Fairford, a market-town and a parish in Gloucestershire. The town stands on the river Colne, near the boundary between Wilts and Berks, 4 miles WNW of Lechlade, and 8¼ E by S of Cirencester. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office (S.O.), and a station on the Oxford and Fairford branch of the G.W.R. There are two bridges over the river. Fairford contains a rural hospital and a lunatic asylum; it is a seat of petty sessions. A fair for cattle is held on the second Tuesday in each month, and annual fairs on the 14 May and 12 Nov. The church was built in the 15th century by the family of Tame, is a fine specimen of Perpendicular English, has 28 large windows of painted glass inferior only to those of King's College chapel, Cambridge, and contains a table-tomb of John Tame and brasses to other members of that family. There are Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Baptist, and Calvinistic-Baptist chapels. The parish comprises 4012 acres; population, 1463. The manor belonged to Earl Brictric, was held by the Crown at Domesday, was purchased in 1498 by John Tame, a wealthy London merchant. The present manor house was built after the Restoration on the site of the former dwelling of John Tame. It is a handsome edifice situated in an extensive park. In a field adjoining the town, numerous graves were discovered in 1850, containing the remains of those who fell in the battle fought here in 577, between the Saxons and the British; in the graves were also found articles of metal, glass, pottery, beads, and other relics of the Anglo-Saxon period. Fairford is celebrated for its trout fishery. John Keble was born here. Fairford gives the title of Viscount to the Marquis of Downsbire. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; net value, £200 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. There are free schools for boys and girls, founded by Elizabeth Farmor and Mary Barker in 1738. The rare sedge, Carex tomentosa, was discovered here in 1890.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Fairford Virgin Mary|
|Poor Law union||Cirencester|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Fairford 1619-1837, Gloucestershire is available to browse online.
The parish register dates from 1641.
The Gloucestershire Parish Registers are available online at Ancestry, in association with Gloucestershire Archives.
Church of England
St. Mary (parish church)
The church of St. Mary is a large and handsome edifice of stone in the Late Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a fine central tower with pinnacles, containing a clock and 8 bells: the chancel, aisles and chapels are embattled; the east end of the north aisle anciently formed the Lady chapel, and that of the south aisle the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament; both are inclosed by very fine screens of oak of the same date as the church, beside which the ancient oak choir stalls also remain, and these have misereres, carved with quaint devices: the reredos was erected and the chancel re-floored at the cost of the Rev. Francis William, 5th Baron Dynevor, sometime rector here, who died 3 Aug. 1878: the church is chiefly remarkable for its beautiful stained windows, 28 in number, the gift of Sir John Tame, a wealthy wool stapler, who erected the church in 1499; they are said to have been executed from designs by the famous Albert Dürer, and represent the leading events in the history of our Lord: beneath the screen dividing the Lady chapel from the choir, is a tomb of Purbeck marble, with effigies and inscriptions in brass to John Tame esq. ob. 8 May, 1500, and Alice, his wife, ob. 20 Dec. 1471; the male figure is in armour, and at the angles and foot of the tomb are shields of arms of Tame and Twynihow: on the floor in the same chapel is a blue marble slab with effigies and inscription to Sir Edmund Tame kt. ob. 1 Oct. 1534, and Agnes, his first wife, ob. 26 July, 1506; the figures include that of the knight in armour, his two wives and five children: on the wall near is a brass with kneeling effigies of the same, and another inscription including Elizabeth, his second wife: in this chapel is also an altar tomb with recumbent effigies in freestone, to Sir Roger Lygon and Catherine, his wife, and shields of arms of Lygon impaling Dennys quartering Corbett, Russell and de Georges: in the chancel is a memorial to William Oldisworth, ob. 3 Oct. 1680, and to Mary (Austin), his wife; and also a marble tablet to the Rev. John Keble M.A. sometime vicar of Coln St. Aldwyn and of Blewbury, Berks, and father of the author of the "Christian Year," and to other members of the family: in the church is a lectern with chain and padlock, to which is attached an ancient copy of Calvin's "Institutes" and "The Whole Duty of Man," dated 1725: in 1889-91 the church was thoroughly restored and the windows re-leaded, at a cost of £4,750, defrayed by public subscription, including £25 given by Queen Victoria: there are sittings for 500 persons.
The Baptist chapel, built in 1853, has sittings for 300 persons.
Calvinistic Baptist Chapel
Primitive Methodist Chapel
The Primitive Methodist chapel, founded in 1662, has sittings for 100 persons.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Fairford from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Fairford (Virgin Mary))
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Gloucestershire is available to browse.
Online maps of Fairford are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Gloucestershire online:
- Gloucester Citizen
- Gloucester Journal
- Gloucestershire Chronicle
- Gloucestershire Echo
- Cheltenham Chronicle
- Cheltenham Looker-On
The Visitation of the county of Gloucester, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.