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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol


[Picture: Flaxley Church, and Abbey in the distance]

Thus the "Castiard Vale" is once more devoted wholly to the picturesque, with the most pleasing effect, its beauty being yet further enhanced by a well-placed and exquisitely designed church, erected a few yards to the west of the one built by Mrs. Pope, after the designs of G. G. Scott, Esq., in the Early Decorated style of pointed architecture. {191} It comprises a richly ornamented chancel, nave, and north aisle, and a tower surmounted with a broach spire. There is churchroom for about 300 of the poor Foresters dwelling on Pope's Hill, as well as for the inhabitants of the parish. It was consecrated on the 18th of September, 1856, by Dr. Baring, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, who preached on the occasion from Eccl. v. 1, most of the surrounding gentry attending, and fifty of the clergy. The present school-room was built in 1840, and accommodates sixty scholars.

CHAPTER XII.

The Forest roads and railways--Vestiges of some very ancient roads, apparently Roman--The old "crooked, winding, and cross ways," when no wheeled vehicles were allowed in the Forest--The original road across the Forest from Gloucester to Monmouth--Roads, first improvement in 1761--Road Act of 1795 carried into effect--Mitcheldean a post town--Roads further improved in 1828 and 1841--their present state and extent--The tramroads and railways of the Forest.

Unusually perfect remains of very ancient roads still exist in various parts of the Forest, resembling those made by the Romans, being slightly raised above the general level of the ground, and carefully pitched with large block stones, not unfrequently a foot square. The most remarkable of these is found along the vale below Puttern Edge, and called "Dean's Road," where the pitching remains in many places, being about eight feet in width. Although no coins have been found near it, yet its direction, indicating a connexion between the old iron-works above Sowdley, and the neighbourhood of Lydney, suggests that it was used in ancient times when the minerals of the district were carried from place to place on packhorses. Another road, yet traceable, gives the name of "Kymin" (Chemin) to a hill opposite Monmouth, the slopes of which it ascends in the direction of the Forest; and a third is partially preserved in a lane leading amongst the cottages at Little Dean's Woodside: it is called by the inhabitants "the Causeway," being yet partly paved, and uniting with another road, which is still in places formed of large stones.

The "crooked, winding, and cross-ways," which are said by Camden to have existed in the Forest, and to have rendered it a place of refuge for noble fugitives, were those paths which penetrated its depths, having their direction turned and rendered perplexing through the frequent interposition of streams, bogs, and thickets. Such were the means of communication which for many generations served the purposes of the Foresters, who permitted no wheeled vehicles to enter their domain, and possessed few if any themselves.

One high road, nearly identical with


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