A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5, Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, the Forest of Dean. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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The Parish and former market town of Mitcheldean lies 16.5 km. west of Gloucester. (fn. 1) Mitcheldean, once part of the Forest of Dean, (fn. 2) was usually called Dean until the mid 13th century. (fn. 3) Afterwards it was generally known as Micheldean or Great Dean, in the Latin form Dean Magna, to distinguish it from nearby Littledean. (fn. 4) The form Mitcheldean was in use by the mid 17th century (fn. 5) and the parish was occasionally called Michael Dean, from the dedication of its church, by that time. (fn. 6) Littledean and presumably Abenhall had tenurial links with Mitcheldean (fn. 7) and were regarded as members of it in 1316. (fn. 8) The town of Mitcheldean, which lay partly in Abenhall, was a centre for industries based on the products of the adjacent Forest. It supported a cloth industry by the later 13th century and had a market from 1328. The town prospered in the 17th century but was in decline as an industrial centre and market by the end of the 18th and became primarily a shopping centre of local importance. After the Second World War the presence of a factory owned by Rank Xerox Ltd. was a major influence on Mitcheldean, which expanded as a residential area.
The ancient parish of Mitcheldean covered only 627 a. and was irregular in shape with a detached part to the west at Blackwell meadows. The main part, containing 579 a., (fn. 9) lay above 125 m. at the head of the valley of Longhope brook, which is drained to the south-east, and rose to c. 200 m. on the side of Breakheart hill to the east. To the west, above the town, was the extraparochial Forest of Dean, into which the parish made a substantial indent, rising steeply up Stenders hill and reaching 275 m. at the Wilderness in the south-eastern corner. The parish boundaries, which were those of the manor of Mitcheldean as described in 1619, (fn. 10) were marked mostly by hedges and lanes. The south-eastern boundary with Abenhall included a section of the Gloucester-Monmouth road, following the bed of a stream which ran only in the winter months, (fn. 11) and it crossed the upland area of the Wilderness. Blackwell meadows, separated from the rest of the parish by part of the Forest known as Mitcheldean Meend, was a compact area of 48 a. on the boundary with Herefordshire (fn. 12) and paid tithes to Mitcheldean by 1583. (fn. 13) It was transferred to East Dean civil parish under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882. Mitcheldean civil parish, which as a result of other changes in the 1880s was bounded on part of the north by Herefordshire, was enlarged considerably in 1935, when Abenhall and part of Longhope to the north-east were added to it, and again in 1953, when it gained a substantial part of East Dean to the west including Blackwell meadows. The area added in 1953 also contained Lea Bailey Inclosures, most of which, in a peninsula of the county extending north-westwards, was transferred to three Herefordshire parishes in 1965 to leave Mitcheldean with 1,064 ha. (2,629 a.). (fn. 14) The following account deals with the main part of the ancient parish and the northern end of Abenhall, including part of the Wilderness, where settlement and economic activity were an integral part of the history of Mitcheldean town. Blackwell meadows is treated as part of the Forest.
Mitcheldean lies on the Old Red Sandstone save in the south-west where the high ground on Stenders hill and at the Wilderness is formed by carboniferous limestone. In the latter an outcrop of iron ore runs north-south in a thin band. (fn. 15) Longhope brook, which rises north of the town, was known in 1436 as Casbrook (later Carisbrook). (fn. 16) Drainage was also provided by a tributary stream rising west of, and flowing down through, the town, where it was known by 1625 as the churchyard brook. (fn. 17) Mitcheldean once had considerable waste land but by the 16th century most of the land had been inclosed and was used mainly for meadow or pasture. The principal woods surviving in the late 1830s were Scully grove (14 a.) on Stenders hill, Lady grove (17 a.) occupying a strip of land on the hillside east of the Wilderness, and Land grove (27 a.) lying east of Mitcheldean above Longhope brook and belonging to the Colchester family's Wilderness estate. (fn. 18) A park mentioned in 1347 (fn. 19) was presumably located east of the town where parkland, belonging to part of Mitcheldean manor held with Abenhall manor, was used for farming by the mid 15th century. (fn. 20) Part of the Wilderness was included in a paddock or small park formed by 1740 for the Colchesters' mansion there. (fn. 21) Quarries at the Wilderness and in the valley of Longhope brook were exploited on a large scale in the 19th century and the early 20th. Abandoned limestone workings on Stenders hill were purchased in 1974 by the Gloucestershire Trust for Nature Conservation and have been designated a site of special scientific interest. (fn. 22)
A road from Littledean by way of Abenhall, said to have been part of a Roman route linking Lydney and the Severn crossing at Newnham with Ariconium, near Weston under Penyard (Herefs.), (fn. 23) was formerly the principal thoroughfare through Mitcheldean. North of the town it forked for Newent and Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.), (fn. 24) the Ross road by way of Lea (Herefs., formerly Glos. and Herefs.) forming the way towards Hereford mentioned in 1320. (fn. 25) The Newnham- Hereford route, on which traffic was subject to toll in Mitcheldean before the 17th century, (fn. 26) remained of some importance in the early 19th century. (fn. 27) In the south of the town, on the boundary between Mitcheldean and Abenhall, it was crossed by the Gloucester-Monmouth road, the area around the crossroads being known as the Merrin (formerly Mere End). (fn. 28) On the Gloucester side the road, which turns southeastwards at Barton Corner east of the town, (fn. 29) had been used by the Romans. (fn. 30) On the Monmouth side it originally left the town by Silver Street, which ran southwards from the Merrin (fn. 31) and in the 16th century was used by traffic for Littledean, (fn. 32) but its steep ascent to the Forest over Plump hill was difficult to negotiate and in the mid 18th century traffic usually followed an alternative route turning northwards at the Merrin and westwards in the town centre to climb Stenders hill to the Forest. The Stenders road, which also carried much of Mitcheldean's market trade, (fn. 33) had been the way to Ruardean in 1411. (fn. 34)
In 1747 the Gloucester road, beginning at the Merrin, was turnpiked. In 1769 the powers of its trustees were extended to cover the principal roads through the town and parish, thereby including Mitcheldean in a network of turnpiked roads reaching also to Ross, Hereford, and Newnham. (fn. 35) Those roads remained turnpiked until 1880 (fn. 36) and tollgates were placed at the Merrin, at the northern end of the town, and on Stenders hill. (fn. 37) The road up Stenders hill remained an important route to the Forest after 1841 when the Forest of Dean turnpike trust built a new road leading south-westwards from the Merrin and over Plump hill towards Monmouth. The new road, which incorporated a straightened section of Silver Street, (fn. 38) was a turnpike until 1888. (fn. 39) After the completion of the railway line from Gloucester to Hereford by the Great Western Railway in 1855 Mitcheldean was served from a station on the Ross road 1½ mile (3 km.) north of the town in Lea. (fn. 40) The line was closed in 1964. (fn. 41)
The town of Mitcheldean was created by building alongside the road from Littledean to Newent and Ross and, to a lesser extent, along the road to Stenders and the plan that it had assumed by the late 14th century remained basically the same until the mid 20th. The road junction in the town centre is known as the Cross and the main road running northwards is called High Street. South of the Cross the Littledean road leads over a rise known as Hawker hill and down Merrin Street to the Merrin, from where the town developed southwards along Silver Street. The Stenders road running westwards from the Cross was known by 1469 as the Millend (later Millend Street) from a mill standing on the churchyard brook to the north, (fn. 42) but the section west of the entrance to New Street has been renamed Stenders Road. New Street, which leads southwards and turns westwards to run parallel with the road, had taken that name by 1396 (fn. 43) and was described later as leading towards the Wilderness. (fn. 44) Other less important streets included Brook Street, so called by 1384, (fn. 45) which ran north-eastwards from High Street by the churchyard brook. (fn. 46)
The early development of the town occurred around the Cross. A cross erected there by 1430 was known as the high cross by 1471. (fn. 47) It incorporated a covered area for market traders in the mid 17th century (fn. 48) and displayed a clock in the mid 18th. (fn. 49) To the north-west, on the south side of the churchyard brook, stood the church and, further west, a medieval manor house. The churchyard was hemmed in tightly on the east by buildings facing High Street and on the west by a lane (later Church Lane) leading northwards towards Lea Bailey. (fn. 50) South-east of the churchyard was an area known in the mid 18th century as the Scallions. (fn. 51) Expansion of the town northwards along High Street was under way by 1320 (fn. 52) and a site for the market had been established beyond the churchyard brook by 1431. (fn. 53) The lines of the market place have been obscured but they evidently denned a small area on the east side of the street and contained a cross or market house, known in 1537 as the chipping cross, (fn. 54) which was rebuilt in the mid 1760s. (fn. 55) The buildings in High Street also included a row of four dwellings known in 1488 as the High Rents, (fn. 56) which belonged to a chantry and were used in 1549 as poorhouses. (fn. 57) By the 16th century some houses had been built on the road between the market place and the fork of the Newent and Ross roads, that area being known in 1503 as Garons End (later Townsend). (fn. 58) Shrewsbury barn, on the Ross road, had been pulled down by 1696. (fn. 59) In the early 17th century New Street contained 8 dwellings said to have been erected on waste land cleared from the Forest. (fn. 60)
The Merrin, at the southern end of the town, had been settled by the mid 14th century (fn. 61) and a cross erected at the crossroads there by 1411. (fn. 62) By that time building had begun in Merrin Street and Silver Street, (fn. 63) the latter so called in 1825. (fn. 64) Thomas Pyrke, a member of a prominent landed family established at Mitcheldean by the late 14th century, (fn. 65) resided at the Merrin in 1663. (fn. 66) The oldest surviving building there, Abenhall House on the east side of the Littledean road, was enlarged in the 18th century. By the later 18th century several terraced cottages had been built in the southern part of Silver Street, but along the Gloucester road the town's development had been limited to two houses on the south side. (fn. 67)
From the mid 16th century many buildings in the town were rebuilt (fn. 68) and more houses and shops were provided by infilling. Among the few early buildings to escape later redevelopment is a row of three timber-framed houses of the 16th century on the south side of Millend Street. It includes, in the centre, the former Jovial Colliers inn and, to the east, a cottage once occupied as two dwellings. (fn. 69) An outbuilding of 5 bays northeast of the churchyard and a timber-framed house on the east side of Merrin Street possibly also date from the 16th century. The town, inhibited from spreading along streets leading off High Street by mounds of slag or cinders from old ironworks, (fn. 70) developed in its basic plan into a long and very narrow, crooked street of low buildings. (fn. 71) A house had been erected at the Bull Ring, the area east of High Street and south of Brook Street, by 1635. (fn. 72) The south part of the market place, on the corner of High Street, was filled before 1635 by a building which later became the White Horse inn, (fn. 73) but the north part remained largely open in 1705. (fn. 74) East of the Cross a tall gabled house, possibly that called the New House in 1609 (fn. 75) was known as the Dunstone later in the century. (fn. 76) By 1740 it had ] become the George inn. (fn. 77) The top part of the building, including the gables, was removed in 1947. (fn. 78) A row of six dwellings at the Cross, on the west side of the Littledean road, was known in 1610 as Messengers Rents. (fn. 79) In the later 18th century the town fell into economic decline and decay. (fn. 80) The high cross was pulled down in the mid 1770s (fn. 81) and many buildings were in ruins c. 1790. (fn. 82) In the early 19th century there was much rebuilding and by 1822 most of the derelict buildings had been replaced or removed. (fn. 83) Several of the town's more substantial houses date from that period, including two in New Street, on one of which a stone bearing the date 1683 and the initials R. and M.D. has been reset, and one at the Merrin. Tusculum, a large house in grounds north of Stenders Road, may have been older; (fn. 84) it was demolished c. 1970. Between 1828 and the late 1850s several buildings in front of the church in High Street were pulled down, one or two at a time, to enlarge the churchyard, (fn. 85) which in 1860 was also extended on the west following a diversion of Church Lane. (fn. 86) The rectory house west of Hawker Hill, on the Littledean road, was rebuilt in 1849 (fn. 87) and a school was built in its grounds, lower down towards the Merrin, in 1850. (fn. 88) New buildings in the later 19th century included a brewery in Brook Street in 1868, (fn. 89) and the opening of cement works on Stenders hill may have encouraged the building of several brick houses in Stenders Road at the turn of the century. (fn. 90) Most of the houses at the Abenhall end of the town date from the 19th century. Abenhall Lodge (formerly Woodville), the most substantial, stands south-east of the Merrin and was built in the later 1860s, probably for the solicitor J. J. G. Borlase. (fn. 91) A house on the Gloucester road was built in the early 1850s as a manse. (fn. 92) Council house building began in 1938 with six dwellings at Townsend. (fn. 93)
The town, which had changed little in extent from the late 14th century, expanded considerably after the Second World War. The growth was stimulated by the factory of British Acoustic Films (later Rank Xerox), which was established in the Brook Street brewery. (fn. 94) Many council houses were built particularly on the east side of the town near the factory, beginning in 1949 with the Eastern Avenue estate at the Bull Ring, (fn. 95) and private housing was provided later in estates on the west side of the town and west of the Ross road. The factory was itself considerably enlarged, notably in the early 1970s when farmland to the north-east was levelled for the construction of workshops, and it came to dominate the town's appearance as well as its economic and social life. (fn. 96) To prevent traffic congestion in the town the main road was widened in places from the early 1960s, particularly in High Street where many shops and houses were demolished, the Ross road was diverted before 1971 to leave the Newent road further out, (fn. 97) and an entrance to the factory was made from the Gloucester road at Barton Corner in the early 1970s. (fn. 98) In 1964 part of Brook Street and a lane to Court Farm, which the factory was to cover, were closed. (fn. 99) In the redevelopment of the town a row of shops, a library (1984), and a surgery (1983) were built on the east side of High Street (fn. 100) and several houses were provided by small infill schemes. Other new buildings included an old people's home east of Townsend, opened by the county council in 1971, and a row of council maisonettes for the elderly on the east side of Hawker Hill. (fn. 101)
Settlement outside the town was limited to a few farmsteads and scattered cottages. (fn. 102) Court Farm, immediately north-east of the town on the site of the chief house of the Ayleway family's estate in the early 17th century, was pulled down c. 1970 to make way for an extension of the Rank Xerox factory. (fn. 103) Knockalls, on the Ross road, was the farmhouse of a small freehold estate belonging in 1693 evidently to Sir William Forester (fn. 104) and in 1773 to Edward Hearne. (fn. 105) It was rebuilt in the early 19th century and became part of the Wilderness estate in 1907. (fn. 106) At the Wilderness a mansion formerly belonging to the Colchester family dates from the late 17th century. (fn. 107)
Thirty-eight inhabitants of the estate called Dean were recorded in 1086 (fn. 108) and twenty-five inhabitants of Mitcheldean and Abenhall were assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 109) The muster roll of 1542 gives 52 and 30 names for Mitcheldean and Abenhall respectively. (fn. 110) In 1548 there were said to be 268 communicants in Mitcheldean parish (fn. 111) and in 1563 92 households. (fn. 112) The number of communicants in 1603 was 366 (fn. 113) and of families in 1650 more than 250. (fn. 114) The parish's population, which included most of the townspeople, was estimated c. 1710 at 600 in 120 houses and c. 1775, when the place was in economic decline, was put at 590. (fn. 115) It had fallen to 563 by 1801 and to 535 by 1811, after which it rose gradually, apart from a slight decline in the 1840s, to reach 742 by 1871, when Abenhall's population, which included the rest of the townspeople, was also at a peak. A gradual drop in Mitcheldean's population, only partly accounted for by the loss of Blackwell meadows, then followed and by 1931 it had sunk to 511. The enlargement of the parish in 1935 increased its population considerably and industrial development and new housing from the 1940s brought a substantial rise in the numbers living in the town; in 1951 the parish as constituted before 1935 had 762 inhabitants. The boundary changes of 1953 and 1965 also greatly altered the parish's population, which in 1971 was 2,211. In 1981 there were 2,741 residents, of whom all but 62 were in private households. (fn. 116)
In the early 17th century Mitcheldean had a common water supply (fn. 117) piped from a spring in Scully grove to several cisterns in the town, one of them at the high cross. (fn. 118) There were also several public watering places north of the town, including Carisbrook pools by the Newent road. (fn. 119) The cisterns were closed c. 1815 and pumps were placed over them. (fn. 120) The piped system, maintained by the vestry out of parish rates, had been extended by 1844 to provide six pumps. (fn. 121) It also supplied some houses and was taken over by a limited company formed in 1868, which constructed a small reservoir near the source. (fn. 122) The supply was later polluted by cement works next to the reservoir (fn. 123) and before 1900 a borehole was sunk at the works and a new reservoir built higher up within the Forest. The company, which came under the control of Francis Wintle, the owner of a brewery in the town, also supplied a few houses in the Abenhall part of the town. (fn. 124) There public wells at the Merrin and Silver Street, the former recorded in 1590, (fn. 125) were sealed in 1929 following the provision in Abenhall of a mains supply from the Cinderford waterworks. The rural district council extended that supply throughout the town after the Second World War and took over the water company's concern in 1955. (fn. 126) The churchyard brook was long used as a sewer (fn. 127) and in 1867 the vestry culverted the section through the town below the churchyard. (fn. 128) From the 1890s the sanitary authority built several drains in the town and in 1936 and 1937 it constructed a sewerage system with a treatment plant by Longhope brook. (fn. 129) In the later 1860s the vestry lit the town with gas supplied by the Mitcheldean Gas Light and Coke Co., which had been formed in 1865 and which built its works east of the town in Brook Street. (fn. 130) The works, which passed into private hands before 1897, supplied gas to shops and houses in the parish and to the Wilderness. (fn. 131) At nationalization in 1948 they ceased to manufacture gas but were used for storage until c. 1970 when the site was incorporated in the Rank Xerox factory. (fn. 132) Electricity was brought to the town c. 1930 by the West Gloucestershire Power Co. (fn. 133)
Although only two innholders and one victualler were recorded in the parish in 1608, (fn. 134) Mitcheldean had many inns and alehouses and at least 14 people were brewing and selling ale in 1625. (fn. 135) The comparatively high number of inns in the 17th and 18th centuries reflected the town's status as a market and industrial centre as well as its position on roads to Newnham, Hereford, Gloucester, and South Wales. Most inns were near the Cross and the market place. South of the Cross the Swan or Black Swan, on the east side of Hawker Hill, and the George, on the west side, had opened by 1581 and 1620 respectively. (fn. 136) Both had closed by 1740 when the Dunstone, east of the Cross, was trading as an inn under the sign of the George. (fn. 137) It became the town's principal coaching inn (fn. 138) and in the mid 19th century, before the advent of the railway, remained a stopping place for coaches to Gloucester and Coleford. (fn. 139) In the late 17th century and the early 18th at least three inns, one called the Shears in 1695, faced High Street from the churchyard. (fn. 140) Among the inns of or near the market place were the Garons, recorded in 1616, (fn. 141) and the Talbot, opened on the east side by 1619 and closed by 1696. To the south the building on the corner of High Street was used as part of the Talbot in 1642 (fn. 142) and had taken the sign of the White Horse by 1674 to become an important meeting place and, in the late 18th century, a contender for the town's coaching trade. (fn. 143) The Swan or White Swan opened north of the market house c. 1712. (fn. 144) Further south, on the west side of High Street, the Lion or Red Lion opened by 1621. (fn. 145) A house at the junction of the Ross and Newent roads had the name of the Bell before 1581 (fn. 146) and an inn with that name in 1740 was in New Street. (fn. 147) The Seven Stars, opened by 1756, was on the west side of Hawker Hill. (fn. 148) At the Merrin crossroads an inn, which had probably opened by 1651, was called the Cross Keys in 1703. (fn. 149) The positions of some of the town's 18th-century inns, including the King's Arms, a coaching inn advertised in 1764 but closed by 1779, are not known. (fn. 150) The George, Red Lion, Seven Stars, and White Horse remained open in 1839 when Millend Street had the Jovial Colliers and High Street also the Rose and Crown. (fn. 151) The Lamb inn, facing the Monmouth road at the Merrin, opened shortly before an Abenhall friendly society held its first feast day there in 1856 (fn. 152) and the Greyhound opened in High Street c. 1865. (fn. 153) The Seven Stars and Rose and Crown had closed by 1910 (fn. 154) and only the George, Lamb, and White Horse survived by the mid 1960s and remained open in 1988. The former Red Lion was a youth hostel from 1936 until its demolition in the mid 1980s. (fn. 155)
A friendly society was meeting at the White Horse inn in 1809. (fn. 156) Another society met at the George from 1838 and one for women at the town's charity schools from 1844. (fn. 157) The market house was converted as a town hall in 1861. (fn. 158) An institute opened by 1885 housed a reading room. It closed c. 1900 (fn. 159) but its work was revived for a few years by a club for young men formed in 1904. (fn. 160) Mitcheldean had its own brass band by 1843. (fn. 161) It lapsed during the First World War. (fn. 162) Cricket and rugby football clubs were formed before 1894. (fn. 163) Local activities in the late 19th century included an annual ploughing match from 1864. (fn. 164) After the First World War the centre of social activities was St. Michael's Hall, a former chapel in Stenders Road, which was demolished c. 1970. (fn. 165) In 1935 Francis Wintle gave the parish council a recreation ground on the west side of Townsend (fn. 166) and in 1975 a community centre was built there. (fn. 167) A branch of the county library was housed in a new building in High Street from 1984. (fn. 168) In the 1960s and 1970s accommodation was provided at the Rank Xerox factory for social and sporting activities. (fn. 169) An earlier benefactor was the industrialist Timothy Bennett (d. 1861), who on Christmas Day distributed beef to poor parishioners at his house in the town. (fn. 170)
In April 1643 part of the royalist army led by Prince Maurice was quartered at Mitcheldean, (fn. 171) and in July 1645 the Scots army commanded by Alexander Leslie, earl of Leven, camped there before laying siege to Hereford. (fn. 172)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
Mitcheldean was presumably in those lands called Dean totalling 2 hides and 2½ yardlands, exempted by Edward the Confessor from the payment of geld in return for the guarding of the Forest of Dean and held in 1066 by the thegns Godric, Elric, and Ernui and in 1086 by William son of Norman. (fn. 173) William's estate seems to have passed to his son Hugh (fl. 1130) and later to Miles of Gloucester (d. 1143) and his son Roger, earl of Hereford, from whom William of Dean held an estate and an office in the Forest for 20s. rent. (fn. 174) That estate became known as the manor of DEAN or MITCHELDEAN (fn. 175) and the office was probably the woodwardship of the later bailiwick of Mitcheldean. William was described as the king's forester and his son Geoffrey of Dean (fn. 176) held the bailiwick in 1199. (fn. 177) Geoffrey's son William, recorded in the early 13th century as a tenant of the Crown by serjeanty, (fn. 178) was presumably the William of Dean (d. c. 1259) who held a moiety of the manor, comprising 2 ploughlands and 6 marks rent in Mitcheldean, from the Crown for a cash rent of 10s. (fn. 179) Custody of the bailiwick had been forfeited to the Crown in 1250. (fn. 180) William's estate passed to his descendants, who paid the rent to the St. Briavels castle estate. (fn. 181) The bailiwick, from which a separate bailiwick of Littledean was created before 1282, remained in the custody of others until 1319 or later, (fn. 182) but by 1384 it was held with part of Mitcheldean manor by Joan of Dean. (fn. 183) It apparently remained with the lords of that part until the late 18th century. (fn. 184)
William of Dean's moiety of Mitcheldean manor passed at his death c. 1259 to his son Henry of Dean, (fn. 185) sometimes also surnamed of Lasborough. (fn. 186) From Henry (d. c. 1292) it descended in turn to his son William of Dean (d. c. 1310) and to William's son William of Dean (d. c. 1319). The latter's heirs were his infant daughters Joan and Isabel (fn. 187) and in 1320 their mother Isabel was granted his lands for their use. (fn. 188) By 1328 the moiety of Mitcheldean manor was in the hands of William's elder daughter Joan and her husband John Esger. (fn. 189) By 1334 Joan had married Ralph Baynham (ap Eynon), who was dead in 1366, (fn. 190) and later she granted a rent of £10 from the manor to her son Thomas Baynham, who was probably dead in 1376 when the rent was confirmed to his wife Joan. Joan of Dean was alive in 1384 when her heir was said to be her daughter Margaret, wife of William of the hall, constable of Grosmont (Mon.), (fn. 191) but by 1395 her share of the manor had passed to John Baynham, a minor and the son and heir of Thomas Baynham. (fn. 192) John (fl. 1411) (fn. 193) had been succeeded by 1418 by Robert Baynham (d. 1436), whose share of the manor was described as two thirds and by then evidently included the right to fill two of every three vacancies in Mitcheldean rectory. Robert's son and heir Thomas, a minor, (fn. 194) by 1471 also held the other part of the manor, together with Abenhall, in the right of his second wife Alice Walwyn. At his death in 1500 his own part passed to Sir Alexander Baynham, his son by his first marriage, (fn. 195) and from Sir Alexander (d. 1524) the estate, by then usually known as the manor of Mitcheldean, descended, apparently in turn, to his sons John (d. 1528) and William (fn. 196) (d. 1568). William's son and heir Robert died in 1572 leaving his brother Joseph as his heir but William's widow Anne retained the manor in jointure in 1573. (fn. 197) Joseph was apparently seised of the manor in 1574, when he granted it to Thomas Horn, (fn. 198) and 1594, (fn. 199) but in 1608 it was held by Sir Robert Woodruff in the right of his wife Mary, the widow of Robert Baynham. (fn. 200) Mary, who survived Sir Robert Woodruff (d. 1609), died in 1610 (fn. 201) and the manor reverted to Joseph Baynham. Joseph (d. 1613) was succeeded by his son Alexander, (fn. 202) who sold his Mitcheldean estate in 1619 to Nicholas Roberts (fn. 203) of London and later of Stanton Harcourt (Oxon.). (fn. 204)
Nicholas, who in 1630 purchased an estate in Mitcheldean and Abenhall including much of the Wilderness, (fn. 205) died in 1637. His estate descended with land he had acquired in Westbury-on-Severn, being purchased with it in 1641 by Richard Colchester, (fn. 206) and from the late 17th century was centred on a house built at THE WILDERNESS by Duncombe Colchester. Duncombe, who was knighted in 1674 and died in 1694, settled the new house and its land in 1689 on the marriage of his son and heir Maynard and Jane Clarke (d. 1741). Maynard (d. 1715) (fn. 207) left Mitcheldean manor in turn to his brother Henry (d. 1719) and Henry's son Maynard, (fn. 208) who added the remainder of the manor to the Wilderness estate in 1740. (fn. 209) After the death of a later Maynard Colchester in 1860 the Colchester estates passed to his sisters Dorothea, Henrietta Davies, and Arabella and his greatnephew Maynard Willoughby Wemyss as tenants in common. Henrietta, to whom Arabella and Dorothea conveyed their interests in return for annuities, died in 1877 leaving her share of the estates to Maynard and her niece Dorothea Barton. Maynard, who assumed the surname Wemyss-Colchester, changed in 1882 to Colchester-Wemyss, enlarged the Wilderness estate in the period 1878-82 and bought out Dorothea Barton's interest in it in 1899. (fn. 210) The house had been sold with 41 a. in 1887 to Helen Lucas. (fn. 211) M. W. Colchester-Wemyss disposed of most of the remaining land c. 1919, (fn. 212) and in 1930, when he was succeeded as lord of the manor by his son Sir Maynard Francis Colchester-Wemyss, the principal landowner in Mitcheldean was Francis Wintle, (fn. 213) the former owner of a brewery in the town. (fn. 214)
The ancient manor house, standing west of the church, (fn. 215) presumably represented the house recorded on William of Dean's estate in 1319 (fn. 216) and the Baynhams' residence in the early 15th century. (fn. 217) The manor house, occupied by a tenant by 1437, became known as the Court Hall or House (fn. 218) and was in disrepair in 1642. It had been pulled down by 1696 when the Colchesters held courts elsewhere on their estate. (fn. 219)
The Wilderness, also called Hill House, was begun by Duncombe Colchester before 1672 (fn. 220) on a site commanding extensive views over the Forest of Dean and Vale of Gloucester. (fn. 221) It probably had an L-shaped plan and parts of its walls survive in the south-eastern corner of the existing house. In the 1690s it was occupied by Duncombe's son-in-law Nathaniel Pyrke (fn. 222) and in 1715, when it had 25 rooms, it was the home of Jane Colchester (d. 1741). (fn. 223) After her death it was the Colchesters' principal residence (fn. 224) and by 1785 the south front had been extended westwards. (fn. 225) In 1824 the house was rebuilt and remodelled by Elizabeth Colchester, who added the service wing on the north-west and a room to the north of the new main staircase. (fn. 226) Shortly afterwards a billiard room was built to the north of that room and by the late 1870s a south-facing conservatory was added at the north-eastern corner of the billiard room. (fn. 227) From 1884 the Wilderness was used as a sanatorium for women from Barnwood House Hospital, the trustees of which bought the house and its grounds from F. L. Lucas in 1896. (fn. 228) After the sanatorium was closed in 1919 the East Dean and District Joint Hospital Board purchased the house for use as an isolation hospital. (fn. 229) Later, until 1965, it was a geriatric hospital and in 1968 the county education committee bought it for use as a residential centre for field studies, (fn. 230) which it remained in 1988. To the south-west an 18thcentury range of two storeys had become a coach house and stables by 1840. (fn. 231) In 1785 the house's grounds included an enclosed forecourt to the south, beyond which were avenues or walks to the south and south-west, and a terrace to the east. (fn. 232) The forecourt had been removed and a second terrace created by 1840. (fn. 233)
By the 1240s a moiety of Mitcheldean manor was held from the Crown by Ralph of Abenhall for 10s. rent. (fn. 234) It evidently descended with his Abenhall manor (fn. 235) to Alice Walwyn, whose husband Thomas Baynham (fn. 236) (d. 1500) owned the other moiety. (fn. 237) Alice, who later married Sir Walter Dennis, died in 1518 and the Abenhall estate, which her son Sir Christopher Baynham inherited, retained a moiety of Mitcheldean, (fn. 238) described as a third of the manor in 1611 when the estate passed to the Vaughan family. (fn. 239) In 1696 the Vaughans' part of Mitcheldean was purchased by Nathaniel Rudge, a mercer in the town, and in 1714 his mortgagee Augustine Rock, a Bristol stuffmaker, sold it to William Hughes, a Mitcheldean attorney. (fn. 240) William died intestate in 1723 (fn. 241) and Maynard Colchester purchased his share of the manor from his widow Anne and son William in 1740, (fn. 242) thereby uniting the two parts of the manor in the Wilderness estate. (fn. 243)
An estate mostly comprising leasehold land in Mitcheldean and Abenhall belonged to William Bridgeman, who was given part of it, including a house in Mitcheldean, by his father John (d. 1548). (fn. 244) William, who in 1549 purchased some land belonging to a chantry in Mitcheldean church, (fn. 245) died in 1581 and his son and heir Thomas (fn. 246) sold bits of the estate piecemeal to John Ayleway. John's purchases included much of the Wilderness, (fn. 247) which was held from the Crown as of St. Briavels castle in free socage. (fn. 248) John (d. 1607) was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 249) who came of age in 1619. (fn. 250) He died in 1626 and his brother and heir William (fn. 251) sold the estate in 1630 to Nicholas Roberts, (fn. 252) owner of part of Mitcheldean manor with which it descended. (fn. 253) John Ayleway's house, which after his death in 1626 was occupied, sometimes only in part, by a tenant, came to be regarded as the manor house by the end of the century when Maynard Colchester held courts in it. (fn. 254) The house, which was at Court Farm, immediately north-east of the town, was later used as a farmhouse and was rebuilt in the early 19th century. It was demolished c. 1970 to make way for an extension of the Rank Xerox factory. (fn. 255)
Flaxley abbey, the abbot of which was described in 1316 as one of the lords of Mitcheldean with Abenhall and Littledean, (fn. 256) acquired land in Mitcheldean, (fn. 257) where a few pieces were held from Flaxley manor in the late 16th century and the early 17th. (fn. 258) Little Malvern priory (Worcs.) had 6s. 2d. in rents of assize from Deerhurst and Mitcheldean in 1535. (fn. 259)
In 1086 William son of Norman, whose estate in Dean had increased in value from 33s. in 1066 to 44s., had 3 ploughteams in demesne there and his tenants, of whom three owed a total rent of 8s., were 38 bordars sharing 7½ teams. (fn. 260) The estate is presumed to have included land in Mitcheldean, Abenhall, and Littledean, (fn. 261) and in 1220 three ploughteams were recorded in Dean and two in Abenhall. (fn. 262) William of Dean's estate as surveyed in 1259 had 2 ploughlands in Mitcheldean and Henry of Dean's estate in 1292 had a ploughland there. (fn. 263) In 1319 the estate of Henry's grandson William included 80 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow in Mitcheldean and 102 a. of assarted land, of which much was at Littledean and 4 a. at Bradley to the north-east of Mitcheldean. (fn. 264) In 1282 fourteen men had parcels of land, all under 3 a., described as old assarts, (fn. 265) and in 1322 a holding included 66½ a. of pasture which had been recently assarted. (fn. 266) The shape of the parish, which, together with Abenhall, included a large indent into the extraparochial Forest of Dean on high land west of the town, suggests that land there was taken from the Forest for cultivation at a relatively late date. Assarting and inclosure of the Wilderness was under way in 1333, (fn. 267) and in 1436 Robert Baynham's estate had, in addition to 40 a. of arable, 10 a. of meadow, and 16 a. of pasture, 100 a. of newly broken land and 200 a. of waste. (fn. 268) Lady grove was described as part of the new assarts in 1436 (fn. 269) and land west of the town was included in a survey of assarted lands in the early 17th century. In 1619, before he sold his estate to Nicholas Roberts, Alexander Baynham paid the Crown a composition for a large number of assarts including Scully grove. (fn. 270)
In 1319 William of Dean had 18 neifs, each owing works for 3 days in the autumn, in Mitcheldean. There were also 30 freeholders paying him rents worth £4 4s. in total. (fn. 271) Some freeholders were presumably tradesmen or craftsmen in the small town, and many of the 134 parishioners listed in 1608 probably combined husbandry with a trade. (fn. 272) Many of the tenants and freeholders recorded in 1620 on Joan Vaughan's estate in Abenhall and Mitcheldean lived in the town. (fn. 273) In 1623 Nicholas Roberts's estate had c. 37 tenants holding by leases, most of which were for 3 lives or 99 years with heriots and additional rents of capons payable. It also included rents from 37 freeholders for 88 tenements, (fn. 274) for each of which he claimed a heriot until agreeing in 1626 that by ancient custom a single heriot was owed on the death of each freeholder. (fn. 275) In 1635 the estate, which by then had land in Abenhall, contained few purely agricultural holdings, most, including the freeholds, being buildings in the town with or without a few acres of land attached to them. Some parcels of land were held at will, (fn. 276) as in 1642 were a few buildings which had presumably encroached on the town's market place and streets. Leaseholds for 21 years, common while Alexander Baynham had owned the estate between 1613 and 1619, or for 7 years had become the most usual form of tenure by 1696. (fn. 277) As for heriots from freeholds, Maynard Colchester in 1723 denied claims, based on the practice of the other part of the manor, that they were owed only for holdings with a dwelling. (fn. 278)
No evidence has been found for open fields in Mitcheldean, the field of Bradley mentioned in the later 13th century probably lying to the north-east in Longhope. (fn. 279) In the late 16th century most of the cultivated land was in small closes and was used as pasture and meadow. (fn. 280) Sheep farming was important by the 14th century, when several shepherds were employed, (fn. 281) and flax was among the crops grown in the parish in 1340. (fn. 282) In the early 16th century Sir Alexander Baynham's demesne included an arable field, ten meadow or pasture closes, and an orchard, which he may have had in hand, and a few pieces, notably land occupied as twelve gardens, which had been leased to tenants. (fn. 283) There were many small orchards in and around the town in 1635. (fn. 284) Although the parish retained some waste land, presumably on road sides, in 1839, no evidence has been found for land in it subject to common rights. (fn. 285) About 1280 Henry of Dean, as woodward of a bailiwick, claimed common rights for himself and his men throughout the Forest of Dean, (fn. 286) and Richard Colchester claimed similar rights in 1642. (fn. 287) In the mid 1680s the parish paid 7s. herbage money for common rights in the extraparochial land of the Forest, (fn. 288) and in 1860 four people exercised those rights. (fn. 289)
In 1785 the Wilderness estate included farms of 105 a. and 72 a. and eight small holdings of between 4 a. and 30 a. at Mitcheldean. (fn. 290) In 1831, when about a fifth of the families in the parish depended on agriculture, there were 16 farmers or smallholders, of whom 7 employed labour, and 16 agricultural labourers. (fn. 291) In 1839 two farms in the parish had over 100 a., the larger one being Court farm, and a farm at Knockalls had 42 a. (fn. 292) There was also a number of smallholdings in the parish in the late 19th century and the early 20th bringing the total of agricultural occupiers to c. 15. In 1926 eight of them had under 20 a. (fn. 293) and two rented land by the Ross road from the county council. (fn. 294) Court farm, which in 1918 had covered 170 a. in Mitcheldean and the adjoining part of Longhope, remained the largest farm until after the Second World War. (fn. 295) In 1988 the enlarged parish, including Abenhall, returned 21 holdings, of which 2 had 40-50 ha. (c. 100-125 a.) and 16, presumably those worked part-time, had 20 ha. (c. 49 a.) or less. (fn. 296)
In the late 18th century two thirds of the cultivated land in the parish were devoted to pasture. (fn. 297) Of the 105 a. under crops in 1801 barley and wheat accounted for 95 a. and potatoes, oats, and peas for the remainder. (fn. 298) In the early 19th century more land was used for arable cultivation, Knockalls grove (11 a.) at the north end of the parish being grubbed up for that purpose in the late 1820s or 1830s, (fn. 299) and in 1839 it was estimated that the parish contained 220 a. of arable and 340 a. of meadow and pasture. (fn. 300) The trend had evidently been reversed by 1866, when much of the land was devoted to sheep farming, and later in the century, as cereal production fell, more land was turned to permanent grass and herds of beef and dairy cattle were established. The acreage of corn returned in 1896 was down to 49 a. compared with 108 a. in 1866 while permanent grassland rose during that period to 427 a. from 262 a. Orchards accounted for at least 22 a. in 1896. The introduction of cattle was partly at the expense of the flocks, 506 sheep and 112 cattle being returned in 1896 compared with 635 and 15 in 1866. The number of pigs returned rose from 42 in 1866 to 67 in 1896. (fn. 301) By 1878 two fields (c. 7 a.) south of the Gloucester road, belonging to the town's charity school, had been divided into 36 allotment gardens and a field at Townsend had also been given over to allotments. (fn. 302) In the early 20th century the flocks were increased considerably, with 1,068 sheep being returned in 1926. (fn. 303) The farms, which were mixed, continued to depend on sheep farming and dairying and many retained cider orchards in the mid 20th century. (fn. 304) In the 1960s and 1970s the area of agricultural land was greatly reduced by the creation of new housing estates and the vast extension of the Rank Xerox factory. In the later 1980s nearly all the farmland of the enlarged parish, including Abenhall, was under grass. The principal farms were devoted mainly to dairying but they also raised sheep and beef cattle. Pigs were also reared and one holding was a poultry farm. (fn. 305)
A miller lived in Mitcheldean in 1282 (fn. 306) and two water mills were recorded there in 1319. (fn. 307) A mill driven by the churchyard brook and standing on the west side of the town was in use in 1371, when Richard atte Mill was among Mitcheldean's inhabitants, and it had a steeply inclined race or shoot. (fn. 308) It was held from the part of the manor inherited by Robert Baynham (d. 1436) (fn. 309) and the freehold belonged, possibly by 1573, to Thomas Bridgeman and was conveyed in 1598 to Anthony Callow. (fn. 310) The mill was worked by William Bennett in 1629 (fn. 311) and possibly remained in use in 1642, but by 1696 it had been pulled down. (fn. 312) Windmill hill, recorded in 1689 north-west of the town, (fn. 313) was possibly the site of an earlier windmill.
Other Industry and Trade.
Mitcheldean was a centre of ironworks by the early 13th century, when itinerant forges or smithies belonging to William of Dean and William of Abenhall were worked in Mitcheldean or the nearby demesne woodland of the Forest. (fn. 314) Eight such forges operated in the Mitcheldean area in the mid 13th century (fn. 315) and the number increased later in the century. In 1270 at least one nailer was at work there. (fn. 316) Indirect evidence suggests that the small town had a substantial body of tradesmen before the 14th century. (fn. 317) Residents included one or more tailors in 1270 (fn. 318) and a shoemaker in 1280, (fn. 319) and among the wealthier inhabitants in 1327 were two carpenters, two nailers, and a weaver. (fn. 320) Also recorded were the son of a mason and a tiler in 1347 (fn. 321) and a baker in 1367. (fn. 322) In addition to nailmaking, metal trades were represented by a locksmith and a spurrier working in the town in the 1370s and the mid 1380s respectively. (fn. 323) There may have been wiremaking at the Merrin, where land was called Wirehouse Close in 1576. (fn. 324) Place-name evidence from the mid 16th century also indicates that charcoal was made just outside the town. (fn. 325)
Ironworking continued in the later Middle Ages, when furnaces, known as oresmithies, (fn. 326) were supplied with ore mined presumably at the Wilderness or in the adjoining royal demesne. (fn. 327) Slag from the works was tipped in many parts of the town to form cinder hills, the most notable being in Brook Street. (fn. 328) The masters running the industry were known as smith-holders and several were also engaged in mining and husbandry in the early 16th century. (fn. 329) One parishioner, by will proved 1570, required the user of his anvil and bellows to distribute 12d. a year to the poor on Good Friday. (fn. 330) In the early 16th century eight smithies, presumably including several forges, were working on Sir Alexander Baynham's estate (fn. 331) but in the 1540s, when several smithies were used for other purposes, the town's iron industry was in decline (fn. 332) and at the end of the century it was not of primary importance. (fn. 333) Many, if not all, of the miners living in Mitcheldean at that time (fn. 334) presumably mined iron ore at the Wilderness. (fn. 335) Limestone was being quarried there by 1634, when a man was granted liberty to burn lime. (fn. 336)
The cloth industry had been established in Mitcheldean by the later 13th century when a weaver witnessed local deeds. (fn. 337) Many townsmen in the later 14th century and the early 15th had surnames derived from the trades of weaver, fuller, and shearman, (fn. 338) and weavers were recorded in 1436, (fn. 339) in 1532, (fn. 340) and in 1586. (fn. 341) Mitcheldean's earliest known clothier was Robert Stanton (fl. 1585). (fn. 342) In the later 16th century wool was evidently the staple of Mitcheldean's trade, (fn. 343) and in 1608 among the townspeople, many of whom were listed under Abenhall, were 4 clothiers, 24 weavers, and 5 tuckers. In addition to the cloth industry the town thrived in 1608 as a centre of crafts and of retail and service trades. Clothing trades were represented by 3 mercers, 5 tailors, 3 glovers, and 10 shoemakers, metal trades by 5 smiths, 4 cutlers, 2 nailers, and a brazier, leather trades by 3 tanners, 2 curriers, and probably a saddler, and building trades by a thatcher, a tiler, a plasterer, a mason, and a sawyer. As well as the other usual tradesmen such as butchers, bakers, and carpenters, there were 3 sieve makers, 2 innkeepers, a victualler, a cook, a miner, a lime burner, a basket maker, a dish carrier, a tooth drawer, and a sailor. The prosperity of the town and its social composition are indicated by the 38 people named as servants and the 10, including the barrister Edward Trotman and the clothier William Gunn, styled gentlemen. (fn. 344)
The continuing importance of metal trades and the diversity of clothing trades in the early 17th century is underlined by the presence of a locksmith and a hosier in the town. (fn. 345) Cloth manufacture also remained important and before 1617 the clothier John Hathway installed looms in a brewhouse in New Street. (fn. 346) Clothiers ranking among the town's leading inhabitants included Edward Morse, who in 1622 purchased two turns in the patronage of the rectory and in 1625 was among prominent men taking a lease of profits from the market and fair. (fn. 347) Dyers lived in the town in the 1620s. (fn. 348) Weavers still worked in Mitcheldean then but the manufacture of coarse cloth had given way to pinmaking as the town's chief industry by the end of the 17th century (fn. 349) and had disappeared by the end of the 18th. (fn. 350) Flax dressing and feltmaking were other trades in the town in the mid 18th century. (fn. 351)
Pinmaking, which had been established in Mitcheldean by 1628, (fn. 352) provided much employment in the early 18th century (fn. 353) when, together with the market and fairs, it was the mainstay of the town's trade. (fn. 354) The craft, which was in the hands of small masters, died out in the 18th century with a lack of investment. One pinmaker moved to Bristol but the decline chiefly benefited Gloucester where the industry was flourishing. (fn. 355) The disappearance of pinmaking left leather manufacture as Mitcheldean's principal indus try. (fn. 356) Tanning, introduced to the town by the early 1540s, (fn. 357) was carried on at several sites. (fn. 358) In the mid 1620s, when tanners, glovers, and dyers were polluting the churchyard brook, Jasper Lugg had a tannery north of Stenders Road. (fn. 359) It was operated until 1777, when its lessee was bankrupt, and had fallen into ruin by 1786. (fn. 360) The only other tannery of any size, in Brook Street, may have been operating by the mid 1540s. (fn. 361) By the late 17th century its use was intermittent and c. 1744 it was converted as potash works. (fn. 362) Glove making, using deerskins from the Forest, continued in the town until at least the mid 1780s (fn. 363) and among leather workers living in the town c. 1790 were a fellmonger, a currier, and a saddler. (fn. 364) A small leather factory survived the turn of the century. (fn. 365) The town continued to support a wide variety of other trades. Notable among the craftsmen was George Voyce (d. 1722), the first of a dynasty of clockmakers. (fn. 366) Other occupations recorded included stiller in 1699, barber in 1700, and millwright in 1715. (fn. 367) The professions were fairly well represented in Mitcheldean during its period of importance as a market and industrial centre. The earliest known of several surgeons was licensed in 1683 (fn. 368) and attorneys were resident by 1703. (fn. 369)
The decline of much of Mitcheldean's traditional industry in the 18th century was evident in the state of many of its buildings in the mid 1770s (fn. 370) and some wealthier families had abandoned the town by the early 19th century. The poor turned for a livelihood to collecting cinders left by ancient ironworks. (fn. 371) Landowners were selling cinders, rich in iron, to furnaces for resmelting by the early 18th century (fn. 372) and Maynard Colchester supplied furnaces at Flaxley and Newent from his Wilderness estate, notably from a large tip in Mitcheldean town, in the early 1740s. (fn. 373) Although an agreement of 1747 between Colchester and two Bristol ironmasters for the construction of a furnace near the town came to nothing, (fn. 374) the cinders were consumed rapidly and accessible deposits had been exhausted by the end of the century. (fn. 375) Another activity associated with the needs of furnaces outside Mitcheldean was charcoal burning: under an agreement of 1767 for the purchase of timber Thomas Crawley-Boevey, owner of the Flaxley ironworks, was entitled to work charcoal pits in woods on the Wilderness estate. (fn. 376) The Colchesters' exploitation of their woodland in the 18th century also included sales of bark and by an agreement of 1785 timber went to ironworks at Ayleford in Newnham. (fn. 377) A timber merchant lived in Mitcheldean in 1817. (fn. 378)
Road traffic was an important element in the town's economy long before the early 17th century when a customary payment called wheelage was claimed on both parts of the manor from every cart or wain passing with merchandise to or from Lea or one of the two nearby navigable rivers. (fn. 379) In the later 18th century the town contained several inns and lodging houses (fn. 380) but in the mid 1770s, despite the turnpiking of the principal roads, the townspeople derived little profit from traffic. (fn. 381) Some wagons serving Monmouth and Brecon passed through, including in 1750 a passenger and goods service operated by a London carrier, but most traffic between Gloucester and South Wales evidently preferred a more northerly route skirting the Forest of Dean by way of Ross. (fn. 382) Improvements to the Forest roads, particularly those made after 1796, boosted traffic through Mitcheldean and the town's inns benefited accordingly. (fn. 383)
With the decline of its industry and market trade Mitcheldean settled into a more limited economic role principally as a minor service and retailing centre. Small retailers gaining a living c. 1790 included 3 shopkeepers, 3 mercers, 2 bakers, a butcher, a carpenter, a saddler, a tailor, a hatter, and a breeches maker, (fn. 384) and among the shopkeepers and small tradesmen recorded in 1842 were several grocers, drapers, tailors, and a chemist. (fn. 385) In the early 19th century metal trades, which included nailmaking and tinplate working, provided little employment. (fn. 386) Among the nailers was John Griffiths (d. 1861), (fn. 387) whose family continued in business at the Merrin until c. 1912. (fn. 388) The town's corn trade clearly remained more important than the presence of a single mealman c. 1790 suggests, (fn. 389) for a few corn dealers were resident in the mid 19th century and were also engaged in other businesses such as milling and malting. (fn. 390) The town and its neighbourhood also continued to offer scope for professional men, represented c. 1790 by 2 attorneys and a surgeon (fn. 391) and in 1842 by 3 attorneys and 4 surgeons. In the 1920s and 1930s there was also an auctioneer in the town. (fn. 392) An architect, Alfred Smith, was resident in the early 1880s. (fn. 393)
In the later 19th century the town's industrial life was revived by the opening of a brewery and by exploitation of limestone and sandstone on the Wilderness estate. Brewing developed from the malting industry, which had been established by 1715 (fn. 394) and was represented by 3 maltsters c. 1790. (fn. 395) In the mid 19th century the principal maltsters were the corn merchants Timothy Bennett, who was also a colliery owner, and Thomas Wintle. (fn. 396) Wintle built a brewery in Brook Street in 1868 and, as his operations there expanded, put up new buildings, notably a malthouse in 1870. The business was run from 1890 by his son Francis and from 1923, when it owned 72 licensed houses in the surrounding area, by a limited company. (fn. 397) The maltings were damaged by fire in 1925. (fn. 398) Brewing ended in 1930 when the company, which with 50 employees was the only large-scale business in the town, was taken over by the Cheltenham Original Brewery Co., but malting continued until the mid 1940s. (fn. 399)
Quarrying and mining continued near Mitcheldean from the 17th century and several townsmen found employment as stone cutters and masons or as coal miners in the Forest. (fn. 400) Lime kilns were operating on the Wilderness estate in 1791 (fn. 401) and a mason was granted a lease of a quarry at the Wilderness in 1818. (fn. 402) Iron ore continued to be mined there and the nearby Westbury Brook mine ran beneath the old workings in the mid 19th century. (fn. 403) Small sandstone quarries were being worked near the town by the late 18th century. (fn. 404) Those north of the Gloucester road, which yielded red sandstone, were exploited on a large scale from 1882 and became known as the Wilderness quarries. (fn. 405) Those quarries, at which brickworks were established in 1885, (fn. 406) were purchased in 1900 by Forest of Dean Stone Firms Ltd. (fn. 407) Soon after the First World War the works were closed with the loss of 150 jobs (fn. 408) and since then the quarries have been worked only occasionally. (fn. 409) Limestone quarrying at the Wilderness expanded after 1885 when cement works were built on Stenders hill. (fn. 410) Quarries were opened on both sides of the road (fn. 411) but the enterprise, which gave employment to up to 200 men, ended when the works closed just after the First World War. (fn. 412) A saw mill was opened behind Mitcheldean churchyard in the early 1890s and continued in use well into the 20th century. (fn. 413) Other new enterprises with a shorter life included a shoe factory established by the mid 1890s (fn. 414) and a coach building business recorded in 1906. (fn. 415)
In 1941 British Acoustic Films Ltd. brought 54 employees from London to the former brewery in Brook Street and during the war it made anti-aircraft devices and firefighting equipment there and increased its workforce to 250. After the war the factory, the development of which owed much to Frederick Wickstead, made cinematic equipment and as part of the Rank Organization from 1948 it was run by Rank Precision Industries Ltd. From 1964 it concentrated on the production of xerographic machines, introduced in 1960 because of foreign competition in the cinematic trade, and in 1965 it became the main manufacturing plant for Rank Xerox Ltd., an exporter of copying and duplicating machinery. The factory continued to grow until the later 1970s when it covered 27 ha. (c. 67 a.) and the workforce numbered 4,800. Most employees, including former miners, came from the Forest and c. 700 employees lived in the town. (fn. 416) In the early 1980s Rank Xerox closed parts of the factory and reduced its workforce to c. 1,200. To create jobs the company launched schemes which in 1984 converted the former brewery buildings as workshops for small businesses and in 1986 opened a trading and industrial estate on the eastern side of the factory site. In 1986 the workshops housed 48 businesses employing 250 people and the estate 4 businesses, including an insurance company with 350 employees and the research and development department of a security systems firm with 90 employees. (fn. 417) After the Second World War few other businesses in Mitcheldean employed more than a handful of people. (fn. 418) One, a joinery started before the war, had moved by 1980 to the former cement works on Stenders hill. (fn. 419) In 1988 the site also accommodated an engineering firm, which was started in 1975 and employed 33 people, mostly women, in 1980 to make electronic equipment. (fn. 420) By 1964 a road haulage firm had established a depot at the Merrin and had acquired the quarries north of the Gloucester road, (fn. 421) where several small industrial units had been built by 1987. A motor bus service, started by Frederick Cottrell in 1921, continued in his family in 1988. (fn. 422)
Markets and Fairs.
In 1328 Reynold of Abenhall and Joan Esger, together with her husband John, had a grant of a market on Mondays and a three-day fair at Michaelmas on the manor of Mitcheldean. (fn. 423) Stalls or shops were recorded in Mitcheldean from 1366 (fn. 424) but although a Monmouth man was selling shoes there in 1447 there is no evidence that the town was a trading centre of any great importance. It attracted traders from neighbouring parishes on the north-east side of the Forest of Dean, including in 1447 several butchers. (fn. 425) Fish was apparently sold in the town in 1477. (fn. 426) By 1431 the market was held at the north end of High Street, (fn. 427) on the east side of which the cross or market house known as the chipping cross was built before 1537. (fn. 428) Ownership of the building was divided between the two parts of the manor, the western end belonging to that part held for most of the 17th century by the Vaughan family. (fn. 429)
The market presumably once dealt in wool, which was evidently a staple of the town's trade for some time. (fn. 430) In the late 16th century and the early 17th corn, butter, cheese, meat, and leather were bought and sold in the Monday market, which had spilled over into the town's main street and was attended by dealers from Newnham, Berkeley, Gloucester, and Monmouth. The courts of the lords of both parts of the manor attempted, through the market officers, to regulate the quality and weight of goods and check forestalling. (fn. 431) By 1675 fairs had been established on Easter Monday and 9 July in addition to Michaelmas. (fn. 432) The July fair lapsed before 1696 (fn. 433) and a fair held on the Monday after All Saints' Day lapsed after 1722. (fn. 434) In the 17th century the tolls of the corn market and the fairs were shared by the two lords, the corn tolls being taken by the lord on whose side of the market house the corn was pitched. (fn. 435) Nicholas Roberts's tolls, farmed for £5 10s. in 1623, (fn. 436) were granted in 1625, together with the customary payment of wheelage and the right to appoint the bellman or toll collector, to nine leading townsmen at a rent of £2, (fn. 437) and the Colchesters' tolls were farmed for £6 in 1678 and £11 in 1714. (fn. 438) In the late 17th century the Vaughans' tolls were farmed by the same tenant and toll from corn pitched on the side of the market place, in a penthouse next to the former Talbot inn and under a gallery next to the White Horse, was held at will from the Colchesters by another person. (fn. 439) By the mid 17th century butter and cheese were traded at the high cross, known by 1659 also as the butter cross. (fn. 440) The cross, where shelter was presumably provided as at the Littledean cross by a penthouse around the shaft, (fn. 441) was leased from the churchwardens. The butter and cheese market was probably restricted to the two fair days long before 1750, (fn. 442) when the cross was leased for life to Benjamin Bonnor, a Gloucester brazier. (fn. 443) The fairs, of which the Michaelmas fair was held on 10 October following the calendar change of 1752, specialized in cattle, sheep, and horses in the mid 18th century. (fn. 444)
In 1740, when he became the sole lord of the manor, Maynard Colchester (d. 1756) had the tolls of the corn market and the fairs, valued at £9 10s., in hand. Profits from the tolls, which were derived mostly from the market, fell and from 1750 they were farmed for £7 a year. They were taken in hand again a few years later (fn. 445) and the corn market, some of the business of which was conducted in the White Horse and other inns, (fn. 446) was revived for a time by Maynard's son, Maynard Colchester, who in the mid 1760s rebuilt the market house and obtained new measures. (fn. 447) The decline of business continued later in the century and the tolls were farmed again from the early 1770s, the rent being reduced to £3 by 1783. (fn. 448) The corn market was dealt a hard blow in 1795 by bread riots in the Forest, which deterred farmers from sending grain, and the business of the meat market had declined considerably by that time. (fn. 449) The butter and cheese market evidently continued for several years after the high cross was pulled down in the mid 1770s. (fn. 450) In the early 19th century the fairs dealt in livestock and cheese (fn. 451) and in 1814 an additional fair was held on 8 July for dealings also in wool. (fn. 452) By the early 1840s the business of the Monday market and the fairs was merely nominal. (fn. 453) The market was discontinued in 1861 and the fairs had lapsed by 1870. (fn. 454)
In the mid 17th century the chipping cross was a market house with an open ground floor and an upper storey supported on pillars. (fn. 455) The stone building which replaced it in the mid 1760s had an open arcaded ground floor and an upper room, (fn. 456) which was converted in 1861 by some inhabitants for use as a town hall. (fn. 457) The building remained part of the Wilderness estate until after the First World War, (fn. 458) and from the 1920s, when it was acquired by the owners of the town's brewery and the ground floor was filled in, it was used for storage. (fn. 459) In 1964 the Rank Organization gave it to the parish council (fn. 460) and in 1988 it remained the town hall.
Profits of court for Mitcheldean manor were recorded in 1319. (fn. 461) The courts held for both parts of the manor following its division (fn. 462) had similar powers in the early 17th century and presumably long before that. One was the Abenhall manor court, which exercised jurisdiction over part of Mitcheldean by the 1460s. (fn. 463) For the other court, held for the part of Mitcheldean acquired by the Colchester family in 1641, court papers for 1625-9, 1631, and 1695-6, a court roll for 1642, and a book with records of courts for 1642 and 1696 survive. (fn. 464) During that period the court usually met twice a year to combine view of frankpledge with a court baron and occasionally was convened as a court of survey. Like the Abenhall court it dealt with tenurial and other estate matters, heard pleas of affray and bloodshed, and enforced the assize of bread and of ale. In 1696 Maynard Colchester claimed a gun as a deodand after a suicide. (fn. 465) The government of the town and the regulation of the market provided the bulk of the business of both courts, which were particularly concerned with ensuring that streets were kept in repair and clean and that watercourses and cisterns were not polluted. Like the Abenhall court Nicholas Roberts's court, which in 1627 dealt with a butcher trading without having completed his apprenticeship, appointed two constables, two aletasters who also acted as bread scrutineers, two leather sealers, and two clerks of the market in the mid 1620s. (fn. 466) The duties of the bellman and crier, whose appointment belonged to Roberts and his successors, included collecting the market and fair tolls (fn. 467) and in the late 18th century possibly checking the weights and measures used. (fn. 468) The office of crier survived the market and fairs. (fn. 469) In 1691 the Abenhall court heard claims that its lord, John Vaughan, was not providing a standard bushel for use in the market (fn. 470) and in 1696 Nathaniel Rudge, to whom the Vaughans' powers in Mitcheldean had passed, was presented in his own court for not keeping his part of the market house and a pound in repair. (fn. 471) The pound was presumably that near the Merrin which had been put to other use by the end of the 18th century. (fn. 472) Another pound, probably that recorded in 1611, (fn. 473) was at the corner of Millend Street and Church Lane and by 1727 was maintained by a tenant of the Colchesters in return for the profits from it and the occupancy of a nearby house. (fn. 474) That pound was moved to the entrance of New Street in the early 19th century. (fn. 475)
Mitcheldean had two churchwardens in 1458 (fn. 476) and later. (fn. 477) The money needed by them for church maintenance came in part from cottages given to the parish. (fn. 478) The parish vestry had general supervision of poor relief as its main responsibility by the late 18th century and became more active in town government in the mid 19th. Administration of relief was in the hands of two overseers, who by the mid 18th century accounted in turn for 6 months. (fn. 479) There were two surveyors of the highways for the parish and by 1722 the two constables were chosen yearly by the vestry. (fn. 480) The parish maintained stocks and a pillory until at least the mid 18th century. (fn. 481)
Poor relief took the usual forms and in the later 17th century there were usually c. 13 people receiving regular assistance. (fn. 482) In 1683 the remaining part of a former schoolhouse was used as a poorhouse and some income for relief came from two cottages, one of them a former almshouse, given to the parish; a cottage between Stenders Road and New Street, later said to have been given for the use of the poor, provided income solely for repairing the church and was pulled down in 1689. (fn. 483) In 1696 and until 1715 a house in Millend Street served as a poorhouse. (fn. 484) Fewer people were helped in the mid 18th century, when the former almshouse was used as a poorhouse, but from the mid 1770s, when the town's industry was in decline, many more parishioners needed regular assistance and by the mid 1780s their number averaged c. 25. Action to enforce the badging of paupers was taken in 1787 and 1815 and there were several moves, as in 1750, 1799, and 1814, to prevent lodging house keepers from accommodating paupers without settlement in the parish. (fn. 485) In 1790 a parish workhouse was opened with 15 inmates in a rented house. It had a guardian, a post regularly combined with that of assistant overseer and enjoying a salary in 1806, (fn. 486) and a salaried governess had been installed by 1799. (fn. 487) The inmates, who were put to work heading pins for Gloucester manufacturers or spinning hemp, usually numbered 9 in the early 19th century, while parishioners on permanent out-relief usually numbered over 20. From c. 1810 the workhouse was run primarily as a poorhouse. (fn. 488) The parish subscribed to the Gloucester infirmary from 1777 (fn. 489) and a surgeon was retained from 1821. In 1821 the vestry, also appointed a salaried overseer but from 1823 the poor were farmed by a succession of contractors chosen by annual tenders and having the use of the workhouse and the parish's poorhouses. (fn. 490) Most apprenticeships made by parish officers from the mid 18th century were financed by the funds of a charity. (fn. 491) The annual cost of poor relief stood at £95 in 1776 and rose to well over £400 in 1813. (fn. 492) It had fallen considerably by 1823, when the poor were taken at farm for £200, (fn. 493) and was kept down to c. £240 in the late 1820s and to c. £195 in the early 1830s. (fn. 494)
Mitcheldean became part of the new Westbury-on-Severn poor-law union in 1835. (fn. 495) Proposals by the vestry for the formation of a local board of health were turned down in 1866 because of Mitcheldean's small population. (fn. 496) The poor-law union as the sanitary authority for the parish from 1872 was succeeded in 1895 by East Dean and United Parishes rural district (fn. 497) and in 1935 by East Dean rural district. (fn. 498) In 1974 Mitcheldean became part of the new Forest of Dean district.
Mitcheldean church presumably originated as a chapel of Westbury-on-Severn church but had evidently become a parish church by 1223 when claims to the patronage were advanced by William of Dean on the one hand and by the patrons and rector of Westbury on the other. (fn. 499) In 1291 the rector of Westbury had a portion in Mitcheldean church, (fn. 500) which by then was a rectory in the patronage of the lords of the manor, the first known presentation being that made in 1280 by Henry of Dean. (fn. 501) The benefice was united with Abenhall rectory in 1946. (fn. 502)
The advowson of Mitcheldean rectory was divided at an early date between the two parts of the manor, the right to present at every third vacancy belonging by 1417, and presumably from the division, to that part of the manor acquired by the lords of Abenhall. (fn. 503) The other, greater share of the advowson belonged to that part of the manor acquired by the Baynhams, who in the late 14th or early 15th century may have usurped a turn belonging to the Greyndours. Two vacancies arising in 1395 were filled by Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, as guardian of John Baynham, (fn. 504) and the Crown made a presentation in 1438, presumably by reason of the minority of Thomas Baynham. (fn. 505) In 1550 John Pengry presented to the rectory under a grant. At the next vacancy, filled in 1552 by William Baynham, the advowson was claimed by Sir Christopher Baynham, formerly lord of Abenhall, and the following vacancy was filled in 1555 by the bishop. (fn. 506) William Baynham's share of the advowson passed with his estate to Joseph Baynham, (fn. 507) by whose grant Thomas Horn of Rodley presented in 1574. Patrons for a single turn filled the three vacancies arising in the 17th century, (fn. 508) the first two under a grant of 1622 by Nicholas Roberts (fn. 509) and the third, in 1679, in place of the Roman Catholic John Vaughan. (fn. 510) From 1740, when the two parts of the manor were re-united, the advowson descended wholly with the Colchester estates, passing in 1930 to Sir M. F. Colchester-Wemyss. (fn. 511) By 1934 it had been transferred to the Diocesan Board of Patronage, (fn. 512) which after the union of benefices had an alternate right of presentation with the Lord Chancellor and from c. 1970 enjoyed sole right of patronage. (fn. 513)
The rector took the tithes of the whole parish including Blackwell meadows. (fn. 514) In 1681 crops and animals were tithable in kind, apart from garden produce for which a composition was paid. (fn. 515) The tithes, parts of which were farmed out in 1550 (fn. 516) and in 1811, (fn. 517) were commuted in 1840 for a corn rent charge of £176 13s. (fn. 518) The rector's glebe, recorded from the later 13th century, (fn. 519) included 10 a. in two closes outside the town in 1619. (fn. 520) It was estimated as 8 a. in 1681 (fn. 521) and was reduced to 5 a. in the mid 19th century. (fn. 522) The church was worth £6 13s. 4d. and the rector of Westbury's portion 2s. in 1291. (fn. 523) The benefice, in which the rector resigning in 1418 was awarded a pension of £10, (fn. 524) was valued at £10 5s. 10d. in 1535, (fn. 525) £10 15s. 0¾d. in 1603, (fn. 526) £40 in 1642 and 1650, (fn. 527) and £50 in 1750. (fn. 528) It was allotted £200 by Queen Anne's Bounty in 1796 (fn. 529) and was valued at £141 in 1856. (fn. 530)
In 1436 a tenement called the priest's chambers was held under the Baynhams by a tenant. (fn. 531) The rectory house recorded from 1597 stood west of Hawker Hill. (fn. 532) It was said to be decayed in 1605 (fn. 533) and it contained 10 rooms in 1681 when a barn was among the outbuildings. (fn. 534) The house, to which a schoolroom was added in 1812, (fn. 535) had fallen into decay by 1849 when it was rebuilt to designs of Francis Niblett. (fn. 536) It remained in use for the united benefice in 1988. (fn. 537).
A trust established in 1790 under the will of William Lane paid the rector of Mitcheldean or his curate two guineas for sermons on Good Friday and the Sunday after Trinity and three guineas for catechizing poor children and superintending a charity school. From 1913, when the trust was reorganized, the salary for catechizing was paid by Lane's School Foundation to the rector or a teacher. The value of the sermon charity was increased in the 1970s. (fn. 538)
The rector in 1346 was licensed to be absent for a year (fn. 539) and a later rector in 1442 was given leave to be non-resident for three years. (fn. 540) Geoffrey Hereford, bishop of Kildare and suffragan of Hereford, held the rectory from 1465 until his death in or before 1469. (fn. 541) Thomas More, rector from 1485, enjoyed a long incumbency, (fn. 542) during which a Lollard sympathizer, who had addressed a meeting in Mitcheldean, did penance at the church in 1511. (fn. 543) Thomas Baynham, More's successor in 1524, was accused of fathering a child but retained the living. There were at least four rectors in the course of the 1550s, one being deprived under Mary for being married. (fn. 544) William Budge, who lost Abenhall under the same circumstances, was rector in 1559. (fn. 545) In 1576 and 1584 a curate served the church for a non-resident rector. (fn. 546) By that time puritanism had a committed supporter in Mitcheldean in Anthony Bridgeman, possibly a member of a local landowning family, (fn. 547) who in 1589 proposed abolition of collegiate and cathedral churches and of ecclesiastical pluralism. (fn. 548)
Hugh Griffith (d. 1623), rector from 1592, (fn. 549) employed a curate in 1593 (fn. 550) and was presented in 1605 for not preaching monthly sermons and not catechizing on Sundays. (fn. 551) Other long incumbencies were those of Richard Stringer (1623-75), Richard Hall (1679-1723) who from 1685 also served Abenhall, and Richard Roberts (1727-70) who, after being dispensed in 1737 to hold the living of Kentchurch (Herefs.), usually employed curates. (fn. 552) Roberts's successor resigned in 1773 rather than take up residence, as the parish vestry had insisted, (fn. 553) and the next rector, after moving to another parish by 1786, engaged curates at Mitcheldean. (fn. 554) Edward Jones, rector 1802-1847, was also non-resident and employed curates. (fn. 555) The first was his brother Henry Prowse Jones, whose absence in 1807 led the vestry to complain about the irregularity of services. (fn. 556) Jones's later curates took an active part in parish life, notably Henry Berkin (1809- 14), who undertook a mission to the adjoining part of the extraparochial Forest of Dean, and George Cox, whose curacy lasted from 1830 to 1847 when Edward Machen became rector. (fn. 557) Machen rebuilt the rectory house and set about restoring the church and enlarging the churchyard. (fn. 558) His successor Charles Edward Dighton, rector 1857-78, lived near Bristol between 1869 and 1871. (fn. 559) Between 1890 and 1910 seven men were instituted to the rectory. (fn. 560)
Several chantries were founded in Mitcheldean church, some probably by 1420 when three stipendiary priests were recorded there; one, a former rector, also had the £10 pension mentioned above. (fn. 561) Chantries dedicated to St. George and the Holy Trinity had been united by 1514 and their endowments supported a chaplain, who celebrated two obits for the founders. (fn. 562) At their dissolution the chaplain had an annual income of £5 12s. 1½d. (fn. 563) The endowments, made up mostly of tenements in the town and land in Mitcheldean and Abenhall, were granted by the Crown in 1549 to Sir John Thynne and Thomas Throckmorton, (fn. 564) who sold at least part of them to William Bridgeman. (fn. 565) Three other obits, one of them founded by the rector Thomas More (d. by 1524), were celebrated in the church in the mid 1540s. The church's lady chapel had its own priest in 1532 but the wishes of Thomas Baynham (d. 1532), who left an estate in Market Lavington (Wilts.) for the foundation of a chantry at Mitcheldean, were evidently not followed. (fn. 566)
Several cottages in the town were given to the parish (fn. 567) and in the later 17th century four of them, including a former almshouse, provided income for repairing the church. (fn. 568) Half of the income from one cottage belonged, under a grant probably of 1490, to Longhope parish (fn. 569) and between 1828, when the building was demolished and its site incorporated in the churchyard, and 1865 Mitcheldean paid Longhope a rent of 25s. (fn. 570) A cottage in Millend Street, said to have been given in the 16th century by a member of the Bridgeman family, (fn. 571) was probably used as a school in the early 1770s. (fn. 572) It was occupied as two dwellings by 1828 (fn. 573) and was retained by the parish in 1910. (fn. 574) A church house, formerly used for a school, was recorded in the churchyard in the mid 18th century and was pulled down c. 1787. (fn. 575) Charities for the repair of the church and the benefit of the five senior choir members were founded under the will of Alexander Smith Porter (d. 1849) of Worcester, but the parish did not receive a principal sum of £107 1s. 9d. until 1863 following litigation. The income, two thirds of which went towards church repairs, (fn. 576) provided £2 9s. 4d. for distribution to choir members in 1905. (fn. 577)
The church, which bore a dedication of ST. MICHAEL by 1420, (fn. 578) is built of sandstone rubble and ashlar. It has a chancel with north and south chapels and north-east vestry and a clerestoried nave, two north aisles, a south aisle with crypt, and a south-west tower with spire and south porch. The low north-west buttress of the nave probably dates from the 13th century and the nave and chancel, which had no division between them, probably date from that time or earlier. The south chapel and aisle, tower, and porch were added in the early 14th century and the north chapel and aisle may have been of a similar date. The top stage of the tower and spire were possibly added in the early 15th century. The outer north aisle, which was built in the mid 15th century (fn. 579) during alterations later associated with Thomas Baynham (d. 1500), (fn. 580) extends eastwards to the limit of the chapels and is wider than the inner aisle with which it shares a roof. In the later 15th century the nave arcades were rebuilt, the clerestory and a new roof were added, a large west window was put into the nave, and the south aisle windows were given new tracery. In reconstructing the arcades, which have four-centred arches, much of the 14th-century moulded stonework was re-used. Only the arch between the chancel and south chapel survives in its 14th-century form. The rood staircase, against the south wall, continues down into the 14th-century crypt and is probably of the late 15th century. Wooden panelling placed between the chancel and nave above the rood loft has been retained and bears late 15th-century paintings, uncovered c. 1830, which depict the Last Judgment and the Passion. (fn. 581)
The spire may have fallen, damaging the south aisle, in or before 1731 when a brief was sought for the repair of the church. (fn. 582) The work, for which collections were made in 1733, was considerable (fn. 583) and included a new roof for the aisle. (fn. 584) The spire was rebuilt, possibly in the early 1740s, by Nathaniel Wilkinson of Worcester. (fn. 585) In 1837 a vestry was completed on the site of an earlier room, (fn. 586) which may have been pulled down by 1773 when meetings were held in what was then called the lower chancel, perhaps the north chapel. (fn. 587) A west gallery for the singers was installed in the church in 1765 and a gallery for the pupils of the town's charity schools was erected in the south aisle in 1790. (fn. 588) The latter was maintained by the schools and was entered by an external stair up to a window until 1837 when it was enlarged. (fn. 589) At a partial restoration of the church in 1853 the eastern bay of the chancel was rebuilt and enlarged, the tracery of some windows was renewed, and, the galleries having been removed, the church was almost completely repewed. The work, to designs by Henry Woodyer, (fn. 590) was financed by the rector Edward Machen and by subscription. (fn. 591) The crypt, which had been used as a charnel house, (fn. 592) was cleared out in 1886. (fn. 593) In the early 1890s the rector E. H. Firth paid for further restoration work, notably on the north aisles, and commissioned a wooden screen and arch placed between the chancel and nave in 1893. The church organ stood in the north chapel by that time. (fn. 594) Later the east end of the outer aisle was fitted as a vestry and in 1988 the north-east vestry was used as a store.
The Norman font, decorated with figures of the apostles standing in the niches of an arcade, had been mutilated by the late 18th century and the lower part had been turned upside down and a new bowl formed in it. The upper part was replaced in 1882 when the font was restored. (fn. 595) A wooden, octagonal pulpit dating from the 15th century stands in the church but is not used, (fn. 596) a new one having been provided in 1922 as a memorial to the dead of the First World War. (fn. 597) Among the features of the work associated with Thomas Baynham (d. 1500) are the ceilings of the north aisles, which have carvings of angels holding shields, and glass which was set in the outer aisle's east window until the restoration of 1853; after the restoration fragments of that glass, depicting angels with musical instruments, were reset haphazardly in three windows on the north side. (fn. 598) Glass in several other windows was replaced in the later 19th century and the early 20th by stained glass, much of it as memorials, and the glass of the chancel's east window dates from c. 1970. (fn. 599) Brasses believed to portray Margaret Hody and Alice Walwyn (d. 1518), the wives of Thomas Baynham (d. 1500), survive. They were removed from a monument in the outer north aisle during the restoration of 1853, when a floor tablet to the Revd. Richard Stringer (d. 1675) was moved from the chancel to the south chapel. (fn. 600) Several wall monuments of the 18th century survive. A large reredos sculpted with full-size figures by W. G. Storr-Barber was installed in 1913. (fn. 601)
In the early 18th century the church had five bells, (fn. 602) some probably belonging to a peal recast c. 1680. (fn. 603) Three new bells were added by subscription in 1760 when the peal was recast at the Gloucester foundry of the Rudhall family. The tenor was recast at the same foundry in 1783 and again in 1819, another by G. Mears & Co. in 1864 at the expense of Henrietta Davies, and a third by John Taylor & Co. in 1924. A sanctus bell was recast by Thomas Rudhall in 1773. (fn. 604) The church had a clock by the 1650s and a new one was acquired by subscription in the early 1760s when a new set of chimes was obtained from Bristol. (fn. 605) The plate includes a chalice and paten cover of the later 16th century. (fn. 606) The registers survive from 1680 and contain many entries for Abenhall. (fn. 607)
Although there were said to be no recusants in Mitcheldean in 1603 (fn. 608) several parishioners were regularly absent from services by that time. In 1623 a man was reported to have interrupted the rector during prayers and in 1639 a marriage was said to have taken place in an alehouse. (fn. 609) By 1676, although only four nonconformists were recorded, (fn. 610) Dissent was widespread and in 1682 thirteen people were reported for staying away from the parish church. Two were, or had been in 1669, described as Anabaptists, (fn. 611) and most may have been members of an Independent church founded, according to tradition, in 1662. That church had a resident minister in 1715, when its membership, including Abenhall residents, was put at 120. (fn. 612) In 1728 the minister's house was registered for worship by members of Gloucester's Independent church (fn. 613) and in 1735 the meeting, described as Presbyterian, had 20 members, drawn apparently from four families. (fn. 614) In the same year a man was convicted for pulling down the pulpit and several pews and for damaging graves in the chapel yard, (fn. 615) which was on the west side of Silver Street. (fn. 616) During the ministry of Benjamin Cadman (c. 1760- 1800) the chapel, which had members from Abenhall and Longhope, supported a successful mission to Ruardean. (fn. 617) Under Cadman's successor John Horlick, minister of both the Mitcheldean and Ruardean churches for c. 50 years, there was a large increase in the congregation, (fn. 618) which in 1851 numbered well over 150. (fn. 619) The chapel was rebuilt in 1822 and provided with a schoolroom in 1842, and Samuel Addington of London paid for extensive alter ations in 1850. (fn. 620) The meeting received a few gifts to maintain the minister, including in 1769 land in Abenhall from Edward Heane, (fn. 621) on which a manse was built in the early 1850s. (fn. 622) In 1900 the chapel, which was called Congregational from the later 19th century, had 40 members and 84 children attended its Sunday school in 1900. (fn. 623) It had ceased to have a resident minister by the mid 1960s, when the average attendance was 12. (fn. 624) In 1977, several years after the church had joined the United Reformed Church, the chapel was taken over by the Mitcheldean Christian Fellowship, an independent evangelical church which continued to worship there in 1988. (fn. 625)
Dissenting groups registered houses in Mitcheldean in 1797 and 1824. (fn. 626) An Independent meeting in Abenhall, recorded in 1809 and 1841, used a house on the Gloucester road at the end of the town. (fn. 627) In 1814 a few Wesleyan Methodists, who had been holding services for several years, opened a small chapel behind High Street near the Bull Ring. (fn. 628) The meeting remained small and the chapel, which was visited by ministers of the Ledbury circuit (fn. 629) and in 1851 drew a congregation of 25, (fn. 630) had been closed by 1855. (fn. 631) In 1856 it was purchased by a group of Bible Christians, (fn. 632) who moved in 1861 to a new and larger chapel on the south side of Stenders Road. (fn. 633) That chapel, which had 35 members in 1885, (fn. 634) came under the United Methodist Church formed in 1907. (fn. 635) It was closed in 1913 and a gift to support a resident minister was assigned to a minister at Drybrook. (fn. 636) In 1918 the building was purchased by Anglicans for use as a parish hall (fn. 637) and c. 1970 it was demolished to make an entrance to a housing estate.
Roman Catholic priests from Cinderford celebrated mass in Mitcheldean for a number of years after the Second World War. The services were discontinued before 1965. (fn. 638)
Mitcheldean had a schoolhouse before 1545 when the building belonged to a chantry. (fn. 639) A schoolhouse in the churchyard, believed to have been given to the parish by a member of the Bridgeman family, (fn. 640) was in use in the early 17th century, (fn. 641) perhaps by the unlicensed teachers mentioned in 1602 and 1637. (fn. 642) In 1683 the building, part of which had fallen down, was a poorhouse. (fn. 643) By 1771 and until 1776 a school was kept in another of the parish's houses, probably that in Millend Street. (fn. 644) Charity schools for boys and girls supported by voluntary subscriptions were established in the town in 1784. They also provided evening classes and were soon teaching 50 children on weekdays and Sundays. (fn. 645)
In 1790 the boys' school was reorganized to benefit from William Lane's trust. Lane (d. 1789), a Gloucester lawyer (fn. 646) and native of Mitcheldean, left £1,000 in trust to support, among other things, a charity school teaching not less than 20 children on Sundays as well as other days and to pay its teacher a salary of £15. The trustees, the lord of the manor John Colchester and the feoffees of Jonathan Parker's charity, invested the principal in stock in 1790 and the school, managed by the trustees and the parish priest, taught c. 30 boys, for whom uniforms were purchased in 1795. Lane's trust fund, the school's sole source of finance, was augmented by purchases of stock, made in 1808 with bequests totalling £300 left by Lane's widow Amy (d. 1807) and made later with surplus income. (fn. 647) Lane's school shared premises with the girls' school, which continued to depend on voluntary contributions, chiefly £15 15s. a year from John Colchester, and had c. 25 pupils in 1795. The schools' anniversaries were celebrated together by a music festival in the church and a dinner. At the festival, held irregularly after 1805, a collection was taken for the girls' school, surplus income of which was invested in stock from 1795. (fn. 648) The management of the girls' school was gradually assimilated with that of Lane's foundation, particularly in 1830 when part of its funds was used to buy c. 7 a. in Abenhall. (fn. 649) The schools, which had moved by 1835 to a house on the west side of High Street, (fn. 650) taught 40 boys and 40 girls in 1847. (fn. 651) From 1850 they were accommodated in a new building, designed by Fulljames and Waller, on the west side of Hawker Hill in the grounds of the rectory house. (fn. 652) In 1855 the master assisted the rector in teaching evening classes, and an infants' school was established in 1871 when the building was enlarged. (fn. 653) From 1857 the schools, which continued to enjoy the support of the Colchester family, admitted children from adjoining Forest hamlets on the payment of pence and received an annual grant of £5 5s. from the Crown's Commissioners of Woods. The payment of pence for the children of parishioners, introduced in 1856 but discontinued in 1857, was resumed in 1874, the payment being refunded for those who attended regularly. In the 1880s there were other moves to limit the number of free pupils and reduce the deficit in expenditure. (fn. 654) In 1889 the average attendance was 113 (fn. 655) and in 1893 the building was enlarged again with help from the National Society to which the schools affiliated. (fn. 656) The boys' and girls' schools merged about that time (fn. 657) and Mitcheldean Endowed school had an average attendance of 162 in mixed and infants' departments in 1904. (fn. 658) The endowments were administered from 1913 by a body called Lane's School Foundation. (fn. 659) The average attendance at the school fell from 150 in 1922 to 73 in 1938. (fn. 660) With the growth of the town a temporary schoolroom was added in 1958 (fn. 661) and additional buildings were provided to the east from the late 1960s. In 1988 there were 219 children on the school's roll. (fn. 662)
In 1810 the Revd. Henry Berkin started a Sunday school and in 1812 he built a room next to the rectory house for it. (fn. 663) The school, intended for children from the adjoining Forest hamlets, was supported financially by, among others, the National Society and the duke of Beaufort, warden of the Forest, and it taught several hundred children, but it did not survive Berkin's departure from the parish in 1814. (fn. 664) The Independents ran a Sunday school at their chapel from c. 1812 (fn. 665) and it taught 64 boys and 56 girls in 1833. (fn. 666)
In 1819 there were two dame schools in the parish (fn. 667) and in 1833 two infants' schools, begun that year, taught 4 boys and 13 girls at their parents' expense. (fn. 668) There was a school at the northern end of the town in 1840 (fn. 669) and a preparatory school, one of two day schools other than the charity schools recorded in 1842, remained open until at least 1879. (fn. 670) A boarding school, begun in 1830, taught 30 boys and 10 girls in 1833 (fn. 671) and there was a boarding school in the early 1850s, (fn. 672) a day school run by a music seller in 1876, (fn. 673) and a private school for girls at the end of the century. (fn. 674)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
The Mitcheldean almshouse mentioned in 1572 (fn. 675) was presumably that north of the churchyard brook behind the church in 1616. (fn. 676) By 1660 it was administered by the churchwardens and occupied by a tenant, (fn. 677) the rent being used by 1683 to repair the church and relieve the poor. (fn. 678) The building, which in the mid 18th century was a poorhouse, (fn. 679) was pulled down c. 1853. (fn. 680) In 1857 Henrietta Davies built a pair of almshouses south of Stenders Road. The occupants paid a nominal rent and received a small weekly allowance. In 1868 Mrs. Davies, who managed the almshouses until her death, endowed the charity with £1,200 and it was renamed the Wilderness Charity. (fn. 681) In the 1960s and 1970s part of the endowment used for improvements to the building was replaced out of the income from the balance and the almspeople made small weekly contributions towards their maintenance. (fn. 682) The almshouses remained in use in 1988. (fn. 683)
Robert Stanton by will dated 1588 left a rent charge of 6s. 8d. for the poor. (fn. 684) The rent was witheld before 1655 and, although it was paid in the 1680s and 1690s, (fn. 685) its distribution among the poor had ceased by the early 18th century. (fn. 686) Richard Walwyn of Newent by will dated 1701 gave £20 to the poor, the interest to be distributed yearly, and Jonathan Parker of London by will dated 1719 left £200 to provide clothing and apprenticeships for children. Both sums were used in 1722 to buy land in Ruardean and the income was applied to Parker's charity except for 20s. a year paid for Walwyn's charity. (fn. 687) The bequest of William Morse of Stone in Berkeley, who by will dated 1726 gave £100 for the town's poor, was also laid out on land in Ruardean, which was later administered with Parker's charity. (fn. 688) Walter Little by will proved 1733 left £20 for the poor (fn. 689) but the parish, which had received half of the bequest by 1735, (fn. 690) evidently obtained only £15. That sum was lent out, the interest of 15s. a year being shared among the poor, and from 1778, when the principal was appropriated for the use of the church, 15s. a year was paid from the church rate. (fn. 691) A sum of £14, arising from a gift by Andrew Crew and producing 14s. a year for the poor, was similarly lent out and, in 1789, appropriated. (fn. 692)
The Walwyn, Morse, Little, and Crew charities were distributed together at Christmas by 1749. The amount dispensed varied according to the income of the Morse charity, which was £4 in 1749 and £7 from 1800, and the Little charity was not paid between 1761 and 1768. (fn. 693) The Stanton charity was distributed with the others from 1829, when payment of the rent charge resumed, but it and the Little and Crew charities were discontinued in 1847. (fn. 694) The Walwyn and Morse charities usually took the form of doles of 2s. 6d. in the later 19th century. (fn. 695) The Parker charity, which had an income of £10 in 1749, was applied as intended under the trust of 1722. From the mid 18th century frequent apprenticeships were made, mostly for boys, over a wide area and in 1785 the feoffees decided to end placing children with parishioners, a practice which had led to abuse of the charity. (fn. 696) In 1790 the feoffees were in open conflict with the rector, who, sharing with them in the management of the school to be funded by William Lane's trust, claimed the sole eight to nominate children for apprenticeships. (fn. 697)
Mitcheldean benefited from John Harvey Ollney's Christmas coal and blanket charity for various Gloucestershire parishes, receiving £200 principal in 1839 and distributing the income in blankets. (fn. 698) Harriett Blunt by will proved 1859 gave £100 for coal in winter. (fn. 699) Under a Scheme of 1910 a trust established in 1908 to manage the Walwyn, Parker, and Morse charities under the title of the United Charities also administered the Ollney and Blunt charities, (fn. 700) which after the Second World War were distributed in cash. (fn. 701) In 1937 the Parker charity was assigned to young people aged under 21 taking up and following trades. At a reorganization in 1971 the other charities were amalgamated to form the Mitcheldean Welfare Trust, which had an income of £75 for the needy. The Parker charity, which then had an income of £122, was managed by the same trustees (fn. 702) and in 1988 it made small grants to young people in apprenticeships or further education. (fn. 703)
Jane Walter by deed of 1760 gave £40 to provide bibles equally for the poor of Mitcheldean and Littledean at Christmas. The charity lapsed after a few years when the principal sum was lost. (fn. 704)