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Conkwell

Winsley, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Conkwell map

Conkwell in the 1880s

The hamlet of Conkwell lies right on the border of Bradford, Wiltshire and Bathford, Somerset. Looking down the hill, Wiltshire is on the left of the road, Somerset (the present Bath & North East Somerset unitary authority) on the right. It is in a notch that has been cut in the steep hillside by a stream that runs down to the river Avon via a spring at the hamlet’s centre.

It was first mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter that sketched out the boundary of Bathford in 957 as Cunuca leage. The second part of that name refers to a clearing in woodland, while the first part seems to be a celtic word that means a hill and suggests that there was a late survival of the pre-Saxon British people here. The same word gives the names of the villages of Conock and Knook elsewhere in Wiltshire and the knock element of many places in Ireland.

The steep slope on which Conkwell is sited is mostly covered with dense woodland that stretches down to the bottom of the Avon valley. The woodland on the southern side is part of the Conkwell Grange estate and extends almost to Winsley Hill; that to the north extends to Warleigh Woods in the parish of Bathford, Somerset and to Inwood in  Monkton Farleigh. At the top of the hill is the rolling farmland of the rest of Winsley and Bradford on the Cotswolds plateau.

The edge of the valley gave access to good building stone, with quarries on both sides of Conwell. A steep gravity-operated inclined tramway made at the beginning of the 19th century carried stone down to a wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Dundas Aqueduct.

 

Conkwell trows

Conkwell’s spring and trows (troughs)