St. Mary Tory, Bradford on Avon
The chapel of St Mary Tory (tor = hill) is magnificently placed on a terraced hillside overlooking the town. It is sometimes referred to as a hermitage and sometimes as a pilgrim chapel located, as it is, on the pilgrim route between Glastonbury and Malmesbury.
The building was viewed by Leland in the course of his ‘Itinerary’ in 1533. He noted that “There is a Chapelle on the highest Place of the Towne, as I entered.” Later, Aubrey, writing in the 17th century, called it the “finest hermitage I have seen in England; severall roomes and a very neate chapell of good freestone.” The mediæval building was restored in 1877. The derelict 15th century east window was replaced in 1999, and the story of the inspirational replacement designed by Mark Angus can be read whilst in the chapel. Like the Saxon Church of St Laurence, St Mary Tory is in the care and ownership of an ecumenical charity, the Saxon Church Trustees, and it is still used as a place of worship.
It is a place where many (non church-going) folk of a deep spirituality go to sit and to ‘be’. They come away feeling uplifted and inspired. There is something very ‘special’ about the beauty of the spot, the pilgrim history, and the way the building ‘speaks’ to you. The new East window is very inspiring and speaks to people in many different ways.
Open daily during daylight hours.
‘Contemplative Hour @ St Mary Tory’ every 1st Thursday of the month at 8 pm.
38 Tory, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1NN, United Kingdom
Grid Reference: ST 823 610
By car: From Bath/Trowbridge on the A363,
1) turn right/left onto the B3108 Winsley Road, and then left into Budbury, park and follow footpaths downhill;
or (2) above town centre, turn right/left into Newtown, park and follow footpaths uphill;
or (3) turn right/left at the bottom of the hill in the town centre, by the Swan Hotel, into Church Street. The Saxon Church is at the far end of Church Street on the right, and follow footpaths uphill beyond this.
By public transport (rail/bus): Bradford on Avon Station 7 minutes walk over footbridge to the Saxon Church. Buses stop in the town centre, near the station. Then as above.
Regret not suitable for disabled access – steep hillside and steps.
Nearest toilet facilities down the hill in St Margaret’s Car park (across the footbridge from the Saxon Church)
Small and peaceful garden with seats and stunning views southwards towards the White Horse (again regret no disabled access).
Plenty of refreshments available in Town Centre down the hill, and accommodation in Town Centre and locally.
Ideal for quiet days for individuals or groups – subject to lack of toilet facilities.
20 Benjamin Street
Bradford on Avon
Tel: 01225 308081