Gloucestershire (// ( listen), /-/ ( listen); formerly abbreviated as Gloucs. in print but now often as Glos.) is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean.
Gloucestershire borders Herefordshire to the northwest, Wiltshire to the south, Bristol and Somerset to the south west, Worcestershire to the north, Oxfordshire to the east, Warwickshire to the northeast, and the Welsh county of Monmouthshire to the west.
Gloucestershire is a historic county mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the 10th century, though the areas of Winchcombe and the Forest of Dean were not added until the late 11th century. Gloucestershire originally included Bristol, then a small town. The local rural community moved to the port city (as Bristol was to become), and Bristol's population growth accelerated during the industrial revolution. Bristol became a county in its own right, separate from Gloucestershire and Somerset in 1373. It later became part of the administrative County of Avon from 1974 to 1996.
The official former postal county abbreviation was "Glos.", rather than the frequently used but erroneous "Gloucs." or "Glouc.".
In July 2007, Gloucestershire suffered the worst flooding in recorded British history, with tens of thousands of residents affected. The RAF conducted the largest peace time domestic operation in its history to rescue over 120 residents from flood affected areas. The damage was estimated at over £2 billion.
The county recovered rapidly from the disaster, investing in attracting tourists to visit the many sites and diverse range of shops in the area.
Gloucestershire has three main landscape areas, a large part of the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale. The Cotswolds take up a large portion of the east and south of the county, The Forest of Dean taking up the west, with the Severn and its valley running between these features. The Daffodil Way in the Leadon Valley, on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire surrounding the village of Dymock, is known for its many spring flowers, orchards, and woodland, which attracts many walkers.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Gloucestershire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
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The 2009 estimation of £11,452 million GVA can be compared to the South West regional average of £7,927 million.
Gloucestershire has mainly comprehensive schools with seven selective schools; two are in Stroud (Stroud High School for girls and Marling School for boys), one in Cheltenham (Pate's Grammar) and four in Gloucester (Sir Thomas Rich's and The Crypt for boys and The High School and Ribston Hall for girls). There are 42 state secondary schools, not including sixth form colleges, and 12 independent schools, including the renowned Cheltenham Ladies' College, Cheltenham College and Wycliffe College. All but about two schools in each district have a sixth form, but the Forest of Dean only has two schools with sixth forms. All schools in South Gloucestershire have sixth forms.
Gloucestershire has two universities, the University of Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural University, and four higher and further education colleges, Gloucestershire College, Cirencester College, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and the Royal Forest of Dean College. Each has campuses at multiple locations throughout the county. The University of the West of England also has two locations in Gloucestershire; an associate faculty (Hartpury College) specialising in animal behaviour and welfare, agricultural and sports related courses in Hartpury, Gloucestershire and a regional centre at the Gloucester Docks, Alexandra Warehouse, specialising in Adult and Mental Health Nursing.
Gloucestershire has one city and 33 towns:
The towns in Gloucestershire are:
Town in Monmouthshire with suburbs in Gloucestershire:
The county has two green belt areas, the first covers the southern area in the South Gloucestershire district, to protect outlying villages and towns between Thornbury and Chipping Sodbury from the urban sprawl of the Bristol conurbation. The second belt lies around Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Bishop's Cleeve, to afford those areas and villages in between a protection from urban sprawl and further convergence. Both belts intersect with the boundaries of the Cotswolds AONB.
There are a variety of religious buildings across the county, notably the cathedral of Gloucester, the abbey church of Tewkesbury (which is over 500 years old and has the tallest Norman tower in England), and the church of Cirencester. Of the abbey of Hailes near Winchcombe, founded by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in 1246, little more than the foundations are left, but these have been excavated and fragments have been brought to light.
Most of the old market towns have parish churches. At Deerhurst near Tewkesbury and Bishop's Cleeve near Cheltenham, there are churches of special interest on account of the pre-Norman work they retain. There is also a Perpendicular church in Lechlade, and that at Fairford was built (c. 1500), according to tradition, to contain a series of stained-glass windows which are said to have been brought from the Netherlands. These are, however, adjudged to be of English workmanship.
Other notable buildings include Calcot Barn in Calcot, a relic of Kingswood Abbey. Thornbury Castle is a Tudor country house, the pretensions of which evoked the jealousy of Cardinal Wolsey against its builder, Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, who was beheaded in 1521. Near Cheltenham is the 15th-century mansion of Southam de la Bere, of timber and stone. Memorials of the de la Bere family appear in the church at Cleeve. The mansion contains a tiled floor from Hailes Abbey. At Great Badminton is the mansion and vast domain of the Beauforts (formerly of the Botelers and others), on the south-eastern boundary of the county. Berkeley Castle at over 800 years old and the ruins of Witcombe Roman Villa at Great Witcombe are also notable heritage features.
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Places of interest in Gloucestershire include:
Areas of countryside in Gloucestershire include:
Scenic Railway Line:
Gloucestershire's daily newspapers are The Citizen, which covers Gloucester, Stroud and the Forest of Dean, and the Gloucestershire Echo, which covers Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and the Cotswolds. The two daily papers, along with free weeklies The Forester, Stroud Life, The Gloucester News and The Cheltenham and Tewkesbury News, are all published by Northcliffe Media. The Stroud News & Journal is a weekly paid-for newspaper based in Stroud. It is published in a tabloid format by Newsquest. Newsquest also produces the weekly Wilts and Glos Standard newspaper, which covers the southern and eastern parts of the county as well as the weekly Gloucestershire Gazette which covers the south of the county and much of South Gloucestershire.
Gloucester News Centre is an independent news website with news and information for Gloucestershire.
Radio stations in Gloucestershire include BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Heart Gloucestershire, Sunshine Radio and The Breeze (Cheltenham & North Gloucestershire). There are also several community radio stations including Gloucester FM, Radio Winchcombe, Forest of Dean Radio, and North Cotswold Community Radio.
There are two well-known accounts of childhood in rural Gloucestershire in the early 20th century, Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie and Winifred Foley's A Child in the Forest. Part of Mrs. Craik's novel John Halifax, Gentleman is set in Enderley, a thinly disguised Amberley, where she lived at the time of writing. Most of the book is set in Nortonbury, easily recognisable as Tewkesbury.
The county has also been the setting for a number of high-profile movies and TV series, including Die Another Day, Harry Potter and BBC TV series Butterflies. The film Hot Fuzz was set in Gloucestershire where Simon Pegg, who co-wrote and starred in the film, grew up.
"A Girl's Best Friend", the pilot for the proposed Doctor Who spin-off K-9 and Company, was filmed in Gloucestershire. The setting is the fictional town of Moreton Harwood. The fictional town of Leadworth in Doctor Who is in Gloucestershire. It is the home of companions Amy Pond, Rory Williams and River Song in their childhoods and young adulthoods.
The famous Gloucestershire Old Spots pig is named for Gloucestershire and is historically associated with the county. Sheep roam widely in the Forest of Dean. The Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley also have wild boar.
Gloucester cattle, a rare breed, can still be found in and around Gloucestershire. They can be recognised by the white stripe that runs down the centre of their backs to the tip of their tails. The cattle are famous for producing milk for both Single Gloucester and Double Gloucester cheeses.