A visitor's guide to Stroud
PUBLISHED: 15:04 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:04 17 April 2019
We've assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Stroud, sponsored by Landart Gardens
Landart | 01453 751538 | landartgardens.co.uk
Stroud's history and wealth was built on its fast-flowing waterways and high-powered mills, so it's got less golden Cotswold charm and more brick-and-windows about it than some of its pretty-pretty neighbours. Stroud's locals are passionate about the place, which has become known for its community spirit and arty vibe. The town sits at the centre of the Five Valleys, a working and creative hub, with breweries, galleries and festivals complementing its award-winning farmers' market, shops and cafés. The urban centre is surrounded by countryside, where Cotswold sheep still graze, cattle roam common land, and Neolithic longbarrows shape the landscape.
Most noted for... being Laurie Lee country; the Cider With Rosie author was born in Stroud, and set his famous novel in the nearby Slad Valley where he grew up.
While you're here... Enjoy a coffee at the Upper Lock café and walk along the towpath. Both Stroudwater navigation and the Thames & Severn canal are key features in Stroud's history.
But try not to... think of Stroud in terms of yester-year. Fine cloth manufacturer WSP Textiles still sends its first-class woollen products around the world for use on snooker and pool tables, and to cover tournament-grade tennis balls.
Following in the footsteps of Laurie Lee, novelists Katie Fforde and Jilly Cooper are part of the Stroud community, as are children's authors Jamila Gavin and Cindy Jefferies. Artist Damien Hirst has a studio in the Chalford suburb, close to where Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan and his family now live. Mary 'Queen of Shops' Portas and Melanie Rickey also live close to Stroud. The town is the resting place of Lieutenant Joseph Francis Delmont, a young man with the dubious distinction of being the 'last man to be killed in a duel in Britain' back in 1807.
Stroud cloth was used for the army and navy uniforms giving the soldiers and sailors their distinctive red and blue jackets, respectively. Visit the Stroudwater Textile Trust to learn about the wool mills of Stroud, and how the valley's waterways powered historic machinery during the industrial era. The sculpture of a ram with a bolt of cloth on the High Street commemorates the wealth the textile industry brought to Stroud.
Festivals in Stroud
Stroud Festival dates back to the 1940s, making it one of the oldest festival organisations in the country. This annual celebration of local arts draws on the many creatives who live and work in the town. The town celebrates Stroud Fringe Festival from August 23-25, and Booker prize winning author Ian McEwan heads the line up for Stroud book festival in November 6-10, 2019.
Take a ride
The Bike Works at Frogmarsh Mill, just south of Stroud, hires out bicycles from April to October as well as selling and servicing them year-round. For an additional fee, they'll deliver your hire bike to a local starting point and pick it up afterwards. The hire charge includes helmets and a map.
Orchids, beetles and butterflies
The Swift Hill nature reserve supports 130 different wildflower species and a number of rare orchids on a 10-hectare site. The habitat is important for butterflies and beetles – it's also a haven for kestrels, skylarks and woodpeckers. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is leading a practical orchid identification day on the site on June 16, 2019.
Move here for...
And get: A three-bedroom, Victorian red brick end-of-terrace house, with valley views, less than a mile from Stroud station.
Eat at: Woodruffs
Why? In 1998 this was Britain's first totally organic café. Today the menu is based on locally sourced organic wholefood, and offers food options suitable for all-comers.
Drink at: The Woolpack
Why? This traditional independent pub in Slad Valley was Laurie Lee's favourite. It serves real ales, locally sourced food, and has outstanding views of the Cotswolds.
Stay at: The Bear of Rodborough
Why? Beautiful textiles take centre-stage in the bedrooms at this stylish and arty hotel. With Rodborough Common on the doorstep, it's a six-minute drive from Stroud station, less than 25 minutes on a bike.