Lower Swell shown within Gloucestershire
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Lower Swell is a village and a parish in Gloucestershire. It is located at the River Dikler, one mile from Stow-on-the-Wold. The village has "finest countryside, a tranquil village green and plenty of mellow stone cottages". The village church is dedicated to St. Mary.
Origin of the name
Daniel Henry Haigh, a noted Victorian scholar of Anglo-Saxon history and literature, is certain that "swell" means "burning", or "funeral pile". He says that there was a battle fought by Offa of Mercia in the vicinity of Lower Swell. David Royce, who is the Vicar of Lower Swell, has said that during the reconstruction of the church "a long deep bed of ashes was discovered in his churchyard, and that, of eleven barrows in the parish, the largest is called Picked Morden, a name which seems equivalent to "selected slain". After he heard this testimony, Haigh came to the conclusion that the place where the Lower Swell church stands now was once used to bury "the burnt corpses of the nobles".
According to another theory, the name "Swell" came about from "the protuberant contours on the western side of the [Dikler] river".
The most widely accepted theory behind the name "Swell" is that it relates to a spring that rises in the grounds of the Abbotswood Estate to the north of the village and is an abbreviated version of "Our Lady's Well". The well can still be seen today.
History of the village
In the Middle Ages the village's name was Little Swell. Documents indicate that the village was well developed by the 17th century, but was probably initially developed even earlier. The oldest extant buildings are dated to 17th Century. A notable 18th century building that was built in 1786 is named the "Golden Ball", but locals call it simply "the Ball".
In 1086 the manor of Lower Swell was owned by Raoul II of Tosny and William II, Count of Eu. In the 13th century the Lower Swell manor was sold to Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall (formally "King of the Romans", from 1257). In the 16th century it was exchanged back and forth between the Crown and the Bishop of London. Other notable owners include Sir Robert Atkyns, who was an English Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament, and Speaker of the House of Lords. His son Sir Robert Atkyns lived in Lower Swell and wrote Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire.
There are a few ancient ancient burial chambers located around Lower Swell. Some of them are/were marked with menhirs - standing stone standing stones. One of this stones is named the Whittlestone, or Whistle stone as it used to be called.
There is a local legend that the Whittlestone once belonged to immovable megaliths. The legend also includes the claims that the stones of Zennor Quoit are typically immovable. They cannot be moved by all the King's horses and all the King's men, and that if they are moved they will return to their initial places the morning after they are moved.The Whittlestone was moved, however, and contrary to the legend it remains at the location that it was moved to in the centre of Lower Swell.
Another legend states that the Whittlestone is a moving megalith, and every night, "when the Whistlestone hears Stow clock (a mile off) strike 12, it goes down to Lady-well (and the hill’s foot) to drink".
- Black's guide to Gloucestershire. Black Adam and Charles, ltd. 1884. p. 84. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Shitterton: The village that dare not speak its name". The Independent. May 21, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- Daniel Henry Haigh (1861). The Anglo-Saxon Sagas; An Examination Of Their Value As Aids To History; A Sequel To The History Of The Conquest Of Britain By The Saxons. John Russel Smith. p. 54. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Lower Swell". British History online. May 21, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Whittlestone - Standing Stone (Menhir) in England in Gloucestershire". May 21, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "THE WHITTLESTONE, LOWER SWELL. SP 1730 2554". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- L.V. Grinsell. The Ancient Burial-mounds of England. p. 81. Retrieved 2011-04-04.