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

NORTHLEACH, a market-town and parish, in the hundred of BRADLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 20 miles (E. by S.) from Gloucester, and 82 (W.N.W.) from London, containing 773 inhabitants. This is a small town, consisting principally of a long irregular street, situated in a vale at the base of the Cotswold hills, near the source of the little river Leche, from which it derives its name, and on the road from Cheltenham to Oxford. The ancient British road, called the Lower Salt-way, leading from Droitwich to the eastern parts of the island, is here crossed by the Roman Fosse-way, which forms the north-western boundary of the parish. About the beginning of the sixteenth century it was one of the most considerable clothing towns in the county, and a principal mart for the sale of wool; but the deficiency of water occasioned a gradual decay of the manufacture, and the trade is no longer carried on.

The market is held on Wednesday; and there are fairs on the Wednesdays before May 4th and June 1st, August 3rd, the first Wednesday in September, and the Wednesdays before and after October 10th. A bailiff and two constables are chosen annually at the manorial court leet; and petty sessions for the district are held here. Near the town is a house of correction for the county, capable of containing thirty-eight prisoners. The living is a vicarage, with Eastington, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £11, and in the patronage of the Bishop of Gloucester.

The church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a handsome and extensive edifice, in the decorated style of English architecture, with a lofty tower at the west end: the south porch is ornamented with elegant tracery; the lateral buttresses have sculptured niches; and two niches with statues are placed over the arch, the cornice bordering which is decorated with various figures, in oval compartments; the tower has open-worked battlements; and the whole building is adorned with an embattled parapet and pinnacles; there are several sepulchral brasses, one of which is to the memory of John Fortey, a rich clothier of the town, who rebuilt the nave, in 1458.

Hugh Westwood, Esq. founded a free grammar school, in the first year of the reign of Elizabeth, and endowed it with the impropriate tithes of Chedworth, and a messuage and tenement, now producing about £600 per annum, vested, by an act of incorporation passed in the fourth of James I., in the patronage of the Provost and Scholars of Queen's College, Oxford, who appoint a master, and pay him two-thirds of the annual income, and an usher the remainder. The scholars on the foundation are usually very few; but they are entitled to share with the schools of Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Chipping-Campden, in the exhibitions at Pembroke College, Oxford, instituted by George Townsend, Esq., who also gave property producing £10 per annum, for the instruction of twelve poor boys, a similar sum for poor girls, and an annual sum for apprenticing a poor boy.

An hospital, or almshouse, for six poor women was founded by Thomas Button, Esq., in 1615, and endowed with about £30 per annum. In 1816, Mrs. Mary Harritts Allen bequeathed £2649. 17. 6. for charitable purposes, including £93. 12. per annum, for the endowment of an almshouse for six poor men: and a small sum in augmentation of the stipends of the women in Mr. Button's almshouse. Adjoining the Fosseway is an intrenched camp, with a double vallum, called Norbury, and supposed to be of Roman origin.

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