STROUD is a market and union town, head of a petty sessional division and county court district, and is situated near the rivulets Slade and Frome and intersected by the Thames and Severn canal; it is 10 miles south from Gloucester, 13 south-west from Cheltenham, 30 north-east from Bristol, 12 north-west from Cirencester and 102 from London, with a station on the Swindon and Gloucester branch of the Great Western railway, and a station on a branch from Stonehouse on the Bristol and Birmingham section of the Midland railway, in the Mid division of the county, Bisley hundred, rural deanery of Bisley, arch deaconry of Gloucester and diocese of Gloucester and Bristol. Stroud originally formed part of the parish of Bisley, but was separated from it in the reign of Edward II The borough formerly returned two members to Parliament but under the provisions of the “ Redistribution of Seat Act, 1885,” it was merged in the Stroud or Mid-Gloucester shire division.
Stroud, from its position on the side of a spur of the Cotswold Hills, is a long and straggling town, commanding varied and extensive views, and the neighbourhood comprises many points of interest. The town is not incorporated, but it is governed by a Local Board of Health of 18 members, established in 1857 and elected by the rate payers, one-third retiring annually. Under the direction of the Board a system of drainage has been completed, at a cost of nearly £9,000 : sewage works have been constructed at the outfall, on the bank of the canal, and the solid sewage is sold in a prepared form as manure. The waterworks now the property of the Board, afford an ample supply of pure water, which is conveyed into three reservoirs, two at the upper and the other at the lower portion of the town in 1884 a new covered reservoir was constructed at a cost of £4,000, and will hold 2,250,000 gallons. The gasworks established in 1833, and belonging to a private company supply a large area, some parts of which are six or eight miles distant.
The parish church of St. Lawrence, rebuilt with the exception of the tower and spire in 1868, at a cost of about £14,000, is an edifice of Bisley stone, with dressings and internal work of Bath and Painswick stone, in the Gothic style of the 14th century, from the designs of Messrs. Wilson and Wilcox, architects, of Bath, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, transept, aisles, sacristy, south porch and a western tower with spire containing 10 bells, and a clock with chimes ; all the fittings are of English oak there are several stained windows given by the families in the neighbourhood, and one by the children of the parish the. pulpit and font are executed chiefly in alabaster and Painswick stone, with inlays of rich marbles; the principal carvings were executed by the late Joshua Wall, a talented local sculptor : the foundation stone was laid by the late W. H. Stanton esq. November 7, 1866, and the church was consecrated August 4,1868, by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol: there are 1,000 sittings, of which 800 are free. The register dates from the year 1624. The living is a vicarage, average tithe rent-charge £52, net yearly value £265, with 55 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and held since 1892 by the Rev. George Fox ll.b. of the University of London and surrogate.
Holy Trinity is an ecclesiastical parish, formed March 4, 1879, and includes the upper part of the town and the district of Thrupp. The church at Whitehall, erected in 1838, is an edifice of stone in the Early English style, consisting of apsidal chancel, nave and two small turrets at the west end, one of which contains 1 bell; in 1883 the chancel was decorated and a new organ erected at a cost of £500; during 1884 the nave was re-seated, decorated, partly re-floored and new windows put in at a cost of £1,000 : there are 900 sittings, 400 of which are free. The register dates from the year 1879. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £394, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and held since 1879 by the Rev. Edward Hugh Hawkins b.a. of Trinity College, Dublin: the vicarage house, in Whitehall, was presented in 1882 by the Rev. G. T. B. Ormerod m.a. of Stroud. The population in 1891 was 4,692.
The church of All Saints at Thrupp, a chapel of ease to Holy Trinity, was erected in 1889 at a cost of £1,000, and is a structure of iron, roofed with heather and surrounded by trees and shrubs; there is a good organ, and the church will seat 250 persons. The Rev. Archibald Owen Trotter b.a. curate, is in charge of the Thrupp district.
In connection with Holy Trinity church are parish rooms, erected in 1884 at a cost of ,£2,500, from the designs of Mr. William H. C. Fisher, of Stroud ; these were the gift of the Rev. G. T. B. Ormerod m.a. of Stroud, and are used for Sunday school and other purposes.
All Saints, Stroud End, Uplands, is an iron church originally built, by private generosity, for the use of the inhabitants living adjacent, and for the workpeople employed at the mills near it, but the district in which it stands has been incorporated as part of the ecclesiastical parish of the Slad, formed December 17, 1844, of which the Rev. W. B. Broughton m.a. is vicar; it will seat 350 persons, and with the exception of 50 all the sittings are free.
The Catholic church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, built by the Dominicans, and opened by the late Cardinal Wiseman in 1859, is an edifice in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, east and west aisles, chapel of St. Lawrence and a spacious sacristy : in 1887 representations of the 14 “Stations of the Cross,” carved in stone with alabaster frames by Alfred Wall, of Cheltenham, were placed in the church, and three stained windows have been inserted : there are sittings for about 400 persons : the Very Rev. Wilfrid Lescher O.P. is the resident priest. The Dominican convent of St. Rose of Lima consists of a community of choir and lay sisters, who are engaged in teaching and visiting the sick and poor : a new chapel was erected in 1889 : a boarding school for young ladies and a school for children of the middle classes are maintained in the convent: chaplain, Rev. Bernard Sears O.P. The Presbytery ; lady prioress, Sister Teresa. There are two branch houses belonging to this convent, one at Clifton, Bristol, and the other at Newcastle-on-Tyne, The sisters of this convent also teach in the Mission schools attached to the church.
In the town are two Congregational chapels, one in Old Chapel street, with 650 sittings, and the other in Bedford street, seating 600 ; a Baptist chapel, seating 750 persons ; a Wesleyan chapel, with 750 sittings ; a Primitive Methodist, with 400 sittings ; and a Unitarian chapel, with 400 sittings ; the Brethren have three rooms, and there is a Jewish synagogue.
The Cemetery, in Bisley road, on elevated and sloping ground near the union house, was formed in 1855 and enlarged in 1870 ; the whole covers an area of 9 acres, and is under the control of a Burial Board of 8 members. There are two mortuary chapels.
The Town Hall, first erected at the end of the 16th century, in the Market place, is a building in the Elizabethan style; the hall itself was thoroughly restored in 1865 and will hold 300 persons. The County Court and also the meetings of the Local Board of Health are held here.
The Subscription Rooms, in George street, built in 1834, include a large room used for lectures, public meetings, dinners and entertainments, and will hold 1,000 persons. The Stroud Club occupy the remainder of the premises.
The Lansdown Hall, in Lansdown, erected in 1879, at a total cost of .£2,500, includes a large lecture room and two smaller rooms.
A new Post Office was erected in Russell street in 1885. The Capital and Counties Bank Limited, stands in High street. The premises of the County of Gloucester Bank Limited are in Rowcroft, and Lloyd’s Bank Limited, is in George street.
The Gloucestershire Incorporated Chamber of Commerce has a branch here.
Badbrook Hall, opened in 1869, includes a large room for lectures and concerts, and has also a good reading room, supplied with daily and weekly newspapers and magazines. Here also the Conservative Association has its offices and holds its meetings.
The Free Library, opened September 15, 1888, is a handsome building of stone in Lansdown, consisting of news and reading rooms and a library containing over 3,000 volumes. The building was presented to the town by the late J. G. Strachan esq. j.p. of Farm Hill Park, who also defrayed the cost of structural alterations, the remainder of the necessary funds being raised by subscriptions.
The district of Stroud is the principal seat of the West of England cloth manufacture, the goods produced here being widely celebrated. There are a large number of very extensive mills, owned by wealthy manufacturers, and employing several thousand hands ; the broad cloth produced is celebrated all over the world, and the report of the jurors of the International Exhibition gave it the preference over all rivals. Scarlet dyeing has also, from time immemorial, been a speciality of this valley, the water being believed to possess some peculiarity which imparts a tone of colour unequalled elsewhere. The factories and dyehouses are clustered in the valleys of Stroud, Chalford, Nailsworth, Stanley and Ebley. Extensive breweries, flour mills, iron foundries, logwood rushing mills, shawl, pin, umbrella and parasol stick factories and several saw mills are also maintained, and a large business, employing some thousands of hands, is done in the wholesale clothing trade.
The market is held on Fridays ; there is also a monthly market held on the 3rd Tuesday in the month, and two annual fairs are held on May 10th and August 2ist.
The “ Stroud News and Gloucestershire Advertiser “ was established in 1867, and is published every Friday.
The “ Stroud Journal” was established in 1854, and is published every Friday.
The “ Citizen,” an evening newspaper, has a branch office in London road, where the paper is published daily, but it is printed in Gloucester.
The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society has a branch here.
Stroud General Hospital, near Trinity church, is an edifice erected in 1875 at a cost of £8,754, and takes the place of the old hospital and infirmary, which formerly existed in George street, and was founded in 1790 : the institution, with the exception of a small nucleus of invested funds, is supported by voluntary contributions ; it is available for 30 patients. .During the year 1893, 318 in-patients and 2,848 out-patients were under treatment.
The charities, amounting to about £600 a year, are applied to the repairs of the parish church and the education and maintenance of poor boys and the relief of the poor.
Lypiatt Park is now the seat of Sir John Edward Dorington bart. m.p., m.a., d.l., j.p. who is lord of the manor and chairman of the county council : the mansion, an ancient and celebrated edifice, formerly possessed by the Throckmortons, is said to be one of the places where the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot held their meetings ; a
letter is still extant addressed to Robert Catesbye at Lypiatt from William Parker, Lord Monteagle, and supposed to refer to this plot. Stratford Park is now the residence of John Cottrell Strudwick esq. ; the mansion is a noble building of stone on an eminence surrounded by well-timbered grounds and shrubberies, which also contain a fine sheet of water. The Grove is a handsome mansion in the Gothic style, erected in 1846 by William Capel esq. father of the present owner, Major Capel, and is now in the occupation of Gen. Alfred Butler Little j.p. ; the grounds arc small, but display much taste : on the north side is a fine plantation. Brown’s Hill Court is the property of William Carruthers Wathen esq, but now in the occupation of Miss Winscombe ; the house consists of a central block with two wings, and has well laid-out grounds, shrubberies, and some fine timber.
The principal landowners are Sir John Edward Dorington bart. m.p., m.a., d.l., j.p. of Lypiatt Park ; the trustees of the late Henry Wyatt esq. Major William Capel and Mrs. Holloway.
The area of the parish is 3,731 acres; rateable value, £43,525 the population in 1891 was, Local Board district, 9,818, including 221 officers and inmates in the Workhouse and 24 in the Hospital; parish, 11,519.
For Cainscross and bulky, see Cainscross ; and for Pakenhill, see Whiteshill.
Under the Divided Parishes Act portions of Stroud have been transferred to the parishes of Bisley, Randwick, Standish and Stonehouse, and portions of the parishes of Rand-wick and Standish added to Stroud.