The town has many fine examples of architecture from the Saxon, Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Industrial Revolution periods. Also, to the north of the town, there was an Iron Age Fort and, recently discovered, a very important Roman villa.
The Saxon Church of St. Laurence dates from the early 11th century and is one of the most complete examples of a chapel of that period. It is an unforgettable experience to stand in the tall, narrow stone built nave and admire the two flying angels set high on the wall above.
The stunning Tithe Barn was built in the mid 14th century and inspires the same sort of awe that one feels on entering a great cathedral. Used as a setting for several TV dramas (most recently Wolf Hall), it is 168 feet long with a massive timbered roof spanning 33 feet beneath stone tiles weighing 100 tons. It retains its old threshing floors and other features from its agricultural past.
Set in the beautiful Barton Farm Country Park, with its ancient packhorse bridge and bordered by the River Avon and Kennet and Avon Canal, is a range of medieval buildings. This was the grange of the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey who had been granted the manor of Bradford by King Ethelred in AD 1001..
The name of the town originates from the ‘broad ford’ across the River Avon and the bridge is a natural focus for the town. Although widened in the 17th century, it still retains two of the original 13th century arches. A notable feature is the ‘Blind House’ built in the 18th century to serve as the town lock-up.
This tiny chapel, high up on Tory, was largely rebuilt in Victorian times. The town retains many reminders of its dependence on the cloth trade – from the 17th century weavers’ cottages to the later mills which still line the River Avon in the town centre.
Originally opened in 1810 the canal runs from Reading to Bristol. One of the deepest locks on the canal is in Bradford on Avon. Boat hire and boat trips are available from the working wharf and a particularly attractive mile and a half stretch to Avoncliffe is a popular walk.
Built of stone from local quarries, the magnificent Avoncliff Aqueduct carries the canal over the River Avon and the railway line to Bath. A nearby picturesque old pub with its riverside gardens is a popular refreshment stop.
The Shambles, the meat market in medieval times, is now a bustling pedestrian walkway lined with a range of small, independent shops. Among the many attractive shops and eating places in the town centre, is the Victorian Tea Shop which has been named by the prestigious UK Tea Guild as the ‘UK’s Top Tea Place’.
Browse around the museum which is home to a diverse and fascinating collection illustrating the history of the town. Of particular interest is the Christopher Pharmacy, an exact reconstruction of the Victorian chemist’s shop which used to serve the town.
©2014 Widbrook Grange Hotel
Trowbridge Road, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1UH
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