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FOREST OF DEAN, Gloucestershire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

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1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"FOREST OF DEAN, an extra-parochial place in the hundred of St. Briavel's, in the county of Gloucester. It is situated between the rivers Severn and Wye, extending 20 miles in length from N. to S., and 10 miles in breadth from E. to W. It was anciently still more extensive comprising the towns of Tudenham and Wollaston, and the village of Alvington, situated on the margin of the Severn. It is a rich mining district, containing Coleford and other places, inhabited chiefly by miners, and is divided into the walks of Denby, Herbert, Little Dean, Speech House, Worcester, and York. It belongs to the crown, and comprises 23,015 acres, 11,000 of which are enclosed for timber.

The mines produce an abundance of iron and coal. It is governed by a lord warden, who is constable of St. Briavel's Castle, 6 deputies, 4 verderers, a conservator, and chief forester, all which offices are vested by inheritance in the Wyndham family; there are besides 8 foresters, and a gaveller to collect the dues; also a steward of the swainmote, whose duty it is to preside at the swainmote and miners' courts.

There are four chapelries within the precincts of the forest, all in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, and each of the value of £150, three of which are in the patronage of the crown, and the other in that of the bishop. The churches are Christ Church, Holy Trinity, St. John's, and St. Paul's.

The Cinderford Iron, the Parkend and Bilson, and the Coleford Coal and Iron are the principal works; there are also the Futtrill and the "Strip-and-at-it" collieries, and the Lydbrook and Rudbrook tin and rolling mills. To prevent encroachments upon each other in the coal and iron works, frequent courts are held at the Speech House, which is situated in the centre of the forest; at these courts the particular laws and customs of the forest are enforced by the steward, assisted by a jury of miners.

Until recently the inhabitants were exempt from all rates and taxes, and have still free liberty of pasturage and fuel, with the privilege of sinking mines, the sixth part of the produce being reserved to the crown. Pursuant to an Act passed in the 36th year of George III. new roads have been opened in various directions through the forest, which is also intersected by several tramways, communicating with the Severn and the Wye."

"HERBERT'S WALK, an extra parochial place in the Dean Forest hundred of St. Briavel's, county Gloucester. It forms part of Dean Forest."

"LITTLE DEAN WALK, an extra-parochial place in Dean Forest, hundred of St. Briavel's, in the county of Gloucester."

"WORCESTER WALK, an extra parochial liberty in Dean Forest, county Gloucester, 6 miles W. of Newnham. It includes the village of Lidbrook."

"EAST-DEAN, a parish (for all ecclesiastical purposes) and township, in the hundred of St. Briavel's, county Gloucester. It is an extensive district in the Forest of Dean, called Holy Trinity; its length from N. to S. is about 10 miles. It contains within its limits the several hamlets and villages of Cinderford, in which is the district post-office, Dry brook, the Hawthorns, Ruerdean Woodside, and Ruerdean Hill. Its principal church, Holy Trinity, is 32 miles S.W. of Mitcheldean Road station on the Hereford, Ross, and Gloucester branch of the Great Western railway, and 5 N.W. of Newnham.

The inhabitants are for the most part employed in the coal and iron mines, which abound in this neighbourhood. There are also iron smelting works and stone-quarries. The living of Holy Trinity is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £150, in the patronage of the crown. There is also the district church of St. John, at Cinderford. The Baptists and Wesleyans have chapels, and there are National schools, with endowments. The manor is held by the crown."

"DENBIGH LODGE, in the parish of East Dean and county of Gloucester, 3½ miles S.W. of Newnham. It is situated in Dean Forest."

"DENBY WALK, an extra-parochial place in the parish of East Dean, hundred of St. Briavell's, in the county of Gloucester."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

  • West Dean "Civil parish formed from extraparochial area 1842."
    (Ref: Guide to the Parish Records of the City of Bristol and the County of Gloucester; I. Gray & E. Ralph, 1963)