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Things to do in Stroud, Gloucestershire

The Countryside around Stroud in the Cotswolds
Stroud Countryside ©Shutterstock /Matthew Dixon

The Gloucestershire market town of Stroud is ten miles south of Gloucester and is a popular destination for tourists visiting the scenic Cotswolds.

There is evidence of early settlement in the area with Neolithic burial chambers at Uley Long Barrow. The area also has Roman remains at Frocester nearby.

Stroudwater Canal at Ebley, Stroud
Stroudwater Canal at Ebley, Stroud © Chris Rose - stock.adobe.com

The town itself only really developed in the 13th century. It was recorded as La Strode in 1221 and was located on marshy ground where the Slad Brook and the River Frome merge. The first church at Stroud was built in 1279 and St Laurence Church now stands on the site.

Bond Mill Lift Bridge on the Stroudwater Navigation Canal
Bond Mill Lift Bridge ©Shutterstock /Martin Fowler

During the Industrial Revolution, Stroud's woollen mills were powered by the local rivers which run through the nearby valleys.

Cotswold Countryside near Stroud
Cotswold Countryside ©Shutterstock /Matthew Dixon

Sheep were reared on the surrounding hills and the town produced finely woven cloth. In particular, Stroudwater Scarlet cloth was woven to make into military uniforms.

To distribute its fine material, the Stroudwater Navigation Canal and the Thames and Severn Canal were built and were used commercially until the early 20th century.

© jaceksphotos - stock.adobe.com

The town has been home to various religious groups including the Huguenots escaping persecution in France in the 17th century. Many Jews also settled in the area during the 19th century.

Lord John Russell was the MP for Stroud in the mid-19th century and later became Prime Minister. He was responsible for the Reform Act 1867 which gave every male the right to vote.

Present Day Stroud

Stroud is a small town of around 12,500 residents.

The Painswick Valley, near Stroud in Gloucestershire
Painswick Valley ©Shutterstock /Martin Fowler

The bohemian town is known for having steep, narrow streets lined with independent small shops. It has always attracted artists and writers and it has a relaxed cafe culture.

Church of St. Cyr, Stonehouse and the Stroudwater Canal
Church of St. Cyr, Stonehouse and the Stroudwater Canal © John Corry - stock.adobe.com

Stroud was the birthplace of the organic food movement and opened the first organic cafe in Britain called Woodruff's. It now has a busy Farmers' Market on Saturdays.

St Laurence Church in Stroud
St Laurence Church in Stroud © Otto - stock.adobe.com

In the centre of the town is a Tourist Information Centre in the Subscription Rooms, a theatre and a museum and a leisure centre at Stratford Park.

Cotswold Farmland Panorama on a bright sunny day
Farmland Panorama ©Shutterstock /Matthew Dixon

The railway station was built by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and trains continue to run on the Golden Valley Line from Gloucester to Swindon.

Things to do in Stroud

Surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Stroud is popular with those who enjoy outdoor pursuits. The Cotswold Way passes to the west of the town and offers a pleasant traffic-free hike.

Ebley Mills, Stroudwater Navigation Canal, Stroud
Ebley Mills ©Shutterstock /Martin Fowler

The canals in the area have pleasant towpaths for walking and there are plans to restore the waterways for leisure and boating.

Woodchester Mansion Boathouse
Woodchester Mansion Boathouse © mike - stock.adobe.com

Calcot Manor is a historic building near Tetbury and the 16th century manor house is now a luxury hotel. On the tithe barn wall is the original datestone showing the year 1300 AD.

Newark Park is a Grade I listed Tudor house and estate which is currently managed by The National Trust.

Dirt Road Amidst Trees In Forest
Dirt Road Amidst Trees In Forest © jonathan drew/EyeEm - stock.adobe.com

The land around Woodchester Park is also National Trust owned and includes the gatehouse, ice house and several estate cottages.

The large lakes and many paths make it an interesting place to visit. The house Woodchester Mansion, at Stonehouse is a Site of Special Scientific Interest as it has colonies of lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe bats.

The house is a popular place for ghost watching.

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