Type: Towns & Villages
Lechlade gets its name from the River Leach which joins the Thames just east of the town.
The River Thames has always been at the heart of the town. Lechlade was on the salt way, when salt used to be brought by road from Droitwich and shipped down the Thames from Lechlade. Later, cheese, wool and coal were shipped down to London. The construction of the Thames and Severn Canal in 1789 meant Lechlade was on a busy trade route. The canal, now disused, joins the Thames at Inglesham, a few miles west of Lechlade and funds are being sought to restore the canal and the lock at Inglesham. Today, the river brings visitors to the town in narrow boats and cruisers. There are boats and fishing tackle for hire and there are river cruises during the summer.
Access to the river Thames is gained by crossing the Halfpenny Bridge, to the south bank of the river and joining the Thames Path, or by using the Seven Stiles walk to the west of town through pastureland to the Round House. The wooden footbridge marks the limit of navigation for powered vessels. Further downstream is St John’s Lock, the highest on the Thames, providing a visitors’ centre, refuse collection, and pump-out facility for boats. The well-kept gardens of the lock feature a miniature hamlet and an imposing statue of Father Thames complete with Trident.
Lechlade is mentioned in the Doomsday book. William the Conqueror gifted the manor of Lechlade to Henry de Ferrers, one of the noblemen who came across from France with him in 1066. In 1205, Isabella de Ferrers founded the St. John the Baptist nunnery near the river. The nunnery was later upgraded to a priory and the monks built a bridge across the Thames, St John’s Bridge, which dates from 1229 and was originally made of wood. The current St John’s Bridge was built in 1886. The Trout Inn is at the north end of the bridge and retains the priory fishing rights dating back to the reign of King John.
A second bridge across the Thames was built in 1792. It was called Halfpenny Bridge after the toll required for a pedestrian to cross. The bridge is still in use and carries the A361 across the river.
The building of St. Lawrence Church started in about 1472 and was completed in 1476. Catherine of Aragon took over the manor of Lechlade in 1501 and she supervised some additional work on the church after a roof fire in 1510. It was at this time that the spire was added. In 1815 Percy Bysshe Shelley visited Lechlade. He wrote the poem “A Summer Evening Churchyard” in St Lawrence’s churchyard. The path through the graveyard is now named after him – “Shelley’s Walk”.
The town and its nearby villages is a good place to base yourself to explore the Cotswolds, Oxford and the River Thames.
Where to stay?
Situated 2 miles from Lechlade, Buscot Manor B&B is a beautiful Queen Anne Manor House built in 1692 idyllically positioned on the edge of the National Trust village of Buscot. Within walking distance of the River Thames and Buscot Lock, it offers a bespoke Bed and Breakfast service, for those who wish to indulge and experience life in the grandeur and splendour of an English country manor house.
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