The History of Gorsley.

The early history of this small part of Herefordshire is difficult to establish with any degree of certainty. It's quite possible that there were tribal societies living in the area in pre-Roman times and there is plenty of evidence that the area was occupied during the Roman occupation. There were large Roman settlements at Ariconium (near Ross-on-Wye) and Glevum (Gloucester) and evidence of many Roman villas were uncovered during the construction of the M50 motorway that passes through Gorsley.

Around the 7th Century small Saxon communities began to form and it could have been one of these small groups of dwellings that formed the basis from which the village of Gorsley later evolved.

There was no specific mention of Gorsley in the Domesday Book of 1066 but there were references to it in 13th century surveys of the boundaries of the Forest of Dean. By 1725 Gorstley Common was recorded, originally Gorstleye (Gorse field) from the abundance of the gorse bush that flourished in the clearings of this densely wooded area.

For almost 2 centuries the area had been the haunt of those evading the law, the people of Ross called it 'The Republic of the Lawless' and it became known as 'Heathens Heath'. The area was notorius and The Hereford to London stage coach was often held up and plundered as it passed through. Fighting and brawling over rights to the land were common and employers were unlikely to give jobs to people who gave their address as Gorsley.

The building of new roads through Gorsley around 1810 and the building of the School in 1821, the Chapel in 1852 and the Church in 1892 all helped to bring order to the community. The improvements to the roads also benefitted the many farmers and smallholders making it easier for them to market their produce.

As with so many other villages the Great War took its toll on Gorsley. Many of its young men never returned, for the families of those brave men and for the ones that did return life would never be the same.opyright 2008 © Gorsley.com. All rights reserved.

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