Explore Bradford: Church Street, north side

Click on the thumbnail photographs for a bigger view

Town HallBradford’s old Town Hall occupies the corner of Church and Market Streets. It was built in 1855 by a private company and leased to the council and held offices, council chamber which was also used for the Magistrates’ court and the police station. It was designed by Thomas Fuller of Bath, who went on to design the Parliament in Ottawa, Canada and built by Bradford builder James Long. In 1911 the new Urban District Council found smaller premises at Westbury House. Eventually in 1955 the building became St Thomas More Roman Catholic Church and the Midland (now HSBC) Bank, now closed.

Lloyds BankThis building was purpose-constructed  as a branch of the North Wilts Bank by the Jones family of quarriers and stonemasons in about 1860. It is in a classical/italianate style, contrasting with the “Jacobethan” of the Town Hall next door. It is faced with ashlar stone that would have come from the Jones’ own quarry in Bradford, on what has become known as Jones’ Hill.

The North Wilts became part of the Capital & Counties Bank, which  Lloyds Bank took over  in 1918.

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Church HouseChurch House is a Palladian mansion with a central pedimented section featuring the triple window known as Venetian or Serlian. A house was built in about 1730 by Christopher Brewer, a lawyer and Daniel Clutterbuck (died 1769), another lawyer, lived there later. From 1821 it was the Bradford branch of Bath bank Hobhouse, Phillot & Lowder, which failed in 1842 with disastrous consequences for the town. Maltster Thomas Wheeler let the ground floor to the North Wilts Bank until the bank was built next door c1860. Recently it has been a private home, briefly with an art gallery on the ground floor.

Church Hall, now Masonic Hall, Church StreetHoly Trinity Church Hall was built at the expense of Thomas Horton, clothier who lived nearby and at Iford, as a building for public meetings and all those more profane activities that Tudor sensibilities wanted to remove from the church itself. Horton died in 1530. At some time in the 17th century it was converted into several houses with additional gables, from which condition it was restored in the 1920s. The cross wing became the Grammar School 1874 to 1903; since then it has been the Freemasons’ Hall. The Freemasons bought the entire building in 2010.

Druce's Hill HouseDruce’s Hill House is a mansion that is built in a baroque style in which a central entrance surround is repeated on the next floors. The ground floor is of doric style, first floor in corinthian style and the top floor tuscan. The house was described as “newly-built” in 1738 when it belonged to the clothier Anthony Druce, who became bankrupt only two years later. It was subsequently occupied by the Bailward family of Frankleigh House. In the early 1840s surgeon James Pearce, father of geologist Joseph Chaning Pearce, lived there, leasing it from General Henry Shrapnel.

Dutch BartonDutch Barton and Little Dutch Barton is an L-shaped group of 17th century buildings. The name seems to retain a memory of Flemish spinners and weavers who were settled in Bradford c1657 by Paul Methuen and William Brewer c1673, in order to teach local workers the techniques of finer cloth production. The part on Druce’s Hill was given a new Georgian façade in the 18th century; the join can be made out on the corner. Both parts are now medical businesses: Dutch Barton Dental Practice and Church Street osteopathy practice.

Abbey HouseAbbey House is a  Palladian mansion  with Tuscan-columned doorcase and a pediment on the front. It extended a late medieval townhouse now called Horton House. The architect is not known. It was built c1775 by clothier-quarry owner George Bethell; presumably the fine ashlar stone came from Bethell’s quarry in Frome Road. It was occupied by clothier Ezekiel Edmonds sr in 1844, then maltster Thomas Wheeler, W.H. Bassett in 1867, medical men W. Day Lovell in 1887 and Dr Herbert P. Taylor in 1891. It was the offices of the Bradford on Avon & Melksham Rural District Council 1911 to 1973, then the technical centre of the St Ivel dairy company, which moved out in 1995.

Saxon ChurchThe little church of St Laurence is one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon architecture. It is probably unique in being faced with cut ashlar stone, which according to legend came from Haselbury, in Box. It is likely to have been built for King Æthelred or for Shaftesbury Abbey around the millennium year 1001. It went out of use, probably after the big new parish church was built in the 12th century. Afterwards it was a skull house (an ossuary where bones of the dead were kept), cloth factory and Grammar School (1712-1874). Canon Jones recognised it as a Saxon building in the 1850s and it was restored.

Church Street CottagesChurch Street Cottages is a rank of houses that were built on glebe land, that is land belonging to the church.

Number 10 was probably the earliest and has a date stone recording it being built in 1697 and the initials of William and Sibyl Dicke; there were three houses there by 1704.

The rank was restored in the 1960s and has again been restored recently.

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Orpin's HouseOrpin’s House is a detached three-bay house with two gables dating from the very end of the 17th century or beginning of the 18th. It has a tuscan doric doorcase which may be a later addition.

This was the house of Edward Orpin, who has been supposed to have been the subject of Thomas Gainsborough’s painting “The Parish Clerk”. Orpin, who was the Coroner of the Market amongst other duties, died in 1781.

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National SchoolThe National School was set up by the Anglicans and opened in 1836. There was a classroom on each of the two floors; upstairs for girls, downstairs for boys. It functioned until 1896 when the new Trinity School was built on land behind, between Church Street and Newtown. The old school was converted into two houses in the 1980s.

The narrow alley beyond leads up to > Barton Orchard and > Newtown.

> Church Street in old photographs

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