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Northleach, Gloucestershire

Historical Description

Northleach, a small market-town, the head of a poor-law union, county court district, and petty sessional division, and a parish in Gloucestershire. The town stands among the Cotswolds, on the Fosse Way, 1 mile NE of the Salt Way, half a mile ESE of the Seven Springs, the source of the river Leach, 5¼ miles SW of Bourton-on-the Water station on the Banbury and Cheltenham branch of the G.W.R., and 10 NE of Cirenccster. It was given by King Etheldred to Gloucester Abbey, and by Henry VIII. to the Daltons; had once a corporation, but is now governed by a bailiff, elected annually at a court-leet; flourished long as a seat of cloth manufacture; went afterwards into decay; consists now chiefly of one long irregularly-built street; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.), a bank, a police station, a house of detention, a church, a Congregational chapel, a grammar school, two suites of almshouses for respectively six men and six women, and several other charities. The church is a large handsome Perpendicular edifice, and was restored in 1884. It consists of clerestoried nave, aisles with N and S chapels, and chancel with beautiful arched porch and lofty embattled tower, and contains an ancient font and a number of rich brasses. The grammar school was founded in 1559 by Mr H. Westwood, was reorganised under a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners in 1877 into a middle-class school, and has £800 a year from endowment, and an exhibition at Pembroke College, Oxford. The institute and reading-room was built in 1886 and enlarged in 1895. There is a cemetery. A weekly market is held on Wednesday, hiring fairs are held on the Wednesday before and the Wednesday after 11 Oct., and much business is done, especially once a year, in connection with flocks of Cotswold sheep and herds of short-horned Hereford cattle, which abound in the neighbourhood and are held in high repute. Population of the town, 787. The parish contains also the tithing and hamlet of Eastington, and comprises 3997 acres; population, 1106. The workhouse of the Northleach union is at the east end of the town. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; net value, £130 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyGloucestershire 
Ecclesiastical parishNorthleach St. Peter and St. Paul 
Poor Law unionNorthleach 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


A cemetery of three quarters of an acre was formed in 1888, at a cost of £270.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1556.

The Gloucestershire Parish Registers are available online at Ancestry, in association with Gloucestershire Archives.


Church of England

SS. Peter and Paul (parish church)

The church of SS. Peter and Paul, erected about the middle of the 15th century, is a noble edifice of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave of five bays with lofty clerestory, aisles with north and south chapels, south porch and a western tower with panelled and embattled parapet, containing a clock and 8 bells: the porch, one of the most beautiful in the kingdom, is enriched throughout with tracery, and has a groined roof: ancient statues representing the Trinity and Virgin and Child are still in place over the doorway: the exterior of the church is relieved by canopied niches and crocketed pinnacles; the east window is stained and the chancel retains sedilia: the stone staircase to the rood loft in the north aisle, and a double hagioscope in the south or Bicknell chapel were discovered during the restoration in 1884: the font consists of an octagonal basin, on a panelled and buttressed shaft: the original pulpit of carved stone is very beautiful: the ancient mensa, or altar table of the high altar was discovered in 1902 and placed in its original position: there are fine brasses to Thomas Ffortey, woolman, ob. 1415, with defaced effigy, and William Scors, tailor, ob. 1420, and Agnes, successively wife of each, with mutilated effigies, including some children, and inscription; John Ffortey, woolman, who added the clerestory of the church, ob. 1458, with effigy under canopy and marginal inscription; a woolman and his wife, c. 1485, with four children, a merchant's mark, and marginal inscription; John Taylour, woolman, and his wife, c. 1490, with marginal inscription and figures of fifteen children; Robert Serche, ob. 1501, and Anne, his wife, with four children; Thomas Bushe, woolman and merchant of the staple of Calais, ob. 1525, and his wife, Joan, ob. 1526, under a canopy with figures of children and inscription: William Launder, priest, c. 1530; there are also inscribed brasses to William Bicknell, ob. 1500, and Margaret his wife, ob. 1483, founders of the chapel in 1489; and to Maude Parker, ob. 1584, with an acrostic of 20 English verses: a memorial window has been placed in the church by the parishioners to the Rev. Joseph William Sharpe B.A. vicar, 1875-90; the organ was presented in 1883 by Mrs. Stephenson: the communion plate includes a chalice and paten cover of Elizabethan date, a tall gilt chalice of 1620, and a gilt flagon and alms plate of the date 1707-8: the church was restored in 1884, under the superintendence of Mr. James Brooks, architect, of London, at a cost of £3,575, and affords sittings for about 550 persons.


Congregational Chapel

The Congregational chapel is a building of stone in the Early English style, opened 13th June, 1860, and has 260 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Northleach from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Gloucestershire is available to browse.


Online maps of Northleach are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Gloucestershire online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the county of Gloucester, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtGL54
Post TownCheltenham