In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Heytesbury like this:
HEYTESBURY, a small town, a parish, a sub-district, and a hundred, in Wilts. The town stands on the river Wiley, and on the Somerset and Weymouth railway, near Salisbury plain, 4 miles SE by E of Warminster; was known, to the Saxons, as Hegtredesbiryg; took afterwards the names of Haresbury, Haseberie, and Heightsbury; is now commonly called Hatchbury; was, in the time of Stephen, the residence of the Empress Mand; was, in 1766, nearly all destroyed by fire, and afterwards rebuilt; consists now chiefly of a single street; possesses interest to tourists as the central point of a region abounding in British, Roman, Saxon, and Danish remains; and gives the title of Baron to the family of A'Court. ...
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 a post office‡ under Bath, a railway station, two chief inns, a church, an Independent chapel, a national school, 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 £5, 500; is cruciform; has a massive tower; and contains the burial place of the A'Courts, and a tablet to Cunningham, the antiquary. The hospital was founded in 1470, by Lady Hungerford, for a chaplain, twelve poor men, and one poor woman; was rebuilt in 1769; forms three sides of a square, two stories high; and has an endowed income of £1, 373. A weekly market was formerly held; and two fairs are still held on 14 May and 25 Sept.The parish comprises 3, 380 acres. Real property, £4, 713. Pop., in 1841, 1, 311; in 1861, 1, 103. Houses, 237. The manor belonged to the Burghershs; and passed to the Badlesmeres, the Hungerfords, the Hastingses, and others. Heytesbury House, the seat of Lord Heytesbury, is on the N 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. Knook castle, Scratchbury camp, Golden barrow, and many other autiquities are in the neighbourhood. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Knook, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £350. Patron, the Bishop of Salisbury.The sub-district contains also eleven other parishes, and is in Warminster district. Acres, 27, 546. Pop., 4, 372. Houses, 946.-The hundred contains thirteen parishes, and part of another. Acres, 33, 040. Pop., 5, 572. Houses, 1, 209.
Heytesbury is now part of West Wiltshire district. Click here for graphs and data of how West Wiltshire has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Heytesbury itself, go to Units and Statistics.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Heytesbury in West Wiltshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th March 2017
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