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The village of Newnham is very attractive. You can enjoy walking around the village admiring its attractive Georgian properties along the High Street. The village is about 8 miles from the city of Gloucester and there are numerous walks and tourist attractions within easy travelling distance of the village. We are only 13 miles from the M5 and 23 miles from the M4. We are within striking distance of the Cotswolds, Bristol and Cardiff.
Newnham is delightfully located on the banks of the River Severn. The village has a tree-lined main street reminding you of the imminent surroundings of woodlands, with many Listed buildings. In the centre, you will see the prominent clock tower. You will also find the village stores, Post Office, library, pharmacy, a pub and an Ale Bar.
The church stands on high ground and if you venture up to it, you can see the horseshoe bend of the Severn. Unfortunately the church was partially destroyed by fire in 1881 but later in the year, it was rebuilt and re-opened for worship.
Newnham's history is closely linked with the river Severn. In Roman times, three important roads (including the major military coast road) converged on Newnham and a ford existed, linking the forest with the Roman road network on the east side or the Severn. The only known Roman settlement was a villa on the road leading up towards Littledean, it is likely that Newnham was in use as a port by this time and some waterfront facilities existed. By Saxon times, a small hamlet had grown up centred on a manor at Stears but it was only after the Norman Conquest that Newnham really established itself, for by the late medieval period it had grown into an important port with trading links to Ireland, London, Bristol and the Midlands. One of the most important historical events at Newnham occurred in 1171 when Henry II sailed from the town with an army to invade Ireland. One account of this event stated that Henry's invasion force consisted or 400 ships and some 5,000 men which implies that the town was by this time large enough to house, feed and provide the necessary supplies for such a prestigious expedition. After this , Newnham's importances and trade continued to grow and it reached a peak in the late 18th century, when it had become one of the most important ports in the area, specialising in transhipment of cargo up and down the Severn. By this time it was the chief town in Gloucestershire west of the Severn had one of the most wealthy, being the focus of coaching routes and roads, but he growth of the railways caused a massive decline in the town's trade and, after the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal opened in 1827 Newnham's history as a port came to an end and the town declined rapidly, although its ferry remained in use until after WW2.
Newnham has many fine large stone buildings, most of which were built with money generated by the town's maritime trade. These include the 18th century. Victoria Hotel, 19th century. Town Hall, the old Bear Inn (a coaching inn used by people crossing the river on the ferry) and at the north end of the town, Unlawater house (16th / 18th century) but historically, the most notable structures are the quay Warehouses and Newnham Quay, which were built c1755 by a local shipping entrepreneur, Robert Pyrke. When completed, the quay was over 150ft long and 20ft high and although buried in the riverbank it is one of the most important surviving maritime structure in Dean.
Little in the way of industry existed at Newnham apart from a tannery, but in the early 17th century, Sir Edward Mansell erected a glass furnace at the Northern end of the town which was the first in the country to be fired by coal. This had closed by 1700 and although no remains exist today, many of the cottages Church Street were partly built from blocks of hard, black slag from the furnace.
Newnham appears to have been fortified in Norman times to restrain the intrusions of the Welsh. The fortification on the South probably have Norman roots and the ramparts at the back of the village may date from the times of the Civil Wars when Newnham was garrisoned for the King by Sir John Wintour.
The Severn Bore
The Severn Bore is one of Britain's few truly spectacular natural phenomena. It is a large surge wave that can be seen in the estuary of the River Severn, where the tidal range is the 2nd highest in the world, being as much as 50 feet (approx. 15.4m).
For more information on the bore visit: http://www.severn-bore.co.uk/
The Old House, High Street, Newnham, GL14 1BW.
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