Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Maud's Gift - 28 April 2007

Some of the 64 archesWe had planned a weekend at Chippenham, and when reading up on the area, we were fascinated by the story of Maud Heath’s Causeway.

After picking up a booklet about it from the Chippenham Information Centre, we set off to find the start. The causeway is 4½ miles long and Maud said she took an hour to reach the town. We cheated and drove for most of it, but walked the most interesting part with 64 arches.

Maud's monument at the top of Wick hillMaud spent her life walking across the low lying damp ground here, but today 530 years later; we enjoyed the very prestigious pathway that her legacy provided. On June 12, 1474 this remarkable woman made a gift of land, the income from which was to provide for the construction and maintenance of a causeway across the swampy ground. It is probably a unique instance of a grant by an individual for such a project and is even more intriguing in that the Trust has never been subsumed into any other body but continues to this day with the Trustees meeting at least once a year, as they have done with unbroken continuity since instigation.

Bowood HouseOn then to our next stop: Bowood House, where we only saw a very small portion of this lovely mansion. The formal terrace in front of the conservatory like wing is especially beautiful. The main reason for visiting Bowood, at this time of year, was to see their rhododendron garden. View from the mausoleumThis is over 60 acres, and it seemed we walked several miles following the various paths. The combination of rhododendrons and carpets of bluebells was especially beautiful but, in spite of our best efforts, seemed impossible to capture on camera.

Corsham CourtOur second feature visit of the day was Corsham Court, adjacent to the very picturesque village of Corsham. The core of the current building is over 400 years old but there are records of the Kings of Wessex having a summer palace here in 978. The wisteria here, as at Bowood, was in full bloom and stunningly beautiful.

Corsham Court gardenWe stopped at Ford for a very well presented meal at The White Hart pub, as recommended in our good pub guide.

No comments: