The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

Places and People Forest of Dean

  1. About the Forest of Dean
  2. Abenhall, Gloucestershire
  3. Anchor Inn, Lydbrook
  4. Ariconium, Herefordshire
  5. Arthur and Edward Colliery
  6. Bigsweir, Gloucestershire
  7. Bishopswood, Herefordshireshire
  8. Bixslade (Bicslade)
  9. Blakeney, Gloucestershire
  10. Bloomery (definition)
  11. Bradley House
  12. Bream, Gloucestershire
  13. Bullo Pill, Gloucestershire
  14. Cannop Colliery
  15. Cinderford, Gloucestershire
  16. Clearwell, Gloucestershire
  17. Coleford, Gloucestershire
  18. Collieries
  19. Crawshay, Henry
  20. Danby Lodge
  21. Darkhill Brick, Colliery + Ironworks
  22. Dates in the Forest of Dean
  23. Dean Forest (Mines) Act 1838
  24. Dean Forest Railway
  25. Dean Forest (Reafforestation)
    Act 1668
  26. The Dean Forest Riots
  27. Dean Hall, Littledean
  28. Dean Heritage Centre
  29. Dean Road
  30. Drybrook, Gloucestershire
  31. Eastern United Colliery
  32. Fairplay Iron Mine
  33. Findall Iron Mine
  34. Flaxley, Gloucestershire
  35. Forest of Dean Central Railway
  36. Free Miners
  37. Green Bottom
  38. Gunns Mill
  39. The Haie (house + tunnel)
  40. Harvey, F. W.
  41. Hopewell Engine Colliery
  42. Horlick, James and William
  43. Kings Lodge
  44. Lightmoor Colliery
  45. Littledean, Gloucestershire
  46. Lower Redbrook, Gloucestershire
  47. Lydbrook, Gloucestershire
  48. Lydney, Gloucestershire
  49. Mining and Forest Terms
  50. Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire
  51. Mushet, David and Robert
  52. Nelson Colliery
  53. Newland, Gloucestershire
  54. Newnham, Gloucestershire
  55. Northern United Colliery
  56. Offas Dyke
  57. Parkend, Gloucestershire
  58. Pillowell, Gloucestershire
  59. Protheroe, Edward
  60. Pubs of the Forest of Dean
  61. Purton, Gloucestershire
  62. Redbrook, Gloucestershire
  63. Ruardean, Gloucestershire
  64. Severn and Wye Railway Co.
  65. Severn Bridge Railway
  66. Shakemantle Iron Mine
  67. Speech House
  68. Speech House Hill Colliery
  69. St Briavels Castle
  70. St Briavels, May-pole
  71. Strip-and at-it Colliery
  72. Symonds Yat
  73. Teague, James
  74. Teague, Moses
  75. Trafalgar Colliery
  76. Tramroad
  77. True Blue Colliery
  78. Union Colliery
  79. Upper and Middle Forge
  80. Upper Lydbrook Station
  81. Upper Mill, Edge Hills
  82. Upper Redbrook
  83. Verderer (definition)
  84. Verderers' Court
  85. Welshbury Hill Fort
  86. Westbury Brook Iron Mine
  87. Whitecliff Furnace
  88. Whitecliff House
  89. Whitecliff Quarry
  90. Whitecroft
  91. Whitecross Manor
  92. Wigpool, Gloucestershire
  93. Wintour, Sir John
Bigsweir, Gloucestershire/Monmouthshire
Bigsweir Bridge (Picture by David Maill)

Bigsweir is on the River Wye and straddles the boundary between Gloucestershire, England and Monmouthshire, Wales. It lies on the A466, 3.5 miles south of Redbrook and about 4.5 miles north of Tintern. It is situated approximately 3 miles west of St. Briavels. It is thought Bigsweir was named after a 7th century Welsh bishop who lived in nearby Llandogo. There is no actual village at Bigsweir. Its significance is in the cast iron road bridge that crosses the River Wye at this point. The foundation stone for the bridge was laid on 1st August 1825 and opened in 1827, as part of the new turnpike road constructed up the lower part of the Wye valley between Chepstow and Monmouth.

According to the Gloucester Journal, John Burton Phillips made an address "in the presence of a very respectable Meeting of Trustees and an assemblage of the neighbouring gentry". There then followed a solemn prayer from the Rev. G. Ridout, who baptised and buried several of the Burgums and Burghams at Newland Church. The Gloucester Journal continued - "Independent of the gratification it will afford to the lover of fine scenery, the road also promises to be of incalculable advantage to the counties of Monmouth and Gloucester, by bringing them into immediate connexion, as branch roads will be made on the Gloucestershire side, into the Forest of Dean, to connect with the Coleford roads; and, on the Monmouthshire side, to connect the Usk and Raglan roads, by which lime and coal from the Dean Forest will be introduced at considerably less than the present cost, into a large district in Monmouthshire."

The bridge was opened in 1827. Coaches, carriages and carts were charged sixpence. Horses not drawing, whether carrying or not, were charged two pence, and a person on foot was charged a penny. The tolls stopped being charged in November 1879.

The bridge is also considered to be the tidal limit of the River Wye, and connects the English and Welsh sides of the river, with the toll house on the Welsh side of the river. The bridge comprises a single cast iron arch of 160 feet. It was designed by Charles Hollis of London (who also designed the bridge at Windsor) and cast at Merthyr Tydfil. A pair of stone flood arches were added at either end some time later. Nowadays traffic lights control the traffic due to its narrow width. Bigsweir was also the site of St. Briavels railway station, on the now disused Wye Valley Railway. Bigsweir Bridge became a Grade II* listed structure in 1988.

The Gloucestershire Highways Agency completed essential structural repairs and repainting of the bridge in June 2011.The paintwork on the 180-year-old cast iron Grade II listed bridge had deteriorated and some defects were identified, with repairs needed to strengthen it and make it safe. When paint layers on the bridge were removed, a number of additional cracks were revealed. As the bridge is made of cast iron, repairs necessitated a specialised stitching technique rather tha welding that have damaged it.

There is a fishing weir and ford 650 yards downstream from the bridge, close to Bigsweir House. The fishing rights at Bigsweir are mentioned in the Domesday Book. By 1331 the rights were held by the monks of Tintern Abbey, about 4 miles downstream from the weir and objections were raised whenthe abbey raised the level of the weir, impeding normal navigation. The rights over the weir transferred to the Earl of Worcester in 1537, then later to his successors, the Dukes of Beaufort.

The Bigsweir estate lay on the Gloucestershire side of the weir and was originally owned by the Bishops of Hereford. The freehold to the estate passed to Thomas Catchmay in 1445. It remained the main house and estate of the Catchmay family for several centuries. Bigsweir House was rebuilt in about 1740, possibly by William Catchmay. Built of sandstone, the two-storey building has a symmetrical five-bay front. Additions were later made by James Rooke in the late 1700’s and the estate extended by purchases of woodland. Further extensions were added in the 20th century. Bigsweir House is a Grade II listed building.

Picture (above) cc-by-sa 2.0 Bigswear House by Philip Halling