A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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The ancient parish of Avening, two miles north of Tetbury, comprised two detached portions separated by a small area of Cherington parish: the larger, western portion, containing the village of Avening, part of Nailsworth, and the hamlets of Forestgreen and Windsoredge was elongated in shape, stretching for seven miles from the Inch brook on the northwest to near the Tetbury-Cirencester road on the south-east; the smaller, eastern portion was a compact area of 1,157 a. north of Cherington parish and comprised the ancient estates of Aston and Lowesmore. (fn. 1) Industrial development in the area around Nailsworth led to the creation of Nailsworth civil parish in 1892 (fn. 2) out of the north-western half of the larger portion of Avening and parts of Horsley and Minchinhampton; the area transferred to Nailsworth from Avening had long been accounted a separate tithing. (fn. 3) In 1935 the detached eastern part of the parish was transferred to Cherington (fn. 4) so that in 1972 Avening parish comprised 2,567 a. The account which follows deals with the ancient parish except for the area, comprising 775 a., (fn. 5) included within Nailsworth, which is treated below.
The western part of the parish had the Avening stream, from which the parish was named, (fn. 6) for part of its northern boundary, and much of the eastern boundary followed an old road from Minchinhampton to Malmesbury. The southern boundary followed ancient field boundaries for two miles before following the Cotswold ridgeway (fn. 7) as far as Longtree Bottom, from where the boundary continued northwestwards for two miles along a path to a junction called Shipton's Grave. In 1892 the boundary between Nailsworth and Avening was drawn northwards from there along an ancient lane leading through Hazel wood to a crossing of the Avening stream at the Iron Mill. (fn. 8) The boundaries of the detached eastern portion of the parish followed old field boundaries.
With the exception of the valleys of the Avening stream and its tributary, the Ledgemore brook, most of the parish lies on a plateau at a height of c. 500 ft. The valleys are formed in the Inferior Oolite with a band of fuller's earth on the higher slopes. Strata of the Great Oolite are found on the higher ground which is formed principally by Forest Marble. (fn. 9) The soil is stone brash and mostly given over to arable farming, formerly conducted in open fields which covered most of the plateau. (fn. 10) Woodland was recorded at Avening in 896 (fn. 11) and measured 2 leagues by ½ league in 1086 when some was evidently in the Nailsworth area; a hawks' eyrie was then recorded at Avening. (fn. 12) The tenants at Avening in the later 12th century complained that timber sales and charcoalburning had halved the value of the woodland, including Hazel wood (formerly Hazel holt) near the western boundary of the parish; (fn. 13) Hazel wood was fenced off c. 1200, presumably to promote its recovery, and three several woods, groves of hazel among the open fields, were also recorded then. (fn. 14) In 1542 Hazel wood was said to be a common wood measuring 200 a. and planted with beech trees of 80 years' growth, (fn. 15) and in 1656 it was said to cover 300 a. (fn. 16) In the later 18th century the woodland of the parish supplied timber for gun-stocks, card-boards, and saddle-trees. (fn. 17) During the earlier 19th century a large part of Hazel wood was cleared for agriculture, (fn. 18) and in 1901 the woodland of the parish measured 331 a. (fn. 19) and included three small areas of park-land. A park had been created at Avening Court east of the village, and Gatcombe park crossed the northern boundary of the parish; during the later 19th century another area of plantation was laid out as grounds for Avening Lodge west of the village. (fn. 20)
A number of ancient routes of local importance traversed the parish. The Minchinhampton-Tetbury road, which runs from north to south through the parish, was said to be in disrepair in 1667, (fn. 21) and in 1758 it was turnpiked. (fn. 22) The old route from Avening village to Nailsworth ran along the hillside through Hazel wood (fn. 23) until 1822 when a new turnpike road was made along the valley bottom. (fn. 24) On the southern boundary of the parish the Minchinhampton- Tetbury road is crossed by a road which is on the line of the Great Cotswold ridgeway (fn. 25) and appears to have been used by the Romans. (fn. 26) It continued to be of some importance as a route to Cirencester and was called London way by 1612 (fn. 27) and in 1824 was said to be a coach road. (fn. 28) Star Farm, at its junction with an old alternative route from Minchinhampton to Tetbury, (fn. 29) was formerly called Star and Garter Farm (fn. 30) and tradition records its use as an inn. (fn. 31)
Before it was turnpiked the Minchinhampton- Tetbury road may have descended the north side of the valley by Step's Lane to cross the stream further to the west, for the west part of Avening village, including the church, the rectory, (fn. 32) and a number of 17th-century houses, is the oldest. The village later developed in an eastwards direction to the turnpike route, on which stands the Cross inn, an 18th century building recorded as an inn since 1856. (fn. 33) Two substantial residences were built near the church. Avening House, a two-storey house with attics built by Robert George before 1803, was enlarged after its sale by the George family to Edmund Kimber in 1870 (fn. 34) by the addition of two-storey equivalent north and south wings and a Doric porch to the designs of William Clissold. (fn. 35) In 1972 the house was used by the education department of the Gloucestershire county council for short residential courses for schoolchildren. (fn. 36) Old Quarries, a similar but larger house, was built in the mid 19th century by the rector T. R. Brooke, (fn. 37) and was also the residence of his successor Francis de Paravicini until 1897. (fn. 38) The house was enlarged c. 1938 by building a gallery to house the picture collection of Arthur Lee, Viscount Lee of Fareham (d. 1947), the then owner. (fn. 39) In 1972 the house was used as a hostel by the Home Farm Trust, a voluntary body formed to help mentally handicapped young adults. (fn. 40)
Much building, including a Baptist chapel, was done in the village during the 19th century. Other cottages were built on Point Road which runs from near the Cross inn to Avening Lodge. (fn. 41) Also on Point Road is Church Farm, an 18th-century house with extensive farm-buildings. The farm-house was doubled in size by the addition of a south residential block in the 19th century when it was owned with an estate of c. 570 a. by members of a family called Wiltshire. (fn. 42) There were said to be 13 cottages at West End near Avening Lodge in 1858, when in Avening village itself 15 houses and 165 cottages were recorded. (fn. 43) In the mid 20th century a large council estate was built immediately north-east of the village and a smaller, private residential estate was under construction in the centre of the village, on the south bank of the Avening stream, in 1972.
There was little development east of the Tetbury- Minchinhampton turnpike in Avening village but in 1858 15 cottages were recorded near the 17th-century manor-house, Avening Court, which stands ½ mile east of the village. (fn. 44) North of Avening Court a settlement, called Nag's Head by 1824 (fn. 45) from the publichouse recorded there until 1939, (fn. 46) emerged in the later 18th century. In 1858 the settlement contained 31 cottages, (fn. 47) some of which were derelict in 1972.
The eastern, detached portion of the parish, called Lowesmore or Aston, was recorded as a vill c. 1248 (fn. 48) and 11 people were taxed at Aston in 1327. (fn. 49) A chapel was recorded there in 1491 (fn. 50) but by the early 18th century there were only 3 houses, (fn. 51) presumably including the houses of Aston and Lowesmore farms. In 1972 the two farm-houses (fn. 52) and a few labourers' cottages remained.
In addition to public-houses already mentioned, the parish had the New Inn, recorded from 1749 and housed in an 18th-century building on the west side of New Inn Lane, used as a private house in 1972. (fn. 53) Of others recorded in the later 19th century, when there were usually five public-houses in Avening, (fn. 54) the Bell inn remained in 1972. A friendly society met at the New Inn in 1828. (fn. 55) In 1928 the former tithebarn by the churchyard was converted to a village hall as a memorial to the war dead. (fn. 56)
Population figures for Avening parish before 1891 include that part of the parish later transferred to Nailsworth. (fn. 57) In 1327 38 people were assessed for tax in Avening. (fn. 58) In 1551 there were said to be 260 communicants in Avening (fn. 59) and the population apparently remained stable until 1650. (fn. 60) By the early 18th century there were 600 inhabitants living in 160 houses, 60 of which were at Nailsworth. (fn. 61) The population of Avening in 1801 was 1,057 and numbers increased to 2,396 in 1831, after which there was a steady decline to 2,018 people in 1881. The formation of Nailsworth parish left only 894 people at Avening in 1891 and, after a slight increase, numbers declined to 823 by 1911. The population remained fairly stable until 1931 but the further boundary change reduced the number of inhabitants to 768 in 1951. Building in the village increased the numbers to 790 by 1961. (fn. 62)