The Market House, Newent
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Newent (//; originally called "Noent") is a market town and civil parish about 10½ miles (17 km) north-west of Gloucester, England. Its population of 5,073 at the 2001 census increased to 5,207 by 2011. A 2018 estimate put the population at 5050. Once a medieval market and fair town, its site had been settled at least since Roman times. It appeared first in the historical record in the 1086 Domesday Book.
Noent, the original name for Newent, may mean "new place" in Celtic. It also may mean "new inn" to reference lodging for travellers to Wales, according to John Leland (c. 1503–1552). According to Leland, there was a house called "New Inn", later named The Boothall, which provided lodging along the road to Wales.[a]
Newent is on the northern edge of the Forest of Dean and within the Forest of Dean District of Gloucestershire. It is south-east of the River Wye. The river was connected via Newent to Gloucester in the late 18th century by the 34-mile Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal.
A Roman road was constructed between Newent and Ariconium, near what is now Ross-on-Wye. Within 1 mile (1.6 km) of Newent, there were several metal-working sites used by the Romans. Aside from these, there is evidence of Romano-British settlement apparent at as many as 56 sites within 6 miles (9.7 km) of Newent. Archaeological evidence drawn from them includes old Roman coins and pottery found near the town itself, Roman coins and treasure at Little Gorsley, and a settlement at Dymock.
The priory was established in Newent as a cell of Cormeilles Abbey, founded in Normandy in 1060 by William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford. The abbey received an endowment from him which included the manor of Newent and the surrounding woods, the church and its income, and other properties he owned in England.
The hitherto Benedictine priory became part of the college of Fotheringhay after the suppression of alien priories during the wars with France. Its site is now occupied by the Court House, adjacent to the parish church.
The Domesday Book (1086) records that in 1066 the lord of Newent, then spelt Noent, had been Edward the Confessor. Twenty years later tenant-in-chief and one of the lords was Cormeilles Abbey. Other lords were Durand of Gloucester (brother of Roger de Pitres) and William son of Baderon (William fitzBaderon).
Newent, with its 34.5 households, was located within the Botloe Hundred of Gloucestershire. There were 10 villagers, 19 smallholders, four serfs and one reeve. There were also four lord's plough teams, 19 men's plough teams, and three mills.
The Church of England Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Grade I listed building located in Church Street. It dates from the 13th century, but the site had been occupied since the Anglo-Saxon period.
St Mary's has stained glass windows from the famed company of Clayton and Bell. Set on a 65 feet (20 m) tower with a ring of eight bells is a 88 feet (27 m) spire. The church organ was built in 1737 by Thomas Warne, a resident of the town.
The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal between Gloucester and Ledbury closed on 30 June 1881 and the section between Ledbury and Gloucester was converted into a railway line. This line, a branch of the Great Western Railway, opened on 27 July 1885. The line closed in 1959, but the canal is now being restored.)
Newent has many historical buildings, including a stilted Market House and a number of other black-and-white, half-timbered buildings typical of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Behind Church Street, a former museum of Victorian life called the Shambles was home to a replica 19th-century street that is now occupied by real traders.
More than 50 buildings and monuments in the town centre are listed by Historic England, including most of those in Church Street. They also include Devonia in High Street, a Grade II-listed house dating from the Georgian period. The early 18th-century Court House situated in a small park beside the parish church, occupies the site of the ancient priory and is reputed to contain the foundations of the former building. The house contains historic features that include a fine Rococo plaster ceiling and several complete panelled rooms. The building was restored by R. V. Morris, Chairman of Gloucester Civic Trust.
Newent used to be served by Newent railway station on the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway, which opened in 1885. The station stood opposite what is now the fire station. It was closed to passengers in 1959 and for freight traffic in 1964. The buttresses of the Station Bridge can be seen in Old Station Road.
Newent is home to the National Birds of Prey Centre, just east of the neighbouring village of Cliffords Mesne and a vineyard :The Three Choirs. It is at the centre of the Golden Triangle, so-called because of the preponderance of daffodils in the surrounding area.
The town holds an onion fair each September, at which there are competitions for growing onions and for eating them. The "Onion Fayre" is now the town's principal annual event. Its onion show and onion-eating competitions date from 1996 as a restaging of a historical agricultural fair that died out around the time of World War I. It now claims to be the largest free, one-day festival in Gloucestershire, attracting up to 15,000 visitors on the second Saturday in September.
Education commissioners in the reign of Edward VI (1547–53) noted the lack of schooling in Newent. Gloucestershire commissioners reported that Newent was a market town with over 500 inhabitants, but "all the youth of a great distance there hence rudely brought up and in no manner of knowledge and learning, where were a place meet to... erect a school for the better and more godly bringing up of the same youth." Newent is now served by three schools, two of them federated, all within the town. The federation of Glebe Infant School and Picklenash Junior School provides primary education, while Newent Community School provides both secondary and tertiary education for those aged 11 and upwards.
Sports and recreation
- The town's football team, Newent Town AFC, plays in the Hellenic League System. It was promoted as Champions of the North Gloucester Premer League after winning the title on 14 May 2013. Newent Town also won the Northern Senior "Reg Davis" League Cup in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017. It then won the Hellenic Div 2 West at its first attempt in the 2017/2018 season. Its reserve team plays in the Hellenic League 2 West. There is also a third team which plays in the North Gloucester League. At youth level, the Under 16s won the Cheltenham top division without losing a single game in the 2016/2017 season. In the 2018/2019 season there were only Under 18s. The home pitch and club house are at Wildsmith Meadow.
- Newent RFC plays Rugby Union in the Gloucester Premier Division of the Rugby Football Union South West Division and is based at the recreation ground in Watery Lane. It was promoted as Champions of Division 1 on 22 April 2013.
- Newent Cricket Club plays in the Gloucestershire County Cricket League, Division 2. The Club is located at Three Ashes Lane, just outside Newent.
- Newent Leisure Centre is run by the Forest of Dean District Council within the grounds of Newent Community School. It has a range of facilities, including a gym, a multi-use indoor arena, a squash court and a swimming pool. There are also tennis courts and also an all-weather artificial turf pitch for football and hockey. These are run by the adjacent Sports Bar.
- Vicky Holland – World Triathlon Champion 2018 – went to Newent Community School. She became the only female Triathlon Olympic medal winner (Bronze 2016). She is a twice World Mixed Team Champion.
- Joe Meek – record producer and songwriter – was born at 1 Market Square. He produced the 1962 number 1 hit 'Telstar' by The Tornados. He is buried at Newent Cemetery under a black granite tombstone.
- Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin – Gold Medal Winners in the Team Dressage and Individual Dressage events at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London – are based at Newent. The town was awarded a Golden Post Box by the Royal Mail.
- Stuart Fleetwood – a professional footballer currently playing for Luton Town F.C. – attended Newent Community School and played for various Newent Youth Football teams. Fleetwood previously played for Cardiff and represented Wales at U21 and U23 levels.
- Alex Cuthbert – the Wales rugby star – went to Newent Community School. He scored the decisive try in the 2012 Six Nations game, and two tries in the 30-3 win over England in the 2013 title-deciding game. Cuthbert was raised and schooled in England but was given his chance in international rugby by the Welsh Sevens team, after being overlooked by the England set-up.
- Andi Gladwin – well-known magician who went to Newent Community School – has featured on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Next Great Magician, Masters of Illusion and other shows. Gladwin is the author of several books on magic.
- Michael Steven Park – a rally co-driver, one of the top co-drivers of his generation – died as a result of injuries sustained in an accident on the final leg of Wales Rally Great Britain, when his Peugeot 307 WRC left the road and struck a tree. As co-driver to Estonian Markko Märtin, he enjoyed considerable success for three seasons at Ford before joining Peugeot for 2005.
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