Gloucestershire

Area Map

Gloucestershire (/ˈɡlɒstərʃər/ GLOSS-tər-shər) is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean.

The county town is the city of Gloucester, and other principal towns include Cheltenham, Cirencester, Stroud, and Tewkesbury.

When considered as a ceremonial county, Gloucestershire borders the preserved county of Gwent in Wales (now Monmouthshire), and in England the ceremonial counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Somerset. Ceremonially, it includes the area covered by the South Gloucestershire unitary authority.

According to a 2002 campaign by the charity Plantlife, the county flower of Gloucestershire is the Wild Daffodil.

Gloucestershire is a historic county mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the 10th century, though the areas of Winchcombe and the Forest of Dean were not added until the late 11th century. Gloucestershire originally included the then “small town” of Bristol. The “local” rural community moved to the port city, (as Bristol was to become) and Bristol’s population growth accelerated during the industrial revolution. Bristol became part of the administrative County of Avon in 1974.

Upon the abolition of Avon in 1996, the region north of Bristol became a unitary authority area of South Gloucestershire and is now part of the ceremonial county of Gloucestershire.

The official former postal county abbreviation was “Glos.”, rather than the frequently used but erroneous “Gloucs.” or “Glouc.”.

In July 2007, Gloucestershire suffered the worst flooding in recorded British history, with tens of thousands of residents affected. The RAF conducted the largest peace time domestic operation in its history to rescue over 120 residents from flood affected areas. The damage was estimated at over £2 billion.

The county recovered rapidly from the disaster, investing in attracting tourists to visit the many sites and diverse range of shops in the area.

 

The towns in Gloucestershire are:

Towns in South Gloucestershire (historically part of Gloucestershire) are:

  • Bradley Stoke
  • Chipping Sodbury
  • Filton
  • Kingswood
  • Patchway
  • Thornbury
  • Yate

Town in Monmouthshire with suburbs in Gloucestershire:

  • Chepstow

The cathedral of Gloucester, the magnificent abbey church of Tewkesbury, and the church of Cirencester with its great Perpendicular porch, are described under their separate headings. Of the abbey of Hailes near Winchcombe, founded by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in 1246, little more than the foundations are left, but these have been excavated and interesting fragments have been brought to light.

Most of the old market towns have fine parish churches. At Deerhurst near Tewkesbury, and Bishop’s Cleeve near Cheltenham, there are churches of special interest on account of the pre-Norman work they retain. The Perpendicular church at Lechlade is unusually perfect; and that at Fairford was built (c. 1500), according to tradition, to contain the remarkable series of stained-glass windows which are said to have been brought from the Netherlands. These are, however, adjudged to be of English workmanship, and are one of the finest series in the country.

Calcot Barn is an interesting relic of Kingswood Abbey. Thornbury Castle is a Tudor country house, the pretensions of which evoked the jealousy of Cardinal Wolsey against its builder, Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, who was beheaded in 1521. Near Cheltenham is the fine 15th-century mansion of Southam de la Bere, of timber and stone.Memorials of the de la Bere family appear in the church at Cleeve. The mansion contains a tiled floor from Hailes Abbey. At Great Badminton is the mansion and vast domain of the Beauforts (formerly of the Botelers and others), on the south-eastern boundary of the county. At Owlpen is one of the most picturesque Tudor manor houses set in a densely-wooded valley.

There are several royal residences in Gloucestershire, including Highgrove House, Gatcombe Park, and (formerly) Nether Lypiatt Manor.

An annual “cheese-rolling” event takes place at Cooper’s Hill, near Brockworth and the Cotswold Games occurred within the county.

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