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Thornbury in Old Pictures

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December 2014

In 2000, with the help of National Lottery funding Thornbury District & Heritage Trust created the Millennium Heritage Trail though the town. On Tuesday 9 December 2014, Meg Wise of the Thornbury and District Museum gave a talk to the Thornbury History and Archaeological Society that picked out key points on the trail and illustrated them with historical photographs. I cannot possibly do justice in this article to sheer number of photos and depth of Meg’s informative commentary, and I can only urge you to visit the Museum and look out for other talks given my Meg and her colleagues, in the meantime so I have picked out a few key things that stood out for me.

We began where the Heritage Trail starts outside the Townhall on the High Street. The width of the High Street, the parallel road running behind it, and the volume of pubs situated on both are all classic indicators of a market town: and records of Thornbury’s market goes all the way back to Domesday Book in 1086. The cattle market began in 1252 when the De Clare family turned Thornbury into a borough. Cattle were driven through the High Street sometimes resulting in inhabitants being chased by cows, and cattle finding their way into people’s houses; the market business was carried out at the Market Hall, now the building occupied by Wildings. This was until 1911 when the market was given a permanent home by Rock Street, where it stayed until it was closed in 1996.

There have also been a whole series of pubs that have been lost to Thornbury, including the White Hart, the Antelope, the Black Lion, the Horsehoe Inn and the Stafford Knot. But it was not all about booze as the building to the left of the Knot of Rope was the Temperance Hotel, before it became Thornbury Picture House.

The range of photos that we got to see was absolutely fascinating and it was a Society meeting that stood for a number of reasons. We were visited by the Mayor of Thornbury, Guy Rawlinson, which was a great way for us to thank Guy for all the work he has done as Committee member: he has been organising and booking the speakers for our talks for eight years, but often has to miss the meetings due to his commitments as a Councillor. We were also visited by Dr Matthew Rinaldi, son of Society Treasurer Sean Rinaldi, which was a great relief to us all as he leapt into action when, unfortunately, one of our members was taken ill. Despite all that was going on we even managed to celebrate the yuletide with mince pies and mulled wine.


The Thornbury Local History and Archaeology Society always welcomes new and occasional members. Details of our programme can be found on this website, the library or the Town Hall. Our meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month, held at St Mary's Church Hall beginning at 7.30pm. Visitors are always welcome at the society for the small charge of £2.50.

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