Bradford, Great (Holy Trinity)

BRADFORD, GREAT (Holy Trinity), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Bradford, N. and Westbury divisions, and Trowbridge and Bradford subdivisions, of Wilts, 8 miles (S. E.) from Bath, 31½ (N. W.) from Salisbury, and 102 (W. by S.) from London; comprising 11,272 acres, and including the ancient chapelries of Atworth, Holt, Limpley-Stoke, Winsley, and South Wraxall, and the tythings of Leigh with Woolley, and Trowle; the whole containing 10,563 inhabitants, of whom 3836 are in the town. This place, from a ford over the river Avon, was called by the Saxons Bradenford, of which its present name is a contraction. During the heptarchy, a battle took place here between Cenwalh, King of the West Saxons, and a formidable party of his own subjects, who had rebelled against him, under the command of his kinsman Cuthred; when the latter were defeated with great slaughter. In 706, Aldhelm, bishop of Sherborne, founded an abbey at the place, which he dedicated to St. Lawrence, and which, after its destruction by the Danes, was rebuilt and converted into a nunnery by Ethelred, who annexed it to a larger establishment of the same kind at Shaftesbury, in 1001.

The town is beautifully situated on the acclivity of a steep hill forming part of a line of eminences on the northern side of the river Avon, over which here are an ancient bridge of four, and a modern bridge of nine, arches, both affording agreeable prospects. The view of the town, which consists of three regular streets ranged above each other at different elevations on the side of the hill, is strikingly picturesque: the houses, built of stone, are in general handsome, and many of them elegant; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from springs. Various designs have been carried into effect for the improvement of the town: in 1839 an act was passed for paving, lighting, watching, and otherwise improving it; some of the streets have been widened, and considerable alterations made for the furtherance of business. A book society and a newsroom have been established. The principal branch of manufacture is that of woollen-cloth (said by Leland to have flourished in the reign of Henry VIII.), particularly of the cloth composed of the finer kind of Spanish and Saxony wool, for the dyeing of which the water of the river is highly favourable. There are numerous factories, affording employment to many men, women, and children, in the town and neighbourhood. Ladies' cloth, kerseymere, and fancy pieces, are also manufactured to a considerable extent. The Kennet and Avon canal, which provides an increased facility of conveyance to various parts of the kingdom, passes close to the town, and a commodious wharf has been formed on its bank. The act also for constructing the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth railway, passed in 1845, sanctions the formation of a branch to Bradford, 1¾ mile in length. The market is on Saturday: the fairs are on Trinity-Monday, and the day after St. Bartholomew's day; the latter held at Bradford-Leigh, a hamlet in the parish.

Bradford sent members to parliament in the 23rd of Edward I., but since that time it has made no return. Petty-sessions are held here alternately with Trowbridge: the powers of the county debt-court of Bradford, established in 1847, extend over nearly the whole of the registration-district of Bradford. A small oratory, on the south-western side of the bridge, formerly belonging to the monastery of St. Lawrence, has been converted into a place of confinement for offenders previously to their committal to the county gaol. The Living is a discharged vicarage, with the living of Westwood annexed, valued in the king's books at £10. 1. 3.; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Bristol. The great tithes of Bradford have been commuted for £1485, and the small for £1000; the appropriate glebe consists of 260 acres, and the vicarial of 3. The church, a spacious handsome structure, suffered greatly from fire in 1742, and has undergone extensive repair; the windows contain some modern stained glass, the altar is embellished with a good painting of the Last Supper, and there are several stately monuments of marble. A district church dedicated to Christ has been erected, the incumbent of which, appointed by the Vicar, has a net income of £150; and there are five chapels attached to the three perpetual curacies of Holt, Atworth with South Wraxall, and Winsley with Limpley-Stoke. There are also places of worship for Baptists, Independents, the Society of Friends, the Connexion of the Countess of Huntingdon, Wesleyans, and Unitarians. A free school is endowed with land producing £40 per annum. Two almshouses here, one founded by Mr. John Hall for aged men, the other for aged women, are supposed to have been an appendage to the monastery, of which, and of other religious establishments formerly existing, there are still some slight remains. The poor law union of Bradford comprises eight parishes or places, seven of them in Wilts, and one in Somerset; and contains a population of 13,379. Many curious fossils have been found in the quarries adjoining the town.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.