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Maud Heath's Monument, Kellaways

In 1474, an endowment was made by Maud Heath, a woman from Tytherton Kellaways, to maintain a causeway across the floodplain from Bremhill to Chippenham. The route maintained for centuries by the Maud Heath Charity trustees begins at Wick Hill, Bremhill before passing through East Tytherton, across the River Avon at Kellaways, and through Langley Burrell and to Chippenham.

The first known public declaration of Maud Heath’s intentions was made by the trustees in 1698 when they set up a memorial pillar by Kellaways Bridge with an inscription that reads:

To the memory Of the worthy MAUD HEATH of Langley Burrell Widow Who in the year of Grace 1474 for the good of Travellers did in Charity bestow land and houses about Eight Pounds a year forever to be laid out on the Highways and Causey leading from Wick Hill to Chippenham Clift. This Piller [sic] was Set up by the feoffees in 1698.

The limestone pillar stands approximately 12 feet high and is now listed as a scheduled ancient monument.

On three sides are sundials with Latin inscriptions that read on the east Tempis Volat- Time Flies, to the west Redibo-tu numquam -I will return you never, and the south Dum tempis habemus operemur bonum- let us do good while there is time. In the 1820s, the vicar of Bremhill, William Lisle Bowles, offered his help to the Maud Heath trustees. He suggested ‘as few who pass the road are capable of the force of the admonition, from the inscription being in Latin’ he could render the inscriptions into the “vulgar tongue”[i.e. English]. After which his rhyming couplets were added to helpfully explain the Latin sentiments, at least as he saw them.

Before the additions of Bowles, the rector of Langley Burrell, Samuel Ashe, sketched the monument c.1787. This may be the earliest representation of the monument in detail. From the sketch, we can see the memorial as it likely initially looked. However, on the drawing, Samuel made several errors or at least possible mistakes. Maud Heath is listed as a ‘spinster’ -an unmarried woman, not a widow, but we know that she was a widow with some certainty as she is listed as one on the original deed of gift that still survives. Secondly, in an obvious slip-up, Wick Hill is listed as ‘Wide Hill’, and Samuel finally lists the creation date of the monument as ‘1627’, not 1698 as it currently appears. Again, this was recorded erroneously as the trustees’ set markers at the beginning and end of the causeway in the same year.

​Over time the monument began to list, and in 1929 the local surveyor reported that the stone was worn. Repairs were made, and the pillar moved to a concrete base, but it started to lean again. This was resolved unexpectedly by a car running off the road and demolishing the monument in May 1996. As the car's number plate was recovered from the debris, the Maud Heath Trust were able to make an insurance claim for its restoration, and specialist contractors carried out the reconstruction, locating the pillar closer to the river and on firmer foundations in 1997.

 

Maud Heath's Monument,
Maud Heath's Causeway,
Kellaways

 

NGRef: ST 94686 75797
Historic England 1022351 

Nearby Points of Interest