Maud Heath’s Causeway

17

Jul

Maud Heath’s Causeway

MAUD HEATH’S CAUSEWAY

 

Maud Heath’s Causeway is a pathway linking Wick Hill and Chippenham. As it winds it’s way through open countryside towards Langley Burrell the path rises above the River Avon on sixty-four brick arches.

 

The causeway is the gift of the eponymous Maud Heath; a sundial on the spot reports that she made her fortune carrying eggs to market at Chippenham. She was a widow and childless, and when she died “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”, which was the path along which she had tramped to market several times a week for most of her life. Five hundred and some years later, the charity still maintains the path out of her bequest.

 

The Langley Burrell terminus, at Wick Hill, features an inscription in stone “From this hill begins the praise of Maud Heath’s gift to these Highways”‘. Further up the Hill is a statue of the lady, erected on a high column in 1838 looking out over the Chippenham mud flats.

 

The statue, in a bonnet and authentic plebeian clothes from the reign of Edward IV, was erected by the great Whig Lord Lansdowne and features a poem by the critic William Lisle Bowles, who was vicar of Bremhill at the time, which reads: “Thou who dost pause on this aerial height, Where Maud Heath’s Pathway winds in shade and light, Christian wayfarer in a world of strife, Be still and consider the Path of Life.”