Bath Voice News: a new book charts the history of one of the city’s lesser known streets – considered the essence of ‘every ancient English village’

A Walk Down Church Street, by John Chambers. Book Review.
People have been walking the five minutes it takes to go from one end of Church Street in Widcombe to the other since 1086 suggests John Chambers in his book on one of Widcombe’s and Bath’s oldest streets.
His book covers the history, the buildings, some of the residents and the industries that have made this street as he puts it, “the very essence of every ancient English village distilled there.”
The author places the street and its most famous church in historical context explaining the area was originally a rural backdrop to Roman Bath where farms supplied the city with produce before the Anglo Saxons took on the task of farming the area. By then it seems the street may have been a track linking the farms before the Domesday Book records the thoroughfare.

The book charts the growth of the street as a country lane to a place of residence with its new residents of ‘clergy, the military, West Indian Plantation owners and from the colonial services.”
His notes on the oldest building, that of St Thomas the Becket Church includes the likelihood it was preceded by a wooden church pushing its likely date and that of the surrounding houses to Saxon England and who knows before that? Other notable buildings are covered including Widcombe Manor, 11 and 12 Church Street, the former pub The Hare and Hounds at number 5 and the New Inn – another pub that as the author notes was ‘the equivalent of the Widcombe Social Club’ which stood at the corner of Widcombe Hill and Church Street.
John Chambers lives in Widcombe Terrace, Church Street and is a Emeritus Professor of Clinical Cardiology at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals and King’s College London.
The publication of the book by John Chambers in collaboration with the Widcombe Association, follows a highly successful series of guided walks along the street, is based on his research.
A Walk Down Church Street, priced at £12, can be bought through the Widcombe Association’s website.
Harry Mottram

Bath Voice Monthly Newspaper is distributed free to thousands of homes and some supermarkets – distributed from the first of the month. Harry Mottram is the News Editor

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