Wiltshire – Bradford-on-Avon, stroll through the ages

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!

street Bradford-on-Avon

Church of St. Laurence

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.

BaldHiker Retreats

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. (here below)

Church of St. Laurence Bradford on avon

The Shambles

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.

The Shambles Bradford-on-Avon

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 centre piece 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.

the bridge cafe restaurant Bradford-on-Avon
old house wiltshire
skyline of Bradford-on-Avon

Holy Trinity Church

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.

Holy Trinity church and chapel
gargoyle face on church

Orpin’s House

Orpin's House

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.

old building
old building now bank
view of the avon from the bridge
Wiltshire - Bradford-on-Avon gardens
old house
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  1. Ivone de Medeiros says:

    Wonderful photos,love this imagens! Congrats!

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thank you.. you must visit 🙂

  2. Very beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thank you Debbie

  3. These pictures are wonderful and pulling me to pack my bags and go. I would want to literally have these pics and descriptions printed and use as my personal tour guide. You done such an excellent job. This is almost the first thing I saw as I rose up from my night’s slumber, and my day has been made. I’m new to you, but I think I’m already following you on twitter, if I’m not I will. Thank you so much. You’ve given me hope this morning. Single parent, just sent my child away to college and trying to figure out things. Through these pictures, you have given me a get away. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Good day Bobbie, very kind words. TY

  4. Heather Cowper says:

    On my doorstep but of course have only ever been once a long time ago – the things closest to home are never a top priority to see are they?

  5. John Adams says:

    Lovely pics Paul, they sum up the town so well. I work around the county and am a frequent visitor.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi John. Thanks.. Yes I must admit I want to go back soon myself for more 🙂

  6. Chris Peart says:

    What a lovely blog to read, so nice to hear the views of somebody visiting Bradford-on-Avon. All your photos seem to capture the spirit of the town very well, though you seem to have missed the ‘Tithe Barn’. A lovely example, used in many a tv programme, such as Robin of Sherwood (with Michael Praed)and Dick Turpin (with Richard O’sullivan). I was born there and lived in a house alongside the lock on Frome Road until I was 14 and loved it. We then moved to an upper part of the town where I lived until the age of 21. I have always intended to return to my home town and did so for a few years between the ages of 25-30. I moved again and am currently in Hampshire, but still hold the desire to return again one day and stay till the end.

  7. Lovely photos! I’m in the UK now and been thinking of which places I must visit. I am currently based in Rugby.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      So many lovely places to see 🙂 enjoy

  8. Andrew Wright says:

    Thank you Paul for your comments after visiting Bradford on Avon, we are so pleased that you enjoyed your visit. Anyone else planning on coming to visit then come and see us at The Bradford on Avon Tourist Information,situated in the beautiful Westbury gardens by the river and try our our delights in our new pavilion cafe, free Internet access and whilst your with us we can tell you all about the places to visit, see and of course eat, drink and shop. We look forward to welcoming you as you travel through Wiltshire.
    Thank you
    Bradford on Avon Tourist Information Centre

  9. Would like to include some of the images in our BOA Gallery and to add a link to this article on the BOA parish page on the website

  10. Jo Carroll says:

    Ah … I know it well!

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