Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

ABC of Chippeham: Maud Heath's Causeway

I've stepped out of Chippenham today to take you to nearby Kellaways to show you the most dramatic feature of Maud Heath's Causeway as it crosses over the River Avon. The causeway links Wick Hill to Chippenham and was a philanthropic gesture made by Maud Heath in 1474.

The story goes that she was rather fed up of getting her feet wet when travelling to Chippenham Market to sell her eggs. She bequeathed funds upon her death to build and maintain a footpath from her home into town just over three miles away so that future travellers to market might arrive dry shod.

As you can see the raised pathway is much longer than the width of the river at this point, but takes winter flooding into account. The trees in the centre of the main picture are screening a monument erected in Maud Heath's honour in 1698.  It has a sundial on each side and Chippenham Clift and Wick Hill are inscribed on the 2 sides facing each destination. The side to the right of the picture is the Wick Hill direction.

The main inscription on the front side (to the left in the picture) reads:

In the year of grace 1474, for the good of travellers did bestow in land and houses the sum of eight pounds a year foreer to be laid out on a causeway leading from Wick Hill to Chippenham Clift.

And beneath this a further inscription reads:

Injure me not

The bequest still maintains the path to this day and it can be followed into Chippenham to the top of New Road, where I took the picture of St Paul's church for the letter C. From Kellaways to Langley Burrell, the tarmac sometimes gives way to cobblestones, showing how the path must have looked when it was first laid.

If you'd like to walk the length of the Causeway, I've found this website with full details :)

The Causeway is also a listed building which I photographed for English Heritage's Images of England Millennium project.

This is for ABC Wednesday and marks the half way point in my themed posts about Chippenham.

15 comments:

  1. Wow! The New World hadn't even been discovered when the causeway was built.

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  2. yay for dry feet! nice bit of history.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  3. Haven't been there for ages - thanks.

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  4. neat! since the 1400's & still maintained. wow

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  5. What a great choice for letter M! Gorgeous!

    My Letter M, hope you can come and see. Have a nice day!

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  6. The website link is great for although I've seen bits of the causeway I never knew it was so long. The site seems to imply the route is circular.

    Fancy a stroll sometime?

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  7. I'm glad I'm not called 'Maud Heath'!

    Lucy

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  8. Beautiful M entry!

    Will you lease come and see my Letter M? Thank you!

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  9. I'd rather like to have a path named after me. 'Sock's Way' - I wonder where I should have it...

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  10. What a generous benefactress and an interesting story. Wonder what may have transpired if Maud had not travelled by shanks pony to the market?

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  11. Hi ABCers - I'm doing the rounds over at yours...

    Hermes - it doesn't change :)

    Petoskystone - I guess £8 in the 1400s was quite an endowment to leave!

    Mark - I think they've made it into a circular route incorporating the causeway along the way. Just realised you can practically step out of your door onto the causeway. Yes, a walk would be fab!

    Lucy - NAH's aunt in Poole's second Christian name is Maud ;)

    Arabella - how about to the nearest hattiewat or cake shop? ;)

    Anna - I wouldn't have written this post!

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  12. Glad to learn about Maud. 1474 -- what a year that was! :-)

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  13. New Book "Dry Shod to Chippenham" the History of Maud Heath's Causeway by Dr. Kay Taylor has just been published. Book Launch + tea 3 p.m. 8th December at Langley Burrell Village Hall Free entry

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    1. Boo hoo we're not here that day, otherwise I'd be there. I'll look out for the book down town.

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