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St Mary, Saltford, Somerset

(51°24′20″N, 2°27′15″W)
ST 685 675
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Bath and North East Somerset

medieval Wells
now Bath & Wells
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
5 May 2010

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Saltford extends westwards from the L bank of the Avon between Bath and Keynsham (4 miles from the former and 2 miles from the latter), on either side of the main A4 between Bristol and Bath. The church is at the N edge of the village only 300m from the river, accompanied by the manor house dating from the Norman period and reputably the oldest habitation in the country. Geologically, Saltford exploits (like many settlements in this area of N Somerset) an unusually large area of limestone bedrock: specifically Blue and White Lias of the Lower Lias division of Jurassic rock. The place-name signifies ‘salty=tidal ford’ although various weirs now prevent the river being so up to this point. Saltford’s relatively low-lying position in the Avon valley alone must have occasioned considerable traffic and exploitation of resources; further, communication from the R bank which gave access to the Roman road running north of the Avon between Bath and the port at Sea Mills (W of Bristol) would have enhanced its utility.

The church is of 12thc or possibly Saxon origin, with some mid 17thc rebuilding following Civil War damage in 1643. It was restored and remodelled in 1832, with much of the walling rebuilt on earlier foundations. The font might have 12thc origins but has been remodelled.


Domesday Book records that four thegns held Saltford in 1066. In 1086, like much of N Somerset, it belonged to the Bishop of Coutances and was held by Roger Whiting. Saltford later formed part of the Honour of Gloucester.


Exterior Features





Historic England listing 1384670

  1. N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, Harmondsworth 1958, 254.
  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, London 1899, III, 246.

A. Webb (ed), Ancient Church Fonts of Somerset Surveyed & Drawn by Harvey Pridham, Taunton 2013, 97.