Tuesday, 12 August 2014


The cathedral city of Gloucester sits on the River Severn. Formerly a Roman fortified port, artificial docks were connected by a ship canal to the Severn mouth in the early 19th century. Many of the dock s and buildings are now given over to the leisure industry.

Mineral springs were first discovered at Cheltenham in the late 18th century and the town gained its elegance when high society went there to take the waters with King George 111 leading the way.
Set in a spacious park the delightful Pittville Pump Room (1825-30) was modelled on the Greek Temple of Ilissos in Athens and still dispenses spa water.


The lovely park has sweeping lawns and tree surrounded lakes.

In keeping with most spa towns Cheltenham has many open spaces
surrounding the town.

Several of these elegant Victorian post boxes can be seen around the town

The modern Regency Arcade has a star attraction in the shape of a fantasy clock by Kit Williams. On the hour, a fish blows bubbles over onlooker's head's.

The former sheep market town of Stowe-on the Wold to the east of Cheltenham, is the highest town in the Cotswolds at the junction of six roads.


Bourton-on-the-Water further south on the River Windrush is one of the prettiest villages in the area.

This village pub, The Cheese Rollers, at Shurdington south of Cheltenham is close to Cooper’s Hill and reminds us of  a strange contest which takes place each year at May Bank Holiday and has done so for at least 200 years. Quite simply, a 7lb double Gloucester cheese is rolled down this very steep grassy hill to be chased by the competitors. It is said that the slope has a gradient that is in places 1 in 2 and in others 1 in 1, its surface being very rough and uneven and it is almost impossible to remain on foot during the decent.  Although the aim is to catch the cheese which reaches a speed of up to 70 mph, this is not likely to be achieved and the winner is the one who reaches the finishing line first, with the cheese being the prize. The event has been summarised as “ twenty young men chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital.”  Sprained ankles, broken bones and concussion are the usual injuries but the event remains ever popular attracting competitors from all over the world.


In the churchyard at nearby Painswick there are at least 99 yew trees which were planted around 1792.   It is said that attempts to grow the one hundredth tree have always failed.

Alongside the churchyard wall are unusual metal 'spectacle' stocks.

Stroud is an old cloth town in the Cotswolds.
There are two interesting graves in the churchyard.
John Hollins from Stroud had  an argument with a former friend who announced publicly that he hoped to live long enough to see Hollins ‘safe underground’.  Hollins did indeed die first, but to thwart his adversary, he left instructions that he should not be buried underground but that his coffin should be left on the surface and covered with a pile of stones. The grave and tiered pile of stones can still be seen in St Lawrence’s churchyard..


In 1807 21 years old Lt. Joseph Delmont was killed in a duel in Stroud, by fellow soldier Benjamin Heazle. The nature of the argument is not known. It is believed that Delmont was the last man to die in Britain in this way. He was buried in the churchyard of St Laurence’s where a flat stone marks his grave.

In 1766, The Bear Inn at Bisley near Stroud moved its business from its former building where it had been trading since 1639, to its present location in a very fine Tudor building in George Street. This building was formerly the village court house with five columns supporting the upper floor at the front of the building. It retains many of its historic features.



The  ornate former village lock-up still stands nearby. It was built in 1824 and is now a Grade 11 listed building.


CIRENCESTER is the largest of the Cotswolds town’s dating back to Roman times when it was the second largest town in the country. The town was largely destroyed and rebuilt by the Saxon's.
Cirencester Park is on the very edge of the town centre. A superb example of early 18th century landscaping is is still owned by the family of the 1st Earl Bathurst for whom is was constructed. It is surrounded by a massive yew hedge said to be the tallest in the world.

The Cotswold District Council Offices in Trinity Road are now housed in buildings which formed part of the former town workhouse. Situated in the grounds with public access is the former town lock-up. This quirky oblong building of ashlar stone with a long domed roof has two separate cells and was built in Gloucester Road in 1804 by a local builder at a cost of some £60. It fell into disuse and in 1837 it was moved stone for stone to its present site where it was used as a ‘refractory ward’ by the workhouse.
Now fully restored it is a Grade 11 listed building.

This unique survival of a Grandstand and Deer Course on the Sherborne Park Estate east of Cirencester in the Cotswolds is now in the care of the National Trust.  It was created in 1634 by the gregarious owner of Sherborne House, John ‘Crump’ Dutton for the benefit of his guests.  The guests would be greeted at this fascinating stately grandstand where, after they had feasted, they would adjourn to the balcony or indeed the rooftop viewing area to gamble on the spectacle before them.
Deer coursing was a fast and furious sport which was popular with Henry V111.  The walled course at Lodge Park was one mile long and at the start a mongrel would ‘tease’ the fallow deer out onto the course to provoke a race.  Two powerful hounds would then compete in the chase along the course which narrowed from 200 to 90 metres. A ditch marked the finishing line, followed by a second ditch too wide for the hounds to leap, allowing the quarry to survive.   However, should one of the punters place a £20 bet, this would warrant a ‘fleshing course’ in other words a kill!


No comments: