Woodchester

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

WOODCHESTER, a parish in the hundred of LONGTREE, county of GLOUCESTER, 2 miles (S.W.) from Stroud, containing 929 inhabitants. The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £10, endowed with £600 royal bounty, and in the patronage of Lord Ducie. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, contains a fine monument to the memory of Sir Robert Huntley. There is a place of worship for Baptists. The village occupies an elevated site, forming part of a range of hills bounding a beautiful and fruitful valley, and has an extensive manufacture of woollen cloth, in which there are eight mills constantly engaged in the neighbourhood. Woodchester, as its name implies, was a Roman station, apparently of considerable importance.

Among the numerous interesting relics that have been discovered is a noble tesselated pavement, superior to any thing of the kind yet found in the. kingdom, the design of which seemed to be a circular area, in diameter twenty-five feet, enclosed within a frame, or square, of forty-eight feet and ten inches, divided into twenty-four compartments, and enriched with a variety of architectural ornaments, figures of beasts, &c. Ruins of buildings, fragments of statues, glass and pottery, pieces of stags' horns, &c., and many other relics, with numerous coins of the Lower Empire, one of Adrian, and another of Lucilla, have been also found on the spot, and have led to the conclusion that the Roman proprætor, or perhaps the Emperor Adrian himself, made this his residence.

In 1795, Samuel Lysons, Esq., F.A.S., having traced the form and extent of the pavement, and procured an engraving to be made of the ground plan of the building to which it belonged, exhibited the plate to the Society of Antiquaries in London; and, in 1797, he published an elaborate account of this and the other relics discovered here. Robert Bridges, in 1722, bequeathed £500, now producing an annual income of £50, for teaching, clothing, and apprenticing poor boys; but St. Loe's school, founded by Nathaniel Cambridge, at Minchinhampton, being open to boys of Woodchester, this charity is only appropriated to clothing and apprenticing them, with premiums of £15 each.

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