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Wiltshire Community History

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Heddington

This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

From Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire, 1773


Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham



From Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire, 1810


Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.


Map of the Civil Parish of Heddington:

Map of the Civil Parish of Heddington

1890s
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


From the Ordnance Survey 1890s revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.


Thumbnail History:


The small parish of Heddington is within Calne Hundred and is situated only 5km south of Calne. Heddington parish consists of the village of Heddington and two hamlets; Heddington Wick and the Splatts. The entire parish covers 1,695 acres.

Heddington parish touches on the chalky western scarp of the Marlborough Downs to the north-east and south-west. The village nestles within the Outer Scarp Ridgeway.The highest point in the parish is the summit of King's Play Hill, which stands at 230m; in 1773 the hill, was known as King's Play Down - both names refer to the Battle and Royalist victory on Roundway Down in 1643. King's Play Hill is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Beacon Hill is situated to the south of Heddington and is 213m.Both King's Play Hill and Beacon Hill belong to part of the north-west end of the Marlborough Downs scarp which contain outcrops of Upper Greensand, Gault and, to the west end of the parish, Lower Greensand. There is a long history of the extraction of iron ore in Heddington from the Lower Greensand, predominantly found at the western end of the parish. There is early evidence of iron smelting. There are no permanent rivers or streams in the parish, so water would have had to come from wells to irrigate crops or supply livestock with drinking water. The west end of the parish lay in Chippenham Forest until 1330. Only a few remaining small woods are of note including those near Whetham and the Smallgrain plantation.

The name of Heddington is believed to have originated from Saxon times, 'Hedde' being the family name and 'ingtun' indicating family enclosure or farm. In the Domesday survey of 1086, the name is documented as 'Edintone'. There have been various other spellings including Heddendon in 1212, Hedyndon in 1289 and Hedyngton(e) in 1307.

The first known inhabitants of Heddington are believed to have been from the Neolithic period. An excavated long barrow on the south-eastern slope on King's Play Hill revealed a primary burial. Wiltshire archaeologist William Cunnington excavated an undated bowl barrow which contained an intrusive Saxon burial. A secondary burial of an important Saxon lady was also discovered - the skeleton was found with rich gold jewellery. Other bowl barrows and undated linear features lie in the vicinity but have yet to be investigated fully.

The Wansdyke Ridgeway which runs approximately 22 miles from Hat Gate to Redhorn Hill, is a great earthwork originally constructed to protect the Pewsey Vale. It was also an ancient track used for taking goods and animals to and from the closest market, mill or fair. The dyke was extended and the route slightly altered by the Saxons. The course of the Wansdyke runs directly through Heddington parish from Morgans Hill in the east, passing Hampsley Hollow and dissecting the Stockley to Heddington Road. It then follows its path north of Heddington Wick and The Old Bear Inn where it then leaves the parish.

The Romans built a major road which passed through the edge of Heddington parish to the south. This road stretched from Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) to Bath (Aqua Sulis). The road was well documented in the 3rd century in the Antonine Itinerary, which listed all the important roads throughout the Roman Empire. The road became known as the Old Bath Road and was turnpiked in 1713; its course took it over Beacon Hill. By 1790, the road was disturnpiked through lack of use due to the popularity of the nearby Bath to London road. It is believed that local people would have been employed to assist travellers with heavy loads over the hill using oxen. Another Roman feature nearby was the military feeding station of Verlucio located on the border of Heddington and Sandy Lane to the west. This substantial site of approximately 12 acres was described in detail by Dr. Stukeley in Aubrey's Topographical Collections. The site was next to Wans House in a field named Weeke field. 'Infinite quantities of antiquities are found here: handfuls of coins brought home every time they plough, (Madam Whitlock has many): and the streets and foundations of houses found for a great length.' It was also reported that an urn containing 'a gallon' of Roman coins and a leaden coffin (believed to be Roman) were found in the fields of Heddington. In 1855, the year the coffin was discovered; it was donated to the Devizes Museum by a Mr Clarke.

In the Domesday survey of 1086, Heddington had land for only 6 ploughteams and was half and half demesne and tenantry land. There were 3 teams and 4 servi (serfs) on the demesne. 3 teams were held by 9 villani, 24 coscets and 2 cottars. This would have meant a population of between 140 and 160 people on the whole estate. There were 10 acres of meadow land and 8 acres of pasture.

The Battle of Roundway on July 13th 1643, occurred between the Parliamentarians headed by Sir William Waller and the victorious Royalist Army, led by Sir Ralph Hopton. There are conflicting accounts of the number of casualties. Some reports state that there were 1,500 losses for the Parliamentarians but contemporary accounts give a figure of less than fifty. More recently though, local historians have campaigned for a survey and excavation made of a site next to a track leading up to the site from Heddington. It is thought that there may be a mass grave of around 600 government soldiers there.
The village of Heddington would have been affected by the Battle of Roundway Down as it was the nearest settlement to the battlefield. It appears that there were no burials or other entries in the parish registers in relation to the event.

Heddington is part of Calne Hundred and in 1084 was an early part of the Calne estate. In 1066, Heddington was held by Earl Harold and then by 1086 held by Edward of Salisbury. Edward of Salisbury's daughter, Maud, married Humphrey de Bohun; the estate was then passed through several generations to their great grandson, Henry de Bohun, who was created Earl of Hereford in 1200. Henry's claim to the manor was challenged by Edward of Salisbury's great, great granddaughter, Ela Longspee. The manor descended in moieties from 1236 after a settlement was finally made between the two disputing families. From 1236 to 1539, Lacock Abbey held part of the moiety of Heddington, which had been gifted by the Abbess, Ela, Countess of Salisbury. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the Crown held all lands owned by Lacock Abbey. Their part of Heddington Estate was sold to John Lambarde in 1543 and then passed to his son, William in 1554.

The manor was sold to the Partridge family in 1570, where it remained until the early 17th century. From here on, Heddington manor was divided and sold in numerous portions of land. From 1611, the Rogers family held the manor; beginning with Henry (d.1614), John (d. by 1624) then finally another John Rogers. The estate during this time had been sold off in portions, the main part of the demesne was to become Church Farm and became part of John Grubbe's large estate. (He also owned most of Cherhill). The Grubbe family held on to the estate right up until 1795 when it was sold to George Stagg. George's son, John sold Church Farm along with other land amounting to 287 acres in 1817. Brice Pearse was the new owner and he also managed to acquire other parts of Heddington previously owned by Lacock Abbey. The estate stayed in the Pearse family briefly in the 19th century and by 1873, the ownership was in the hands of J.W.G. Spicer, who also owned Spye Park at Bromham. J.E.P.Spicer succeeded his father and sold on Church Farm with 722 acres in 1911 to L.B.Beauchamp. In 1921, the farm was bought by Florence Money-Kyrle of Whetham Estate where it remained in the family for the rest of the 20th century.

Heddington Manor House was formerly known as Heddington House and part of it was constructed in the mid 18th century on an earlier core. The building consists of two east - west ranges of two storeys and is stucco fronted brick with a slate roof.

In 1674, there was a 60 year lease to John Stephens the younger, doctor of 'physick'of Oxford and John Stephens the elder, gentleman, of a messuage called 'Babhams'. This included a garden, orchard and close in Heddington. They also held land in the common fields ; Jayes Close, Moores Close, Whittocke Close, Breach Close, Whetam Close and Swinehay Close. Other properties mentioned in the 17th and 18th centuries include Dafferns, Grandsire's and Fry's. During the Middle Ages, there were known to be two demesne farmsteads and many more smaller farmsteads.By the 18th century, there were 7 farmsteads in Heddington-only four of those were still remaining in 1999. In the late 18th century, there were between 12 and 15 farms in Heddington. Seven of which were located around the village itself and the remaining farmsteads dotted around the lowlands to the north and west. The land use changed in the late 19th century from mainly sheep and corn to predominantly dairy farming.

Manor Farm is believed to date from the late 17th to early 18th centuries. It has been considerably altered over the years re-using earlier materials. It was constructed using red brick and stone dressings and is two storied. Church Farm is located east of the parish church of St. Andrews. The building is L-shaped and believed to date from around 1800 on an earlier core. The house was constructed using stone and slate. In the 18th century, the farmland included Closes called Whetham and Hayes. In 1841, Church Farm merged with Home Farm and another smaller farm to create a 598 acre holding. By 1911, this had increased to 722 acres when it was sold as part of the Heddington estate. In the 1911 sale particulars the property included 'a four bay wagon shed, three-stall nag shed, coach house with piggery and six horse cart stable'. Paddock Farm house was built in the 17th century and is a two storey, box framed property. It has re-used medieval timbers forming square panels on the exterior brickwork. It was previously a thatched property. Another old farmstead, Home Farm is situated to the north of the church within the centre of the village. The main building is timber framed with red bricks and believed to date from the 18th century. It was originally 3 bayed but altered and re-roofed in the 19th century. Yew Tree Farm is a more recently constructed farmstead and is located on the Hampsley Hollow road. It was built around 1800 using red brick and slate. In the late 20th century, the property was divided into two and part was used as a residential home for the elderly.

Although farming has been the main livelihood in recent times in the parish, there were the usual village trades, including blacksmiths, wheelwrights, bakers etc. The north Wiltshire tradition of bacon curing was also carried out in Heddington. The parish has had a history of keeping horses for different purposes. In Kelly's directory for 1885, there is a horse trainer resident in the village. In 1939, a horse slaughterer is listed. Nowadays, there are two thriving horse riding schools; one in Heddington Wick and one in Hampsley Hollow.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, there were resident weavers in the village but the trade moved to the bigger towns. In an extract from Wiltshire Notes and Queries it mentions the cloth industry; 'Where about 1790 or earlier a young Mr Edgell, a well to-do clothier, used to come up from Trowbridge with a pack horse bringing yarn to be woven by the Heddington weavers'. In the late 13th century, a miller divided his workload between Lacock Abbey and Heddington. The location and use of the mill is unknown but it would certainly have been a windmill due to the lack of water power in the parish.

Recreation in Heddington is quite well documented. The only known inn in the village, the Ivy Inn was built in the 17th century; some of the property's deeds date from 1684. It is timber framed with painted brick and render, and with a thatched roof. On an auction sale poster of 1871, the Ivy was being sold as a beerhouse, bakehouse, shop, parlour and bedrooms with an additional occupied cottage. It had belonged to the late James Gye and was sold to Isaac Hand for £360.
The Ivy is still trading as a public house today.

Another village 'meeting place' was built not far from the school in 1881-2. J.W.G.Spicer was given permission by the Reverend Francis Houssemayne Du Boulay to build a Coffee House and Club. Spicer donated £300 towards the building fund in return for a yearly rent of £5. Known as the Workmen's Club it was described in the Kelly's directory as being built 'at a cost of £600, part of which was raised by subscriptions; it has a reading and other rooms, with a coffee bar and a fives court and quoits ground attached; daily and weekly papers are supplied.' The club was listed in Kelly's right up until the mid 1920s. The building was then used as a post office. The village hall was built in 1966-67 beside the school. It was burnt down in April 1970 but rebuilt and reopened in 1973. Other leisure facilities include the riding stables in Heddington Wick and Hampsley Hollow. The 40 acre North Wiltshire Golf Course was first founded in 1890, the clubhouse was built in 1937. The school outdoor swimming pool was used during the 1970s.

In 1976, Heddington took part in a BBC2 documentary series called 'Diary of a village'. It followed village life over a period of six months. At around the same time, the Heddington and Stockley Steam Rally became an annual event. This event now attracts thousands of visitors every year over a whole weekend during the summer. The village has a long established W I and Amateur Dramatics Club.

The population of Heddington has fluctuated over the centuries. The first number of poll tax payers (over 14 years of age) was documented in 1377 oas121 people. This was a large figure at that time and indicates that the village had a thriving population. By 1801, the number has unsurprisingly increased to 287. The population then steadily rises through the 19th century as agriculture and trade become more commonplace. From between 1801 and 1861 there is a substantial increase to 362 residents. As in most rural communities, the population starts to decrease in the late 19th century due to the migration of workers to the towns. Harris's factory in Calne was a major employer at this time and many locals moved to the town for employment. This is demonstrated in the large drop in numbers from 357 in 1881 to 256 in 1911. In the 20th century the parish becomes popular again and many more houses are built to accommodate the 'boom'. In 1931, there are 278 residents and by 1951 the number has increased to 324. The figure in 1991 had risen to 364, the highest ever. This was mainly due to people moving to the village on retirement. Nationally, the pattern is similar; more of the aging population are able to afford village properties and less younger people are able to do so. These statistics are reflected in the number of children attending the village school. The most dramatic change and increase of building in the village occurred during the 20th century. In 1950-52, 12 local authority houses were constructed at the western end of the village.12 more houses were built an adjoining plot of land in 1996.
There was a boom of new private housing developments during the 1980s built in various locations around Heddington, including some houses being placed on the old rectory site. Overall, it appears that around 75 houses and bungalows were built in Heddington village during this period.

There appears to have been several charities for the poor of Heddington spanning the last 250 years. The first two charities to benefit the unrelieved poor were believed to have come from a Nicholas Pearse (died 1739), who gave £20 and Anthony Brooke (died 1741) who gave £10. In 1744, the combined bequests were used to pay for a mortgage of a house called Sheep House which was located to the west of the church. The interest of which was given to the second poor of the parish. The house was extended in 1767 and converted to three cottages known as the 'Field Cottages'. The cottages were rented and the income was put into the charity 'pot' with other monies. In 1846, the rents were due on Lady Day and each tenant was to pay £2 12s. 0d; Jacob Hand, John Hand and Charles Reeves were the tenants at this time. The Field Cottages were sold in 1948 and the proceeds were invested. Five years later, £25 of this sum was given out as dole money. During the mid 19th century, three further bequests for the poor were entrusted to the churchwardens and overseers of the parish. Brice Pearse of Essex (died 1842) gave £50, Isaac Clarke (died 1855) gave £50 and Sarah Peplar gave £300 stock by deed in 1837. The combined income of the three gifts gave a total of £10 19s. 0d. This sum was amalgamated with the second poor charity (Sheep House later The Field Cottages) to make one common fund. Gifts were given in small amounts: in the 1920s to 1940s, the recipients received 8shillings. Records show that 32 families received doles in 1932 when the total income of all the charities amounted to £23.

SPLATTS

Splatts is a small hamlet within the parish of Heddington. The buildings were arranged around a small rectangle parcel of commonable pasture of about one acre. This may have been the source of the name, 'Le Splotte'in 1526, 'splot' means 'small patch of land'. Splatts is located to the west of Heddington village and is now a centre for Buddhism. The existing main building, Splatts House was built in around 1729 for Francis Child on his marriage to Priscilla Brooke. The building consists of two storeys and five bays. It was constructed using chequered red brick with ashlar stone dressings. It is believed to have replaced an earlier property built in around 1640. The estate of Splatts was first documented in 1620, when it was part of a sale by John Rogers to Robert Child of pasture rights. The estate was passed down through the Child family until it was sold in 1808. Sir Francis Child (1642-1713), Goldsmith and founder of the first bank in London, was amongst the long list of residents.The ownership of Splatts changed on numerous occasions through the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, a Buddhist foundation, bought Splatts in 1979 to create a Buddhist centre. Some of the farm buildings were altered or rebuilt to accommodate visiting students and monks. In 1989, a 'Light of the Damma' gilded pagoda was built in the garden and it contains a ring of seven meditation cubicles surrounding an inner teaching area.
The centre has a thriving Buddhist community with students and followers visiting from all over the world.

HEDDINGTON WICK

Heddington Wick is a very small hamlet situated to the north-west of Heddington. It was believed to have been the home of Alice atte Wike in 1288.
The settlement was described as being a long rectangular parcel of commonable pasture which was never enclosed. In 1665, there was an assignment of a lease for three lives on a house. This property came with one and a half acres of meadow and eight and half acres of arable in the common fields. The few buildings there surrounded this land and in the 1841 census there appears to have been 15 cottages and houses. In the 1848 Post Office directory, Heddington Wick lists three farmers; Thomas Fell, George Gundry and Joseph Manners. Henry Hughes was a cooper and Benjamin Manners was a carpenter and wheelwright. Properties of note include Wick Farm and Wick Cottage. Wick Farm was built in the late 18th century and constructed of red brick and stone with Bridgewater tiled roof. Wick Cottage is nearby on The Common, and dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. It was extended in 17th century. The building has two full cruck trusses at the east end of the northern range; this would have originally been a hall house. The cottage was built using different materials including timber frame, brick, stone and a concrete tile roof.

There were two old inns on the edge of Heddington Wick on the furthest western point of the parish. The Bear and The Bell were situated on the old Bath to London Road and provided accommodation and refreshment to many passing travellers. Both buildings are now Grade II Listed. The Bell was documented as trading as an inn by 1706 but was reputed to have been in existence during the Civil War, when it was said to have been damaged by troops in 1642. By 1841 it had been converted into a farmhouse. The building was considerably altered during the 18th and 19th centuries. Its main construction is of coursed ironstone rubble with a hipped slate roof. The Bear had an almost identical history to that of The Bell. It was similarly damaged during the Civil War and also converted to a farmhouse but not until the 20th century. It was built using red brick with ashlar dressings and has a hipped stone slated roof.

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Folk Songs from Heddington

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Folk Plays from Heddington

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