Thornbury, South Gloucestershire

From Academic Kids


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Coat of arms of Thornbury
Motto: Decus Sabrinae Vallis
(Latin: "Jewel of the Severn Vale")

Thornbury is a historic market town in South Gloucestershire England, approximately 11 miles (18km) north of the city of Bristol, with a population of around 12,000 people. It is twinned with Bockenem in Germany. South Gloucestershire council headquarters is in Thornbury. It is a Britain in Bloom award winning town and also has its own competition, Thornbury in Bloom.



There is evidence that Thornbury may date back to the neolithic and bronze ages. The ealiest documented evidence of Thornbury's history dates back to around the 9th century, with a settlement of "Thornbyrig". The Domesday Book noted a manor known as "Turneberie" that had 103 residents.

The town charter was created in 1252. The 750th anniversary was recently celebrated with a "750" flower bed planted on Grovesend Road. St Mary's church is the oldest surviving building in the town. Thornbury used to be a borough but became a parish 1984 and in 1974 a town council was elected.

Thornbury once had a railway line and station. The remains of the railway are now a housing estate, a bypass road and a long footpath. More remains of the line can be found at Tytherington quarry around one mile to the north of the town.

Thornbury used to have a bustling market. Originally markets were held on the High Street and the market hall. The market moved to a site on Rock Street in 1911. However the site closed down in the late 1990s. Recently, a smaller market on another site was set up in a car park near the United Reform Church. The older site remains derelict (although part of it sometimes used for overflow car parking) while the market hall is now a clothes shop.

Thornbury's coat of arms is made up of the arms of four families important in the town's history: Attwells, Howard, Clare and Stafford. John Attwells left £500 in his will for the establishment of the 'Free School' which merged with the grammar school in 1879. The Attwells coat of arms was later adopted as the badge for the grammar school, now Marlwood School. The other three families held the manor at Thornbury over several centuries.


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Thornbury High Street. On the left is the old market hall (now a clothes shop), The White Lion pub and a Tudor style house.

Thornbury features a high street, a shopping centre (St Mary's Centre), two supermarkets and many smaller shops around the town. The town has six churches: St Mary's Church, Christ the King, The Methodist Church, United Reform Church, Hackett Church and The Baptist Church (

The White Lion, Thornbury, is a public house on High Street. In 2003 it won the Thornbury in Bloom award, and in 1999 the Britain in Bloom award for Best Pub Display. In 1891 and 1903 its annual rateable value was £24.0s.0d..


An industrial estate is located to the south of the town. One of the biggest industries there is Essilor, who manufacture lenses for glasses. The construction of the Midland Way road has provided a major boost for industry by allowing traffic to avoid the steep and narrow B4061 road.

Major roads in Thornbury

  • B4061. Starts at Alveston, passes through Thornbury.
  • Grovesend road. A straight high speed road into Thornbury.
  • Castle Street
  • The Plain
  • High Street
  • Midland/Morton way, the high speed backbone of Thornbury.

Tourist Attractions

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The west front of Thornbury Castle.
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St. Mary's Church
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Thornbury town pump (no longer functional)
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The original pump

Thornbury castle

Main article : Thornbury Castle

Thornbury's most well known feature is its castle. The castle is a Tudor castle, begun in 1511 as a home for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. The two intricate red-brick chimneys were built in 1514, and are similar to those found at Hampton Court Palace. Cardinal Wolsey beheaded the Duke for treason in 1521. Following the Duke's demise the castle was confiscated by King Henry VIII who stayed at the Castle for 10 days in 1535 with Anne Boleyn. Following the English Civil War the castle fell into disrepair but was renovated in 1824 by the Howard Family. The castle is now a 26 room luxury hotel and restaurant.

Parish church

The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is Thornbury's parish church. Building started in 1340, with major additions in 1500, 1848 and 1988. Today, the church is in full use for worship, Baptism, Confirmation, Marriages and Funerals and other events.

Town pump

The town pump has been sited on a small roundabout at the bottom of the high street. It has a distinctive sign saying "To Gloucester" with a pointing hand. The original pump was removed in 1924 due to its state, it was considered a "road hazard" by the council. In 1984 a new one was built was temporarily painted gold in 2002 to celebrate the golden jubilee. The pump is usually decorated with flowers and there is often "birthday greetings" placed on the pump.

Walks and scenery

Streamside walk

A footpath called Streamside Walk, which starts at Gillingstool primary school, passes over several roads and bridges, passes Thornbury hospital, Manorbrook primary school and on to the north of Thornbury where the stream carries on beyond the town. There is also another, less well known, stream that runs through the north east of Thornbury and merges at an old mill.

Old railway line

A footpath is now the remains of the old railway line. The footpath was contructed in the 1990s to support new housing and industrial developments. Previously it was grassed over and neglected. Starting from the industrial estates it follows the route of the streets of Streamleaze and Avon Way. It eventually ends near a roundabout at the top of Avon Way.


For leisure activities there is the Munday playing fields, which was donated to Thornbury by Mrs Violet Mundy in 1937. It features a children's play area and sports ground. Nearby is Thornbury golf club, Thornbury Leisure Centre and nearby skate park. In south Thornbury a small children's play area was recently opened. There are also many green spaces and walks around the town. Recenrly a place known as the "Thornbury Community Garden" was set up, near Gillingstool School.

Other Attractions

Other attractions include Filnore Woods, Armstrong and Cossham halls, The MacLaine Memorial, Thornbury Museum and the borough stone, which was replaced in 1997. Recently a heritage trail was set up offering information signs about places of interest that starts from the Town Hall, which used to be the police station and magistrates court in Thornbury.

Schools in Thornbury

There are several schools in Thornbury including The Castle School, Thornbury's secondary school, Gillingstool Primary which dates back to the 1800's (known for its school bell) and the former grammar school (Thornbury Grammar School) which is now a sixth form centre for The Castle School. Other schools include Crossways, New Siblands, Christ the King, St Mary's, Shelings and Manorbrook. John Attwells's Free School is a historical school which existed in the 19th century. A plaque about the Free School is visible on a shop in St Mary's Shopping centre.

The Castle School

The Castle School
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The Castle School crest

Headteacher Ms Melanie Warnes MA
LEA South Gloucestershire
Status Comprehensive, coeducational, specialist Arts College
No. of Pupils 1700
No. in Sixth Form 330

The Castle School is a secondary school in Thornbury. It is a mixed comprehensive school taking pupils ages 11-18 and currently has around 1700 students including 330 in the sixth form.

In 1862, Handel Cossham, a local preacher at the time, built the original village school at Gillingstool known as 'The British School'. Some years later, because of overcrowding, a new infant school building was added adjacent to the original school. In 1952 the school was separated into infants, juniors and seniors and the latter formed the 'Thornbury County Secondary' school. Prior to this it was an 'all-age' school taking pupils up to age thirteen.

In 1962, planning began for a new building to house the expanding secondary school. Building work started the following year on Park Road, the site used as the school's playing field. In 1965, the building was opened under the new name of 'The Castle School', which reflected the school's new position adjacent to Thornbury Castle, whilst keeping the same initials (TCS).

The county infant and junior schools at Gillingstool later formed the 'Leaze School', which is now known as Gillingstool Primary School.

The school became a comprehensive in 1972, the same year that Thornbury Grammar School moved from its site on Gloucester Road to new buildings in Alveston, also becoming a comprehensive with the new name of Marlwood School. The Castle School then took over use of the Gloucester Road buildings which now form its Sixth Form centre.

Pictures of Thornbury


  • Thornbury community website – About Thornbury (
  • – About Thornbury (

External Links



Regarding The White Lion


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