A short history of the Parish of Batheaston
Location and origins
The Parish of Batheaston is bounded on the South side mainly by the River Avon, the West side by the A46 Gloucester Road, and the East side by Morris Lane and the Bannerdown Road. It encompasses Little Solsbury Hill to the West, much of Charmydown, to the North, and Bannerdown to the East. It has been suggested that some or all of these hills should be included in the count that gives Bath its seven hills, like those of Rome.
St Catherine's Brook, which drains down to the River Avon, runs down the centre. The main London Road crosses that stream at Stambridge (Stone Bridge); that area is now known as the Fiveways junction and evidence of the bridge has been lost under the modern tarmacing. The lower levels of the brook are in the flood plain, and the river regularly covers the lower reaches of the car park and the footpath alongside the river.
The area has been occupied since at least Neolithic times-for over 4000 years-and there were Bronze Age barrows on Charmydown (obliterated when a Spitfire Airfield was established in 1940 to defend Bristol). On the top of Little Solsbury (named after the goddess Sul), there is an Iron Age fort.
It was reputed to be the home of Prince Bladud who discovered the curative powers of the warm springs in Bath. When king, he was killed and parts of his body rolled down Solsbury giving rise to some interestingly named pubs in Swainswick.
There was certainly a village established here in Saxon times - named East Tun meaning the Settlement in the East - and the Romans had already built two roads through the village crossing at Stambridge, the London to Bristol road and the Fosse Way from Exeter to Lincoln. It is believed that this Fosse Way followed the old A4 trunk road through to, then along, Morris Lane then went up Bannerdown Road towards Cirencester. The Parish of St Catherine was associated with Batheaston and their two Churches were interlinked - as they are to this day.
The entry in the Domesday Book is detailed with counts of all cattle etc. Naturally the centre of the village was built around its church; the present building of St.John the Baptist was started in 1262 on the site of a previous place of worship. Both St John's and St Catherine's were administered from Bath, and the monks there are supposed to have built a Monks' Causeway of stone slabs all the way from St. Catherine's to Bath
Abbey. Only some very short sections of this Causeway now exist: at the Batch and from Eagle House in Northend up to New House Farm, Upper Northend.
Modern day Batheaston
Growth of the village
Because of the closeness to Bath, the easy access by the main road, the railway station at Bathford (closed after the War) and the tram system which ran through Batheaston to Bathford the village started to expand from its medieval origins and from mid Victorian times homes were established here for Bath commuters. The considerable Housing Estate was started in 1948 and a third of the village now lives there.
The twentieth century saw further developments up Bannerdown Hill and off Northend and new housing on infill sites within large gardens of many properties. The village now comprises four main areas, The High Street (including London Road East and West), Northend, Elmhurst Estate and either side of Bannerdown.
Some of the buildings around the High Street and Northend date back many years, even before the growth of Georgian Bath. A list of historic houses in the village is shown below.
Much of the Village remains rural, within the Green Belt, and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Small agricultural holdings and market gardens are all around the village and for many years were a major source of produce for the city of Bath. Some of this continue to operate today
The population is some 3,300 with over 2,000 electors. There are over 1,100 homes in the village. It is one of the largest Parishes within the Authority of Bath & North East Somerset; for District electoral purposes it is partnered with Bathford, Bathampton, Swainswick and St Catherine as "Bathavon North"
For national elections the village is part of the constituency of North East Somerset and the current MP is Jacob Rees-Mogg.
More detailed History
A very complete book by B.M.Willmott Dobbie titled "An English Rural Community - Batheaston with S Catherine" was published in 1969 by Bath University Press but sadly is now out of print although well worth reading if you can locate a copy.
Special Architectural Buildings or Historic Interest
A full list of the Special Architectural Buildings of Historic Interest can be downloaded.Download