Lechlade (Lechlade on Thames)

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

LECHLADE, or LEACHLADE, a market-town and parish in the hundred of BRIGHTWELLS-BARROW, county of GLOUCESTER, 28 miles (S.E.) from Gloucester, and 75 (W. by N.) from London, containing, with Linhill, 1154 inhabitants. The name of this place is derived from the little river Leche, and the Saxon word ladean, to empty; this stream rises near North-Leach, and falls into the Thames below St. John's bridge, in this parish. In Domesday-book the manor is reckoned among the possessions of Henry de Ferrars, who had an eel-fishery here. The town is situated on the margin of the Thames, near its confluence with the Leche, on the road from Cirencester to London: it is neatly built, and consists principally of one long and wide street, not regularly paved nor lighted, but the inhabitants are sufficiently supplied with water from wells.

Its commerce depends chiefly on the transit of commodities, particularly Wiltshire and Gloucester cheese, brought hither in wagons for conveyance to the metropolis by the Thames, that river becoming navigable at this place; and here the canal terminates which unites this river and the Severn. The market, for which a grant was obtained by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III., is held on Tuesday, but almost disused: the fairs are, August 5th and 10th for cattle and toys [sic], and September 9th for cattle and cheese, which last is much frequented. A constable and a tything-man are appointed at a triennial court leet held by the lord of the manor.

The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £12. 13. 4 and in the patronage of the Rev. J. Leigh Bennett. The church, which is dedicated to St. Lawrence, is a handsome structure in the later style of English architecture, built about the middle of the fifteenth century, at the joint expense of the vicar, the inmates of Lechlade priory, and the inhabitants of the parish; the spire is remarkable for its symmetrical beauty, and the pulpit is of sculptured stone. There is a place of worship for Baptists. In 1787, Thomas Oatridge bequeathed £100 stock in the three per cent, consols, to the Sunday school in this parish, and £3 per annum is accordingly paid to it by the minister.

In a meadow near St. John's bridge formerly stood a priory of Black canons, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, which was founded by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the reign of Henry III., the revenue of which, on its suppression in 1743, was applied to the foundation of a chantry in the parish church. There was also an hospital on or near the bridge, founded by Peter Fitz-Herbert, about the time of Henry III. Towards the end of the last century, a subterraneous structure was discovered in a meadow in the vicinity, with brick pillars and Mosaic pavement, supposed to have been a Roman bath, from which circumstance it has been conjectured that this was a Roman town, to which a vicinal road extended from Cirencester. Thomas Coxeter, an eminent antiquary, was born here in 1689.

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