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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LEONARD STANLEY, which once had a market and a considerable cloth industry, lies 2½ miles west of Stroud on the south side of the Frome valley. The parish is roughly triangular in shape and contains 824 a. (fn. 1) The ancient parish included also a detached part west of Stinchcombe, comprising Lorridge farm (213 a.), (fn. 2) the estate of the hospital of Lorridge or Lorwing granted to Leonard Stanley Priory in 1225; (fn. 3) in 1882 and 1884 Lorridge farm was transferred to the parishes of Stinchcombe and Alkington, and its history is reserved for another volume. In 1882 Eastington parish absorbed a detached part of Leonard Stanley, (fn. 4) another piece of former priory land, which included the mill at Millend. (fn. 5)
The north part of the parish lies along the southern branch of the River Frome at c. 100 ft.; its southern end climbs to the ridge of the Cotswolds at 650 ft. at Sandford's Knoll, named from the family that held an estate in the parish for 250 years. (fn. 6) The parish lies on the Lower Lias which is overlain at the southern end by successive strata of the Middle and Upper Lias; (fn. 7) deposits of gravel occur in the north, and a gravel-pit to the north-west of the village was awarded at inclosure in 1834. (fn. 8) Flints found in the gravel are thought to be evidence of a settlement in the Mesolithic period. (fn. 9) There are small woods in the south, and at the west end of the parish. There were open fields in the north of the parish until 1834. (fn. 10) The Bitton brook (fn. 11) flows northward to the Frome forming a shallow coomb in the north part of the parish.
The priory of Leonard Stanley was founded c. 1131, (fn. 12) and the village was usually known as Monks' Stanley in the Middle Ages, (fn. 13) but later it was named from the dedication of the priory, Stanley St. Leonards or Leonard Stanley. The priory, which from 1146 was a cell to Gloucester Abbey, was built close to a Saxon chapel, which was included in the precinct and survives as a barn, The large priory church, which survives as the parish church, (fn. 14) was built north-east of the chapel, with a cloister, mentioned in 1544, (fn. 15) against the south wall of its nave; of the cloister only the corbels which supported its roof on the west wall of the south transept of the priory church remain. The priory house, later completely rebuilt, (fn. 16) stood on the east side of the precinct. A medieval tithe-barn survives in the south-west corner of the precinct; it has a porch extension on the east, and in the north wall a blocked round-headed entrance, a blocked 14th-century cusped light, and another 14th-century light with damaged tracery. The west side of the precinct was occupied partly by the priory kitchen, a square stone building with a louvred roof, and in 1787 a house with stone-mullioned windows and an arched doorway, possibly a post-medieval building, stood west of the kitchen linked to the south-west corner of the Saxon chapel by a small gateway to the precinct; (fn. 17) both the kitchen and the house had been demolished by 1834. (fn. 18)
The main village lay along the road called the Street (fn. 19) running north from the priory to the road from Frocester to King's Stanley, and the open space at its southern end, extending eastwards into the road to Stanley Marsh, was a focal point; two small pieces of green survived there in 1967. A church house was built adjoining the churchyard c. 1502; (fn. 20) it later served as a poorhouse, (fn. 21) and was apparently demolished in the early 19th century. (fn. 22) The area was the scene of the markets and fairs, (fn. 23) and the market-house which stood there was rebuilt in the early 17th century; (fn. 24) the house served as a private dwelling in 1806, (fn. 25) but was apparently pulled down soon afterwards. Two inns, the 'White Hart', mentioned from 1740, (fn. 26) and the 'Cross Keys', mentioned from 1707, (fn. 27) overlooked the marketplace, standing respectively west of the Street and north of the road to Stanley Marsh.
In 1640 eight houses of two to six bays and five houses of two to four spaces were mentioned in the village; (fn. 28) the use of the words bays and spaces perhaps distinguished timber-framed from stonebuilt houses. Most of them probably stood along the Street; eight houses there were mentioned in 1668, (fn. 29) and the road was evidently built up along most of its length in the late 17th century when the name Townsend was applied to the house of the Holbrow family opposite its northern end. (fn. 30) The village suffered a serious fire in 1686 (fn. 31) which apparently destroyed several houses in the Street; leave to rebuild one on the west side was given in 1692. (fn. 32) Tudor House on that side of the Street was apparently unaffected by the fire. The house was recorded from 1392, (fn. 33) and the central part appears to have been a cruck-framed building of three bays containing an open hall; one cruck blade and the foot of another survive, and, in what was formerly the external wall on the east, are two original windows with diagonally-set and closely spaced wooden mullions. A two-storied cross-wing at the north end made the house L-shaped, and later a room and a porch were added in the angle. At that period the hall was made two-storied by the insertion of an upper floor. The next addition was a wing of closestudded timber-framing with a jettied upper story, projecting from the west or rear side of the original block. It was probably in existence by 1559 when the house, described as three rooms under a tiled roof, had also a weaving-shop of two rooms under a thatched roof. (fn. 34) On the east side another closestudded extension forms the two-gabled road frontage of the house. In the late 16th or the 17th century several walls of the house were faced in stone and stone-mullioned windows with dripmoulds were inserted. The house was restored in 1958. (fn. 35) Chapel House to the north, a 17th-century gabled house faced in rough-cast, has unusual stone-mullioned windows with ogee-heads to the lights, apparently added in the 18th century at the same time as the porch with pediment and fluted columns. Further south where the Street broadens out to the old market-place are the 'White Hart', a gabled 17th-century house of rubble, and another 17th-century house faced in rough-cast with a single steep gable. On the east side of the Street there are one 17th-century Cotswold-style house in rubble partly faced in rough-cast and two 19th-century houses. In the early 19th century several stone and brick cottages were built on the east side of the road running north-west from the market-place; other houses were built on the opposite side of the road in the mid 20th century. A council estate was built on the north-west side of the Street in the late 1950s, replacing a timber-framed house. (fn. 36)
To the east of the market-place a row of 17th-century Cotswold-style rubble cottages faces a small green; two were rebuilt in brick in the 19th century. Church Farm to the south-east bears the date 1688 and the initials J.S., perhaps for John Sandford, a younger son of John Sandford of the Priory (d. 1684); (fn. 37) it is a gabled Cotswold-style house with oval windows in the gables. Marsh House at the bend of the road to Stanley Marsh is a large stone house of the earlier 19th century with a parapet and cornice and a porch with Doric columns. To the north a group of stone and brick cottages includes the former workhouse. (fn. 38) Stanley Marsh, where there was at least one house in 1684, (fn. 39) is a fairly large settlement of late-18th- or early-19th-century stone cottages. The Lamb Inn there had opened by 1863. (fn. 40) The road running south from Stanley Marsh has been built up in the mid 20th century and another large development to the west has almost linked it with King's Stanley.
Seven Waters, west of the village, took its name from a series of ponds formed by the Bitton brook and a tributary, extending from south of the priory to north of the road to Frocester where the lowest of the seven ponds drove a fulling-mill; (fn. 41) only two of the ponds survived in 1967. The largest house at Seven Waters, the Tannery south-west of the road junction, was built by James Clutterbuck, a surgeon, in 1770; (fn. 42) from the mid 19th century it was occupied by the owners of the adjoining tanning factory. (fn. 43) It is a brick house with long and short stone quoins and has dormers and sash windows with voussoirs; an extension was made at the rear in the 19th century. To the west is a brick house of c. 1700 later extended and divided into cottages, and the opposite side of the road is lined mainly with late 19th-century houses. Near the Downton turning an Lshaped house, comprising a timber-framed wing and a stone wing, was demolished to make way for new houses in the late 1950s. (fn. 44)
Stanley Downton, in the north of the parish and reached by minor roads from Stanley Marsh and from west of Seven Waters, was the site of a mill from the 16th century or earlier. (fn. 45) There were seven houses there in the early 18th century. (fn. 46) Apart from a small 17th-century farm-house, (fn. 47) and the Fleece Inn, which apparently dates from c. 1700 and has a narrow brick front surmounted by a gable with swept parapets, Downton consists of 19th-century brick buildings. Poplar Gate Lodge on the road to Beard's Mill is an early-19th-century brick house with Gothic windows and low flanking castellated extensions. At Beard's Mill are a large house and cottages and the surviving buildings of a fulling-mill which existed there from the 17th century. (fn. 48)
Twenty-five inhabitants of Leonard Stanley were recorded in 1086, (fn. 49) and nine assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 50) The muster roll of 1542 gives 90 names for Leonard Stanley, the highest number in the hundred. (fn. 51) The number of communicants was estimated at c. 260 in 1551, (fn. 52) and the parish was said to contain 47 households in 1563. (fn. 53) Five new cottages built on the waste of the manor in the first 40 years of the 17th century may indicate a growing population, (fn. 54) and there were 86 families in 1650. (fn. 55) There were said to be 400 people in 90 houses c. 1710, (fn. 56) and 512 people c. 1775. (fn. 57) In 1801 the population was 590; it fell to 538 in 1811, but over the next twenty years it rose rapidly to 942 and c. 80 new houses were built. By 1841 the population had fallen to 864 and it remained about the same until 1871 when there began a gradual fall to 652 in 1911. There was then no rapid change until new building took place in the 1950s, and the population rose from 727 in 1951 to 1,131 in 1961. (fn. 58)
Leonard Stanley with its fairs and its weekly market, for some time the only one in the hundred, was formerly a centre of trade; (fn. 59) it was described as a market-town in 1650. (fn. 60) It declined in importance after the 17th century, and the beginning of the decline was later associated with the fire of 1686. (fn. 61) The village had an inn in 1418 and in 1640; (fn. 62) the 'George' was mentioned in 1674 (fn. 63) but not later, and in 1751 there was the New Inn (fn. 64) in addition to the two inns in the market-place mentioned above. The Clothmakers' Society, meeting at the 'Cross Keys' in 1783, (fn. 65) was probably the friendly society with 160 members recorded in 1803. (fn. 66)
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn paid a brief visit to Leonard Stanley in the summer of 1535. (fn. 67) Richard Clutterbuck of Leonard Stanley (d. 1551) was the ancestor of six branches of the family which during the next three hundred years were prominent as landowners and clothiers in King's Stanley, Eastington, and Frampton. (fn. 68)