Atworth Wiltshire lies 7 miles East of Bath, and 5 miles north east of Bradford on Avon . Since the early 19th Century the town has always been listed on Ordnance Survey maps as Atworth, but on 18th Century maps it was sometimes listed as Atworth and sometimes as Atford (or both) and the names seemed to be interchangeable.
It is one of the many locations where members of the Underwood family have lived.
Nineteen year old John Underwood married ann Stone at Atworth Wiltshire in 1813, and two of there children were born there. George Underwood was born there in 1819, and his brother Joseph Underwood was born there in 1823. Thirty year old John was buried there in 1824.
History of Atworth Wiltshire
The following description of Atworth Wiltshire is taken from the 1953 7th Volume of ‘A History of the County of Wiltshire‘
The tithing of ATWORTH formed the north-east corner of the ancient parish of Bradford. Its northern boundary was the course of the Roman road and Wansdyke, and to the east lay the parishes of Melksham and Broughton Gifford. The parish of Great Chalfield, now part of the parish of Atworth, lay to the south. The tithing was equivalent to rather more than half the area of the modern parish of Atworth. Its exact extent probably varied through its history. In the early 19th century Cottles was usually classed with Little Chalfield as extra-parochial, but it was certainly part of the parish of Bradford in the Middle Ages.
The land in the tithing varies between 210 and 320 ft. above sea-level, sloping to the north-west. The southern part of Neston Park is in Atworth, and adjoining it is Cottles Wood. Cottles House, ½ mile south of the wood, stands in Cottles Park, and is now a private school for girls. The village of Atworth lies in the north-east of the modern parish, straggling along the main road from Box to Melksham (A 365). In the centre of the village this road is crossed by a minor road from Neston to Bradford Leigh.
Historical Description of Atworth Wiltshire
The following description of Atworth Wiltshire has been created from the thumbnail history on the Wiltshire Community History website.
The modern civil parish of Atworth was formed in 1884. It consists of Atworth (formerly a tything of Bradford on Avon), and the parishes of Great and Little Chalfield, plus Cottles. Atworth’s northern boundary follows the course of the Roman road and Wansdyke. This boundary is also part of the local government boundary dividing West Wiltshire from North Wiltshire.
The soil in this area lies on a thin layer of limestone over Oxford clay. It is fairly easy to drill through the limestone and tap the water lying on the surface of the clay underneath. Water has always been readily available in the village. At one time there were 76 wells and six public water pumps in the parish.
The name Atworth has had various spellings down the centuries, examples being Ateforde, Attewarde and Ateworthe, meaning ‘Aetta’s farmstead’. The modern spelling was established as late as 1858. Chalfield refers to a ‘cold or exposed open space’, and Cottles (or Cotel) is an old family name.
A chapel dedicated to St Michael was first built here c.1070. Its nave was partially destroyed by fire during the 12th century and subsequently rebuilt. In 1451 the whole church was rebuilt and enlarged, the existing tower being all that remains of this building. By 1831 the old church was in very poor condition and it was decided to demolish all of it except the tower. The new ashlar church was built the following year and looks very chapel-like inside. All Saints church at Great Chalfield is approached through the gatehouse to Great Chalfield Manor. It originates from the early 14th century, when it consisted of a chancel and nave. In c1480 the chancel was rebuilt and a chapel added. Further alterations took place in 1775.
Non Conformist worshippers have been served by three chapels over the years, but only one remains. The Congregational or Independent Church was built c.1790. Although unable to support its own pastor since 1816 the church continues to be served by visiting preachers. The Baptist Ebenezer chapel opened in 1864. Its congregation was always small, but it remained active until 1979. It is now a private house. There was also a Free Church in Atworth. It is mentioned in Kelly’s directory for 1907 but had gone by 1956.
Atworth is rich in listed buildings, with many houses, cottages and farmhouses dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest farmhouse is at Poplar Farm on Bradford Road. This dates from the 15th century, although it was extensively altered in the 18th century. One of the farm buildings contains a pigeon loft and is now home to Atworth Museum. One of the oldest cottages is also along the Bradford Road. Built c.1650 it was originally The Three Horseshoes Inn and later became a forge. Another listed inn is The White Hart on the Bath Road which is late 18th century.
As Atworth was originally a tything of Bradford-on-Avon it has no entry of its own in the Domesday Book. The first figure we have for Atworth is the Poll Tax for 1377, when 57 people, aged over 14 years were recorded. In 1428 the village appeared on a list of parishes with less than ten households.
The land was farmed intensively and the amount of land under cultivation was increasing all the time. Expansion continued until the 18th and early 19th centuries, when the wool trade brought increasing prosperity. The population in 1811 was 549, rising to 824 in 1841. In 1891 the figure was 676. In 1885 the new parish of Atworth was created. The 1891 figure therefore included Great and Little Chalfield, giving a population for the whole parish of 767. Mains water did not arrive until the 1930s. Prior to this the villagers relied on the plentiful supply of wells and water pumps. Electricity was brought to the village of Atworth Wiltshire in 1933.