WOTTON HOUSE

WOTTON GARDENS

HORTON ROAD

KINGSHOLM & WOTTON

GLOUCESTER

CHELTENHAM

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

SEVERN VALLEY

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Our Locations
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Wotton House School can normally be found in an elegant Georgian town-house in the historic and mysterious district of Kingsholm and Wotton - once home to a great Royal palace. But our students can also often be found at The Wilderness, or skiing or swimming  in Gloucester, or helping with lambing on the school farm. These pages describe our locations, the pros and cons of the twin cities of Gloucester and Cheltenham, unfriendly rivals for the last two hundred years, and the glorious county of Gloucestershire. Positioned precisely between Bristol to the south and Birmingham to the north, no other county can be so neatly divided into three completely different terrains: rolling hills, river plain and ancient forest.

Wotton House: 100 Years of Education

The history of Wotton House divides neatly into three chapters. The first (1700-1815) as a private house handed down through descent. The second (1815-1925) still as a private house but changing hands on the open market several times. The third (1925-now) as an educational establishment - now approaching its 100th anniversary.

1. Wotton House, which is dated 1707, was built for Thomas Horton. "It is of two storeys with attics and originally had outbuildings flanking a small forecourt on the east and a large walled garden on the west. Many original fittings, including two staircases with twisted balusters, remain." Source here. What do we know of Thomas Horton? There were actually three in a row, but it is a sad history:

(i) Thomas Horton (d. 1693), left money and land to his son:

(ii) Thomas Horton (d. 1727), married Mary Blanch, declared lunatic 1722, left Wotton to his son:

 

(iii) Thomas Horton (d. 1755), declared lunatic in 1746, moved to Abergavenny.

 

Mary Blanch was the daughter of John Blanch​ who was MP for Gloucester (1710-13) and lived at Wotton Court (there is reference here to Wotton Court, also known as Spencers, garden illustrated by Kip but now destroyed; also here).

Matters became complicated because Thomas (iii) left Wotton both to the Brereton family in one will and to his two sisters in another! Eventually the estate was partitioned three ways (one can imagine the legal fees) and ended up in the hands of:

(iv) Rev Richard Brereton (d. 1801) who enlarged the estate and left it to his son:

(v) Thomas Brereton (d. 1814) who took his wife's surname by deed poll on his marriage to Mary Westfaling. A wealthy and well-connected couple Lord Nelson and Lady Emma stayed with them after the Battle of Trafalgar, but sadly not at Wotton House.

This ends the first chapter of Wotton House, passing by descent through two wealthy local families.

Thomas's very handsome bust is in the Louvre and a copy can be seen in St Mary's Church, Ross-on Wye. He was rather touchingly described as having a "delicate frame of body but unusual vigour and energy of mind."

2. The house was extended and some rooms were redecorated in the early 19th century by which time the formal garden had been destroyed, although part of the outer walls remains.

(vi) Wotton House then transferred, presumably by sale for the first time, to another Reverend, Edward Colston Greville (d. 1830), but he only held it long enough to sell for the benefit of his seven children.

(vii) The next transfer is unclear but by 1838 the owner of Wotton House was a Kitty Niblett (which is a great name). The extensions may be her work. She passed it on via her will dated 1840 to her son Daniel Niblett.

 

Kitty Niblett was an interesting character. She was one of the Whitcombe sisters, Fanny, Judith and Kitty, daughters of the Rev John Morton's sister Elizabeth (of Redmarley in north Gloucestershire). Judith had an 'unfortunate and unhappy' marriage and died before her sisters who inherited land in Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Norfolk! Kitty married John Niblett of Haresfield House and owner of another 1,000 acres himself.

(viii) Daniel John Niblett (d. 1862) but the house was sold by Trustees under his will in 1873 to:

(ix) Charles Betteridge Walker (1842-1893). Wealthy timber merchant, in 1867 Walker had Hillfield House on Denmark Road, rebuilt. This beautiful house went on the market in February 2020 for £1.85 million (having been sold by the county council in 2017). A compulsive house buyer he also bought Norton Court in 1871 - he must have had a very large mortgage!​ Norton Court itself was demolished after a large fire in 1959. On his death his estate passed to his son, George.

 

(x) George Norton Walker (1871-1956). Timber merchant, Captain in the army, landowner, churchwarden. It must have been George who sold Wotton House but frustratingly we are unable to find any further details as yet.

This ends the second, rather uneventful chapter of Wotton House and brings its time as a private residence to a close.

 

3. In 1925 Wotton House was acquired by Gloucestershire County Council and began its third chapter, as an educational institution:

 

(xi) Gloucestershire County Council converted Wotton House into a hostel for its College of Domestic Science (sometimes Training College, sometimes School); a large extension was made on the north in 1931. Gloucestershire College of Education was formed in 1967, originating from the College of Cookery and Domestic Science, and merged with 3 other colleges to become GlosCAT in 1980. This then split in around 1990 into Further and Higher Education pathways and the latter eventually became the University of Gloucestershire in 2001.

(xii) Gloucestershire Area Health Authority bought the house in the late 1970s. One source says that the School of Domestic Science moved to new buildings in Oxtalls in 1958, so it is not clear what use was made of Wotton House between then and the late 70s - presumably it was rented as a nursing college but I have not found any records.

(xiii) Redcliffe College bought Wotton House in 1995. Originally founded in London in 1892, Redcliffe has now (2020) merged with the missionary All Nations Christian College, based in Ware.

(xiv) International Village Education Ltd (our company) bought Wotton House in 2016 as it puts on its fourth educational avatar, as an Independent International School. Rather oddly the sales brochure from Knight Frank can still be found online.

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Kipp's Drawing of Wotton House shortly after building, c 1712

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Kipp's Drawing of Gloucester, c 1712. Wotton House is on the right of the drawing about half way down.

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Bust of Thomas Westfaling, Ross on Wye church

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Charles Betteridge Walker and daughter Evelyn. Source.

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George and Meta Baird Norton Walker. Source.

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Book written by Gloucestershire College of Domestic Science: now rare. Source.

 

Wotton Gardens

The information in this section comes from Nigel Hepper's unpublished "A Guide to the Gardens and Grounds of Redcliffe College" (2022).

 

The bird's eye view drawn by Kipp shows the original layout of the gardens in around 1712. "A broad central path leads away from the house towards the cathedral. There is also a formal garden having four trees each in a circular bed and beyond a large, neat vegetable plot; to the east lies a knot garden with twelve square beds; beyond that is a large rectangular orchard."

The boundary walls appear to enclose the same area as today's grounds but of course all the formal gardens are long gone.

"An undated and unsigned painting, probably of the late Victorian period, shows the rear of the old house with part of the lawn and four circular flower beds."

 

This painting and a copy of the engraving still hang on the walls at Wotton House. 

"Today the frontage of the college retains the elegance of a past age. Judging from the size and species of the trees (Atlas Cedar, Holm Oak, London Plane) still present they appear to have been planted during the second half of the nineteenth century."

When Redcliffe College purchased the property the gardens were very run down. "Numerous plants donated by Beacons's Nurseries of Eckington, near Pershore, and by Colin Mann were mass planted by Reg Chuter and Nigel Hepper." These included the Chusan Palm in Palm Court which very sadly fell this winter. We will try to replace with another of the same species.

During the 1990s Gloucester City Council surveyed the site and issued Tree Preservation Orders on many of the trees. The numbers can be seen on the plan below. 

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Horton Road: Hospital History

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The Crescent, Horton Road Hopsital

Philip Halling / The Crescent, Horton Road, Gloucester via Wikipedia

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The Crescent: close up.

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Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

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Horton Road Yard - in need of TLC

Horton Road has a number of interesting properties in addition to Wotton House; this section looks at some.

 

1. (i) The former Horton Road Hospital was the County's first mental hospital. It was originally known as Wotton Asylum and later the First County Lunatic Asylum; building began in 1815, but because of financial problems work was delayed and it finally opened in 1823. The central grand 'crescent' was designed by William Stark to house 24 wealthy patients and their servants, and there were wings for 60 paupers and 26 charity patients . New extensions were built in the mid 1800s after an increase in the number of paupers, and in 1856, when the County and City took over management, the hospital was converted to paupers only and became known as the County Asylum.

(ii) In 1885 a Second County Asylum was opened and when the National Health Service was set up in 1948, the two sites became known as the Horton Road Hospital and the Coney Hill Hospital. Horton Road Hospital finally closed in 1988, and was left derelict until the main building was converted into apartments in 2005.

(iii) Barnwood House Hospital was the largest private mental hospital in the county. It was founded by the Gloucester Asylum Trust in 1860 as an asylum for wealthy and charity patients as by this time, general and pauper patients were being treated at the Horton Road Hospital. Barnwood House became popular with the military and clergy – at one time, it boasted an Archbishop amongst its patients.  During the late 1800s it was praised as a model of good practice. After the First World War former soldiers, including war poet and composer Ivor Gurney, were treated with a regime of what we would call psychotherapy, and recreations such as cricket. It closed in 1968 although its park is maintained by the County Council as a Barnwood Arboretum. Two interesting snippets: Ross Ashby was director of Research between 1947 and 1959, before going to the USA as a pioneer of Cybernetics. Secondly The Wilderness was owned by Barnwood House Hospital between 1884 and 1919 as a sanatorium for up to fifteen ladies.

2. Horton Road Chapel. A chapel was erected in 1849 in front of the original County Lunatic Aslyum. But in 1873 this was replaced by the existing building  built on the site of the asylum's burial ground, and which remained in use until it was converted to offices in the early 1980s and then into Chapel House Care Centre as a care home. Before Covid our students did voluntary work there. 

3. The Raikes Centre at 3 Horton Road is an alternative provision school, part of GFAPS. Its name is a tribute to the populariser of Sunday schools, Robert Raikes (1736-1811), who opened several establishments in the city and publicised them, and himself, vigorously. Today these schools are seen as the forerunners of the English state school system. Raikes' overarching belief in the importance of education was pithily expressed:

“Ignorance is the root of the degradation everywhere around us,

Idleness is a consequence of ignorance,

Idleness begets vice, and vice leads to the gallows,”

4. Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is a huge (683 bed) - and very ugly - general hospital which covers much of the land to the west of Wotton House, almost up to the railway station. Unfortunately it appears to be understaffed and overcapacity most of the time. One part of it is called Wotton Lawn​ Hospital: this is an 88-bed mental health hospital, carrying on the tradition of mental health care and support on Horton Road.

5. Horton Road Yard has been derelict since the 1990s but was once part of the great Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (1860-1980s) which built tanks during the war, carriages for London Underground and the very first London electric taxis. A proposal to turn it into a museum has so far come to nothing.

 

Kingsholm and Wotton: Ancient Royal Domain - and Lost Palace?

Wotton House is on Horton Road which forms the eastern boundary of Kingsholm and Wotton district ward (population 12,000). The city of Gloucester is divided into 18 district wards; they all tend to angle themselves slightly off true to the right. To simplify they can be divided into 3 rough areas (wards listed south to north):

  1. West: Quedgeley Field Court, Quedgeley Severn Vale, Westgate, Kingsholm & Wotton, Longlevens (5)

  2. Central: Kingsway, Grange, Podsmead, Moreland, Barton, Elmbridge (6)

  3. East: Tuffley, Matson, Abbeydale, Coney Hill, Abbeymead, Barnwood, Hucclecote (7)

 

Kingsholm and Wotton is shaped a little like a handbag or a squashed cardboard box. Its southern edge is defined by the railway line and the inner ring road (Metz, Bruton, Black Dog and Gouda Ways). To the south sits the Cathedral and its school (King's). The western edge is St Oswalds Road, the eastern is Horton Road, and curving across them at the top, forming the northern edge is Estcourt Way, separating off the University of Gloucestershire (Oxstalls Campus).

 

From the southern rim, two main roads cut through the district, one heading due north (Kingsholm Road, which becomes Tewkesbury Road, the A38), one heading west (London Road, which becomes Barnwood Road). This is the old Ermin Way which connected Roman Gloucester (Glevum) to Roman Cirencester (Corinium), where it met the major Fosse Way connecting Exeter in the south-west to Lincoln in the north-east.

 

Within the district there are 46 listed buildings, clustered along London Road, several churches, the huge hospitals (Gloucestershire Royal and Wotton Lawn), Gloucester's rugby stadium (Kingsholm), a grammar school (Denmark Road), and an independent cinema (Sherborne).

"The exact location [of the Royal Palace] is not known with certainty

although it is believed to be on or around Kingsholm Square"

 

All that is great but fairly commonplace; this next discovery is remarkable and it is quite astonishing that more is not made of it. Traces have been found of both a Roman fort and an Anglo-Saxon / Norman manor or palace, Kingsholm Palace, from where Aethelflaed (Lady of Mercia, daughter of Alfred) would have defended the city from Vikings and William the Conqueror, perhaps, commissioned the Domesday Book.

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Map of Kingsholm & Wotton, 2016. Source

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Gloucester City: Wards

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Aethelflaed Lady of Mercia

Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia

Gloucester: Roman Military City-State

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Glevum

The Roman origins of Gloucester are well known and only need brief summary. Known as Glevum it was originally a frontline fort (AD 48) but was officially designated by Emperor Nerva as a colonia, or city in AD 97, mainly for wealthy retired legionaries. As one of only four colonia, Glevum was the regional capital, with its own mint, and many fine villas were developed in the surrounding countryside (Woodchester and Chedworth, for examples). Sadly the forum, baths, basilica, walls and the four huge gates have almost entirely disappeared. A modern statue of Nerva was commissioned by the city but he is a poor role model, well-intentioned but rather inept as a ruler, the ultimate 'committee man'.

Rufus Sita

Much more interesting would be a memorial to Rufus Sita, a Roman soldier of the first century whose tombstone was found near Wotton House on London Road in 1824. His tombstone says: "Rufus Sita, horseman of the Sixth Cohort of Thracians, lived forty years and served twenty-two." Thrace used to be a region roughly covering northern Greece and southern Bulgaria - occupied by noted horsemen even as long as ago as Homer's Iliad. The Museum of Gloucester ran a competition to make a film about some of Gloucester's historical figures, including Rufus Sita, but we don't know if they ever got made.

Upstart Neighbour

Gloucester has 2,000 years of interesting history: with plenty of ups and downs. It has seen it all in its time and as a result has a well-earned and refreshing cynicism in its nature. Cheltenham, on the other hand, is really only 250 years old and owes its existence to one man's clever promotion of its only natural advantage, its mineral springs. Gloucester is Glasgow to Cheltenham's Edinburgh, or Daedalus to Cheltenham's Icarus. The following neat summary is taken from an expired webpage of the Gloucestershire Methodist Circuit

 

"Although on the map they may look almost a single conurbation, on the ground they are very - almost fiercely - distinct, both in popular patriotism and in style, character and feel. Both have an attractive and ancient centre: Cheltenham is classically Georgian, Gloucester is mediaeval on a Roman street plan. Both are major shopping centres. Both have excellent transport links to the rest of the country - indeed, they share a link in the form of the M5 which passes between them.

 

Cheltenham has an external reputation which rests almost entirely on its Georgian past, Cheltenham Ladies' College, and GCHQ. This is unfair on a bustling and surprisingly varied town with a wide range of attractive housing - Victorian or modern as well as Georgian. 

 

Gloucester's most obvious distinction from Cheltenham is its reason for existence: the River Severn. Gloucester docks may not be a commercial port any more, but their influence on the life and structure of the town is still very strong, and their redevelopment as a commercial and retail area alongside a marina is an acknowledgement of that."

Gloucester suffered badly from ugly ('unsympathetic') concrete developments in the 60s and 70s but now is seeing the opportunity to upgrade many of these.

  • Completed projects include: Blackfriars Priory, Greyfriars, St Oswalds Park, Gloucester Docks, Gloucester Quays, Railway Triangle, Bus Station, Project Pilgrim (cathedral environs)

  • Projects planned or initiated: King's Quarter, Bakers Quay, Blackfriars (including the old prison), Fleece Hotel.

But what about those comparisons? Who wins on festivals?

  • Cheltenham: Jazz, Science, Music, Literature, Racing

  • Gloucester: Tall Ships, Three Choirs, History, Food.

What about listed buildings (of Grade II* and Grade I status)?

  • Cheltenham: 923, including 5 Grade I.

  • Gloucester: 449, including 37 Grade I.

How about restaurants in the Good Food Guide (2019)?

  • Cheltenham: 4

  • Gloucester: 0

There is no doubt that Cheltenham would win on shops as well, at least for most people. The other area where it seems to me that Cheltenham is a clear winner is on civic pride. It just looks better looked-after - as if people really care about its appearance. Of course one should not judge a book by its cover nor a city by its street cleaning but the amount of litter in Gloucester is depressing. Our students have done many litter picks but there is not yet a sense of collective pride in our surroundings. I look at the stunning images on the Gloucester 500 website and wonder why they seem so unfamiliar - I think it is because there is no litter to be seen!

That this lack of social pride can contribute to antisocial behaviour is obvious. One of the saddest stories I have read recently was about one of my heroes, Leopold Kohr, who died, unrecognised and lonely, in Gloucester. Kohr's writing was all about the dangers of 'the cult of bigness'; one of his students was E.F. Schumacher, the economist who wrote Small is Beautiful. Even more important than the idea of Human Scale is the idea of proportionality - the way things and people fit together and keep each other in balance (in Illich's words). This is the story in full from Kit Ward's excellent blog:

In the last ten years of his life Kohr took a house in Gloucester. An old and sickly man living alone, with his Teutonic accent probably not helping, he was targeted by a gang of local thugs. His house was burgled regularly over that decade, including fourteen times in his last year. The  place was regularly ransacked and the manuscript for his final book was stolen, never to be recovered. The local police did nothing. Kohr, who was born in the village of Oberndorf from whence originated the carol ‘Stille Nacht’, (‘Silent Night’), wrote a bitter couplet:

‘The only one sleeping in heavenly peace,

Is the Superintendent of the Gloucester police.’

Kohr knew at least some of the names of his persecutors. He wrote them down and displayed them in the windows of his house, hoping to shame either the yobs into ceasing or the local community into self-regulation. It had no effect. Kohr saw this as evidence for his wider thesis about modern societies: ‘There is no community here. We need translucent communities where everyone knows each other, where everyone knows the police, where thieves can be confronted. These crimes were committed in the darkness of mass society.’ Kohr gave up writing in November 1993. ‘These criminals left everything in such a mess that I do not think I can begin writing again. It is a kind of murder’. He died the following February.

Sadly I have not been able to find any more about Kohr's time in Gloucester. I think he deserves an apology and a blue plaque!

What about the bigger picture? Increasingly people are thinking about the merits of merging Gloucester and Cheltenham as a massive metropolitan area. For example, consultant David Marlow of Third Life Economics reported to the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee that the creation of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Metropolitan area would be a top-30 city in Britain based on population (over 270,000). "The metro has major transport hubs and corridors, an airport, indigenous university and many of the attributes of a premier UK city – just arguably they have not been presented as such." Council leaders have been cautious and the public don't appear to be keen but it looks inevitable to me. I find it hard to believe that Cheltenham and Gloucester are more different than King's Cross and Knightsbridge, for example.

The next section describes the top nine locations in the city of Gloucester which we use as a school. Honourable mentions must also go to the world's best community cafe, Roots, the exciting  Warehouse Climbing Centre, the fascinating  Gloucestershire Archives and the completely wonderful Scrapstore.

 

The Museum of Gloucester tells the story of the city’s origins as a Roman settlement and its subsequent development through the Dark Ages and Medieval period. It holds an internationally important collection of treasures of over 750,000 objects including the world-famous Birdlip Mirror and the oldest complete backgammon set in the world.

The Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre on Robinswood Hill. This is one of the longest outdoor artificial ski slopes in the UK and has some of the most highly qualified instructors in the UK. Great fun!

St James City Farm in the heart of the Barton and Tredworth area, has 1.5 acres of paddocks for a pair of Dexter cows, Golden Guernsey and Pygmy goats, a Saddleback sow, and a small flock of Cotswold lion sheep. There are 50 poultry of various types running around a retired Welsh Pony, as well as many rabbits and guinea pigs. It is very ‘hands on’, so children can get up close, handle and feed the animals.

Gloucester Cathedral: one of the greatest medieval religious buildings in Europe, noted for its grand Gothic architecture: the 225 foot high central tower, the particularly elaborate fan vaulting of the cloisters (the first use of this style in the country), the Great East Window (some of the best stained glass in Europe) and the resting place of Edward II, who was murdered in nearby Berkeley Castle. Famous to fans of Harry Potter and Dr Who!

The University of Gloucestershire has two campuses in Cheltenham and currently one in Gloucester at Oxtalls. In an inspired act of boldness it has bought the former Debenhams building in the centre of Gloucester and is developing that as a second campus (to open in 2023). It is probably best known for its School of Sports and we use some of its superb sports courts. The School of Business shares space at Oxtalls with The Growth Hub who have been a good source of advice.

The Kings Theatre is a "little gem of a theatre run entirely by volunteers as a venue for amateur theatre, dance and music. It is a unique and valuable asset to the city's cultural life." Seating 144, it is home to several local groups, staging a full season of entertainment from September to June. Tucked just off Eastgate Street, close to the heart of Gloucester City Centre. We put on a superb Alice in Wonderland two years ago and have booked it again for a week this summer (2022).

Wonderful green parks and open spaces. Closest to the school are Armscroft Park (with play areas and sports pitches),  Hillfield Gardens (containing a 12th century leper chapel) and the beautiful Barnwood Arboretum (once the grounds of Barnwood House).

GL1 Leisure Centre, owned and run by a local charity, Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust, is an excellent facility with four swimming pools, spa, gym, tennis courts and cafe, all under one huge roof.

Sherborne Cinema provides quality affordable and independent film entertainment in a beautiful art-deco setting which reflects the golden age of traditional cinema. We have used it as a venue to showcase our students' own films and also as an end-of-term treat!

Gloucestershire: Cotswold Hills, River Severn and Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire sits astride the longest river in Britain, the Severn, with the Cotswolds (and middle England) on one side, the Forest of Dean (and Wales) on the other and the Vale in between (ie Hill, Vale and Forest). It is mostly rural, with only Gloucester - Cheltenham as a large urban area, unless it is considered as the hinterland for Bristol which is much the largest city of the South West. In very general terms Gloucestershire was the changeable northern boundary between Wessex (south-west) and Mercia (midlands).

  • Gloucestershire has a population of just under one million (858,0002).

  • Gloucestershire is divided into 7 districts: Cotswold, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Stroud and South Gloucestershire (which is a unitary authority). 

  • Several members of the Royal Family live in Gloucestershire, including Prince Charles at Highgrove House near Tetbury, The Princess Royal at Gatcombe Park (5 miles south of Stroud), and Zara Phillips in Cheltenham. 

1. Forest of Dean

This “enchanted place” was Britain's first National Forest Park and is England's largest oak forest. Tucked away between the rivers Wye and Severn, the  Forest is home to wild boar since 2006; the exact number is currently unknown but exceeds a hundred. The Royal Forest of Dean is one of England's few remaining ancient forests, covering 27,000 acres of woodland. Designated as a National Forest Park in 1938, this ‘Queen of Forests' has natural beauty combined with an aura of magic and mystery that has inspired many great artists and writers including Tolkien and JK Rowling.

 

2. Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a beautiful but touristy 800 square mile, sheep farming Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sometimes known as the Heart of England. They are a range of low limestone hills forming a rough triangle bordered by the M4 (London-Bristol), M40 (London-Oxford-Stratford-Birmingham) and M5 (Birmingham-Worcester-Gloucester-Bristol).  A famous path, the Cotswold Way, runs for 100 miles along the north-western escarpment or edge from Bath to Chipping Campden. 

3. Berkeley Vale

The Vale of Berkeley (sometimes "Severn Vale") is the southern part of a rich alluvial plain between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west. It stretches from Tewkesbury in the north down past Gloucester and Berkeley to the Severn Bridges. Terminology is confusing:

  • "Berkeley Vale" is usually the part between Gloucester and Bristol.

  • To the north it is known as the "Vale of Gloucester". This ends where the River Avon meets the Severn at Tewkesbury.

  • The “Severn Valley” is normally considered to be the stretch of the Severn between Bridgnorth, Shropshire and Bewdley, Worcestershire. 

  • Severnside” is a controversial term used to loosely describe the economic area centred around Bristol, aka “Avon” or “Greater Bristol”.

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Map of Gloucestershire. Source: Cotswold Info

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View from Symonds Yat. 

The original uploader was Lemoncurd at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Cotswolds Footpath 

MaxPixel's contributors | Credit. Copyright: Copyright by MaxPixel

 

Facts and Fantasy

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Much of the following information is taken from this document: FS15 Redcliffe College, Horton Road. Site Historic Environment Assessments for Strategic Assessment of Land Availability (SALA) August 2016 by Shona Robson-Glyde.

1. The site encompasses an area of 1.293 hectares, centred on NGR SO 8441 1882 and on a gentle slope running north west to south east. It lies at a height of between 24.38m and 26.96m AOD. The site includes the grade II listed Wotton House (NHLE1271681).

2. Underlying bedrock is ‘Blue Lias Formation And Charmouth Mudstone Formation (Undifferentiated)’ (BGS 2016) overlain by ‘Cheltenham Sand and Gravel’.

3. Exact location: OSGB36:  SO 8447 1881 [10m precision] WGS84: 51:52.0589N 2:13.6172W

4. The catchment area for Gloucester is huge: over 8 million people live within 90 minute's drive. This is because Gloucester-Cheltenham is roughly half way between Birmingham and Bristol on the west coast of England which reminded me of another more famous West coast ......

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The comparison works best if we mentally swap Bristol and Birmingham geographically from the southern tip to the northern tip. Then it can be seen that Bristol = San Francisco, Birmingham = Los Angeles, Bath = Santa Barbara, Cardiff = San Diego, the Sierra Nevada = the Cotswolds. This leaves a match to be found for Gloucester-Cheltenham ... and it has to be San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. The ambitions of Cyber Central just outside Cheltenham to be the key development in the 'Golden Valley' promotion of a National Cyber Innovation Centre begins to look more achievable, although it must always be remembered that many of the key innovations were literally developed in garages not glossy innovation hubs.

Once we start looking for geographical analogies they come very easily - both the USA and the UK have their financial HQs and biggest city on their East coasts (New York and London) and both of these have very famous and Puritanical university cities to their north, both called Cambridge.