village of Heytesbury is a very ancient one. It is mentioned in the
Domesday Book as Hestrebe, but Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead, wrote in 1824 in his “History of Modern
Wiltshire and the Hundred of Heytesbury” employed in the
compiling of the Domesday Book softened the rough Saxon
Hestredesbirig into Haseberie.
The late Lord Heytesbury wrote “John Britton”
writing in 1814, gives Haresbury as a variation in use.
In the last century Heytesbury was often pronounced
of historical interest are Heytesbury House which stands on
the medieval mansion of east court. This was the house
that Walter, Lord Hungerford was repairing and enlarging
when arrested on a charge of treason, he was beheaded by
King Henry VIII. The house was seized by the King, and
the commissioners reported that the mansion surrounded by a
moat would have been suitable for the King to occupy if the
alterations had been completed. The house continued in
semi-derelict condition until the 17th century when the Ashe
family purchased it. [see http://holmesacourt.org/hachistory/hac_history.html]
The Ashe à Court family
partly transformed the house in 1820 by the addition
of a south facing facade. The house remained in the
Ashe à Court family until 1926. It was then purchased
Sassoon just after 1926, [see www.heytesbury.org.uk]
Siegfried occupied Heytesbury House until 1967,
Siegfried's son the late George
Sassoon lived in it until 1994 when it was sold and divided into
Prebend House, known as Parsonage Farm at one time
constituted a manor belonging to the Dean of Sarum in his
capacity as Dean of Heytesbury.
in the 15th century better known as the
Hospital of St. John were founded by
Sir Walter Hungerford but he died before their
completion, and this was accomplished by the widow of Sir
Walter’s second son Robert, who married Margaret, the
daughter and heiress of William, Lord Botreaux. This building was Margaret’s greatest memorial.
the middle of the High Street there stands one of the
curious little “blind houses”, an octagonal building
with stone-tiled roof containing a dome, in which many years
ago, offenders were locked up by the village constable.
This was restored in 2007. Sarah Buttenshaw
recorded the project in words and photographs, click on the
link - click here to open
Wiltshire Family History
have produced a booklet [check out the website for prices] Heytesbury
Parishioners 1771-1785; 1879-1883
fascinating. Parish Registers up to 1837 available
before the end of 2009
Cunnington (1754-1810) buried in Heytesbury Churchyard - read about
this "pioneer archaeologist" article reproduced with the
kind permission of British
Archaeology [September October 2009 - pages 41-43]
[Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Paul Everill]
Knook is about a mile east of Heytesbury.
Many of the weavers and cloth workers of
Heytesbury lived in Knook, the population in 1831 - 282;
in 1951 - 544. Today there are about 25 houses and
used to be two farms, but today there is only one working
farm, the other farm buildings were carefully converted to
six houses and the land sold to an adjoining enterprise.
Knook Horse Hill and Knook Down are both in East Farm
The Manor House, on the banks of the river Wylye,
between the river and the church, is a Tudor building of
stone with gabled ends, gabled porch and stone mullioned
windows and, since its restoration, is a very attractive
house. This was restored in 1924 by Mary Esther Crichton-Maitland
and Margaret Crichton-Maitland.
The two sisters bought Knook Manor and lived there
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England
and Wales described Knook like
KNOOK, a parish, with a
village, in Warminster district, Wilts; on the river Wiley, the
Old Ditch way, and the Somerset and Weymouth railway, 1 mile SE of
Heytesbury r. station. Post town, Heytesbury, under Bath. Acres,
1, 440. Real property, £1, 342. Pop., 208. Houses, 46. The
property belongs chiefly to Lord Heytesbury. Knook Castle is an
ancient single ditched entrenchment, of about 2 acres; is supposed
to have been originally a British village, and afterwards a Roman
summer camp; and has yielded Roman coins.
Extracted from http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/place_page.jsp?p_id=11859
is a small village and former civil parish in Wiltshire, in the south west of
England. It is situated near the A36, near Warminster, and by the River Wylye.
Most of it is now part of the civil parish of Heytesbury, Imber and Knook, but a
few houses are within the parish of Sutton Veny. Marked only on large-scale
maps, it lies to the west of Sutton Veny and to the south of Heytesbury.
This little village,
consisting of one short street has always been part of the
parish of Heytesbury. Over a century ago the
population was about 180 working in Heytesbury in the
reproduced with permission from 'Wiltshire County
Council Libraries and Heritage'. http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/
Imber is the ghost village
of the Salisbury Plain. Kelly’s directory for 1939 tells
us it has an ancient church and a Baptist Chapel, that it
has an area of 3,052 acres and in 1931 its population was
152. It also says that the soil is flinty, the subsoil chalk
and that the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley and
pasture. Ominously it also records that the principal
landowner is the War Office.
Although there is evidence of prehistoric and Roman
settlement in the area, the first documentary mention of
Imber is in 967, when it was part of an endowment to the
Abbess of Romsey. It is mentioned in Domesday as being held
by Ralph of Mortimer, but this probably only referred to
that part of the village not held by Romsey Abbey. It has
been estimated that the population at that time was about
50. By 1377 the population had risen to 250, probably
remaining at that level till the nineteenth century. By 1801
it had risen to 331, by 1851 it had reached a peak of 440.
Then it commenced a decline, to 339 in 1881, 261 in 1901,
till by 1931 there were just 152 inhabitants.
Imber was a community dependent upon agriculture. Those who
were not directly employed on the land were in trades
dependent upon it. The decline in population is also
reflected in a decline in activity. The directory of 1867
lists 6 farmers, a tailor (and shopkeeper), a miller (and
Innkeeper), a boot and shoemaker and a blacksmith (and
shopkeeper). Whereas the 1939 directory lists 4 farmers, a
smallholder, an innkeeper, a carpenter and a blacksmith.
The village was in quite an isolated position, sheltering in
a fold in the downs some four miles from the nearest
village. It was elongated in shape, its main street
following the course of a stream known as “Imber Dock”.
The only building still more or less intact is the church.
This was described in the 1939 directory as “an ancient
and beautiful stone building of various dates, mainly in the
decorated and perpendicular styles. It has an embattled
western tower with five pinnacles and containing five
bells”. The description of the interior mentions the
effigies of two knights (now to be seen in Edington church).
The Baptist chapel, built in 1839, is also mentioned (this
was demolished some time ago and only the graveyard
remains). Besides a number of substantial farmhouses, the
main building of note was Imber Court. This was the manor
house, rebuilt in the eighteenth century, burnt down in 1920
and subsequently restored. Refreshment was supplied by the
From the late nineteenth century
military manoeuvres had been held on parts of the Salisbury
Plain and in 1897 the War Office began purchasing land in
the South East of the plain. The first world war and after
saw and increase in the need for such land and between 1927
and 1932 the War Office purchased a substantial part of the
north and west of the plain. This included most of the
village of Imber and its inhabitants became tenants of the
military. In the Second World War the need for training
areas intensified, especially in the preparations for D-Day.
On the 1st November 1943 the tenants were given just 47 days
notice to quit. Many of them left believing that they had
been promised a return after the war. This was not to
happen, it has been a training area ever since. Much of the
old village has since disappeared. In a final irony the army
has built a mock village, for training purposes, on the edge
of the old one.