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

BISLEY, a parish (formerly a market-town) in the hundred of BISLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 11 miles (S.E.) from Gloucester, and 97 (W.) from London, containing 5421 inhabitants. The town is situated partly on the acclivity of a hill, and partly in the vale beneath it, which is watered by a small stream. The streets are irregularly formed, and contain few houses of respectable appearance. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacture of broad cloth, which is carried on to a considerable extent. The Thames and Severn canal passes through the parish, and, near the extremity of it, enters a tunnel, through which it is conducted for nearly two miles and a half under Salperton hill. A market was formerly held here, but it has been discontinued: the fairs are on May 4th and November 12th.

The town is within the jurisdiction of a court of requests held at Cirencester, for the seven hundreds of Cirencester, established by an act passed in the 32nd of George III., for the recovery of debts under 40s.: constables and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £19. 10. 5., and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious and handsome structure, partly in the decorated, and partly in the later, style of English architecture, with a tower surmounted by a lofty spire; among other interesting monuments is a statue of one of the family of Nottingham. In the churchyard there is an octagonal cross, handsomely panelled in trefoil, and surmounted with an ancient font, erected over a well, in which a man having been drowned, the cemetery was placed under an interdict for three years, during which time the dead were carried to Bibury for interment. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists.

The free school is supported by a portion of the produce of lands left for the repair of the church, the payment of the clerk, and the salary of the schoolmaster, who receives at present £13. 14. per annum. A Blue-coat school for clothing and instructing ten boys, endowed in 1820, by Mr. Taylor, has been incorporated with the free school, and the master receives a salary of £12. 12. per annum, for instructing the boys. The common, then consisting of one thousand two hundred acres, was given to the poor of this parish by Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, in the reign of Edward III.; a considerable part of it has been enclosed. At Lilly-house, a hamlet near the town, a vaulted chamber was discovered, with several adjoining apartments, having tesselated pavements, and niches in the walls; some other relics of antiquity, supposed to be Roman, have also been found at Custom-Scrubs, another adjacent hamlet.

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