Bradford-on-Avon and Bathampton: Journey with the History Guru to England and Spain

Posted on Dec 29, 2011 in category

2 OCTOBER 2011

First thing on the agenda after breakfast was a quick visit to Beckford's Tower that occupies a prominent position on the western hills of Bath. Built in 1827 by an eccentric artist William Beckford, the tower gives a great view of the city of Bath. Sufferers of acrophobia will be greatly tested ascending the spiralling staircase. A museum is also situated in the tower although we did not have time to visit it as the curator generously allowed us into the tower well ahead of the scheduled opening time. A big thank you to her!

Beckford 'What a view!' Tower

Lacock is a National Trust town. Its houses are mainly dated to the 18th century but some are medieval such as the huge tithe barn of the former 13th century Abbey (its buildings were built over a 40 year period – A.D.1240-80). Although a very popular spot even early in the morning, it was a pleasure to walk around the town admiring the classic architecture that frequently appears in period TV series and film productions.

Old Tithe barn- e.g. peasants had to shift ½ acre of Abbey grass before working their own land


Exterior view of the Tithe Barn


One of Britain's Industrial Revolution innovations in transport was the extensive canal system. Near Bath at Bradford-on-Avon there is a section of the famous Kenneth and Avon canal system. This canal stretches from Bristol on the coast to Reading on the Thames over 140 kilometres using 100 odd locks in the journey. Originally opened in 1810, it was only reopened in 1990 after years of neglect.

A morning tea at Bradford-on-Avon's 'The Bridge' Tea Rooms

What was surprising was the use of volunteer labour around this lock system today. A group of enthusiastic first-timers were filling up the lock using a ratchet sluice system that looked quite clumsy and of course, dangerous. In France around Burgundy there appeared to be sluice gate operators.

A busy section of the canal - opposite an English 'Free House' pub – 'The Barge Inn'!

Before returning to Bath, a slight detour through Bathampton unearthed Governor Arthur Phillip's grave and an Australian commemorative chapel in the town's small St. Nicholas Church (A.D.1261). The Australian Commissioner to London visits every year for a memorial service to Arthur Phillip. The pub opposite the church was worth a visit too with some good tucker – 'The George'.

The Coats of Arms of Australia's six States and the Federal government


St. Nicholas Church, Bathampton

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