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Littledean

Towns and Villages in or near Cinderford


Description

Littledean is one of the ancient villages of the Forest of Dean. Situated a mile east of the town of Cinderford, it contains many old buildings dating back to the 1600's, and some even earlier. Littledean Hall, is one of these ancient buildings, and it is reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in England.

The village was once the site of Roman occupation, and the remains of the Roman temple can be seen in the grounds of the Hall. Even earlier, the hillside to the east of the village was the site of an ancient encampment and the hillside still bears traces of the banks and ditches of the fortifications. Littledean grew up at the centre of a network of ancient Forest tracks (notably the Roman road which led up from the ford and ferry at Newnham). By 1086 a motte & bailey castle, known in later times as the Old castle of Dene, had been built on a hill to the east, in a commanding position above the village and the valley leading up from the Severn plain. Littledean gradually became a centre of local industry, especially iron making and associated metal trades.

The 12th century parish in Littledean is dedicated to the St Elthelbert, the 8th century saxon king.  Look up at the church tower.  The obvious thing is that the spire is just a stump, having been destroyed in a gale in the 1894.  Look carefully at the clock face - the roman numeral for eleven has been wrongly painted! The tower originally had a spire which was destroyed in a severe gale in 1894 and never rebuilt.

Other buildings of interest are the Red House an early building, possibly with a Norman Core, the Old Coaching Inn and Littledean Hall. Also known as Dean Hall, this is reputed to be the oldest known house in Gloucestershire . The present house is 16th century in date, with an early17th century north wing and a mid 19th century top storey. Within the grounds of Littledean Hall is a Roman temple, sited at a springhead on the edge of the Forest escarpment. It was only discovered in the early 1980's and subsequent archaeological excavation revealed a complex history. Perhaps the most interesting artefact from the site is a piece of sandstone which has a primitive face carved on one side. This was found on the site in 1991 and is of Celtic origin. As the Romans often adopted local religions and sacred sites, it is thought that Littledean temple was built as a water shrine dedicated to the deity of the River Severn and its bore, for the site has excellent views of the great horseshoe bend in the river.

The most noticeable building in the village is Littledean Gaol, an imposing structure designed by the London architect William Blackburn using locally quarried red sandstone, it was one of four identical gaols built in the country by Sir George Onesiphorus Paul in 1791 and is easily the best preserved. In the 19th century, Littledean had the local magistrates court house for this part of the Forest, and the old prison , or to give it's correct title, "Littledean House of Correction", still remains, although it is now used as a commercial premises. 


Features

  • Towns and Villages

Location




O/S Ref: SO 6713

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From the A48, Gloucester to Chepstow road, take the turning on the A4151 towards Cinderford. Littledean is along this road, just before Cinderford.

  • Cinderford
  • Newnham
  • Westbury-on-Severn