Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
Limpley Stoke from Winsley Hill
Limpley Stoke’s position is anomalous in that it lies entirely on the west side of the River Avon, forming a sharp triangle of Wiltshire that juts into Somerset, cutting Freshford off from the rest of the Hundred of Bath in Somerset.
It was perhaps a piece of land that was left over after various Kings of Wessex and of Anglo-Saxon England had given other parcels of land on that side of the river to the Abbey of Bath, or it had been detached from Bath at some time before 1001.
It was historically a part of the Ancient Parish and Manor of Bradford within the Hundred of Bradford, only becoming a separate ecclesiastic parish in 1846 and a civil parishin 1884. St Mary’s parish church, formerly a chapelry of the mother church in Bradford and dedicated to St Edith of Wilton, is situated right on the boundary with Freshford, Somerset. It was presumably built for the Abbess of Shaftesbury and still includes some Saxon features.
The name Stoke is very common, with North and South Stokes in nearby Bath. The word stoc seems to signify a stockaded outlying settlement of a larger place, presumably with reference to Bradford, or even to Bath. It was often referred to as Hanging Stoke, because of its situation on a steep hillside overhanging the river. The “Limpley” part, which possibly means a bright clearing, was only added from the 16th century, but it looks like a much older name.
The village lies on a high north-facing river cliff made up mostly of Middle Jurassic limestone. It has boundaries with Winsley in Wiltshire, separated by the River Avon, and with the Somerset parishes of Monkton Combe and Southstoke on the north-west and Hinton Charterhouse and Freshford on the south.
The 2001 census recorded a population of 637 inhabitants, but only 541 in 2011, although these must include people staying at the hotels. There was formerly a water-driven, then steam-driven woollen cloth factory which has at times been a corn mill, saw-mill, rubber works and has now been converted to offices. There were two pubs: the Rose & Crown, just off the main A36 road, but now closed and the Hop Pole Inn, which continues; there was once a brewery near the station. No shops now exist, although formerly they did in Lower and Middle Stoke. The Limpley Stoke Hotel was previously the West of England Hydropathic Establishment (or just The Hydro), founded in 1862. The Cliffe Hotel operated between 1961 and the end of 2011. The station closed in 1966, although the building remains; buses connect with Bath and Bradford on Avon. Today Stoke is very much tied up with the adjoining parish of Freshford in Somerset, with which it shares an award-winning community shop. The ecclesiastical parish is shared with Freshford and Hinton Charterhouse.
Limpley Stoke was mentioned in Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey.
What is there in the Museum collection?
The Museum has some old photographs and is keen to collect other objects from Limpley Stoke. Please see if you have any old photographs that you could give to the Museum, or just let us copy.
Limpley Stoke Wiltshire history