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

                                                            November 25, 2015
Wotton Hill. Photo: George Way

Coming Events
-Nov 26: Eastwood Park Christmas Gift Fayre
-Nov 26: Tiny Tunes Musical Playgroup
-Nov 26: Electric Picture House Cinema: Branagh Theatre Live: The Winter's Tale
-Nov 27: Blue Coat School PTA Christmas Shopping Evening
-Nov 27: Music with mummy and Jolly babies
-Nov 27: Wotton-under-Edge Historical Society & Heritage Centre
-Nov 28: Christmas Craft Fair
-Nov 28: The Model Folk
-Nov 29: Word Wizards, Creative Writing workshop
-Nov 29: Advent Carols by Candlelight at St Mary's, Wotton
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Picture of stile
The Tolsey House and Clock.
The Tolsey House and Clock.
A Tour of Wotton-under-Edge

Most of the roads to Wotton make abrupt entrances from the countryside into the town. At the entry to Haw Street or Bradley Road look back to enjoy unbroken views of the Severn valley from the former and the majestic wooded curve of the Cotswold hills from the latter.

A walk through the town may conveniently begin at the Chipping, now a large car park and approached from Haw Street through Symn Lane. Only the upper part still retains a green, the rest having been surfaced after the Americans left at the end of World War II. The area is bordered on the south by a number of small, carefully maintained 18th century houses, as well as the larger Well House, Chipping Manor and No.4 (formerly the Headmaster's House) to the west. On the opposite side is the National School Hall of 1837, used by the Blue Coat Church of England Primary School from 1974 to 2000. The Police station is in the N.E. corner and on the corner with Market Street in the old fire station is the Heritage Centre, which houses the Historical Society's collection and library and provides Tourist Information. It is a great resource for those interested in the history of the town and has about 6,000 visitors a year from near and far.

Market Street, looking towards the High Street and Tolsey Clock.
Market Street, looking towards the High Street and Tolsey Clock.
Market Street leads out of the Chipping past the Town Hall. It is a handsome street, at the northern end containing some of the oldest and newest buildings in Wotton. Those on the west side at the Long Street end are mostly ancient, going as far back as the 16th century, while opposite, with the exception of part of The Swan Hotel, a new set of shops was built in the 1970s reflecting the same proportions as those which had been condemned and destroyed some years before. This well designed and harmonious group of buildings gained for their developer a European Architectural Heritage Award in 1975. The 18th century Swan Hotel was for long a busy coaching inn, and it was from here that the coach went to take travellers to catch trains at Charfield station (negotiations are currently underway to reopen a station at Charfield). In 1937 the centenary of Isaac Pitman's invention of shorthand was celebrated nationally and included a dinner at the Swan, and it was from here that James Pitman made a broadcast on that occasion. Among the bequests of Hugh Perry in 1635 was the endowment of a fund to provide an annual dinner for the Mayor and Aldermen. Until well into the 19th century these dignitaries processed from their court to the Swan, the Star or the Crown - the three public houses surrounding the Stony Chipping - to enjoy their annual feast.

The Tabernacle, now antiques auction rooms.
The Tabernacle, now antiques auction rooms.
At the end of Market Street, by the Tolsey House, look up the High Street to see the early 19th century 'classical' police station, now converted into flats, which faces down High Street from the other side of Haw Street. On the other side of Bradley Street is the Civic Centre and One Stop Shop.

Some of the shops in High Street and Long Street were once houses, many dating back to the late middle ages. Note the interesting skyline of gables, stone or slate roofs and other evidences of antiquity. In High Street, the most notable building is the 18th century house now occupied by the National Westminster Bank, a good example of a stately town house. Long Street has many excellent shops, and some of its buildings are equally interesting. The most important, perhaps, is Berkeley House, a fine example of 17th century traditional West Country stone building. It once contained a room decorated with Chinese wallpaper of 1740-60 which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The building now occupied by Lloyd's Bank is also a dignified stone structure, dating from the 18th century; it was once the New Inn and the starting point for coaches to Cirencester. On the opposite side of the road, towards the bottom of Long Street, Church House, which existed in 1476, shows its age only in a large corner stone at first floor level, while Carlton House, facing Church Street, possesses a fine Jacobean staircase.

The Coffee House.
The Coffee House.   Photo: Gloucestershire County Council Environment Department
Church Street contains the handsome facade of the Perry and Dawes Almshouses (see above), while adjoining it stands the Falcon Inn which bears the date 1659 on its Ludgate Hill wall.

A Tudor House in Market Street.
A Tudor House in Market Street.   Photo: George Way
Church Street ends at the junction of Old Town, the Culverhay and Synwell Lane (here called Potter's Pond). The wide area of roadway thus created provided the location for the town's War Memorial and is also the end of bus routes to Wotton. Short diversions may be made from the War Memorial. The walk up Old Town, with its pleasant raised pavement on the left reveals the Tabernacle at the top of Tabernacle Pitch. Built in 1851-2 in the 13th century Gothic revival style then in favour, it replaced Rowland Hill's original chapel (of which only the 18th century Manse remains behind the Tabernacle) and it played a notable part in Nonconformist worship until recent years. It currently serves as Wotton's Auction Rooms.

From the War Memorial also, the Culverhay is a short, narrow road leading past the Parish Church to Coombe and out over the hills to Stroud and Tetbury. Close to the church lies the Court, a large dignified house with a classical porch, built early in the 18th century. Now an old people's home, it once served as the Vicarage, but this now lies off the churchyard and is an 18th century three storeyed house with some good original details.

The Rowland Hill Almshouses, Tabernacle Pitch.
The Rowland Hill Almshouses, Tabernacle Pitch.
Opposite the church is the Old Bluecoat School, recently converted into a dwelling. It was built in 1720 but the shell hood over the door is a modern replacement. To the right of the entrance to Parklands can be seen the Ann Bearpacker Almshouses and above this, standing on Adey's Lane, is Under the Hill House, a pleasing, early 18th century house with a turret and bell dated 1726. Beyond the church down Manor Lane is The Manor, formerly Lisle Manor, a 17th century house on the site of the Berkeleys' manor house.

Instead of returning to the War Memorial the same way, walk through the churchyard and out through the gate into the Cloud, passing Church Lodge on the right and the row of Victoria Cottages to the left. The Cloud comes out into Potter's Pond (the pond does not survive) which has several interesting buildings, including the Ram Inn, the oldest house in Wotton (it existed in 1350). It was church property (it is suggested that the builders of the parish church were housed there during construction work) and for a time a Priest's house before becoming a public house until 1968. Recently there have been claims of ghostly appearances which have attracted much attention. Further on is Moore Hall, a substantial 18th century house. A footpath leads north along the east bank of the stream, the first part being the Marchesi Walk, maintained by the Town Council; the path continues to Tyley Bottom.

The War Memorial, looking towards the church.
The War Memorial, looking towards the church.   Photo: George Way
The road past the Ram Inn leads up to Synwell, where there is a recreation ground and large residential area. If you return the same way, you can walk past the old Katharine Lady Berkeley Grammar School (now converted into flats) in School Road, and right up Ludgate Hill. Alternatively, if you have walked up to Synwell, you can turn south along Mount Pleasant and back by Wortley Road past the cemetery, across the stream at Dyers Brook and up the steep Ludgate Hill, past the Public Library and back into Long Street.

A diversion from Long Street, through Clarence Road to Brown's Piece leads to a point where there is a fine view of old Wotton and the Parish Church, which emphasises the aptness of the town's name. Turn up Symn Lane and then right into Orchard Street, which contains Sir Isaac Pitman's house and leads back to Long Street. The Rope Walk, a narrow alley just beyond the DIY shop leads past the old Baptist Chapel back to the starting point at the Chipping.

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