Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Local History

The big red books get bigger

Research on the volume covering Cirencester and nearby parishes is reaching its conclusion, with only a few sections on Coates still to be drafted by Alex Craven. The resulting texts will be edited by Francis Boorman, with help from Mark Forrest, for publication in our usual large-red-book format. Much of the work on the other two other volumes, covering the Cheltenham and Chipping Sodbury areas, has also been done, so that the Gloucestershire County History Trust at its meeting in July debated where we should turn our attention to next.

The trustees decided on two new areas – Winchcombe and a group of adjacent parishes extending northwards, and Marshfield and the Boyd valley in South Gloucestershire.

Work on the Winchcombe volume, which will include also Sudeley, Hailes, Toddington and seven other parishes (including two now in Worcestershire but formerly in Gloucestershire) will not begin in earnest until Cirencester is complete, but we are making a start on some of the initial preparation. With help from Rob White of the Gloucester Street History Group in Winchcombe, John Chandler is preparing a scoping document which will set out the work programme and methodology, and the composition of the proposed volume. We plan to involve interested local residents and groups in and around Winchcombe, and already some of our band of VCH volunteers at the Heritage Hub are starting to transcribe Winchcombe probate records.

As well as being an attractive and thriving small town, Winchcombe has a long and very significant history, extending back to the Anglo-Saxon period, when it was at the centre of its own county – Winchcombeshire; and throughout the middle ages it was home to one of Gloucestershire’s most important abbeys. We are very much looking forward to getting to know the town and its surroundings much, much better, and to making our contribution to scholarship about the area. This will be our volume 17 when it eventually appears in a number of years’ time, and we hope to research it concurrently with volume 18 on the Marshfield area, although work on that will not start for a while.

The Local History Bulletin goes online

Between 1987 and 2011, Gloucestershire Rural Community Council’s Local History Committee published 25 issues of its magazine Gloucestershire History, which between them comprise a total of 120 articles on aspects of the county’s past. Unfortunately, its publication ceased in 2011, when the Local History Committee was dissolved, (due to funding no longer being available from GRCC) and was succeeded by the Gloucestershire Local History Association, which has lacked the resources to revive the publication.


Gloucestershire History was digitised some years ago and may be downloaded from the GLHA website . Now all 54 issues of its predecessor, the Local History Bulletin, which was published by the Local History Committee between 1966 and 1986, have also been digitised. Each issue contained news from the world of local history and archaeology in Gloucestershire – and increasingly articles on aspects of the county’s past, which eventually became the mainstay of the Bulletin, as the ‘day to day’ news was carried in a Local History Newsletter instead.


The digitised copies of the Bulletin are now available to download on the Gloucestershire Documents Online website with a direct link from the GLHA website. All the Gloucestershire History articles are individually listed and downloadable, and all the Bulletins are single file downloads, with the main contents of each issue being listed on the download page.


GLHA is most grateful to its webmaster, Dr Ray Wilson, for initiating the project and digitising both sets of publications, and to a number of institutions and individuals who loaned back copies of the Bulletin for scanning: Gloucestershire Archives, Cheltenham Library Local & Family History Centre, John Loosley and David Viner. Between them, these two publications contain a wealth of information about Gloucestershire’s past – so do take a look; you might be surprised (and delighted!) at what you might find.

GLHA Spring and Summer activities

Two visits were organised for members of the Gloucestershire Local History Association during 2023.


The Special Collections Library at the University of Gloucestershire’s Hardwick campus in Cheltenham

Two different groups of 10 people visited the Library in the morning and afternoon of Monday 17 April.  As well as the University’s own Archive (including those of its constituent Colleges, dating back to the mid-19th century), the Library holds a number of other collections relating to literature, poetry and printing, plus the Independent Television News (ITN) image archive and the extensive library of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. The visit was hosted by the University’s Special Collections Archivist, Louise Hughes, who described the various collections held in the Library and gave those attending the opportunity to see a number of rare books from the Archaeological Society’s Library, which was then open for browsing.


Chipping Sodbury walk

The second - somewhat blustery! - visit was an afternoon walk around Chipping Sodbury, led by Dr John Chandler, on Sunday, 11 June. This took those attending along the length and breadth of the town’s particularly attractive High Street, with its range of buildings from medieval onwards, as well as down to some rather more ‘hidden’ corners close to the River Frome. The walk was greatly enhanced by John’s provision of a historic map of the town, which enabled us to appreciate how much the present townscape reflects its origins as a classic medieval planted town, with its distinctive burgage plots. Our visit coincided with the town’s annual Festival (which included a ‘rival’ walking tour of the town, organised by the Sodbury and District Historical Society, which we did our best not to get tangled up with!)  and also provided the unexpected opportunity to see inside the town’s medieval parish church.

GLHA Summer Afternoon meeting 2023

The Association’s Summer Afternoon Meeting was held in Blockley on Sunday, 2 July, and was organised by Blockley Heritage Society.




Around 70 people attended and were able to view a series of displays on the history of Blockley in St George’s Hall and the adjacent Heritage Centre.

Following an introductory talk on the history of the town by the Society’s President, Jeremy Bourne, attendees had a choice of either a talk on the history of nearby Northwick Park, given by Roger Thornburgh, or one of three visits. Jeremy Bourne led a walk to the parish church of St Peter & St Paul, Penny Balhatchet took a group along Blockley High Street to discover the history of the town’s shops and shopping and David Artingstall took another group to Snugborough Mill, the largest and most impressive of a series of mills along the Blockley Brook.  At the Mill, its owner, Rupert Williams-Ellis, who has been restoring the building, recounted its history and led guests on a short walk through its garden to see two other historic Blockley mills: Gaunt’s and Westmacott’s.


The mid-19th-century Westmacott’s Mill

(now converted into flats, as Blockley Court) seen from the grounds of Snugborough Mill.


Penny Balhatchet leads the Shops walk.


   The day was ‘rounded off’ in the traditional GLHA fashion with a splendid afternoon tea and the chance to look again at the various displays.

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