Click here for Trowbridge’s Magna Carta baron Henry de Bohun
Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, it is situated on the River Biss in the west of the county, approximately 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Bath, Somerset. Trowbridge has ancient roots, having first been mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Straburg’.
The de Bohun family were to shape the Medieval centre of the town, building the Castle sometime in the early years of the 12th century. Henry de Bohun, the Magna Carta enforcer, did much to develop the town, obtaining a Market Charter for the town in 1200, laying out its market place and also building the first St James Church.
Weaving has taken place in the town for over a thousand years with loom weights found in the Anglo-Saxon excavations. The town was a centre for pr oducing woollen cloth from the 14th century.
In the 17th century the town became a centre for the production of medley or Spanish cloth and according to Daniel Defoe “the finest medley Spanish cloths, not in England but in the whole world are made” in the area. Fine clothiers’ houses were built in the town through the wealth generated by this cloth.
In the nineteenth century mechanisation and cloth mills changed the town, leading to it being described as the “Manchester of the West“. The Woollen Industry has left a rich and notable architectural legacy, ranging from the late sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, which according to English Heritage “is a quite exceptional chronological range for industrial buildings in a town centre.”
Trowbridge was supplying high quality cloth into the twentieth century including to Queen Mary and Edward VIII. Also the Trowbridge mill of Palmer and Mackay supplied our present Queen with Culloden tartan for the Trooping of the Colour.
Despite its significant heritage, Trowbridge is still firmly rooted in the present and has leisure and arts activities and facilities to meet the demands of the 21st century. Its Civic Centre runs a diverse programme of events and a multi-screen Odeon offers the latest cinematic blockbusters. The town’s park is the focal point for an exceptional Armed Forces Weekend, a Sports Festival and Country Fayre during the summer months. Residents take pride in their town and Trowbridge has won gold medals in successive years in the South West in Bloom competition.
Trowbridge has a thriving arts scene which includes an annual Arts Festival, the biennial Cloth Road Arts event, which alternates with the Museum’s Textile and Weaving Festival, and a state-of-the-art library.
With its diverse independent shops, national chains and regular high quality markets, widespread cheap parking and excellent public transport links, Trowbridge draws shoppers from a wide area.
Nearby can be found the World Heritage sites of Bath, Avebury and Stonehenge and also the cathedral city of Salisbury where one of only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta resides.
With thanks to Trowbridge Town Council for its text and photographs.