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Centre of Lechlade
Grid reference: SU2199
Location: 51°41’56"N, 1°41’31"W
Population: 2,759  (2001)
Post town: Lechlade
Postcode: GL7
Local Government
Council: Cotswold
The Cotswolds
Website: Lechlade-on-Thame

Lechlade, or Lechlade-on-Thames, is a small town in Gloucestershire, at the southern edge of the Cotswolds. Lechlade is the limit of navigation on the River Thames; the highest point at which the river is navigable.

The town is named after another river, the River Leach, which joins the Thames near here.

The town is a popular venue for tourism and river-based activities. There are several pubs, some antique shops, a convenience store, food outlets, a garden centre and a Christmas shop.

The parish church is St Lawrence, a 15th-century church.

In the centre of the town near the church is a large open space which is now a car park. The main roads through the town are busy, as the town is at the crossroads of the A417 and A361. Where the A361 enters the town from the south it crosses the River Thames on Halfpenny Bridge. Another tributary of the Thames, the River Coln, joins the Thames at the Inglesham Round House.

The River Thames

River Thames and Lechlade
St John's Lock

Lechlade is the highest town to which the River Thames is navigable by relatively large craft including narrowboats. It is possible to travel by river or on foot from here to London. The Halfpenny Bridge is therefore the usual start for a water based Thames meander - the term for a long distance journey down the Thames.

The Thames Path also continues upstream to the traditional source of the Thames at Thames Head). The river is actually navigable for a short distance further upstream, near the village of Inglesham, where the Thames and Severn Canal joins the River Thames. Rowing boats can reach even further upstream, to Cricklade. Lechlade is a popular resort for Thames boating. Boats of different types can be hired from here, from rowing boats to river cruisers.

The highest lock on the Thames is St John's Lock, at Lechlade, where there is a statue of Old Father Thames overlooking the boating activities. There is a view from St John's Bridge across the lock and the meadows to the spire of St Lawrence's parish church. The River Leach flows into the Thames at St John's Bridge. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley composed A Summer Evening Churchyard here which includes the lines:

Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire
Around whose lessening and invisible height
Gather among the stars the clouds of night

Youth facilities

Lechlade has a number of youth activities, most of them centred around the Memorial Hall and the adjacent Lechlade Pavilion Hall.

1970 Squadron, Air Training Corps was founded in the town in 1997. The squadron's membership consists of young people from Lechlade and nearby towns such as Fairford and Faringdon. The unit has since disbanded and all cadets have been transferred.

1st Lechlade Scout Group can trace its origins back to 1915 when Robert Baden-Powell inspected Scouts from Lechlade and the surrounding area.

Behind the Town Hall are large playing fields, an astro turf pitch, a skate park and a playground.

Outside links