Celebrating our historic past – Chipping Sodbury Heritage Trail

September 28 2015

WE open the door this month on Rounceval House in Rounceval Street, one of six properties in Chipping Sodbury that feature a commemorative plaque and form part of the town’s heritage trail.

WE open the door this month on Rounceval House in Rounceval Street, one of six properties in Chipping Sodbury that feature a commemorative plaque and form part of the town’s heritage trail.

The trail can be followed with the help of a map that is available at the entrance to Hatherell’s Yard, while a trail guide is available at the Tourist Information Centre. 

Each plaque gives just a brief glimpse of the life of its property and its previous owners. This month we feature a property that dates to around 1670 and was a private residence up until 2003. 

Rounceval House in Rounceval Street 

Rounceval House dates to 1670 and records show that Dr Paul Downton Leman owned the property from 1830, after moving from Horse Street. Dr Leman was a surgeon and his son became a general practitioner. His family lived at the property up until 1953, with the house being transformed in 2003 into a hotel.

 

Rounceval Street was named after the town of Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, northern Spain. A valley at Roncesvalles was the site of a major battle in 778AD, which is recalled in the epic poem Song of Roland.

 

Local resident Joanne Land’s recent research confirmed that it was lord of the manor William Crassus III who named Rounceval Street but that it was the future Edward 1, known as Longshanks because of his height, who “suggested” the name to him after an incident involving his entourage in Chipping Sodbury. It had reminded the then Prince Edward of a similar accident that befell his party in Roncesvalles some years earlier.

 

It was in October 1254 that the prince was returning to England from Spain after marrying Princess Eleanor of Castile. His party faced a difficult and tedious journey and on treacherous ground at Roncesvalles, one of the packhorses slipped and fell, resulting in the horse and attendant horseman being killed by the crush. 

The royal party stayed at Roncesvalles for a couple of weeks to recover but the event made a profound impression on the group. Prince Edward eventually returned to Bristol, where he had land, and Eleanor went to Windsor Castle. The following year, Edward moved his entire household and office chantry, seals and exchequer to Bristol, where he arranged to mint his own coins. 

Some time between 1257 and 1259, the royal couple and Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester, left Bristol for London but were badly delayed. Eventually they set off towards Chippenham, travelling through Chipping Sodbury in a party of 25-30 people, together with pack horses. On the approach to Chipping Sodbury, one of the packhorses slipped and fell, dislodging its load. Both rider and horse were badly injured. Up ahead, the temperamental Prince Edward was told of the incident and, furious with yet another delay, told Richard de Clare to sort it out. The prince also swore at William Crassus, who had joined the royal party to welcome them through his territory.

 

Remembering the incident at Roncesvalles during his marriage journey, Edward insisted that Crassus named the as yet unnamed road Rounceval to make sure he remembered to take better care of the roads leading to the entrance of the area. 

Guided Tours now available 

Anyone involved with a club or group can book a guided tour of the heritage trail, which takes about 45 minutes. It includes a talk on each of the properties with a commemorative plaque and a brief overview of many of the other historic properties in the town. 

To arrange a tour call 01454 334410 or email rounceval-house@btconnect.com for further information.