We are fortunate to have collected a number of historical accounts of Thornbury and the neighbouring area that describe life there at specific periods in time.  We would be grateful to anyone who could send us other similar documents.

‘A New History of Gloucestershire’ printed by Samuel Rudder 1779

Samuel was a Gloucestershire topographer, printer and antiquarian who was born in Uley and baptised there in 1726.  He ran a printing and bookselling business in Cirencester in the 1750’s and wrote and published several important works on the history of Gloucestershire.  ‘A New History of Gloucestershire’ includes historical accounts of various towns in Gloucestershire.  It was compiled from printed questionnaires, which Rudder said made him very troublesome to his friends.  He also used the research of other people including Sir Robert Atkyns who wrote ‘The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire’ in 1712.  Samuel’s work was well received by critics and Horace Walpole described it as ‘the most sensible history of a county that we have yet’.  It had taken 12 years to complete.

For the purposes of this website, we have extracted that section of Rudder’s document which relates to Thornbury and the surrounding villages and then divided the transcription into separate pages covering different aspects of the historical account.  Please click on the links below to see the detailed transcriptions.

  • Thornbury – general description of Thornbury, the borough and the Church
  • Thornbury Castle – a description of the Castle buildings
  • Of the Manor and Other Estates – a summary of how the Lordship of the Manor descended through the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries
  • Tithings and Hamlets – a description of the tithings of Oldbury, Kington, Morton and Falfield, all in the Parish of Thornbury which were consolidated into one manor called ‘The Manor of Thornbury’


Thornbury’s Saxon History – we are grateful to Tina Kelly, a fellow member of the Thornbury Museum Research Group, for allowing us to  include her research into Thornbury’s Saxon History.  Click here to read this document


FH BurchellFrederick Henry (Harry) Burchell’s talk on  A Tour of Thornbury.  Harry was born in Thornbury in 1873 and lived and worked all his life in the town.  In 1948 he presented a talk to the Society of Thornbury Folk sharing his memories of the Town and its characters.  Click here to read a transcription of that talk



The Littleton Whale.  Although not strictly a historical account, we have collected contemporary reports and comments from  variety of sources to show the reaction to the whale that was washed up in Littleton in 1885 and caused so much excitement that a special train service was put on so the thousands of people could go and see it.  The whale was photographed by Alexander Sutherland of Gloucester Road in Thornbury.   Read about the whale


The Industrial Exhibition of 1885.  Although not strictly a historical account we have collected contemporary reports from newspapers to explain about the Industrial Exhibitionwhich was held in the covered tennis court at Thornbury Castle.  Read about the tennis court & the Exhibition



Jack Pridham’s memories of Thornbury – Jack wrote a book about his early life in the town. It was dedicated to his father and called ‘The Handiest Man in Gloucestershire’, although it included detailed memories about other members of the family, the houses in which he had lived and other places in the Town. Of particular interest are Jack’s memories of how Thornbury was affected by the Second World War. We are grateful to Jack, and his wife, Mary, for allowing us to use extracts of his book which includes detailed description of places and people in Thornbury.  Click here to read Jack’s memories


Elizabeth Cochrane ‘When Life was Simpler’; Elizabeth Cochrane was the daughter of John and Susan Fane de Salis and grew up at Fairfield House in the 1930s.  She has written memories of her life then and has kindly sent us some extracts.  Read ‘When Life was Simpler’


Wallace Phillips
Wallace wrote several publications about Thornbury and the surroundings area which were published in the book ‘Thornbury (Pages from the Past)’ printed by F. Bailey & Son, 1977.  Copies are this book are held by Thornbury Library. We have transcribed some of these articles:

Joe Pavey Remembers (Thornbury as it was) – Joe was a saddler who came to Thornbury about 1912.  For 50 years or so from 1915 onwards he ran the shop at 30 High Street. In 1967 he spoke about his memories of his life in Thornbury.  The Outlook magazine produced by the Thornbury Community Association included an article about Joe’s memories.  Click here to read the article

Frank Biddle

Frank Biddle on the VIth Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery –  Frank served in the Regiment which had a base locally at Kyneton House.  He wrote an account of the Regiment outlining both its activities in Thornbury and its role in World War II.  Click here to read Frank’s account

Edmund Cullimore’s Reminiscences of Thornbury 1924 – Edmund was a local boy who became a successful business man, owner of the Brick Works and Saw Mills and a man of considerable influence in the town.  In a letter written to the Gazette Edmund described his memories of his growing up in Thornbury with particular reference to his schooling.  Click here to read more