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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MORETON VALENCE lies 6 miles south-west of Gloucester, on the left-hand bank of the Severn. The river has been a significant element in the history of the parish, which is rural and, although two main roads cross it, for the most part secluded. The parish covered an area of c. 1,450 a. and was extremely elongated in shape, extending more than 5 miles from the Severn to the Cotswold escarpment but never being over a mile across. In the middle it was divided into two by the part of Putloe hamlet that was in Standish: to the north-west lay 666 a. including the hamlet of Epney, and to the south-east lay 775 a., including the areas called Little Moreton, Pidgemore, Horsemarling, and Moreton Hill. (fn. 1) In 1884 all of Standish lying north-west of the main road at Putloe was transferred to Moreton Valence and all of Moreton Valence south-east of the road was transferred to Standish. That change, together with minor boundary adjustments, reduced the area of the parish to 991 a. The minor adjustments were the transfer of an unpopulated part of Moreton Valence to Whitminster in 1884 and the transfer to Moreton Valence of two unpopulated parts of Standish in 1882, of three small parts of Saul by the river, including one at Epney with three houses, in 1884, and of an unpopulated part of Randwick in 1886. (fn. 2) The account that follows relates to the area of the parish before 1884, except that the parts of Epney in Saul and Standish are included, and that Putloe, which was partly in Moreton Valence, is reserved for treatment as part of Standish. (fn. 3)
The River Severn forms the short north-west boundary. The long north-east boundary with Standish is an artificial one, following field boundaries. Parts of the long south-west boundary are marked by a watercourse and by Moreton Lane, the middle section of which no longer survives. (fn. 4) The Severn makes the riverside land liable to flooding, (fn. 5) and in 1625 the owner of some land at Epney was obliged to maintain the 'sea wall'. (fn. 6) In places the sea-wall is 8 ft. higher than the land inshore. A fishing weir at Epney belonging to the manor existed in 1216, (fn. 7) and apparently c. 1151; (fn. 8) in 1246 it needed strengthening, (fn. 9) and the sheriff was ordered to repair it. (fn. 10) In 1324 the fishery was recorded as no more than a pool in the Severn; (fn. 11) tithes of the fishery were mentioned in 1341, (fn. 12) and in 1372 the weir at Epney was in a bad state. (fn. 13) Nothing further has been found about the weir until 1630, when the lord of the manor, Sir Henry Jerningham, sold the weir house at Epney. (fn. 14) A pool or fishing place, and free fishing in the Severn where it passed Moreton Valence, were sold with the manor in 1640. (fn. 15) The fishery was to be leased from the lord of the manor in 1720. (fn. 16) At the Anchor Inn, Epney, elvers are collected for sending to distant places, and another elver-station was opened at Baldwins in 1967. (fn. 17)
The parish lies mainly on the Lower Lias. The north-west part is flat, lying below the 50 ft. contour. To the south-east the land rises gently at first until in the extreme eastern tip it rises sharply to 750 ft. (fn. 18) Although the land has been used mainly for pasture there were once open fields, and a gradual process of inclosure was completed in 1823. Orchards in the parish have been extensive. (fn. 19) A vineyard, apparently in Moreton, was recorded c. 1151. (fn. 20) In 1255 the Crown granted palings for enclosing the park at Moreton belonging to William de Valence, (fn. 21) who later claimed free warren there. (fn. 22) The park was broken into in 1287 and 1295, and deer were taken. (fn. 23) It was described as a park without wild beasts in 1324, (fn. 24) the latest date at which mention of it has been found. Its location may be indicated by the name of Park field, which was near the centre of the south-east part of the parish. (fn. 25)
Settlement is scattered, and the two most compact groups of houses, at Putloe (fn. 26) and Epney, appear to be of relatively late origin. The earliest settlement was presumably the small group of houses near the centre of the parish, including the church, the site of the moated manor-house, (fn. 27) Church Farm, Barracks Farm, and two small houses. That was the site of the settlement characterized in the 11th century by the name Moreton, a farmstead set in marshland, to which the suffix Valence had been added by 1276, (fn. 28) after the then lord of the manor. (fn. 29) Church Farm is an L-shaped house of one story with attics under a steeply pitched roof. It is of brick, with a tiled roof, but was formerly timber-framed and thatched. (fn. 30) The range projecting eastward is wider and higher at the eaves and ridge than the northsouth range, to which it was an addition. Barracks Farm is a small 18th- or 19th-century brick house. South-east of the church, Woodfield House was built c. 1830 and the new glebe house in the 1880s; (fn. 31) both are of brick. Moor Farm, ¾ mile north-west of the church, stands at the end of a long avenue of oak trees, planted c. 1806 when the house was rebuilt or enlarged for Daniel and Mary Willey. (fn. 32) Their house was a substantial building of brick, and it was given the name Moor End House; c. 1916, however, it was destroyed by fire and only a small part was rebuilt. (fn. 33)
In the south-east part of the parish are two very loose groups of farm-houses, Horsemarling and Little Moreton. The name Horsemarling, recorded in 1326, (fn. 34) appears to have been used of an area of ½ square mile or more, including Welch's Farm, (fn. 35) Horsemarling Farm, Stagholt Farm, and Crowcomepill. Horsemarling Farm may have been the house belonging to Thomas Banbury in the early 14th century; (fn. 36) in the late 17th century it belonged to the Bower family, (fn. 37) and was described in 1672 as being in two halves separately occupied, the new, lower half on the west and the older, upper half on the east. (fn. 38) The house is of ashlar with a Cotswold stone roof, and has two stories with gabled attics. The older, eastern part was built in the early 17th century; it has continuous dripmoulds, and the roof-trusses in the attics are numbered. The western part is built in a similar but slightly simpler style. In 1967 Horsemarling Farm was again in two occupations. Stagholt Farm, a small house built or rebuilt in the late 18th century or early 19th, may be a successor of the house in Horsemarling called Hannowes in the 17th century; (fn. 39) Robert Hannowe was churchwarden of Moreton Valence in 1498. (fn. 40) The house near Stroud Green that was mentioned in the 17th and 18th centuries (fn. 41) may have been at Crowcomepill, where in 1967 there were only two pairs of 19th-century cottages, or it may have been ¼ mile further north towards Stroud Green, where there appears to be the site of a demolished house.
Little Moreton, (fn. 42) a name that has dropped out of use, comprised Manor Farm, Green Farm, and Moreton Green. At Moreton Green were a cottage and two other buildings in 1818, (fn. 43) but only one small cottage remained in 1951 (fn. 44) and it had gone by 1967. Close to Manor Farm on the south-west was the house of the rectory estate, recorded in 1652 and demolished by 1841. (fn. 45) Manor Farm was built in the 18th century, a two-story building of brick with stone quoins and a Welsh slate roof. Immediately south of it are earthworks which may mark the site of another farm-house. Green farm, west of Manor Farm, was burnt down and rebuilt c. 1935. (fn. 46) Between Little Moreton and Horsemarling is Pidgemore Farm. The name Pidgemore occurred in 1287. (fn. 47) In 1617 Pidgemore, held as a freehold of the manor by Thomas Cowles (d. 1631), included two houses; (fn. 48) another Thomas Cowles owned it in 1680. (fn. 49) In the 18th century there seem to have been at least two houses, owned by Samuel Pridey and his successor William Pridey and by Nathaniel Hewlett; (fn. 50) Edward Hewlett had Pidgemore Farm in 1818 and 1823, (fn. 51) and John Pridey sold his estate there to the lord of the manor in 1828. (fn. 52) By 1841 there was only one farm-house, owned and occupied by John Hooper. (fn. 53) The house was built in the early 19th century, as a large two-story brick farm-house.
In the extreme south-east tip of the parish are Moreton Hill Farm (fn. 54) and Standish House. Standish House is said to have been built by Lord Sherborne as a hunting-lodge in 1830, (fn. 55) but there was a building there in 1818, apparently either a farm building or a house under construction. (fn. 56) In 1824 a house on the site was called the Cottage. (fn. 57) Standish House is a stuccoed building of two stories enlarged in 1865, (fn. 58) in a commanding position, and it was occupied c. 1850-80 by the railway magnate Richard Potter, whose daughter Beatrice Webb, Lady Passfield, spent her childhood there. (fn. 59) The house was used as a Red Cross hospital during the First World War; (fn. 60) in 1921 it was bought from Lord Sherborne for the Gloucestershire Joint Committee for Tuberculosis, (fn. 61) which opened its sanatorium there in 1922. (fn. 62) In 1931 patients and staff numbered over 300. (fn. 63) The buildings were extended in 1923-6, 1939, and 1947, (fn. 64) but thereafter the hospital ceased to be exclusively for tuberculosis, and became a general chest, orthopaedic, and tuberculosis hospital. After further building, it had 269 beds in 1967. (fn. 65)
The hamlet of Epney, beside the Severn in the extreme north-west of the parish, was inhabited by the late 13th century. (fn. 66) The name suggests that the settlement was on an island (fn. 67) before the sea-wall was built, and until the 19th century the hamlet was very small. The earliest houses were presumably on the piece of ground above the 25 ft. contour, in the south-west part of the hamlet, and in that part are a timber-framed and thatched cottage of the 17th century and two farm-houses and the Anchor Inn, (fn. 68) built or rebuilt in brick in the earlier 19th century. In the north-east part of the hamlet, stretching along the road towards Longney and protected from high tides by the sea-wall, the houses are mostly cottages of the early 19th century or small villas-several of them are so named-of the late 19th century, but they include a single-story timberframed cottage, which was once apparently a pair, and an 18th-century brick house. At Baldwins, ½ mile south-west of Epney, there were formerly more houses within Moreton Valence parish than the one 18th-century brick farm-house divided into two cottages that was there in 1967; (fn. 69) the mill belonging to Moreton Valence manor was there until the late 17th century, (fn. 70) and the remains of two groups of cottages were finally demolished in the mid 20th century. Including Baldwins, Epney contained nearly half the houses in the parish in 1841. (fn. 71)
Although the parish is crossed by two main roads, the Gloucester-Bristol road and the Gloucester-Stonehouse road, which were turnpikes from 1726 to 1827, and by the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, (fn. 72) the main lines of local communications formerly lay along the length of the parish. A lane once ran from Putloe to Horsemarling, (fn. 73) but by 1967 it was no longer open. Part of it, the queen's highway between Moreton Green and Putloe Green, was presented as out of repair in 1599. (fn. 74) The highway called the Moors, presented in 1600, (fn. 75) apparently went close to the site of Moor Farm and continued to Epney. Moreton Lane, an ancient road marking the boundary between Moreton and Whitminster, was stopped west of Pegthorne Bridge, a former swing bridge across the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, in 1841; (fn. 76) the bridge is said to have fallen down in 1916, (fn. 77) and in 1967 Moreton Lane was overgrown beyond the avenue to Moor Farm.
Fourteen inhabitants of the parish were assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 78) There were c. 150 communicants in 1551, (fn. 79) the same number as in 1603. (fn. 80) There was apparently a fall in population in the 17th century for there were 50 families in 1650, (fn. 81) 28 houses assessed for tax in 1672, (fn. 82) and c. 150 inhabitants in 30 houses c. 1710. (fn. 83) The population then remained steady, (fn. 84) but from 169 c. 1775 (fn. 85) rose to 265 in 1801 and 312 in 1811. The growth is attributable mainly to building in Epney. After a peak of 376 in 1871, numbers fell more than could be accounted for by the changes in boundary; the population of the civil parish in 1961 was 208. (fn. 86)
There were two unlicensed alehouses in the parish in 1660, two more in 1661, and one at Epney in 1665. (fn. 87) In 1838 there were said to be four beershops. (fn. 88) Some of them are likely to have been at Putloe, intended to serve travellers along the main road. (fn. 89) The Anchor Inn at Epney was in existence in 1806, (fn. 90) and a friendly society was meeting there in 1846. (fn. 91)