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A master of the workhouse appointed in 1725 was given a loan of £50 to enable him to employ them in card making and was allowed £20 a year out of their earnings and a weekly maintenance allowance of 18d. for each person. Footnote 21


In 1774, a broad weaver contracted to manage the poor in the workhouse.


In 1797, a linen-weaver was contracted to manage the poor in the workhouse.Footnote 22


By 1803, their were 65 paupers in the house who earned £88 in that year, about a fifth of what it cost to keep them.


In 1836, Stroud became the centre of the Stroud union. Footnote 23


A new workhouse for the union was built in 1837, at the east end of the town on the north side of the Bisley road. Footnote 24

A large complex of stone-built blocks centred on a chapel, it could house up to 500 paupers. Footnote 25


It was decided to let the old Stroud parish workhouse as a police station.Footnote 26


Pigot's Directory for Stroud

"STROUD or Stroudwater is 30 miles from Bristol, 14 from Cheltenham and nine from Gloucester City. It was the centre of the clothing trade in 1830, with mills every few hundred yards on every river. In the census of 1821 the parish had 7,097 inhabitants." Footnote 16


Estimated Catholics

It may be worthy to note that when Bishop Baines visited Rome in 1840, he estimated that the number of Catholics in the 16 missions in Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire was 13,014. Footnote 10


Catholicism revival in Stroud in the mid 19th century.


In the mid 18th century members of a family called Lacy, who owned a house in Sheepscombe tithing (but probably lived elsewhere) were recorded as recusants in the Gloucester Records office. Footnote 1


Within Stroud, Catholicism was being revived by a group of Ladies who later went on to become 'Third Order Dominicans'. From the early 1840's the Hon Mrs Stapleton, a Catholic came to live in the Grange close to where our church is now. As the nearest church was at Woodchester - she converted a room in her home into a chapel for Holy mass.


William Leigh (of Woodchester Mansion) had a very serious nature and was deeply religious. He had become disillusioned with the Church of England and was very much inspired by the charismatic leader of the Passionist Brothers, Father Dominic Barberi. In 1844, William Leigh was received into the Roman Catholic Church by the Rev. Dr. Weedall at Leamington. Footnote 14


One of the first tasks undertaken by William Leigh after buying the Woodchester estate in 1845 was to the building of a fine church that now stands prominently overlooking the A46. Leigh's vision was to establish a centre from which the recently emancipated Catholic faith would spread. He selected the Congregation of Passionists, under the guidance of their Italian superior, Dominic Barberi.


The Passionists arrived from Italy in March 1846, occupying a house in Nailsworth whilst the church was being built; it cost £9,000 to construct. Footnote 11


Northfield Parsonage in Nailsworth (now known as Beech Tree House , also known as 'The Quarry) was for a brief period in the 1840s the home of the Passionist Fathers. They were brought to the town by William Leigh (of Woodchester Mansion) and who established the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Woodchester, before handing over to the Dominican order after the church was consecrated in 1849. Footnote 13


The Great Western Railway line from Swindon to Gloucester, via Stroud opened in 1845.


The Annunciation church at Woodchester was consecrated 10th October 1849.Footnote 10


However, Father Dominic Barberi never lived to see it complete. He suffered a heart attack on 27 August 1849 on a train journey from London to Woodchester and died in a room at the railway hotel in Reading where he had been taken. On 27 October 1963, he was beatified by Pope Paul VI. Footnote 19


The Passionists had decided to move on. The foundation was then offered to the Dominican Order who were seeking a noviciate in England. They occupied the monastery until 1970, when dwindling numbers forced its abandonment and subsequent demolition, leaving just the church itself. Footnote 14


Roughly at the same time a Vicar's Widow by the name of Mrs Emily Sandy (a convert) daughter of Col. Cleaveland opened a small school in London Road for Catholic children. This had two rooms, which were converted, into a chapel for Sunday mass - said by a Priest from Woodchester. Footnote 2


Mrs Sandys converted in the early 1840's to Catholicism and was the Widow of the Rev. G. Sandys, MA. His Sister Miss Sandys also converted at the same time. Footnote 27


Later Mrs Emily Sandy was joined by a Elizabeth Matthews.


Elizabeth Matthews was born in Wootton under Edge and lived at her employers a Mr Edwin Bucknall and his seven sons who she cared for. One day having met a Priest who called into Mr Bucknall's shop, curiosity led her to visit the nearby church of Woodchester. Later she converted and would walk to Woodchester to hear mass and run back to her Employers home in time to serve breakfast for her charges.. Footnote 2


The fifth born son of Mr Edwin & Mary Bucknall was Benjamin, the well-known Architect - born at Rodborough in 1833. At 17, he worked as a millwright, but he was interest in medieval art and crafts and later joined the Clifton offices of the architect Charles Hansom. Benjamin became a Catholic in 1852 and went on to be a brilliant architect who was strongly influenced by Pugin's styles. It is thought that Bucknall used Pugin's design as a basis for Woodchester Mansion. Work on the mansion started in the mid 1850s and continued until the late 1860s. Bucknall drew on Viollet-le-Duc's researches into medieval construction methods when building the mansion and the St. Rose's convent Beeches Green, which benefited from Gothic stone construction principles. Footnote 11


In around 1850, Elizabeth found Mrs Sandy and asked to join her work with the children in London Road. Footnote 2


They both later became Third order Dominicans. Footnote 3 and the numbers of Catholic converts grew in Stroud because of their dedication.


n 1856 a foundation stone was laid at Beeches Green in Painswick parish for a church to serve the Stroud district. The church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, was opened in 1857 and comprised nave and north and south aisles built in the decorated style to designs by Charles Buckler of Oxford.Footnote 3


The Mass of consecration for the Immaculate conception was on 20 August 1857. Amongst the community at the service was Emily Sandys who founded the school, Mother Mary Teresa Matthews (previously Elizabeth Matthews) the Dominicans of Stroud and Woodchester, Benjamin Bucknall, the local architect (who went on to design the St. Rose convent) and Edward Elgar the famous composer. Footnote 10


The first Priest was Bernard Morewood O.P. and he served for 4 years. Footnote 7


The Architect for the Church was Charles Alban Buckler, and the Church has Historic protection. Footnote 12


The land was purchased in autumn 1858 for the convent building Footnote 4


The Dominican Sisters were organised on a formal basis and purchased land for a convent at Beeches Green in 1862 when building began to the designs of Benjamin Bucknell. The building is of great architectural interest.


It was also extended in between 1888 -95 to Bucknell's design.


Bucknall was much influenced by the purist Gothic style promoted by Viollet-le-Duc, he visited him in France and corresponded with him, and later translated his works on architecture into English. Fortunately, this convent with stone rainwater gutters, prominent corbels, staircase turret with pyramidal sprocketed roof, with some Caernarvon arches is of Historic importance and now protected. Footnote 12


The building was greatly funded by William Leigh. Fortunately, the application to demolish this wonderful building in 1978 to make provision of vehicular access was refused, and is now listed.


Benjamin Bucknall married Henrietta Mary H. King on May 1st 1862 in a Catholic Chapel in Northampton even though at the time Bucknall was living at Beeches Green in Stroud. 1863 Mary Josephine, was born in Stroud, the first of four children, she was educated at St. Rose's convent school and later found fulfilment as a nun in St Rose's Convent in Stroud. Footnote 11


Excerpt from National Gazetteer "At Woodchester are a recently-built Roman Catholic chapel and monastery; in Woodchester churchyard is a tesselated pavement. In 1855, an extramural cemetery was formed on rising ground at a short distance from the Union workhouse. Canton, who first made artificial magnets, and White, the Arabic scholar, both weavers, were born in this parish. Lyppiat Park was formerly the seat of the Throgmortons and the Delbins. Market day is on Friday. Fairs are held on 10th May and 21st and 22nd August for cattle, sheep, and pigs." Footnote 15


William Leigh died in 1873 at the age of 70, with his perhaps over-ambitious dream symbolized by the eerie shell of the mansion in the valley below. His tomb is in the Woodchester Church of the Annunciation, and the effigy on his memorial is shown holding a model of the church that marks the pinnacle of his religious and architectural achievement. William Leigh was described as "a man of solid piety and unbounded generosity to the church and the poor" and through his influence Nympsfield and South Woodchester became centres for Catholic worship with local people being converted and other Catholic families settling in the area. He was awarded the Order of St. Gregory by Pope Pius IX in recognition of his work for the church. Footnote 14


On 5th March 1875, the Rosary School was opened by Dominican sisters in what is now the Parish Hall for the Immaculate Conception Church. It had an attendance of 17 children. Footnote 9


According to the 1881 census, the population of Stroud Parish was 10,974.


n 1882 the school building, was extended to the back, which is now the Sacristy of the Church. Footnote 3


The buildings, in the French chateau style, were extended in 1885, and in 1894, a convent chapel was built to replace the former wooden chapel. The convent, dedicated to St. Rose of Lima, performed educational and social work in the Stroud area. Footnote 5


According to the 1891 census, the population of Stroud Parish had grown to 11,519.


From a census of children in the parish of Stroud 1894. It states Beeches Green RC School (lately reformed under Government Inspection) although not in the parish of Stroud, is just on its borders and draws nearly the whole of its children from the town. Footnote 18


Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, (2 June 1857 - 23 February 1934) was an English composer. From a modest background, and, as a Roman Catholic in Protestant Britain, Elgar was seen, by himself and others, as an outsider. His Sister Ellen Agnes became a Dominican Nun in 1902, Sister Reginald Elgar and lived within St. Rose's convent. When he visited, he would play the organ and did write a peace of music which he gave to the Nuns at the convent whom he held in high regard. Footnote 4


His Sister eventually became a prioress.


The Third Order Dominicans work grew and so Mrs Sandys decided to buy a plot of land on ground called Merry Walk Fields. They started a crèche and day nursery for the children of very poor working women who had to go to work in the local mills and stick factories. Mrs Sandys and Miss Matthews had no funds but depended upon donations to furnish the nursery with straw beds made to fit into orange boxes given them by Mrs Thornton, a grocer in town. Footnote 2


In 1800, 'Badbrook House' was recorded as being owned by Thomas Holbrow.Footnote 17


It was built for him in 1794, and was located on the corner of Merrywalks and Beeches Green.


The building purchased by the Dominican Tertiaries was called 'Badbrook House' and had significant grounds - the purchase was in 1912. This was on the site of the current Pastoral centre - and was in poor condition. By acquiring the house and land, it secured to block the purchase by others who may have used for unsuitable purpose. After the purchase a Mr Hunter suggested that it could be used for the purpose of care and education of disabled youngsters - since their was not a school with these provisions in this area. They set out to have the building adapted for this purpose. The Sisters never had the funds - and the loan was supported through donations and payment for provision of care. The first Child taken in was said to be blind baby -and was cared for by the novices. The school was called St Roses. The building was eventually knocked down and the present Pastoral centre buildings stand on the same ground. Footnote 4


Some of the remaining schoolroom exists behind the pastoral centre. Part of the building was demolished to make way for the widening of Merrywalks road by the Bus depot. The stable block for Badbrook house still stands and in use and can be found in Bath Street next to the pedestrian ramp by the Cinema.


The Immaculate Conception Church was never completed because school buildings were erected on the chancel site Footnote 3


Dominican Priests served the parish until 1940, from which time it has been served by members of Secular Clergy. Footnote 3 See also the list of Priests.


In the early 1930s mass was said occasionally in a cottage in Hale Lane, Painswick, which was served by Priests from Stroud. Then a former slaughterhouse in Friday Street was converted for use as a chapel in 1935 when mass was said regularly. The chapel, dedicated to St. Theresa of Lisieux, suffered bomb damage in 1941 but was rebuilt to the designs of Peter Falconer and Partners and reopened in 1956. Footnote 6

It has been served by a Priest from Stroud since 1972 when the congregation numbered 50. Footnote 7


St Rose's school for the physically disabled (once known as Badbrook House) had been in bad repair - and unsuitable for the growing number of children and use. So on 24 April 1957 the two Ladies managed to acquire 'Stratford Lawn' a hotel after the death of the owner. Some of this building still remains and is near the current St Rose's special school. Footnote 4


In the 60 / 70's the convent proved to be impractical to maintain due to only having 10 Sisters. Therefore, Head Sister Leonie took some of the other Sisters to nearby St Rose's House at Beeches Green, Stroud. Footnote 4


The Stroud Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena work in various jobs in the Parish and community. They have the St Rose's special school for children with physical and allied special needs, and they are always available for advice.


The Rosary school flourished and so did St. Rose's convent school - which taught the older children. They also had St Bede's house, which was used, as Dormitories for paying pupils.


In July 1964, it was decided to close the senior school - as St Peter's R C High School opened on the Stroud Road, Gloucester. The Children transferred by a bus service laid on. So the convent schooling at Beeches green for all ages was terminated.


The senior pupils left to attend St. Peter's Secondary School and, under the headship of Mr Tom McCarthy, the Rosary Primary School opened with 200 pupils on the roll. Footnote 9


In the summer of 1965, permission was obtained to build a new St. Rosary Primary School on the present site and this was completed by 1967. The architects and builders won the National Civic Trust Award in recognition of the successful way in which the building made use of its environment.


The Official Opening and Blessing of the new school was performed by the Bishop of Clifton on 26th March 1968. The school has continued to enjoy a high standard of education and care of its children. Footnote 9


Badbrook house was demolished to allow for road widening.


Another development in Stroud, including a new shopping centre and multi-storey car park, was in progress in 1971 in the lower part of the town between King Street and Merrywalks, a road that runs along the old parish boundary from Badbrook to the Cainscross road. Merrywalks was a road of little importance before the 1960s when a new thoroughfare was built between its southern end and Wallbridge and it became part of a traffic scheme to ease pressure on the route by King Street and Rowcroft. For this purpose - some of the grounds and buildings belonging to Badbrook house where lost.


The average congregation numbered 750 in 1972, when the parish covered a wide area to the north and east of Stroud and the clergy also served a chapel at Stonehouse. Footnote 8


In 1972, Locking Hill practice moved to the Health Centre at Beeches Green.


Application for demolition of part of St. Roses Convent, Beeches Green, Stroud. For provision of vehicular access through a corridor connecting two main buildings at The Old Convent, Beeches Green, Stroud. (Consent. Application No. S.LBC.194/A) was refused.


The Dominican convent chapel organ (built by Thomas Liddiatt) was later presented to the Parish of the Immaculate Conception when the last Dominican Sisters left and it was painstakingly dismantled and reassembled on a plinth under the rose window the following year.

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  1. Recorded Glos. Records office Transcript Q/RNc 2/14, 17.

  2. Papers from the late Sister Wulstan O.P Dominican Nun.

  3. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, pp. 111-13.

  4. Provided by Sister Quentin from held records.

  5. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, pp. 114, 118.

  6. Ibid. pp. 166-7.

  7. Ex inf. The parish Priest of Stroud.

  8. Ex inf. Revd. W. O'Callaghan, parish Priest of Stroud.

  9. Extract from the Rosary school website History section.

  10. History Clifton Cathedral pdf

  11. Article Index on Benjamin Bucknall

  12. Stroud district Council - listed buildings

  13. Nailsworth design statement

  14. Article William Leigh his life and times

  15. STROUD, Gloucestershire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

  16. Pigot's Directory of Gloucestershire, 1830

  17. Names from "Notes and Recollections of Stroud" by Paul Hawkins Fisher published 1871

  18. Census drawn up 14 August 1894 by Frederick Winterbotham 5, Rowcroft Stroud.

  19. Bl. Dominic Barberi CP.pdf

  20. Ibid. D 914/5; cf. ibid. D 1180/10/40,which names that part of the street as Workhouse St.

  21. Ibid. D 1842/H 3/1.

  22. Ibid. P 320/VE 2/1, entry for 1774; P 320A/OV 9/1.

  23. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. p. 523.

  24. Fisher, Stroud, 330.

  25. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 900.

  26. Glos. R.O., P 320A/VE 2/3.

  27. Converts to Rome . compiled by W. Gordon Gorman.

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