Gloucestershire XI

Edited by: 
N. M. Herbert
First Published: 
1 January, 1979

The volume covers the 18 parishes of the Cotswold hundreds of Bisley and Longtree and includes the market towns of Stroud, Tetbury, Painswick, and Minchinhampton. In the deep valleys centred on Stroud the cloth industry was the shaping force, adding interest and complexity to the story of even the smaller parishes like Rodborough and Woodchester. There, where the cloth-mills clustered thickly along the valleys, a closely knit society of clothier families played the leading role while humbler cloth-workers swelled the population, establishing new villages around the commons of Bisley and Minchinhampton and elsewhere in the area. In the early 19th century the factory system concentrated the cloth industry in fewer and larger mills but new industries like iron--founding, stick-making, and silk-throwing moved in, and local industry continued to expand and diversify in the 20th century. Painswick and Minchinhampton, medieval market towns, were eventually outstripped by the newer town of Stroud which ex-panded considerably in the 19thcentury under the influence of the railway and a new system of turnpike roads built along the valleys. The nonconformist churches, par-ticularly at Nailsworth, were important, and in the 19th century Woodchester became a centre of Roman Catholicism and Bisley a stronghold of the Oxford Movement. Outside the valleys the two hundreds took in a less populous area of high, arid downland where, in parishes like Horsley and Rod-marton, monastic owners once farmed sheep on a considerable scale and landowning families like the Ducies, Estcourts, Coxes, and Stephenses long remained dominant. Tetbury, made a borough about 1200, later derived prosperity from its wool-market and wool-stapling industry and, like Painswick, survives as a fine example of the Cotswold stone-built town. Altogether the area has a rich variety of domestic architecture, in-cluding ancient manor-houses like Daneway and Chavenage, the numerous 17th- and 18th-century houses of the clothiers, two notable Victorian mansions at Westonbirt and Woodchester, and the early-20th-cen-tury Rodmarton Manor built by members of the Arts and Crafts group who settled at Sapperton.