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The Official Website of the Wotton-under-Edge Town Council

                                                            October 13, 2015
The top of Wotton Hill. Photo: Tony Parry

Coming Events
-Oct 14: Precise Pilates
-Oct 14: Nia Dance Fitness UTEA 7.30pm 5.00 Drop in
-Oct 15: Precise Pilates
-Oct 15: Nia Dance Fitness UTEA 10am
-Oct 15: Electric Picture House Cinema: NT Live Hamlet
-Oct 15: Tiny Tunes Musical Playgroup with Fun Mats!
-Oct 16: Nia Dance Fitness Town Hall 10am
-Oct 16: 007 Bond Ball
-Oct 16: Electric Picture House Cinema: Me & Earl & The Dying Girl (12A)
-Oct 17: Ags Connolly
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St Marys Church. Photo: George Way
Introduction to Wotton-under-Edge

The beauty of the Cotswold landscape is due in great part to the relationship between the natural environment and the towns and villages which grew up during the Middle Ages and over the centuries have adapted to the constant changes of modern life. The western scarp of the Cotswolds is cut into by numerous valleys or combes where springs have worn away the rock. Wotton-under-Edge is situated within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just below the escarpment edge looking out over the Severn Valley, lying partly on a shelf sheltered from the north winds and partly in one of the combes, along the Dyer's Brook or Tyley Stream which once powered the mills and joins the Little Avon at Kingswood village below. The town is dominated by the surrounding hills and woods, in many places with a characteristic clear stretch of green pastureland between the buildings of the town and the woodland.

The Town viewed from Old London Road .
The Town viewed from Old London Road .   Photo: Pip Marrow
The parish of Wotton-under-Edge is large, over 7 km.(4.4 miles) long from N.E. to S.W., and its height above sea level varying from 248 m. (815 ft.) on the Cotswold plateau to 46 m. (150 ft.) at its boundary with Kingswood, while the War Memorial is at 76 m. (250ft.).

The town itself has remained compact, with only one of the estates built in the second half of the 20th century just spilling outside the natural bowl. All possible open areas within the town have now been built on and there is no room for further development on any scale without seriously encroaching into countryside. It is perhaps surprising in view of the very extensive new housing of the last half century that Wotton has only recently regained and now surpassed the population size it had at the peak of the 19th century cloth trade (1991 census 5565; mid-1998 est.: 5622; 1831 census: 5482; after which it fell to the 1901 census: 2979; and only grew slightly up to the 1950s: 1951 census: 3509). The number of dwellings required to house this population nowadays is a reflection of the national trend towards smaller and smaller households.

Unlike many Cotswold towns which justifiably pride themselves on the homogeneous character of their limestone buildings, Wotton possesses a variety of building materials and architectural styles. There are stone and brick buildings and a strong tradition of rough cast or dashed render, in the past coloured with lime wash, more recently with modern masonry paints. Many roofs survive with natural Cotswold stone slate or tiles laid in the traditional way, but there are also plenty of examples of red clay roof tiles, both pantiles and double Romans, and Welsh slates too. To an extent Wotton can be characterised by its very mixture of building styles.

The Cloud with St Mary's in the background.
The Cloud with St Mary's in the background.   Photo: George Way
The central core of the town is a Conservation Area and both Town and District Councils aim, through the planning process, to enhance the best within the context of a thriving town centre. The Conservation Area itself falls into two sub-areas with discernibly different characteristics. The first of these comprises the greater part of the conservation area, including the whole shopping centre, the Chipping and Symn Lane to the south, Bradley Street, Gloucester Street and Old Town down to Culverhay beyond the War Memorial. Here the buildings directly adjoin one another, creating an almost unbroken frontage to the street. They stand right against the pavement, with mostly quite narrow frontages, though the plots often extend well back behind, in some cases preserving the lines of the original burgage plots. The planned town of the Middle Ages can be recognised, the streets being on a regular grid-iron pattern.

The other, smaller sub-area covers the historic buildings broadly to the north and east of the Culverhay - Dyers Brook line. The pattern and density of buildings is more irregular than in the town centre with a higher proportion of large gardens and other open spaces and it includes the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

While the surrounding farms and the sheep on the uplands still remind us of the town's pastoral heritage, the spinners and weavers of the cloth trade which brought the town its long prosperity have now gone. Traces of this industry may be found in the old mills, mill ponds and cottage names, but industries of other kinds have preserved Wotton's character as a working town. These industries include high-tech metrology and engineering, printing and other trades, and together with the shops and businesses provide vital employment. The town's location too, 20 miles N.E. of Bristol and 19 miles South of Gloucester, enables many to travel to work by car in well under an hour. Public transport is very limited.

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