BATHAMPTON HAS AN UNIQUE HISTORY COVERING SOME 3000 YEARS.
The parish of Bathampton is situated in Somerset, to the north-east of the City of Bath, and covers some 932 acres of which approximately 230 are known today as Bathampton Down – the hill which forms the southern most part of the parish.
The River Avon marks the parish boundaries on the north and east sides and the land rises from the flat fertile meadows of the valley bottom to the steeply rising ground of this hill on its southern side. The summit forms a plateau which, at its highest point, reaches 669 feet above sea level. It marks the most north-easterly point of a much larger, continuous, plateau comprised of similar ‘Downs’ that encircle the south side of Bath. They run from Southdown, in the south-west, through to Odd Down, Combe Down and Claverton Down, terminating with Bathampton Down at the most north-easterly point. They are comprised mainly of Oolitic Limestone laid down some 165 million years ago when the whole area was covered by the sea. This stone has been extensively quarried over many centuries – an occupation which has had much influence on the overall landscape and remnants of the quarries have given rise to this eastern promontory often being referred to as Hampton Cliffs or Hampton Rocks. From the hill top a wide panorama of views opens up – taking in the Mendips to the south-west around to the Wiltshire Downs in the far south-east. The vista includes not only the City of Bath but also the many hills and valleys that lie to the east, the River Avon winding through the Avon valley with its adjoining villages, and a birds-eye view of the village of Bathampton itself. The Down is designated as being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The whole of the Bathampton Down plateau and its immediate slopes are covered with archaeological remains giving evidence that man was utilizing the area from at least 3,000 years ago. Archaeology. Agriculture.
The community has thrived on a history of agriculture but this was greatly disrupted during the Industrial Revolution when improved forms of transportation of goods became paramount. Kennet & Avon Canal. Black Dog Turnpike. GWR Railway. Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth Branch Line.
Some of the earliest records are found in a Saxon Charter, dated 956 AD, and in the Doomsday Book.
The Charter delineates the boundaries of the parish which are not dissimilar to those of today.
From c945 until just after the Dissolution Hantone, Hampton or Bath Hampton (as Bathampton was known) was mostly administered by the Monastery of St Peter and St Paul, Bath which, in 1317 ordained a ‘Vicarage’ or Living at Bathampton together with an area on which a residence for the priest could be built – this site is now known as the Old Rectory. Here they established fish ponds from the numerous springs which rise in that area in order to supply the Monastery. These ponds still exist today.
The Manorial Estate reverted to the crown in 1548. In 1553 Edward VI sold Hampton to William Crouch, of Wellow, and the Estate continued to be administered by a succession of (mostly absentee) Lords of the Manor until it was sold in 1921 when its remaining properties and land passed into private ownership.
Lords of Bathampton Manor since the Dissolution
|1553 – 1586||William Crouch of Wellow and Englishcombe|
|1586 – 1608||Walter Crouch (Will proved 26 August 1608)|
|1608 – 1608||William Crouch (buried 10 August 1608)|
|1608 – 1617||Walter Crouch|
|1617 – 1630||Thomasine O[w]lfield|
|1630 – 1656||William Bassett II of Claverton|
|1656 – 1693||William Bassett III (Sir) of Claverton|
|1693 – 1700||In hands of the Receiver|
|1701 – 1706||Richard Holder of Claverton|
|1706 – 1743||Charles Holder|
|1743 – 1764||Ralph Allen of Prior Park (and Claverton from 1758)|
|1764 – 1766||Elizabeth Allen|
|1766 – 1785||Phillip Allen II|
|1785 – 1850||George Edward Allen|
|1850 – 1887||Ralph Shuttleworth Allen (Major)|
|1887 – 1910||Ralph Edward Allen (Major General)|
|1910 – 1921||Henry Allen|
RALPH ALLEN (1693-1764)
The Lord of the Manor who probably had the most impact on the parish was the famous Ralph Allen – business man, entrepreneur and local benefactor. He made his fortune reorganizing the postal service and put it to good use when he became involved in the building of Georgian Bath by opening local quarries and promoting the use of Bath Stone. Known as the ‘Benevolent Man’, he did many good works including giving money towards the construction of the Mineral Water Hospital in Bath. He built a mansion for himself at Prior Park, taking up residence in 1741, then expanded his estate by purchasing, via an Act of Parliament, the Manor of Bathampton in 1743, from his wife’s uncle, Charles Holder. [Recent research confirms that Ralph Allen’s second wife was, in fact, Charles Holder’s neice and not his sister, as has previously been believed and recorded. This accounts for the large gap between their ages]. Allen also purchased Claverton in 1758.
During the period 1740-64 he created a plan of his holdings entitled ‘A Survey of the Manours of Hampton, Claverton with Widcombe belonging to Ralph Allen Esq’ generally referred to as ‘Ralph Allen’s Estate Map’. This has accompanying Schedules detailing tenants, acreages and land usage. These are held by the Bath Record Office and are the first primary records to be found of the Manor Estate of Hampton and as such prove invaluable in understanding the parish’s history. The plan shows the numerous rides that he built over the Down and their links to his various properties including the Manor House at Bathampton and a drawing of his folly Sham Castle. Houses.
During the 1750s he spent a lot of money on the rebuilding of St Nicholas Church and creating the Allen chapel. The church was much changed and enlarged during the 19th century and apart from memorial tablets and several windows dedicated to his family virtually none of the work undertaken by him survives. Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided. Bibliography.
Sham Castle stands at the most western part of Bathampton Down overlooking the City of Bath. Its name is derived either from the fact that it is a ‘sham’ or folly or the fact that it overlooked Sham Down, the land immediately in front of it in Bathwick. It was built for Ralph Allen in 1762 partly to enhance the then bare hillside of Bathampton Down but also to show off the use of his Bath Stone. After the sale of the Manor Estate in 1921 it was eventually purchased by Arthur Withy and Richard Ottley who presented the folly together with land immediately surrounding it to the City of Bath. It remains, however, in the parish of Bathampton. See also Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided
The Civil War saw Sir William Waller’s troops of some seven thousand Parliamentarians encamped on Bathampton Down, Claverton Down and Odd Down for three weeks during June 1643 – prior to the Battle of Lansdown. Some action was seen during this period, both from the hilltop and the valley bottom, with the Parliamentarians attacking Sir Ralph Hopton’s Royalist forces as they advanced along the Bathford side of the Avon Valley, intent on capturing Bath. In July 1645 the area was also a venue for the assembling of troops prior to the siege of Bristol. Archaeology.
Agriculture has been the main activity within the parish from the early settlers through to the end of the twentieth century. The fertile soil of the River Avon flood plain and the good grazing land on the hilltop, coupled with plentiful sources of natural water, have given rise to a continual practice of profitable farming.
Before the Dissolution it was an important area providing produce for the Monastery and Bath itself.
Under the various Lords of the Manor the Estate was a form of surety with the land being let out to a number of tenants. Up until the early 19th century the main farm was centered on the area immediately to the east of the Old Rectory but with the building of the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Turnpike Road; the Great Western Railway and the Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset Branch Line the old way of farming became seriously fragmented and new farms and holdings had to be established.
By the middle of the 19th century there were six farms within the parish – all of which were mostly dairy, beef or sheep with some growing of grain and root crops for use as fodder.
When the Estate was sold off in lots in 1921 the tenant farmers were offered favorable terms and were thus enabled to purchase their holdings. Some 230 acres of the hill top were purchased by Bath Golf Club and for some years the grazing rights continued to be let, but as the golf course became more established grazing on the summit stopped whilst limited use continued on land surrounding the course.
The sale of the Estate soon had its effects on the village as pockets of land began to be sold off to speculative purchasers. Subsequent years saw several of the farms being amalgamated (Bathampton Farm, Meadow Farm and Canal Farm being absorbed by Manor Farm), whilst a small holding of some 28 acres was established alongside the building now known as Court Leet.
From the mid twentieth century the meadows became blighted with the continual threat of the possibility of a by-pass being built in order to relieve the pressure of traffic through Batheaston. Much of the land was compulsorily purchased by Local Government in anticipation of these proposals coming to fruition. The north eastern part of the meadows was turned into an ox-bow lake as part of a flood prevention scheme for Bath and now forms a nature reserve. Whilst grazing continued the heart of the farming community was seriously affected and when plans for the building of the by-pass were eventually sanctioned and put into effect the last remaining farm became unviable and its remaining lands and buildings were sold off. Today there is limited grazing in the remaining meadow lands and on the hillside. Many fields are still in the hands of the Local Government Authority, developers or speculative owners whilst the fertile meadows are once more blighted – this time with the possibility of the building of a Park and Ride car park.
The summit of Bathampton Down is the site of one of the largest known Iron Age enclosures. Its bank and ditch surround an area of about 80 acres, believed to have been used for keeping stock, fairs and trading. It is thought that a section of the bank and ditch once formed the Wansdyke but this is inconclusive.
The Down also contains the remains of a Celtic field system which can be traced over the whole of the plateau and down the surrounding hillside. Banks, which are evidence of the field walls, can still be clearly seen as they criss-cross the present golf course and the fields below. They are especially noticeable when the sun is low throwing deep shadows outlining their pattern.
In the mid 19th century two stone circles, approached by avenues of stones were recorded but are no longer visible. Seven Bronze Age Barrows are still evident some of which were excavated in the early 1800’s when remains of burials, animal bones and pottery were uncovered. However no evidence of any occupation has been found to exist on the hill top, apart from the site of a Roman farmstead which perched on the escarpment overlooking the valley.
The establishment of the Bath Golf Course on the summit has, to a great extent, safeguarded the archaeological remains whilst the central area has become legally protected – being listed as a scheduled monument of national importance.
Excavations at the end of the twentieth century, in the meadows to the north west of the church, revealed occupation from the Iron Age through to the Romans, together with Mediaeval remains. It is highly likely that these early occupiers were amongst those responsible for utilizing the hill top. It is thought that the site would have been much larger if the area had not been disrupted by construction of the nearby Great Western Railway line in the late 1830’s.
During the building of the railway, however, four skeletons together with remains of pieces of metal and shot were found to the east of the above site and were believed to date to the Civil War.
The line of the road from Bath, along Bathampton Lane, High Street and Tyning Lane is thought to be of Roman origin. Its course then ran on in a straight line from Tyning Lane across the meadows to the river where there was a ford leading to a trackway that passed uphill to Bathford.
The Site of a Roman Villa, to the south of today’s High Street, was identified by the Rev. John Skinner in the 19th century and from his plans was believed to be under the present allotments. Geo-physics of the area has been inconclusive and it is now thought to be more to the east, under the adjacent area used as a playing field. The ground here has been greatly ‘made up’ which has prevented further attempts to identify the building by Geo-physics.
Numerous archaeological finds have been found throughout the parish, including a Roman coffin and skeleton near Old Cottage (by the side of the Roman Road); silver coins in the vicinity of the Roman Villa and a nearby burial which revealed a brooch now in the Ashmolian Museum, Oxford. Other finds are held by the Roman Baths Museum, Bath.
BATH GOLF CLUB
In 1881 the Bath Golf Club started to rent part of the hill top for use as a golf course and for a time this existed alongside the grazing of animals. The sale of the Manorial Estate, in 1921, enabled the Golf Club to purchase the whole of Bathampton Down and gradually major alterations began to take place with the greater part of the plateau being changed from agricultural use to amenity use as the 18 hole course was established. To a great extent, this move safeguarded the archaeological remains whilst the central area has become legally protected – being listed as a scheduled monument of national importance. Today limited grazing takes place on some of the remaining land that surrounds the course. See also Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The Industrial Revolution brought about an ever increasing need to transport goods around the country. It gave rise to a surge in the building of canals and turnpike roads where tolls paid for their upkeep. However these were to be replaced as the use of steam began to be harnessed and railway engines developed. The network of railways that began to be constructed throughout the country provided a faster form of transportation to that of canals and the turnpike roads and eventually replaced them. It was soon realized that the corridor of the River Avon Valley was ideal for the construction of a canal. Plans to fulfill the need for a better road southwards from Bath followed by demands for building a railway link between Bristol and London and southwards to Weymouth were also quick to utilize this natural corridor. Kennet and Avon Canal. Black Dog Turnpike Road. Great Western Railway. Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth Branch Line.
THE KENNET AND AVON CANAL
Proposals to join Bristol and London via a waterway had been mooted since the 17th century, but it took the ingenuity of John Rennie, the Victorian engineer, to bring them to reality. The River Avon from Bristol to Bath and the River Kennet to the River Thames (and thence to London) had already been made navigable and all that was needed was a suitably surveyed course to take an inland waterway by the flattest possible means between the two. The Western Canal Company was formed in 1788 under the Chairmanship of Charles Dundas. John Rennie, together with another engineer, was commissioned to undertake a survey and put forward a proposed route and costing. The need to keep the level of the canal even, avoiding locks wherever possible, was of paramount importance. The corridor provided by the River Avon valley was soon realized as meeting this criteria – although considerable embankments would be necessary. The Company changed its name to the Kennet and Avon Canal Company in 1793; a route was chosen, necessary Acts of Parliament granted and funds raised for work to commence.
The original proposal was for the canal to end at Bathampton by entering the River Avon, above the weirs, via a series of locks across the meadows. It was soon realized that this route would be unfeasible during periods when the river flooded or the canal frozen as boats would be hindered from reaching Bath. The plans were re-worked so that the line continued straight into Bath along much the same course as today. The construction of the canal through the parish meant that many fields were cut in half or small parcels were left unviable. This resulted in much of the land and farm holdings being reorganized and accommodation bridges constructed.
The section from Bath’s top lock to the lock in Bradford on Avon, opened in 1801, was all on one level and acted as a pound. It opened in 1801. The whole length of the canal opened in 1810 and for some years the venture was highly successful. The coming of the age of steam, however, posed a serious threat as it provided a faster and easier form of transporting goods. Like many other canals the Kennet and Avon gradually became untenable and in 1852 was taken over by the Great Western Railway Company who tried unsuccessfully to close it. The canal continued to decline partly due to reduction of trade but mainly due to lack of upkeep necessary to keep it navigable.
By the turn of the century through traffic had ceased. An attempt was made to restore it in the early 1930s but this was not sustained. During the Second World War the canal and its attendant rivers were considered as anti-tank obstacles in case of invasion and pill boxes were built along their course.
In 1947 the canal passed from the GWR to the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive. It had deteriorated so badly that it was no longer viable for carrying goods. During the coming years some attempt was made at improving its state and its administration changed several times in line with new Government policies. The canal had little water and with ever increasing vegetation became a veritable nature reserve.
On 10 November 1960 (the150th anniversary of its opening) the newly formed Kennet and Avon Canal Association put forward a scheme to conserve and restore the canal as a heritage amenity. These proposals were eventually accepted and work on restoring the canal throughout its whole length started in earnest. It was officially reopened on 8 August, 1990 by Queen Elizabeth II. Industrial Revolution.
THE BLACK DOG TURNPIKE ROAD
The main route from Bath southwards by road was via Combe Down, Midford, Norton St Philip and on to Warminster. This route was turnpiked in 1752 by the Bath and Warminster Turnpike Trust (later the Black Dog Turnpike Trust), but it was notoriously difficult to traverse and keep repaired. In 1832 the Trust put forward plans to change parts of the route but also to build a new road from Wolverton to Bath via Bathampton. Although there was much opposition Royal Assent was granted in June 1833. The route taken was not dissimilar to that of today’s A36 – in parts it took in old parish roads which were duly widened or it cut through virgin land – as was the case locally for the sections from St George’s Hill to Down Lane and from the point it entered the Avon valley on to Claverton. It involved taking out a cutting and building an arch (the ‘Dry’ Arch) in order to accommodate the tramway from the quarries to the canal.
The ‘New’ Warminster Road opened as a toll road under the Black Dog Turnpike Trust from 1 October 1835.
However, the turnpike system throughout the country could not compete with the railways. Tolls were greatly reduced and the Black Dog Turnpike Trust, along with many others, found themselves running at a loss. The Trust was eventually extinguished on 31 October 1879 and tolls were no longer payable. Responsibility for the road passed to the new Highways Board. Today it is administered by the Highways Authority. Industrial Revolution.
THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY
With the introduction of steam locomotion, a faster (and cheaper) method of transportation as opposed to that by road or canal, it was not long before proposals to link Bristol and London by rail were being put forward. Such a link would cut the time of travel from a matter of weeks to just a few hours. In 1833 a group of businessmen put forward a plan to take such a proposal forward and engaged Isambard Kingdom Brunel to undertake a survey. In July the Bristol and London Railroad Company was formed. Like Rennie, Brunel realized the natural corridor provided by the River Avon and its tributaries as being the best possible route and capitalized this within his plans. The route he proposed was to run in a straight line from west to east right through the heart of Bathampton parish and was to be built mainly on a high embankment in order to maintain sufficient height to absorb the necessary accommodation tunnels and river bridge that would be involved. The company was renamed the Great Western Railway Company later that year and funds began to be raised. Several Acts of Parliament were sought, one of which altered the proposed route through the village from the south of the church to the north. By 1837 all necessary permissions were agreed and work commenced. Initially the line was to be broad gauge and built in sections. Applications from contractors to build the section through Bathampton were invited in April 1839. The work included the construction of bridges and approach roads as well as accommodation tunnels for use by the farms.
The Bristol to Bath section was open by 1840 but until Box tunnel was completed travel between Bath and Chippenham station had to be by road. Rails were laid at Bathampton in May 1841 and the whole line Bristol to London opened 30 June 1841.
THE WILTSHIRE, SOMERSET AND WEYMOUTH BRANCH LINE
In 1836 the Great Western Railway Company started to put forward plans for branch lines leading southwards from their main line. In 1845 the Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth Railway Act was passed; this included the provision of a line that linked Bathampton to Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge where it would join their other proposed links southwards. The route chosen from the main GWR line at Bathampton closely followed that of the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Avon. Many problems due to flooding and landslips delayed progress in its construction and the branch did not open until 1857. Initially it was a single line between Bathampton and Bradford on Avon; this was doubled in 1885.
Bathampton Station opened at the same time as the branch line and was, built immediately west of the point where the branch left the main line. The station acted as an exchange station allowing passengers to change from the main line to the branch line. It enabled local residents a chance to travel further afield and take special day excursions. Later a footpath alongside the line linked the station with Bathford and, from 1928, Bathford Halt.
A goods yard was established mostly handling items required for the maintenance of the railway but it also handled coal for local coal merchants, lime for the farms and gravel for the upkeep of roads. A parcel and small goods department also formed part of the station’s activities and this was greatly used by the Harbutts Plasticine Factory established in the village at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Under the ‘Beeching’ cuts Bathford Halt closed in 1965 and Bathampton Station ceased in 1966. The station and signal box were demolished in 1970. Industrial Revolution.
The earliest reference to quarrying on Bathampton Down for Carboniferous Limestone (Bath Stone) dates to 1479. The industry was mostly confined to the eastern side of the hill, although there is a quarry towards the west of these workings (Single Passage Mine) – approximately south of the Communication Masts. Spoil heaps, stone stacks and quarry entrances proliferate the eastern margin, and although covered by trees and vegetation the old workings are still much in evidence. Where entrances to the underground workings exist grills have been erected. This is to stop people from entering due to the danger from rock falls, but also to promote the safety of the diverse bat population that has made it their homes, in particular the Horseshoe bat. Their presence has caused the area to be designated a Site of Scientific Interest.
In 1809 an early form of railroad (an inclined plane) was constructed to take stone from the main quarry, the Seven Sisters, down the hill to the canal. The line of the railroad now forms a public right of way, and the stone blocks used for carrying the iron rails can easily be traced down its length.
For more detailed information see Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided.
There are no mills recorded at Bathampton in the Doomsday Book. It is believed that the Monastery of St Peter and St Paul, Bath was responsible for building the weir and for the erection of a mill at either end. Both mills were used for the milling of flour. Flour is very combustible and this led to the Bathampton Mill suffering several fires. It had been rebuilt in 1854-5 and was destroyed by fire in 1861, after which it was re-built again, but a further fire devastated the mill in 1895. This time the building was left in a ruinous state and only the mill house continued to be accommodated. During the 1940s-50s a successful Tea Gardens occupied the site and part of the old mill was converted into changing rooms for the many people that came there to swim.
In 1964 the buildings were converted into licensed premises with a disco/night club, known as The Keel Club, which became a very popular venue. Following its closure in 1974 it was turned into a restaurant and has changed hands several times since.
Batheaston Mill on the other side of the weir had been re-built in 1844 but was gutted by fire in 1909 and was left derelict for a while. The remains of what had been quite a large building were eventually converted into a hotel and restaurant. In 2016 a replacement waterwheel was installed and is used to generate electricity for the national grid.
A four storey steam mill was built, c1852, alongside the canal (north west of The Grange) by William and James Charmbury. The mill had a cat head which projected out over the canal enabling grain to be delivered by boat and hauled up to the top of the building. The canal was also used for the transport of the resultant flour. The business was bankrupt in 1872 and put up for sale along with The Grange. In 1875 it was being used as a paper pulp factory. This was short lived and in 1888 was taken over by the Western Counties Steam Bakery Co. This also failed and by 1899 the premises were once more up for sale. By 1900-1 William Harbutt had purchased the buildings and the production of Harbutts Plasticine had commenced. Although the original mill was destroyed by fire in 1957, production of plasticine continued in a range of single storey buildings that were erected on the site.
Archaeological evidence shows that early settlement was in the meadows to the north west of the church and subsequently moved southwards possibly due to the effects of the Black Death. The earliest plan of the village is found in that comprised by Ralph Allen detailing all of his estates dating to 1743-1764. This shows the Roman Road leading to Bath along the lines of today’s High Street and Bathampton Lane. The section from the church to today’s ‘Old Rectory’ clearly shows houses lining the road (some of which still exist), together with the Manor House and Mill. John Collinson in his publication ‘Antiquities of Somerset’ records that in 1790 Bathampton had 29 houses and a population of 112. As a ‘closed’ Manorial Village there was very little development during the 19th century. The Census return for 1841 records a population of 354 and 70 houses; by 1891 this had increased to 402 and 92 houses and by 1921 there were 435 residents and 105 houses recorded. It wasn’t until the Manor Estate was sold off in 1921 that things began to change, speculative purchasers began to buy up plots and gradually, throughout the twentieth century, development started in earnest and the village began to expand southwards from the line of the old Roman road. Apart from most of the houses aligning the High Street and Bathampton Lane the village we see today is, in fact, relatively modern. The population for 2001 was 1504 and in 2016 totaled 1800.
The George Inn is a Grade III Listed Building and was formerly a farmhouse dating to at least the 18th century or late 17th century. It was first licensed in 1791 when it was owned by the Fisher family, freeholders within the parish, who sold it to the Lord of the Manor in the mid 19th century. In the 19th and early part of the twentieth century it was run by various breweries, including Ashton Gate; Georges and Courages. It was sold privately when the sale of the Manor Estate took place in 1921. Since then it has changed hands several times and the building has been much altered as the business developed and became a restaurant as well as a public house. Several large conglomerates have owned it and today (2017) it forms part of the chain of outlets run by the Chef and Brewer Company.
During the 18th and 19th century inquiries into unnatural deaths in the village were held here, and there are various reports as to where the body’s were kept, ranging from the cellar to a shed in the garden!
Properties that occupy sites recorded on the Estate Map of 1743-64 and the Tithe Map of 1845 form part of the Historic Buildings Survey currently being carried out within the village. This entails detailed measurements of ground floor plans and elevations which lead to a dating process and analysis of the building’s transgression. A report on ownership and usage is also undertaken. The results are produced in the form of a report, copies given to the house owners and placed with local Record Offices.
William Harbutt ARCA (1844-1921) was Head of Bath’s Art School and invented plasticine whilst living at 15 Alfred Street, Bath. He was intent on finding a different substance than clay for his art classes and in 1897 had developed this new ‘modeling medium’. On finding that it greatly amused his children he became convinced that it was something which had greater potential and a commercial value. He started to make large quantities in his cellar and set up an outlet in a shop in Milsom Street. It wasn’t long before demand outstripped supply and he started to look for larger premises where he could expand production. In 1899/1900 he purchased The Grange and steam mill on the banks of the canal in Bathampton. The family was soon established in The Grange and production of plasticine commended in the old mill building. William died in 1921 and his family continued with the business which, over the years, they expanded and widened its range of products. Despite several fires which destroyed the old mill, new buildings were erected and by purchasing the adjoining Manor Farm House and its outbuildings the factory was greatly extended. In 1976 the business was taken over by Berwick-Tempo Ltd who continued production at Bathampton. It was subsequently taken over by a subsidiary, Peter Pan Products of Peterborough and production at Bathampton ceased in 1983. The site was eventually cleared and now contains retirement homes known as ‘Harbutts’. Mills.
There had been several private schools in Bathampton in the first part of the 19th century but the earliest reference to a school for local children dates to 1855 – probably based on the church’s Sunday School. This school was held in a building situated just to the south east of the original churchyard. The churchyard has since been extended and the Coronation Cross now stands on the old school site. Log books date from 1863 to 1893.
In 1893 plans were put forward to build a new Church of England school on a plot further to the east, just beyond Station Road. It was built to accommodate up to 120 children and opened in 1896. A Head Teacher’s house was added later. Over the year’s the building has been greatly extended to meet growing needs. See also School.
ST NICHOLAS CHURCH
The parish church is dedicated to St Nicholas. Under the Monastery of St Peter and St Paul, Bath a ‘Vicarage’ or Living was ordained here in 1317 together with a site for the priest’s residence [now the Old Rectory]. It is believed that the original church was of Norman origin and probably only consisted of a nave and chancel – similar in size to that of today. Some pieces of Norman architecture were evident in the east wall of the Chancel but have since been covered over by the building of the Miller Room. The perpendicular tower is said to date to the 16th century.
In the 1750’s the church was in a ruinous state and Ralph Allen, as Lord of the Manor, spent a large amount of money having it repaired. At the same time he added a chapel, the Allen Chapel, alongside the south east corner of the nave. This, together with the original porch, was eventually taken in as part of a new south aisle built in 1882. The east end (that had formed the Allen Chapel) was re-organized in 1972. It is now known as the Australia Chapel and was re-furbished with materials from Australia in honour of Rear Admiral Philip, the founder of New South Wales, who is buried nearby. The east and side walls, however, still contain memorial tablets to the Allen family – many of whom are buried under the tower or at Claverton. See also Churches.
Today’s church is mostly Victorian. The first vestry was added in 1858 and later enlarged for the use of both the clergy and choir. The north aisle was added in 1859 and an organ chamber, to the north side of the Chancel, in 1879. The south aisle was built in 1882. In 1993 an extension, to provide a meeting room, kitchen and office accommodation, was built to the east of the Chancel Access was created via the organ chamber and a new organ was sited in the north aisle.
The oldest features are the 14th century effigies of a man and women that now lie in the windows of the south west end of the south aisle; a large stone ‘bowl’ (original purpose unknown) which stands to the west of the porch and originally came from the Old Rectory; the 14th century bent trefoil cross on the east end of the Chancel roof, which came from the manorial tithe barn that once stood at the west end of the George Inn field; and a replica of a Norman Cross found in the churchyard, on the east end of the nave roof. There is an effigy of a priest or possibly of St Nicholas, let into the outside wall of the Chancel (east end) which, based on the robes depicted, is thought to date to the 12th century.
The church plate dates from the 16th century and Registers from 1599.
The toll bridge together with access roads was built in 1872 and is one of the few privately owned toll bridges in England. It replaced a ford and horse-ferry that crossed the River Avon immediately below Bathampton Mill and weirs. Access to this was from the south side of the mill but is no longer visible as the land has been made up. However access from the north side can still be traced in the form of a track (and footpath) which leaves today’s approach road, uphill from the bridge. It ran in a straight line to the river edge where it was cobbled as it entered the water. As part of a flood prevention scheme the ford has since been dredged out.
‘A Sacred Landscape – The Prehistory of Bathampton Down’ by Rod Thomas, published by Millstream Books, 2008.
‘The Benevolent Man: A life of RalphAllen of Bath’ by Benjamin Boyce. Harvard University Press, 1967.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
BATHAMPTON LOCAL HISTORY RESEARCH GROUP
The primary aim of the Group is to research and record the history of the parish of Bathampton with the ultimate aim of publishing their findings. Publications This small Group of volunteers meets monthly and welcomes anyone interested in participating with its aims and objectives. The Group also welcomes enquiries or contact from anyone wishing to share their memories of the parish or material such as photographs.
The Group is currently (Spring 2017) engaged in the completion of a book. This tells the story of how the Lord of the Manor built a wall in the early 1700s which divided the Down in half and enclosed his rabbit warren. There follows numerous stories that have coloured the Down’s history through to the end of the twentieth century. Follow the link Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided to learn more.
Contact details: Gill Huggins
24 Warminster Road
Bathampton BATH BA2 6SA Tel. 01225 460047
Or Mary Clark
Contact Mary Clark here or Tel. 01225 722376
Memorial Inscriptions in the Church and Churchyard of St Nicholas Church, Bathampton. 2008.
Men of Bathampton Who Lost Their Lives in the First World War. 2014. Use this link to view this leaflet.
Historic Building Surveys
Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided. This publication will be available from June, 2017. Use this link for further details.
Bathampton Down – A Hill Divided
Bathampton Local History Research Group
A New Book for 2017
A Hill Divided
Bathampton Down is noted for its unique pre-historic remains but its more recent history is also fascinating. This new book, written and researched by Mary Clark and published by the Bathampton Local History Research Group, tells the story of the Down since 1700 when the Lord of the Manor built a wall to divide it in two and enclose his rabbit warren.
The story unfolds with chapters on the warrener’s house, Sham Castle, Ralph Allen’s influence; two shocking murders; a fatal duel; a college that was never built; a forgotten farmstead; a rifle range; the Golf Course and secrets of the Second World War. All these have coloured the Down’s history since the 18th century. The Industrial Archaeology of the stone quarries and their early tramway, together with the former Bathampton Waterworks and more recent reservoirs are also included whilst the final chapter illustrates things of a more curious nature.
This book acts as a record of the Down’s more recent history and will give readers a greater understanding of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
200 pages with some 215 col/bw illustrations
Owing to popular demand this book was reprinted in 2021 so a limited number of copies are still available
TO RESERVE YOUR COPY OR TO FIND OUT MORE –
Contact: 01225 722376; 460047.
e.mail – Mary Clark
Men of Bathampton Who Lost Their Lives in the First World War
This leaflet is produced as a tribute to the men of Bathampton who paid the supreme sacrifice fighting for their Country in the First World War – their names are recorded on the Memorial in the south aisle of St Nicholas’ Church. This plaque was the initiative of the Parish Council and villagers and was unveiled at a special service held on Sunday, 14 November, 1920. The Vicar of Bathampton, Rev. F G White, recited the Parish Roll of Honour; the Address was given by Canon Henry Girdlestone and it was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Bath, the Venerable Lancelot Fish. It was of great importance to many families who had little hope of travelling to see the grave of a loved one – some men had no grave at all – and gave them a place of remembrance. Today it continues to act as a reminder of the effect the War had on this community.
Ex-soldiers in the Village proposed a further memorial – a monolith, fashioned from blocks of stone from the Downs, to be dedicated both to those who had died and to those who fought during the conflict. William Harbutt (Chairman of the Parish Council) submitted a Plasticine model and sketches of what was envisaged to a public meeting on 3 February, 1920 and the project was adopted. It was to be placed in that curious curved space that can be seen on the road side at the south east edge of the churchyard facing the canal bridge, created for the purpose. This project, however, did not succeed – possibly due to the death of William Harbutt a short while later.
At the outbreak of War Bathampton had little more than 112 houses and a population of some 427. It is not clear how many residents eventually joined up, but the Bath Chronicle dated 26 September 1914, (six weeks after War had been declared), reported an initial list of 28 from this parish. No doubt this figure grew as the War progressed.
Fortunately many returned relatively unscathed whilst others had wounds that daily reminded them of the conflict, horrors and pain they had had to endure, whilst others gave their lives. The following detail gives a brief insight into the background of the men recorded on the Memorial – who they were, their service and untimely death.
Private George Trevor BARLOW
King Edwards Horse Regiment.
Family home: Woodhill, Bathampton.
Occupation: Gold miner and member of the Natal Mounted Police.
Notes: Fought in the South African War with Bethunes Mounted Infantry; shot in the chest when fighting the Boers. On 26 August 1914 volunteered at White City, London.
Died: 19 September 1917 in London of Tuberculosis, aged 47.
Battery Quartermaster Sergeant Ivor Victor BREWER
Royal Garrison Artillery.
Family homes: Canal Terrace; George Inn and 10 The Normans, Bathampton.
Occupation: Professional Soldier.
Notes: Served in India and Ceylon as a Bombardier.
Died: 7 May 1918, after an operation in a London hospital, aged 32.
Buried: St Nicholas Churchyard, Bathampton
Second Lieutenant Guy Danvers Mainwaring CROSSMAN
13th Battalion Welsh Regiment.
Born: High Ham, Somerset.
Family home: St Edith’s, Bathampton Lane, Bathampton.
Occupation: School Master, St Anne’s-on-Sea.
Notes: Joined Public School Corps as a Private; became an officer with the Welsh Regiment in August 1915. ‘Carried out many enterprises in no-man’s-land with great courage’.
Killed: 10 June 1916 in hand to hand fighting at Mametz Wood, aged 31.
Buried: Flatiron Copes Cemetery, Mametz, France.
Private Ernest Francis DOLMAN
Canadian Infantry 20th Battalion (Central Ontario Regiment).
Family homes: George Inn and 10 The Normans.
Occupation: Farm worker.
Notes: One of the first men in his Battalion to be wounded. Three weeks after returning to the trenches he was wounded again.
Died: 17 or 18 June 1916, from wounds on battle field, aged 21.
Buried: Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.
Sergeant Stanley FUDGE, M.M.
8th Royal Berkshire Regiment formerly Private in 3rd Hussars.
Born: 15 Brooklyn Road, Bath.
Family homes: Mount Pleasant and 6 Canal Terrace, Bathampton.
Occupation: Professional Soldier.
Notes: Wounded in the hand whilst fighting in France, but went back to his Regiment before he was fit for duty ‘so he could fight on regardless’. Awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field.
Died: 28 July 1916 from wounds, received on the Somme, aged 23.
Buried: Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Major Edward Norman GILLIAT, M.C.
Canadian Infantry formerly Lieutenant, 3rd East Yorkshire Regiment.
Born: Harrow, Middlesex.
Family home: Avonhurst, Bathampton Lane, Bathampton.
Occupation: Mortgage Broker, previously Professional Soldier.
Notes: Served in the South African War, receiving the Queen’s medal with three clasps then served with the Canadian Infantry at the Second Battle of Ypres; Hill 70; The Somme; Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Was awarded the Military Cross in October 1917. During his time fighting at the front was wounded three times.
Died: 12 August, 1918 at a clearing station after being seriously wounded by a shell, aged 36.
Buried: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, France.
Captain Morrell Andrew GIRDLESTONE
41st Dogras formerly in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
Family home: Bathampton Vicarage.
Occupation: Professional Soldier.
Notes: Volunteered for the South African War in December 1899. During WWI recommended for D.S.O. after fighting at Neuve Chapelle.
Killed: 25 March 1915 when a bullet hit him in the eye, aged 35.
Buried: Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
Sergeant Harry Charles GOODING
North Somerset Yeomanry formerly in the Household Cavalry.
Family homes: Rose Cottage and 3 Canal Terrace, Bathampton.
Occupation: Professional Soldier.
Notes: Served in India and was one of the first men from Bathampton to volunteer for WWI.
Killed: 17 November 1914, aged 25. It is believed he went over the top to face the enemy who were but 15 yards away saying this was ‘something he must do despite the odds’.
Memorial: Commemorated on Ypres [Menin Gate] Memorial, Belgium.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Herbert KEMBLE, D.S.O., M.C.
23rd London Regiment.
Born: Purneah, India.
Family home: Beechfield, Bathampton Lane, Bathampton.
Occupation: School Master, Charterhouse.
Notes: He was mentioned in despatches twice and was awarded the Military Cross and the D.S.O. Fought and was wounded during his last action at Messines Ridge.
Died: 7 June 1917 from wounds, aged 40.
Buried: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Corporal John Henry MESSER
2nd Coldstream Guards.
Born: Walcot, Bath.
Family homes: Dog’s Nose Cottages and 5 Canal Terrace, Bathampton.
Occupation: Farm Labourer.
Comments: Fought in the first battle of Ypres. Took part in the great Allied offensive of the Somme in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
Killed: 16 September 1916, aged 20.
Memorial: Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.
Lieutenant Dominic Macaulay WATSON
West Somerset Yeomanry formerly in the 19th Hussars.
Born: Plas Gwynt, Cardiff.
Family home: [Original] Bathampton House, Bathampton Lane.
Occupation: Lived on private income.
Comments: In his last action at Gouzeaucourt he could not be persuaded by his fellow officers to stop fighting and ‘fought on under very hard fire and shelling’.
Died: 3 December 1917 of wounds, aged 30.
Buried: Tincourt New British Cemetery, France.
Compiled by Rosemary Dyer of the Bathampton Local History Research Group
from her archive and personal family connections.
If you have information to share or wish to contact Rosemary,
please email: Rosemary