County of southwest England.
Area 2,640 sq km/1,019 sq mi
Towns and citiesGloucester (administrative headquarters), Cheltenham, Cirencester, Stroud, Tewkesbury
Physical Cotswold Hills; River Severn and tributaries
Features Berkeley Castle (1153), where Edward II was murdered; Prinknash Abbey (1520), where pottery is made; Cotswold Farm Park, near Stow-on-the-Wold, which has rare and ancient breeds of farm animals; pre-Norman churches at Cheltenham and Cleeve; Gloucester Cathedral (Norman remains and 14th century redevelopment); Tewkesbury Abbey, Saxon site with early 12th-century nave
Agriculture cereals (in the Cotswolds), fruit (apples and pears), cider, dairy products (‘double Gloucester’ cheese was formerly made here), sheep farming
Industries aerospace industry, light engineering, manufacturing (bricks, carpets, furniture, glass, pottery, tiles, watches), plastics, timber, financial services
Population (2001) 564,560
Famous people Gustav Holst, Edward Jenner, John Keble
Topography Gloucestershire is bounded by Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire on the north; by Oxfordshire on the east; by Swindon and South Gloucestershire on the south; and by Monmouthshire on the west. The county falls into three distinct parts: the uplands of the Cotswold Hills in the east; the Severn valley with its rich pastures, known as the Vale; and to the west the historic Forest of Dean, which lies between the Severn and the River Wye on the border with Monmouthshire. The River Severn runs in a southwesterly direction through the western part of the county and is navigable as far as Sharpness, and between Gloucester and Stourport. The climate is moist, and suitable for the cultivation of root vegetables.
History Gloucestershire was important in Roman times. Camps were established at Gloucester, and also at Cirencester, a station on the Fosse Way known as Corinium, which became the second city of Roman Britain. There are Roman and early British remains, mainly in the Cotswolds. The county is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1016. Woollen cloth, previously an important product, is now manufactured only in the Stroud Valley and at Dursley. Silk-weaving was introduced into the Stroud Valley in the 17th century, but has since died out. In the 17th and 18th centuries numerous other minor industries sprang up, including flax-growing and the manufacture of lace, rope, sail-cloth, and stockings.
Geology Gloucestershire's geology is varied, and includes gneissic rocks at the southern end of the Malvern Hills; greenstone at Damory, Charfield, and Woodford; sandy shales and sandstone at Dymock; and iron deposits in the Forest of Dean. Celestine, clay, limestone, and sandstone are all quarried. Rocks dating from the Quaternary period are found in the county.
Preserving the past In 1933 land was bought through funds provided by the Pilgrim Trust to preserve the surroundings of the church of Chipping Campden and Old Campden House. Dover's Hill, a spur of the Cotswolds not far from Chipping Campden, commanding an extensive view over the Vale of Evesham, was bought by public subscription (1928–29).
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