the village, although this was probably abandoned at the end of the Roman Empire. The first written references to the village were made in the 12th Century, although it is likely that a settlement was established well before that date. St Peter’s Church, although much altered, is the oldest surviving structure and features an excellent example of a vaulted timber roof.
The village has 31 houses, plus the Charlton Cat (a licenced tearoom) and Combe Cottages, the latter two being sited on the adjacent A342 road. The village was effectively bypassed by through traffic in the 1760’s with the turnpiking of the A342 Devizes to Upavon road. Consequently, the village has a tranquil atmosphere, with little traffic to disturb the rustic scene. The houses are a mixture of older, listed thatched properties, built during the 16th/17th century, and more modern designs. There are two working farms surrounding the village – to the east is Rushall Organic Farm, and to the west is Willowdene Farm. There is a thriving organic sheep rearing business, based around the agricultural barns at the entrance to the village.
The early years of the 18th Century witnessed the meteoric rise of Stephen Duck. He was born in Charlton St Peter and worked as a lowly farm labourer. He taught himself to read and write and rose to fame with his poems “The Thresher’s Labour” and “The Shunnamite”. His poetry brought him great popularity amongst the public and Queen Caroline became his patron. His fame spread nationally and he took holy orders. Unfortunately, following a bout of depression, he took his own life at the age of 51. An annual Duck Feast is held in his honour at the Charlton Cat Public House, in recognition of his achievements – it is the longest running annual feast in the country.
Charlton St Peter shares a Village Hall with Rushall, and details of its many events and activities can be found on the website www.rushall.org.uk.