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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St. Briavels (fn. 1) lies on the east bank of the river Wye 11 km. (6¾ miles) upstream from Chepstow (Mon.). In 1086 and until the 1160s or later it was called Lydney or Little Lydney, having presumably had an ancient tenurial connexion with the nearby place still called Lydney, (fn. 2) but the name St. Briavels, thought to derive from the Celtic saint Brieuc, (fn. 3) was also in use by 1130. (fn. 4) Parts of St. Briavels parish were formed by assarting from the royal demesne land of the Forest of Dean in the early Middle Ages, and it was enlarged by the addition of detached parts of the extraparochial Forest in 1842. A royal castle built in the village before 1130, on a commanding site above the Wye, became the administrative centre of the Forest. In the 13th century St. Briavels was also one of the sites of the Forest iron industry.
This account covers the history of the parish within its modern boundaries, which are the product of a complex history. In 1066 St. Briavels probably comprised a small manor based on the village, closely surrounded by the Forest woodland and waste. A manor called Wyegate, which William I afforested and took out of cultivation before 1086, may have included land in the north part of the later parish, (fn. 5) and by the early 13th century a royal estate called Stowe, including a hermitage, occupied land on the north boundary. (fn. 6) Assarting later increased the area of St. Briavels, much of the north and east parts of which was claimed by the Crown as ancient assart in the early 17th century. (fn. 7) In 1361 200 a. adjoining the Stowe estate were found to have been assarted since 1226. (fn. 8) Land called Rodmore near the east boundary of the later parish was being encroached by 1231, (fn. 9) and the king's reeve of St. Briavels, apparently acting without royal sanction, built a house on land at Willsbury in the same area before 1270. (fn. 10) In 1282, however, the eastern end of the later parish was probably still within the royal demesne of the Forest, for part of the west boundary of the Forest bailiwick called Bearse was then described as running from Stowe along the edge of the cultivated land of St. Briavels past Rodmore to Cone brook; (fn. 11) the boundary presumably included the land that became known as Bearse common, later a detached part of the Forest waste, and may then have turned southwards, following Rodmore Lane from the site of Great Hoggins Farm down to the Cone. By 1294 an estate at Rodmore, with land east of Rodmore Lane, was in private ownership and Willsbury probably was by 1300. (fn. 12) A new assart of 60½ a. described as at 'le Horestone' in 1316 probably adjoined the stone called the Long stone, (fn. 13) north of the road from Bream to St. Briavels on the later Closeturf farm, and 33 a. which Osbert Malemort was licensed to assart in 1306 and which his son William Gainer held in 1361 (fn. 14) can probably be identified with Gainer's Mesne, lying on the later parish boundary, east of Closeturf. (fn. 15) The tithes from some of the new land were disputed by the dean and chapter of Hereford, owners of St. Briavels chapel, and the bishop of Llandaff, who was granted the tithes from new assarts in the Forest for his church of Newland in 1305. By arbitration in 1310 the boundary between the chapelry and Newland on the north-east was fixed on or close to its modern course: from an old castle at Stowe, the earthworks of which still survive, it was traced past unidentified landmarks, which presumably took it west and south of Bearse common, along a portway, evidently the lane between Bearse Farm and Bream Cross, to the Coleford-Aylburton road ('Aylburton way'), and along that road to the Pailwell oak, which probably stood at the place near the head of Pailwell (later Park) brook where the boundaries of St. Briavels, Bream tithing of Newland, and Aylburton tithing of Lydney met. (fn. 16) In the north-west part of the later parish the valley between the village and the Wye was being cleared for cultivation by 1199 when an assart of 6 a. at Lindhurst (later the site of Lindors farm) was recorded. (fn. 17)
The progress of assarting left detached parts of the extraparochial Forest (fn. 18) within or adjoining St. Briavels parish. In 1608 St. Briavels Mesne, an area of 81 a. on the hillside below the village, was extraparochial, (fn. 19) but in 1787 only 24 a. in its western part, known as Mocking (or Mawkins) Hazel wood, was surveyed as part of the extraparochial Forest. The status of the eastern part, called Lower Meend, was in doubt in the early 19th century, (fn. 20) when it had been encroached by cottagers, but it was later assumed to be part of the parish. In 1787 the Fence, on the north boundary of the parish, probably the land called in 1282 'le defens', meaning an inclosure, was an extraparochial area of 44 a., and Bearse common, which retains the name of the Forest bailiwick dismembered by assarting in the St. Briavels and Newland area, was an extraparochial area of 102 a. adjoining the north-east boundary. To the south-west St. Briavels was bounded by a great tract of extraparochial land called Hudnalls. (fn. 21) Extended at 1,205 a. in 1608 and 1,010 a. in 1641, (fn. 22) it comprised the land later distinguished separately by the names Hudnalls and St. Briavels common and the north and west parts of the land later called Hewelsfield common. (fn. 23) Although encroached upon, the extraparochial areas remained part of the royal demesne of the Forest until the 19th century. (fn. 24) In 1827 the Crown sold its rights in Hudnalls, Mocking Hazel wood, and the Fence to the owner of the Bigsweir estate, and later in the century its rights in Bearse common passed to the owner of the Clearwell estate. (fn. 25)
In 1840 St. Briavels parish was said to contain 3,312 a. Its principal part was bounded on the west by the river Wye, on the north mainly by field boundaries and the ancient portway mentioned above, on the east partly by the Coleford-Aylburton road and Colliers brook, and on much of the south by Aylesmore brook and the steep hillside north of Hudnalls. A detached part of the parish, mainly a narrow strip of meadowland, bordered the Wye below and west of Hudnalls, extending from near the principal part at Bigsweir southwards to Brockweir village. (fn. 26) In 1842 the civil parish was enlarged to include Mocking Hazel wood, the Fence, Bearse common, and most of Hudnalls, the rest of Hudnalls going to Hewelsfield civil parish. (fn. 27) The new parish boundary with Hewelsfield was fixed on the brook running down the hillside through Hudnalls between St. Briavels common and Hewelsfield common. The brook was called Mere (or Meer) brook by 1608, (fn. 28) a name which suggests that it delimited the areas over which St. Briavels and Hewelsfield had respectively exercised rights, and even before 1842 the north and south-west parts of Hudnalls were sometimes popularly regarded as being within St. Briavels parish. (fn. 29) After 1842 the civil parish comprised 4,798 a. (1,942 ha.). (fn. 30)
Much of the enlarged parish lies on a plateau high above the Wye Valley. In the south-west Hudnalls rises to just over 260 m. (853 ft.), steep sided on the north and towards the river on the west and sloping more gently towards the Brockweir valley on the south. In the north-west the land also rises steeply from the river to the top of Wyegate hill at over 210 m. (689 ft.). Between Hudnalls and Wyegate hill a horseshoe-shaped valley, perhaps formed by a vanished meander of the river, breaks into the high ground, and side valleys, formed by Mork brook and its tributary, Slade brook, combine to enter the main valley from the east. In the east part of the parish the land is open and gently rolling, mostly at c. 200 m. (656 ft.), while to the south-east Aylesmore brook joins the headwaters of Cone brook to form a deep valley draining to the Severn. The west part of the parish lies on the Old Red Sandstone and the east part on carboniferous limestone. (fn. 31)
In 1086 St. Briavels manor included a wood measuring 1 league by ½ league, (fn. 32) and the steep slopes of the Wye Valley have remained thickly wooded. Woods in those areas, owned by the Bigsweir estate, accounted for most of c. 500 a. of woodland recorded on the parochial land in 1840. Rodmore grove (70 a.) on the east boundary was then the only large wood in the upland areas. (fn. 33) Hudnalls was said to contain 710 a. of underwood and 300 a. of cleared ground in 1641. (fn. 34) On its high land and southern slopes the woodland was cleared by the exercise of commoning rights and rights to take timber, and from c. 1800 (fn. 35) encroachments produced a pattern of tiny fields. In 1991 the woodland on the steep slopes remained native hardwoods, mostly coppiced but including some large oaks and beeches on the northern edge of Hudnalls. On Bearse common, in the Slade brook and Aylesmore brook valleys, and elsewhere conifer plantations were established in the 20th century. Some small open fields once lay around St. Briavels village, while in the east of the parish assarting in the early Middle Ages produced a pattern of compact, inclosed farms.
Offa's Dyke (fn. 36) descends Wyegate hill to the floor of the horseshoe valley, where it appears prominently in St. Margaret's grove, north of Mork brook. It is discernible again south of Lindhurst, where it was recorded by name ('Offedich') in 1321, (fn. 37) and it crosses the high land of Hudnalls as a reduced but fairly continuous feature. The ancient megalith called the Long stone, 10 ft. high, which stood in a field near Closeturf Farm, (fn. 38) was blown to pieces with gunpowder by a farmer in 1875. (fn. 39)
The principal ancient route through the parish was probably that which linked several of the early settlements on the east side of the Wye. From Hewelsfield village it ran past the site of Aylesmore Court to St. Briavels village, descended Mork hill to a ford on Mork brook, climbed the opposite side of the valley to Wyegate Green, which is probably the site of the manor depopulated in the late 11th century, and continued through Newland parish to the riverside at Redbrook. The road became known as Hewelsfield Lane south of St. Briavels village and Mork Lane north of it, and the section up to Wyegate Green was called Wyegate's way in 1376. (fn. 40) The road from Chepstow, west of Hewelsfield Lane and meeting it at the village, was in existence by 1448. (fn. 41) Another ancient route, recorded in 1445 as the Monmouth to Brockweir road, (fn. 42) followed the east bank of the Wye below Wyegate hill and Hudnalls. At Bigsweir, where shallows and a group of tiny islets were used as the basis of a fishing weir, the river was fordable: (fn. 43) Passage Lane was mentioned in that area in 1445 (fn. 44) and Passage mead, upstream of the ford, was so called by 1787. (fn. 45) The road leading from the ford up the Mork brook valley towards the Forest was evidently a significant route in the early Middle Ages, for a castle was built at Stowe to command the head of the valley and two chapels stood by the road, one at Stowe and one at Mork hamlet. (fn. 46) St. Briavels village was linked to the ford and the Monmouth-Brockweir road by a steep track down through Lindhurst. (fn. 47) The principal ancient road from the village eastwards into the extraparochial Forest was that called the portway in 1310. (fn. 48) It ran on the line of the modern Coleford road to Bearse common, beyond which it followed the parish boundary to the place called Bream's gate cross in 1464 (later Bream Cross). (fn. 49) In 1625 William Whittington of St. Briavels left £5 for a causeway on part of the road (fn. 50) and the remains of pitching were visible on a stretch east of Roads House in 1991. Around the village and the hamlet of Coldharbour, to the south-west, a complex pattern of minor lanes was in place by 1608, (fn. 51) and a similarly complex pattern evolved in the early 19th century to serve the scattered dwellings on Hudnalls.
Under an Act of 1824 a new turnpike road was built up the Wye Valley to link Chepstow and Monmouth. It crossed from the Monmouthshire bank by a new bridge, called Bigsweir bridge, a single cast-iron span with stone abutments, which was opened in 1827, and it incorporated most of the old riverside road in the north of St. Briavels parish. The same Act turnpiked the road from Bigsweir bridge up the Mork valley and authorized a branch from that road up to St. Briavels village. (fn. 52) The road to the village was built in 1829 and, although it was later taken over by the turnpike trust, the cost was met by the parish and George Rooke, owner of the Bigsweir estate. It replaced an old lane, which had partly followed a more westerly course through Alien's grove, and a new bridge was built for it over Mork brook. Turnpike gates were set up near the foot of the new road to the village (fn. 53) and at Mork Green, where the Mork valley road crossed the old road to Wyegate. (fn. 54) In 1830, by agreement of the parish vestry and George Rooke, the old riverside road south of Bigsweir bridge was closed. (fn. 55) The Wye Valley and Bigsweir roads remained turnpikes until 1879. (fn. 56) The short stretch of the Chepstow-Coleford road north of Bearse Farm, where it branched from the line of the old portway to cross the extraparochial Bearse common, was repaired under the Forest turnpike trust established in 1796. (fn. 57) A tollbooth was sited at Bearse Farm. (fn. 58) Within St. Briavels the Chepstow-Coleford road was repaired by the parish under indictment in 1813, (fn. 59) and in 1837 it was described as equal in condition to a turnpike road. (fn. 60) The use of the other old main roads declined following the improvements of the 1820s. That from Hewelsfield to Wyegate Green was closed as a highway south of St. Briavels village in 1837. (fn. 61) In 1991 most of it survived as an unmade bridle way between high hedges, as did the old portway, which the parish had tried to get Clearwell tithing to join in repairing and widening in 1876. (fn. 62)
After 1876 when the Wye Valley railway was built along the Monmouthshire bank of the river the parish was served by a station, called St. Briavels, in Llandogo parish near the west end of Bigsweir bridge. The line was closed to passenger traffic in 1959 and to freight in 1964. (fn. 63)
A market was founded at St. Briavels in 1208, and the villagers were termed burgesses in 1352. The attempt to establish St. Briavels as a market centre ultimately failed, (fn. 64) but the village, with its role at the centre of the Forest administration, was probably fairly large in the Middle Ages. It stands high on the eastern rim of the horseshoe valley on the ancient route between Hewelsfield and Wyegate Green, which perhaps formed its main street in the Anglo-Saxon period. The parish church stands beside that route and probably pre-dated St. Briavels castle, which was founded before 1130 (fn. 65) to the south of the church, astride the ancient route. The castle became and remains the dominant feature of the village, with a network of lanes centred on it. A lane circling the castle earthworks was joined on the south side by Hewelsfield Lane, which becomes Pystol Lane in the village, and by the Chepstow road, called High Street. In 1608 there was a continuous green or open market place between the two streets and High Street had houses only on its west side. (fn. 66) Only a small open space called the Square later survived at the north end near the castle, but further south, where the two roads entered the village near the 19th-century school, a patch of green remained in 1991. The other main streets are Mork Lane, on the ancient route north of the castle, Church Street, called Venny Street in 1388, (fn. 67) which runs east of the castle and in 1608 continued east of the churchyard to join Mork Lane, and East Street, by which the route to Coleford left the village, running south-eastwards from the central ring of lanes. West of the castle, where the ground falls steeply away, lanes from the settlements of the west part of the parish meet below a triangular spur of waste ground that was called Bailey green in 1619 and later Bailey Tump. (fn. 68) In that area of the village, which became known as Cinder hill, the lanes traversing the hillside formed an even more complex pattern before the 1830s than survived there in 1991. (fn. 69) On the south side of the village, Barrowell Lane, (fn. 70) named from Barrow (anciently Barrel) well, (fn. 71) linked Hewelsfield Lane and the Coleford road.
In 1608 the most concentrated groups of houses in the village, probably cottages or other small dwellings, were near the castle, some on the east side of Church Street and others extend ing along the south side of the castle earthworks from Church Street down to Cinder hill. High Street then had c. 7 larger houses spaced at regular intervals along its west side, with the southernmost one at or near the site of the later farmhouse called New House; possibly they originated as the dwellings of a group of Forest officers called serjeants-in-fee who were based at St. Briavels in the 13th century. (fn. 72) In 1608 there were a few houses near the south end of Pystol Lane near Barrow well, while north of the castle small farmhouses were scattered along Mork Lane as far as a place called Tilthams Tump, where the lane dips down Mork hill. The village was later reduced in extent. At the beginning of the 18th century the sites of demolished houses were visible, (fn. 73) and by 1840 the houses between the Square and Cinder hill and most of those near Barrow well and on Mork Lane had gone. Most of the houses on the west side of High Street had also been demolished and those near the north end had been replaced by a more continuous row. A few houses had been built on the east side of Pystol Lane and others, one dated 1829, had been added recently near a place known as Cross Keys at the junction of East Street, Barrowell Lane, and the Bream and Coleford roads. (fn. 74)
The older parts of the village are formed mainly of modest, two-storeyed, stone-built dwellings of the late 18th century and the early 19th. Church (formerly Churchyard) Farm, near the south end of Mork Lane, dates in part from the late 16th century and had a cross passage flanked by two large rooms. The south end of the house was added or rebuilt in the 18th century and a new cross passage was formed in the end of the older part. A small gabled building opposite the entrance to Church Street, by tradition once the home of the priests who served a chantry in the church, (fn. 75) dates in part from the 17th century but was much altered later, and the George inn southeast of the castle is also 17th-century in origin. Cinderhill, below Bailey Tump, is an L-shaped 17th-century farmhouse, restored and remodelled in the 20th. In 1698 it was owned, with a small estate in the parish, by the Birkin family and in 1760 it passed by marriage to James Davies (fn. 76) (d.1781), curate of St. Briavels. (fn. 77) St. Briavels House on the east side of Pystol Lane is a moderate-sized 19th-century residence, perhaps built for Charles Lord Denton, a prominent inhabitant and benefactor to the village. (fn. 78) A few small 18th- and early 19th-century farmhouses in and adjoining the village include Patchwell Farm in East Street, which in 1991 was being restored and its buildings converted as dwellings, and New House Farm on the Chepstow road south of the school.
In 1931 the Lydney rural district built eight council houses at Cross Keys on the east side of the village, (fn. 79) and the council estate there was enlarged in the 1950s and 1960s, partly by a small group of old people's bungalows. (fn. 80) In the late 1960s and early 1970s (fn. 81) a substantial estate of private houses was formed in the south-east part of the village, filling the area between Pystol Lane and East Street and partly based on Barrowell Lane, which was improved and extended south-westwards to enable Coleford-Chepstow traffic to bypass the village centre. A few small housing developments in the late 1980s included one on the Bream road, east of Cross Keys.
In the horseshoe valley below St. Briavels village a place called Lindhurst was settled by 1310, (fn. 82) and in 1608 apparently comprised a number of dwellings. (fn. 83) Later there was only a single farmstead, the name of which by the 19th century was corrupted to Lindors Farm. (fn. 84) Further north a hamlet called Mork, of which little survived by the 20th century, grew up on the Bigsweir-Stowe road around the junction with the old road descending from St. Briavels village through Allen's grove. By the mid 14th century it had three or more houses, a mill, and a roadside chapel, (fn. 85) and in 1608 it comprised c. 13 small dwellings, most of them grouped loosely around a green on the Stowe road east of the junction. (fn. 86) A farmhouse called Mork Farm below the junction belonged during the 17th and 18th centuries to the Dale family, whose enlargement of their farm caused the disappearance of at least some of the other houses of the hamlet. (fn. 87) In 1846 the farm was bought by James White (d. 1871), a land agent of Coleford, who replaced the house with a large residence in an elaborate Tudor style, named Lindors, and formed a garden with an ornamental pond on Mork brook below. (fn. 88) A smaller house in a similar style, called Woodlands, was built nearby, on the north side of the road, c. 1850. (fn. 89) Further up the road to Stowe, where the road and the brook were crossed by the St. Briavels-Wyegate road, a settlement was established near another small green. In 1608, when the place was known as Mork Green, there were three or four houses there. (fn. 90) A farmhouse standing close to the road junction and known as Mork Farm by 1880 (fn. 91) apparently occupies the site of a dwelling recorded in 1376. (fn. 92) It is a gabled, stone building of the early 17th century, built on an L-shaped plan and entered beneath a newel-stair turret in the angle of its two ranges. Internally many of the original fittings survive. At the head of the valley St. Briavels included two farmhouses attached to the hamlet of Stowe, which is otherwise in Newland parish. Stowe Grange, on the south-east side of the road, is on the site of a medieval manor. (fn. 93) There was a farmhouse at Stowe Farm, further down the hill on the other side of the road, by 1608 when the farm belonged to the Clearwell estate; (fn. 94) in the late 17th century and until c. 1780 it was part of a scattered estate that the Foley family of Stoke Edith (Herefs.) owned in the parish. (fn. 95)
Only a few early dwellings were established on the banks of the Wye beside the old Monmouth- Brockweir road. A house called the Florence stood near the north boundary of the parish by 1588. (fn. 96) Its name, recorded as that of a wood in 1253, (fn. 97) possibly derived from St. Florent abbey (Saumur), which had a claim to St. Briavels church in the 12th century. (fn. 98) The Florence descended with the adjoining Wyeseal manor, in Newland, (fn. 99) and in 1800 was occupied by the woodman of Lord Sherborne's large Newland estate. (fn. 100) It was rebuilt in an ornamental style c. 1900 and was a hotel in 1991. Bigsweir House, built beside the weir of that name and the ford, was the centre of one of principal estates of the parish. (fn. 101) Knoll Farm, on the ancient parochial land on the promontory below Hudnalls, is possibly the successor of a house built in that area by John Williams, a mariner, c. 1750. (fn. 102) In the early 19th century a few cottages were built at the riverside in St. Briavels parish close to Brockweir, most of them occupied by watermen employed in Brockweir's trade. (fn. 103) In the 20th century they were demolished or else incorporated in larger dwellings. Further north the lower slopes of the wooded hillside were settled with private houses in the late 19th century, one of them, a substantial dwelling called Brockweir House, with its own boathouse on the river bank below.
Farmsteads are scattered fairly evenly across the high ground of the east and south parts of the ancient parish. Willsbury and Rodmore were established in the early Middle Ages and Aylesmore Court by the late 17th century. (fn. 104) Great Hoggins Farm, at a place called Willsbury green (fn. 105) where the Bream road meets Rodmore Lane, was owned and farmed by the Allen family from the early 18th century to the mid 19th. (fn. 106) It is a late 17th-century stone farmhouse of two storeys and attics, which had a symmetrical plan with central entrance and end-gable stacks. A back wing was added in 1767, (fn. 107) displaced windows being reset in it, and by the 19th century a lean-to occupied the angle between the new and old ranges. In the mid 19th century the main range was extended eastwards and the dormers and ground-floor windows of the old part of that range were made uniform with those of the extension. The other farmhouses are mainly small buildings in the plain vernacular style of the 18th century and early 19th, though a number occupy earlier sites. Bearse Farm, where the Coleford road leaves the old portway, was established by the mid 17th century, (fn. 108) as was Bream Cross Farm, at the east end of the portway; Bream Cross had the alternative name of Brockets in 1659. (fn. 109) Roads Farm (later Roads House), on the portway at the junction with a lane from Willsbury green, was mentioned in 1704. Lands called Closeturf, north-east of the green, then contained only a barn, (fn. 110) Closeturf Farm being built beside the Bream road in the mid 18th century. One of two farmhouses called Dunkilns, standing close together south of the Bream road, existed by 1723. The more southerly of the two was later distinguished as Great Dunkilns, (fn. 111) and the northern one was called Severn View in the 20th century. (fn. 112) Highgrove, further south, is a house of c. 1820 and was probably newly established then as the principal farmhouse on the Aylesmore estate. (fn. 113) A residence called Ghyll House was built on the site of a barn west of the Chepstow road c. 1910. (fn. 114)
The former extraparochial common lands in the west part of St. Briavels were populated by squatters during the late 18th century and the early 19th. Three cottages recorded on Hudnalls in 1656 (fn. 115) may not have survived the government's expulsions of illegal settlers from Forest lands in the following years. (fn. 116) The parishioners of St. Briavels were later active in preventing encroachments, (fn. 117) but attempts to prevent cottagers settling were apparently abandoned at the start of the 19th century, when Hudnalls rapidly became studded with cottages and small farmhouses. (fn. 118) By 1841 the parts that were added to St. Briavels civil parish the next year-the high plateau in the north and St Briavels common on the southern slopes-contained more than 130 houses, (fn. 119) many of them with closes of cultivated land around them; in 1832 most of the settlers were said to be former inhabitants of the parish. (fn. 120) Some of the small dwellings on Hudnalls were evidently abandoned and demolished later in the 19th century, following the onset of the agricultural depression. Losses there presumably accounted largely for the fall in the total number of inhabited houses in St. Briavels parish from 299 in 1871 to 260 in 1881 and 251 in 1891; 15, 48, and 38 unoccupied dwellings respectively were recorded at those dates. (fn. 121) By the end of the century, however, the decline in the number of houses was halted (fn. 122) as the Hudnalls area began to attract wealthier private residents, who enlarged some of the cottages and built new houses. (fn. 123) New building continued in the 1930s, (fn. 124) when a number of bungalows and other small dwellings were put up in the area, and in the later 20th century, when some more substantial houses were built and the surviving older cottages were modernized and extended.
At Coldharbour, where a number of lanes meet at the north-east corner of Hudnalls, a small hamlet was established on parochial land in the early 19th century and comprised c. 5 cottages in 1840. (fn. 125) At Lower Meend, the common below St. Briavels village, three cottages were recorded in 1656, (fn. 126) but they possibly did not long survive, and the main period of settlement there began c. 1770. (fn. 127) By 1840 there was a total of c. 20 small stone cottages, scattered on the steep hillside around a stream. (fn. 128) At the Fence, on the slopes north of Mork brook, a similar settlement grew up, containing 6 cottages by 1788 and 11 by 1841. (fn. 129)
In 1327 22 inhabitants of St. Briavels and Hewelsfield were assessed for the subsidy. (fn. 130) There were said to be c. 170 communicants in St. Briavels in 1551 (fn. 131) and 49 households in 1563, (fn. 132) and in 1650 the population was said to comprise 80 families. (fn. 133) About 1710 the population was estimated at 400 in 80 houses, (fn. 134) and c. 1775 at 766 in 122 houses, (fn. 135) though there is little other indication of such a substantial rise over the period and the second figure is probably an overestimate. In 1801 670 inhabitants in 144 houses were enumerated, the figures evidently including the settlements that were beginning to form in the adjoining extraparochial areas. In 1841 the parish contained 585 people in 105 houses, while Lower Meend, the Fence, and the parts of Hudnalls that were added to the parish the next year contained 702 people in 161 houses. In 1851 the enlarged parish had a population of 1,194, which rose to 1,315 by 1871 but then fell to 1,065 by 1901. In the first 70 years of the 20th century the population fluctuated at around 1,100, and between 1971 and 1991 it rose from 1,140 to 1,331. (fn. 136)
In 1600 there were three victualling houses at St. Briavels, whose owners were presented for allowing disorderly behaviour and illegal gaming. (fn. 137) By 1721 the George inn, south-east of the castle, had opened, (fn. 138) and it was possibly the inn that was called the Castle in 1799, (fn. 139) though in 1702 (fn. 140) and until the early 19th century an alehouse was kept in the castle itself by the gaoler of the debtors' prison there. (fn. 141) By 1818 the Plough inn had opened on the west side of High Street and by 1840 there was a beerhouse, called the Crown, near Barrow well at the south end of the village. (fn. 142) The Plough had closed by 1880, (fn. 143) and the George and the Crown remained open in 1991.
An ancient ceremony, first found recorded at the start of the 18th century, involved the distribution of bread and cheese to the poor in St. Briavels church at Whitsun. By tradition it was instituted in connexion with a grant of a right of taking wood in Hudnalls, each parishioner contributing 1d. (later 2d.) in acknowledgment of the right. (fn. 144) The ceremony was rowdy in the early 19th century: the dole of bread and cheese was thrown from the galleries and the congregation scrambled for it on the church floor, (fn. 145) sometimes using it to pelt the curate. The rowdiness led to the ceremony being transferred to the churchyard c. 1857 and later to the road outside, where it was accompanied with drunkenness and fighting until c. 1890. (fn. 146) In the early 1990s the distribution of the bread and cheese, which for many years had been organized by one family, the Creswicks, was made at the old manor pound near the north end of Bailey Tump. (fn. 147) Also contributing to the villagers' reputation for unruly behaviour in the early 19th century was a gathering for cockfighting held on Whit Monday until suppressed by the curate c. 1845. (fn. 148) A village wake, including sports and maypole dancing, continued in Whit week in the 1850s. (fn. 149) It presumably took place on Bailey Tump, where a maypole stood in 1880. (fn. 150)
In 1826 a friendly society held its meetings at the George inn, (fn. 151) and by 1846 there was a separate society for women. (fn. 152) The vicar W. T. Allen, who served the cure from 1867, started a sick and burial society. (fn. 153) In 1854 C. L. Denton founded a village reading room and library in a building at the west end of East Street and he later provided a billiard and recreation room there. (fn. 154) At his death in 1892 Denton left legacies for the benefit of the village. His nephew and heir O. W. Andrews (fn. 155) gave a site adjoining the reading room for an assembly room, which was built in 1924. (fn. 156) The reading room was closed c. 1960 but the assembly room, recently modernized, remained in use in 1991. (fn. 157) The village had a cricket club by 1897, (fn. 158) and a village playing field was opened on the north side of East Street c. 1947. (fn. 159)
MANORS, CASTLE, AND OTHER ESTATES.
A manor at St. Briavels was known as LYDNEY in 1086 and LITTLE LYDNEY in the 1160s (fn. 160) but from the 13th century was generally called the manor of ST. BRIAVELS. It formed part of Lydney hundred in the 11th century and had presumably had a tenurial connexion with Lydney. Alfer held it in 1066, (fn. 161) and it was possibly among estates given at the Conquest to William FitzOsbern: his foundation Lire abbey (Eure) later claimed St. Briavels church and tithes as an adjunct to Lydney church. Wihanoc, lord of Monmouth, may have later acquired the manor, and in 1086 his nephew and successor William son of Baderon held it, extended at six hides. In 1144 William's son and successor to the lordship of Monmouth, Baderon of Monmouth, confirmed St. Briavels church to Wihanoc's foundation Monmouth priory, against which Lire had later to establish its right, and at the same period the place was named as Lydney Baderon. (fn. 162) No certain evidence has been found, however, that Baderon was in possession of St. Briavels in 1144, and it is likely that the manor had already passed from his family to the Crown, for in 1130 St. Briavels castle was recorded as a royal castle. Castle and manor later became established as the administrative centre of the Forest and as the head of a hundred or liberty of St. Briavels. (fn. 163)
In 1130 the hereditary sheriff of Gloucestershire, Miles of Gloucester, later earl of Hereford, accounted for the wages of a knight and other officers of St. Briavels castle. (fn. 164) He presumably then had custody of the castle under the Crown, and is by tradition credited with building it. (fn. 165) In 1139 Empress Maud granted the castle together with the Forest of Dean to Miles in fee. (fn. 166) The grant presumably included the manor adjoining the castle: by tradition it was Miles who gave rights in Hudnalls to the men of St. Briavels, (fn. 167) and he made a grant of a forge at St. Briavels between 1141 and his death in 1143. (fn. 168) The castle and the Forest were exempted from lands that Henry II confirmed to Miles's son, Roger, earl of Hereford, in 1154 or 1155, (fn. 169) and from 1160 the castle was recorded in possession of the Crown's custodians of the Forest. (fn. 170) During the next two centuries the castle and manor of St. Briavels, (fn. 171) together with Newland manor and the profits of the Forest, were appurtenant to the offices of constable of St. Briavels and warden of the Forest, held during royal pleasure at an annual farm. (fn. 172) In 1341 the constable Guy Brian was given tenure of his office for life. On his death in 1390 (fn. 173) castle, manors, and Forest, which for convenience will be here termed the St. Briavels castle estate, passed under a reversionary grant, quit of the farm, to Thomas, duke of Gloucester, whose grant was converted to one in tail male in 1391. (fn. 174) After the duke's death and forfeiture in 1397 the estate was granted for life at farm to Thomas le Despenser, earl of Gloucester, (fn. 175) who forfeited it in 1399. (fn. 176) Henry IV then gave it in fee to his son John, later duke of Bedford, who died without issue in 1435. (fn. 177) From that time the St. Briavels castle estate was separated tenurially from the constableship and wardenship, though for much of the 17th and 18th centuries the same people held the lease of the estate and, under a separate royal patent, the two offices. (fn. 178)
In 1437 the Crown assigned one third of the St. Briavels castle estate as dower to the duke of Bedford's widow Jacquette of Luxembourg, who had married Richard Woodville, (fn. 179) later Lord Rivers. She surrendered her right c. 1466, when it was granted to William Herbert, later earl of Pembroke, who was executed in 1469. (fn. 180) The remainder of the estate was granted for seven years from 1436 to Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and at his death in 1439 to Ralph Botiller and John Beauchamp for their lives. (fn. 181) In 1445 the reversion of the whole estate was granted in fee to Henry Beauchamp, duke of Warwick (d. 1446), (fn. 182) whose sister and heir Anne and her husband Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, were dealing with the estate in 1466. (fn. 183) Anne released her right to the Crown in 1488 (fn. 184) but other evidence suggests that the Crown had the whole estate in hand from 1476 or earlier. (fn. 185)
In 1490 the Crown leased the St. Briavels castle estate to Thomas Baynham, and the lease was renewed to him and his son Christopher for 30 years in 1498. (fn. 186) The Baynhams remained in possession to the end of their term in 1528 (fn. 187) when a lease was granted to Sir William Kingston (fn. 188) (d. 1540). Sir William's son, Sir Anthony Kingston, had a 21-year lease from 1547, (fn. 189) which he immediately assigned to William Guise of Elmore. Guise renewed the lease, (fn. 190) and at his death in 1574 was succeeded by his son John (d. 1588), (fn. 191) who secured an assignment of a 30-year lease granted in 1583 to the Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Bromley. (fn. 192) In 1591 the estate was held by John Guise's eldest son William during the minority of a younger son John. (fn. 193) In 1611 a 40-year lease was granted to William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, (fn. 194) and he assigned some of his rights in 1612 to Sir Richard Catchmay, who remained in possession of them in 1638. (fn. 195) The earl (d. 1630) was succeeded by his brother Philip, who renewed the lease for 40 years in 1640; Newland manor was then specified as part of the estate for the first time, but it had probably been included since 1490. Philip, earl of Pembroke, who sided with parliament in the Civil War, died in 1650, (fn. 196) and his assignees apparently retained the lease until the Restoration when one of them conveyed it to Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert. Somerset, later marquess of Worcester and duke of Beaufort, held the St. Briavels castle estate until his death in 1700, securing a renewal of the lease from Queen Catherine, who had been given the estate as part of her dower in 1665. The duke's widow Mary retained the estate (fn. 197) until 1706 or later and apparently sold the lease to James Berkeley (d. 1736), earl of Berkeley, who had a new lease from the Crown in 1727. The earl's descendants, Augustus (d. 1755), earl of Berkeley, Frederick Augustus (d. 1810), earl of Berkeley, and William FitzHardinge Berkeley, Lord Segrave, remained lessees (fn. 198) until 1838. Lord Segrave was then succeeded as lessee by the former steward of the estate William Roberts, a Coleford solicitor, who held the estate until 1858. (fn. 199) From then the manorial rights of St. Briavels and Newland were kept in hand by the Crown, (fn. 200) but in 1991 were managed for it by the Forestry Commission. (fn. 201)
The only land in the parish held in demesne with the castle and manor in the modern period was that called St. Briavels park, which was recorded from 1437 when it was extended at 100 a. (fn. 202) The main part of the park was a group of closes south-east of the village, adjoining Hewelsfield Lane, and it also included land called Just Reddings adjoining the Bream road. (fn. 203) On the main part a barn was built in 1751-2 and, before 1795, a small farmhouse known as Park Farm, which was rebuilt in 1825. In the late 17th century and the 18th the park, comprising 106 a., was held on 21-year leases under the Crown's lessees. (fn. 204) It was sold by the Crown in the mid 19th century, before 1875, (fn. 205) most of it becoming part of Highgrove farm. (fn. 206) The farmhouse was replaced by a group of private houses in the 1980s. The other main assets of the St. Briavels castle estate in the modern period were drawn from the Forest area as a whole and comprised chief rents paid for the manors and assarted lands of the liberty of St. Briavels, herbage money owed by bordering parishes and tithings for rights of common in the Forest, and a customary payment from quarry owners. The lessees gave up collecting the quarry rents in 1819 (fn. 207) and the herbage money c. 1835, (fn. 208) and the chief rents were redeemed between the 1860s and the 1930s. (fn. 209)
St. Briavels castle (fn. 210) stands in the village on the edge of a ridge at c. 200 m. above the river Wye. The earliest part of the defences was evidently the low motte at the south. It presumably carried a stone or timber tower by 1130, but later in the 12th century a square stone keep, said to have been c. 100 ft. high, (fn. 211) was built on the motte. Probably by the early 13th century a curtain wall was built, raised on an earth bank and surrounded by a broad moat. An area of 1½ a., roughly oval-shaped, was enclosed by the defences, but Bailey Tump, the triangular spur of ground projecting towards the valley west of the moat, and a similar-shaped area on the level ground to the east, on which side the original main entrance into the castle is thought to have been, appear to have once formed part of the castle grounds. The castle site was extraparochial until the mid 19th century. (fn. 212)
Substantial expenditure on the castle in the years 1209-11 may have included the cost of the two-storeyed, domestic range on the north-west. It included two principal first-floor rooms, which were probably the royal apartments that were mentioned in 1227 and 1255. (fn. 213) King John stayed at the castle at least five times in his reign, (fn. 214) Henry III was there four times in the 1220s and 1230s and visited again in 1256, (fn. 215) and Edward II came there in 1321 when his baronial opponents were levying forces in the Marches. (fn. 216) The castle's main functions in the early Middle Ages, however, were as the headquarters of the constable-warden, a prison for those attached and awaiting bail for forest offences, (fn. 217) and an arsenal for locally manufactured weapons. (fn. 218) North of the domestic range, a strong keep-like gatehouse, the principal surviving feature of the castle, (fn. 219) was built in 1292-3 on the orders of Edward I. It comprises a pair of three-storeyed towers, which project into the moat beyond the curtain wall and original north gateway, and a long central passage to which access was controlled by a drawbridge and portcullis at the front entrance and by internal portcullisses at the entrances to the rooms leading from it. Soon afterwards a two-storeyed chapel block, possibly replacing a wooden chapel that was ordered to be built adjoining the king's chamber in 1237, was added to the east of the domestic range across the axis of the entrance passage. At the same period, possibly c. 1310 when a 'peel' was ordered for the added security of the castle, the curtain wall was extended to take in a small area south of the keep. There was a small tower or bastion where the new wall rejoined the original curtain at the south-east corner of the castle. Other buildings adjoining the curtain wall on the east included a hearth or forge, possibly that used for the manufacture of crossbow bolts during the 13th century. A tall chimney rising from the buildings on that side had a cap in the form of a forester's horn, which in the late 18th or early 19th century was moved to the west domestic range. (fn. 220)
In the modern period the castle was used for holding the hundred leet and a court for civil actions in St. Briavels hundred and as a gaol for debtors imprisoned by the latter. The courts and the gaol, which continued until 1842, were among the responsibilities of the constable of St. Briavels, while the castle and the obligation of its upkeep were vested in the Crown lessee, but as the office and the lease were for so long held by the same people the distinction became blurred. (fn. 221) The courts were held in parts of the west range: in 1804 the former chapel served as the courtroom and the southernmost room of the former royal apartments as a jury room, while the west tower of the gatehouse housed the gaol and the gaoler and his family. (fn. 222) The north part of the royal apartments was roofless by the late 18th century (fn. 223) and was used to impound cattle illegally pastured in St. Briavels and Newland manors (fn. 224) until 1866 when the Crown built a new manor pound outside the castle. (fn. 225) Unused parts of the castle were allowed to decay, and in 1680 much was said to have been demolished. (fn. 226) The keep survived in a ruined state in 1732 (fn. 227) but part fell in 1752 and the remainder c. 1774. (fn. 228) In 1777 the decrepit state of the surviving buildings caused the Crown to allow Lord Berkeley £372 for repairs out of the fine for renewing his lease; parts later repaired (fn. 229) included the top of the east tower of the gatehouse, which was in ruins in 1732 and 1775 but had been reroofed by 1807. (fn. 230) In 1798, however, Thomas James, who held the courts in the castle as Lord Berkeley's deputy constable and steward, complained that the state of the roof and windows was a danger to his health in the winter months. (fn. 231)
After the Crown took the castle in hand in the mid 19th century the courtroom was used for some years as the parish school and other parts were let as a dwelling, one tower of the gatehouse being occupied in 1879. (fn. 232) About 1898, (fn. 233) to form a more substantial residence, the gatehouse and the west domestic range were restored and partly remodelled, though some of the original internal features were preserved. The castle was let as a private house until 1939, and, after housing an evacuated school during the war, it was let in 1948 to the Youth Hostels Association. It remained in use as a youth hostel in 1991, management of the property having been transferred from the Crown Estate to the Department of Environment in 1982. (fn. 234) The moat was drained in the mid 19th century, (fn. 235) and after 1961 a Moat Society, formed by the villagers, cleared it of undergrowth and laid it out as a public garden. (fn. 236)
A small estate at St. Briavels, later called HATHAWAYS manor, was held from the Crown by the service of chief serjeant-in-fee, or chief forester, of Dean. The obligations of the holders included the maintenance of an underforester, styled the bowbearer, to patrol the Forest on foot, and their perquisites included the right to course with dogs outside the covert and an allowance of venison, interpreted from the early 17th century as the shoulder of every deer killed and 10 fee bucks and 10 fee does annually. (fn. 237) The manor and forestership were presumably held by Nigel Hathaway, who was named first among the serjeants-in-fee of the Forest in 1220, (fn. 238) and by William Hathaway, apparently Nigel's son, who died before 1250. William's widow married Philip Wyther, who bought the wardship of his land and heir. (fn. 239) In 1282 the chief forester was another William Hathaway, (fn. 240) who was also constable of St. Briavels from 1287 to 1291. (fn. 241) At his death c. 1317 William held a house, 24 a. of land, and 30s. free rent by his service as chief forester and, an obligation not found mentioned later, of finding an armed horseman to serve at the castle in wartime. He was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 242) (fl. 1338). (fn. 243) The manor may have passed by the 1350s to Walter Hathaway, (fn. 244) and Thomas Hathaway died holding it in 1376. Thomas's heirs were three daughters, (fn. 245) among whom his estates were partitioned in 1382, when Isabel, who married Thomas Walwyn, received her share and shares were allotted to Sibyl and Ellen to await their coming of age. (fn. 246) By 1431 Hathaways manor had passed to Robert Greyndour, (fn. 247) and it then descended with his Clearwell estate (fn. 248) until 1680 when Sir Baynham Throckmorton settled it on three of his daughters, Elizabeth and Mary (both d. 1684) and Carolina. (fn. 249) In 1710 Carolina and her husband James Scrymsher sold the manor to Francis Wyndham, and Hathaways then descended once more with Clearwell. (fn. 250)
In the early 18th century Hathaways manor comprised only chief rents and two closes, one of which, Hathaways orchard north-east of the churchyard, had presumably been the site of the house. (fn. 251) By 1787 the post of bowbearer had come to be regarded as a distinct office held by the chief forester, then Charles Edwin of Clearwell, in person; Edwin's statement then that as bowbearer he was required to attend, accompanied by six men clothed in green, when the sovereign came to hunt in Dean may have included a degree of romantic embellishment. The chief foresters continued to claim their fee venison (fn. 252) until the deer were cleared from the Forest in the early 1850s but in the last years only one buck was taken annually. (fn. 253)
A group of small estates at St. Briavels, each originally a house and 12 a., was held by other serjeants-in-fee of the Forest, who performed their office on foot, whereas the chief forester went on horseback. The king's serjeants of St. Briavels were mentioned in 1216. (fn. 254) At various times during the 13th century between 6 and 11 serjeanties-in-fee of the Forest (apart from the chief forestership) were listed, (fn. 255) though only 5 are known for certain to have been attached to estates at St. Briavels, and most of those holding them in the 13th century and the early 14th had other estates, in Newnham, Lydney, or Awre, and possibly did not actually reside. In later centuries the holders were usually called foresters-in-fee, (fn. 256) but, to avoid confusion with the woodwards of the Forest's bailiwicks who had that style in the Middle Ages, they are termed serjeants-in-fee in this account.
One serjeanty at St. Briavels was held by William of Lasborough (d. c. 1261), passing to his daughter Agatha and her husband Henry of Dean (fn. 257) (d. c. 1292). (fn. 258) In 1297 Agatha gave 10 a. of her 12 a. to Richard of Dean, (fn. 259) and Henry of Dean apparently held a serjeanty in 1338. (fn. 260) Another Richard of Dean gave the land and serjeanty to John of Monmouth in 1342. (fn. 261) Roger and Richard Wyther were among the serjeants-in-fee listed in 1220, (fn. 262) and Richard's son Walter (fn. 263) held one of the St. Briavels serjeanties in 1252 (fn. 264). Walter Wyther (d. 1270) was succeeded by his son-in-law William Boter (fn. 265) (d. c. 1285), (fn. 266) and Philip Boter was apparently a serjeant-in-fee in 1338. (fn. 267) Alexander of Stears was a serjeant in 1220 and 1250, and in the early 14th century a family of that name, who owned Stears manor in Newnham, held one of the St. Briavels estates. (fn. 268) It was evidently that serjeanty that passed to William Aylburton, who owned land at St. Briavels and Stears manor at his death in 1539. (fn. 269) Another estate, probably held by Robert son of Warren before 1250, (fn. 270) passed to Thomas Warren (fl. 1282), to William Warren (d. 1348), to William's son John (fl. 1364), and to William Warren (d. 1419). (fn. 271) A fifth estate was possibly held by Martin of Box (fl. 1220) and by William and Geoffrey of Box cliff, who were mentioned as serjeants at different times in the early 13th century. (fn. 272) It passed to Ellen of Box, who was succeeded before 1276 by Robert of Awre. (fn. 273) That or another Robert of Awre died holding it before 1326 and was succeeded by his son John (fn. 274) (fl. 1338). (fn. 275) One estate was evidently represented c. 1451 by 8s. 4d. rent in St. Briavels acquired with a serjeanty by John Wyrall, (fn. 276) who is depicted with his accoutrements of office on a tomb at Newland. (fn. 277)
The houses and estates of the serjeants-in-fee have not been identified and their later history is obscure. The owners of Box manor in Awre, a former estate of William of Lasborough, (fn. 278) were serjeants-in-fee in 1637 and later, suggesting that some of the serjeanties had become annexed by association to estates outside the parish, but most of the eight serjeanties listed until the late 18th century apparently descended by inheritance rather than tenure. (fn. 279)
An estate called the manor of STOWE was based on a hermitage and a castle on the ridge in the north part of St. Briavels between the Stowe valley and the valley of Slade brook. The hermitage was recorded in 1220 when it was served by chaplains appointed by the Crown. (fn. 280) In 1226 Henry III granted it with 2 ploughlands and pasture rights to Grace Dieu abbey (Mon.), then newly founded by John of Monmouth, who was constable of St. Briavels from 1216 to c. 1224. The abbey undertook to establish a chantry of three monks at the hermitage to celebrate for the king's ancestors, and the gift, made during pleasure, was converted to a grant in free alms in 1227. (fn. 281) In 1338 Edward III added 36 a. of his demesne waste at Wyegate and 'Long field' to the endowment, (fn. 282) some of it evidently within Newland parish, where land on the east side of Wyegate Green belonged to the owner of Stowe manor in 1608. (fn. 283) In 1361 Grace Dieu abbey claimed that it was unable to maintain the chantry because of the loss of common pasture in adjoining lands which had been taken into cultivation; the Crown allowed the chantry, then said to be served by two monks, to be transferred to the abbey itself. (fn. 284) The estate at Stowe remained a grange of the abbey. (fn. 285)
In 1554 the Crown sold Stowe manor to Thomas Carpenter and William Savage, (fn. 286) and in 1556 Carpenter conveyed it to William Warren and his wife Marian, (fn. 287) whose family, the Catchmays, had been lessees of the site of the manor from 1488 or earlier. In 1559 Warren granted a 40-year lease to William Wyrall of English Bicknor. (fn. 288) William Warren died in 1573, (fn. 289) having settled Stowe on the marriage of his daughter Joan with George ap Robert (or Probert). In 1582 Joan, by then a widow, had a release of right from Thomas James of Bristol, son of her sister Margaret, and in 1584 she had a similar release from George Gough of Hewelsfield, who had married a third sister, Mary. (fn. 290) Joan later married William Carpenter, whom she survived, and died in 1617. Her son William Probert succeeded to Stowe, (fn. 291) and he and his son Henry conveyed the manor house called Stowe Grange and the bulk of the estate to William Hoskins in 1627 and outlying parts to others in 1629. (fn. 292) William Hoskins (d. 1661 or 1662), a cooper of Southwark (Surr.), left his Stowe estate to a cousin Kedgwin Hoskins, (fn. 293) whose son Kedgwin (d. 1685 or 1686) devised to his wife Mary the reversion, after his father's death. (fn. 294) The son of the younger Kedgwin, also called Kedgwin, had succeeded by 1696 (fn. 295) and in 1735 added a farm (later called Mork farm) at Mork Green. He died in 1743 (fn. 296) and his widow Alice apparently held Stowe until her death in 1756. (fn. 297) Their son Kedgwin (d. 1764) and his son Kedgwin (d. 1834), both of whom lived at Platwell in Clearwell, held the estate in succession. The latter left it to his brother-in-law, the Revd. John Hoskins, and then to John's son Kedgwin Hoskins (fn. 298) who had succeeded by 1840. (fn. 299) That Kedgwin (d. 1852) used his estate as securicy in his banking business, carried on with partners at Hereford and Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.), and his mortgagees and trustees sold Mork farm to James White of Lindors in 1855 and Stowe Grange with 190 a. to Edwin Cook in 1857. (fn. 300) Cook sold his estate c. 1867 to the owners of the Clearwell estate (fn. 301) and it was among farms of that estate that were bought by the Crown Commissioners of Woods in 1912. (fn. 302) In 1991 the land was farmed by the Crown's tenant of the adjoining Longley farm, in Newland, Stowe Grange having been sold in 1971. (fn. 303)
The site of the castle, at the north end of the estate commanding a route up the Stowe valley from the Wye, is a substantial circular rampart. Much rubble stonework is strewn around but may derive from quarrying rather than from buildings. Presumably built for the Crown soon after the Conquest, the castle may have been occupied only for a short period until the establishment of St. Briavels castle on a stronger site and one more effective for controlling the Wye crossing at Bigsweir. In 1310, in the only early reference found to it, the castle at Stowe was called the 'old castle'. (fn. 304) The hermitage stood on the ridge to the south-west. (fn. 305) The bases of the walls of a small single-celled building, which had a chamfered doorway on the north-west side, survive there among later farm buildings. The site probably included a graveyard for those serving the chapel, for skeletons were discovered during foundation work for a barn built in 1912. (fn. 306) Under a lease granted by Grace Dieu abbey in 1418 the lessee agreed to build a suitable house on the grange (fn. 307) and perhaps from that date there was a house at the site of Stowe Grange, which stands by the road below the chapel at the foot of a steep bank. A low wing towards the road incorporates a late 16th-century doorway and trusses, which are probably in situ, but the rest of the house dates from the late 17th century and has a short main range with central three-storeyed porch and a stair projection at the rear.
About 1350 John Joce of Newland owned an estate called the manor of ST. BRIAVELS, comprising numerous small tenant holdings at Mork and elsewhere. The manor later descended to Joce's descendants, owners of the Clearwell estate; Robert Greyndour held a court for it in the early 1440s. (fn. 308) In the late 15th century it was composed mainly of small freeholds owing chief rents, (fn. 309) and it has not been found separately recorded among the estates of the owners of Clearwell after 1669. (fn. 310) Several other estates in St. Briavels which descended with Clearwell at various periods are traced above and below.
An estate called RODMORE on the east side of the parish was recorded from 1294, having evidently been formed by assarting. It was called a manor in 1294, a status not accorded it later, and was held by Ralph Hathaway, who had licence to establish a chantry in a chapel he had built there. (fn. 311) Ralph died c. 1316, holding a house and 30 a. at Rodmore, for which he owed rent and suit of court at St. Briavels castle. He also then had 60½ a. of new assart land at 'le Horestone', which was probably further north near the Long stone on the later Closeturf farm, where his successors owned land in the early 16th century. Ralph was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 312) and Ralph, son and heir of William Hathaway of Rodmore, was mentioned in 1374. (fn. 313) In 1498 Rodmore was apparently owned by another William Hathaway, who settled lands on his wife Joan for her life in 1509. His heir Richard Hathaway confirmed the settlement in 1514. (fn. 314) In 1608 Rodmore belonged to Thomas James (fn. 315) of Soilwell, Lydney, and it remained in possession of the Jameses of Soilwell (fn. 316) until 1689, when they sold it to Thomas Morgan of Tintern (Mon.). (fn. 317) It was apparently sold to William Ford in 1711, (fn. 318) and he owned it at his death in 1733, his widow Mary retaining it to c. 1746. (fn. 319) Thomas James owned it in 1791 (fn. 320) and he or a later Thomas James owned Rodmore Farm with 205 a. in 1840. (fn. 321) A Thomas James died in possession of Rodmore and the adjoining Willsbury farm c. 1885, and his son William sold the two farms in 1892 to W. B. Marling of Clanna, Alvington. Marling added Highgrove farm to his estate the same year, giving him c. 560 a. of farmland in St. Briavels parish. (fn. 322) Rodmore was part of the Clanna estate until 1939 or later. (fn. 323) In 1991, comprising 170 a., it was owned and farmed by Mr. R. W. James. The farmhouse was rebuilt c. 1700 as a tall, single-depth range with a projecting stair turret at the rear and a front with a pediment and an elaborate stone doorcase. The interior was extensively refitted and modernized c. 1970. (fn. 324) Hathaways fields and Hathaways barn, which form part of the farm, (fn. 325) were presumably named from its earliest owners, but they were in a different ownership during the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 326)
At WILLSBURY, adjoining Rodmore to the north-east, Adam, the reeve of St. Briavels manor, apparently acting illegally, built a house shortly before 1270. (fn. 327) John Malemort, son of Richard Malemort of Willsbury, was mentioned c. 1300. (fn. 328) John Gainer of Willsbury was mentioned in 1385 (fn. 329) and another John Gainer of Willsbury in 1462. (fn. 330) Christopher Gainer sold a house and land there to John ap Gwyllym in 1539. (fn. 331) Willsbury was possibly acquired later by William Warren (d. 1573), passing to his daughter Mary and her husband George Gough of Hewelsfield. (fn. 332) Their son Warren Gough (d. 1636) settled a capital messuage and lands at Willsbury on his wife Dorothy with reversion to trustees for his son Richard's children. (fn. 333) William Gough, Richard's son, owned Willsbury in 1689 when he settled it, reserving a life interest in some lands and part of the house, on the marriage of his son Charles. William was living on his Pastor's Hill estate, in Bream, in 1708, and in 1724 Charles settled Willsbury on his own son William. (fn. 334) William Gough (d. 1773) (fn. 335) was succeeded by his son the Revd. James Gough or Aubrey, who sold Willsbury in 1791 to Thomas Evans. Evans (d. 1832) left the estate in trust to provide an annuity for his son Thomas, who was living at Willsbury in 1845. On the younger Thomas's death the trustees were to convey Willsbury to his daughter Eleanor, and she and her husband, Dr. Symeon Bartlett, owned Willsbury House and 140 a. in 1853. The Bartletts sold the estate in 1864 to Thomas James, (fn. 336) with whose Rodmore farm it passed to the Clanna estate; W. B. Marling sold the farm in 1920 to the tenant E. W. Miles. (fn. 337) The house later passed into separate ownership from the land, which in 1991 was owned and farmed, with Great Dunkilns and Severn View farms, by N. & K. Cooke and Sons. (fn. 338)
At Willsbury House a three-storeyed, early 17th-century porch on the west front marks the division between the tall, originally gabled, principal rooms at the north end of the house and the lower, service rooms at the south end. In the late 18th century or the early 19th the house was remodelled: the gables on the east and west fronts were replaced by a full storey, most of the windows were replaced by sashes, a new staircase was inserted, and additions were made at the service end. Considerable internal alterations were made in the mid and later 20th century. An octagonal lodge in Tudor style was built on the Bream road in 1850 (fn. 339) and was later extended. At the south end of the farm, near Rodmore grove, the owners had a large fishpond in 1689. (fn. 340) By the mid 19th century it had been filled in. (fn. 341)
An estate by the river Wye called BIGSWEIR had its origin in lands belonging to the bishop of Hereford, presumably once forming part of his Wyeseal estate, based in the adjoining part of Newland. (fn. 342) In 1310 Thomas Mushet sold to William Joce a house and lands by the Wye, held from the bishop, together with lands nearby, at Lindhurst, that Thomas had recently acquired from William Hathaway. (fn. 343) In 1320 William Joce conveyed the lands to his son Philip, and they later descended with the Clearwell estate. In 1445 Joan Greyndour leased them, including a house called Philip Joce's Place which was perhaps at the site of Bigsweir House, to Thomas Catchmay. Catchmay already held other lands in the same part of the parish (fn. 344) and he or one of his successors acquired the freehold of Joan's land. (fn. 345) John Catchmay of Bigsweir was mentioned in 1509 (fn. 346) and Thomas Catchmay of Bigsweir in 1555. (fn. 347) By 1608 the Bigsweir estate was held by George Catchmay, (fn. 348) who then employed at least eight servants. (fn. 349) George (d. c. 1617) was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Catchmay (fl. 1638), (fn. 350) and by 1649 Bigsweir had passed to Sir William Catchmay, (fn. 351) who was succeeded by his son Tracy Catchmay (fn. 352) (d. 1708). (fn. 353) Tracy's widow Barbara held the estate during the minority of his son William, (fn. 354) who died in 1743. William was succeeded by his sister Jane and her husband James Rooke (d. 1773). (fn. 355) The estate, which in 1787 comprised Bigsweir House, Lindors Farm, and 430 a. of farmland and woodland, (fn. 356) descended in direct line to James Rooke (d. 1805), who reached the rank of general in his military career, James (d. by 1823), and George. (fn. 357) George Rooke much enlarged the estate by purchases of land and woods in St. Briavels and Newland (fn. 358) and died in 1839, leaving it for life to his aunt Hannah, wife of George Worrall. She assumed the name and arms of Rooke after her husband's death in 1840, and sold her interest in 1848 to Willoughby Sandilands Rooke, later Colonel Rooke, who had the reversion under George Rooke's will. (fn. 359) W. S. Rooke died in 1891 and the estate, which also included Pilstone House and lands in Llandogo on the Monmouthshire bank of the river, passed to his son George Douglas Willoughby Rooke (fl. 1953). (fn. 360) George was succeeded by his grandson J. C. O. R. Hopkinson, later Major-General Hopkinson, the owner in 1991. (fn. 361) Bigsweir House, which stands on the river bank by the site of the weir and ford, was rebuilt in the early 18th century as a stone house of two storeys and attics with a symmetrical five-bayed front. Additions were made later to the south-west end and at the rear.
A house called GREAT HOUSE, at Tilthams Tump on Mork Lane, and an estate lying in and around the Slade brook valley belonged to the Whittington family in the early 17th century. In 1609 Richard Whittington conveyed the estate to his son Thomas, (fn. 362) who sold it piecemeal between 1610 and 1619 to John Gonning, a merchant and later mayor of Bristol. (fn. 363) Gonning added other lands during the next 20 years, including in 1629 a farmhouse and lands bought from William Probert, former owner of Stowe. His later purchases were made in conjunction with his son John (fn. 364) and in 1645, shortly before his death, he released all his right to John. (fn. 365) The younger John Gonning, also mayor of Bristol, died in 1662 (fn. 366) and was succeeded by his son Robert. Robert, who was knighted, added other lands. At his death c. 1679 (fn. 367) he owned c. 500 a. in St. Briavels and adjoining parishes, most of the St. Briavels land forming a compact block with Great House at its west end and Bearse Farm at the east. (fn. 368) Sir Robert Gonning's widow Anne, who married Sir Dudley North (d. 1691), (fn. 369) retained the estate until her death after 1713, when it reverted to members of the Strode and Langton families, heirs of Sir Robert's sisters. (fn. 370) One of the heirs, Mercy Strode, had married Francis Wyndham of Clearwell, whose grandson Thomas acquired the rest of the Strodes' share in 1730 and the Langtons' share in 1732. (fn. 371) The Great House estate then descended with Clearwell, passing in 1912 to the Crown, which retained it in 1991. (fn. 372) In the late 17th century Great House was a substantial gabled building, (fn. 373) and in 1732 it was described as a large old mansion. (fn. 374) It was in use as the principal farmhouse of the estate in 1760. (fn. 375) It was later demolished, perhaps before 1791 when the bulk of the land was being farmed from Bearse Farm, (fn. 376) which remained the farmhouse in 1991.
The AYLESMORE estate in the south part of the parish belonged in 1670 to Edmund Bond of Walford (Herefs.) who settled it on the marriage of his second son Edmund. Mary, widow of the younger Edmund, sold her interest in 1707 to their son Edmund, (fn. 377) who was said to have a good house and estate c. 1710. (fn. 378) Edmund (d. 1743) devised it to his niece Mary, the wife of Richard Bond of Brockweir. Richard died in 1754 (fn. 379) and Mary before 1771, the Aylesmore estate passing to her daughters Frances, wife of John Prosser, and Elizabeth Eleanor Bond. The sisters sold it in 1797 to John Mudway, whose mortgagee Robert Williams gained possession in 1814 and sold the estate, then comprising c. 170 a., to Lawrence Peel of Manchester in 1820. Peel bought Aylesmore for his son William Henry Peel, (fn. 380) who enlarged it to an estate of over 1,000 a. by purchases in St. Briavels and Hewelsfield. By 1840 he owned Aylesmore Court with Highgrove, Dunkilns (later Severn View), and New House farms in St. Briavels and Hewelsfield Court and Cowshill farms in Hewelsfield. (fn. 381) W. H. Peel died in 1872, and in 1876 his trustee sold the estate to Augustus Smith, whose mortgagee gained possession before 1881 and split up the estate. Highgrove farm with 197 a. in St. Briavels was bought by Robert Parnall, who sold it in 1892 to W. B. Marling of Clanna. Aylesmore Court with the adjoining Hewelsfield Court farm was bought by John Macpherson and during the remainder of the 1880s and the early 1890s passed through a rapid succession of owners and their mortgagees. (fn. 382) Before 1906 Aylesmore Court with a remnant of its estate was acquired by P. N. Palin (fn. 383) (d. 1933), whose widow Edith retained it (fn. 384) and was succeeded by her nephew Roger Fleetwood Hesketh. He sold it in 1952 to Mr. J. Arnott, who owned the house with c. 120 a. of land in 1991. (fn. 385) Aylesmore Court, which stands at the south boundary of the parish, on the east side of Hewelsfield Lane, is a plain, square villa of the early 19th century, presumably built by the Peels soon after 1820. It was enlarged to the west by a service wing in the late 19th century. The substantial coach house and stable block (converted to dwellings in the 1980s) and the planting of the land to the south and west to form a small park evidently date from the rebuilding of the house, and there is a late 19th-century entrance lodge on the Chepstow road.
In 1219 when Lire abbey granted Lydney church and its chapel of St. Briavels to the dean and chapter of Hereford it reserved to itself a tenement at St. Briavels held by Hugh Wyther; (fn. 386) no later record of that land has been found. The dean and chapter as impropriators of Lydney owned the corn tithes of St. Briavels parish, granting them out on long leases. Those tithes were valued at £50 c. 1710 (fn. 387) and were commuted for a corn rent charge of £215 in 1840. The tithes, both great and small, from certain riverside lands then belonged to the landowners Hannah Rooke of Bigsweir and Warren Jane of Chepstow, who were each awarded a corn rent charge of £4 for them. Parochial land that was found to be exempt from tithes in 1840 (fn. 388) included some riverside land of the Bigsweir estate, which presumably had once belonged to the bishop of Hereford, (fn. 389) Abbey Hams opposite Llandogo, which the duke of Beaufort owned, evidently as former property of Tintern abbey (Mon.), (fn. 390) and Rodmore grove, formerly a demesne wood of Llanthony priory's manor of Alvington. (fn. 391) In 1850 it was decided, on grounds which are not clear, that 142 a. of the extraparochial land in Hudnalls, Mocking Hazel wood, and the Fence were tithable to the landowner, and a corn rent charge of £3 was assigned to the Rookes of Bigsweir, (fn. 392) who had bought the Crown's rights in those lands. (fn. 393)
In 1086, when probably only a small part of the later parish was under cultivation, William son of Baderon's manor had 2 teams in demesne and 3 servi, while 3 villani and 5 bordars had 2 teams between them. (fn. 394) In 1224 and in 1246 oxen, ploughs, and seed were to be provided for cultivating the demesne land on the royal manor. (fn. 395) About 1250 the manor had 2 ploughlands in demesne, (fn. 396) and in 1280 arable and meadowland were worked by salaried farm servants. (fn. 397) The pasture and meadow recorded on lease from the manor in the 1430s were probably in St. Briavels park, which was later the only demesne attached to the St. Briavels castle estate. Rents of assize and some payments for assarts were the only other profits from land accounted for in the 1430s (fn. 398) and it is probable that freeholders, holding by rent and fealty, and the serjeants-in-fee, holding by their office, constituted the whole tenantry. In the 18th and 19th centuries all the tenants were freeholders, owing chief rents and heriots. (fn. 399) Most of the land on the St. Briavels manor belonging to the Clearwell estate was held freely in 1431, (fn. 400) and in 1536 Stowe manor received rents from six free tenements as well as from its demesne held at farm. (fn. 401)
The land earliest in cultivation was evidently in the central part of the parish around the village, Coldharbour, and St. Briavels park. There was open-field land in that area, and the general pattern of land ownership there in the early 17th century was a fragmentary one in contrast to the more compact farms of the east and north-east parts of the parish. (fn. 402) Colpatch common field adjoining St. Briavels park was mentioned in 1322, (fn. 403) and in 1608, when an open field of 7 a. called the Rye field survived beside Hewelsfield Lane, much of the area east of the village, bounded by the park, Hewelsfield Lane, and the Coleford road, was occupied by small, regularly-shaped closes, perhaps the result of a planned inclosure. (fn. 404) Over and Nether Wyralls (later Woralls) common fields, mentioned in 1478, (fn. 405) lay north-east of the village by the Coleford road and still contained 35 a. of open land in 1608. (fn. 406)
The tenants' right to common pasture in the royal demesne of the Forest (fn. 407) was exercised mainly in the detached areas that adjoined their parish. In Hudnalls they also claimed an ancient right to cut and take wood at will. Their claim, which later tradition ascribed to a grant by Miles of Gloucester, earl of Hereford, (fn. 408) was recorded in 1282 when they were said to be destroying the woodland, (fn. 409) and the right was confirmed, but not clearly defined, by the Dean re-afforestation Act of 1668. (fn. 410) It was evidently interpreted as more extensive than the estovers (firebote, housebote, and hedgebote) claimed by the tenants in other parishes adjoining the Forest; (fn. 411) probably Hudnalls supplied some of the regular trade from that part of the Wye Valley to Bristol in wood for coopers and other craftsmen. (fn. 412) The men of St. Briavels probably only ever exercised the right in the north and south-western parts of Hudnalls, for in the south-eastern part, the later Hewelsfield common, the men of Hewelsfield appear to have exercised exclusive rights. (fn. 413)
In 1696 and for a few years afterwards the parish vestry paid a keeper of Hudnalls a salary of £2, presumably to safeguard the rights to wood and common pasture. (fn. 414) Unidentified encroachments thrown down at the parish's expense in 1740 or 1741 were probably in Hudnalls, for legal action against 'offenders in Hudnalls' was planned or in progress at the same time. (fn. 415) In the early 19th century, however, the clearing of land for cultivation and the building of cottages proceeded unchecked, (fn. 416) so that by 1850 less than 300 a. of the original c. 1,000 a. in the whole of Hudnalls remained woodland and waste. (fn. 417) Of the smaller parts of the Forest demesne surviving in the St. Briavels area in 1787, 10 a. of the Fence had been taken by cottagers and 15 a. of Mocking Hazel wood had been encroached by the owner of the Bigsweir estate. (fn. 418) In 1827 George Rooke, owner of Bigsweir, bought the Crown's rights in Hudnalls, the Fence, and Mocking Hazel wood, subject to the parishioners' rights to wood and common pasture, (fn. 419) which they continued to exercise in the surviving woodland in the north and west parts of Hudnalls. In 1904 the parish council tried to prevent G. D. W. Rooke from cutting and selling underwood there and it was later agreed that he and the parishioners could take wood for their own use but not for sale. (fn. 420) The right to herbage, pannage, and estovers in 150 a. of woodland in Hudnalls was registered in 1977 under the Commons Act of 1965. (fn. 421) Bearse common did not suffer encroachment, and in 1871 the Crown enclosed 83 a. for its exclusive use, leaving 24 a. at the south end for those claiming commoning rights, namely 16 adjoining landowners. (fn. 422) In 1876 W. H. Wyndham Quin, owner of the Clearwell estate, bought out the rights of his fellow commoners, and before 1882 he also bought the Crown's part; the Crown regained the whole of Bearse common as part of the Clearwell estate in 1912. (fn. 423)
In the late 18th century (fn. 424) and the earlier 19th the parish had c. 17 principal farms. In 1818 the largest ones, which apart from Lindors farm were on the high, open land in the east and north-east, were Aylesmore (167 a.), Bearse farm (160 a.), Rodmore (156 a.), Willsbury, Lindors farm, and Great Hoggins (each with c. 140 a.), Stowe Grange (112 a.), and one of the farms called Dunkilns (101 a.); 115 a. on the east boundary belonged to the Prior's Mesne Lodge estate in Lydney parish. Another 7 farms had between 50 a. and 100 a. By 1840 Bearse farm had been enlarged to 273 a. and Rodmore and Stowe Grange to c. 200 a., and the new Highgrove farm (149 a.) had been established on the Aylesmore estate. In the earlier 19th century most of the land was tenanted, few of the owners of the substantial freehold estates farming their land. (fn. 425) The inclusion of Hudnalls later gave the parish a large number of independent smallholders, and a total of 100 agricultural occupiers was returned in 1896 (fn. 426) and 89 in 1926. The pattern of principal farms remained much the same, however, with in 1926 3 returned as 150-300 a. and 13 as 50-150 a. (fn. 427)
The parish had a growing proportion of land under crops in the late 18th century and the early 19th. The tithable arable land was measured at 785 a. in 1791, (fn. 428) at 1,169 a. (out of a total of 2,619 a. of tithable farmland) in 1818, (fn. 429) and 1,292 a. (out of a total of 2,691 a.) in 1840. (fn. 430) In 1850 as much as 400 a. of the land encroached in Hudnalls and the other former extraparochial areas was under the plough. (fn. 431) In 1818 the 16 farms in the parish that had over 50 a. of land mostly grew wheat, barley, and oats, rotated with turnips, clover, or grassland leys as the fodder crops; almost all of the farms still fallowed some land each year and on several a fallow was evidently one whole course in the rotation. (fn. 432) In 1866 in the enlarged parish 1,489 a. were returned as under crops compared with 1,243 a. of permanent grassland; wheat (453 a.) was the principal crop, with barley, roots, and clover and leys, the other main elements in the rotation. (fn. 433) Totals of 458 cattle, including 143 dairy cows, and 1,386 sheep were returned. (fn. 434) The general slump in cereals had reduced the total area returned as under crops to 895 a. by 1896 (fn. 435) and to 408 a. by 1926, when only 53 a. of wheat and 12 a. of barley were returned. Dairying and stock raising became a significant activity over the period, with a total of 826 cattle, including 267 cows in milk, being returned in 1926. (fn. 436) St. Briavels had a reputation for producing good cider in the late 18th century, (fn. 437) and 125 a. of orchards were returned in 1896. (fn. 438) Almost all had been grubbed up by 1991.
By 1991 many of the smallholdings and small farms in the Hudnalls area and in and around the village had gone. In the east and north-east of the parish some amalgamations of farms had occurred and some farmhouses had been sold away from their lands, but the pattern of medium-sized family-run farms remained largely intact. In 1988 a total of 34 agricultural holdings, worked by 74 people, was returned in the parish, though 19 of the smaller ones were worked on a part-time basis. Dairying was then the principal enterprise, ten of the larger farms being mainly so used; a total of c. 650 cows in milk was returned. Sheep and cattle were raised, and 263 ha. (650 a.) were cropped with wheat, barley, or maize. (fn. 439) Two large battery egg units, one on the old portway near Bearse common and the other south of the Bream road, were built in the mid 1960s by Sterling Poultry Products (fn. 440) and remained in production in 1991.
Mills and Ironworks.
In the era of bloomery forges St. Briavels was one of the centres of ironworking in the Forest area. Miles, earl of Hereford, granted a forge at St. Briavels to Tintern abbey (Mon.) before 1143. (fn. 441) In 1216 a royal order for the removal of all forges from the Forest exempted those belonging to St. Briavels castle and others held by the serjeants-in-fee, presumably worked in and around St. Briavels. (fn. 442) About 1250 the king's great forge belonging to the castle was found to be an uneconomic enterprise, because more profit could be realized by selling the wood used to fuel it; (fn. 443) the forge was reserved in the grant of the castle to an incoming constable in 1255 (fn. 444) and it was destroyed by royal order soon afterwards. (fn. 445) Eight men of St. Briavels in 1270 (fn. 446) and at least 13 in 1282 had movable forges at work in the Forest, presumably in the parish or its immediate area. (fn. 447) Among them was Adam, the king's reeve of the manor, who in 1270 was reported to employ eight charcoal burners and to have destroyed much woodland, even burning timber that had been assigned for repairing the castle. (fn. 448) Possibly St. Briavels was largely deserted by the industry in the latter part of the bloomery era: it did not figure in a list of forges in the Forest parishes owing rent to the Crown in 1437. (fn. 449) The steep hillside immediately below the village on the west, where waste from the ironworks was tipped, became known as Cinder hill (fn. 450) and in 1683 two men paid a landowner in that area £30 a year for licence to dig cinders. (fn. 451)
In the 13th century and the early 14th iron produced in the area was used to manufacture crossbow bolts (quarrels) for the royal armies and castle garrisons. (fn. 452) Bolts were being made at St. Briavels under the constable's supervision in 1223, (fn. 453) and in 1228 Henry III sent John de Malemort, John's brother called William the smith, and a fletcher to St. Briavels to manufacture them. (fn. 454) John operated there for many years, provided with his equipment and wages by the constable. (fn. 455) In 1265 he undertook to produce 25,000 bolts each year. (fn. 456) Large stocks were stored at the castle and distributed all over England: in 1237, for example, 20,000 went to Dover castle (fn. 457) and in 1257 30,000 were sent to Chester for Henry III's Welsh expedition. (fn. 458) A John de Malemort, possibly the son of the man sent in 1228, remained at work at St. Briavels in 1278, (fn. 459) and the family became well established locally. (fn. 460) The last record found of the manufacture of bolts at St. Briavels was in 1335 when the king's fletcher and ten other fletchers were employed there. (fn. 461)
William son of Baderon's manor included a mill in 1086. (fn. 462) The constable of St. Briavels had orders to build one in 1283 (fn. 463) and one belonged to the castle and manor in 1331. (fn. 464) There was a mill at Mork, paying rent to the Joce family, by c. 1350. (fn. 465) It was perhaps at the site of the later Mork mill, just above the crossing of Mork brook by the old road from St. Briavels village, but there may have been more than one mill at Mork in the Middle Ages: in the 1430s both the Clearwell estate (fn. 466) and the royal manor were receiving chief rents from mills in the hamlet. (fn. 467) A fulling mill and a dyehouse were built at or immediately adjoining the site of Mork mill shortly before 1688, when they were sold to Thomas Dale, owner of the nearby Mork Farm. The mill and dyehouse were worked in 1688 (fn. 468) and until 1709 or later by Thomas Hunt, dyer. (fn. 469) By 1775 Mork mill was part of an estate of the Foley family in the parish, (fn. 470) and in 1789 it was owned and worked as a corn mill by John Ansley. (fn. 471) It continued to grind corn until 1874 when it was bought by the owner of Lindors, the new house built on the site of Mork Farm. (fn. 472) The stone-built mill and millhouse became outbuildings to the house, and by 1991 had been restored and altered to form a dwelling.
A mill further down Mork brook, just above the old Monmouth-Brockweir road, was called Stert Mill in 1320 and later Wye's Mill. It was included in a lease of land at Bigsweir that Joan Greyndour made to Thomas Catchmay in 1445, and in 1648 it was on lease to Sir William Catchmay, who may have acquired the freehold from the Throckmortons of Clearwell in that year. (fn. 473) It remained part of the Bigsweir estate, (fn. 474) and was recorded until 1830. (fn. 475)
A water corn mill at an unidentified site stood on lands owned by Warren Gough of Hewelsfield c. 1630; it had been demolished by the later 17th century. (fn. 476) A mill, sometimes called Nedgetop Mill, stood on Slade brook in Slade bottom. (fn. 477) It belonged to the Whittingtons' Great House estate in 1609 (fn. 478) and was sold to John Gonning in 1616. (fn. 479) No record has been found of it after 1688. (fn. 480)
On Cone brook at the south-east corner of the parish a mill called Wood Mill, (fn. 481) later Rodmore mill, was recorded from 1349. In the 15th century it was owned by the Clearwell estate and was worked as a fulling mill in 1431 and 1478. (fn. 482) In 1628 it was a corn mill and belonged to the adjoining Rodmore estate. (fn. 483) An iron furnace was later built on land adjoining the mill, and Sir John Winter of Lydney was working it in 1635. (fn. 484) In 1646 two parliamentary officers Robert Kyrle, governor of Monmouth, and John Brayne of Littledean became partners to work the furnace with several other ironworks in the neighbourhood. (fn. 485) The furnace went out of use later in the century, but in 1689 the Rodmore estate included the corn mill and two iron forges. (fn. 486) The forges at Rodmore were occupied by John Hanbury in 1719 and remained in his family's possession in 1746, probably going out of use then. (fn. 487) The corn mill probably passed from the Rodmore estate in 1754 when members of the Ford family conveyed an unidentified mill to Samuel Stokes. (fn. 488) By 1774 it had been converted to make paper, and in 1789 it was let as a paper mill (fn. 489) to James Stevens, whose family bought the freehold in 1805 (fn. 490) and made paper there until 1842. (fn. 491) By 1863 Rodmore mill was a corn mill again. It became part of the Clanna estate in 1903, (fn. 492) and had ceased working by 1919 when it was let with a small farm. (fn. 493) The millhouse dates from the 17th century and is adjoined by a substantial stone mill building, which in 1991 was being converted to form part of the house.
Fishing rights in the Wye adjoining St. Briavels were recorded from 1086 when half a fishery belonged to William son of Baderon's manor. (fn. 494) Bigs weir, on the river near Bigsweir House, was mentioned c. 1287 when half of it, possibly the half adjoining the Welsh bank, was leased by the bishop of Llandaff to the constable of St. Briavels; the bishop regained possession from the constable in 1322. (fn. 495) Half of a weir that Edward II alienated from the castle and manor to Tintern abbey (fn. 496) may have been the part of Bigs weir on the St. Briavels side, for Tintern held Bigs weir in 1331. (fn. 497) In 1437, however, the farm of Bigs weir was accounted for as part of the St. Briavels castle estate, but nothing was received from it as the weir was in ruins. (fn. 498) Ithel weir, later called Coed-Ithel weir, further downstream, belonged to the earl marshal's Tidenham manor but was alienated by him before 1289, (fn. 499) probably to Tintern which held it in 1331. In 1331 Bigs weir and Ithel weir and others owned by Tintern on the Wye were reported to have been heightened so that they impeded navigation; when the bailiff of St. Briavels manor tried to enforce a royal order to lower the weirs he was resisted forcibly by the abbot and monks. (fn. 500) In 1398 the abbot was censured for taking salmon fry in his fish traps at Ithel weir. (fn. 501) Ithel weir passed with other property of Tintern to the earl of Worcester in 1537 (fn. 502) and the earl's successors, the dukes of Beaufort, later had the fishing rights on the lower part of the river, adjoining the detached part of St. Briavels. The owners of the Bigsweir estate later had the rights in the upper part of the river, adjoining the main part of the parish, having presumably become owners of Bigs weir as well as of fishing rights which in 1310 belonged to the estate held from the bishop of Hereford. (fn. 503) New weir, near the Florence just within the north boundary, was apparently part of a fishery that belonged to Wyeseal manor, in Newland. After the Rookes of Bigsweir bought that manor in the early 19th century (fn. 504) they had all the fishing rights on the Gloucestershire bank from Redbrook to a point opposite Llandogo, and in 1900 they also had rights on the Monmouthshire bank between Whitebrook and Llandogo in respect of lands they owned there. (fn. 505)
During the 17th century and the early 18th Acts of parliament for improving the Wye navigation provided for the dismantling of the weirs on the river. (fn. 506) In 1791 a ruined fish house stood on the duke of Beaufort's land called Abbey Hams just north of Ithel weir, (fn. 507) and the rights confirmed to the duke in 1866 as part of his extensive fishery in the lower Wye included, on the bank adjoining St. Briavels, a crib at a place called Turk's Hole, apparently near Abbey Hams, and a boat and stop net used at CoedIthel. (fn. 508) The Rookes of Bigsweir used cribs and stop nets adjoining their estate in the 19th century until 1866 when an inquiry declared the practice illegal. (fn. 509) In the 1890s the Bigsweir fishery was leased to Miller Bros. of Chepstow, who were also tenants of the duke of Beaufort's Wye fisheries. The duke sold his fishing rights to the Crown Commissioners of Woods in 1901, (fn. 510) and they passed in the 1920s to the Wye Board of Conservators. In 1991 the National Rivers Authority, as successor to the board, held them, while the Bigsweir estate still owned its rights. (fn. 511)
Other Industry and Trade.
In 1208 the Crown established a market at St. Briavels on Saturdays. (fn. 512) In 1232 the day was changed to Tuesday and then to Monday (fn. 513) and in 1309 it was changed again to Tuesday. A fair at Michaelmas was granted in 1309 but moved to the Nativity of St. Mary in 1318. (fn. 514) In the mid 1430s the manor claimed two fairs, at St. John before the Latin Gate and at St. Clement, but they were not then being held, nor apparently was any market. (fn. 515) The alterations to the dates suggest that it was found difficult to establish St. Briavels as a trading centre. Its central role in the Forest administration and its ironworking industry doubtless encouraged some trade in the early Middle Ages, but later there was little to counteract the relative inaccessibility of the place. The market and fairs had certainly lapsed by c. 1700. (fn. 516) The only later revival appears to have been the Midsummer pleasure fair that was held in the village streets at the start of the 20th century; it was moved to an outlying site c. 1905 and had lapsed by the 1960s. (fn. 517)
In 1608 11 tradesmen and craftsmen were mustered from the parish, including a mercer, a weaver, and a miner, who possibly worked in an adjoining area, as no iron or coal workings have been found recorded within the parish. Four watermen also listed were probably employed on vessels trading from Brockweir. (fn. 518) Village craftsmen were mentioned with reasonable regularity later. (fn. 519) In 1811, in an enumeration that evidently included the outlying extraparochial areas, 11 families were supported by trade compared with 160 by agriculture, and the number of families suported by trade rose to 30 by 1831. (fn. 520) In 1851 c. 95 men in the enlarged parish followed nonagricultural occupations, about a third of them living in St. Briavels village and the rest inhabiting the cottages of Lower Meend, Hudnalls, St. Briavels common, and the part of the riverside adjoining Brockweir. St. Briavels village was then well supplied with craftsmen, among them 5 blacksmiths, but it had only a few shopkeepers and only one professional man, a surgeon. Among the cottagers of the outlying areas the woodworking trades were particularly well represented, with 9 carpenters, 2 hoopmakers, 2 hurdlemakers, and a maker of chairs enumerated, and more directly the woodlands gave employment to 8 woodmen and woodcutters and 2 wood dealers. The stoneworking trades were also well represented, with 8 masons and 3 tilers living in the outlying areas. (fn. 521) In those two trades the Hulin family predominated in the earlier 19th century. Members of the family had worked stone at St. Briavels since 1713 or earlier, (fn. 522) and in the early 1820s at least six were masons or tilers there. (fn. 523) Thirteen men, classed as mariners, sailors, or watermen, lived in the outlying parts of the parish in 1851, all presumably employed in Brockweir's trade. (fn. 524)
Stone has been quarried extensively in the parish, and lime burning, recorded from the early 18th century, (fn. 525) became a significant trade in the 19th century, usually carried on by farmers as a sideline. By 1840 there were limekilns at a number of sites, including two at Willsbury green near Great Hoggins Farm, whose owner William Alien (fn. 526) had traded as a builder in 1830 when he was one of the contractors for the new tower of the parish church. (fn. 527) By 1880 kilns and small quarries were scattered over the eastern, upland part of the parish. (fn. 528) Lime burning had by then been further encouraged by the opening of the Wye Valley railway, and the lime was carted to the station on the other side of Bigsweir bridge. Lime burning came to an end in the early 20th century, (fn. 529) but quarrying continued, and a large quarry at Stowe on the north boundary of the parish was being worked for roadstone in 1991.
The parish retained a fairly substantial body of craftsmen in the early 20th century, with 6 masons and 4 carpenters among those listed in 1906. (fn. 530) By 1939 most of the traditional crafts had died out but 10 sellers of provisions and other shopkeepers were listed, together with builders, motor engineers, and a haulage contractor. (fn. 531) St. Briavels village had a post office with general store and a butcher's shop in 1991. The number of visitors attracted there by the castle and the Wye Valley scenery had encouraged the establishment of a pottery.
In 1276 return of writs, assize of bread and ale, gallows, and pleas of vee de naam were claimed for the royal manor of St. Briavels. (fn. 532) The manor court was held at St. Briavels castle with the courts for St. Briavels hundred, which are described above. (fn. 533) In the 1440s a court was being held for the St. Briavels manor that belonged to the owners of the Clearwell estate. (fn. 534) A lease of the site of Stowe manor in 1559 referred to a court being held there, although in practice it may already have lapsed. (fn. 535)
The accounts of the two churchwardens of St. Briavels survive for the years 1719-59 and from 1811 (fn. 536) and those of the two overseers of the poor for 1692-1725, (fn. 537) and there are vestry minutes from 1833. (fn. 538) In 1745 a rota by houses was made for filling the offices of churchwarden and overseer. (fn. 539) The parish had two constables in 1718. In the early 18th century there were usually c. 10 people receiving a weekly dole from the overseers, and other parishioners were helped with the payment of house rent. (fn. 540) Payments to vagrants were causing concern in 1723 and were ordered to be discontinued. (fn. 541) In 1813 and 1814 the parish gave 26 people regular weekly pay and more than 40 occasional relief; the total annual expenditure was c. £460, a sum similar to that in much more populous parishes like Lydney and Awre. (fn. 542) In the late 1820s expenditure reached another peak, at just over £300. (fn. 543) Poor cottagers living in Hudnalls and other extraparochial areas were then receiving relief from the parish, and in 1835 it was said that most of the inhabitants of Hudnalls had their legal settlement in St. Briavels. (fn. 544) By 1828 a workhouse had been built on Mork Lane at the north end of the village, and the poor there were farmed out that year. (fn. 545) By 1833 a select vestry had been formed and an assistant overseer appointed. In 1836 the parish gave 19 people weekly pay and housed another 10, mostly disabled and infirm, in the workhouse. In that year the parish became part of the Chepstow poor-law union, which the ratepayers voted to join in preference to the Monmouth union. (fn. 546)
In the mid 1840s, following the addition of the extraparochial areas, the parishioners became concerned about high rates. In 1846 payers to the highway rates owning two or more horses were allowed to contribute part of their assessment by hauling stone and in 1849 all payers were permitted to meet a third of their assessment by haulage. (fn. 547) That system, which was evidently adopted because several of the farmers owned small quarries, probably continued after 1867, when the parish opted not to join the Lydney highway district that was formed from the Gloucestershire parishes of the Chepstow union. (fn. 548) St. Briavels continued to repair its lesser roads until 1898 when they were taken over by the Lydney rural district, in which the parish had been included for other purposes from 1894. (fn. 549) With the rest of the rural district it passed into the new Forest of Dean district in 1974.
St. Briavels church was a chapel to Lydney church for much of its history. It was probably included in a grant of Lydney church to Lire abbey (Eure) by William FitzOsbern (d. 1071), (fn. 550) but in 1144 Baderon of Monmouth confirmed St. Briavels church to Monmouth priory, a cell of St. Florent abbey (Saumur), and it was then claimed to have been part of the endowment of the priory by its founder Wihanoc of Monmouth in William I's reign. (fn. 551) That confirmation was approved by the bishop of Hereford, and St. Florent secured papal confirmations in 1146 and 1157, (fn. 552) but the claim had presumably been challenged by Lire abbey for many years, and between 1164 and 1166 the bishop of Worcester, arbitrating between Lire and St. Florent, confirmed Lire's right to the church. St. Florent was able only to establish its right to two sheaves out of the demesne tithes of St. Briavels, and it released those to Lire under the settlement. At the same period, probably also in the 1160s, the bishop of Hereford dedicated the church and confirmed it to Lire as a chapel of Lydney church. (fn. 553) In 1186 a papal bull once more confirmed the church to St. Florent, (fn. 554) but there is no evidence that the claim was resumed. St. Briavels was included as a chapel to Lydney in the grant of Lydney church by Lire abbey to the dean and chapter of Hereford in 1219. (fn. 555)
St. Briavels had burial rights by 1282 (fn. 556) but in other respects remained a chapel of ease, the tithes being taken by the impropriator and vicar of Lydney. (fn. 557) Priests, styled curates or chaplains, were assigned by the vicar to serve it, and from the mid 17th century they usually also had charge of the neighbouring chapelry of Hewelsfield. (fn. 558) in 1750 the curate had a salary of £25 and was allowed the surplice fees and a sermon charity founded by William Whittington. (fn. 559) In 1825 the curate received £100 a year. (fn. 560)
In 1859 a separate benefice was created, endowed with the vicar of Lydney's tithe rent charge from the parish. The living, a perpetual curacy but styled a vicarage from 1866, was placed in the gift of the dean and chapter of Hereford, patrons of Lydney. (fn. 561) The first incumbent, Horatio Walmsley, bought a cottage at the south-east corner of the churchyard and in 1864 assigned it for use as a vicarage house; the building was enlarged and remodelled in two stages in a Tudor style. The gift of the vicarage house was matched by £200 granted by Queen Anne's Bounty in augmentation of the benefice, (fn. 562) which was worth £150 a year in 1879. (fn. 563) The ecclesiastical parish comprised only the ancient parish of St. Briavels until 1932: it was then extended to include most of the former extraparochial areas of the civil parish, but the south part of St. Briavels common and the part of the ancient parish adjoining Brockweir were added then to Hewelsfield ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 564) In 1963 the benefice was united with that of Hewelsfield. The incumbent continued to live at St. Briavels, where a new vicarage house was acquired in 1981. (fn. 565)
Two of the stipendiary curates who served the longest were James Davies, appointed before 1731, and Thomas Edmunds, who succeeded Davies in 1769 and died in the post in 1804. (fn. 566) In 1750 Davies held only one service each Sunday, in the morning or afternoon by alternation with Hewelsfield chapel, (fn. 567) and the same arrangement was followed in 1825. (fn. 568)
The history of the hermitage chapel at Stowe is given above. (fn. 569) A chapel dedicated to St. Margaret stood beside the road at Mork between St. Margaret's grove, with which the chapel was endowed, and Mork Farm (the house later replaced by Lindors). (fn. 570) The chapel was possibly established as a hospital in connexion with the route from the river crossing at Bigsweir, for a warden of St. Margaret's hospital at St. Briavels was granted protection by the Crown in 1256. (fn. 571) No later record has been found until 1522 when an indulgence was issued to help finance repairs at the chapel. (fn. 572) It was later said that, before its dissolution under the Act of 1547, (fn. 573) a lease of the chapel was granted by the parishioners of St. Briavels; perhaps they had communal responsibility for its management. (fn. 574) The building was in private ownership in 1642, (fn. 575) though the Commonwealth government aparently laid claim to the freehold in 1652. (fn. 576) In 1664 the chapel was bought by the Dale family of Mork Farm. (fn. 577) It was later demolished, probably before 1709. (fn. 578)
A chantry chapel in St. Briavels church, dedicated to St. Mary, was said at its dissolution to have been endowed by a group of donors. (fn. 579) It was presumably served by one of the three chaplains recorded at St. Briavels in 1475, (fn. 580) and in 1518 an apostate monk of Grace Dieu abbey was said to serve a chantry in the church. (fn. 581) In the 1540s the priest serving the chantry also taught children of the parish. (fn. 582) The chantry property, which included a number of houses in the village, was sold by the Crown in 1549. (fn. 583)
William Whittington (d. 1625) gave 26s. 8d. a year for sermons to be preached each quarter in St. Briavels church and 20s. to provide furnishings and ornaments. (fn. 584) The sermons were being preached as directed in the 1820s, (fn. 585) and in the 1960s the fund was used for the expenses of a visiting preacher at Whitsun. (fn. 586) A newly built mission chapel standing at Mork, near Lindors, was licensed in 1887 and remained in use in the early 20th century. (fn. 587)
The church of ST. MARY, which was known by that dedication by 1471 (fn. 588) but was apparently dedicated to St. Briavels in the 12th century, (fn. 589) is built of rubble with ashlar dressings. It comprises chancel with north vestry, central crossing with north and south transepts, aisled and clerestoried nave, and south tower incorporating a porch. The south aisle and its five-bayed arcade are of the 12th century. The crossing, which carried a low, broad tower, and the north transept are of c. 1200, and the reconstruction of the east end was completed by the addition of a long chancel in the 13th century. (fn. 590) The north aisle was built c. 1300 and there may then have been some widening of the nave, which is not central to the western crossing arch. The south transept was remodelled in the 14th century and a rood stair was later built against its west side. Instability of the foundations made necessary the removal of the central tower in 1829, and a new tower, its ground floor forming a porch, was built against the south aisle in 1830-1 in place of an old porch. The new tower was designed by John Briggs of Chepstow. (fn. 591) In 1861 the chancel was rebuilt in shortened form with a vestry adjoining it on the north, the west window and the north aisle windows were replaced, and a ceiling, inserted in 1756, was removed from the nave. (fn. 592)
The Norman stone font has a plain tub-shaped bowl with a projecting waistband of scallops. (fn. 593) A canopied monument in the chancel with effigies of William Warren (d. 1573) and his wife (fn. 594) was taken down at the rebuilding of the chancel in 1861; the broken parts were preserved in the church (fn. 595) and in 1974 the effigies were reassembled on a new base in the south aisle. (fn. 596) A 13th-century tomb recess in the south transept was uncovered and restored in the late 19th century and an ancient coffin lid, which has an early 14th-century carved head inserted in it, was placed in the recess. A 13th-century piscina, presumably once used by the chantry priest, was moved from the north transept to the new chancel in 1861. (fn. 597) A brass chandelier given to the church in 1732 was removed in 1861. (fn. 598) The church had five bells before 1764 when William Evans of Chepstow recast them and added a sixth. The ring was augmented to eight when it was transferred to the new tower in 1831, the two new bells being cast by John Rudhall; the new treble was recast in 1905. (fn. 599) The plate includes a chalice and paten cover given to the church in 1795 and a mid 19th-century paten and flagon given by the trustees of Whittington's charity in 1860. (fn. 600) An ancient embroidered altar frontal is preserved in the church. (fn. 601) The registers survive from 1660. (fn. 602)
A house was licensed for use by Presbyterians in 1746 (fn. 603) but no other record of the group has been found. Wesleyan Methodists, under a Chepstow minister, met at Green Farm in the village in 1819. (fn. 604) A Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the part of Hudnalls that became known as St. Briavels common (fn. 605) was built c. 1818; in 1851 it had congregations of up to 18 in the morning and up to 40 in the afternoon. (fn. 606) It remained open as a Methodist chapel until the mid 20th century (fn. 607) and had been converted as a house by 1991. Bible Christians (Bryanites) were meeting in the parish in 1825 (fn. 608) but are not recorded later. Baptists, under a minister of Llandogo (Mon.), registered a house in 1828 (fn. 609) and were again meeting in the parish in 1854, (fn. 610) but did not establish a church there. (fn. 611)
Independents and Congregationalists met in houses in the parish in 1824 (fn. 612) and in the 1850s (fn. 613) and became permanently established in 1861 when a chapel was built on the east side of High Street. (fn. 614) In 1908 the Congregational church at St. Briavels had 25 members and had outlying mission stations at Mork and at 'the Common'. (fn. 615) The latter was evidently a small chapel near Chapel Farm in the north part of Hudnalls, which had been built by 1880, when it was styled Independent. (fn. 616) In 1991 the chapel in the village, which was then under a lay pastor and affiliated to the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches, had morning congregations of c. 40 and evening congregations of c. 25. The chapel at Hudnalls, known as the Gideon chapel, was then used mainly as a youth centre by young members of the St. Briavels congregation and by visiting groups from other churches. (fn. 617)
There were two small private day schools and a church Sunday school at St. Briavels in 1818. (fn. 618) A National school had been established by 1847 when it had an attendance of 54. School pence were charged at a rate of more than 1d. a week because little supplementary income could be raised by subscriptions; some of the poorest children could not afford to attend. The unsecured schoolroom where it was held (fn. 619) was presumably, as in 1858 and until 1872, a room in the castle. (fn. 620) A new church school, on the Chepstow road at the south end of the village, was opened in 1872. It was built at the instigation of the vicar W. T. Allen, whose architect son designed the building, and the site was given by W. H. Peel of Aylesmore. (fn. 621) The average attendance was 135 in 1885, (fn. 622) and in 1910, when it was called St. Briavels Parochial school, the average attendance was 164 in mixed and infants' departments. Attendance fell during the early 20th century to 97 in 1938. (fn. 623) In 1991, as the St. Briavels Parochial C. of E. school, it had 64 children on its roll. (fn. 624)
Children from the south part of the parish attended schools in or near Brockweir, whose history is given above under Hewelsfield. (fn. 625) An outlying nonconformist chapel, probably the Wesleyan chapel at St. Briavels common, was being used for a small day school under an untrained teacher in 1867. (fn. 626)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
William Whittington (d. 1625) gave lands in St. Briavels parish to support ecclesiastical bequests, payments of £3 a year to 12 poor people, and £3 a year for apprenticeships. (fn. 627) John Gonning (d. 1662) charged his Great House estate with £5 for the poor; William Hoskins by will dated 1661 gave 20s. charged on his Stowe Grange estate; and John Braban by will dated 1684 gave 40s., which was later charged on Cinderhill house. A bequest of 40s. charged on one of the Dunkilns farms by Thomas Evans by will dated 1820 was apparently never implemented. In the 1820s the various eleemosynary bequests were distributed to the poor in the church at Easter. (fn. 628) Under the Whittington charity an apprenticeship was made every one or two years in the 18th century and the early 19th and at longer intervals later. (fn. 629)
Caroline Ironside by will proved 1879 gave a legacy to provide the poor of St. Briavels and Llandogo (Mon.) with clothes and other necessities. In 1900 when the endowment was £57 stock, producing an income of under £2, it was divided to form separate charities for each parish. (fn. 630)
In 1915 all the charities except Whittington's were placed under a single body of trustees, as the United Charities. In 1971 the Whittington charity was placed under the trustees of the United Charities and part of its income was applied, with that of the other charities, to relieve the poor in cash or kind and another part to aid young people entering a trade or profession. In 1991 the charities distributed c. £30 in sums of £3 to ill and handicapped people and, under the separate provision for the Whittington charity, small items of equipment were occasionally purchased for young people starting work. All the income was then drawn from investments, the Whittington land having been sold in 1878 and the Hoskins, Braban, and Gonning rent charges redeemed in 1916, 1945, and 1973 repectively. (fn. 631)
C. L. Denton (d. 1892) (fn. 632) left an endowment to establish an almshouse for three elderly men and three elderly widows. It was built on the south side of East Street in 1895 by his heir O. W. Andrews. (fn. 633) The almshouse was modernized in the late 1960s, (fn. 634) and in 1991 the six occupants paid a low rent for their accommodation. (fn. 635)
A customary distribution of bread and cheese to the poor at St. Briavels is described above. (fn. 636)