St. Laurence Saxon Church, Bradford on Avon
The Saxon Church (as it is known locally) is an Ancient Monument, now in the care and ownership of an ecumenical charity, The Saxon Church Trustees. A charter of King Æthelred granted Bradford to the nuns of Shaftesbury in 1001, and the church’s architecture suggests it was built for the nuns early in the eleventh century.
St Laurence’s is a characteristic Anglo-Saxon building: tall and narrow with small windows. The extent and richness of its decoration, however, are rare, perhaps suggesting it was designed partly for the relics of Æthelred’s brother Edward the Martyr, which were housed with the nuns at Shaftesbury. Some time later the church, being no longer required, was lost amidst other buildings and only came to notice again in the nineteenth century when it was recognized as a late Saxon building by Canon Jones (a Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Parish Church just across the road, and a noted historian) in 1857. The structure of the Saxon Church therefore remains intact (almost) in its original form, and is still used as a place of worship by the congregation of Holy Trinity, as well as by other Christian groups.
The age and extraordinary history of this tiny church, and its very simplicity, together with its glorious golden stone and lofty architecture embrace you and draw you to sit and spend time in the silence. The sun reflecting on some of the Saxon stonework around the altar can be particularly striking. And when ‘two or three’ are gathered together in worship, the place comes alive (and has a very special acoustic).
Open daily, 10am-4pm in winter and 10am-6pm in summer.
June-September: Anglican Eucharist every Friday at noon, Compline 1st Sunday at 6 pm, Evensong (with Holy Trinity Choir) 4th Sunday at 6 pm. Other occasional services, including a Lutheran service 11 am-2 pm on Sunday 1st May, a Roman Catholic Mass at 6 pm on Wednesday 22nd June, and the annual Orthodox Pilgrimage all day on Saturday 23rd July.
Church Street, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1LW, United Kingdom
Grid Reference: ST 82275 60939
By car: A363 passes through the town centre. From Bath turn right at the bottom of the hill, by the Swan Hotel, into Church Street. From Trowbridge, turn left at The Swan Hotel. The Saxon Church is at the far end of Church Street on the right
By public transport (rail/bus):Bradford on Avon Station 7 minutes walk over footbridge. Buses stop in the town centre, near the station.
No wheel-chair access unfortunately due to narrow Saxon doorways, and steps in.
Nearest toilet facilities at St Margaret’s Car park (across footbridge).
Attractive small garden surrounding the church, with a seat (a few steps to get in). Pleasant view across to Holy Trinity and along Church Street from the garden.
Plenty of refreshments and accommodation in Town Centre and locally.
10 Church Street
Bradford on Avon
Tel: 01225 863819