The parish of Heywood lies four miles to the south of Trowbridge. Heywood was retained in the parish of Westbury after the ancient parish was split up in 1894 between Bratton, Dilton Marsh and Westbury. In 1896 it became a parish in its own right with an area of 1,701 acres. In 1909 an area of 87 acres in the south west was returned to the Westbury parish. The hamlet of Hawkeridge lies one and a half miles north west of the village of Heywood. Copse Lane can be found one mile to the north east of the village and Norleaze (Northleaze) one mile to the north west.
The name Heywood means enclosed or preserved wood. Spellings of the name have included Heiwode 91225), Heywode (1289), Haywud (1241), Haiwudd (1242), Hewode (1268). Hawkeridge was called Haukerigge In 1249, Hauecrugge in 1279, and Hauekerygge in 1327.
The parish sits on the clay region of west Wiltshire and is low lying. The soil is of Oxford clay.
Some late Celtic pottery has been found in the parish and the Romano-British settlement at Westbury partly lies in the parish, near Ham cottages. Finds include bronze brooches, rings, a butcher's knife, keys, and hypocaust tiles, among others. The stone foundations of a large building and tessellated pavement have been discovered between Ham and Heywood House. There is a possible medieval moat in a rectangular shape lying quarter of a mile north east of Storridge Farm.
Biss Brook forms the western boundary. There is also a stream which enters the parish to the east near Fulling Bridge Farm and runs past Heywood House where it has been dammed to form a lake. Bitham Brook enters the parish from the south and Bere Burn stream runs northwards out of the parish.
The only woodland in the parish consists of Clanger Wood (called Clayhanger Wood in 1840) in the north east corner and the landscaped park of Heywood House. There was a Conigree Wood (called Conynghay in 1277), which means rabbit enclosure. Woodland in Hawkeridge included Lodge Wood (called Lodgewoode in 1626) and Longmead Wood (Longmeade in 1669).
Northleaze/Norleaze was known as Norleaze Common c.1840. By the late 19th century the principal land use was for pasture and corn production.
The railway line from Trowbridge to Westbury runs through the middle of the parish, following the same alignment as the road which runs between the same towns. Yoad Lane leads to a road between Steeple Ashton and Bratton. A further minor road runs north west out of the parish near Dursley to join the road coming in from Yarnbrook and running through Heywood.
The existence of Hawkeridge as an individual estate can be traced back to the 14th century. The hamlet passed from Sir John Pavely to Ralph Cheyney (his wife was Pavely's daughter) with the Manor of Brook. Both descended with the family until 1599 when the estate followed the descent of the capital Manor of Westbury. The Phipps family of Heywood also had an estate in Hawkeridge. An estate called Layfields, described as a manor in the 16th century, was apparently part of the manor of Brook. Fifty acres were sold in 1599 to Jasper of Heytesbury. In 1756 the estate comprised of two pieces of land called Great and Lower Layfield, which lay in Brook.
In 1341 lands in Heywood were settled upon Walter Sewale and Emma his wife. The estate became called Shewells or Sewells c.1629. The site is thought to cover the Heywood, Bratton and Westbury parishes.
The Heywood estate originated in the grant of one and a half virgates of land by Geoffrey Burnel to Stanley Abbey around the beginning of the 13th century. The estate in Heywood belonging to the abbey was leased. In 1451 Heywood Grange (which probably represented the whole estate) was let for 20 years at £3 a year. At the Dissolution Heywood appears to have been annexed to Godswell (later called Chapmanslade, and another of the Abbey's manors). It was acquired by Sir Edward Bayntun in 1537. The estate was sold to James Ley and at 'Temes Leaze' a new residence was built. Ley was Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1620 and had a monument dedicated to him in the church in 1889. From 1644 the estate descended with the capital manor of Westbury.
Until the end of the 19th century another area of settlement could be found in the south east corner of the parish. In the 18th century it was called Yoed and lay to the south of Heywood House along Yoad Lane. The small group of houses shown on maps of 1773 and 1817 had disappeared by the end of the 19th century. By 1960 only a few 20th century houses could be found dotted along the lane.
The school can be found where the road from Dursley meets the main Westbury to Trowbridge road. It was erected in 1836 by Henry G.G. Ludlow and became site of a small post WWII housing estate. A mid 20th century housing estate was built in the south west of the parish at The Ham.
Holy Trinity Church is Anglican and was built in 1849, possibly by Harvey Eginton for H. G. G. Ludlow. It is of coursed rubble stone with ashlar dressings. TheWelsh slate roof has coped verges and an ashlar gabled bellcote. The church became redundant in January 1982 and has been converted for domestic use. There has been a post box near Heywood church since at least 1875, and one at the railway station c.1880.
The Chapel at Heywood lay a quarter of a mile from Westbury Church and is first mentioned in 1333. In 1541 there was a messuage of land called 'Summerleyes' in Heywood which belonged to the chapel. A chaplain of Brook is mentioned in the early 14th century but no further reference to it can be found. A Congregational Chapel was built at Hawkeridge in 1844.
The present Brook Hall Farmhouse was built c.1600 and altered in the late 18th century. It is of coursed rubble stone with a hipped slate roof and has a late 18th century gothic façade. The rear left return wing is attached to the 15th century range. The interior was partly damaged by fire in 1958 which destroyed roof timbers in the north west corner. The barn is probably late 17th century, timber framed and clad with weather boarding. It has a tiled roof with hipped porches and double planked doors on the south side. The early wing at Brook Hall was situated at the east side of Brokerswood. The hall house is now a farm, outbuilding and a wing of the farmhouse, with eight bays and a roof with an axial square louvre and tiled pyramidal capping. The interior includes collar trusses. The building was probably built as a first floor hall house, reputedly for Robert Willoughby, created Baron de Broke by Henry V in 1491.
Just to the south west of Lodge Wood Farm is a moated site.
Heywood House is a country house, converted to offices in the late 20th century. It was acquired by the Ash family in the 17th century and in 1700 passed to Thomas Phipps. William Phipps, Governor of Bombay, died at Hewyood in 1748. In 1789 the house was sold to the clothier Gaisford Gibbs. The house became owned, through marriage, by the Lopes family for a time in the 19th century. The present house was built c.1837 on the site of the earlier house by Harvey Eginton of Worcester for Henry Gaisford Gibbs Ludlow. The house is of limestone ashlar with a Welsh slate roof, and has a Jacobean style E-plan. There is a square clock tower behind a gable. The single storey service range to the rear and a single storey billiard room are linked to the main range by a Tudor arched doorway. A plaque recording the building of the house can be found inside the porch. The interior includes a large central hall with a 17th century style stone fireplace, Doric columns and early 18th century style stairs.
In Heywood Park can be found 'South Lodge', two 19th century lodges and gate piers at the south drive. The lodges are stucco with tiled roofs in a single storey with classical style porches. The piers are of painted ashlar and are linked to the lodges by cast iron railings; the gates with a pilaster on the walls and urn filials on the piers and half urns on the pilasters. The gate piers to the west entrance of Heywood House were built in the 1840s, probably by Harvey Eginton. They are of limestone ashlar, octagonal in shape, and have the carved stone crests of the Ludlow family (a raised fist with an arrow and lion rampant) on them. West Lodge is early 19th century, of stucco with a pyramidial Welsh slate roof, square plan and two storeys. There is a central hipped porch with a fishscale tiled roof and a single storey outhouse to the rear.
Heywood Park includes Fulling Bridge Farmhouse, a late 17th century building which was altered in the early 19th century. It is of English garden wall bond brick with a pantiled hipped roof. The 18th century section has stone quoins. The bridge itself was called Felling Bridge in 1773.
The hamlet of Hawkeridge is approached by a lane turning east off the road between Yarnbrook and Westbury. There can be found a semi detached cottage of English garden wall bond brick, with a pantiled roof which is half hipped to the right. At the front of the building is a date stone initialled WRA/1741. Court Farmhouse is late 17th century of rendered brick with a hipped tile roof. There is a late 19th century rear range.
Hawkeridge Farmhouse is now a detached house of mid 17th century date, extended in the 1860s. It has a T-plan and is of rendered brick with a Welsh slate roof and a cast iron porch to the left of centre. A partly legible date stone can be found on the 1860s' extension. Attached to the north west return is a two storey 19th century range with casements and French windows. There is 18th and 19th century joinery in the exterior and a 17th century door.
The Royal Oak inn could be found in the hamlet from the19th century, if not before. In the late 19th century the innkeeper was also a shopkeeper. In 1971 the address was number 14, Hawkeridge. It had a walled front garden and forecourt for parking. There was a store room as well as a former club room and a former stable at the rear.
New houses were built in the hamlet in the 1970s.
A fulling mill at Brook was leased by Henry Long c.1539. The manor of Brook had been divided into three estates by 1599; Brook Farm had three fulling mills and a grain mill. A map of 1773 shows that one of these mills is called Roses Mill. One of the grist and fulling mills of 1785 had become disused by 1890 but the pond beside the Biss Brook could still be seen. Two other mills also seem to have been situated in the parish; one of which was a grain and fulling mill, which was passed to Sir James Ley in 1613. In 1628 some property passed to Ley included a mill called Tomars Mill. It may well have been situated in Hawkeridge where a great deal of the Leversage property lay. Jacob Weeks was leasing Hawkeridge Mill from William Matravers in 1842. In 1859 William Dowding was manufacturing cloth at Hawkeridge. The mill became disused shortly after 1890. In 1908 the mill was used by the firm A. L. Jefferies Ltd of Westbury for leather dying and dressing. The building was four stories high and seven bays long. In 1960 it was partly derelict. Half a mile south east is Blanches Mill on the Bitham Brook, a corn mill at the end of the 19th century which became disused by the early 20th century. Kelly's Directory lists Blenches Mill as a water mill in Heywood at the end of the 19th century.
There are some flooded iron ore pits between the railway lines around Westbury Station, now used for boating and fishing. One situated to the north east of the station below the south west side of the Hawkeridge Road shows a cave like excavation into a rock face of iron stone, where quarrying once took place.
In the 1851 census Heywood contained a miller, general and agricultural labourers, housekeepers, farmers, servants, cordwainer, plough boy, gardeners, carter, bailiff, coachman, laundress, carpenters, dairy maid, stone quarrier and labourer in the iron works. The vast majority of inhabitants were agricultural or general labourers. In Northleaze there were also six dressmakers, three cloth workers, and a sawyer; the majority again being employed as agricultural labourers. Ham Quarry had a farmer, GWR policeman, GWR goods guard servant (born in Jamaica, of all places!) and a GWR Inspector of Police.
Occupations in the 1891 Census for Heywood included iron works labourers, cow and dairymen, glover, servants, general labourers, agricultural and brick labourers, estate carpenter, market gardener, cheese maker, game keeper and gardeners (the biggest employment being for labourers). Hawkeridge was very similar but also included dressmakers and a shoemaker. At Northleaze there was a carpenter, packer, plate layer on the GWR and road labourers. Jobs at the iron works included coke filler and iron worker. There was also a glover, errand boy, coal haulier, farmers and a 'matress maker living at the Hawkeridge factory'. The number of agricultural workers and general labourers was greatly reduced. There were more employment opportunities at the iron works, but in total not as many workers were recorded as in the earlier census. It appears that fewer of the parish's inhabitants were employed in agriculture towards the end of the 19th century. They had not taken on other occupations and therefore may have had to leave the parish to find work. Census figures show that the population of 517 in 1871 slowly began to decrease to a low of 411 in 1901. The population then began to slowly increase.
A glove manufacturer was present in Hawkeridge in 1903 and was still operating in the mid to late 1930s in Hawkeridge Mill. The main building was of four storeys and built in brick, partly used as a caretaker's cottage. The upper floors contained drying rooms, a skin preparation room, staking room and a 'tumbler' room. There was also a boiler house and an engine house. On the ground floor was the leather dust house, spraying shop and dye stores. Skin sorting took place in a new two storey building, with a 50% glass roof to give a lot of light. They appear to have vacated the premises by 1941 when C. Richards Ltd of Trowbridge used the mill for umbrella manufacturing and furniture storage, but had vacated it by 1945. In 1948 S. Hartog (Skins) Ltd were based at the mill. They purchased rabbit skins in bulk which were graded into around six different qualities and dispatched abroad.
In 1687 a poorhouse at Westbury Leigh was used for the poor of the Division (which included Heywood). In 1732 a house at Westbury Leigh was bought to use as a workhouse. In 1769 a site at Gooseland was bought for a workhouse. Heywood was made a separate civil parish in 1896.
The Women's Institute established itself in the village in 1944, and held a party in the village hall to celebrate in 1984. By this time they held monthly meetings in the church room, inviting neighbouring groups to join them. In January 1984 they held a Christmas Bazaar in order to support the village hall which they had heard was in danger of closing. Regular talks were given on subjects such as the Citizens' Advice Bureau. Demonstrations were also given including embroidery, when a lady brought in examples that were 100 years old before the embroidery competition; the preservation of foliage and flowers with flower arranging, and the Red Cross Society with demonstrations on nursing. There were also cake decoration demonstrations in 1985. The W.I. met in the village hall in 1985 for a quiz (which inlcuded the Dilton Marsh and Chapmanslade branches), and was followed by a ploughman's supper.
The village had a whist team which won the shield in 1985.
The 1st Heywood and North Bradley Brownies met at North Bradley Hall in the 1980s.
Lodge Wood Farm, in the south east of the parish, was acquired by the War Department during WWII and was used as part of an Ordnance Supply Depot. It is not clear if Heywood had its own detachment of Home Guard, but civil defence exercises were due to take place in the parish in the summer of 1944. They were cancelled and it is not known if they took place at a later date. Heywood House became an evacuees' hostel.