St Laurence, Bradford on Avon

Roving Medievalist posts pictures of the little Saxon Church in Bradford on Avon, England.

I first visited this sweet old church when I was a student at Oxford. I was drunk on the glories of English church architecture and made it my hobby to know the difference between pointed arches, Norman arches. I tracked all the details from Saxon to Norman to Gothic, Transitional and Perpendicular styles. When I was taken to this Saxon church it made a big impression. Years later we went to live in Chippenham, Wiltshire–just ten minutes up the road from Bradford on Avon. On my regular treks to Downside Abbey I would stop in Bradford for a drink and a visit to St Laurence Church.

Here’s a poem I wrote after my firt visit many moons ago:

These Saxon walls, rough and

hand hewn stoically stand;

Their opaque repose

is their being and purpose

and across the stone floor,

darkened by windowless walls,

there falls a light from the door

The cold, bare chancel, stark

as a tomb, is as dark

and still as the centuries

but high in the wall there lies

a clear and small window

where, to admit light ages ago,

a stone was removed.

The round arch rises,

solid and graceless

as its maker.

This church does not take or

demand a formal

architect–any normal

eye can see simplicity’s permanence

and the balance of light and stone.

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  • Jeffrey Smith

    Very good.

  • Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

    I first visited this wonderful little church when I was a student at Salisbury & Wells Theological College in the early 1970’s. Seeing the picture brought back fond memories. Thanks!

  • Larry

    I too enjoyed visiting this historic little church when staying with friends in Lacock, not far for Chippenham.