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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RANDWICK lies 1½ miles north-west of Stroud on the northern slopes of the Frome valley. It was formerly a centre of the cottage weaving industry. The ancient parish which contained 1,260 a. (fn. 1) was extremely irregular in shape; it included a southern peninsula and several detached parts in Stonehouse parish, and a considerable area around Oxlinch in the northwest with detached parts in Standish parish. The parish had a total of 42 detached parts, (fn. 2) resulting from the sharing of open fields with Stonehouse and Standish, and from the early tenurial and ecclesiastical dependence of Randwick on Standish. (fn. 3) In 1882 several detached parts in the north-west were added to Standish and other land was received from Stroud and Standish. In 1885 the southern peninsula and detached parts in Stonehouse, with a population of 465 in 95 houses, were transferred to Stonehouse, the part of Randwick at Oxlinch with 89 people in 19 houses was added to Standish, and other parts with 12 people in 5 houses passed to Stroud. In 1885 and 1886 small parts of the parish within Haresfield and Moreton Valence were absorbed by those parishes. (fn. 4) In 1894 Randwick was extended to include parts of Stonehouse, Stroud, and Standish containing 286 people in 66 houses, leaving it a compact parish of 349 a. centred on Randwick village. (fn. 5) The account here printed relates to the area around Oxlinch and Randwick village; the southern area of the ancient parish, including the hamlet of Westrip, is dealt with under Stonehouse. (fn. 6)
The parish lay on both sides of a spur extending southward into the Frome valley; the highest point, at the south end of Standish wood, is at c. 700 ft. The eastern slope falls steeply towards Ruscombe; on the west the land slopes more gently to Oxlinch which lies on relatively flat land at c. 200 ft. The eastern slopes of the spur lie on the Upper Lias, and the spur has a crest of Inferior Oolite; Oxlinch lies on the Lower Lias which is overlaid as the land rises to the spur by successive strata of Middle and Upper Lias. (fn. 7) The quarry at Colstone Hill on the spur provided building stone for the locality until the mid 19th century or later. (fn. 8) Randwick wood, a part of Standish wood, crowns the spur above Randwick village. In 1459 the wood apparently extended to near the main road at Randwick church. (fn. 9) In 1809 it covered 44 a. (fn. 10) The wood, mainly beech, conceals an ancient fortified camp, and a long barrow which was excavated in 1883. (fn. 11)
Randwick village lies on the steep eastern slope between the 400-ft. and 6oo-ft. contours. It was apparently a fairly late settlement, and was not mentioned in the Domesday survey. It was evidently settled from Standish, of which parish and manor it formed a part; the name, meaning 'farm on the border', (fn. 12) presumably related to its position in Standish. There was a church there by the early 13th century, (fn. 13) but in 1267 Randwick manor had only 9 tenants and some of them probably lived in Oxlinch. (fn. 14) The church was built on the east side of the road which climbs the steep hill-slope, and Long Court on the same road further south was probably the site of the ancient manor-house. (fn. 15) A church house, described as a stone building with a large central arched doorway, (fn. 16) was built west of the church on land given by the lords of the manor in 1459; (fn. 17) it was demolished in 1782 to make way for a workhouse (fn. 18) which was itself destroyed when the glebe house was built in 1844. (fn. 19) The other buildings on the road are mainly houses of reconstituted stone built in the mid 20th century, but a few earlier cottages survive: they include the 17th-century Turret Cottage and its neighbour, which are of rubble with mullioned windows with dripmoulds and have staircase-turrets at the rear, and a cottage of similar date opposite the church. A row of cottages east of the road at the north of the village, where a small housing estate was built in the mid 20th century, was pulled down in the late 19th century. (fn. 20) The main village developed to the east of the main road and north-east of the church; (fn. 21) it consists mainly of stone and tiled cottages of the 18th and 19th centuries.
There was a settlement at Oxlinch, which was partly in Standish parish, by the late 13th century, (fn. 22) and it was perhaps the largest in Standish and Randwick parishes in 1327 when the name was used to designate an area which included both of them. (fn. 23) It is a scattered settlement of timber-framed and stone cottages and a few farm-houses. Tiledhouse Farm, mentioned by that name in 1671, (fn. 24) is an L-shaped timber-framed house of the 17th century, with a plinth and gable-ends of ashlar; the south gable-end has mullioned windows with dripmoulds, and on the west there is a four-centred arched wooden doorway and a projecting casement window supported on carved brackets. Roadway Farm is a rectangular 17th- or 18th-century house of rubble with stone-mullioned windows with dripmoulds. The Kings, mentioned in 1773, (fn. 25) is a stone house with a fan-light over the door. A timber-framed cottage on the road to Standish Park Farm is faced with ashlar. Two timber-framed cottages at the road-junction south of Tiledhouse Farm were destroyed c. 1955. (fn. 26)
The road past Tiledhouse Farm was described as the highway to Randwick in 1707; (fn. 27) in 1967 both it and the road past Roadway Farm were unmetalled tracks for several hundred yards before they met Ash Lane from Randwick at the south end of Randwick wood.
There were c. 100 communicants in Randwick in 1551, (fn. 28) and 18 households in 1563. (fn. 29) In 1650 there were 100 families, (fn. 30) and 60 years later c. 400 inhabitants in 80 houses. (fn. 31) About 1775 the population was estimated at 650 in 140 houses, (fn. 32) and in 1801 there were 856 people. There had been a reduction to 748 by 1811, but by 1821 the population was c. 1,000 at which it remained until it was roughly halved by the dismemberment of the parish in the 1880s. The population was c. 700 in the first half of the 20th century but rose to 836 in 1961. (fn. 33)
The two settlements in the parish differed in character: Oxlinch was a scattered, mainly agricultural community while Randwick, a nucleated village, was inhabited mainly by cottage weavers with apparently a strong sense of community. Randwick village was described in the late 18th century as 'very populous, chiefly inhabited by poor people employed in the woollen manufacture'; (fn. 34) the poverty with its attendant lawlessness was later aggravated by depressions in the cloth industry, and in 1825 the village was said to have 'recently emerged from the poverty and degradation of past years'. (fn. 35) In 1830, however, it was resolved to petition parliament about the distress in the parish, (fn. 36) which was still serious in 1839. (fn. 37)
In 1599 two victualling houses in the parish were mentioned. (fn. 38) In the early 19th century the local gentry, concerned at the effect on the unemployed, attempted to prevent new beerhouses from opening, (fn. 39) but by 1839 there were seven in the parish. (fn. 40) In 1891 there were five; (fn. 41) among them were the 'Rising Sun', near the Wesleyan chapel, which was in existence in 1856, (fn. 42) the New Inn also in the main village, (fn. 43) and the 'Vine Tree' on the main road. In 1967 there was only the 'Vine Tree'. In 1813 260 villagers were members of friendly societies, (fn. 44) and the village was said to have an excellent friendly society in 1839. (fn. 45)
A custom known as Randwick Wap formerly provided the chief holiday of the village year. On the second Monday after Easter a 'mayor' of Randwick was elected and carried in procession to a pool south of the church where a song which alluded to the local weaving trade was sung. In the 19th century an unofficial fair was held at the time and the ceremony was often accompanied with riots and drunkenness. The custom, for which a medieval origin was claimed, (fn. 46) was recorded c. 1703 (fn. 47) and in the 1770s, (fn. 48) and, in spite of efforts to abolish it, (fn. 49) continued until 1892. (fn. 50)
Joseph White (1745-1814) who became a distinguished orientalist and theologian lived at Randwick during his youth and for some years worked at the loom for his father, a weaver. (fn. 51) Simon Pearce, one of a numerous family in the village, (fn. 52) emigrated to Australia in 1841 and founded the town of Randwick near Sydney. (fn. 53)