Stroud is a market town in Gloucestershire, and it is the main town in Stroud District. Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, the town is noted for its steep streets, independent spirit and cafe culture. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west.
Stroud is known for its involvement in the industrial revolution and woollen mills were powered by the small rivers, which surge through the five valleys, and supplied by Cotswold sheep which grazed on the hills above.
Particularly noteworthy was the production of military uniforms in the colour “Stroudwater Scarlet.” The area was made home by a sizable Huguenot community in the 17th century, fleeing persecution in Catholic France, followed by a significant Jewish presence in the 19th century, linked to the tailoring and cloth industries.
Stroud was an industrial and trading location in the nineteenth century, and so needed transport links. It first had a canal network in the form of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, both of which survived until the early 20th century. Restoration of these canals as a leisure facility is well underway.
I spent last week staying with a friend on the outskirts of Stroud and took the opportunity to drive through the county to see some of the most beautiful scenery in England. In particular, the views across the Severn estuary and in the distance the Black Mountains in Wales are quite breathtaking.
At this time of year the countryside is a lush green colour although one or two of the trees had a hint of autumnal shading. It is when gazing at this green and pleasant land that one is reminded of the William Blake poem “Jerusalem”.
Visits were made to Nailsworth, and here I saw the absolute essence of middle class pretentiousness in a local bakery / café which had a toilet “twinned” with a toilet in Uganda, I kid you not! (nice café though). I also took the opportunity to visit an old woolen mill (now converted to apartments), which has still maintained the old water wheel and demonstrates the workings every Saturday, much to the dismay of residents we were told because of the noise that is made.
During a drive one day I saw a sign advertising a car boot sale at the local polo club, only this was advertised as a “Posh Car Boot Sale”………..only in the south of England!!!!!!
Dursley was also a place I visited but the less said about the place the better, not recommended and they have the creepiest car park I have ever come across.
My final day was spent in Stroud wandering around the open market in the city side streets, and what a delight it was. Farmers selling local produce including apples, plums, pork, pies, any number of vegetables plus local crafts people displaying their wares. Bought some beautiful cards from Liz Dart Stained Glass, beer from Corinium Ales, a Tuscan pie from Plenty Pastry Perfection, pancetta from The Cotswold Curer and Eleon Greek olive oil from the stall of the same name.
If you are in the area go along on a Saturday morning and stock up with such wonderful goodies that are all produced locally.
All photographs (c) Kindadukish