Painswick

Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

PAINSWICK, a market-town and parish, in the hundred of BISLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 7 miles (S.S.E.) from Gloucester, and 100 (W. by N.) from London, comprising the tythings of Edge, Shepscomb, Spoonbed, and Stroudend, and containing 4044 inhabitants. The manor is noticed in Domesday-book under the name of Wiche, among the possessions of Roger de Lacy; its prefix is derived from one of its subsequent proprietors, Pain Fitz-John. The town is situated on the declivity of Spoonbed hill, at the foot of which runs a branch of the Stroud river, and the turnpike roads from Stroud to Gloucester, and from Cheltenham to Bath, pass through it.

The streets are neither lighted nor paved; the inhabitants are supplied with water from wells. The manufacture of cloth is extensively carried on in the town and neighbourhood, although, by comparison with its former state, it may be considered on the decline: there are quarries of freestone and weather-stone in the vicinity. The market is on Tuesday but it is very inconsiderable; there is a large market for sheep on the first Tuesday after All Saints' day (O.S.). Fairs are held, principally for cattle and sheep, on Whit-Tuesday and September 19th. A court leet for the manor is held annually, at which constables and tything-men are chosen. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £14. 15. 2., and in the patronage of J. Gardener, Esq., and others, as trustees for the inhabitants who pay poor rates.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a spacious edifice, with a very lofty spire, and a fine ring of twelve bells; it was erected at different periods, and is somewhat remarkable for the incongruous combination of the Grecian and English styles of architecture; the entrance is under a portico of the Ionic order; Doric columns appear in another part of the building, and, under the battlements on the north side, the spouts represent singularly grotesque heads of demons. In the chancel are monuments of the Jerningham family, to which the manor belonged in the reign of Elizabeth; and there is a handsome altar-piece, erected in 1743. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists.

A free school was founded, in 1707, for the education of ten boys, by Giles Smith, who bequeathed £200 for this purpose; and £200 more having been raised by voluntary contributions, lands were purchased, now producing about £30 per annum, for which twenty-six boys are educated: other benefactions have since been made, the most considerable of which is the sum of £500, the bequest of John Hillman, in 1808. A benevolent school was established here in 1809, and there is a National school, both supported by subscription.

On the summit of Spoonbed hill is an ancient camp, with a double intrenchment, called Kimsbury Castle, King's barrow, or Castle Godwin: it comprehends a space of about three acres, is nearly quadrangular, and is supposed to have been a British fortress, afterwards occupied by the Romans, as many Roman coins, with a sword, and spear-heads greatly corroded, have been found at different periods. In the reign of Edward the Confessor, this camp was occupied by Earl Godwin, who headed an insurrection against the king, in 1052.

During the siege of Gloucester by Charles I., his forces encamped on this hill, and it is related, that after raising the siege, the king being seated on a stone near the camp, with his two elder sons, one of them asked him when they should return home, "Alas! my Son", replied the unfortunate monarch, "I have no home to go to". During the insurrections in the west and other parts of the kingdom, in the reign of Edward VI., Sir Anthony Kingston, then Knight Marshall, being lord of the manor of Painswick, caused a gallows to be erected on Shepscombe Green, in this parish, for the execution of insurgents, and gave three plots of land in his lordship, since called Gallows' lands, for the purpose of keeping in readiness a gallows, two ladders, and halters; he likewise appointed the tything-man of Shepscombe to the office of executioner, with an acre of land in the tything, as a reward for his services; a field at Shepscombe, held by the tything-man for the time being, is still known by the appellation of Hangman's Acre.

SPOONBED, a tything in the parish of PAINSWICK, hundred of BISLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, containing 880 inhabitants.

STROUD-END, a tything in the parish of PAINSWICK, hundred of BISLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, containing 812 inhabitants.

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