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Heytesbury, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Heytesbury, a small town, a hundred, and a parish in Wilts. The town stands on the river Wiley, near Salisbury Plains, and has a station on the G.W.R., 109 miles from London, with a post, money order, and telegraph office. It was known to the Saxons as Hegtredesbiryg, took afterwards the names of Haresbury, Haseberie, and Heightsbury; was in the time of Stephen the residence of the Empress Maud; was in 1766 nearly all destroyed by fire, and afterwards rebuilt; consists now chiefly of a single street, and possesses interest to tourists as the central point of a region abounding in British, Roman, Saxon, and Danish remains. It sent two members to Parliament from the time of Henry VI. till disfranchised by the Act of 1832, was a borough by prescription, and is now a seat of courts-leet. It has two chief inns, a church, a Congregational chapel, and an endowed hospital. The church dates from the 13th century, was partly rebuilt in 1470, underwent a thorough restoration in 1866 at an expense of about £5500, is cruciform, has a massive tower, and contains the burial-place of the A'Courts, and a tablet to Cunningham the antiquary. It was formerly a collegiate church, with a dean and four prebendaries. At Tytherington, a hamlet in the S of this parish, stands the ancient chapel of St James, founded by the Empress Maud. It has been restored. The hospital was founded in 1470, by Lady Hungerford, for a chaplain, twelve poor men, and one poor woman; was rebuilt in 1769, and forms three sides of a square, two storeys high. A weekly market was formerly held, and a fair is still held on 14 May. Acreage of the civil parish, 5203; population, 826; of the ecclesiastical, 935. The manor belonged to the Burghershes, and passed to the Badlesmeres, the Hungerfords, the Hastingses, and others. Heytesbury House, the seat of Lord Heytesbury, is on the E side of the town; was partially rebuilt about 1784, contains a fine collection of pictures, and stands in a well-wooded park. Cotley Hill rises from the woods of the park, commands a very fine panoramic view, is crowned by a tumulus, and was anciently fortified. Knock Castle, Scratchbury Camp, Golden Barrow, and many other antiquities are in the neighbourhood. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Knook, in the diocese of Salisbury; gross value, £400. Patron, the Bishop of Salisbury.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWiltshire 
Ecclesiastical parishHeytesbury St. Peter and St. Paul 
Poor Law unionWarminster 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Heytesbury 1654-1837, Wiltshire is available to browse online.

The register dates from the year 1653.

Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Heytesbury:



Church of England

SS. Peter and Paul (parish church)

The church of SS. Peter and Paul was formerly collegiate, and had, until recently, four prebends: it is a spacious cruciform edifice of stone, chiefly Early English, and consists of clerestoried chancel with aisles, north and south transepts, clerestoried nave of four bays and aisles, south porch and low square central tower containing a clock and 6 bells: some Early English arches and columns in the walls of the chancel have been opened and repaired: the north transept has a stone screen between it and the nave: the south transept is a chapel dedicated to St. Katharine: there are memorial windows to the late Lord Heytesbury, d. 21 April, 1891; his eldest son, the Hon. William. Leonard Holmes-A'Court, d. 16 Dec. 1885; the Rev. John Knight M.A. vicar here 1836-83; Mrs. Lethbridge, d. 1909, and others: the church has been restored, refloored and reseated with open benches. There are 450 sittings. The churchyard was enlarged in 1909.

SS. Peter & Paul, HeytesburyNave of SS. Peter & Paul, HeytesburySS. Peter & Paul, Heytesbury


Congregational Chapel

The Congregational chapel, built in 1812, has 250 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Heytesbury from the following:


Online maps of Heytesbury are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online:

RegionSouth West
Postal districtBA12
Post TownWarminster