The parish of Bathford extends from Shockerwick in the north to below Warleigh in the Limpley Stoke valley to the south and from the River Avon in the west to the top of Bathford Hill in the east. The map of the parish show the shape and boundaries. The By Brook flows westwards into the Avon at Bathford. More detailed maps can be accessed from the left margin Current Page Links.
Bathford appears to owe its origin and continued existence through the ages to its position at an important road junction. It had the ford over the River Avon, Roman roads which relied on the ford and close proximity to the City of Bath on the road to London.
Of the Roman roads, the Fosse Way up Morris Lane is still in regular use although traffic from Bath takes the more modern road from Batheaston. The Roman road that went up Bathford Hill, Dovers Lane and at the top took an almost straight-line route to Marlborough does not seem to have continued in use after the Romans left. Although not easily recognisable on foot, it is clearly marked on Ordnance Survey maps.
In medieval times a new route was developed from Marlborough via Sandy Lane, Bowden Hill, Lacock, Corsham, Chapel Plaister, Kingsdown Hill and through Bathford to Bath. A stage-coach service to Bath was advertised in a London newspaper in 1657.
The route up the hill to Kingsdown was steep and badly maintained and a series of Turnpike Acts were passed in Parliament from 1707 to provide and maintain better roads for this section of the route from Bath to London. The final turnpike took the main route north of By Brook - now the route of the A4.
Another Turnpike Act in 1791 authorised the building of a new road from Bathford to Bradford on Avon, now the route of the A363, bypassing the old road through Warleigh.
The last London to Bath stagecoach ran in 1843, two years after the opening of the Great Western Railway. This line provided a service from Bathford Halt to Bath from 1929 until it was scrapped in 1965.
The oldest and newest bridges in Bathford cross the By Brook on the A363 into Bathford. A survey of 1605 shows a bridge over By Brook which is likely to have been built in the 13th or 14th century and was replaced by the current three arch bridge in 1665. The adjacent footbridge was installed in 2005 after prolonged campaigning from the villagers and in particular, by Philip Harris after whom the bridge is named. There was also a ford over the By Brook next to the bridge.
There are two single span railway bridges built by Brunel for the Great Western Railway. The smaller spans the road (A363) just north of the By Brook and the larger spans the River Avon which flows close to the road.
There are extensive woodlands on the higher slopes of the west side of the parish, in Warleigh and some in Upper Shockerwick.
Click on Ash Dieback At Dry Arch for a summary of this talk about the woods at Dry Arch.