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St Andrew's Church at Woolaston, Forest of Dean
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Woolaston in the Forest of Dean

WOOLASTONE (in 1870) is a village, parish and station, on the Gloucester, Swansea and Carmarthen line of the Great Western Railway, 5 miles north-east from Chepstow, 12 south-east from Monmouth, and 11 south-west from Newnham, situated on the western bank of the river Severn.

The village, which is very much scattered, partly lies on the high road from Newnham to Chepstow in the Western division of the county, hundred of Westbury, union and county court district of Chepstow, rural deanery of The Forest, archdeaconry of Gloucester, and diocese of Gloucester and Bristol.

The church of St. Andrews is an ancient and curiously formed structure in the Norman style, beautifully restored in 1859: It consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, organ chamber, and a massive western tower; the church is entered on the south side, through an old porch, and the interior is rendered exceedingly noble by the length and height of the nave, combined with its fine timbered roof; the arcade which divides the aisle from the nave consists of double shafts of polished marble, with richly foliated capitals. The large east window of the chancel is filled in with stained glass, by Wailes. The register dates from the year 1688.

The living is a rectory, gross yearly value, with the chapelries of Alvington and Lancaut annexed, about £640, with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Beaufort, and held by the Rev. William Somerset, L.L.D., of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

There is a National school for boys and girls, which was erected in 1862, at a cost of upwards of £1,000. The Duke of Beaufort, K. G., is lord of the manor and chief landowner. The charities are about £7 10s. yearly.

The soil is mostly gravel; subsoil, limestone and sandstone. The chief crops are wheat and barley and many orchards. The area is 3,161 acres; the population in 1861 was 971; gross estimated rental, £6,815; rateable value, £5,634. Parish Clerk - Samuel Smith.

Post Office - George Lodge Shillam, receiver.  Letters arrive by foot post from Lydney at 8.30 a.m. ; dispatched at 6 p.m. Lydney is the nearest money order office.         National School - John Morris, master; Mrs. Ellen Jane Morris, mistress.

Kelly's Post Office Directory 1870


Woolaston in the 21st century
It  has a thriving primary school, two pubs, a small post office and a new memorial hall, a popular skate park and a community orchard. The small shop has undergone substantial re-development and has opened again as a Londis Store under local management.
Changing patterns of employment and home occupation have altered the character of rural villages in this area. In bygone years there were several more shops, a blacksmith and more, but they are all long gone now as the character of the village changes. Today a substantial proportion of the village commute because the village is well placed to serve the housing needs of those who work in the Forest of Dean and also in Chepstow, Bristol, Newport and even as far as Cardiff and even London.
An increasing proportion of the village's residents, repeating something of the pattern of history, are working from home, however, nowadays they are supported by network technologies rather than the fields or local industries.
The older agricultural population is becoming increasingly replaced by a newer population of office based professionals, many working in the design, media, computer and communication industries based in the cities of Bath, Bristol and Cardiff and Newport.
A well regarded village school continues to thrive and has a reputation for its art and the academic attainment of its pupils. At one time the parish of Woolaston stretched between the River Severn and the River Wye, but now it does not (though it is still quite large). It used to contain much of the area now in the Hewelsfield and Brockweir civil parish.
The Woolaston parish contains many smaller hamlets including Netherend, Woolaston Common, High Woolaston, Woolaston Woodside, Woolaston Slade, Common Wood, Lancaut, Stroat, Keynsham, Plusterwine, Brookend, Smallbrook, Clap-Y-Ates and Clanna.  Forest of Dean's Woolaston Church 1900

St. Andrew's parish church at Woolaston is about a mile south west of Netherend along the A48 towards Chepstow. The earliest record of its existence was in the foundation grant by Walter de Clare to Tintern Abbey in 1131. However, the old circular churchyard and the nearby Roman road, which ran just to the north-west of the church, suggest a much earlier holy site.

The tower, originally a low one with a short wooden steeple, was completely rebuilt in 1774St. Andrew's was threatened with closure in 2007 but at the final Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve it was announced that the Church would be saved.

At Edge Farm, near High Woolaston, an Iron Age camp was identified in 1683 at a field called Single Berrow.

Text mainly from Wikipedia

It is unusual that the church is one mile away from the modern village. It is believed that the original village around the church was abandoned because of the plague in the 17th century. A pauper's cross in the graveyard has a number of holes where, it seems, money soaked in vinegar was offered to prevent transmission of the plague.

Richard Wyche, who studied at Oxford, was Abbot of Tintern Abbey from 1521 until its dissolution in September 1536. The former Abbot then moved to Woolaston where he became perpetual curate and 'pryste in the parysshe of Wolleston' with a pension of twenty-two pounds a year.


Margaret Clayton established a charity in 1616 for schooling four poor children of Woolaston, and a master was paid out of the charity funds in 1683.  In 1781 the vestry resolved to appoint a mistress to teach nine poor boys, and the Clayton charity of 40 shillings a year was paid regularly to a master in the years before a National school was founded at Gumstalls c. 1818. The National school was supported from subscriptions but also received the Clayton charity and in 1846 a grant of £30 from the National Society. 

In 1818 there were 120 children,  but in 1825 only 50 boys attended daily, with an additional 50 girls on Sundays; 40 children came from Alvington. The Sunday school had been temporarily discontinued for lack of funds in 1825,  but by 1833 it had been revived for 140 children, supported by a bequest of £50, voluntary contributions, and rent from charity land.

Apart from the National school, then reduced to 20 boys, there were two other day-schools containing 30-40 fee-paying children. One may have been that held occasionally in 1825 by an itinerant dissenting teacher.

A Sunday and infant school attached to the Moravian chapel at Brockweir was opened in 1834. It continued in use until 1896 when a board school was built at Hewelsfield Common. The small stone building with pointed Gothic windows was a private house in 1969.

The school building at Gumstalls was replaced by a new National school at Netherend in 1862. Its income was low in 1864 and the rector had to make up the deficiency, which may have been the cause of the formation of a school board, to which the school's management was transferred in 1874. Attendance rose from 85 in two departments in 1864 to 94 in 1885 and, after the addition of a new wing in 1895, to 140 in 1897. In 1891 fees were completely abolished. The school buildings were again enlarged in 1903-4,  but numbers had dropped to 116 in 1936.

Education, attendance and discipline was vastly improved in 1914 when Cornelius Jones was appointed headmaster. During his reign the school boasted the highest average for scholarships in West Gloucestershire for a number of years.

Attendance in 1969 was 134, when the older children went to schools in Lydney.   


On Friday 1st of June 2012 Woolaston School held an Open Day to celebrate both the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and its 150th Anniversary.


The Romans at Woolaston
The main road through Woolaston runs from Gloucester to Chepstow and follows the course of the Roman road from Gloucester to Caerleon for much of its route and has been in use at least since the 10th century. The crossing at the Piccadilly brook and the Black brook at Twyford were recorded in 956. South-west of Brookend the Roman road is believed to have diverged northward past Gumstalls and the church before rejoining the modern road north-east of Stroat. A hoard of 250 Roman coins from AD 313 to AD 346 was discovered near High Woolaston Farm in 1887-8.

Plan of Chesters Roman Villa in the Forest of DeanThe Chesters Roman villa is situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary halfway between Lydney and Chepstow. There were a series of excavations between 1932-35 by C.Scott Garrett and by M G Fulford and J R L Allen (1987-91) mainly in the Lower Chesters field south of the railway. They revealed that the villa lies within a walled and ditched enclosure which includes a courtyard with a residential area on the east side, a bath block to the south, and a sub-divided rectangular building on the northern end of the west wallIt is believed to have been occupied by a Roman ironmaster who was also involved in farming and had connections with shipping.

It was apparently built in the first half of the 2nd century, destroyed and then rebuilt around c.320. It then remained occupied until the 5th century. Our picture shows a 1934 sketch of the villa by Dr Scott Garrett. The harbour at neighbouring Lay Pill was apparently regularly used and the villa is thought to have had a lighthouse to guide vessels past the nearby Guscar Rocks.

Ironworking debris was found near the villa in the 1980s, and tap slag and charcoal were found in the same field as the villa during fieldwalking. Slag heaps were located to the south of the building. At the time of the excavations, remains of a timber-framed building were discovered containing evidence of two iron-smelting furnaces. The coal mining industry was also probably established here on a small scale as minor quantities were also found.

Woolaston Quay and Grange Pill from the air
Our pictures show the Chesters Roman villa site from the air, and indicated with a pointer on our Google view. The diagonal line across is the Gloucester to South Wales railway and the buildings to the left are at Woolaston Grange.

Roman Villas in the Forest of Dean

Two other Roman villas were built along this 10 km section of the Severn Estuary. Our first Google image show the site to the west, Boughspring Roman Villa, in an area between Stroat and Tidenham, which was excavated in 1969 and 1985. The dig report concluded that the villa may have consisted of three buildings and dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Cooking ware, pottery, tesserae and tegulae were all recovered. Work carried out in 1985 concluded that the villa measured 29.5 by 13 metres and was divided into 6 or 7 rooms, one of which was probably a bath house.

Our second view shows the location, in a field opposite the entrance to Taurus Crafts, of the remains of a Roman villa at Park Farm, Aylburton which was excavated by Dr Scott-Garrett in 1955. The excavation concluded that the villa may have consisted of three buildings that were dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Cooking ware, pottery, tesserae and tegulae were all recovered. Its proximity to Noden's Temple indicates a connection between them and was possibly the source of the wealth that created the Lydney Park complex. It also appears that all three villas were built around the same time and connected by the smelting of local iron-ore.
During the excavations on this site, what was possibly a stone wharf and a large brazier hearth, believed to be a beacon for shipping, was discovered. This indicates that not only was the villa built very close to the waterfront but also that shipping used the area frequently. Also found were four tiles inscribed 'TPLF'. Similar tiles were found at Cirencester suggesting a connection between the villa and the civitas capital.

Grange Pill  Woolaston

Grange Pill, Woolaston (ST593982) - This site can be split into two areas both of which have strong implications for maritime Dean. The first is the Chesters Roman villa which is a large villa complex, possibly with military links, situated some 750m north-east of Grange Pill, close to a small silted pill that flows into the Severn at Guscar Rocks.

Evidence indicates that there were two phases of continuous occupation, the first dating to the mid 2nd century, with the second commencing after c.320 A.D. and lasting until the end of the Roman period.

A thick dereliction layer separated these and this may hint at the villa having been attacked from the sea for there was known Irish raiding in the estuary in the early 4th century.

Maritime links for this villa are strongly suggested by a structure whose function was interpreted as a lighthouse (probably built to guide incoming craft along a safe channel between Guscar Rocks) and also large quantities of bloomery slag (a waste product of iron smelting) around the edge of the pill, which appeared to have been used as hardcore for a trackway to the villa and also for a hard for shipping. 

The second area at this site is that of Woolaston Quay. This quay consists of two large and separate timber and stone structures (essentially an upper and lower quay) discovered in the intertidal zone of Grange Pill in 1985. Woolaston QuayArchaeological investigation has revealed that the upper quay was built in the mid 12th century and then the lower quay added in the early 13th century. The quays were probably built to serve the shipping needs of the manor of Woolaston which at the time was owned by Tintern Abbey (the remains of a monastic chapel are present at nearby Woolaston Grange) and they formed a substantial structure that remained in use until sometime in the mid 17th century, when they were apparently damaged beyond repair, most probably by a violent storm.

One of the most important aspects of this site for Dean is that despite being in use for 500 years, the two quays were not recorded in any documentary sources, which means that other similar waterfront structures may exist elsewhere in Dean but are at present unknown. 

Source - Riverine Dean - The Maritime & Waterfront Archaeology of the Forest of Dean by John Putley


A hoard of about 250 Roman coins dated 313-346 AD was discoverd under a stone at High Woolaston in 1887. It was only reported in 1895 when then in the possession of a family living near Chepstow. They were presented for identication at the National Museum of Wales in 1958 in a box from Mr T R Till of Lodge Farm, Caerleon.


Domesday Woolaston

The Domesday Book - compiled in 1085-6 - is one of the few historical records whose name is familiar to most people in this country. It is our earliest public record, the foundation document of the national archives and a legal document that is still valid as evidence of title to land. Based on the Domesday survey of 1085-6, which was drawn up on the orders of King William I, it describes in remarkable detail, the landholdings and resources of late 11th-century England, demonstrating the power of the government machine in the first century of the new Millennium, and its deep thirst for information.


Woolaston- Hundred: Wyvern County: Gloucestershire. Total population: 5 households. Total tax assessed: 2 geld units (quite small).  Taxable value 2 geld units. Taxed on 2.0. Payments of 0.25 fisheries.  Value to lord in 1066 £1.

Value to lord in 1086 £1. Households: 5 villagers. Ploughland: 5 men's plough teams. Other resources: 1 mill, value 0.16.  1 fishery.     Lord in 1066: Brictric son of Algar.    Lord in 1086: William of Eu.    Tenant-in-chief in 1086: William of Eu.               

The two nobles recorded above both came to a sticky end..

Brictic, the son of Alga, Thane of Gloucester,was a Saxon nobleman who held extensive estates in the West Country. King Edward the Confessor sent Brictric on an assignment to Flanders. It is recorded that while there Brictric spurned the love and attentions of a young Flemish Princess called Matilda, by refusing her proposal of marriage. Matilda was never to forgive nor forget this humiliation. In time Matilda went on to marry William, the sixth Duke of Normandy, who became better known as William the Conqueror. Matilda planned her revenge and maliciously contrived his destruction. She ordered King William to confiscate Brictric’s estates. Brictric was arrested at his house at Hanley in Worcestershire, and was taken to a dungeon at Winchester where he eventually died.

A thane was a member of any of several aristocratic classes of men ranking between earls and ordinary freemen, and granted lands by the king or by lords for military service.

William of Eu, Count of Eu (died January 1096) was a first generation Anglo-Norman aristocrat and rebel. Along with William of Aldrie, he conspired with Roger de Lacy and Robert de Mowbray to murder William II and install the king's cousin Stephen of Aumale. In 1095 the rebels impounded four Norwegian trading ships and refused the king's demand to return the merchandise. King William conducted a lightning campaign, outflanking the rebels at Newcastle upon Tyne and capturing their stronghold at Morpeth. He then besieged the rebels at Bamburgh Castle and built a castle facing the existing one. In January 1096 at Salisbury, William was formally accused and challenged to trial by battle. He was defeated by Geoffrey Baynard, former High Sheriff of Yorkshire. Tradition condemned the loser to blinding and castration. Count William died as a result of this mutilation.


Medieval Woolaston

There are some earthworks at High Woolaston Farm  speculated as the possible site of a Norman motte or a medieval farm-house. On the far side of a small valley facing the farm, F Harris and C Scott-Garrett found walls still standing to a height of 4ft, and the remains of a square room or tower on the crest of the hill. A system of Medieval ridge and furrow immediately to the south and east may be associated with that site.

In this Forest, upon the river, stood two Towns of good Antiquity, Tudenham. and Wollaston. which Walter and Roger, the brothers of Gislebert de Clare, about the year 1160, took from the Welsh: and hard by these, is Lydney, where Sir William Winter, Vice-admiral of England, a most worthy Knight, built a fair house. (from Brittania by William Camden)

The church of Woolaston was recorded in Tintern Abbey's original foundation grant when the abbey was founded in 1131 by the Lord of Chepstow,Walter de Clare.

By the 13th century Woolaston, under the Abbot of Tintern's management, was showing signs of prosperity and now included five granges, three mills, 1000 acres of arable land, and 1000 acres of meadow & pasture.

Archaeologists  have concluded that an upper quay was built at Woolaston in the mid twelfth century, and a lower quay added in the early thirteenth century. Much of Woolaston manor had been given to Tintern Abbey by Walter de la Clare in 1131, and with its mill, fish ponds, and fertile agricultural land, was probably the most productive of the Abbey's assets.

Richard Wyche, who studied at Oxford, and had been more recently a monk at Whalley Abbey in Lancashire, was Abbot of Tintern Abbey from 1521 until its dissolution in September 1536. It passed into the hands of Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, ancestor to the Beaufort family. The former Abbot then moved to Woolaston in the Forest of Dean where he became perpetual curate and 'pryste in the parysshe of Wolleston' with a pension of twenty-two pounds a year.


A.G Henderson's impression of Tintern in the Medieval period.


A devotional badge or amulet to St Dorothy of Caesarea in the shape of a basket of fruit was found at Grange Pill in 1999. St Dorothy was one of several virgin martyrs who were particularly revered in the 14th and 15th centuries. She is said to have been executed in the early 4th century by the Roman emperor Diocletian. After her martyrdom a basket of apples was sent from Heaven to convert a lawyer who had declared that Dorothy would not enter Paradise.


 During the Civil War there were several skirmishes near the parish: particularly in 1644 and 1645 with Sir William Waller and Sir John Wintour battling for control of the area. Between 1647 and 1660 the manor was in the hands of the Protector Oliver Cromwell and his heirs, and  returned to the Somersets after the Restoration.

 Plusterwine appears to show traces of a Roman camp and its proximity to the Chesters Roman villa site would make that a possibility. Most of the older houses in the parish are situated in two groups at Plusterwine and Brookend. They are both in the area of the medieval manor of Aluredston and Plusterwine Farm was part of that manor. It is recorded that there were ten families living at Aluredston in 1086. 

At Plusterwine House there was a medieval building and a moat.

In 1703 there were 35 families recorded in Plusterwine hamlet.

Mr. H. B. Greene, Editor for the Chepstow Advertiser, wrote in an article in 1893  "I have found another unrecorded Roman camp at Plusterwine, Wollaston. Near the modern mansion are the remains of a Roman camp much older, in part of which still exists a grand old fire-place. In the Parliamentary Civil Wars Mr. James Woodroffe, gentleman - who might write himself down as 'armiger', or entitled to wear a distinguished coat of arms, - fought in the battle of Beachley under the Royalist leader, his near neighbor, Sir John Wintour, of Lydney.

Plusterwine was garrisoned and well stored with arms. It was surrounded with a moat, still visible. Tradition says it was besieged by the Parliamentary soldiers, and that some earthworks to the east of it were used at that time. That may be; but, judging from hasty examination, I thought that this was a camp of much greater descent.

The Woodroffes of Plusterwine trace directly from John Woodrove (probably son of Richard Woderouffe living 1378), who had lands at Wolley, near Wakefield (1397). His great grand-son, Sir Richard Woodroffe, twice High Sheriff of Yorkshire, died in 1522. Richard, a member of this family, married Lady Elizabeth Percy, daughter of the Seventh Earl of Northumberland and of Ann, third daughter of the Second Earl of Worcester (ancester of the Duke of Beaufort) whose grand tomb is to be seen in Chepstow Church; she was living in 1604. Another, Sir Nicholas Woodroffe, was Lord Mayor of London in 1579. Another, Sir George, was High Sheriff of Surrey in 1668 and Member of Parliament for godalming, 1680-55. James Woodroffe of Wollaston, the Royalist soldier, was fighting at Beachley in 1645, and died about 1690."

"I revisited Plusterwine and more carefully examined the disturbance of the surface in the paddock, the adjoining orchard, the Hill Place, and the Upper Chester Field. I remarked that that seemed a significant name, for it closely resembles the Roman word Castra, which means camp. While walking over the ground I described to Mr. Woodroffe the DOUBLE WALLS which I had noticed first, at Tuthill, and afterwards at the Wyndcliff and near East Vaga House on Tideham Chase; and ask if in his experience in agricultural matters he had found such walls used for mere boundry purposes. He replied that he had not. We went thru the fields which he had mentioned, and I pointed out to him lines of a mount which assured me that there was the site of a camp many hundreds of years older than the siege of his house by Cromwell's soldiers. He told me that besides the Upper Chester, Ormerod had found various Roman articles; and that he himself had in other fields often seen fragments of pottery which he had passed without much attention. We were returning to the house when at the top of the Paddock, I suddenly came upon a long line of double walls which I had just before described to him!! This discovery was to me a revelation. I was now forced to the conclusion that such walls were really the ramparts not of British but of Roman construction, and then came further conviction which I will state by and by, and which no doubt cause some commotion among the local antiquaries.”

Plusterwine today


Treasure Trove of Bronze Age Gold Bracelets Found at Woolaston

What is believed to be six Bronze Age gold bracelets have been found by a metal detecting enthusiast from Fife in Scotland while on a weekend rally organised by the Forest of Dean Metal Detecting Club. They may have belonged to a child who lived or visited the Forest of Dean around 700 BC. Around 140 people attended the November 2013 weekend metal detecting rally which was sponsored by Lydney Rugby Club.

Forty four year old Steve Moodie from Newburgh, Treasure from Woolastonwho spends much of his time metal detecting around the beaches of Fife, discovered six 3,000-year-old pure gold children’s bracelets just inches below a farmer’s stubble field at Woolaston. Mr Moodie has been told the treasure trove could be valued at “six figures” and the sum would be split 50/50 with the landowner. The treasure is now in the hands of the British Museum for analysis and cleaning which could take up to two years. 'Big Steve' had already made a significant discovery at Falkland eight years ago when finding a Bronze Age gold ring, now in the St Andrews Museum, and believed to be the first of its kind to be discovered in Scotland.

Dave Warren of the Forest of Dean Metal Detecting Club said: “The rally went really well. The finds were amazing overall and not just the Bronze Age treasure find. “Over the weekend people found a silver hammer coin, a Bronze Age axe head and a Roman broach and  coins. The big discovery, the Bronze Age bracelet, is a very significant find for this area.”

Kurt Adams, a County finds liaison officer, was there to verify any of the findings.

Although Bronze Age settlements are at present not known in the Forest of Dean, a large variety of finds scattered around the area suggests that there is much awaiting discovery. Bronze Age field systems have been identified at Welshbury Hill near Littledean, and there is also archaeological evidence of early trading by sea, probably through Lydney.


The remnants of a Medieval Cross and the ruins of a Bible Christian Chapel


Pauper's Cross and ruined chapel at Woolaston Forest of Dean

Listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the remains of this medieval cross in the graveyard at St. Andrew's, has a number of holes where, it is believed, money soaked in vinegar was offered to prevent transmission of the plague. Some scholars believe it may possibly be the remains of St. Peter's Cross, first recorded in 1700, and sketched at its original site by Sarah Omerod from nearby Sedbury House in the mid-nineteenth century. Perhaps it was moved from a nearby roadside area, now the A48's Peter's Cross picnic site? That might account for it not being bedded into the graveyard's top-soil.


Building of the first two Bible Christian chapels in west Gloucestershire at Drybrook and Woolaston Woodside started around 1836. The Drybrook chapel opened on 5th of May 1837 but Woolaston had a few money problems.

Robert Hurley reported in 1837 - "Another chapel is in the course of erection in the parish of Woolaston, a place where it was very much needed - for we have nearly 20 members in this place but they are in general very poor, and unless the missionary committee render some assistance it cannot be completed. If the committee will grant £20 I think we shall be able to finish it by taking up £20 more. The whole will cost £65 or £70. It has been on the stand for several months for want of money. The walls are raised and the roof nearly up."

At a district meeting in July 1840 it was reported - "Concerning Woolaston Chapel we learn that about £30 would be sufficient to complete it.We have applied to the lawyers, and other persons to borrow this money, but have failed every effort. They tell us that they do not like to lend money on chapels. We appeal to the Conference to know what can be done, for if something is not done soon the premises will get into a dilapidated state and perhaps will have to be rebuilt". The Forest of Dean preachers responsible were G Turley and M L Greenslade. They must have made some progress as missionary meetings were being held there in 1842.

From  the Religious Census of 1851 completed by Thomas James, a local grocer and the Chapel Steward, who lived at Brookend, the numbers attending  Divine Service at Woolaston on March 30 1851 were 120 to afternoon service, and 100 in the evening. There were 43 Sunday Scholars in the morning, and 45 in the afternoon. The chapel had free seating for 40, and 70 other sittings.

It remained well attended until around 1939. Except for a fortnightly Sunday School in the 1960s, it has not been used for regular services since 1959.

The Bible Christians (or O'Bryanites) were founded in Cornwall in 1815, and recognised the Bible as the only valid authority for doctrine.They were more widely known as Bible Christians (sometimes Arminian Bible Christians). Their name "Bryanites" is from their founder, William O'Bryan; that of "Bible Christians" was due to the persistent use of the Bible in private devotions and public services. They merged with the United Methodist Free Churches in 1907 and later joined with the Weslyan and Primitive Methodists in 1932 to form the Methodist Church as it is today.

The preacher Samuel Ball who was born at Woolaston in 1841 and died there at the age of seventy-seven in February 1919, was a typical Bible Christian who possessed a fund of stories concerning the history of his church at Woolaston from the reports and anecdotes that had been handed down from the time when the area in which he lived was described as a "dark and desolate spot." It is a great loss to all who are interested in the past when the recollections and stories of the past told by elderly people are not written down.

He was a soberly dressed man who spoke in the language of the 1611 Bible, he used the "thee's and thou's," and after the style of the old time Quakers refered to people as "friends." His hair style was short at the back and sides with hair combed forward with a fringe just over the forehead. The style is seen in prints and photographs of such persons as James Thorne and Billy Bray. The whole idea was to be plain and simple, without any ostentation, and the use of titles was not appreciated by old fashioned Bible Christian men and women.

As a local preacher, Samuel Ball used to travel to his Forest of Dean Circuit appointments in a trap drawn by two donkeys. Sometimes he rode on the donkey's back, but later in life he travelled to his appointments on a tricycle. Like all Bible Christians he was an enthusiastic missionary supporter. A missionary doing deputation work in the Forest, said: "The deputation was served with toast and tea at Sammy's place but he always put a sovereign in the collection plate."  George E Lawrence

The stipend for a Bible Christian preacher at that time was £14 a year when unmarried, and if married extra allowances would take that to £30 and a house.


A Norwegian ship's captain's wife and son buried at Woolaston.

The grave of Nathalie Cornelinsen (Corneliusen) and her son Olaf is in Woolaston churchyard.

On the 8th of April 1887, Captain Hans Cornelinsen in the Norwegian sailing ship Prince Victor, was en route from New York to the dock at Sharpness with a cargo of 10,000 barrels of paraffin.

He was negotiating  the Severn Estuary, with the assistance of two tugs and a pilot, when it was discovered too late that there was insufficient water to clear the sands. The ship struck a sandbank near Beachley and turned broadside on the tide, falling over on her beam-ends. She crushed the tug Victoria into the sands, and it was never to be seen again.

The ship's crew scrambled on to her port side which by now was awash, where they were joined by men from the Victoria who were being taken off by the other tug.

Captain Cornelinsen's wife and son were both lost, the lady in the ship's saloon, the son in the galley, both being drowned when the vessel rolled over. The Prince Victor dragged across the sands for another half mile, where it was secured by lines to a large oak tree at the water's edge at Woolaston where she became dry at low water.

At Woolaston churchyard there is a grave to the two passengers who died. The villagers were said to have been very kind to the survivors, who camped on the bank near the wreck.

She was later caulked, righted and towed to Sharpness where she was condemned and then auctioned, selling for £250. Her timber was later used for building sheds and firewood.

For many years the figurehead of the Prince Victor was in the garden of a cottage at Woolaston.



Warren Silcocks, the Woolaston blacksmith who died in 1843

Warren Silcocks, the Woolaston blacksmith who lived at Luggs Cross and died in 1843 aged 60, is commemorated by these words on his memorial.

My sledge and hammer lie reclin'd,

My bellows too have lost their wind:

My fire's extinct, my forge decay'd

And in the dust my vice is laid.

My coal is spent, my iron gone,

My last nail's driven, my work is done.

* See Woolaston's burials


Woolaston's First Resident Policeman

Woolaston's first resident policeman was PC Henry Thomas Eagles (1849-1920). Henry was born at Hardwicke in 1849 and was working as a farm labourer when he married Fanny Shearman in 1869. He joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary in 1876 and during the next few years was posted to Redwick, Chipping Sodbury, and Cheltenham, and then to the police station at Littledean prison where he served for about 8 years. The family moved to Woolaston  around 1892. Their 10th child, Beatrice, was born there in 1894. He retired in 1900 and later became a publican when he moved to the Whitesmith's Arms in Southgate Street, Gloucester. Henry died at Woolaston in 1920. His successor was Dymock born PC Frederick Morgan. In the 1930s PC Beddis was resident and by the 1950s the village bobby was Jim Ludlow who locals recall keeping piglets in the station's cells. In spite of very strong local opposition Woolaston police station was closed in 1974. Its last residing officer at that time was PC Radcliffe.


PC Henry Eagles and the police station at Luggs Cross on the A48 in the 1930s




The First bus to run through the village

In 1918 the first local motor bus to run through the village was driven by Mrs Letheren whose family later started Letheren's Coaches of Lydney. She used to drive once a day, from Lydney to Woolaston and back, picking up passengers en route. Locals recall that the bus  also brought people home from Lydney cinema on Saturday nights and travelled to Gloucester once a week.

The bus driver's  roots go back to the early 1900s when Thomas Letheren, a wagon owner, came to Lydney from Starcross in South Devon. He started the Lydney Posting Company with a horse and wagon delivery contract mail from Lydney Rail Station to Coleford and Monmouth. It is  believed he was the first to buy a motor bus in Gloucestershire. By the end of World War I he was operating 14 buses with  the main route being from Lydney to Gloucester. These bus services were later sold to a newly formed company, Red & White Services (Watts) together with their Victoria Street Garage.

A 1930s view by Roy Workman


Cone Mill and the 1873 Explosion

A mill conveyed to Thomas James by Edward Shere and others in 1583 was probably the lower corn mill on the Cone brook close to Cone Pill (bottom right hand corner of 1880 map below). 

Another, situated above the Swan public house (centre of map), in 1774 was a paper-mill owned by Richard Barrow and manufacturing writing paper. Between 1820 and 1856 John Reece was in charge and the 1841 census records ten paper-makers and an engineer living in the parish.

From 1869 it was owned by the  Gloucester Paper Company whose chairman was a Quaker, Mr Palmer, from Reading's Huntley & Palmer biscuits family.

In 1871 a revolutionary new process using pine-wood chips and a 32 ft long heavy-duty cylindrical boiler fed by high pressure hot-water pipes, was introduced. It is believed to have been the first mill in Britain to manufacture paper from wood.

Unfortunately in June 1873 there was a massive explosion. The boiler had blown from its seating and through the roof, rocketed over the pond, uprooted two large oak trees, demolished a stable, and after a 200 yards flight, deeply entombed itself into an embankment. Debris from the building's iron roof was found more than a quarter of a mile away.

The mill was rapidly besieged by anxious wives and relatives fearing the worst and it was some time before it was ascertained that no lives were lost or anyone seriously injured. By a stroke of luck there were no workers in the immediate area. If the explosion had happened five minutes earlier - a dozen men could have been killed.

The damage was estimated at £6000 pounds (about £3 million in today's money) and Mr Palmer apparently did not attempt to replace the wrecked boiler house.

In 1874 the mill was reopened with new owners. It was now making newsprint and coloured paper using Spanish esparto grass which was hauled in from Woolaston station or the small wharf at Cone Pill.

A gasometer adjoining the mill was built around 1880 and in 1882-3 and the owner at that time, John Macpherson, constructed a reservoir to improve the water supply.

In 1885 Thomas Paterson Gillespie was manufacturing printing, news, and writing paper.

When the forthcoming October auction of the mill was advertised in the Times in September 1894, it was as a going concern, 'a well appointed Paper Mill  for the production of fine printing and writing papers, compact, equipped with modern machinery of a high class, a plentiful water supply and well situated for markets, and a capability of producing 30 tons per week. 14 acres of freehold land together with a leasehold board mill, situated on the Cone brook in the parish of Woolaston, two and half miles from Lydney and close to collieries. Sandstone quarry on the property.'  There appear to have been no takers. The company closed down in 1895, and it was later reported that 300 people were put out of work when the paper mill and a corn-mill at Alvington went out of production.

The lower buildings and stables of Cone Mill were then used as a steam laundry servicing local hotels and hospitals,Beachley Camp and Gloucester prison. It was operational until the early 1960s and at its peak employed seven women and three men.


You state beneath a photo of Cone Valley paper mill in ruins  " and the ruined paper mill buildings in 1967 (now demolished)"
It has actually not been demolished, I own the building, now a house in which I live.
Great article by the way!   Keep up the good work.
Best regards Keith Saunders


Cone Paper Mill at Woolaston


Lower Cone Corn Mill in 1911 (J W Webb) and the ruined paper mill buildings in 1967.



Rowley Cardboard Mill



                                                                                                                                          Photo by Roy Workman 1937

Rowley Mill, on Cone brook, was situated just above its junction with Small brook. It was first recorded on the manor estate in 1413 when it then comprised of two grist mills under one roof in 1539. 

In 1646 Robert Kyrle and John Brayne, partners in a number of local ironworks, agreed to build a forge there.  In 1775 Rowley, Clanna, and Barnage forges were leased for three lives to David Tanner, and passed to the Pidcock family in 1790. In 1809 the paper maker Thomas Morris bought the lease, and a paper mill was then worked by the Morris family until 1841. It employed seven people in 1851. In 1879 F. J. Noble & Co. operated it as a board mill, and it later continued under other manufacturers.

In 1920, a gas engine was installed fuelled by anthracite on site. Ted Ball recalled that the raw materials required then for making cardboard were waste paper, rags, wood pulp with additives and dye. They were hauled by a wagon and two horses from Woolaston Station by a Mr Frowen who had one good arm and a horrible looking steel hook that  replaced a limb lost in World War1. Rowley Mill  produced its last consignment of cardboard around 1931 and was demolished in 1949.



Ship Building at Cone Pill


In the 1650s the master shipwright and timber purveyor Daniel Furzer represented the Amiralty when establishing a royal dockyard in the Forest of Dean. He built the Forester (1657) and the Princess (1660) at Lydney and  then was ordered to build another warship, the St. David. He informed the Admiraltry in October 1664 that the river at Lydney was now too silted up and was not a fit place for ship-building.

He recommended a move down to Cone Pill as 'it was nearer the woods, had a good dry beach, and a creek to launch her in'. Unfortunately, there were problems.

Only two years before, the whole country had suffered from a devastating storm.

Furzer estimated a loss in the Forest of Dean of over 3000 trees in one night. That windfall loss of so many trees had been a significant blow to the Navy. Locals, who were also themselves suffering as a result of the shortage, were cutting down some of the trees selected for ship-building and marked with the King's seal, for their own use.

Eventually however after several delays, on 30th March 1667, the St. David, a 38 ton fourth rate ship of the line, designed to carry 54 guns and 280 men, was launched. Our drawing from Wikipedia by Willem van de Velde is believed to have been sketched after that ship foundered at Portsmouth harbour in 1690 and during its recovery in 1691.



Woolaston Station




Woolaston Station, on the Gloucester to South Wales line, opened on 19th September 1851. It was mainly used by local farmers, fishermen and the conveyance of materials to and from Cone paper-mill till 1895 and Rowley Cardboard Mill till around 1931. Joseph Bailey was listed as the station master in 1897. Unfortunately the distance from the village limited its use by passengers. In earlier days, until trucks took over, the milk train left Lydney at 8am each morning, and picked up at every small station through to Newport.

Woolaston station closed to passengers and goods on the 1st December 1954 and was later demolished.


The ruined church at Lancaut and its Woolaston connections

 Today the only significant trace of the village of Lancaut above ground is the church of St James, which is a Grade II listed building within the site of a scheduled monument. Ecclesiastical records in the Book of Llandaff refer to a religious establishment of lann ceuid probably at this location, which is likely to have been established by 625 AD. A monastery was recorded here by 703. However, the construction of the church dates from the 12th century, the arch remaining across the chancel dating from this period. The theory has been put forward that the settlement was connected to the Cistercian monks who founded their substantial Abbey up-river at Tintern in 1131.

A cast lead font in the church, comparable to other local examples from the same mould, can be dated precisely to between 1120 and 1140. This font is now in the Lady Chapel of Gloucester cathedral.

Another suggestion is that it may once have been the site of a leper colony, and an unusual number of medicinal herbs including the non-native elecampane - once used to treat respiratory ailments - and green hellebore have been found in and around the churchyard.

Until 1711 the church was an independent ecclesiastical parish. After this date it was merged with another local parish, the new living being the rectory of Woolaston. Despite this, the church appears to have been substantially restored and rebuilt after this time. The double bell window still visible in the West wall was supplemented by a small bell turret in the roof above. In 1840 the antiquarian George Ormerod made drawings that record the church as having box pews and a pulpit fitted inside. By the 1860s though, the parish congregation was reduced in number and services were only being held here during the summer months.

In 1865, the Rector of Woolaston ordered that the church be abandoned. The roof and the interior fittings, together with the font, were removed. Church and village both declined after this time, and the church was deconsecrated.

In the 1980s the chancel arch partially collapsed, prompting some restoration and consolidation work, together with archaeological study.

Our photo shows Woolaston congregation attending their annual summer open-air service at Lancaut which continued until around 1938.

Repairs were undertaken to the churchyard wall in 2010. In December 2013, the church building was purchased for a nominal fee of £1 by the Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust. The Trust intends to carry out a programme to stabilise the building.    

Andy Dingley - wikipedia 


The ruined church at Lancaut by deanweb


The lead bowl of the Norman font was removed from the church before 1890 by its patron, Sir William Marling of Sedbury Park, and it remained with his family until around 1940 when it was donated to Gloucester Cathedral.

The single bell was also removed from the church in the late 19th century for the use of Woolaston school.

No parish registers are known to survive, but entries for Lancaut are included in the Woolaston registers.


A Murder on the River -Woolaston 1818

On the morning of 3 November 1818, three men got into a boat at Woolaston and set off for Bristol. One of the trio, hoping to find a berth on a ship there, was William Burton, a 33 year old ex-sailor, originally from Bristol, who was at that time living at Woolaston in extreme poverty. His travelling companion, 24 year old William Syms, also lived in Woolaston, and who was described as an industrious man, had withdrawn some money from the Chepstow Bank, and was hoping to purchase a small trading vessel. The third member of the party was 35 year old William Hurd, part owner of the boat.

33 year old William Burton was a native of Newcastle from a respectable family and apparently received a decent education. At an early age he was apprenticed to the captain of a coal ship trading between Newcastle and various parts of the UK. He was 5ft 8ins with dark grey/blue eyes and had a scar on the bridge of his nose. At some point in his career he had joined the Royal Navy and served on a man of war, HMS Magnificent, during the Napoleonic Wars. The prison records at Gloucester gaol reveal that he had several scars across his shoulders, perhaps the results of a vicious flogging.

It was on a visit to Bristol that he met and married Sarah (believed to be Davis) from Woolaston who had been living and working in a public house there. They lived at Ratcliffe near Bristol. (A man named William Davis from Woolaston identified himself as Burton's brother-in-law while giving evidence during the trial.) A Sarah Davis, the daughter of John & Mary, was baptised at Woolaston in January 1791.

Between 1812 and 1819 the couple had three children, possibly born at Bristol. Their eldest, Sarah Anne, was christened at Woolaston in November 1812. William Henry and Elizabeth, their places of birth and dates are not recorded, were both christened there in August 1819, four months after their father's execution. They all appear to have been living at Woolaston in 1818.

After discharge from the Navy in 1814 he soon found himself penniless and appears to have existed with occasional work on vessels trading between Bristol and Lydney. His most recent employment was on the 72 ton sloop 'Bransby' jointly owned by James Madley, a wood dealer from Redbrook, and James Biss, a corn merchant of Monmouth, who were based on the River Wye.

Several accounts give the impression he was a heavy drinker. At his trial he was said to have consumed eleven pints in one day while at Pill, and seven days after the murder, he was on a three day visit to Bristol where he was seen heavily intoxicated on at least two occasions.


On that boat trip from Woolaston to Bristol during the morning of November 3rd 1818, William Hurd, who was employed to convey goods between the Forest of Dean to the River Avon ports at Rownham and Pill for the Bristol market, was on this occasion transporting a load of potatoes to unload at Rownham, Bristol, then situated near the present day Clifton Suspension bridge.

William Burton, an unemployed seaman, wanted to go to Bristol and and is believed to have been hoping to secure a berth on a ship there.

William Syms was in the market for a boat and carrying around twenty pounds in cash, the equivalent of about £600 in today's money, as he was expecting to do some business at Bristol.

They arrived at Pill, near the mouth of the Avon at around 7pm and stayed the night there.

The following morning they took the boat upriver to Rownham where William Syms left to go into the City.

Soon after, William Burton, who was penniless, started pestering the boat owner,William Hurd, to lend him 3 or 4 shillings to replace his shoes which were in a dilapidated condition. Hurd refused. Later the pair unloaded the potatoes and Burton was then left in charge of the boat while Hurd went off into Bristol to dispose of the cargo.

When he returned William Syms was also back on board having completed his business transactions.

They both then paid for the expenses incurred at Rownham. Hurd then apparently left the area for a time, explaining later that he had wanted to avoid Burton and his prolonged pestering for money.

When he returned, Burton was still harping on the same subject and announced his intention of going into Bristol to raise money. ' I must box Harry and raise the wind to buy me some shoes even if I go to Hell after them! '  ('Box Harry' is a an old dialect expression

meaning to live in a poor manner, or on credit.)

The next morning, having a favourable tide, they proceeded down river to Pill. On board, Burton was still badgering Hurd about the shoes that that had finally burst after the unloading of the potatoes. He indicated that Hurd should pay him for his labour. The boat owner pointed out that he had provided the sailor with meat and drink and that should be sufficient.

They stayed that night in Pill. The next morning, around 7am, the trio sailed off intending to return to Woolaston. Unfortunately the weather was so bad that after about a mile they were forced to return to Pill where they stopped for breakfast.

Hurd and Syms then decided to go into Bristol leaving Burton in charge of the boat.

On arriving at a public house in Bristol William Symes brought the first drinks. While paying he revealed that he was carrying three five pound notes, two of which were from the Chepstow Bank and fairly new, and three or four one pound notes.

Because the rain was still heavy they stayed the night in Bristol.

At 5am the next morning, the 6th November, Hurd who wanted to visit Tockington near Olveston where he had relatives, asked Symes if he would return to Pill and help Burton take the boat to the Old Passage, where they would meet up later.

Unfortunately the boat owner was delayed and did not turn up at the promised meeting point. He did not return to Woolaston until the following day.

The town of Pill in North Somerset was situated on the southern bank of the Avon. Adjacent to the village of Easton-in-Gordano, it was traditionally the residence of pilots, who would guide boats up the Avon Gorge between the Bristol Channel and the Port of Bristol. At that time it was home to 21 public houses and had a reputation as being a rough place.

Little is known about the movements of William Syms on the 6th of November. He and Burton were seen drinking together at the Swan on the evening of November 6th. Burton was heard asking Syms whether they were going home and was told that they were. One of their fellow drinkers advised against that and said that it was not the weather that night to go out in an open boat, the wind and rain being very strong.

On the following morning around 7am, when the tide was low, the pair were seen by several witnesses getting into the boat. William Syms was not seen alive again. It is possible that the murder may have been premeditated. One account claims that a woman, who wanted a passage, had approached Syms and Burton while they were at the Swan. She was refused by Burton even though Syms was willing to take her.

At around 2pm John Wade from Woolaston saw William Burton alone in the boat heading towards Chepstow. He queried the whereabouts of William Syms and was told that he had been put ashore at Eastern Point.

William Syms' body was not discovered until the 28th of November. The Severn Bore had carried it more than sixteen miles upstream from Woolaston and it was found, by a boatman floating in the Severn near Epney, in the parish of Moreton Valence. The left-hand breeches pocket was turned inside out.

The corpse was examined by the Frampton surgeon John Earle. Several head wounds were found. The back of the head revealed the mortal wound where the skull had been severely fractured. There was also a heavy blow over the nose and to the upper frontal bone. It was clear that his death had been caused by the wounds.

James Ball from Woolaston examined the body at Epney the next day and confirmed it was Syms.

James Henry Ball, (some sources suggest he may have been the parish constable), a carpenter from Woolaston, had witnessed the departure of all three men on Tuesday the 3rd of November.

At that time Burton had tried to borrow two shillings from him. On Sunday 8th November he asked him what he had done with Syms. Burton replied that he had put him ashore at Eastern Point and thought he had either gone to America or Barbados. James Ball was immediately suspicious and later caused Burton to be apprehended and taken before the magistrate Mr C B Bathurst from Lydney Park. The boat was examined and blood stains were found.

Witnesses to Burton's newly found prosperity soon came forward.

John Hill, a shoemaker from Chepstow, testified that on the evening of Saturday the 7th of November Burton had bought a pair of shoes, paying for them with a five pound Chepstow Bank bill. On Monday 9th November he changed another five pound bill when having a glass of rum at a Chepstow public house. Other witnesses testified that Burton, from being very poor, suddenly became rich, and paid all his debts.


For a short period a Woolaston man was in Gloucester prison at the same time as William Burton. On January 4th 1819, 20 year old William Davis was charged on the oath of Sarah Burton on suspicion of 'feloniously stolen out of a dwelling house the property of William Burton, husband of Sarah, a counterpane, a muslin handkerchief, and divers other articles of wearing apparel, the property of William Burton. The prisoner was later released 'by proclamation'
On the morning of his murder, a handkerchief was seen in the possession of William Symes. It was marked with the initials 'W S'.  Mrs Chaffey, landlady of the Swan public house at Pill, gave evidence that the handkerchief was like one she saw the deceased drying at her fire on the 7th of November.
After his return to Woolaston, William Burton had lent it to a man named William Davis who was later called as a witness at the murder trial. When giving evidence Davis testified to being Burton's brother-in-law.


On being asked to account for his increase in wealth Burton claimed to have borrowed eight pounds from an old shipmate named Jones while he was in Bristol. This was later proved to be a lie. Priscilla, the wife of Jones, her husband, a steward on the Concord, and being that time at sea, testified that Jones himself was in a poor financial state and could not possibly have given Burton any money.

On 1st December 1818, William Syms was buried at Alvington. He was only twenty-four years old and left a widow and two children. 

After several examinations by Mr C B Bathurst, William Burton was charged with the wilful murder of William Symes and taken into custody and on 22nd November committed to Gloucester Gaol to await trial.

During the seven hour trial at the Lent Assizes on 6th April 1819, several witnesses were called and the guilt of the prisoner was confirmed. He had called no one in his defence, but his Counsel, Mr Twiss, went on to cross-examine the twenty-three witnesses called by the prosecution. Despite his defence's efforts, the jury took only five minutes to find Burton guilty of murder.  

Mr Justice Richardson summed up the evidence 'with great clearness and perspicuity' and the jury after a five minute consultation, found the prisoner guilty. The judge then proceeded to pass the sentence of death and ordered the execution for the following Thursday at one o'clock.

In the condemned cell Burton still persisted in asserting his innocence.

On the eve of his execution, after a visit to the condemned cell, the prison chaplain wrote ' Visited W. Burton in the morning and took down what he said respecting his Guilt which he denied. I showed it to the Judge who is so fully convinced of his crime that he must suffer tomorrow. In the afternoon I again visited W.B and informed him of the Judge's determination.'

On the morning of his execution, the prison officers discovered that Burton had barricaded himself in by blocking the door with his bed and had to break through the wall of the next door cell before dragging him out to the scaffold. 

William Burton was hanged on Thursday, 8 April 1819. He left a widow and three children. 

The boat trip portion of the above account is derived from the evidence of William Hurd at the Gloucester Assizes and most of Burton's personal details from the Gloucester prison admissions records.


What happened to William Hurd?

A curious postcript to this tragedy centres around the third man, and part owner of the boat, William Hurd.

Nine months after Burton's execution 36 year old William Hurd died. On 27th January 1820 he was buried at Woolaston. William left a widow Elizabeth, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline. No cause of death is recorded on the parish burial record.

It would not have been unexpected for him to have felt some guilt, and perhaps depression, due to his involvement in the William Syms tragedy. We notice from his evidence at the Assizes that he returned to Bristol on November 13th to search for the missing man.

He would have known, and was probably constantly reminded by his neighbours and the Syms family, that had he stayed in charge of the boat, the whole sorry incident would not have occurred.


One of his descendants, carrying out family research, wrote in 2005 on the Forest of Dean Family History website -

'My gggg-grandfather William Hurd, was born abt 1784 we believe in Tockington. He married Elizabeth (last name unknown). Elizabeth was born about 1788 in Huckster/ Tockington. They moved to the Woolaston area about 1815 and had 2 daughters Elizabeth and Caroline who were both born in Woolaston. Elizabeth Hurd is my ggg-grandmother who married James Proctor Howell on May-15-1843 in Shire Newton, Wales. Elizabeth Hurd also gave birth to an illegimate child, William Hurd born abt 1838 in Woolaston. He is buried next to his mother, Elizabeth Hurd Howell in St. Andrews Churchyard, Woolaston.

I am trying to find information on my gggg-grandfather William Hurd's family including his parents and siblings. According to Woolaston history, William Hurd was murdered about Jan-1820. He was making his living as an innkeeper and fisherman. His wife Elizabeth went on to remarry James Henry Ball in Woolaston on Nov-13-1822 and eventually died on Apr-15-1855 in Alvington. She is buried in St. Andrews Churchyard, Woolaston.'


Further research has so far uncovered no newspaper account of the death of William Hurd. I am curious to find out whether there really was any connection with his death and the William Syms tragedy. His widow's marriage in November 1822 to James Ball, the main witness at Burton's trial, is also interesting. That phrase 'according to Woolaston history' by William Hurd's descendant causes me to wonder whether there is more information out there, though my instincts tell me that 'Woolaston History' may have simply confused his death with that of William Syms.  TB



The Chepstow Old Bank
The Chepstow Old Bank was formed in 1790 by six local businessmen. A great impetus to country banking came in 1797 when, with England threatened by war, the Bank of England suspended cash payments. A handful of Frenchmen landed in Pembrokeshire, causing a panic. Shortly after this incident, Parliament authorised the Bank of England and country bankers to issue notes of low denomination.This bank is where many of the farmers, shopkeepers and mill owners from around Woolaston in the early 19th century would have deposited their money.  The Chepstow Old Bank went bust in 1869.

Six Chepstow Bank notes from the 19th century recently sold for a total of £1,930





Riverine Dean - The Maritime & Waterfront Archaeology of the Forest of Dean by John Putley


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

Romano-Celtic Élites and Their Religion  By Geoffrey William Adams

Gloucester Journal 28th June 1873

Gloucester Journal April 12th 1819

Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/576)

Bible Christians of the Forest of Dean by George e Lawrence

'Woolaston Remembered' by Ted Ball.

The Times Archives

Edinburgh Annual Register

Gloucester Prison Chaplain's Journal 1819 - Gloucester Archives

Gloucester Prison Admissions - Gloucester Archives


Do you have any corrections, recollections, information or photographs to add to this page? Did your family come from this area? We would welcome any input.

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