County full of cu­riosi­ties with a story to tell

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

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IF cu­rios­ity killed the cat there should be a se­vere fe­line short­age in Glouces­ter­shire as the county is home to more than its fair share of odd in­trigues.

One of the tallest is the Tyn­dale mon­u­ment, which stands on Ni­b­ley Knoll at North Ni­b­ley.

The 111-feet tower was built by Lord Du­cie in 1866, who had re­cently ac­quired a new es­tate at Tort­worth.

He was show­ing off to the neigh­bours re­ally, but to give his struc­ture a sem­blance of rea­son he ded­i­cated it to Wil­liam Tyn­dale, who trans­lated the Bi­ble into English and was born nearby 382 years ear­lier.

Rod­bor­ough Fort, which stands on Rod­bor­ough Com­mon over­look­ing Stroud, was built in 1761 as an eye­catcher by Cap­tain Ge­orge Hawker.

It was ex­tended a few years later into a spa­cious, though ec­cen­tric, home and has been lived in more or less con­tin­u­ously ever since.

A cu­rios­ity at nearby Minch­in­hamp­ton Com­mon is Tom Long’s Post.

There seems to be no de­fin­i­tive an­swer as to why this many armed sign post is so named.

One school of thought is that a no­to­ri­ous high­way­man named Tom Long lurked about th­ese en­vi­rons in days gone by and was even­tu­ally hanged on the spot.

But a less ro­man­tic ex­pla­na­tion is that in the 18th cen­tury the col­lo­quial name for a haulier, some­one who carted goods here and there, was a Tom Long.

So sign posts, which were ob­vi­ously of im­por­tance to hauliers, be­came known as Tom Long posts.

Per­haps the great­est con­cen­tra­tion of ar­chi­tec­tural cu­riosi­ties in the county can be seen in Cirences­ter Park.

This vast land­scaped un­der­tak­ing was laid out in the 18th cen­tury by the Earl of Bathurst and his chum the poet Alexan­der Pope with a five-mile drive that stretches from the town as its cen­ter­piece.

The grounds are punc­tu­ated by fol­lies. One of them called Al­fred’s Hall was built in 1721 and with its ivy cov­ered walls, tur­rets, arched win­dows and castel­lated roofline looks as though it should be on the set of a Ham­mer Hor­ror film.

Travel a mile out of More­ton-in­marsh to­wards Chip­ping Nor­ton and you’ll see the Four Shires Stone.

This 15ft tall lime­stone obelisk used to mark the spot at which Glouces­ter­shire, Ox­ford­shire, War­wick­shire and Worces­ter­shire met, though bound­ary changes made in 1931 meant that the lim­its of Worces­ter­shire were re­drawn.

Since then the Four Shires Stone should re­ally have been called the Three Shires Stone, but never mind.

If you find your­self in Bis­ley church­yard you might like to pon­der the Old Bone House.

This con­i­cal stone struc­ture marks the spot of the bone hole where in for­mer times uniden­ti­fied bits of hu­man re­mains that were dug up when gravedig­gers were go­ing about their work were de­posited.

Ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal leg­end the vil­lage priest, who per­haps had been mak­ing sure the com­mu­nion wine was up to scratch, fell into the bone hole and died.

Sadly I couldn’t find a pic­ture of the Orangery at Framp­ton Court in the de­light­ful vil­lage of Framp­ton-on-sev­ern.

But it’s worth know­ing that its ar­chi­tect Wil­liam Half­penny was also an au­thor.

One of his books, snap­pily ti­tled Ru­ral Ar­chi­tec­ture In The Chi­nese Taste, in­tro­duced the word gazebo to the English lan­guage.

The Tyn­dale Mon­u­ment at North Ni­b­ley

Rod­bor­ough Fort

Al­fred’s Hall in Cirences­ter Park

The Old Bone House at Bis­ley

Four Shires Stone

Tom Long’s Post

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