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Painswick

From Academic Kids

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Painswick Beacon, and part of the view from it.

Painswick is a small town in Gloucestershire, England. Originally, the town grew on the wool trade, but it is now best known for its church's yew trees and the local Rococo Garden. The town is mainly constructed of cotswold stone, a yellow oolitic limestone quarried locally. Many of the buildings feature South facing attic rooms once used as weaver's workshops.

Geographically Painswick is to be found on a hill in the Stroud district, overlooking the Stroud valleys. Its narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of a quaint English village. There is a golf course near Painswick Beacon (right), the car park of which is particularly prone to thieves, vandals and arsonists.

History

There is evidence of settlement in the area as long ago as the iron age. This can be seen in the defensive earthworks atop nearby Painswick Beacon, which have wide views across the Severn Vale. The local monastery, Prinknash Abbey, was established as long ago as the 11th century. During the first English civil war (1642-1645) Gloucester was a Parliamentarian stronghold of some strategic importance. Consequently it was surrounded by forces loyal to the King. After the siege of Gloucester was broken on September 5th 1643, the Royalist army, which had been surrounding the city, encamped overnight at Painswick. Some damage was caused by the troops and a scar from a small cannonball can still be seen on the tower of St. Marys church.

Local Traditions

A traditional custom held on the nearest Sunday to September 19 is the annual 'clipping ceremony' when local children join hands and embrace St Mary's Church. It is thought to be rooted in Pagan ritual. The name 'clipping' is thought to have derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "Clyppan" meaning "to embrace", and has nothing to do with the pruning of the church's yews.

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The yew trees at St Mary's Church in Painswick

Folklore

It is reputed that there can be no more than 99 yew trees in the grounds of Painswick church. The hundredth tree can never grow because "it will be pulled out by the devil". However, some years ago the trees were counted, and it was found there were 103 in the churchyard!


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