Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


St Mary, Westwood.

The parish church of St Mary, with the Manor House behind

Westwood was a separate manor from Bradford, but its church became a chapel of the mother church of Holy Trinity in Bradford.

The manor belonged to the Priory of St Swithun in Winchester and was counted as a part of the Bradford Hundred until the 13th century, when the Prior claimed to be free of it. At times and formally from the 16th century, it was considered to be part of Elstub, a hundred made up of the scattered Wiltshire properties of Winchester Cathedral which owned much of the parish until 1911.

Westwood became a separate parish in 1876 and was enlarged by the addition of land from Great Bradford and Wingfield in 1885 and again in 1934 when Elms Cross was taken from Bradford.

The site

Most of the parish is on undulating farmland that is gently sloping towards the east, but this is bound on the north by a steep wooded slope into the valley of the river Avon and in the west by the River Frome. The village is divided into Lower Westwood which developed around the church and manor house and Upper Westwood, which is strung out along the crest of the ridge above the Avon valley. The distinction has become blurred in the west, where late 20th century housing has developed between them.

The name is fairly self-explanatory: Westwuda was the western wood, presumably with reference to being west of Bradford.

King Æthelred II granted Westwood to a thegn called Alfnoth; it may have been at some time in the hands of someone called Sealemudda. In 987 the king granted it to his huntsman Leofwine. It may not have been part of the land comprising the grant of Bradford to Shaftesbury Abbey in 1001, but formed part of the dowry of Æthelred’s wife Emma in 1002. King Cnut, who married Queen Emma after Æthelred’s death, confirmed her holding, as did their son Harthacnut. She gave it to the Priory of Winchester in memory of Harthacnut after he died in 1043.
After the Reformation the ownership of the manor passed to the Cathedral of Winchester, who sold it in 1911.

Westwood parish, including Iford had 1,163 inhabitants in 2001 according to the Census. Today it is largely a dormitory village for people working elsewhere. It has a shop and two public houses: the New Inn in Lower Westwood and the Cross Guns in Avoncliff. Agriculture is still carried out, but quarrying, which was formerly a major industry is extremely reduced. During World War 2 the Royal Enfield armaments company employed many people here and later motorcycles were made. Downside plant nursery is in Upper Westwood.

There is a small railway station at Avoncliff and local buses run to Bradford and Trowbridge.

Westwood Wiltshire history