Red Book Publications

Volume II

This volume, primarily concerned with the ecclesiastical history of the county, was edited by William Page and published in 1907.

It includes accounts of the following medieval religious houses:

  • Abbey of St Peter at Gloucester
  • Abbey of Tewkesbury
  • Abbey of Winchcombe
  • Priory of Stanley St Leonard
  • Priory of St James, Bristol
  • Abbey of St Augustine, at Bristol
  • Abbey of Cirencester
  • Priory of St Oswald, Gloucester
  • Priory of Lanthony by Gloucester
  • Priory of Horsley
  • Priory of St Mary Magdalen, Bristol
  • Abbey of Flaxley
  • Abbey of Hayles
  • Abbey of Kingswood
  • Priory of Beckford
  • Priory of Brimpsfield
  • Priory of Deerhurst
  • Priory of Newent
  • College of Westbury on Trym
  • Black Friars, Bristol
  • Grey Friars, Bristol
  • Augustinian Friars, Bristol
  • Carmelite Friars, Bristol
  • Friars of the Penance of Jesus Christ, or Friars of the Sack, Bristol
  • Black Friars, Gloucester
  • Grey Friars, Gloucester
  • Carmelite or White Friars, Gloucester
  • Crutched Friars of Wotton-under-Edge
  • Preceptory of Guiting
  • Preceptory of Quenington
  • Hospital of St Mark, Billeswick, called Gaunt's Hospital
  • Hospital of St Bartholomew, Bristol
  • Hospital of St Lawrence, Bristol
  • Hospital of St Mary Magdalen, Bristol
  • Hospital of St Bartholomew, Gloucester
  • Hospital of St Margaret, Gloucester
  • Hospital of St Mary Magdalen, Gloucester
  • Hospital of St John, Cirencester
  • Hospital of St Lawrence, Cirencester
  • Hospital of St Thomas, Cirencester
  • Hospital of Longbridge, by Berkeley
  • Hospital of Lorwing

These entries are available via British History Online

In addition, there are sections on the following themes:

  • Social and Economic History of the county
  • Industries
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Sport, Ancient and Modern
  • Schools
  • Hospital of St John the Baptist, Lechlade
  • Hospital of Winchcombe
  • Hospital of Tewkesbury
  • Hospital of Holy Trinity, Stow-on-the-Wold

The ull text of this volume is available via the Internet Archive.

Volume IV - The City of Gloucester

Edited by Nicholas Herbert, this volume was published in 1988.

The volume describes thirteen hundred years in the life of the city of Gloucester from the late 7th century A.D. to the mid 1980s. William the Conqueror's order for the Domesday survey at his Christmas council at Gloucester in 1085, the spectacu-lar architectural achievements of the monks and their masons at St. Peter's abbey in the 14th century, and the city's resistance to the siege which turned the course of the Civil War in 1643 are events of national significance familiar to students of English history. Less well known is the complex story of development in which those events are landmarks. The volume describes how the Saxon borough, formed in the shell of Roman colonia at a crossing of the river Severn, became in the early Middle Ages a royal administrative centre, military base, and seat of religious foundations; it exam-ines the variety of economic functions which sustained the city throughout the medieval and early modern periods, with at different times ironworking, clothmaking, the trade on the river, pinmaking, market trade, and banking coming to the fore; and it traces the efforts of the townspeople to gain control of their own affairs and recounts how the system of government which they secured from the Crown in 1483 hardened into oligarchy in the 16th century, fuelled politi-cal dissension in the 17th, and proved surprisingly effective as a force for city improvement in the 18th. It tells how in the 19th century railways and the trade brought by the Gloucester and Berkeley ship canal gave a new direction to the Georgian cathedral city, bringing new industries and rapid growth, and how an array of public bodies grappled with the consequent need for better public services, new churches, and schools. The story of Gloucester is continued into the later 20th century when changing patterns of employment and major redevelopment removed many familiar landmarks, leaving the ornate Perpendicular cathedral and the extensive Victorian docks as the most substantial reminders of a rich and varied history. The account of Gloucester's history is divided into three parts. The first is a sequence of five chapters, divided chrono-logically. The second deals with particular features and institutions of the city, topic by topic. The third describes topographically the outlying hamlets and parishes, Barnwood, Hempsted, Hucclecote and Matson, that have been taken into the modern city.

This volume is available in full on British History Online.

Volume V - Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean

Edited by Nicholas Herbert, this volume was published in 1996.


This volume covers a complex area of west Gloucestershire, with a core of formerly extra parochial, royal demesne land of the Forest of Dean and a periphery of 14 parishes. Although some of them, including English Bicknor on the Wye and Awre on the Severn, were settled by 1086, others emerged later from assarts in the Forest woodland and waste: at Newland a church founded c. 1200 served a large tract with many dispersed parts, Flaxley parish was created as the endowment of a Cistercian abbey in the mid 12th century, and Hewelsfield was reconstituted about then. Clearance of woodland was reversed in Staunton in the early 19th century when much farmland was planted with timber. At St Briavels, overlooking the Wye, a royal castle became in the early Middle Ages the centre for enforcing the forest law, which until 1668 obtained in much of the parochial land. The apparatus of officers and courts headed by the castle's constable was later supplemented when the crown's administration was re-directed to maintaining the royal woodland for shipbuilding timber and to combating the pressures on it of commoning, mining, ironworking, and squatting. Mitcheldean, the chief medieval market town, was later supported also by industries including clothmaking, pinmaking, and brewing; Coleford became the main commercial centre west of the Forest after securing a market and fairs in 1661. Despite important landed estates and strong resident gentry families, small free- holdings, often carried on with a trade or craft, characterized much of the area, notably Littledean, Ruardean, and Blakeney. Few parts were untouched by industry, particularly by mining and by ironworking, carried on from the early 17th century at Alvington, Abenhall, Lydbrook, Lydney, and elsewhere. Later there were also paper, copper, and tinplate works, and tanneries. In the absence of good roads, local industry was served mainly by rivers; trade on the Wye was based before the 19th century at Brockweir. In the early 19th century a new harbour at Lydney became the main outlet to the Severn, and, later encouraged also by railways, that town's industry prospered. The extraparochial Forest was permanently settled only from the mid 18th century when squatting began the growth of over 20 villages and hamlets, and later the new town of Cinderford. After tramroads and rail-ways opened up its coalfield, the central Forest became a complex industrial region. 

The full text of this volume is on British History Online.

Volume VI

Edited by Christopher Elrington, this volume was published in 1965.

The history of the parishes of Slaughter hundred, and the upper divisions of Tewkesbury and Westminster hundreds, all in the eastern part of the county. The volumes includes accounts of the parishes of Adlestrop, made famous by Edward Thomas's poem, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold.

The full text of this volume is on British History Online

Volume VII - Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds

Edited by Nicholas Herbert, this volume was published in 1981.


This volume contains the histories of the 22 parishes in the hundreds of Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate, extending from the Cotswold escarpment above Gloucester to the Thames at Lechlade and including much of the Churn, Coln, and Leach valleys. Although Cranham and Chedworth parishes had extensive ancient beechwoods and Kempsford and Lechlade wide meadows bordering the Thames, most of the area was formerly one of traditional Cotswold agriculture based on large open fields and downland sheep-pastures. After enclosure large sheep-farms grew turnips and grass leys, but the late-19th-century depression caused many to be taken in hand and converted to new uses like dairying. Pockets of industry included cloth-mills in Bibury and elsewhere, a paper-mill at Quenington, and potteries at Cranham. The towns of Fairford and Lechlade did not develop industrially, serving mainly as markets and as stages on the London road. At Lechlade goods, particularly cheese, were consigned by river to London. The manors, mainly monastic in the Middle Ages, passed later to families which ranged from aristocrats like the Thynnes and Cravens to local gentry like the Partridges, Sheppards, and Kebles. In the 19th century new owners from commerce included a Jewish financier, the founder of the Horlicks firm, and Lancashire cotton-manufacturers. Much of the area, particularly the large estates based on Williamstrip Park and Hatherop Castle and the villages along the Churn valley, shows the influence of 19th-century owners. Less typical parishes include Brimpsfield and Cranham, where early settlement was scattered, and Chedworth, with an influx in the late 17th century and the 18th of independent craftsmen.

The full text of this volume is available on British History Online.

Volume VIII - the hundreds of Cleeve, Deerhurst and Tibblestone, and the lower divisions of the hundreds of Tewkesbury and Westminster

Edited by Christopher Elrington, this volume was published in 1968.

The volume describes the history of Tewkesbury and 22 other parishes lying mainly between the Severn and Bredon and Cleeve Hills. Tewkesbury itself was once an important centre for communications, manufacture, trade, and administration; its great abbey church remains, and the many timber-framed houses recall its past prosperity. Bishop's Cleeve had a monastery in the 8th century and later became a demesne manor of the Bishop of Worcester. There was an early minster church at Beckford, and at Deerhurst a Saxon monastery with a remarkable church that is still in use. At Forthampton part of the Abbot of Tewkesbury's manor-house survives. There were also substantial lay estates, not only the great manor of Tewkesbury, long owned by the Earls of Gloucester, but also those of lesser baronial families, like the Beauchamps, Pauncefoots, and Cardiffs. The land, once densely wooded, has mostly long been agricultural, though in Corse and Tirley parts of the former chase were not inclosed until 1797, and there were large sheep-pastures in the hills. Prestbury was becoming residential by the late 18th century and later on engineering works stimulated the growth of other places in the area.

This volume is available on British History Online.

Buy this volume.

Volume IX - Bradley Hundred. The Northleach Area of the Cotswolds

Edited by Nicholas Herbert, with contributions from Carol Davidson Cragoe, A R J Jurica and Elizabeth Williamson, this volume was published in 2001. It covers the sixteen parishes of Bradley hundred, to the east of the county.

This volume is available on British History Online.

Volume X - Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds

Edited by Nicholas Herbert with contributions from Kathleen Morgan and Brian S Smith, this volume was published in 1972.

This volume gives the history of the six parishes in Westbury hundred and the sixteen in Whitstone hundred. Both hundreds abut the River Severn. Westbury hundred, on the right bank, adjoins the Forest of Dean: the landscape is relatively wild and large areas of woodland survive. The hundred lies in two parts, including at its north-eastern end the crossing of the Severn at Over Bridge and at its south-western end the crossing of the Wye at Chepstow Bridge. The new Severn Bridge, replacing the ancient ferry from Beachley to Aust, crosses the south-western extremity. Most of the parishes are large, and settlement within them tends to be scattered. Highnam Court (in Churcham parish) and the former Westbury Court, from which the unusual water-garden survives, were two of the county's more notable country houses. The small town of Newnham, squeezed between river and forest, had a Norman castle and was the place from which Henry II left England for his conquest of Ireland. The history of Lancaut, the remote little parish lying on the Wye outside Offa's Dyke, is included in this volume under Tidenham. Whitstone hundred, on the left bank of the Severn, is mainly flat agricultural land, but the eastern parishes climb the Cotswold escarp-ment and were part of the Stroud Valley clothing district. The area is one of varied settlement and economy, including riverside hamlets as in Longney and Saul, former weaving hamlets like Randwick, and scattered moated sites, such as those of Haresfield, Moreton Valence, and Quedgeley. Among buildings that recall monastic connexions are the fine 12th-century church of Leonard Stanley, the great tithe-barn at Frocester, and the manor-house at Standish; secular buildings include among country houses Hardwicke Court, Frampton Court, Whitminster House, and the demolished 19th-century mansion at Fretherne, and large clothing mills at Eastington, King's Stanley, and Stonehouse.

This volume is available on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XI - Bisley and Longtree Hundreds

Edited by Nicholas Herbert with contributions from A.P. Baggs, A.R.J. Jurica and W.J. Sheils, this volume was published in 1976.

The volume covers the 18 parishes of the Cotswold hundreds of Bisley and Longtree and includes the market towns of Stroud, Tetbury, Painswick, and Minchinhampton. In the deep valleys centred on Stroud the cloth industry was the shaping force, adding interest and complexity to the story of even the smaller parishes like Rodborough and Woodchester. There, where the cloth-mills clustered thickly along the valleys, a closely knit society of clothier families played the leading role while humbler cloth-workers swelled the population, establishing new villages around the commons of Bisley and Minchinhampton and elsewhere in the area. In the early 19th century the factory system concentrated the cloth industry in fewer and larger mills but new industries like iron-founding, stick-making, and silk-throwing moved in, and local industry continued to expand and diversify in the 20th century. Painswick and Minchinhampton, medieval market towns, were eventually outstripped by the newer town of Stroud which ex-panded considerably in the 19th century under the influence of the railway and a new system of turnpike roads built along the valleys. The nonconformist churches, particularly at Nailsworth, were important, and in the 19th century Woodchester became a centre of Roman Catholicism and Bisley a stronghold of the Oxford Movement. Outside the valleys the two hundreds took in a less populous area of high, arid downland where, in parishes like Horsley and Rodmarton, monastic owners once farmed sheep on a considerable scale and landowning families like the Ducies, Estcourts, Coxes, and Stephenses long remained dominant. Tetbury, made a borough about 1200, later derived prosperity from its wool-market and wool-stapling industry and, like Painswick, survives as a fine example of the Cotswold stone-built town. Altogether the area has a rich variety of domestic architecture, including ancient manor-houses like Daneway and Chavenage, the numerous 17th and 18th century houses of the clothiers, two notable Victorian mansions at Westonbirt and Woodchester, and the early 20th century Rodmarton Manor built by members of the Arts and Crafts group who settled at Sapperton.

This volume is available on British History Online.


Volume XII - Newent and May Hill

Edited by A.R.J. Jurica, this volume was published in 2010.

This volume of the county history covers the part of north-west Gloucestershire extending from the foothills of the Malverns in the north to the distinctive feature of May Hill in the south. Centred on the parish and former market town of Newent, it also covers the ancient parishes of Bromesberrow, Dymock, Huntley, Kempley, Longhope, Oxenhall, Pauntley, Preston, and Taynton.
Over much of the area a pattern of scattered farmsteads and small fields emerged from the clearance of ancient woodland. That process continued after the Norman Conquest but with the consolidation of farms from the later middle ages the story became one of the abandonment of numerous farmhouses and farmsteads. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries road improvements facilitated the growth of outlying villages and squatter settlement on common and waste land created a number of hamlets, as on May Hill and on the Herefordshire border at Gorsley.

The volume also describes the area's varied agrarian history, from sheep, dairy and arable farming to its orchards, and, more recently, viniculture. Industrial activity has included glassworks and ironworks, and charcoal production. Newent, the chief trading centre from the thirteenth century on, saw both a short-lived coalfield, one of the principal objects for the construction of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal, and a spa.

This volume is on British History Online.

Buy this book.

Volume XIII - The Vale of Gloucester and Leadon Valley

Edited by Edited by J.H. Chandler, A.R.J. Jurica, with contributions from Simon Draper, this volume was published in 2016.

This volume provides authoritative accounts of thirteen ancient parishes alongside the River Severn near Gloucester or its tributary, the Leadon. Ten form a contiguous block north and west of Gloucester, extending from Upleadon to Sandhurst; two more, Minsterworth and Elmore, lie on opposite banks of the Severn below Gloucester. The volume also includes Twyning, a parish near Tewkesbury bordering Worcestershire.

It is a countryside of extensive meadows vulnerable to periodic flooding, of rich farmland between prominent, formerly wooded ridges, and of dispersed small settlements. Arable farming, which was widespread under its medieval monastic owners, eventually gave way to dairying, but cider and perry orchards, quarrying and fishing have also been important. River trade and settlement, and crossings by bridge and ferry, have influenced the area's economy and communications pattern, and its proximity to Gloucester attracted prominent citizens to build country houses and acquire estates there. Most parishes retain medieval work in their churches, and timber-framed domestic buildings are widespread. More recently, at Hartpury, the largest and most populous parish included in the volume, a large college campus has developed. 

This volume is not currently available online.

Buy this book.

England's Past for Everyone Publication

Identity and the City: A History of Ethnic Minorities in Bristol 1000–2001

Written by Madge Dresser and Peter Fleming, the book was published in 2008.

Throughout much of its history, Bristol has been one of England's most important ports; on the very edge of England it looks out towards Wales, Ireland, to the Atlantic and beyond. Those who have made Bristol their home range from medieval Jews to modern asylum seekers. Well before the post-war arrival of people of Caribbean and South Asian origin, the city played host to Welsh, Irish and Scottish incomers as well as to Germans, Italians, Africans, Indians and others. Beginning at the start of the 11th century, and ending in the 21st, Bristol: Ethnic Minorities and the City, 1000-2001 offers new insights into the experiences of foreigners who came to cosmopolitan Bristol. This pioneering study seeks to bear witness to their many stories and begins to piece together how these migrants have affected the city's own sense of itself. Full of archival and visual material, and interviews with Bristolians themselves, the book marks a new departure in local history. It is the first time that immigration and ethnic minorities have been explored in such depth over the entire recorded history of a single city. This story may span 1001 years rather than 1001 nights, but like Scheherazade, the authors intrigue their audience into wanting to know more.

VCH Shorts

Cheltenham before the Spa

Edited by Alex Craven with Beth Hartland, the book was published in 2019.

The familiar image of Cheltenham, a large and prosperous former spa town, world-famous on account of its Georgian and Regency architecture, its festivals and educational establishments, masks an earlier history. While numerous descriptions of the town have been published over the years, most say little about the many centuries of its existence before the 1740s, when it began to develop as a fashionable resort.

Read more about this book.


Written by Rose Osmund Wallis, the book was published in 2015.

Yate is a town in South Gloucestershire, north-east of Bristol. Its ancient parish extended across a largely flat vale, which until the 13th century lay within Horwood forest, and was then cleared, inclosed and farmed as rich pasture by the tenants of the influential owners of its three manors.

During the 1950s a 'new town' plan was devised which carefully controlled Yate's expansion, and included pioneering housing estate design, diverse industrial development and a large and progressive shopping mall. Yate's boundaries were redrawn in 1988, and the population of this vibrant, modern town now exceeds 20,000.

Read more about this book.