The Saxon Church - Shrouded in Secrets
With both simple beauty and an exciting history, the Saxon Church is Bradford on Avon's oldest and perhaps best known buildings. It is also of national importance as one of the most complete Saxon buildings still in existence.
Bradford on Avon was an important religious centre in Saxon times. St. Aldhem is though to have founded a minster church at Bradford in the 8th century, possibly on the site of Holy Trinity Church.
The Saxon Church, however, is clearly from its architectural style and plan, of the early 11th century. It is most likely to have been built by the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey after they acquired the manor of Bradford. At a time of Viking raids along the south coast, it would represent for them an inland refuge and place of safety, if needed, for the bones of Edward the Martyr.
For centuries the Saxon church was lost, hidden behind buildings of various other establishments. It was used in 1715 as an 'ossuary', a skull and bone house, and in the 1800's as a free school for boys. You can still see the blackening on the nave walls from the kitchen fire.
It was not until 1856 that repair work uncovered the two stone carved angels over what is now known to be the original chancel arch. This led to the rediscovery of the small church by Canon Jones, the vicar of Bradford on Avon, who brought it to public attention and led the move for its restoration.
Today the church is still used as a place of worship by the congregation of Holy Trinity as well as other Christian groups.
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