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St Laurence Church: Top attraction in Bradford on Avon

Taxing Tales: Ancient Buildings & Windows

Welcome to the historic St Laurence Church in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK! Prepare to embark on a journey through time as you explore this remarkable architectural gem. 

Historic Saxon St Laurence Church in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, best day trips from London min

A perfect Day Trip from London

As you step into St Laurence Church, you’ll be transported back in time. This enchanting place of worship boasts a history dating back to the Saxon period, making it one of the oldest surviving churches in the region. Its ancient origins lend an air of mystery and grandeur to your experience.

Take a moment to admire the intricate Saxon carvings adorning the walls, providing glimpses into the artistic craftsmanship of centuries past. Look closely, and you might spot the stone relief of St Laurence himself, the patron saint of the church, etched in stone, a testament to its enduring significance.

As you wander through the church, you’ll notice a captivating blend of architectural styles. From the Norman influences to the elegant Early English Gothic tower that reaches towards the sky, every corner reveals a different facet of its long history. Marvel at the striking Perpendicular Gothic additions that grace the nave and chancel, with their intricate details and breathtaking stained glass windows.

Make sure not to miss the magnificent Jesse Window, a true masterpiece of 15th-century stained glass artistry. Its vibrant hues and intricate designs depict the lineage of Jesus Christ, taking you on a visual journey through the generations.

Don’t forget to crane your neck and gaze up at the awe-inspiring bell tower. Standing tall at 147 feet, it’s a testament to the skill and vision of the medieval builders. Close your eyes, and you can almost hear the resonant melodies emanating from the eight bells that call the faithful to worship.

While exploring the church, take a leisurely stroll through the historic graveyard surrounding it. Pause to read the weathered tombstones and absorb the stories of generations past, leaving you with a sense of connection to those who came before.

St Laurence Church is not just a relic of the past—it’s a living, breathing part of the community. Feel the warmth of the local congregation as they gather for worship and participate in the rich cultural and social events hosted within these hallowed walls.

Taxing Tales

Historic Saxon St Laurence Church in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, bricked up windows, tax avoidance min

The Window Tax was implemented in England, Scotland, and Wales by the respective governments of those regions. In England, the tax was introduced during the reign of King William III and Queen Mary II in 1696. It was enacted by the British Parliament as a means of generating revenue for the government. Legend has it that it is during this period that the phrase “daylight robbery” was coined because it was seen as a way for the government to unfairly extract money from its citizens during daylight hours.

The tax was subsequently maintained and adjusted by subsequent monarchs and governments over the years. It remained in effect until it was repealed in 1851 during the reign of Queen Victoria.

As mentioned before, the Window Tax was primarily implemented in England, Scotland, and Wales. It was a specific tax imposed by the governments of those regions. However, similar forms of taxation on windows or light have been recorded in other countries as well, although not necessarily under the exact name or structure of the Window Tax.

For example, France had a similar tax called “la taxe des portes et fenêtres” (tax on doors and windows) during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was introduced by King Louis XIV in the late 17th century and continued until the early 20th century. This tax was based on the number of doors and windows a property had.

In other parts of Europe, various forms of window or light taxes were implemented at different times in history. These taxes were often intended to generate revenue for the government or to regulate the use of windows and light.

St Laurence's Church - A victim of Windows Tax?

Historic Saxon St Laurence Church in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, windows tax min

As you explore St Laurence Church, keep an eye out for an intriguing detail that speaks to a historical quirk—the bricked up windows. During the time when the Window Tax was in effect, property owners sought clever ways to minimize their tax burden. Some buildings, including churches, resorted to bricking up or partially blocking windows to reduce the number subject to taxation.

St Laurence Church, with its long history spanning centuries, may have undergone similar alterations. These remnants of the past serve as a tangible reminder of the Window Tax and its impact on architecture and society. Take a moment to contemplate the ingenuity of those who devised such measures to navigate the tax system.

These bricked-up windows provide a unique glimpse into the practical challenges faced by property owners of that era, making your visit to St Laurence Church all the more intriguing. They serve as a tangible connection to the past and a reminder of the creative solutions people devised to navigate the complexities of taxation.

So, as you wander through the church, take a closer look at the windows, and you may just discover some bricked-up remnants that whisper stories of a bygone era. It’s these intriguing details that bring history to life and make your visit to St Laurence Church all the more fascinating.

Travel Tip(s)

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