BRADFORD-ON-AVON, a market town in the Westbury parliamentary division of Wiltshire, England, on the rivers Avon and Kennet, and the Kennet & Avon Canal, 98 m. W. by S. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 4514. Its houses, all built of grey stone, rise in picturesque disorder up the steep sides of the Avon valley, here crossed by an ancient bridge of nine arches, with a chapel in the centre. Among many places of worship may be mentioned the restored parish church of Holy Trinity, which dates from the 12th century and contains some interesting monuments and brasses; and the Perpendicular Hermitage or Tory chapel, with a 15th or 16th century chantry-house. But most notable is the Saxon church of St Lawrence, the foundation of which is generally attributed, according to William of Malmesbury (1125), to St Aldhelm, early in the 8th century. It consists of a chancel, nave and porch, in such unchanged condition that E.A. Freeman considered it "the most perfect surviving church of its kind in England, if not in Europe." It has more lately, however, been held that the present building is not Aldhelm's, but a restoration, dating from about 975, and attributable to the influence of Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury. Kingston House, long the seat of the dukes of Kingston, is a beautiful example of early 17th-century domestic architecture. The local industries include the manufacture of rubber goods, brewing, quarrying and iron-founding.
Bradford (Bradauford, Bradeford) was the site of a battle in 652 between Kenwal and his kinsman Cuthred. A monastery existed here in the 8th century, of which St Aldhelm was abbot at the time of his being made bishop of Sherborne in A.D. 705. In 1001 Æthelred gave this monastery and the town of Bradford to the nunnery of Shaftesbury, in order that the nuns might have a safe refuge against the insults of the Danes. No mention of the monastery occurs after the Conquest, but the nunnery of Shaftesbury retained the lordship of the manor until the dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. In a synod held here in 954, Dunstan was elected bishop of Winchester. Bradford appears as a borough in the Domesday survey, and is there assessed at 42 hides. No charter of incorporation is recorded, however, and after returning two members to the parliament of 1295 the town does not appear to have enjoyed any of the privileges of a borough. The market is of ancient origin, and was formerly held on Monday; in the survey the tolls are assessed at 45 shillings. Bradford was at one time the centre of the clothing industry in the west of England, and was especially famous for its broadcloths and mixtures, the waters of the Avon being especially favourable to the production of good colours and superior dyes. The industry declined in the 18th century, and in 1740 we find the woollen merchants of Bradford petitioning for an act of parliament to improve their trade and so re-establish their credit in foreign markets.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)