Description of the area;
STROUD is a borough, market town, and parish, the principal of the Poor
Law Union to which it gives its name, containing, by the census of 1861, 9090,
and in 1871, 9957 inhabitants, with 3810 acres of land; in the deanery of
Stonehouse, archdeaconry of Gloucester, diocese of Gloucester and Bristol,
hundred of Bisley, East Gloucestershire, for which it is a polling place ; 1)
miles south from Gloucester, 12 north-west from Cirencestor, 14 south-west
from Cheltenham, 30 north-east from Bristol, and 102 from London, on the
Cheltenham and Swindon Junction of the Great Western Railway, near the
confluence of the Rivers Slade and Froom, the former of which falls into and
forms part of the latter near Walbridge, and on the Thames and Severn Canal,
commonly called the Stroud water Navigation, which commences at Framilode on
the River Severn, and joins the Thames and Severn Navigation at Walbridge, and
is navigable for barges of 75 tons burden.
This place was not mentioned in Domesday Book, as it then was a chapelry of the parish of Bisley, but by a deed of composition between the Rector of that parish, and the inhabitants of Stroud, in 1304, the church of the latter place was endowed, and it became a separate ecclesiastical district; and in 1360, it also became a separate and distinct parish for all civil purposes. But the boundaries of the two parishes appear to have been very dubious for several centuries, as in a deed of conveyance of freehold land in 1773, it is described as being in " Stroud or Bisley, or one of them." The name of the Town, according to Sir Robert Atkyns, the historian of Gloucestershire, appears to have been derived from the Saxon Strogd, which signifies scattered, although others have taken Stroud and Strand as synonymous, and that the houses being built on the banks of the River Froom gave that name to the place ; but this argument does not appear to have anything to bear it out, as there is nothing to show that any buildings originally stood close on the banks of the river, so that the Saxon derivation, which has gone through the various spellings of Strogd, Strode, Strod, Strowed, each word having the same meaning "Scattered," appears to be the correct one. In the deed of composition of 1304, above referred to, the inhabitants are called " habitatores capellae de Strode." The name of Stroudiwater has been applied to the Town as well as the River, but this is an error, as that term has never been used in any legal documents, either ancient or modern.
The district around Stroud varies considerably in subsoil, in consequence of its hilly nature, the Cotswold Scarp presenting an outcrop extending from the rocky beds of the great Oolite, through the Clays called Fuller's earth, the inferior Oolite rock, upper lias sand and clays ; the lower lands of the Severn valley extending over the lower lias. The town lies at the converging point of the Painswick, Slad, Brimscomb, or Chalford, (called "the Golden,") Nailsworth and Stonehouse valleys, on the slope of one of the Cotswold hills, the upper part of the town being 600 feet, and the lower part 123 feet above the mean sea level. The district generally is well watered, but varies in quantity and quality, according to the formation of the different strata ; the upper part of the town is supplied from the foot of the Fuller's earth beds, and is stored in two reservoirs, 613 feet above the sea level, the lower part being served from a spring called " Gaineys Well," which has a reservoir near the centre of the town. From its situation among the valleys this neighbourhood is exceedingly picturesque, embracing smiling hamlets, verdant meadows, and placid streams, and the admirers of beautiful scenery will do well to pay it a visit.
It is celebrated as being the centre of the manufacture of West of England cloths, all the neighbouring valleys teeming with the wealth produced by the manufacture of that article, which i.s noted as having been brought to a greater degree of perfection in this neighbourhood than in any other part of the kingdom. The scarlet dye is unrivalled, and it is supposed that there is some peculiarity in the water which gives it a richer or mellower tone than any other.
This parish is the centre of a Parliamentary borough, which was created by the Reform 15ill of 1832, and includes the parishes ofAvening, Bisley, Haywardsfield, Hors/ey, King Stanley, Leonard Stanley, Minchinhampton, Painswick, Pitclicomb, Randwick, Rodborough, Stonehouse, Stroud, and Woodchester, with portions of the parishes of Brookthorpe and Standish, returning two members to Parliament, and containing, by the census of 1861, 35,517 inhabitants, and 8,133 inhabited houses and in 1871, 38,610 inhabitants, and 8,644 inhabited houses. The town is under the government of a Local Board, consisting of 18 members, one-third retiring annually.
THE SUBSCRIPTION ROOMS, a noble building in George Street, was opened in 1834, the foundation stone having been laid on the 9th March in the previous year; it is 75 feet long by 57 feet wide, having a handsome south front; the large room which is used for public meetings, concerts, lectures, &c., is 70 feet long, 43 feet wide, and 23 feet high, with an open gallery 9 feet wide along the north side. There is a library and reading room, also two billiard rooms. Over the front is a large portico, on the top of which is a balcony, which is approached from the lecture room.
THE PEOPLE'S HALL, on Tower Hill, was erected in 1864, by Mr. Opie Rodway, at a cost of £443, and is used for general purposes of a philanthropic character.
THE TOWN HALL, formerly used as a market house, is an ancient stone building on the east side of the market place, which is supposed to have been built shortly before the year 1594. The magistrates hold their Petty Sessions here weekly on a Friday, and the meetings of the Local Board and the County Court are held monthly.
THE GENERAL HOSPITAL, recently erected near Trinity Church, at a cost of £7000, is a handsome building, containing all modern scientific requirements, with an adequate medical and surgical staff. The Hospital and Dispensary which have existed in George Street for nearly a century, having become too small for the requirements of the borough, this building has been substituted. The market day is on a Friday, and the corn market is held in a handsome building adjoining the Corn Hall Hotel, which was erected by the Charity Feoffees for the purpose. It is 46 feet long, 22 feet wide, and 20 feet high.
THE CHURCH, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was supposed to have been originally erected in the 14th century, probably within 50 years of the original endowment. It has been rebuilt with the exception of the tower and spi1 e, and the foundation stone of the present building was laid on the 6th November, 1866, by the late William Stanton, Esq., assisted by the late Paul Hawkins Fisher, Esq. It is a cruciform edifice, consisting of nave, with aisles terminated at the east ends by transepts, and a deep chancel, with chapels on the north and south sides. The tower and spire at the west end of the church are about 94 feet high, and contain a peal of 10 bells. The nave is 74 feet long, and 32 feet wide. The north aisle is 18 feet, and the south aisle 10 feet wide. The transepts are 19 feet long and 22 feet wide. The chapels are 25 feet long, and 18 feet, and 16 feet wide respectively. The porch is on the south side, and has a handsome doorway, with circular shafts and carved capitals. The vestry is 16 feet square, and stands on the south side of the chancel aisle and the east side of the south transept, and is lined with the oak panels from the organ gallery of the old church, inscribed with the original list of benefactions. The height of the nave to the apex of the roof is 46 feet. The nave is divided from the aisle and transepts by an arcade of five bays on each side, supported by circular pennant shafts, with curved cops and moulded bases, and is separated from the chancel by a low stone screen. There is a clerestory of 15 lights, forming a continuous arcade, supported by shafts of blue pennant stone. The pulpit is on the north side of the chancel arch, the Litany desk at the south-west side of the chancel, and the lectern in the centre of the chancel. The roof is of oak, covered with Broseley tiles, in blue and red. The floor is paved with Godwin's figured tiles. The chancel is raised 6 steps, 3 of blue pennant stone, and 3 of black Devonshire marble, with an additional step to the communion table. The floor is paved with encaustic tiles of appropriate designs ; it has a large window of 5 lights, over which on the outside is a finely modelled sculpture of the Agnus Dei The north aisle has 4 and the south aisle 3 two-light windows, with a three-light window at the west end of each. The aisles are carried through nearly to the west end of the chancel, forming two chancel arches, each having a 3-light window; on each side of the chancel are two arches, which open into the aisles, and are supported by 4 clustered shafts of red Devon-shire marble, round one of Painswick stone, each of their responds having two Devonshire red and black marble columns, round a central one of stone. There is a medallion between each of these arches, one representing Our Saviour washing the Disciples' feet, and the other His revealing himself to His Disciples after the resurrection. The organ chamber is on the north aisle of the chancel, and contains a noble instrument built by Nicholson of Worcester. Over the gable window of the south transept, on the outside, is a figure of St. Lawrence, which was designed and carved by the late Mr. Joshua Wall, sculptor, of this town, who also carved the Agnus Dei before mentioned, and almost all the sculptured work in the church. The pulpit is chiefly of Painswick stone, raised on 6 columns of black Devonshire marble, with a massive one of red Devonshire marble in the centre, all having richly carved capitals, between which are three white alabaster panels, carved with figures of St. Peter, St. James, and St. John preaching. It is also enriched with delicate inlays of varied designs, composed of polished colored precious marbles. The font has a base of Painswick stone, moulded and carved, having 4 red serpentine moulded shafts round a massive central one of filleted black Devonshire marble, supporting a square bowl of richly colored alabaster, highly polished, the whole stands on a platform of Devonhire marble. There are several stained glass windows. The seats are of English oak, all open, and will accommodate 1200 people.
In the churchyard are the remains of Lieut. Delmont, who was killed in a duel fought on the 14th August, 1807, between him and Leiut. Hazel. Both officers were members of a recruiting party then stationed here, and were great friends. During a walk they quarrelled in private conversation, no one ever knew at what; and the duel was arranged almost impromptu. Two horse pistols were borrowed at two different places by a third officer, who acted as second for both the principals. Leiut. Hazel took unfair advantage, firing before his time, and wounded Delmont in the side, from which he died in a few days. Hazel and the second quickly disappeared, and were never heard of in the neighbourhood afterwards. The affair created a great sensation for some time, and a funeral sermon was preached on the occasion by the Rev. Dr. Williams, the then curate.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, situated at Whitehall, is a chapel-of-ease. which was erected in 1839. The interior, with the exception of the vestibule, is 70 feet long, by 45 feet wide, with a gallery at the west end. The chancel, which is raised, is 26 feet wide, and 22 feet deep, having an-apse of 5 sides, each containing a lancet shaped window, and is divided from the body of the church by three lofty arches ; on the north side is the reading desk, and on the south side a handsome stone pulpit; under the centre arch is a large gilt eagle, which forms the lectern. There are several windows of stained glass.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH is a handsome Gothic edifice, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, belonging to the Dominican Order, which was erected in 1859. It consists of nave, aisles, and side chapel, and was erected from the designs of Mr. Charles Buckler, of Oxford.
THE CONVENT OF ST. ROSE, which adjoins the Roman Catholic Church, was founded in 1858, and was erected at the same time as the church, and enlarged in 1866. It is in the Gothic style, and was designed by Mr. Bucknall, late of Swansea. In connection with the convent is a class for preparing girls for domestic service, and a Creche has also been established for taking care of infants of poor women.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL, in Chapel Street, is a large building, originally erected about the year 1711, but lias been enlarged and restored from time to time, and claims to be the oldest Nonconformist place of worship in the town. There are large school rooms connected with it. There is also a chapel in Bedford Street, which was erected about 50 years ago, with schools attached.
THE BAPTIST CHAPEL, in John Street, was opened for public worship in 1824. The Congregationalists, Primitive Methodists, and Plymouth Brethren, have also places of worship here ; the latter of which was opened in 1852.
THE UNITARIAN CHAPEL lias lately been erected in Lansdown Road, and is a neat Gothic building, calculated to seat 200, and cost about £1200.
THE WESLEYAN CHAPEL, in Acre Street, was erected in the year 1763; it was originally octagonal in form, and was generally known by the name of the " Round House." It lias been enlarged from time to time and will now seat about 500 persons ; but being unequal to the requirements of the town, the Wesleyans are erecting a new chapel and schools in Castle Street.
There are British, Infant, National, Plymouth Brethren, and Undenominational Schools for children of both sexes.
THE CEMETERY on the new Bisley Road was opened on the 1 st September, 1856. It
contains 3 acres and 33 perches, and lies on the southern slope of Stroud Hill. It is
tastefully laid out, and has two mortuary chapels, with a spire 96 feet high between them.
"There are four ty things in the parish of Stroud, viz., UPPER or OVER LYPIATT,
"LOWER or NETHER LYPIATT, STEANBRIDGE, and PAKENHILL or PAGAN HILL.
"UPPER or OVER LYPIATT TITHING, sometimes called Lypiatt Superior and Over “Lypiatt, occupies a central position in the home portion of the parish, from its western " end upwards to' its junction with the parish of Bisley." LYPIATT PARK, the seat of John Edward Dorington, Esq., J.P., who is lord of the manor, is a house of considerable note, and reputed by local tradition to have been one of the meeting places of the concoctors of the Gunpowder Plot. A letter from Lord Monteagle addressed to Catesby at Lypiatt, is still extant. During the civil wars, the house, which then commanded the high road from Cirencester to Stroud, was twice besieged and taken, and still shews traces of the fights. In modern days its beautiful situation and architectural embellishments, ranging in date from the 13th to the 19th century, render it one of the most remarkable and attractive places in the neighbourhood.
"LOWER LYPIATT TITHING, sometimes called Nether Lypiatt and Lypiatt Inferior, " lies on the south side of Stroud Hill; and extends from Bowbridge to the extremity of " the parish on the east, and from Upper Lypiatt division down to the river Froom. lit "includes Thrupp and the hamlet of Brimscombe, which are the most picturesque parts " of the Stroud valley. The mansion is a large edifice, situated near the edge of a steep " rocky valley ; it was rebuilt by Judge Coxe, who resided there ; it is now occupied as a "farmhouse by Mr. Charles Ractliffe."
"STEANBRIDGE TITHING lies on the lower slope of the north-east side of Stroud hill, "between the tithing of Upper Lypiatt and the river Slade, and extends from Badbrook “on the west to its extremity in the rural hamlet of Elcombe on the east."
" PAKANHILL, or PAGENHILL TITHING, is in the outlying portion of the parish, " separated from the west side of its other part in the manner before described. It contains the considerable village of Pakenhill, situated about a mile from Stroud. This "village can still boast of a Maypole, as it has done from time immemorial; and probably " it is the only one in the county, or for many miles round it.''
WHITESHILL is an ecclesiastical district, including the hamlets of BREADSTREET, CALLOWELL, RUSCOMBE, and part of PAKENHILL, or PAGANHILL, which was formed in 1843, and contained by the census of 1861, 1516, and in 1871, 1584 inhabitants ; 1 mile from Stroud. The vicarage, in the incumbency of the Rev. Arthur C. C. Anstey, M.A., is valued at £110 per annum, with residence and two acres of glebe land, and is in the patronage of the Bishop of the diocese. The church, dedicated to Saint Paul, was erected in 1841; it is in the Norman style, and consists of nave and apsidal chancel, with tower and one bell. The interior of the chancel is adorned with Frescos of the Twelve Apostles, and nearly all the windows are of stained glass ; it contains about 600 sittings, 500 of which are free. The Independents have a place of worship at Ruscombe. There is a National School for children of both sexes.
BOWBRIDGE, BREADSTREET, CALLOWELL, RUSCOMBE, THRUPP, and WALBRIDGE, are hamlets of this parish.
DUDBRIDGE is a hamlet about 1 mile distant, partly in this parish and partly in those of-King Stanley, Rodborough, and Stonehouse, and contains cloth factories, iron foundries, and an elastic web manufactory.