The southernmost tip of the Cotswolds incorporates a small number of Wiltshire’s most picturesque villages which share the characteristics, architecture and industrial history of that area.
The oldest borough in England and a regional capital in Saxon times. The Abbey, started in the 12c , is now a mixture of ruin and living church. Is it the home of manned flight?? In 1010 Monk Elmer donned wings and launched himself from the abbey tower flying 250 yards. On landing he broke both ankles and was forbidden by the Abbott from trying again.
The adjoining Abbey House Gardens were created by owners Ian and Barbara Pollard in 1996. They are of national importance and not only because of the proprietors reputation as the ‘naked gardeners’. You may be disappointed, or relieved, that Ian and Barbara are NOT naked when the public visit - except occasional pre-arranged 'Clothes Optional Days'.
A settlement since Saxon times, the establishment of the Abbey in 1232 by Ela Countess of Salisbury, ensured its continued importance. With its grid of four streets it remains today much as it did in the 18c. The home of photography – it was whilst living in the Abbey that William Henry Fox Talbot began his work using wooden cameras made to his design by the village carpenter. In 1835 he discovered the negative / positive photographic process which remains in use to this day.
Now owned by the National Trust the village is in almost constant demand by film directors. It counts the Harry Potter films amongst a long list of Cinema and Television costume drama favourites.
‘The prettiest village in England’ – officially in 1962 but visitors have been coming here for at least 100 years.
An iron age hill fort above the village was occupied by the Romans, due to its proximity to the Fosseway, and used by the Saxons before becoming the site of a Norman stone castle in 1135.
By 14c the castle was ruined and being used as a stone quarry for building materials for village houses. Today the only remains are the earth works of the motte and baileys
In the middle ages it became an important wool and weaving centre.
In more recent times the village has played host to many filming activities, the best known being Doctor Doolittle starring Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley.
There has been a settlement on this site for 2500 years which include the remains of a prosperous Romano-British villa. The Saxon church of St.Lawrence probably dates from 1001 and is one of the most complete and extraordinary survivals of that time. It is possible that an earlier convent, established by St.Aldhelm, stood on this site from 700AD. A must visit is the Tithe Barn, built early in the 14c on land belonging to Shaftesbury Abbey, it stands at the centre of an important medieval agriculture complex.
The wool and cloth trade was Bradford’s staple industry until moving north to create a new Bradford in Yorkshire when local woollen workers refused to embrace new technology.
A beautiful small town reminiscent of Bath which is only 8 miles away.
With the Kennet and Avon Canal passing through the town tourists are attracted to its variety of shops, galleries, crafts and markets.
A Royal Manor in the days of the Saxon kings. After William the Conqueror had taken possession the Manor continued to be passed down through generations of Royal families.
During the reign of Elizabeth I the estate passed out of the Royal family and through various hands until 1766 when Paul Methuen gained possession.
Corsham Court, the home of Paul Methuen is based on an Elizabethan house and its grounds are principally the work of ‘Capability’ Brown. It houses an outstanding collection of Flemish and Italian masters but its best kept secret is probably the gardens which are well worth a visit.
Much of the stone used to build the Georgian World Heritage City of Bath was quarried here.
It was in this underground quarry that in 1957 the Government of the day
constructed a 34 acre bunker to house the government in the event of nuclear