Trowle

Trowle was a tithing of the Bradford Hundred that lay to the south of the town. The actual land area presents some difficulties, because there were two manors: Great and Little Trowle. The boundaries of the grant of Bradford to Shaftesbury Abbey in 1001 seems to include both, defined in the south by the line of the River Biss and then, from Trowle Bridge, up its tributary Lambrook.

Great Trowle was the larger manor and stretched all the way from Wingfield into what are now the southern suburbs of Bradford, including Widbrook and Poulton. Little Trowle is difficult to define and at times has been counted as part of Melksham Hundred and of the Liberty of Trowbridge.

Boundary changes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have seen Trowle carved up, with much of the west moved into Wingfield, the south to Trowbridge, the north into Bradford itself and the Lady Down area to the east into Holt, on the other side of the river with no direct connection. The boundary between Bradford and Trowbridge was only fixed at the top of Widbrook Hill in 1934.

Great Trowle Manor House The Old Manor Hotel (since 2014 retitled as the Moonraker Hotel following new ownership and refurbishmwnt) was formerly the manor house of Trowle. It is an early 18th century five-bay mansion of two floors with dormers in its stone-tiled roof and former farm buildings. The hotel advertises itself as being in Bradford, which it was until 1934, but  it now finds itself  included within the boundary of Trowbridge.

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Turnpike milestone, TrowleNear the Old Manor is a milestone that was erected by the Bradford Turnpike Roads Trust, which made the road from Bradford to Cockhill Gate in 1752. It marks ten miles to Bath, so probably dates from the making of Bradford Trust’s Bath Road in 1792.

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Much of the plateau at the top of Widbrook Hill and Cockhill was Trowle Common, an irregularly-shaped unenclosed area of common land which joined more common land at Wingfield in the west. It is said to have been sometimes the scene for fights between rough elements from Trowbridge and Bradford, under their rallying cries of “knobs” and “gudgeons”, referring to the finials of their respective lock-ups.

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Widbrook FarmWidbrook Farm house appears to be of the nineteenth century, with its two-storey canted bay and low-pitch roof covered with Welsh slates, but the porch is of an eighteenth century pattern.

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Widbrook turnpike cottageWidbrook Turnpike Cottage, at the bottom of the hill was built in the 1830s, after those parts of the Bradford Roads within the Borough boundary had been taken on by the town and made free of tolls.

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Widbrook canal bridgeWidbrook canal bridge must have been built in the 1790s, because the first part of the Kennet & Avon Canal, including a 31-foot deep cutting, was dug here in 1795. It was presumably designed, like the other structures along the canal, by John Rennie (1761-1821). It has been patched up with brick where the stonework has failed and a separate footbridge added, because it is rather narrow for modern traffic. It was in this area that there would have been a junction with the Dorset & Somerset Canal, had it been finished.

The Beef & BargeAcross the canal at Widbrook is The Boathouse (the latest name for what was previously The Beef & Barge, before that The Millhouse and originally The Gongoozler), a restaurant/bar complex that was erected in about 1990 as part of the development of the marina. It was closed in December 2013 and reopened in June 2014.

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