The name Chalford may derive from Chalk Ford as the area certainly, in parts, is underpinned by limestone. The Anglo Saxon word for chalk or lime is ‘ceale’ so this, too, points to the limestone connection. However, it may also be a corruption of ‘calves ford’ from the ancient British cattle way which dropped down from the hills to Chalford Vale. Whatever the history of the name, Chalford itself grew largely as a result of the woollen and silk industry which was located in the Five Valleys by the early Middle Ages.
The original villages which comprise the parish – Chalford, Chalford Hill, France Lynch, Bussage and Brownshill – started as squatter settlements, expanding to house weavers and other cloth workers for the growing industries. Numerous lovely stone cottages in the parish date from this period, while many of the larger, grand houses can be seen, on inspection, to have started as humble cottages to which wealthy mill owners added extra rooms and imposing Regency fronts. And though few mills are still used for their original purpose, many remain, now converted into offices and dwellings, but still retaining the unmistakeable appearance of old mill buildings.