The Parish of Chalford lies mostly to the North of the main A419 from Stroud to Cirencester and rises from the river Frome in the Golden Valley (so named in the 17th Century for either the glorious autumn tints or the fortunes made by the mill owners – not to mention the fact that it is south facing and benefits from full sun on summer days) to the plateau of what was once Bisley Common. The other edges of the Parish are Cowcombe Hill and Toadsmoor.
The Parish historically depended upon the wool trade and the weaving of cloth, the best known being the ‘Stroud’, which was used extensively during the colonisation of America. This cloth is still used today for the green baize on snooker and billiard tables and for covering tennis balls. As you walk along the valley bottom you will see many of the mills used for this trade and the smaller workers cottages.
Rack Hill, the sun facing side of the Valley, was so called as the dyed cloth used to be carried up tracks by donkey and hung out to dry on racks next to the workers cottages. Many of these tracks still exist today and a number of houses are still inaccessible by car.
As the wool trade ebbed and flowed so did the population and prosperity of the area. By the mid 19th Century, with the decline of the cloth industry, the villagers fell on hard times, and by the mid 20th Century over twenty-five percent of cottages were deemed unfit for habitation. Fortunately in the 1970’s, the historic value of the villages and dwellings were recognised and many cottages were sold for renovation and extension. The result is a collection of houses and cottages that can still be matched to their original period.
The area is away from the hubbub of the normal tourist route (our High Street can’t accommodate coaches – phew!), and yet with over 50% of the village’s properties Listed it retains the charm and character of a typical Cotswold village. It’s a thriving community with a vibrant art scene, a local shop run by volunteers, and the “Chalford Quarter” which includes a fabulous café, bakery and artist and artisan studios.