Wotton under Edge

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

WOTTON-under-EDGE, a market-town and parish in the upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 19 miles (S.S.W.) from Gloucester, and 108 (W. by N.) from London; comprising the tythings of Huntingford, Sinwell with Bradley, Symonds-Hall with Combe, and Wortley, and containing 5004 inhabitants. The name of this place, formerly Wotton under Ridge, is descriptive of its situation beneath a range of well-wooded hills. The old town, which stood on a spot now called "TheBrands", was destroyed by fire in the reign of John; and on its restoration, a market and fair, with various municipal privileges, were granted by Henry III. to Maurice, Lord Berkeley, in 1254, which laid the foundation of its subsequent importance.

The present town is situated on a gentle eminence, and consists principally of two parallel streets; the houses are in general well built and of neat appearance. It has long been celebrated for the manufacture of fine broad cloth; the trade is in a nourishing state, and affords employment to the inhabitants of the town and vicinity; on a small stream, which flows to the west of the town, are nine water-mills connected with the manufacture. The market is on Friday; and there is a fair annually on September 25th, for cattle and cheese. A mayor is chosen annually in October at the manorial court leet, but he has no magisterial authority; at the termination of his mayoralty he becomes an alderman. Petty sessions for the division are held here.

The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £13. 10., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Dean and Canons of Christ Church, Oxford. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a spacious and handsome structure, having a tower with battlements and pinnacles, and containing some curious sepulchral memorials. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents and Wesleyan Methodists.

The free grammar school was founded and endowed by Lady Catherine Berkeley, under letters patent from Richard II., in 1385; and having become forfeited in the reign of Edward I., it was restored, on petition, by James I., under the title of "the Free Grammar School of Lord Berkeley", to consist of one master, and five or more poor scholars, who should be a body corporate, the election of the master being vested in his lordship and his heirs, or, in default of issue, in the lord of the manor; the total annual income is £376. 12. 6. There are ten boys on the foundation, who are allowed £6 per annum for books and other purposes. The Blue-coat school is endowed with £60 per annum from the funds of the general hospital trust, and with the produce of sundry bequests the annual income is £136. 13.: thirty boys on the foundation are clothed, educated, and apprenticed, and about ten others receive gratuitous instruction: the school-house was erected about 1714, partly from the funds of Hugh Perry's estate, and partly by subscription.

An hospital for twelve persons of both sexes, founded in 1630, by Hugh Perry, Esq., alderman of London; another for six aged persons of both sexes, founded by Thos. Dawes, in 1712; and the general hospital, are situated in Church-lane, and form three sides of a square, with an open court in the middle, and a chapel at the north end. Hugh Perry, Esq. also procured a supply of water for the town at his own expense. Sir Jonathan Dawes, sheriff of London, gave £1000 for the relief of the poor, and for apprenticing poor children. On Westridge, in this parish, are the remains of a square camp, with double intrenchments, partly covered with wood, which is called Becketsbury.

BRADLEY, a tything in the parish of WOTTON under EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER, ½ a mile (W.S.W.) from Wotton under Edge, with which the population is returned.

COMBE, a tything in the parish of WOTTON under EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 1 mile (N.E. by E.) from Wotton under Edge, with which the population is returned.

HUNTINGFORD, a tything in the parish of WOTTON-under-EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER. The population is returned with the parish.

SINWELL, a tything in the parish of WOTTON under EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER. The population is returned with the parish.

SYMONDS-HALL, a tything in the parish of WOTTON-under-EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 3 miles (N.E. by E.) from Wotton under Edge, with which the population is returned.

WORTLEY, a tything in the parish of WOTTON-under-EDGE, upper division of the hundred of BERKELEY, county of GLOUCESTER. The population is returned with the parish.

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