A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.
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HARDWICKE lies 4 miles south-west of Gloucester, close to the River Severn but at no point touched by it. Primarily agricultural, the parish was for long dominated by the resident owners of two estates, Hardwicke Court and Field Court. In the 20th century the proximity of Gloucester introduced suburban development in the north-eastern part of the parish, and the city's lines of communication have had a marked influence, the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal dividing the parish in two, and the Gloucester-Bristol road running across the eastern part. The R.A.F. establishment in neighbouring Quedgeley has two subsidiary stores in Hardwicke.
Until 1882 Hardwicke comprised 2,378 a. (fn. 1) The main body of the parish was compact in shape but irregular in outline, and several detached parts of the parish lay within the boundaries of Elmore parish, to the north. Part of the north and part of the south boundary followed small streams, but the eastern boundary and that of the whole of the western half of the parish followed field-boundaries. (fn. 2) The detached parts belonged to Hardwicke because, it seems, they constituted Farley manor, which was connected tenurially with Rudge manor in Hardwicke, and because the tithes of Farley were in the same ownership as those of the rest of Hardwicke. (fn. 3) In 1882 a small detached part of Elmore lying within the boundaries of Hardwicke was transferred to Hardwicke; in 1884 Farleys End, comprising 219 a. and containing 66 people living in 14 houses, was transferred from Hardwicke to Elmore parish, within whose boundaries it lay; in 1885 Hardwicke lost 10 small detached parts to Elmore and gained a small detached part from Haresfield. By the changes the area of Hardwicke was reduced to 2,150 a. (fn. 4) In 1935 Hardwicke lost to Quedgeley a further 130 a. with a population of 47, (fn. 5) being the area around Field Court. (fn. 6) The account here printed, however, relates to the area comprised in the parish up to 1882.
The land of the parish is mostly flat and lies below 100 ft., but in the north-west it rises to two small hills, Hockley (or Acklow) Hill at 195 ft. and Monk's Hill at 135 ft. (fn. 7) The soil is a cold clay, overlying the Lower Lias, (fn. 8) and difficulties of drainage have meant that a large part of the parish has been used for pasture rather than arable. There were, however, open fields in Hardwicke, which were inclosed piecemeal over a fairly long period. (fn. 9) Orchards have been extensive, (fn. 10) and in the 18th century Hardwicke's stout cider was noted along with its excellent cheese. (fn. 11) Woodland, especially in the north-west part of the parish where some pieces survived in 1967, appears to have been extensive in the 12th and 13th centuries. (fn. 12) In 1782 elms from the Hardwicke Court estate were sold for £335. (fn. 13) The park belonging to Hardwicke Court, which extends across the southern boundary of the parish into Haresfield, was in existence by the late 12th century. (fn. 14)
Settlement in the parish is scattered, with several loose clusters of houses and a high proportion of isolated farmsteads. The grouping of the houses appears to correspond in part with the division of the parish into separate estates, and the correspondence is reflected as late as 1839 in the existence of five so-called tithings of which four were named after the then or recent principal owners. (fn. 15) Thus Hardwicke village seems to have belonged primarily to Hardwicke (or Park Court) manor, the scattered farmsteads in the north-west part of the parish to Rudge manor, Farleys End hamlet to Farley manor, and the houses in the north-east of the parish to Field Court manor. (fn. 16) The houses at Hardwicke Green and near the south-east boundary may have belonged to various estates.
Hardwicke village lies near the centre of the parish, where the church stands beside a crossroads, and is likely to have been the earliest settlement in the parish. The name combines words meaning 'herd' and 'farm', (fn. 17) and the inference is that Hardwicke was originally an outlying farmstead of another settlement. It was presumably an offshoot from either Standish or Haresfield: it was linked ecclesiastically with Standish, (fn. 18) and Hardwicke manor, with which Hardwicke village is presumed to have been associated, was a sub-manor of Haresfield or Standish. (fn. 19) The village was formed mainly by a loose street of houses running north-east from the crossroads. In addition to Church House Farm, which is timberframed, two-storied, on an L-shaped plan, there are several square-framed cottages of one story with attics under thatched roofs; most of the older houses, in the village as in the parish generally, are covered with rough-cast. Near the north-east end of the street is Old Hall, called Old Farm in 1792, (fn. 20) apparently the oldest surviving house in the village. It is a timber-framed building built on a long rectangular plan, of one story with an inserted attic floor. It has been divided into two cottages and much restored, but three surviving cruck-frame trusses suggest that it was once a hall-house of four bays or more; the one truss that remains exposed below the collar is near the middle of the range and has chamfered edges and chamfered arch-braces to its cambered collar, suggesting that it may have been an intermediate truss dividing the bays of a 14th-century hall. So substantial a house presumably belonged to one of the chief estates in the parish; it may have belonged to the Delamares, but its possession by Sir Thomas Crawley-Boevey in 1808 (fn. 21) suggests rather a connexion with the Field Court estate. (fn. 22) On the road leading south-west Church Farm stands close to the crossroads; the house was recorded in 1775, (fn. 23) and the surviving building, of rendered brick, appears to be of about that date but to occupy an old site. In 1699 there were 5 houses scattered along Pound Lane, leading south-east from the crossroads, (fn. 24) but by 1967 they had all been replaced and the oldest houses were two 18th-century cottages.
Hardwicke Green ½ mile ENE. of the church, may have been a subsidiary settlement of Hardwicke village, established on the manorial waste. In 1699 there were c. 5 houses there, (fn. 25) grouped around three sides of a rectangular green, with a minor road, Green Lane, forming the fourth and northern side, (fn. 26) and Sticky Lane linking the southern end with the main road. A farm-house and three pairs of cottages that were there in 1967 were apparently built in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are of various materials. The green remained uninclosed in 1967, and c. 1840 a few farmers had been turning out sheep on it. (fn. 27)
Outlying houses in the eastern part of the parish, in addition to Hardwicke Court and Field Court which, as mentioned below, were both in existence by the late 12th century, (fn. 28) include Laynes Farm, Southfield Farm, and Road Farm, all marked on a map of 1699, (fn. 29) Summerhouse Farm, recorded in 1824, (fn. 30) and Ellis's Farm. Laynes Farm is mainly a tall 19th-century brick building, but at the north end is a range of one story with an attic that was once one wing of an L-shaped house; the walls are partly timber-framed, partly brick, and at the east end are some large ashlar blocks. Southfield Farm appears to contain no fabric earlier than the 18th century. Road Farm is a square-framed, thatched house of one and two stories on an L-shaped plan; the short northern cross-wing, which has quadrant bracing on the gable-end, is a low building that may represent a former hall; the southern range is built on a stone plinth and has a central ashlar chimney with a moulded cap. (fn. 31) Summerhouse Farm, rebuilt in brick in the 18th century, incorporates fragments of a timber-framed building and has a partly timber-framed barn. In Sticky Lane, opposite the 19th-century Ellis's Farm, a pair of brick cottages has a timber-framed gable-end with a large chimney.
Other houses were built, from the 18th century or earlier, along the main Gloucester-Bristol road, notably at the former north boundary of the parish along the edge of Quedgeley Green. The houses there that were within Hardwicke parish until 1935 include the Lawn, built in the early 19th century. Scattered small houses of the 19th and 20th centuries line the road southwards to Four Mile Elm, where the Hardwicke Elm stood by the roadside (fn. 32) until felled in the early 19th century, (fn. 33) and where the smithy was. (fn. 34) By the road junction 300 yds. south, where the 'Cross Keys' was built before 1831, (fn. 35) a terrace of 8 cottages was built in the late 19th century, (fn. 36) but was replaced in the 1930s by a row of a dozen houses, mostly detached.
The building c. 1908 of a dozen detached houses ¾ mile NNE. of Hardwicke church marked a new stage in the settlement of the north-east corner of the parish. (fn. 37) By 1921 the two ends of a new road, Elmgrove Road, had been made on a line from just north of those houses to the Gloucester-Bristol road; (fn. 38) the middle section of the road, however, remained only a footpath in 1967 because two hunting men bought the land there in order to keep open the habitual fox-run from Quedgeley Gorse to Hardwicke Gorse. (fn. 39) The area was gradually developed: the 170 new houses built in Hardwicke in the period 1901-61 (fn. 40) were largely in or near Elmgrove Road, especially at its eastern end. North of Field Court an estate of 30 council houses built after the Second World War is on land that was once partly in Hardwicke parish. Some new houses were built at the east end of Green Lane, where a large house called the Cottage had been built in the earlier 19th century, and along the canal banks c. 25 small wooden cabins were built. In 1967 the inhabitants of the north-east corner of the parish greatly outnumbered the rest.
The western half of the parish, separated from the eastern half since the early 19th century by the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, has remained relatively unaltered. A high proportion of the houses are single farmsteads on or near sites of some antiquity. In the area of Hardwicke Farm there are also half a dozen small 19th- and 20th-century houses. Hardwicke Farm itself is described below. (fn. 41) Velthouse Farm, recorded in 1649, (fn. 42) incorporates a two-story building, timber-framed and rough-cast, and jettied at each end, with a central chimney of ashlar with a moulded cap. A similar massive chimney at Clarke's Farm may also have been centrally placed, for the part of the house west of it was rebuilt c. 1880 and east of it is a short structure of two stories, partly timber-framed; one roof-truss has smoke-blackened timbers, apparently re-used. The house was extended eastward in the late 17th century. One of the barns contains a single cruckframe truss. Madam's End Farm, mentioned in 1675, (fn. 43) is timber-framed and rough-cast, of one story with attics under a thatched roof. The earliest part is of two bays of which one, in which the rooftimbers include wind-braces and are smokeblackened, appears to have been an open hall; an upper floor was later inserted and lit by a gable. At various dates the house was lengthened at each end and given two back wings. Grove End House, built of red brick in the later 19th century, is near but not on the site of a house which bore the same name in 1699. (fn. 44)
In 1852 T. B. Ll. Baker, one of the founders of the reformatory school system, opened the Hardwicke Reformatory for Boys in a building south-east of Grove End House. The number of boys rose from 17 in 1854 to 79 in 1881 and, after the building had been enlarged, to 108 in 1911. The boys worked mostly on the land. The reformatory was closed in 1922, on the grounds that its buildings were oldfashioned; the buildings became a farm-house. (fn. 45)
Farleys End, called the vill of Farley in the 13th century, (fn. 46) is a loosely knit hamlet detached from the rest of the parish and forming in effect the western part of the straggling village of Elmore, with which it was administratively joined in 1884. In 1839 Farleys End contained 3 farm-houses, 5 cottages, and 2 other houses, (fn. 47) and in 1884 there were 14 houses in all. (fn. 48) Farleys End Farm is described below. (fn. 49) Pleasure Farm, partly of Lias stone, was enlarged in brick in the 19th century. Church Farm was built of brick in the early 19th century. The Dower House, formerly called the Sands, is a square, two-story house built in the mid 19th century of brick with stone dressings. The smaller houses, mostly built in the 19th century, include five mid-20th-century houses.
The main Gloucester-Bristol road through the parish is a route of great antiquity, and was presumably the reason for such events as the holding of a visitation at Hardwicke in 1300 (fn. 50) and the dating of letters there in 1328 by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 51) Those events, however, suggest that the main road then lay further north-west and actually went through the village, an idea that is consistent with the alignment of Hardwicke village street and a footpath north of it in relation to that of the Roman road leaving Gloucester and continuing beyond Moreton Valence, and with the finding near Southfield Farm of a gold stater of the Dobunni. (fn. 52) A new road from Hardwicke to Little Haresfield was built in the mid 13th century (fn. 53) and may have helped to divert the Gloucester-Bristol road. The main road followed its modern route by 1675 (fn. 54) and was said in the early 19th century never to have been any different; (fn. 55) it seems to have followed the modern line as early as 1378, when the repair of Wolgar's Bridge was at issue. (fn. 56) Wolgar's Bridge, built of stone by 1675, (fn. 57) was the same as Wokers or Oakey Bridge (fn. 58) carrying the main road across the south boundary of the parish. The road, with a toll-gate at Four Mile Elm, (fn. 59) was a turnpike from 1726 to 1877, (fn. 60) as was the road to Little Haresfield. (fn. 61) Minor roads mentioned at an early date include the king's highway in the early 13th century, (fn. 62) apparently the Quedgeley- Longney road, Kingston way between 1263 and 1284, leading to Farleys End, (fn. 63) and a road called Port Street in the neighbourhood of Elmore. (fn. 64) Green Street, presumably the same as Green Lane, and Beaurepair Lane in the south of the parish (fn. 65) were recorded in 1598, and Fisher's Bridge, on the Quedgeley-Longney road at the north boundary of the parish, in 1600. (fn. 66)
The Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, begun in 1794, reached southwards as far as Hardwicke by 1797, (fn. 67) but as late as 1810 it had been carried no further than Southfield Farm. (fn. 68) It was opened to traffic in 1827. (fn. 69) Two swing bridges, each with a Doric lodge, cross the canal to link the two halves of the parish. Near the north boundary of the parish a jetty on the canal and oil storage tanks were built in 1960 as a distribution point for Shell-Mex & B.P. Ltd. (fn. 70)
The population appears to have been moderately stable from the mid 16th century until the early 18th. In 1542 a muster included 52 names for Hardwicke (fn. 71) and there were 169 communicants in 1551. (fn. 72) The figure of 100 communicants in 1603 (fn. 73) is shown to be too low by the 67 adult males listed in 1608, (fn. 74) the 60 families recorded in 1650, (fn. 75) and the 49 houses assessed for hearth tax in 1672. (fn. 76) In 1676 there were said to be 171 communicants. (fn. 77) From 280 people living in 70 houses c. 1710 (fn. 78) the population may have fallen, for it was returned as 200 in 1735 (fn. 79) and c. 250 in the 1770s, (fn. 80) but if so it increased again rapidly, to 341 in 1801 and 423 in 1811. It rose steadily to 645 in 1881, though there were fewer families then than in 1871. The fall to 538 in 1901 was accentuated by the reduction in the size of the parish, and after a further rise a fall in the twenties resulted mainly from the closing of the reformatory. From 575 in 1931 the population grew, despite a further reduction in area, to 797 in 1951 and 861 in 1961. (fn. 81)
Geoffrey the taverner in the late 13th century may have kept his tavern in Farleys End. (fn. 82) Edward the taverner witnessed a Hardwicke deed in 1326. (fn. 83) In 1664 Edward Stratford was indicted for keeping an unlicensed alehouse. (fn. 84) The Pilot Inn by Sellars Bridge over the canal was open by 1856; and two other beerhouses were recorded in 1863; (fn. 85) in 1883 the 'Morning Star' on the main road, the 'Cross Keys', and the Pilot Inn were recorded, (fn. 86) and all three remained open in 1967. A friendly society meeting at Hardwicke in 1836 may have been the same as the female friendly society that met in its own room there in 1838. (fn. 87)
At least four of the abbots of Gloucester are likely to have come from Hardwicke: Thomas Carbonel, Walter of St. John, John of the Field, and William Farley. (fn. 88) Several of the manorial lords have achieved distinction in public life. (fn. 89)