Bathampton - known variously as 'Caer Badon' (3000 BC); Hanton (AD 1086); Bathentuna ( 1292); Hampton (1327), and, Bath Hampton (1794). Earliest known records date back to the entry in the Doomsday Book. However recent excavations in the meadows (to the north of the parish) revealed occupation from the Iron Age through to the Roman and Mediaeval periods.
To the south Bathampton Downs is encircled by 'Caer Badon' an earthwork comprising ofa mound and ditch dating to the Iron Age -but as yet no evidence has been found to prove occupation -it is generally thought to have been used as a stock enclosure. The northern boundary of this earthwork is believed to have been utilised by the Romano-British as part of their 'Wansdyke'. Extensive Celtic field systems are much in evidence throughout the hill top and surrounding slopes. There is also evidence that the Romans quarried Bathampton Downs for building stone (Carboniferous Limestone- 'Bath Stone'), as did future generations during the 18th and 19th centuries. The stone here, however, was of poor quality and such enterprises were short lived.
Prior to the Reformation the lands and church belonged to the Prior and Convent of St Peter in Bath and a vicarage was ordained c 1317. Evidence of these early 'monastic' days can be seen in the fish ponds that still exist. The parish church of St Nicholas, whilst reported to have Norman foundations is much rebuilt and altered. The Trefoil Cross, on the east end of the Chancel Roof, is from the original monastic Tithe Barn. Information on the historic Australia Chapel can be found here.
The Manor has belonged variously to the Hungerfords; Pophams; Bassetts and Holders. From 1737 the manor belonged to Ralph Allen to whom we owe much for the Postal System and the promotion of Bath Stone which, in turn, led to the creation of the famous Georgian buildings in the City of Bath and elsewhere. Although it is highly probable that he never lived here -preferring his town houses. He placed his brother as Lord of the Manor and it stayed in the possession of descendants of the Allen family until 1921 when the estate was sold. The house was later converted for use as a Residential Home.
The River Avon forms the northern and eastern boundaries to the parish and its flood plain gave rise to the once famous fertile meadows, whilst the Downs provided excellent sheep feed. Sadly today's farming activities are much reduced. There were five working farms within the 932 acres but any farming activity is now carried out by absentee landlords and the Down is covered by a golf course. Both the Kennet and A von Canal and the Great Western Railway pass through the parish.
In 1791 the village is recorded as having 28 houses, whilst the 1871 census shows 71 houses and a population of 387 and that of 1891 shows 87 houses and a population of 402. The main development, as we see it today, was brought about by the final dispersal of the manorial estate in 1921. By 1971 the population had grown to 1,615 and at the beginning of the third Millennium totalled around 1800. There are many famous names associated with the village including Rear Admiral Phillips, Viscount du Barry, William Harbutt, Sir Roderick Murchison and Walter Sickert to name but a few. The canal was first projected in 1796 and was built by John Rennie in 1810. Brunel’s Great Western Railway was cut through the parish in 1839-40.
Bear Flat is an area of Bath, to the south of the city centre and to the west of Beechen Cliff (a hill and beauty spot which features in Jane Austen’s Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey). The Wellsway road (A367) to Shepton Mallet, runs through Bear Flat, forming part of the ancient British Roman Fosse Way. This was originally the main pilgrimage route from Bath and its abbey, to the nearby ecclesiastical centres of Wells and Glastonbury.
Bath is a hilly city and the term 'Flat' may be derived from the way the district is defined by a short plateau at the top of the steep Wells Road and Holloway routes out of the city centre, which forms the local business district. ‘ ear' has nothing to do with the animal but is believed to be a contraction of an Anglo-Saxon name 'Berewick' - 'Bere' meaning Barley and 'Wick' being a settlement - a settlement near a barley field. Such a field would have been part of Barrack Farm, which was located in the area but demolished in the 19th century to make way for housing. Physical evidence of the former farm exists at the top of the Wellsway at Odd Down with a pair of houses known as Barrack Farm Cottages.
To reach Bear Flat from the centre of Bath, the original route was up the steep street of Holloway (either the 'holy way', or a way hollowed out as it climbs around the shoulder of Beechen Cliff). Holloway was a possible southern route of the Fosse Way out of Bath and has a 14th-century pilgrims' church, the Magdalen Chapel and well (recently restored but without water). To the north of the chapel is the eighteenth century Magdalen Cottage, a former leper hospital but now a private dwelling. In the nineteenth century, another route out of the city centre to Bear Flat was constructed, an early example of a by-pass with slightly gentler slope. Now called Wells Road, the route was named on some early maps simply as the Wells-Exeter Road. Holloway has been closed to traffic at the northern end since the late 1960s, when the area was extensively and quite controversially redeveloped during a period in the immediate post war decades known as The Sack of Bath. Vehicles now take the Wells Road out of Bath towards Radstock, while pedestrians and cyclists can still follow Holloway up the hill.
At the top of the hill to the east of Bear Flat is Alexandra Park, which affords fine views over the city. This was opened in 1903 and named in honour of Queen Alexandra. Alongside Alexandra Park is Beechen Cliff School. Further to the east runs the Widcombe valley, once a parish outside the city of Bath. It is characterised by its Georgian buildings. To the south is the deep wooded valley of Lyncombe Vale. This was formerly the route of the Bath branch of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, and the Combe Down Tunnel which at 1700 metres in length was reputed to be the longest unventilated rail tunnel in Britain. This tunnel, together with the shorter Devonshire Tunnel, were both reopened as part of the Two Tunnels Greenway on 6 April 2013 forming part of the National Cycle Network NCR244.