It's all around
you... Finding out about your local history.
This page is intended to support Year 9 research on
the local history of the area. For more information on
any of the sites listed, you can visit the Heritage
Centre, The Chipping, Wotton-under-Edge.
The old and the new
Wotton and Kingswood, there are many old
buildings which tell us about the local area.
Sometimes these are hidden away. Renishaw stands
next to an old mill.
Kingswood Abbey Gatehouse
gatehouse and some precinct walling are
all that are left of Kingswood Abbey, a
'daughter' of the famous Tintern Abbey.
This Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1139
by a member of the Berkeley family and
has existed in several locations over its
history. The Abbey was demolished
following the dissolution of the
monasteries by Henry VIII.
The Tolsey Clock
A clock existed here, at the top of the high street in
Wotton, in the 17th century. Various repairs
were carried out on the clock over the years. In the
second half of the nineteenth century, the driving
mechanism of the clock was in the loft of the Tolsey
building. A man was employed regularly to wind it up and
look after it. A plaque on the clock lists some of the
people who wound the clock up manually.
|Some of the
names listed on the clock plaque
||22/6/97 - 20/4/98
||until 24/6/1951 20th
||up to 1983
Queen Victoria had come to the throne in 1837 and to
celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the present clock,
which juts out into the high street, was installed,
replacing the octagonal shaped one. More recently, the
original portraits of Queen Victoria were replaced with
new ones painted by Wotton-under-Edge artist Robert
Collins, who worked from an 1897 Diamond Jubilee picture
of Queen Victoria which decorated a mug.
The Tyndale Monument
William Tyndale was born around 1484. His birthplace
is not known, but it is quite likely that his parents
lived in Stinchcombe. He spent his childhood in this
area, before going to Oxford to study Greek. In about
1522 he was known to be living as a tutor to the family
of Sir John Walsh of Little Sodbury. He strongly believed
that the Bible should be studied in English and that it
should be understood by people in all ranks of society.
Many people found his views offensive, and persecution of
him at Little Sodbury eventually caused him to leave the
He then embarked on a project to try and
publish an English translation of the Latin Bible. He failed to
find a publisher in England willing to take on such a dangerous project
and so he left the country and moved to Cologne to continue with his
translation. In 1525 he began printing but his continuing efforts had
made him many enemies in the religious community and he was eventually
forced to move to Worms to complete it.
It was while he was living in Antwerp (in what is
today Belgium) that his translation of the Bible was
finally published. Attempts were
made to bring him back to England to stand trial and he
tried to remain in hiding. However he was betrayed and,
after 16 months of imprisonment, was tried and then
strangled and burned at Vilvorden, near Brussels, on the
6th of October 1536.
The idea of having a memorial to Tyndale was not
suggested until three centuries later. At this time it
was thought that Hunts Court, in the village of North
Nibley, was Tyndale's birthplace and it was decided to
place the monument on Nibley Knoll, overlooking the
village and visible from KLB School. The foundation stone
was laid on 29th May, 1863, by the Hon.
The 111 ft high monument is made of
stone extracted from Hampton Quarry, near Stroud, and was
finally completed in 1866. The entrance is on the East
side and inside a staircase leads up to gallery. The
monument is decorated with four sculptures representing
four different situations:
- Tyndale leaving Sodbury
conference with John Frith (one of Tyndales closest
friends, and like Tyndale, one of Englands ablest
scholars, also educated at both Oxford and Cambridge)
betrayal at Antwerp
- His martyrdom.
The Battle of Nibley Green
This is the last battle to be fought on English soil
between private armies. The families of Lord Berkeley of
Berkeley Castle and Lord Lisle of Wotton had quarrelled
over who owned the Berkeley lands for a number of
generations. This had led to a number of skirmishes and
law suites and things came to a head when on 19th March
1469, Thomas Talbot, the Viscount de Lisle, challenged
Lord William Berkeley to open combat on Nibley Green,
close to the village of North Nibley.
William, having accepted the challenge that day, quickly
enlisted the support of his brother Maurice from
Thornbury and miners from the Forest of Dean and his army
camped that night on the outskirts of Michaelwood next to
At sunrise the next morning Lord Lisle's army moved down
the hill from Nibley Church, on to the green. Lord
Berkeley's army was clearly stronger and the battle was
short but very bloody. Lord Lisle was shot with an arrow
in the eye and then killed with a dagger and
his army was routed.
Nearby Wotton Manor was sacked and, when his wife
miscarried 16 days later, the de Lisle family line was
The Tabernacle Chapel
This former church is now an auction room. The
Rowland Hill (1745-1833) was well known as an
evangelist. On the evening of 16th June, 1771,
he rode into Wotton for the first time and preached to
huge crowds under the market hall, now the Town Hall.
Rowland Hill returned to Wotton a few months later and
bought a site above the town, where he built a chapel,
known as The Tabernacle, and built a house
Hill was well known as a supporter of Edward Jenner,
famous for his discovery of a vaccination against the
disease smallpox. Hill was one of the first people to be
vaccinated and urged many members of his congregation to
do so. If you want to find out more about Jenner, a
former pupil of KLB school, you can visit the Jenner
Museum in Berkeley.
The church closed in 1973 and the building was bought
by Robert and John Woodward, whose replica of the Woodchester
Roman Pavement (the Great Orpheus Pavement) -
one of the largest Roman mosaics in Northern Europe - was
created and put on display there. Sandoe's now use it as
an auction room.
The Toll House
This house which some of you may pass on your way to
school from Charfield, is an old toll house where money
was collected for using the road.
The Rowland Hill Almshouses
Rowland Hill founded some almshouses next to the
Tabernacle Chapel. Originally this was a row of cottages
in a field, set back some distance behind the chapel.
These are now privately occupied. The almshouses featured
in this picture here were built in 1883, replacing some
cottages built in 1881.
- Please note that the Reverend Roland Hill was not
related to the Rowland Hill who was famous for
creating the Penny Post!
Other famous residents of Wotton
- Isaac Pitman was born in Trowbridge,
Wiltshire, in 1813. His father withdrew him from
school when he was 13, because he thought it was
making his already poor health worse. Isaac made
up for this by reading. He was fascinated by the
pronunciation and meaning of words, and learned
Taylor's shorthand* system when he was working as
a clerk in the office of his father's cloth
factory. Whilst living in Wotton, in the house in
Orchard Street which bears his name, he decided
to publish a cheap edition of Taylor's shorthand.
However, he devised an improved method which he
called phonography, or writing by sound.
- Stephen Hopkins was born in Wotton in
about 1580 and probably left there as a young man
when in his 20's. A Stephen Hopkins is recorded
as having sailed from London to Virginia, America
on 2nd June, 1607. The ship on which
he sailed was severely damaged in a hurricane,
and those on board were washed ashore in Bermuda.
They were marooned there for nine months and
built two vessels to take them to Virginia.
Stephen organised an uprising against some of the
men who were to govern the colony, on the grounds
that the Governor had authority on the voyage and
in Virginia, not in Bermuda. He was sentenced to
death, but pleaded for the sake of his wife and
children in England. There are no further records
of him in Virginia, so it has been presumed that
he returned home.
- According to records, Hopkins also sailed with
the Pilgrim fathers on The Mayflower ,
arriving at Plymouth, Massachusetts (New England)
in 1620. Stephen's family of eight was one of
only four families to completely survive the
first, hard winter. He became one of the leaders
of the settlement and his previous experiences of
the Indians, in his first voyage, was very
useful. He was noted for establishing good
relations with the Indians. He died in Plymouth,
Massachusetts in 1644.
Some recent research has
found that there was a Stephen Hopkins and family
who came from Hampshire. Therefore, the Stephen
Hopkins who emigrated to New England, America
may not in fact be the same person, but it is
still an interesting story!
- John Cambridge grew up in Wotton in the 18th
century. His father was the licensee of the Star Inn and when John
emigrated to Canada and became the founder of a shipping line he
named it the White Star Line in memory of this. The White Star line
was eventually to become the owners of
the ill-fated Titanic and her sister ship.
ŠN. Landau - June 2000