A History of the County of Gloucester

January 1996
44 black and white, 25 line illustrations
478 pages
30.5x20.8 cm
Victoria County History
ISBN: 9780197227879
Format: Hardback
Victoria County History

A History of the County of Gloucester

Volume V: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean

Edited by N. M. Herbert

out of stock

This volume covers a complex area of west Gloucestershire, with a core of formerly extra parochial, royal demesne land of the Forest of Dean and a periphery of 14 parishes. Although some of them, including English Bicknor on the Wye and Awre on the Severn, were settled by 1086, others emerged later from assarts in the Forest woodland and waste: at Newland a church founded c. 1200 served a large tract with many dispersed parts, Flaxley parish was created as the endowment of a Cistercian abbey in the mid 12th century, and Hewelsfield was reconstituted about then. Clearance of woodland was reversed in Staunton in the early 19th century when much farmland was planted with timber. At St Briavels, overlooking the Wye, a royal castle became in the early Middle Ages the centre for enforcing the forest law, which until 1668 obtained in much of the parochial land. The apparatus of officers and courts headed by the castle's constable was later supplemented when the crown's administration was re-directed to maintaining the royal woodland for shipbuilding timber and to combating the pressures on it of commoning, mining, ironworking, and squatting. Mitcheldean, the chief medieval market town, was later supported also by industries including clothmaking, pinmaking, and brewing; Coleford became the main commercial centre west of the Forest after securing a market and fairs in 1661. Despite important landed estates and strong resident gentry families, small free- holdings, often carried on with a trade or craft, characterized much of the area, notably Littledean, Ruardean, and Blakeney. Few parts were untouched by industry, particularly by mining and by ironworking, carried on from the early 17th century at Alvington, Abenhall, Lydbrook, Lydney, and elsewhere. Later there were also paper, copper, and tinplate works, and tanneries. In the absence of good roads, local industry was served mainly by rivers; trade on the Wye was based before the 19th century at Brockweir. In the early 19th century a new harbour at Lydney became the main outlet to the Severn, and, later encouraged also by railways, that town's industry prospered. The extraparochial Forest was permanently settled only from the mid 18th century when squatting began the growth of over 20 villages and hamlets, and later the new town of Cinderford. After tramroads and rail-ways opened up its coalfield, the central Forest became a complex industrial region. The character of its inhabitants, formed partly by their struggle t

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