While Malmesbury bore the brunt of the severe flooding other communities also suffered.

Adrian Bishop, vice chairman of Castle Combe Parish Council, said the flooding was the worst he had seen it in the village for 40 years.

The River By Brook burst its banks and flooded some properties while other homes below street level were flooded from underneath.

About a dozen homes in The Street, Water Lane and Colham Mill were flooded with water about a foot high. Most of them were empty holiday cottages or owned by absent landlords. One couple affected stayed at the Castle Inn Hotel in the village on Sunday night.

Fire crews from Calne and Corsham were first called to the village at 1.40am on Sunday and pumped out properties throughout the day.

Tom Burns, watch manager at Calne Fire Station who was there all day, said: “We moved as much furniture as we could to the first floor of properties in Water Lane. A lot of the houses had antiques and furniture which had sentimental value to the owners.

“We did visual checks on the properties we were unable to get into to make sure there was nothing unsafe in there, by which time the water had started to drop anyway.”

The Castle Inn’s cellar was flooded during Sunday afternoon but staff managed to get the water pumped out and it did not affect the running of the hotel.

Coun Bishop did not think there was an easy solution as the level of rainfall and flooding had been unprecedented.

He said: “When the power of water is here there’s not much you can do. It’s one of those freak occurrences when you get this type of weather condition. I don’t think there can be much that can be done.”

Fire crews were called to three cottages in Ashton Road, Minety, in between Minety and Ashton Keynes over the weekend and last Wednesday and Thursday to pump away water caused by a nearby watercourse flooding.

The efforts of fire fighters meant Alex Dupree and neighbour Pauline Mars-den’s cottages were not flooded.

Mrs Marsden said: “Fire crews were here for five hours in the early hours of Sunday morning. I had a domestic pump going in my front garden but it was not sufficient to pump all the water away.

“The fire brigade had four pumps going. The water was about a foot high and was up to the sandbags we had put round the property. It was just touching those.

“We had flooding in 2007 but this is the worst as it has been ongoing. The fire brigade have been out to us four times in the last three weeks.”

Other areas affected included Lacock and West Kington, where crews pumped out a house and at Mauds Heath causeway. In Langley Burrell, fire fighters rescued two people from a car stuck in flood water and a person from another car on Sunday afternoon.