Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Local History

Gloucestershire Local History Association

Summer Events

During 2018, GLHA has organised three summer events for members of local history groups.

Its Annual Summer Afternoon Meeting was hosted by Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society in June, and attended by around 60 people from across the County. A choice from three guided tours around the historic town was offered, including a walk round Cirencester Park, a visit to the Parish Church of St John the Baptist and a Town Walk finishing in the Abbey grounds. Members of the Cirencester Society accompanied the groups to explain the history of the area and point out interesting landmarks. After the walks everyone gathered in the Parish Centre to enjoy a delicious tea and the chance to meet old friends. Next year’s meeting will be hosted by Tidenham History Group on 29th June 2019.

Members from Stonehouse History Group enjoying the afternoon tea.

Photo by John Peters

In July, 30 people took part in an Industrial Heritage walk around the Painswick mills led by Dr Ray Wilson. Painswick has more than 30 former mill sites connected with the production of woollen cloth. Members enjoyed walking around the lanes and footpaths from where some of the surviving buildings can been seen, often converted to residential use. The group was able to inspect an old wool drying stove which has been restored by its owner. At one time almost every mill had one of these small stone circular buildings, but today only about three survive in Gloucestershire of which this is the best example. After the walk members gathered in the pub for a drink and chat.


The wool drying building off Kemps Lane in Painswick                        Painswick Mill. Photo by Eileen Allen     

Photo by Shirley Dicker

Twenty-five people attended the Association’s evening visit to the medieval St Bartholomew’s church on Churchdown (or Chosen) Hill in August - and were blessed with perfect weather and excellent views of the surrounding town and country. The visit began with an overview of the history and architecture of the church (which dates back to the 12th century and stands in one corner of a probable Iron Age hill-fort), given by GLHA Chair, Steven Blake, following which, Chris Wakeman from the Friends of St Bartholomew’s church described the church’s 2005-6 restoration project, of which he was project manager.

The group were then free to look round the church for themselves, noting in particular the intriguing re-use of Norman carved stonework in various parts of the church during later medieval building work and the profusion of medieval and later graffiti in the 13th century north porch, whose first floor ‘priest’s room’ was also open to visit. Tea and biscuits were then available in the former Sexton’s House in the churchyard, courtesy of the Friends, to whom the Association is most grateful.

A beautiful evening at St Bartholomew’s Church.

Photo by Stuart Manton

These summer visits give members the chance to learn about special places with the benefit of knowledgeable guides to explain the history behind them. They are also a good opportunity to meet local history enthusiasts from across the County. GLHA hopes to organise several visits in 2019.

For more information visit



Dowty Archive news

The Dowty Heritage website

The Dowty Heritage website was launched at the end of August. It is now being populated by members of the Dowty community and we are hoping that many more people will have a look at it, and, if they want to, share stories, photographs and videos from their time at the Dowty Group (if they worked there). We are really pleased with it and think it will be an excellent legacy of the Dowty project. It can be found here:


Aerial photo of Arle Court                                              Workers in the tech block

Cataloguing news: Ally McConnell, Collections Management Archivist writes -

I am getting on well with my systematic listing and repackaging of the Dowty collection. I have listed the equivalent of 200 boxes and have 6 volunteers helping to enhance the work, who are also very kindly starting to tackle the large amount of photographic material. There is still a long way to go but it’s going well and I am learning a lot still about the company and how it developed.

Victoria County History update September 2018

At long last, our latest paperback, entitled Cheltenham before the Spa, was delivered in June, and it's great to report that almost all our initial printing (250 copies) has been sold. We've had very favourable comments on the illustrations and the 'topic panels', which give general introductions to aspects of medieval history - all helping to make the subject matter as accessible as possible. we have a few copies left at the introductory price of £12, and after that it will be £14 when ordered via a bookshop or online. Contact if you're interested.

As part of the Gloucester History Festival, John Chandler spoke entertainingly about the new book on 9 September, and the VCH also featured repeatedly in the 'Scriptorium Tag' John organised a few days later. Nine mini-lectures spanned over 1,000 years of Gloucestershire history in the course of an afternoon. All good fun, with many insights into very varied aspects of local and family history - among them monks, merchants, floods, hearths, diaries, charabancs and migrants. Naturally, Gloucestershire Archive material informed just about every talk.

John Chandler entertaining the audience with his talk

Regular Archive users will already know that VCH editors and helpers now have the use of the Elrington Room. Just off the main search room, this allows all the VCH reference books and working materials to be kept handy in one place - another very welcome result achieved by the Heritage Hub project.

As winter approached, we are gearing up for further fundraising to keep our three projects - in Cirencester, Cheltenham and South Glos - moving along at the right pace. Supporters old and new are welcome to sign up for our newsletter, via the address above.

James Hodsdon

Chair, Gloucestershire County History Trust

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