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Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Bradford, or Bradford-on-Avon, a town and a parish in Wilts. The town stands on the river Avon, on the Kennet and Avon Canal, and on the G.W.R., 97 miles from. London, and 3½ NW by N of Trowbridge. It was known to the Saxons as Bradenford, and it is now usually called Bradford-on-Avon. A battle was fought at it in 652 between Benwalf and Cuthred, and St Dunstan in 954 was elected here to the See of Worcester. Its site is partly hollow, partly slopes and acclivities, encompassed by hills. The older portion is on the N side of the river, and rises in a series of ten-aces to a crowning point with an extensive view. Two bridges span the river-the upper one a very ancient structure with nine arches; the lower, a more modern structure with four. An ancient square edifice with a pyramidal roof, supposed variously to have been a chapel, an almonry, and an ecclesiastical toll-house, and now used as a storage for gunpowder for volunteers, stands on one of the piers of the upper bridge. Water-works, the property of the Town Improvement Commissioners, were erected in 1883 at a cost of £12,000. The parish church is Norman and Early English; consists of nave, north aisle, chancel, and chapel, with western tower and small spire; and contains many curious tombs and a fine altar-piece. Christ Church was built in 1840, is in the Perpendicular style, and has a tower and lofty spire. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist, Primitive Methodist, and Lady Huntingdon's Connexion chapels; a free school with £53 a year; another school, in a very handsome edifice of 1850; and two almshouses and other charities, with jointly £168 a year. The town has a head post, money order, and telegraph office, of the name of Bradford-on-Avon, and a railway station. There is a handsome town-hall and market-house in the centre of the town. The market day is Saturday, and there is likewise a fair on Trinity Monday. An important woollen manufacture is still successfully carried on. The town never was incorporated but it sent members to Parliament in the time of Edward I. and it thence is called a borough. Acreage of the urban sanitary district, 1962; population, 4943. The parish includes also the chapclries of Holt and Limpley-Stoke, and the tithings of Trowle, Winsley, South Wraxall, and Leigh and Woolley, and it is sometimes called Bradford-on-Avon and Great Bradford. Acreage of the civil parish, 1750; population, 7687; of the ecclesiastical parish of Christchurch, 1766, and Holy Trinity, 3522. Much of the surface consists of fine chalk hills. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; net value, £ 2 2 8 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury. Christ Church is a separate benefice, a vicarage of the net value of £3 0 0 with residence, in the patronage of the Vicar of Bradford. The perpetual curacies of Holt, Atworth with South Wraxall, and Winsley with Limpley-Stoke also are separate benefices. There are many good residences in and about Bradford, also some large and ancient mansions, one being Kingston House, the residence of the notorious Duchess of Kingston. There are also the remains of many ancient edifices, such as the Saxon Chapel, Priory, Chantry House, and Tory Hermitage. Of these, the most interesting are the Saxon Chapel and Hermitage, both being well preserved and kept in good condition. The Saxon Chapel has been completely restored.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


A cemetery of over 4 acres, in the Holt road, was formed in 1856 at a cost of £3,000; it has two mortuary chapels.

Church Records

The register of the Holy Trinity dates from the year 1565.

The register of Christ church dates from the year 1842.

Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Bradford on Avon:



Church of England

Christ Church, Bearfield

Christ church, at Bearfield, erected in 1841, is in the Perpendicular style, consisting of a chancel, nave, south porch and a western tower with spire containing one bell: the chancel was added in 1878 front designs by the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott R.A. at a cost of £2,000: the east window and nine others are stained: in 1884 the church was reseated, under the direction of Mr. John Oldrid Scott, architect: an oak screen, separating the chancel from the nave, and an organ chamber were erected in 1891: two oak side screens were added in 1909, the gift of Canon the Hon. S. Meade: there are 450 sittings.

Holy Trinity (parish church)

The church of the Holy Trinity is an ancient edifice in the Norman and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave of five bays, north aisle, chapel, south porch and an embattled western tower, with a low spire, containing a clock, 8 bells and chimes: on two of the ancient tombs are the mutilated recumbent figure of a knight in armour, and on the north side a full-length effigy of a lady: there are brasses to the Deverell, Yewe, Shrapnel, Clutterbuck and Horton families: the east window and several others are stained: in 1893 a dwarf stone screen, with wrought iron entrance gates, separating the chancel from the nave, was erected in memory of the Rev. Baldwin Francis Leighton B.A. sometime hon. curate: there are sittings for 637 persons: in the churchyard is another ancient tomb.


Baptist Chapel
Baptist Chapel
Zion Baptist Chapel


Congregational Chapel


Wesleyan Chapel
Wesleyan Chapel


Online maps of Bradford on Avon are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online: