Tetbury

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

TETBURY, a market-town and parish in the hundred of LONGTREE, county of GLOUCESTER, 20 miles (S. by E.) from Gloucester, and 99 (W. by N.) from London, containing 2734 inhabitants. The town is pleasantly situated on an eminence at the southern verge of the county, bordering on Wiltshire, and near the source of the river Avon, over which is a long bridge or causeway, leading into the main road to Malmesbury: it consists principally of a long street, crossed at right angles by two shorter ones, with a spacious market-house near one of the intersections. An act was obtained, in 1817, for paving and lighting the town, the expense of which was defrayed out of the funds in the hands of trustees appointed in 1814, under the act for enclosing certain common fields and waste grounds within the parish; £1000 was also appropriated from the same fund for the repair of the market house. The poor are chiefly employed by wool staplers, and the market was formerly noted for the sale of woollen yarn, but the introduction of machinery has put an end to the trade.

The market is on Wednesday; and fairs are held on Ash-Wednesday, the Wednesday before and after the 5th of April, and July 22nd for corn, cheese, horses, and cattle. A bailiff and a constable are elected annually at the court leet of the feoffees of the manor. Petty sessions for the town and hundred are held here and at Horsley and Rodborough alternately. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry, and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £36. 13. 4., and in the patronage of the Trustees of Tetbury charity.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt in 1781, in the early style of English architecture, at an expense of £6000, exclusively of the old tower, which is surmounted by a fine modern spire, the ancient church having been undermined by a flood, in 1770; the nave is separated from the aisles by ornamented clustered pillars, which literally support nothing, as the principle on which the roof of the theatre at Oxford was constructed has been applied to this building. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents.

A grammar school was endowed by Sir William Romney, a native of this town, and alderman and sheriff of London, in the reign of James I., who bequeathed to certain trustees a lease for years of the weights of wool and yarn, tolls, and other profits within the town, with the proceeds of which lands have since been purchased, and out of the rents £40 per annum was paid to the master; but since the year 1800 no payments have been made, and the affairs of the institution are under investigation: there is a small bequest for books, which is withheld until the school shall be re-established. Fifteen boys are educated for a rent-charge of £30, devised for that purpose by Elizabeth Hodges, in 1723.

The Sunday school, open to all the poor children of the parish, is supported by bequests of £100 each from Ann Wright, in 1788, Sarah Paul, in 1795, and Ann Gastrell, in 1797. An almshouse for eight poor persons was founded and endowed by the above-mentioned Sir W. Romney. In Maudlin meadow, which belongs to Magdalene College, Oxford, and is situated north of the town, is a petrifying spring, impregnated with calcareous earth. Races were formerly held annually on a common, about a mile eastward from the town, but they have been discontinued, and the lands enclosed. A castle is said to have been built here, long before the invasion of Britain by the Romans; and ancient British coins and fragments of weapons have been found within the area of a camp in the vicinity, of which all traces are now obliterated. Roman coins of the Lower Empire have also been discovered.

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