A History of the County of Gloucester

A History of the County of Gloucester

Volume VII: Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds

Edited by N. M. Herbert

This volume contains the histories of the 22 parishes in the hundreds of Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate, extending from the Cotswold escarpment above Gloucester to the Thames at Lechlade and including much of the Churn, Coln, and Leach valleys. Although Cranham and Chedworth parishes had extensive ancient beechwoods and Kempsford and Lechlade wide meadows bordering the Thames, most of the area was formerly one of traditional Cotswold agriculture based on large open fields and downland sheep-pastures. After enclosure large sheep-farms grew turnips and grass leys, but the late- 19th-century depression caused many to be taken in hand and converted to new uses like dairying. Pockets of industry included cloth-mills in Bibury and elsewhere, a paper-mill at Quenington, and potteries at Cranham. The towns of Fairford and Lechlade did not develop industrially, serving mainly as markets and as stages on the London road. At Lechlade goods, particularly cheese, were consigned by river to London. The manors, mainly monastic in the Middle Ages, passed later to families which ranged from aristocrats like the Thynnes and Cravens to local gentry like the Partridges, Sheppards, and Kebles. In the 19th century new owners from com-merce included a Jewish financier, the founder of the Horlicks firm, and Lanca-shire cotton-manufacturers. Much of the area, particularly the large estates based on Williamstrip Park and Hatherop Castle and the villages along the Churn valley, shows the influence of 19th-century owners. Less typical parishes include Brimpsfield and Cranham, where early settlement was scattered, and Chedworth, with an influx in the late 17th century and the 18th of independent craftsmen.

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