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History

The Gloucestershire Parish of Chalford covers two square miles of some of the most beautiful countryside in the whole range of the Cotswolds. It lies four miles south-east of Stroud on the north side of the River Frome, eight miles west of Cirencester, and in and above the Golden Valley.

In this part of Gloucestershire the Cotswolds are cut by deep gorge-like valleys opening out westward into the Severn plain, and having characteristics strikingly different from the shallower combes watered by Cotswold streams feeding the Thames. At Chalford the valleys are Alpine in character, deep, narrow and well wooded.

Chalford Valley

The remains, and known sites, of many long and round barrows within the confines of the ancient Parish of Bisley indicate that the plateau area of Chalford Hill, France Lynch and Bussage has been an area of continuous settlement for probably at least 5000 years. Stone Age flints have been found in the area, as well as remains of a Roman Villa. Several of the place names in the area are clues to its Saxon and Danish ancestry.

The name Chalford may be derived from Calf (way) Ford, or possibly from the Saxon ealj or Chalk and the Norman Ford, both having the same meaning. Chalford Hill is a quite recent title for the western end of the hill villages above Chalford Valley, its old title being Chalford Lynch. Lynch from the Anglo-Saxon hline means a cultivated terrace following the contours of a hill. France is much more difficult to explain. Some say it is derived from frams-eye (island) or -ea (stream) from the Fram (Frome) river in the valley, thence, perhaps via Francey to France. Others say it is derived from the 17th century Huguenot refugees who settled here to make woollen cloth and silk.

Cloth has been made in the Cotswolds since early medieval times, and Chalford was one of the centres for the manufacture of broadcloth. Its wealthy clothiers built many of the fine houses on the hill, while much of the actual spinning and weaving was carried out in the cottages dotted along the hillside.

Timeline

1725

Chalford Tabernacle Baptist Church already built

1726

Christ Church (Parish Church of Chalford) constructed

1783-9

Thames and Severn Canal built

1814

Road built from Stroud as far as the White Horse Inn

1815

Road built through the valley bottom

1819

France Congregational Church built on present site

1820

Methodist Chapel built

1830

Road from Bisley to Chalford Church built

1844

St Michael and All Angels (Parish Church of Bussage) Foundation stone laid

1845

Railway from Swindon to Cheltenham opened

1857

St John the Baptist (Parish Church of France Lynch) built

1874

Chalford Hill School (the British School) built

1894

Parish of Chalford formed

1897

Station opened at Chalford (until this time the station for Chalford was at Brimscombe)

1903

Railcar runs from Chalford to Stonehouse (and later to Gloucester)

1935

St Mary of the Angels (Roman Catholic Church) built

1940

Price of return bus fare from Chalford to Stroud is 6d (2 1/2p)

1964

Closure of railcar service

1986

France Congregational Church sold for conversion to private use

 

 

 

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