Westerleigh is a village and civil parish (which includes the community of Henfield) in South Gloucestershire in England. It contains sources of the River Frome. It is north of the M4, south of Yate and north-east of the city of Bristol. It has a population of approximately 4,800.
The village is first mentioned in a Saxon document of 887AD. At that time it was probably just a clearing in the woods with possibly a wooden church. Westerleigh is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
In medieval times the village would probably have been a green with the houses and church around it, and prosperous. The northern wall and porch of St James church is from the 13th century, as is the carved stone pulpit. The church was rebuilt in the perpendicular style, with the tower (once used as the village lock-up) added at a later date. The 700th anniversary was celebrated in 2004.
By 1600 the village supported a shoemaker, a blacksmith, a sawyer, a flour mill, a malt house and two public houses. In 1617, John Crandall was baptised to James and Eleanor Crandall at St. James the Great church, and became one of the founders of Westerly, Rhode Island, USA.
The discovery of coal in 1660 provided employment for the villagers, with further finds at Coalpit Heath (within the parish) and Parkfield colliery at Pucklechurch providing more employment. The mines closed in the early 20th century, when the coal was exhausted.
By 1876 occupations in the village included farmers, a bootmaker, shopkeepers, innkeepers, butchers, a plasterer, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, a market gardener and a carrier. At the end of the 19th century many of the old houses were demolished. At the beginning of the 20th century, the railway and mining provided most of the work. Now residents find work in nearby Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Bristol, and in the village itself.
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