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Bremhill Parish

Bremhill, Foxham, The Tythertons & surrounding villages

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Maud Heath

There is a monument to Maud Heath (created in 1838 at the expense of the Marquess of Lansdowne and William Bowles) on Wick Hill, half a mile north west of the village. Maud Heath was a prosperous woman of Langley Burrell who was concerned about the conditions for local people bringing produce to sell at Chippenham market. In 1474 she made a deed of gift giving trustees land and property in Chippenham to make and maintain a causeway from Wick Hill to Chippenham Clift.. The bridge pillar at Kellaways just outside the Parish boundary is inscribed: ‘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 in land and haufes about Eight pound a year forever to be laid out on the Highway and Causeway leading from Wick Hill to Chippenham Clift. This Pillar was fet up by the Feoffees, 1698. Injure me not’.

Local societies of old

Apart from this well known gift for the good of the parish, 1692 is the first recorded entry for poor law, and was given to old men and poor widows. The amount for that year for 22 people was 21.7s.8d. per month. In 1827 the cost was over £2,000 per annum (Bowles, 1828, p.199). A Friendly Society was formed in 1770 with 75 members paying one shilling per week. If a member was sick or unable to work they would be given six shillings a week. The society lapsed over time but in 1979 the Friends of St. Martins were founded to promote ‘public interest in and enjoyment of the Church, its history, work and activities’. The Dumb Post Friendly Society was founded in 1770. Members met every six weeks. Each member spent some money and put the rest in a box. Fines also provided extra income. The fund gave sickness benefit for three months and a small amount for the rest of the illness. The money was also used for burials and money to be spent at the Dumb Post Inn on the day of the funeral, which members were required to attend. There was also the Festival Day on Whit Wednesday. After dinner members had to walk to the ‘Bell and Organ’ at Bremhill, walk around the cross twice and have a short pot of beer each time. Each member had to pay for it. There was no public house at the site in 1962. A field path was known as Parade Walk because of an old ceremonial walk between Bremhill and Dumb Post. Other societies included one called the ‘Tatter Arm’, at the ‘Pig and Whistle’ in Bremhill, an ale house lost in the mist of time.

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