Winchcombe

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Winchcombe
Winchcombe is located in Gloucestershire
Winchcombe
Winchcombe
Location within Gloucestershire
Population4,538 
OS grid referenceSP025285
District
Shire county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCHELTENHAM
Postcode districtGL54
Dialling code01242
PoliceGloucestershire
FireGloucestershire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Gloucestershire
51°57′18″N 1°57′54″W / 51.955°N 1.965°W / 51.955; -1.965Coordinates: 51°57′18″N 1°57′54″W / 51.955°N 1.965°W / 51.955; -1.965

Winchcombe (/ˈwɪnkəm/) is a market town of early medieval origin, in the Cotswold hills of Gloucestershire, England, 6.2 mi (10 km) north-east of Cheltenham. The population recorded as 4,538 in the 2011 census was estimated at 5,347 in 2019.[1] Fragments of the Winchcombe meteorite, originating from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, landed in the town on 28 February 2021.[2]

Attractions[edit]

Winchcombe started life as a Roman hamlet, rising to prominence as an Anglo-Saxon walled town containing Winchcombe Abbey, where a Mercian king and his saintly son were buried. Although the town wall has long vanished, Winchcombe retains much of its medieval layout, with a mixture of timber-framed and Cotswold limestone buildings along its High Street, some dating back to the 15th century.[3]

Winchcombe's position on the Cotswold Way keeps it popular with walkers and history fans. Frequent visits are made to the heritage GWR steam train that links it with Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse, and with Sudeley Castle, the burial place of Queen Catherine Parr, which lies on the outskirts.

History[edit]

Part of the main street

The Belas Knap Neolithic long barrow on Cleeve Hill above Winchcombe, dates from about 3000 BCE.[4] In Anglo-Saxon times, Winchcombe was a major community in Mercia, favoured by King Coenwulf of Mercia, the others being Lichfield and Tamworth. In the 11th century, the town was briefly the county town of Winchcombeshire.[5] The Anglo-Saxon St Kenelm, said to be a son of Coenwulf, is believed to be buried here.

During the Anarchy of the 12th century, a motte-and-bailey castle was built in the early 1140s for Empress Matilda, by Roger Fitzmiles, 2nd Earl of Hereford, but its exact site is unknown.[6] It has been suggested it was lay south of St Peter's Church.

In the Restoration period, Winchcombe was noted for cattle rustling and other lawlessness, attributed in part to poverty. Local people seeking a living took to growing tobacco as a cash crop, although the practice had been outlawed since the Commonwealth period. Soldiers were sent in at least once to destroy the illegal crop.[7]

Fragments of the Winchcombe meteorite originating from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, fell on a house driveway on 28 February 2021.[2] The meteorite is a rare carbonaceous chondrite, offering pristine material from the beginnings of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. This was preserved by its prompt collection by a local resident about 12 hours after falling to Earth.[8] Another fragment was found by researchers on a local farm.[9]

Notable buildings[edit]

Sudeley Castle, 1726 engraving

Winchcombe and vicinity contain Sudeley Castle and the remains of Hailes Abbey, once a main place of pilgrimage, due to a phial said by the monks possessing it to contain the Blood of Christ.[10] Nothing remains of Winchcombe Abbey. St Peter's Church in the centre of the town is noted for its grotesques.

Several buildings around Sudeley Hill are Grade II listed.[11]

Notable people[edit]

In birth order:

Walks[edit]

Winchcombe is crossed by seven long-distance footpaths: The Cotswold Way, the Gloucestershire Way, the Wychavon Way, St Kenelm's Trail, St Kenelm's Way,[13] the Warden's Way and the Windrush Way. Winchcombe became a member of the Walkers are Welcome network of towns in July 2009 and now holds a walking festival every May.

Public transport[edit]

The town has bus services to Cheltenham, Broadway, Willersey.[14]

Winchcombe railway station

Winchcombe had a railway opened in 1906 by the Great Western Railway from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham as part of a main line from Birmingham to the South West and South Wales. Winchcombe railway station and most others on the section closed in March 1960.[15] Through passenger trains continued until March 1968 and goods until 1976, when a derailment caused damage and it was decided to close the section.[16] By the early 1980s it had been dismantled. The length between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse via Winchcombe has been reconstructed as the heritage Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.[17] It was extended to Broadway in spring 2018. The new station building that opened at Winchcombe on its original site was brought from the former Monmouth Troy railway station.[18] Nearby is the 693-yard/634 m Greet Tunnel, the second longest on a British preserved line.

Governance[edit]

An electoral ward in the same name stretches from Alderton in the north to Hawling in the south. Its total population at the 2011 census was 6,295.[19]

Schools[edit]

Winchcombe has a secondary schoolWinchcombe School in Greet Road, east of the town centre. Winchcombe Abbey Church of England Primary School lies near the town centre in Back Lane, next to Winchcombe Library and Cowl Lane.

Community[edit]

The community station Radio Winchcombe began broadcasting in April 2005 for 20 days a year.[20] Full-time broadcasting was approved in December 2011 and began on 18 May 2012.[21]

Winchcombe has a Michelin star restaurant at 5 North Street.[22] There are several other frequented eating places.[23]

Winchcombe Town F.C. plays in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ City Population. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Gloucestershire meteorite is first UK find in 30 years BBC News Science, 8 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  3. ^ "GEORGE INN". Historic England. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  4. ^ "English Heritage. Retrieved 21 April 2020". Archived from the original on 16 May 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  5. ^ Mercia: An Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, Michelle P. Brown, Carol A. Farr ISBN 0-8264-7765-8
  6. ^ David Walker (1991) Gloucestershire Castles Archived 2012-03-13 at the Wayback Machine in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1991, Vol. 109, p. 15.
  7. ^ Pepys's Diary, 19 September 1667.
  8. ^ Fireball meteorite that blazed across the UK recovered from a driveway Natural History Museum, 9 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  9. ^ Meteorite found in the Cotswolds is the first in the UK for 30 years Sky News, 9 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  10. ^ Sacred Destinations Archived 29 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine Abbey site.
  11. ^ "Listed buildings in Winchcombe. Retrieved 22 May 2020". Archived from the original on 26 August 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  12. ^ Dent, Emma (1877). Annals of Winchcombe and Sudeley. John Murray. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Long Distance Walkers Association guide". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  14. ^ "606 - Chipping Campden - Willersey - Winchcombe - Bishop's Cleeve - Cheltenham". Bus Times. Archived from the original on 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  15. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 251. ISBN 1852605081. R508.
  16. ^ "Honeybourne Line". The Restoration & Archiving Trust. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Winchcombe". GWSR. Archived from the original on 19 July 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Winchcombe Station". GWSR. Archived from the original on 19 July 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Ward population 2011". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Winchcombe Radio". Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
  21. ^ "Ofcom awards four new community radio licences". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  22. ^ Norman, Matthew (19 November 2013). "5 North St, Gloucestershire, restaurant review". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  23. ^ Descriptions. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Gloucestershire Northern Senior League". Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]

Following the Cotswold Way
Towards
Bath
Towards
Chipping Campden
13.5 km (8.4 mi) to
Cheltenham
19 km (12 mi) to
Broadway