Monday, 16 January 2012

Sheep, Saxon Church, a Lock, a Lock Up and a Tithe Barn in Bradford on Avon

Sheep grazing beside the River Avon.
I'm beginning to think that I should have called this blog, "Devizes Walking Days" as just recently I can't stop writing about walking!  I did 17 miles last week and have started the new week with another 4 miles.  Today's walk began near the town lock and we walked along the towpath to Widbrook Wood and down to the River Avon.  This  scene of English tranquility could have been  painted by John Constable, with the river, a flock of sheep, trees and sunshine, (no rain.)  What a beautiful afternoon for a walk. 

The Kennet and Avon canal passes through Bradford (a corruption of: broad ford) and where John Rennie the canal engineer used the river to supply water to the canal.  The town is also the site of the "Avoncliff Aqueduct" a magnificent structure, built to carry the canal over the river.
The medieaval Town Bridge complete with a "Lock Up."
The old town "Lock Up" was a place to imprison troublemakers overnight.  It is not very big, and I assume only one person at a time was locked up, or did they cram a dozen or so in when the partying got out of hand!  I am glad "Human rights" have moved on a bit!  The bridge still carries the main road over the river.  It is much too small for today's traffic, and causes permanent traffic jams in the town.
St Laurence Saxon Church founded by St Aldhelm in ca. 705.  For many years it was surrounded by other old buildings, and when these were demolished in the mid 19th century, the little church was rediscovered.  It had been part of somebody's house in medieaval times.

Bradford on Avon Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
This lock takes the canal down towards Bath.  This area has interesting connections with the last century, when the canals were hives of industry, carrying goods from Bristol to London and needing places to unload goods, wharfage, stabling for the horses, and inns for the boatmen to drink and be merry.   The barges were family concerns, and would carry an entire family, mum, dad and many children.  On the right of the photo is the site of a dry dock, still used today to repair the boats, and left can be seen an old canal building, maybe the home of the old lock keeper and his family.
The medieaval Tithe Barn at Barton Farm, is in what was a manorial estate, complete with farmhouses, chapel and sheds for animals.  The barn is huge, 180ft long and 30ft wide and is now a Grade 11 listed building.

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