Nestled in the Avon Valley, Wiltshire, half straddling the great river and half on the hillside sits the lovely ancient town of Bradford-on-Avon. If in the area it is a great place to wander and explore, it is very much like walking through the ages. From Roman, through Saxon times and the industrial revolution. It all combines with the super valley setting to create a day out to learn, relax and create memories. Let us have a look, it was a super hot and sunny day… bonus!
Proof of Roman settlements here have been found all around. But a startling little building near the centre is the Saxon Church of St. Laurence, founded in the 8th century. There is a lot of debate around the age but a common consensus seems to agree it dates from the 10th possibly early 11th century. It was lost over time and used as school and a skull and bones house amongst many things up until the 1800s when an archeologist came upon the hidden little church. It is one of the finest complete examples of the era. (below)
Moving into the quaint narrow streets there are historic delights blended in with a modern way of life. The pic below is The Shambles, what was once the medieval meat market. Today it is lined with independent shops, coffee and tea rooms. You cannot miss the famous ‘Bath’ style stonework.
A small town that takes you through the ages as I say. Tudor and Georgian buildings are abound too. A little patchwork of history in architecture. Yet all looks gorgeous and nothing looks out of place at all. The industrial revolution made the town a centre of wool weaving, the river and surroundings enabled a network of mills. Many of the great buildings came from this wealthy period.
A centrepiece is the bridge over the river that you can see in the main image at the top of this page. Some of the arches date back to the 13th century.
Just a few metres down from the Saxon Church is one of the main churches dating from Norman times. Holy Trinity church. This whole street in fact was turning into a little history mecca. The pic below shows the church with the saxon chapel down on the left hand side.
Above – just across the road from the church is a house that catches the eye. Built in the 17th century and called Orpin’s House it was the home of Edward Orpin the Parish Clerk of Bradford-on-Avon in the mid 1700s. He was the subject of a painting by Thomas Gainsborough ‘The Parish Clerk’ that is hanging in the National Gallery.
We only had half a day here, this time, and as you can tell this little town had thrown up plenty of history and fascinations to capture my imagination. I will surely have to return for more