The grocer who shaped Stroud
VICTORIAN William Cowle changed the face of Stroud and now the history of his life has, quite literally, been unlocked for an exhibition all about this quiet philanthropy.
A travelling trunk containing title deeds and other papers which belonged to Cowle languished for 100 years after his death in 1899 in a local solicitors' office.
It then passed to Wotton-under-Edge auctioneer Philip Taubenheim who last year employed a locksmith to open it.
A treasure trove of documents relating to grocer-turned-property developer Cowle, whose land sales shaped Stroud as it is today, was revealed.
Traditional Shave, Facial Treatment, Whisky and a Shoe Shine -...View details
Gents, enjoy a traditional shave, facial treatment, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £31
Terms: Early and later appointments available upon request.
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
The trunk and its contents were loaned to Stroud Local History Society members Marion Hearfield and Tony Macer.
The pair were already researching Cowle's story and now an exhibition at the Museum in the Park will tell his tale to a wider audience.
"I couldn't believe it. I was grinning for days," Marion said.
"The box held all of Cowle's deeds going back to the early 1700s."
Cowle's former 60-acre Field Estate was sold off in 103 lots in 1873 and became 600 homes where modern-day Stroud residents live.
"The Cowle Legacy exhibition is a belated celebration of his generosity to the town," said Marion.
Cowle has a road named after him, donated the site for Stroud Gerenal Hospital, laid out the roads through his new suburb and build Park House.
Marion and Tony's biography William Cowle of Stroud: Life in a Victorian Town will be launched and sold during the exhibition which runs from October 1 to 27.
Proceeds will go to the museum's education programmes.
Support for the free exhibition has come from the Langtree Trust, Stroud Town Council, Stroud Freemasonry and the Stroud Local History Society.