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St Swithun, Bathford, Somerset

(51°23′52″N, 2°18′22″W)
ST 788 666
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Bath and North East Somerset
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
10 February 2010

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The parish of Bathford is long (c. 7kms) and narrow (averaging c. 1km), and sandwiched between the river Avon and the Wiltshire border, on the E outskirts of Bath. It is divided into two parts by the By Brook which runs into the Avon just upstream from Batheaston, N of Bathford village; strategically occupying the broad dip at the N end of the NS ridge of Limestone which is interrupted by By Brook. Geologically, the bedrock on which the environs of Bathford rest is essentially limestone but, as in the whole of this area (apart from the Oolitic limestone upland plateaux) the bedrock geology is basically Lower and Middle Jurassic. Quarries to exploit the limestone were situated above Bathford and must have played a major economic role in the past.

The village itself commands the confluence and the crossing of the Avon by the highway between Bath and London (now the A4), and the church is on the W edge of the village, nearest the river Avon. It has a chancel with N and S chapels, a nave and a S aisle of 1870-72, and a N aisle and porch of 1856. The W tower dates from 1879-80.

Romanesque features are the N doorway (heavily restored), various fragments attached to the external E wall of the N aisle, and loose stones at the E end of the churchyard. The font is probably 13thc, but is described as it includes some Romanesque characteristics.


A charter of 987 records the grant of 10 hides of land aet Forda by King Eadwig to Bath Abbey in A.D. 957 (Grundy (1935), B.1001).

In 1066 and 1086 Bathford ('Forde') still belonged to Bath Abbey and was assessed at 10 hides, of which 5 hides were in lordship in 1086. The holding also included a mill, 12 acres of meadow, and underwood 1 league in both length and width.


Exterior Features





Loose Sculpture


Further research might be undertaken regarding the mutilated/eroded figure-relief in the E wall of the churchyard: there may be photographs or drawings dating from the late 19thc which reveal the subject more clearly than observation nowadays.

As a whole, the arch and label clearly conform to a local standard (compare, for example, with the structure at Norton Malreward).

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, London 1899, III, 44.

G. B. Grundy, The Saxon Charters and Field Names of Somerset, Taunton 1935.

Historic England listing 1320515.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, Harmondsworth 1958, 139.