Bradford On Avon, Wiltshire
I like Bradford On Avon for the architecture, the walk along the canal, and 'The Bridge Tea Rooms'. I don't like the constant stream of traffic through the gridlocked centre, which is why these photos were taken shortly after sunrise (or greywise, as happened) on a Sunday. Roman relics were found above the town, and a Roman mosaic floor from a villa is under a school's playing field. The eastern side of the 'Town Bridge' was built in the 13th Century by Shaftesbury Abbey for its tenant farmers to cross the River Avon, then widened to the west in the 17th Century. On the bridge is 'The Chapel'. Chapels were sometimes built on bridges, bridges often being funded by the land-owning church, with a priest or hermit to administer mass and say prayers for travellers. The earliest known reference to Bradford On Avon's bridge chapel being used as a chapel is in 1660, though medieval, original, stonework was found during restoration so it's pretty certain that it started out as a chapel and was part of the original 13th Century bridge. 'The Chapel' was rebuilt in the 17th Century as a lockup, there are two cells in it. Only six bridge chapels remain in England and only four are actualy on the bridges themselves. The wealth of Bradford on Avon, then and now, dates back to the 17th century when woolen mills sprang up, powered by the river, - many of the houses built then for wool merchants are still now expensive homes. The bridge was the scene of a small skirmish during the English Civil War when Royalists took the bridge to continue on to the nearby Battle of Lansdowne with the Parliamentarians (1643). Also, on the outskirts of Bradford On Avon, is a medieval 'Tithe Barn', one of the largest surviving in England, built around 1340 for the collection of tithes in the form of produce, from tenants of Shaftesbury Abbey.