Fairford (Virgin Mary)
FAIRFORD (Virgin Mary), a market-town and parish, in the union of Cirencester, hundred of Brightwell's-Barrow, E. division of the county of Gloucester, 24 miles (S. E. by E.) from Gloucester, and 80 (W. by N.) from London; containing 1672 inhabitants. This place derives its name from the convenience of its ford across the Colne, on which river it is situated, near its influx into the Thames. About the middle of the ninth century, the manor belonged to the kings of Mercia; at the period of the Norman survey, to Maud, consort of William I.; and after various changes it came into the possession of Henry VII. The town, which is on the road from London to Stroud, and also on that from Oxford to Bath, consists principally of one long street, irregularly formed; there are several good detached houses, and its general appearance has been much improved of late: the inhabitants are supplied with water from springs, and from the Colne, across which are two neat bridges. The manufacture of agricultural implements is carried on to a considerable extent. A market is held on Thursday, by charter obtained about 1668; and there are fairs for cattle and sheep on May 14th and November 12th. The parish comprises 3803 acres by measurement. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 11. 5½.; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester: the tithes have been commuted for £482. The church is an elegant and spacious structure in the later English style, with a central embattled tower, strengthened by panelled buttresses, enriched with canopied niches, in which were statues, and crowned by crocketed pinnacles; the windows of the church are all of stained glass, and the whole edifice is one of the richest specimens of its style. The erection is attributed to John Tame, a rich London merchant, who, in trading to Italy about 1492, captured a Flemish vessel bound for Rome, on board of which was a quantity of splendid stained glass: having purchased the manor, he commenced building the church in 1493, and his death taking place in 1500, it was finished by his son, Sir Edmund Tame, Knt. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents. A bequest of £1000 was made in 1704, by the Hon. Elizabeth Farmor, daughter of Lord Lempster, to be expended in land, for the maintenance of an afternoon lecture every Sunday in the church, and for the foundation and support of a free school. The school is also endowed with a subsequent bequest of £500 by her cousin, Mrs. Mary Barker, besides other benefactions; the schoolroom was erected in 1738. Fairford gives the title of Viscount to the Marquess of Downshire.