LEIGH

Wiltshire

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Tourist Information

Our location means thousands of tourists pass through our village every year. However very few stop to take in the sites. The Leigh is a great place to explore if you're a fan of old churches with strange tales, of river walks and enjoy nature reserves.

This section features useful information about the Leigh's main attractions, with links to nearby towns and tourist facilities.

In the village...

The Chancel may be small, unassuming and hidden away, but it is a real church on consecrated ground with room for a congregation (albeit in single figures) and an annual service in the summer.

 

A church was first built on this site in 1250, when it's believed the hub of the village was further north than it is today.

But poor ground conditions took their toll. Following another costly renovation project to stop the building collapsing into marshy ground, the decision was made in 1896 to deconstruct All Saints Church, and rebuild it stone by stone half a mile to the south.

An end section of the original church was left behind, made stable and converted into a smaller chapel. This was to ensure the surrounding graveyard would remain a holy site. This is what remains on the Chancel site today.

In 2017, The Chancel was used in an episode of the BBC hit Poldark where it's exterior featured as 'The Old Meeting House'

>> More information about The Chancel >>

Chancel in the snow, Leigh

All Saints building work

Originally built: 1250

Extended: 1430

Rebuilt: 1720

Renovated: 1729, 1736, 1757, 1784

Deconstructed and moved: 1896

Entrance to All Saints Chuch Leigh

Following on from the above text, the rest of Leigh's only remaining church can be found on Swan Lane.

All Saints was constructed in 1720, but has only been at it's current location since 1896. The church was rebuilt piece by piece, and is thought to be a replica of the original building, minus one end (as the Chancel was not relocated with the rest of the church).

The new location was closer to the village's residents, and was next door to a newly built school (which closed in 2004 and is now a private house).

Occasional services are held at All Saints Church. The building is also used for community meetings and events, with a more long-term plan afoot to rent the building for private functions.

The church building is only open during services or special occasions, however the gates to the grounds and graveyard are always unlocked.

>> More information about All Saints >>

All Saints today

Rev. Judy Ashby

Diocese of Bristol (Upper Thames group)

Now owned and maintained by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT), this former World War II military base is now one of the largest natural hay meadows in the UK.

RAF Blakehill was opened in 1944, and used mainly by British and Canadian forces. The air force only used this base for eight years. The runway was not maintained and, over the decades, nature reclaimed it.

In the 1990's, the military left the site permanently, leaving behind an ideal piece of land to create a nature reserve.

Today, visitors are welcome to explore Blakehill Farm. Birdwatchers can look for kestrels, whinchats and owls, ecologists can hunt out rare wildflowers and grasses, and wildlife enthusiasts can search for dragonflies, snakes and deer.

The best time to visit is in late Spring. Special events are held at the site during the summer.

>> More information about Blakehill Farm >>

>> More information about RAF Blakehill >>

Blakehill Farm

WWT

Currently manage 37 nature reserves across Wiltshire

Waterhay and Thames Path

Waterhay is part of the much larger Cotswold Water Park complex.

Upper Waterhay is a nature reserve managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. It is a wildlfower meadow where you can find, depending on the time of year and weather conditions, white snakeshead fritillaries, marsh marigold and lady's smock, along with butterflies, mayflies, birds and wild mammals.

The lakes of Waterhay are managed by the Cotswold Water Park Trust, and provide excellent habitats and wetlands birds. The fields and lakes are interspersed with footpaths which, wildlife aside, link the Leigh to nearby villages and towns.

One of England's most famous footpaths - The Thames Path - comes through Waterhay. This 184 mile path follows the River Thames from it's source near the village of Kemble to the Thames Barrier in London.

>> More information about the Upper Waterhay >>

>> More information about the Thames Path >>

Thames Path

Thames Head to Waterhay: 008 miles

Thames Barrier to Waterhay: 176 miles 

A short drive away...
Cotswold Water Park Trust
Ashton Keynes
Cricklade
Royal Wootton Bassett
Tourist - Cirencester.jpg
Malmesbury
Cotswold Water Park
www.waterpark.org
With more than 150 lakes over 40 square miles, the Water Park offers hotels, camping, nature walks, watersports, bike hire, beaches and evening entertainment.
The Gateway Centre is the recommended starting point for tourist information, maps and a hot chocolate.
Ashton Keynes
ashtonkeynes.org.uk
Leigh's nearest neighbour, Ashton Keynes is a well publicised village for it's biscuit-tin appearance.
Here, you'll find a village shop, pub, as well as more wetland trails through the Water Park.
Cricklade
www.crickladetowncouncil.gov.uk
Our nearest town. Cricklade is the first town on the Thames (and Wiltshire's only town on the Thames).
The town is also well known for it's Britain in Bloom accolades.
Royal Wootton Bassett
www.woottonbassett.gov.uk
A modern military town just a short drive from the Leigh. It became famous when the resident's began lining the streets to welcome home the cavalcades of fallen soldiers during conflict. The town's 'Royal' status was awarded because of this unorchestrated show of support.
Cirencester
www.cirencester.co.uk
The Capital of the Cotswolds. This Roman town offers scores of unique shops, a very impressive church and many historic buildings. The town was once home to a Roman Amphitheatre, but today only raised grassworks remain.
Malmesbury
www.malmesbury.gov.uk
England's oldest borough. Malmesbury is a small hilltop town with picturesque views on every corner. The abbey remains, market cross, Abbey House Gardens, river walks and museum are all well worth a visit. 

Credits

All Saints history: A History of Wiltshire XVIII used with permission © University of London

Blakehill / Waterhay details: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Thames Path details: Cotswold Water Park

Maps (original): Google

Town images from Wikipedia / Cotswolds.com / Visit Wiltshire

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