A to Z of the DeanWye: F is for…

F is for…


Flaxley was once a major industrial centre. The Forest of Dean was an important medieval ironworking region, and the earliest forge in Flaxley is recorded in the 12th century. Westbury Brook was the site of five water mills, and at Gun’s Mill by Flaxley was one of the main gun foundries of the English Civil War era. A blast furnace was built there in 1629. Today, Flaxley offers a pleasant picturesque wooded scene and is difficult to imagine it any other way, but it has a strong industrial past, notably of iron furnaces, forges and water mills.

Flaxley is also famous for its old Cistercian abbey founded between 1148-1154 by Roger, Earl of Hereford, at the spot where his father, Miles of Gloucester, was killed whilst out hunting. The abbey and its monks were initially favoured by the Crown and it was granted land (by Henry II in 1158) as well as timber and woodlands (by Henry III in 1227) The abbey survived as a monastic entity until the Dissolution in 1536-37 when its lands and manor were granted to Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London (who supervised the execution of Anne Boleyn).

Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean is made up of four quite different landscape areas:

  1. The ancient Royal Forest lies at the very heart of the district with the market towns of Coleford and Cinderford offering an insight into the industrial heritage and history of this fascinating area.
  2. The Wye Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and forms the western border of the Forest, separating England from Wales. This unique area offers endless opportunities for outdoor activities such as canoeing and fishing on what is perhaps Britain’s most unspoilt major river.
  3. The Vale of Leadon is a quintessentially unspoilt English area featuring rolling farmland, vineyards and black and white timbered buildings centred around the picturesque town of Newent in the northern part of the district.
  4. The Severn Vale, through which flows the country’s longest river, is famous for its tidal bore, Blaisdon Plums and Perry Pears. The old Severnside port of Lydney is the area’s main town, and is a thriving business and shopping area.

Forest of Dean, USA

The Forest of Dean in the USA is also the site of an iron mine, but it is not possible to visit as it is in the grounds of the West Point Military Academy in Orange County.

Forest of Dean & Wye Valley, spring
Forest of Dean & Wye Valley, spring

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