Tour and Tourist Information Guide for the town of Mitcheldean
in the Royal Forest of Dean
The market town of Mitcheldean lies on the Western side of the Forest of Dean. Mitcheldean is a thriving large village with old timbered houses and narrow streets and a medieval church. Once a centre for the brewing industry. The original brewery now known as The Mews, is now occupied by several local businesses. On the edge of the village is a large business park which includes Xerox, one of the largest employers in the Forest of Dean.
The wealth that was generated by the towns industries and retail concerns shows in the buildings, such as the early 18th century Town Hall, 17th century George Inn and half timbered Mill End Street cottages, but the most distinguished building is the Church of St Michael. This was built in the 14th century, but in 1460, an outer aisle was added to the nave which helped make it one of the widest churches in the country. It was restored by Henry Woodyer in 1853.
The Parish and former market town of Mitcheldean lies 16.5 km. west of Gloucester. Mitcheldean, once part of the Forest of Dean, was usually called Dean until the mid 13th century. Afterwards it was generally known as Micheldean or Great Dean, in the Latin form Dean Magna, to distinguish it from nearby Littledean. The form Mitcheldean was in use by the mid 17th century and the parish was occasionally called Michael Dean, from the dedication of its church, by that time. Littledean and Abenhall had tenurial links with Mitcheldean and were regarded as members of it in 1316. The town of Mitcheldean, which lay partly in Abenhall, was a centre for industries based on the products of the adjacent Forest. It supported a cloth industry by the later 13th century and had a market from 1328. The town prospered in the 17th century but was in decline as an industrial centre and market by the end of the 18th and became primarily a shopping centre of local importance.
- Clearwell Caves - Ancient iron mines. Of great interest to the whole family
- Symonds Yat - Superb views over the Wye Valley, good walks, and the Peregrine Falcons nesting.
- The Wye Valley - Picturesque easy walks, canoeing, fishing
- Puzzle Wood - Pleasant easy walks
- Beechenhurst - Picnic area with barbeque hearths, tourist lodge, cafeteria etc. Good walks
- The Sculpture Trail - Interesting walk with sculptures in the forest, including the stained glass window and the giant's chair.
- Railway Museum - An interesting collection of steam railway memorabilia from the Forest of Dean
- Harts Barn - Old Norman hunting lodge - one of the oldest properties in the Forest of Dean, built by William Duke of Normandy. A stimulating visit for both young and old, the owners always having new ideas to entertain visitors. You could spend hours browsing around the craft shops, enjoying the surroundings and relaxing taking refreshments in the courtyard.
- Perrygrove - Steam Railway
Mitcheldean originated as a small hamlet at a major crossroads. First recorded in Saxon Times, by the 13th century Mitcheldean had grown in to a large village that was a centre of industries based on the products of the Forest, thanks to its proximity to the Iron Ore outcrops at nearby Wigpool. As well as having an iron works, the village was a producer of cloth and leather, by 1328 it had a market and a wealth of tradesmen including tailors, leather-makers and shop keepers. By the 18th century Mitcheldean's industry had started to decline and it gradually became known more as a shopping centre than as an industrial area. After WW2 however, industry returned to the town when Rank Precision Industries established a factory which subsequently become Rank Xerox a world famous manufacturer of photocopiers. As well as creating valuable jobs it has been largely responsible for increased residential development, but in recent years, this industry has been hit by recession and is now only a shadow of its former self.