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Vineyards

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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vineyard, Ashley

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In the Domesday Book survey of 1086 among the lands in the Manor of Bradford that were held by the Abbey of Shaftesbury was one arpent of vines. An arpent was an old Gaulish land measurement which was mostly used in the survey to refer to vineyards.  There is no indication in Domesday of the size in other units, but in later records it was roughly equivalent to half an acre. We do not know where this vineyard was situated, although the terraced land called Lynchetts above Woolley Street has been suggested, or the south-facing Tory hillside would have been ideal. Nor is it known whether the grapes were being grown as fresh fruit or for making into wine. The Abbey and its churches would have had a need for red wine for communion services. Its existence suggests the climate and soil were suitable at that time. Its disappearance in the Middle Ages may be because of the climate turning cooler during the “Little Ice Age”, or the supply of better quality wine from Gascony.

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From the latter part of the 20th century new vineyards have been planted around Bradford following the selection of grape varieties, mainly white, suitable for the area.