Lechlade (St. Lawrence)

LECHLADE (St. Lawrence), a market-town and parish, in the union of Farringdon, hundred of Brightwells-Barrow, E. division of the county of Gloucester, 28 miles (S. E.) from Gloucester, and 75 (W. by N.) from London; containing 1300 inhabitants. The name is derived from the little river Leche, and the Saxon word ladean, to empty; that stream, which rises near Northleach, falling into the Thames below St. John's bridge, in the parish. The town is situated on the margin of the Thames, and on the road from Cirencester to London; it is neatly built, and consists principally of two long and wide streets: the inhabitants are supplied with water from wells. Its chief business was formerly in the transport of commodities, particularly Wiltshire and Gloucester cheese, brought hither for conveyance to the metropolis by the Thames, which becomes navigable at this place, where also the canal terminates which unites this river and the Severn; but the traffic has within the last few years been diverted into another channel. The market, for which a grant was obtained by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III., is held on Friday, but is almost disused: a fair for cattle and for toys on September 9th, is much frequented. A constable and a tythingman are appointed at a triennial court leet held by the lord of the manor. The parish comprises 3542a. 1r. 7p.; the pastures are rich, and the farms under good management; the surface is pleasingly varied.

The living is a vicarage, endowed with the rectorial tithes, and valued in the king's books at £12. 13. 4.; patron and incumbent, the Rev. C. Hebert, whose tithes have been commuted for £710. The church is a handsome structure in the later English style, built about the middle of the fifteenth century, at the joint expense of the vicar, the inmates of Lechlade Priory, and the inhabitants of the parish; the spire is remarkable for its symmetrical beauty: the interior of the edifice was newpewed and beautified in 1829. There is a place of worship for Baptists. Benefactions amounting to about £80 per annum, have been made to the poor. In a meadow near St. John's bridge stood a priory of Black canons, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, which was founded by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the reign of Henry III., and the revenue of which, on its suppression in 1473, was applied to the foundation of a chantry in the parochial church. There was also an hospital on or near the bridge, founded by Peter Fitz-Herbert, about the same time as the priory. Towards the end of the last century, a subterraneous structure was discovered in a meadow in the vicinity, with brick pillars and mosaic pavement, supposed to have been a Roman bath; and it has been conjectured that this was a Roman town, to which a vicinal road extended from Cirencester. There is a mineral spring. Thomas Coxeter, an eminent antiquary, was born here in 1689.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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