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Coordinates: 51°41′56″N 1°41′31″W / 51.699°N 1.692°W / 51.699; -1.692
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St Lawrence's seen across the Thames
Lechlade is located in Gloucestershire
Location within Gloucestershire
Population2,850 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSU2199
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLechlade
Postcode districtGL7
Dialling code01367
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
WebsiteLechlade-on-Thames official website
List of places
51°41′56″N 1°41′31″W / 51.699°N 1.692°W / 51.699; -1.692

Lechlade (/ˈlɛld/) is a town at the edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, England, 55 miles (89 km) south of Birmingham and 68 miles (109 km) west of London. It is the highest point at which the River Thames is navigable, although there is a right of navigation that continues south-west into Cricklade, in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire. The town is named after the River Leach that joins the Thames near the Trout Inn and St. John's Bridge.

The low-lying land is alluvium, Oxford Clay and river gravels and the town is surrounded by lakes created from disused gravel extraction sites, forming parts of the Cotswold Water Park; several have now been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and nature reserves. Human occupation dates from the neolithic, Iron Age and Roman periods and it developed as a trading centre served by river, canal, roads and railway, although the station closed in 1962.

The Anglican Church of St Lawrence is a Grade I listed building dating from the 15th century. The development of the nearby RAF Fairford and RAF Brize Norton after World War II contributed to the expansion of the town.


A neolithic cursus was discovered from cropmarks on aerial photographs was identified in 1943.[2] There are several archaeological remains of dwellings from the Iron Age and Roman periods, which have now been scheduled as an ancient monument.[3][4][5][6]

William the Conqueror gave the manor of Lechlade to Henry de Ferrers, who had accompanied him to England in 1066, and the manor is mentioned in the Domesday Book.[7][8] A charter granting market to the town was passed in 1210.[8] Lechlade Priory was founded in the early 13th century and lasted until 1472.[9] The town developed as a trading centre linked by the river, canal, roads and railway. The town's railway station opened in 1873 and closed in 1962.[8] The development of RAF Fairford and RAF Brize Norton after World War II increased local employment and the need for housing.[10]


Lechlade falls in the Kempsford–Lechlade electoral ward. This ward stretches from Lechlade in the east to Kempsford in the west. The total population of this ward taken from the 2011 census was 3,973.[11]

Although in Gloucestershire, and traditionally in the hundred of Brightwells Barrow, from 1894 till 1935 the town was administered as part of Faringdon Rural District in Berkshire. From 1935 till 1974 it was part of Cirencester Rural District in Gloucestershire, and since 1974 it has been a part of Cotswold District.[12]

The town is part of The Cotswolds UK Parliament constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament, since its 1997, creation by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a Conservative.


The geology of the area consists of Alluvium, Oxford Clay and River Gravels.[13] The land is generally fairly flat and low lying.[14] It is surrounded by lakes created from disused gravel extraction sites, forming parts of the Cotswold Water Park and several have now been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and nature reserves.[14] The Edward Richardson & Phyllis Amey nature reserve consists of marsh and reedbeds which attract dragonflies and birds such as grey heron and great crested grebe.[15] At Roundhouse Lake common visitors are Eurasian wigeon, red-crested pochard, common goldeneye, common pochard and tufted duck.[16]

The River Thames[edit]

River Thames and Lechlade

Lechlade is the highest town to which the River Thames is navigable by relatively large craft including narrowboats. It is possible to travel by river or walk the Thames Path from here to London. In the early eighteenth century goods unloaded in Bristol were transported to Gloucester, carried overland to Lechlade and sent down the Thames to London.[17] The Halfpenny Bridge is therefore the usual start for a water based Thames meander – the term for a long-distance journey down the Thames. The Thames Path also continues upstream to the traditional source of the Thames at Thames Head. The river is actually navigable for a short distance further upstream, near the village of Inglesham, where the Thames and Severn Canal joins the River Thames. Rowing boats can reach even further upstream, to Cricklade. Lechlade is a popular resort for Thames boating. Boats of different types can be hired from here, from rowing boats to river cruisers.[18][19]

The highest lock on the Thames is St John's Lock, at Lechlade, where there is a statue of Old Father Thames overlooking the boating activities. There is a view from St John's Bridge across the lock and the meadows to the spire of St Lawrence's parish church. The River Leach flows into the Thames at St John's Bridge. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley composed A Summer Evening Churchyard here[20] which includes the lines

Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire

Around whose lessening and invisible height

Gather among the stars the clouds of night


The Post Office

The town is a popular venue for tourism and river-based activities.[10]

There are several pubs, some antique shops, a convenience store, food outlets, a garden centre and a Christmas shop.

Culture and community[edit]

Lechlade has hosted a music festival since 2011.[21] In 2015 the festival's headline act was Status Quo.[22] The festival was cancelled in 2023 due to poor weather causing the ground to be too soft, which resulted in the Lechlade Festival company going into liquidation. [23]

Lechlade has a number of youth activities, most of them centred on the Memorial Hall and the adjacent Lechlade Pavilion Hall. Behind the Town Hall are large playing fields, an astro turf pitch, a skate park and a playground.[24] The memorial hall has been rebuilt after a fire in 2016.[25]

1970 Squadron, Air Training Corps was founded in the town in 1997. The squadron's membership consists of young people from Lechlade and neighbouring towns such as Fairford and Faringdon. The unit has disbanded and all cadets have been transferred many attending the group in Highworth. The 1st Lechlade Scout Group can trace its origins back to 1915 when Robert Baden-Powell inspected Scouts from Lechlade and the surrounding area.


Lechlade Manor, north east of the town centre, was built in a Jacobean style in 1872.[26] During World War II it became the Catholic Convent of St Clotilde.[27]


The town railway station in 1950

The main roads through the town are busy, as the town is at the crossroads of the A417 and A361. Where the A361 enters the town from the south it crosses the River Thames on Halfpenny Bridge. Another tributary of the Thames, the River Coln, joins the Thames at the Inglesham Round House.

The town's railway station opened in 1873 and closed in 1962.[28]

Religious sites[edit]

St Lawrence, Lechlade

The Church of England parish church of St Lawrence is a Grade I listed building.[29] It replaced an earlier structure in the 15th century (probably around 1470-1476[30]), though the nave roof and clerestory, the north porch, and the tower and spire may have been added in the early 16th century. A west gallery for singers was installed in 1740 and there were further internal additions in the 1880s.[31] The church contains a Monumental brass of John Twynyho (died 1485), set into his ledger stone on floor of north aisle. He, and his wife Agnes, acquired the manor of "Hallecourte" in Lechlade.[32] This may have been the same property as "Butler's Court", a 4-yardland estate which in 1304 had been granted by John de Bellew to John Butler. John Twynyho of Cirencester was lord of Butler's Court in 1479.[33]

There is a Baptist Church on Sherborne Street which was built in 1817.[34][35]

Notable people[edit]

  • Reginald Arkell (1881-1959) was born in Lechlade. He went on to train as a journalist and then became a script writer and comic novelist who wrote many musical plays for the London theatre.[36]
  • Thomas Prence (1599-1673), emigrated to America in 1621 and was a co-founder of Eastham, Massachusetts, a political leader in both the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies, and governor of Plymouth, Massachusetts (1634, 1638, and 1657–1673).[37]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Lechlade Cursus (332220)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Lechlade: Ancient and Historical Monuments in the County of Gloucester Iron Age and Romano-British Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds". British History Online. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Iron Age and Romano British settlement remains and associated features, 1km south east of Leaze Farm (1011604)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  5. ^ Bateman, Clifford; Enright, Dawn; Oakey, Niall (2003). "Prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon Settlements to the rear of Sherborne House, Lechlade: excavations in 1997" (PDF). Trans. Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. 121: 23–96.
  6. ^ "Lechlade on Thames Town History". Fairford U3A. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Open Domesday: Lechlade". Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "Town History". Lechlade on Thames. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  9. ^ Page, William, ed. (1907). "43. The Hospital of St John the Baptist, Lechlade". A History of the County of Gloucester. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 125–126. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Neighbourhood Plan" (PDF). Cotswold Council. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Kempsford-Lechlade ward 2011". Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Lechlade AP/CP". A Vision of Britain. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  13. ^ "The Riverside Marina" (PDF). Cotswold Archaeology. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  14. ^ a b "The Character Types and Areas of the Cotswold Water Park" (PDF). Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Edward Richardson & Phyllis Amey". Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Roundhouse Lake". Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  17. ^ Privateer: Life aboard a British Privateer In the time of Queen Anne 1708-1711 – Captain Woodes Rogers. Chapter 2, Note 1
  18. ^ "Cotswold Boat & GLS Marine". Cotswold Boat Hire. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Thames Canoe Hire at Cotswold Canoe Hire". Cotswold Canoe Hire. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  20. ^ Garrett, M. (2013). The Palgrave Literary Dictionary of Shelley. Palgrave. pp. 1–16. doi:10.1057/9781137328519_1. ISBN 978-1-137-32851-9. Archived from the original on 3 June 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  21. ^ Lechlade Music Festival, retrieved 26 May 2015
  22. ^ Murray, Alex (28 May 2015). "Lechlade Festival: Town gets down with The Quo". Oxford Times. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Lechlade Festival cancelled due to water logged ground". BBC News. 13 May 2023.
  24. ^ "New skate park opens in Lechlade". So Glos. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  25. ^ "Lechlade Memorial Hall". Lechlade Memorial Hall. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  26. ^ Historic England. "Convent of St. Clotilde (1303277)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  27. ^ "St Clotilde's Convent, Lechlade". btsarnia. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Lechlade Pages 106-121 A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7". British History Online. Victoria County History. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  29. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Lawrence (1155874)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  30. ^ David Verey, Cotswold Churches (B.T.Batsford Ltd, 1976), at page 107
  31. ^ Lechlade, in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7, ed. N. M. Herbert (Oxford, 1981), pp. 106-121. British History Online [accessed 15 March 2018].
  32. ^ C.T. Flower, ed., Calendar of the Close Rolls, Edward IV, Vol. 1, 1461-1468 (London: HMSO, 1949), 100, quoted in [1]
  33. ^ 'Lechlade', in History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7, ed. N. M. Herbert (Oxford, 1981), pp. 106-121
  34. ^ "Lechlade Baptist Church, Lechlade". Place of Worship Database. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  35. ^ Historic England. "Baptist Church (1089377)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  36. ^ "Reginald Arkell". Good Reads. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  37. ^ A genealogical profile of Thomas Prence, (pub. Plimoth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society accessed 23 March 2013 [2] Archived 1 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]