History of Hawkeridge & Heywood

The parish of Heywood lies four miles to the south of Trowbridge and abuts the northern edge of Westbury. The name Heywood means enclosed or preserved wood.

Historically, Heywood was part of the parish of Westbury until 1896 when it became a parish in its own right. The parish church was Holy Trinity Church on Church Road in Heywood, which was built in 1849 and became redundant in January 1982 and has been converted for domestic use.

Few indications of early settlement in the area have been found although 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 were discovered between Ham and Heywood House. There is a possible medieval moat in a rectangular shape lying a quarter of a mile north-east of Storridge Farm.

The existence of Hawkeridge as an individual estate can be traced back to the 14th century when the hamlet passed from Sir John Pavely to Ralph Cheyney (his wife was Pavely’s daughter) with the Manor of Brook shape lying quarter of a mile north-east of Storridge Farm.

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. 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. 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 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.

A number of historic buildings survive in the parish.

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.

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. 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. 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. The House was used as an evacuees’ hostel in World War 2.

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 gate 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. 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.

The Royal Oak Inn in Hawkeridge dates from the 19th century, if not before.

Hawkeridge Farmhouse is a detached house of mid-17th century date which was 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.

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.

The 1851 census showed 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. Most of the 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 and a GWR Inspector of Police.

Occupations in the 1891 Census for Heywood included iron works labourers, cow and dairymen, glovers, 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’. 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 and 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.

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.