Bradford-on-Avon is an historic town in Wiltshire near the border with Somerset. When you enter the town the first thing you see is the Town Bridge, which spans the river Avon. This stone structure with a chapel in the middle is all a Grade I listed building. It was built originally in Norman times but was widened in the 17th century.
There are other notable buildings in the town such as the 14th century Tithe Barn, which hosts various exhibitions. High on the hill is the chapel of St Mary Tory. The name is from the old Latin term for hill rather than today’s political party! We walked to the chapel from the cottage where we were staying in this high part of town. Further down the hill is one of the most complete Saxon buildings in existence St Laurence’s church. All the other churches in the town have interesting stories to tell as well, including the Catholic church, which used to be the iconic Bradford-on-Avon Town Hall. There is also evidence of Roman occupation in the area.
The town really became prosperous due to the wool trade and rubber manufacturing. It remains wealthy today but this is mainly down to the tourist industry. Within the ancient streets there are artisan shops, tearooms, pubs and restaurants. The old mill buildings have now been restored and put to residential use or as offices.
The main advantage of staying in Bradford-on-Avon is the fact that it has a railway station, which we used for our visits to Bath and Salisbury. (For those who like to watch “The Archirtecture the Railways Built”, the station is built in Bath stone in the Brunel design resembling a lodge house of the period) When travelling by car it is also a perfect location to use as a base for visiting some grand houses with beautiful landscaped gardens within the surrounding area, such as the world-famous Stourhead.
During our short stay, we did visit one or two pubs. We had a nice meal in the Dog and Fox Inn, which was situated in the countryside a short walk from where we were staying. In many ways, the pub was well named because quite a few of the visitors had brought their dogs along the evening we visited! For those who enjoy a decent pint of real ale, there is a good choice of hostelries in the town. The pub with the friendliest atmosphere was The Three Horseshoes down by the station. They had a lively band on, but we had to leave before closing time to catch the bus. There was no way, we were going to walk up that steep hill after a day of sightseeing!
Bradford-on-Avon is the kind of place, I would love to return to one day – there is so much to offer.