St. Briavel's in 1839
St. Briavel's, 19 miles south-west of Gloucester, was once a borough and market-town, the inhabitants of which had many rights and exemptions, one of which was freedom from all toll throughout the kingdom. The town is now become a small village, and its privileges are obsolete ; the parochial inhabitants have however still the right of common in a wood called Hudnells, which includes a tract of land on the banks of the river Wye, about six miles long and one mile broad. They have also the privilege of cutting wood, but not timber, in other parts of the forest. These claims were set aside by Cromwell, but were contested and allowed after the Restoration. St. Briavel's castle was erected in the reign of Henry I by Milo Fitz-Walter, earl of Hereford, to curb the incursions of the Welsh ; it was afterwards forfeited to the crown, by whom its constables have ever since been appointed. The site of the castle is surrounded by a moat, including an area of considerable extent. The north-west front is nearly all that remains entire. It is composed of two circular towers three stories high, separated by a narrow elliptical gateway ; within the towers are several hexagonal apartments, the walls of which are eight feet thick. One of these towers is used as a prison for the hundred. In the interior there are two gateways similar to the former. On the right are the remains of an apartment, 40 feet by 20, with large pointed windows ; and on the left are the remains of a large hall. In the centre is a low building, which serves as an antechamber to the room in which the officers of the hundred hold their court. The constable of the castle is appointed by the crown, and is also the lord-warden of the forest.