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About the Parish of Bratton and its Church
The Parish of Bratton is situated on the northern edge of the Salisbury Plain. It includes a series of beautiful coombes, some wooded, which includes the Parish Church of St. James, and the village of Bratton itself.
The parish is of interest to historians, ramblers, artists and people with an interest in outdoor pursuits.
Historians have a wealth of things to interest them. The Bratton White Horse, the oldest of the area’s White Horses, marks the Western-most boundary of the Benefice of Bratton, Edington and Imber, Erlestoke and Coulston. It was carved into the chalk hillside, and first appeared in literature in 1742. Far older are the large ramparts and ditches of Bratton Castle (Camp) which is an ancient Hillfort, one of many created in the early first millennium BC between the end of the Bronze Age and the start of the Iron Age. Within the extensive fortifications there would have been roundhouses, granaries, stores and workshops. Located within the 23 acres of the Castle/Camp on Bratton Down are three Barrows: one Long Barrow, a Bowl barrow and a short Round Barrow. The Long Barrow is from the New Stone Age. Roman and Saxon coins have been found in the area.
Also located on Bratton Down is a marker stone for the Battle of Ethandun in 878AD. This battle was Alfred the Great’s most significant victory over the Danes, which ultimately brought about the Treaty of Wedmore that year, and the establishment of the English nation.
The Church of St James is a plague church, originally constructed to serve the inhabitants of a hamlet called Little Stoke, in the coombe between Bratton Castle and St James’, but which was abandoned due to the Black Death, and its effects, during the 1340s-60s. It is nowadays an active church serving the nearby village of Bratton. (See below for more details of the church). St James’ is largely of 13th Century origin, and is constructed in the Early English Gothic architectural style, with some later additions. It is open to visitors during daylight hours, and there are guidebooks, Spiritual Walks and activities for children to undertake.
Naturalists and Ramblers are bound to find the varied scenery and habitats of interest, and many rare species from the Protected areas of the Salisbury Plains are to be found on Bratton Down and other places within the parish. Bratton Down as a whole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is noted for rare chalkland plants, butterflies and moths. There are walks to St James’ Church from both the village of Bratton and from the White Horse/Bratton Castle area, passing through woodland and by the side of chalkland streams.
People with an interest in the outdoors may be interested in the paragliding and kite flying that takes place in the area.
We hope you enjoy your visit to St James’ Church and the Parish of Bratton!
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