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Thornbury, Gloucestershire

Historical Description

Thornbury, a small market-town, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a parish, in Gloucestershire. The town stands in Berkeley Vale, 11 miles NNE of Bristol, 115 by road and 135 by railway from London. It has a station at the terminus of a short branch of the M.R. from Yate, and a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) It is an ancient town and was formerly a municipal borough, but the corporation was extinguished by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1883. The town consists of three streets meeting in the form of the letter Y. A castle was erected here by Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was executed for high treason in 1521. The castle was commenced in 1511, and was left unfinished. This magnificent pile of buildings was partially restored in 1849, and is now the seat of a branch of the Howard family. The church is of Perpendicular architecture, was restored in 1848, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, chapels, and a fine tower, restored in 1889, with openwork battlements and pinnacles. It contains sedilia, piscinas, an ancient font, an altar tomb of 1624 to Sir John Stafford, Governor of Bristol Castle, and monuments to members of the Howard family. There are Baptist, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels. Petty sessions and county courts are held at the court-house. Thornbury has a police station, a bank, a workhouse, and an endowed grammar school founded in 1606. Cossham Hall is used for lectures, concerts, &c. A market is held on the second Wednesday in the month, and a hiring fair on the Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday before 25 March. The parish contains also the tithings of Falfield, Morton, and Oldbury-on-Severn, and the chapelry of Rangeworthy; extends to the Severn, and comprises 11,806 acres of land and 15 of water, with 527 of tidal water and 2554 of foreshore; population of the civil parish, 4252; of the ecclesiastical, 2671. The civil parish was subdivided in 1894 into three parishes, Thornbury, Oldbury, and Falfield, the boundaries being those of the ecclesiastical parishes. Thornbury has a parish council of eleven members, Oldbury one of seven, and Falfield one of five. Falfield, Eangeworthy, and Oldbury-on-Severn are separate ecclesiastical parishes. Thornbury Castle, Thornbury Park, Eastwood Park, and Kyneton are chief residences. The living of Thornbury is a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; net value, £326 with residence. Patron, Christ Church, Oxford.

Thornbury or Southern Parliamentary Division, of Gloucestershire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 62,951. The division includes the following:- Thornbury-Aldmondsbury, Alveston, Aust, Elberton, Hill, Iron Acton (including Acton Ilgar), Littleton-on-Severn, Olveston-with-Tockington, Rangeworthy, Redwick and Northwick, Rockhampton, Thornbury, Tytherington; Sodbury- Acton Turville, Alderley, Ashton (Cold), Doddington, Dyrham and Hinton, Great Badminton, Hawkesbury, Horton, Marshfield, Pucklechurch, Sodbury (Chipping), Sodbury (Little), Sodbury (Old), Tormarton, Wapley and Codrington, Westerleigh, West Littleton, Wick and Abson, Wickwar, Yate; Lawford's Gate (except the part included in the extended borough of Bristol) - Bitton, Compton Greenfield, Doynton, Frampton Cotterell, Filton, Hanham, Henbury (except the tithings of Aust, and Redwick and Northwick), Mangotsfield, Oldland, Siston, Stoke Gifford, Westbury-on-Trym, Winterbourne.

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 parishThornbury St. Mary 
Poor Law unionThornbury 

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

Church Records

The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Thornbury 1550-1812, Gloucestershire is available to browse online.

The register, including early entries relating to Falfield and Oldbury-on-Severn, dates from the year 1559.

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 building of stone, wholly in the Early Perpendicular style, and consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of six bays, aisles, chapels, south porch and a lofty western tower, with elegant pierced and embattled parapet and canopied pinnacles, and containing a clock and 8 bells: the chancel retains a piscina and sedilia, and there is a piscina and a recessed tomb in the south chapel: in the chancel is a memorial window, erected in 1846, to Edward, 9th Duke of Norfolk, d. 20 Sept, 1777, and there are other memorial windows to Henry Howard, of Greystoke Castle, Cumberland, and Thornbury Castle, d. 7 Jan. 1875; Lieut. Hector Maclaine, son of the late W. O. Maclaine esq. of Kyneton, killed at Candahar in 1880; John Stratford Rodney, d. 1854; William Vaudrey, of Morton Grange; William Till, of Park farm, Thornbury, d. 1888; Edmund Lloyd, many years warden of this church, d. 1855; and to Joseph Young Sturge, for 26 years churchwarden here, d. 1891: the east window and several others are also filled with stained glass: over the porch is a sun dial: the tower was restored in 1889, at a cost of £988: there are 800 sittings.

St. Paul's Mission church, Buckover

St. Paul's Mission church at Buckover is a building of stone with sittings for about 120 persons.


Baptist Chapel, St John Street

The Baptist chapel in St. John street, erected in 1828, will seat 300 persons

Baptist Chapel, Lower Morton

The Baptist chapel in Lower Morton, built in 1834, has seating for 100 persons.


Congregational Chapel, Chapel Street

The Congregational chapel, in Chapel street, built in 1826, has 400 sittings.


Wesleyan Chapel, High Street

The Wesleyan chapel, in High street, built in 1878, has sittings for 300.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Thornbury from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Thornbury 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.

CountySouth Gloucestershire
RegionSouth West
Postal districtBS35
Post TownBristol