The village of Hardwicke lies in the north west of the Stroud District, hard up against the borders of the City of Gloucester. The area around the green and pond retain the feeling of the rural village whilst other parts have a distinct “Victorian” feel. There was never a distinct centre to the village, the church lies near the track of the Roman road to Bristol, but attention moved to the line of the present Bristol Road when that was established.
With its name deriving from the Old English heorde wic, “herd keeping settlement,” it is not surprising that farming is still the major industry of the parish. Hardwicke was once renowned for its cider and cheese, this may have led to its survival during the battle for Gloucester in the Civil War - neither side wanted to damage a source of much appreciated sustenance!
St Nicholas’ Church (Class I listed), a typical small, but well attended and used, village church which dates from the late 13th century but was built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon church. It contains a good selection of ancient monuments to past lords of the manor and their families and some ancient gravestones. Hardwicke Court (Class II* listed), the private home of the Lloyd Baker family, was built in 1815 on the site of other ancient manor houses. Amongst several other listed buildings is Madam’s End Farm. Local lore has it that this name derives from the time when Henry VIII, en route to Gloucester, reached the farm, then on the King’s Highway between Bristol and Gloucester. His then Queen, Anne Boleyn, tired from the journey and refusing to face the necessary ceremonies involved in entering the city itself, spent the night at the farm.
The three public houses are next to a bridge on the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal (The Pilot), on the Bristol Road (once the Morning Star , now the Starting Gate) and on the old Bath Road (the Cross Keys(closed 2008)) showing the later importance of those routes. Having grown greatly in the last twenty five years there are now over 2000 households in the parish, from the 14th century Old Hall through the Victorian expansion to the modern estates.
The village has a very well attended, resourced and respected Parochial Primary School. There are a wide range of activities and sports available for both all ages, including very successful youth and adult football and cricket clubs. Some meet in the school and others in the well appointed village hall or use the extensive playing fields.
The parish boasts a free magazine, “Hardwicke Matters” (celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009), that is delivered to every household and business in the parish and beyond, keeping the residents apprised of events and village news in addition to advertising locals businesses and providing bus time tables etc.
There are two local shops, one a post office, with a supermarket and other shopping a short distance away in Quedgeley. A frequent bus service provides access to Gloucester from early morning to late at night.
The “Reformatory”, probably the first “approved” school for boys in the world, with a strict but fair regime, was established in Hardwicke in 1852 with the local squire, T. B. Lloyd Baker, being one of the founders. Remaining open until 1922 many boys taught at the “Reformatory” gained honours during the First World War and a roll of honour is on display in the church. Unfortunately the building suffered neglect from the last war onwards and was demolished in 2001, never having attained the status of being a listed building despite a campaign by a local resident.