Melksham Without Parish Council
Brief history of Beanacre
Beanacre is the most ancient part of the Parish of Melksham Without and is first mentioned in estate records of 1275. The Old Manor House was built in the fifteenth century. One of its most famous residents was John Whittokesmead who sat as a Justice of the Peace in at least four Quarter Sessions and was made a Knight of the Shire in 1450.
Beanacre is one of the the oldest centres of population in the parish and its name may come from "bean field". Another explanation is that it comes from the old french word for well. This is possible as the water table is very high in Beanacre.
The manor of Beanacre is first mentioned in 1296 although there is a possible earlier record of 1275. It was owned by Amesbury Abbey and was held by various families including Bluet, Baynard and Daniell. The manor house (Beanacre Old Manor) has a late 14th century open hall and solar, which was remodelled in the early 16th century, while the chapel to the rear is of c.1500. The village seems to have developed around the manor house with farmhouses and cottages although, apart from buildings at the Old Manor, there is nothing earlier than the 17th century. There are gaps between existing buildings that could indicate sites of former houses or it may be a sign that there was more land fronting the road than was required by the small number of inhabitants. Certainly the settlement has grown northwards from its original site around the Old Manor, the part of the village now bypassed, although it is possible that there was early settlement around the junction of the Whitley road, later known as Upper Green. There is still a gap between the two settlements and it would seem that the northern part was mainly small cottages.
The housing in the northern part of the village was mostly built within the last 200 years and consists mainly of 19th century cottages and 20th century detached houses. The railway line to Chippenham runs from south to north parallel with the village to the west while the River Avon flows in a similar direction to the east. Today the village is mainly residential, surrounded by farmland but Beechfield House, built for local gentleman farmer Richard Keevil in 1870, is now a hotel and restaurant.
St Barnabas Church in construction
Celebrating the opening of St Barnabas Church