Bathford, an ancient parish.
Bathford is a very old parish, listed in the 1086 Domes Day Book, where it is called Forde. It had a mill then and still has today, though not powered by the By-Brook any more. The parish stretches from Shockerwick in the north to Conkwell in the south, including Warleigh. The old village lies between the Great Western Railway and the road to Bradford on Avon, and stretches up towards Bathford hill, or Farleigh Down as it has been called.
Employment through the ages has been, farming, the mill, quarrying and the usual village trades of butcher, baker, milkmen, gardeners, blacksmith, laundry, pubs, etc. and shops Until the 20th century the village was largely self-contained where people lived and worked in the parish. During the 20th century, however, Bathford started to look outwards with people working outside the parish but living in the village.
At one time Bathford probably had more pubs than normal in a village of its size due to the number of residents working in the quarry extracting Bath limestone; thirsty work. All but one have now closed leaving The Crown at the bottom of Bathford Hill still providing food and ales and acting almost as a gateway to the village. The last pub to close was the Inn, sometime called the New Inn, standing in a commanding position at the top of Bathford Hill. When it closed in 1994. It became the village Post Office and general stores. With the government cutbacks of 2006 the post office was closed and it reopened as a community shop with a paid manager but staffed by volunteers from the locality.
Probably due to its proximity to Bath, Bathford has a significant number of large houses or mansions most built during the 1700s and 1800s, such as Titan Barrow, Rock House, Eagle House, Sycamore House, and Bathford Manor. In the north of the parish stands Shockerwick House, a grade one listed mansion built in the 1750s by John Wood the Elder, now a BUPA Care home. In the south, Warleigh Manor nestles in the valley close to the river Avon. The present building was built in 1815 to replace a much older building. The manor had been in the Skrine family since the 16th century until 1956 when the line ended with the death of Miss Anna Dorothea Skrine. It then became a series of schools before a developer turned it into luxury apartments.
The church at the southern end of Church Street, has origins back to Saxon times although the present building is a Victorian rebuild in the 1870s. There is a pre-school called the Pepper Pot, taking its name from the local name for the tower at the top of the hill, normally called Brown’s Folly. Next to this school is the main junior school which has an excellent reputation.
There is a strong community spirit in the parish with numerous clubs and societies, such as drama (Bathford Players), Bathford Society (Local History), etc. holding meetings regularly in the Parish Hall in Church Street. Details of the events are published monthly in the Bathford Bulletin, issue free to every house in the parish. The Bathford Parish Council website also carries links to most of the parish clubs and societies.
David Howells. 1st November 2016
For more information on Bathford, a guide is available in the village shop which gives a slightly expanded history, details of the main buildings, a stylised map and descriptions of some walks. For more detailed information, with many coloured illustrations, the shop also stocks ‘Bathford, Past & Present’ Second edition by David Howells.
Gallery of Photographs
Included below are a small selection of pictures taken in and around Bathford parish.
- Bath Asparagus – a variant that only grows near Bath
- Looking North West towards Shockerwick
- Looking South towards Bathford village
- Entering Bathford stone quarry
- Stone troughs carved in the quarry
- Sunset over Solsbury hill
- The new gates to the Wynne Wilson playing field
- Whitehaven retreat
- Play Equipment in Folly field