There has been something of a hiatus in the blog recently for various reasons but I shall attempt to catch up on various activities.
Bath is not the only Georgian town in the Avon valley by any means. You may all be more familiar with the Bradford in Yorkshire but we have our own little Bradford down here. About eight miles east of Bath, it is in some ways a “mini-me” of Bath. As is not uncommon in these parts the wealth of the town was originally built on the cloth trade and cloth-making. Several old mill buildings are still to be found in the town along with some fascinating old buildings.
We enjoyed a two hour “town trail” walk which took us to parts of the town we would surely not have found by ourselves and were constantly delighted by the buildings and the beautiful views. A highlight of our visit was the Saxon Church with its original angel reliefs and font. As one is admiring all the Georgian and even medieval buildings it comes as something of a surprise to see a building that is actually from the Saxon period long before the Normans arrived and started building churches, cathedrals and castles all over the place. It is amazingly well-preserved but visibly worn down with age. In fact there was work being done on the roof which I carefully excised from my pictures.
On the way we crossed over the old town bridge with it ancient watchtower and walked around some of the old streets including the “Shambles” where we also spied a rare “ER” plaque dated 1936 which means that the Post Office building on which it sits was erected during Edward V111’s rather short reign.
We pressed on through the largely Georgian town on the northern side of the river until we came back round to where we had begun and decided that we needed a rest so lunch was at Timbrell’s Yard, a newly renovated and opened bar and restaurant under chef Tom Blake from River Cottage where Kate had the best gnocchi so far and I had a fantastic Steak and Kidney pudding.
After lunch we head off for the upper part of the old town known as the Tory negotiating some very pretty steps on a steep climb which took us up to the Chapel of St Mary Tory which was originally founded as a hermitage. This was still in use as a retreat and had a small chapel in which there is a beautiful modern stained glass window. From here we were able to see in the distance the magnificent Tithe Barn. Adjacent to the hermitage were some lovely rows of weavers’ and artisans’ cottages clinging to the hillside with beautiful views over the town below.
The 14th century Tithe Barn was in use as part of a working farm right up until the 1970’s. The land was originally given to the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey by King Ethelred in 1001 but passed to private hands in 1530. The scale of the building can be gauged from the picture showing it nestling in the river valley with the other farm buildings. The pictures below show the barn close up and some of the wonderful timber beams of the roof.
And a final postscript to this little adventure is the “only in England” sight of a “medieval” cash point with an appropriately, orderly English queue.