Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


St Nicholas Church, Winsley


St Nicholas parish church, Winsley


Winsley was a part of the Ancient Parish and of the Manor of Bradford. It was a Tithing of the Hundred of Bradford that once extended into much what is now considered the western part of the town itself, as far as Newtown and Bearfield. The church of St Nicholas was a chapel of the mother church of Holy Trinity in Bradford. Winsley became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1846; the present Civil Parish of Winsley came into being in 1884.


The site

Most of the parish, which lies immediately to the west of Bradford,  is situated on the flattish plateau land on the top of the Cotswold Hills, with steep slopes on the southern and western sides down into the valley of the River Avon. It is bounded on the east by Bradford, on the north by South Wraxall, Monkton Farleigh and Bathford (Somerset) and, across the river, by Claverton, Monkton Combe (both in Somerset), Limpley Stoke and Westwood. Contrary to modern signage and postal addresses, the area to the west that stretches down to the Avon and places on Winsley Hill, like Conkwell Grange, Murhill and Avon Park, are not in Limpley Stoke nor in Bath.

The present village comprises a tight nuclear old settlement that is centred on the church, then linear piecemeal development along the Bradford Road, followed by a large area of late 20th century planned housing of three or more phases to the north, the Tyning area. A bypass road was built from the Bath side as far as Tyning Road in the 1970s, but not completed to the Bradford side until the 1990s. Roads connect the village with Bradford, Limpley Stoke, Bath and to the outlying hamlets at Ashley, Avoncliff, Conkwell, Haugh, Murhill and Turleigh.


Winsley’s name probably derives from a clearing (leah) that was associated with an otherwise unrecorded Saxon settler called Wine. It was first recorded in 1170 as Wineslega in a document which also refers back to early in that century. The hamlet of Conkwell was named, as Cunuca-leage, in the bounds of the neighbouring manor of Bathford in 957. Other hamlets of Winsley -Ashley, Hartley, Haugh and Turleigh- have Saxon-derived names and were recorded in the middle ages.

The road called Dane Rise has nothing to do with Danish invaders, but derives its name from the Old English word dene, meaning a valley, referring to the deep combe leading down to Turleigh. Local mythology, however, has conjured up a battle that King Alfred fought here against the Danes, one local guidebook even claimed it was King Arthur!


Winsley is a combination of an old village and a modern housing estate. It is largely a dormitory for people working in Bath and other places around and has a large retired population. 2,001 inhabitants were recorded by the 2001 Census, falling to 1,920 in 2011 and 1,917 in 2021. The parish has an area of just under 8 sq km.
A short row of shops was incorporated in the 20th century Tyning Road development. Currently two have been combined into a small supermarket and post office which closed in 2022 and one has been converted to a doctors’ surgery that is run as a branch of the Bradford on Avon & Melksham Health Centre. A farm shop, including a restaurant and some other businesses are at Hartley Farm (opened 20/8/2008), while Church Farm operates a touring caravan and campsite, both across the bypass. The Willy Good Ale! micro-brewery worked at Hartley Farm between 2010 and 2018. There is one public house: the Seven Stars in the old village centre. The former village school building, which is opposite the pub, is now Winsley Social Club.

The modern primary school is in Tyning Road; secondary school pupils generally attend St Laurence School in Bradford.  A special school, the Sutcliffe School, occupied from 1952 to 1992 the buildings that are now the Dorothy House Hospice.

There is an active and beautifully-sited Cricket Club with a clubhouse built in 2004 near the Manor House. Winsley Bowls Club was founded in 1903 and has its green and clubhouse next to the Seven Stars. Bradford 0n Avon Rugby Club has its ground on the north-east side of the village, beyond the by-pass.

Quarrying of Bath Stone was formerly an important industry at Murhill and Conkwell, but is no longer. The largest concerns in Winsley are now the Dorothy House Hospice and the Avon Park Retirement Village (formerly the Winsley Sanatorium). Agriculture is still significant, although many of the farmhouses have been sold off after their land has been combined with others. Active farms are Great Ashley Farm, Little Close Farm, Timothy Rise Farm at the foot of Winsley Hill and Hartley Farm, which is combined with Church Farm. An increasing acreage has been taken out of food production and given over to horses, including the Neil Mulholland Racing stables at Conkwell Grange.

There is a small railway station at Avoncliff on the line between Bradford and Bath. Winsley is served by bus route D1 between Warminster, Bradford and Bath.


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Wiltshire history.