A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5, Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, the Forest of Dean. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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The small parish of Alvington (fn. 1) lies on the north-west side of the river Severn, 9.5 km. north-east of Chepstow (Mon.). It was part of Herefordshire in the late 11th century (fn. 2) but was joined to Gloucestershire, as part of Bledisloe hundred, before the early 13th century. (fn. 3) During the 13th century Alvington was within the jurisdiction of the Forest of Dean but it was among places removed from the Forest by a perambulation made in 1300 and confirmed in 1327. (fn. 4)
Alvington parish contained 1,582 a. (640 ha.) (fn. 5) until 1935 when 54 a. (22 ha.) of uninhabited farmland adjoining its south end were added from Woolaston. (fn. 6) The parish forms a fairly narrow strip of land, rising from level land near the riverside to high land near the edge of the formerly extraparochial Forest. The north end of the later parish was in an area of woodland and waste, where the inhabitants of Alvington and Aylburton, both owned by Llanthony priory, Gloucester, in the late Middle Ages, once intercommoned, and the manorial and parochial boundary there was settled only after litigation in the late 16th century and the early 18th. Afterwards the boundary followed a stone wall along the south side of an ancient assart called Prior's Mesne and then descended a small brook by the west side of Ferneyley wood to its confluence with Woodwards (or Colliers) (fn. 7) brook. The north-east boundary then descended Woodwards brook to the riverside level, where there was once a small creek of the Severn called Wose Pill which silted up in the early modern period. (fn. 8) The north-west boundary, with Hewelsfield parish, followed the edge of a sharply defined ridge called Bordnage, (fn. 9) later Barnage, and the south-west boundary, with Woolaston, descended a brook called Small brook (fn. 10) to join Cone brook, (fn. 11) which it then followed down to the level. At its south end the parish was divided from the Severn by a narrow strip of land belonging to Woolaston and Aylburton, an unusual arrangement which apparently followed reclamation of that land from the river. (fn. 12) The boundary left Cone brook just upstream of an ancient clapper bridge called Mickla bridge and followed drainage ditches to the site of Wose Pill. (fn. 13) After the alteration of 1935 the boundary left Cone brook by a drainage ditch further south, near the head of the long inlet called Cone Pill, thus taking in land of Woolaston that had lain north-east of Cone brook. (fn. 14)
Except for the part on the alluvial, riverside level, the parish is formed by the Old Red Sandstone. (fn. 15) From the level the land rises to Alvington village and a central plateau, lying at 50-60 m. The north-western part of the parish is generally higher, but the land there is broken into by the deep valleys of Cone brook and Woodwards brook; at the north and north-west boundaries the land rises steeply to reach 140 m. near Prior's Mesne and 125 m. at the Barnage ridge. Cone brook has been dammed at several places to make ponds to power forges and mills, (fn. 16) and a large fishpond, still maintained in 1994, was made on it in the mid 19th century by the owners of a mansion called Clanna which stood north-east of the brook. (fn. 17)
The lower half of the parish, which until inclosure in 1814 contained considerable openfield land, a common meadow, and all the land held by customary tenure, (fn. 18) was probably the only part of the parish in cultivation in the early Middle Ages. The upper half, above a line roughly from the confluence of Small and Cone brooks on the south-west boundary across to the north-east boundary east of Park Farm, was for long woodland and commonable waste. About 1145, when Walter of Hereford granted to Llanthony priory all his land at Alvington 'in the moor and the wood', (fn. 19) the distinction being made was probably that between the lower and upper parts. The woodland was important to the overall economy of the priory in 1277, when it leased Alvington manor but reserved the wood and the use of Wose Pill for shipping out timber and firewood. (fn. 20) In the early 14th century the management of the wood was one of many causes of dissension between on the one hand Llanthony and its tenants in Alvington and Aylburton and on the other Tintern abbey (Mon.) and its tenants in Woolaston and Hewelsfield. The tenants of the manors apparently intercommoned in woodland in the areas later called Woolaston common, Barnage, and Royal Reddings, for by an agreement of 1319 settling relations between the two houses each was to be allowed to coppice parts and after cutting to inclose the coppices against animals for fouryear periods in order to allow new growth. (fn. 21) In 1300 the north end of the later parish was also part of the extensive wood. (fn. 22)
At the dissolution of Llanthony priory in 1539, when the officer who managed the manor for the priory was styled bailiff and woodward, considerable woodland evidently remained. (fn. 23) By then, however, some areas in the upper part of the parish may have been cleared, for c. 240 a. of closes there were later claimed as tithe free, a status strictly applicable only to land held in demesne by the priory. (fn. 24) About 1586, however, a man aged 50 spoke of lands near Clanna as if they had been inclosed within his memory, (fn. 25) and it is possible that the new lords, the Comptons, were responsible for inclosing some parts. Part of the inclosed land, lying north and east of the later Park Farm, (fn. 26) formed a deer park, surrounded with palings, in 1606, (fn. 27) but that land was leased as farmland by the start of the 19th century. Other tithe-free closes lay north-west and south-east of Clanna, and there was a larger group between the Cone valley and the southwest boundary. (fn. 28) About 300 a. at the north end of the parish, though apparently largely cleared of woodland in the early modern period, remained common land until parliamentary inclosure in 1814. (fn. 29)
Some of the steeper hillsides remained woodland; there was a total of 117 a. in 1805, all then held in severalty by the lords of the manor. The main woods were Park grove and Yew Tree grove, in the valley of Woodwards brook northeast of the former park, Bargains grove, north-east of Cone brook near the Hewelsfield boundary, and Barnage grove, extending along the same boundary south-west of Cone brook. Barnage grove was in two parts, the lower part called Barnage Common grove having perhaps been subject to common rights more recently than the rest. Much of the woodland, together with Rodmore grove in the adjoining part of St. Briavels, which also belonged to the manor, was oak coppice in 1805, (fn. 30) and it had probably long been used to produce wood for sale to local ironmasters for charcoaling. The pattern of woodland was much altered during the 19th century. Most of Barnage grove was felled and turned to farmland after a new farm was established in that area following the inclosure, (fn. 31) and Park grove had also been cleared for farmland by 1871. (fn. 32) The owners of Clanna planted new land in the Cone valley in the mid 19th century, and Bargains grove and new plantations adjoining and downstream of it became known as Clanna woods. Parts of the former common, in the valley of Woodwards brook north-east of Clanna and in the steep north-east corner of the parish, were also planted. (fn. 33) The latter area, known as Meend Plantation, had mixed conifer and hardwood in 1888 when it was sold by a timber merchant to W. B. Marling of Clanna, (fn. 34) who planted more conifers there after 1894. In 1919 all the woodland of Alvington belonged to the Clanna estate, which, including adjoining woods in St. Briavels and Hewelsfield, owned 267 a. (fn. 35) Most of the estate's woodland was acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1956. (fn. 36)
The Gloucester-Chepstow road, the main thoroughfare through the parish and the only one of importance, was a turnpike between 1757 and 1871. (fn. 37) It entered the parish across Woodwards brook by Sandford bridge, which was recorded in 1322 (fn. 38) and for the repair of which an Alvington man left money in 1490. (fn. 39) In the early 1960s the bridge was bypassed by a new stretch of road built to the south-east. (fn. 40) The principal side lane from the main road at Alvington village, Clanna Lane, runs northwards to a place called Beanhill green (fn. 41) where it forks, one branch leading to the north part of the parish and another towards Hewelsfield, crossing Cone brook by a bridge formerly called Long bridge. (fn. 42) The Hewelsfield road once ran close to the south-west bank of the brook and then skirted the lower side of Barnage Common grove; a new, more direct line between Long bridge and Barnage was constructed soon after inclosure in 1814. (fn. 43) From the village another lane led southwards to the manor house, Alvington Court, and continued, as Mare Ley Lane, (fn. 44) to the riverside at Wose Pill.
About 1145 when the bishop of Hereford confirmed the grant of Alvington manor to Llanthony priory he mentioned the recent devastation of the land and dispersal of the inhabitants, (fn. 45) and it is possible that the ordered plan of the village, with a series of long home closes extending north-west and south-east from the main Gloucester-Chepstow road, (fn. 46) was created after the grant. At that time the priory built, or rebuilt, a church (fn. 47) a short way south-east of the street. Its attempts to establish the village as a market centre in 1265 and later were unsuccessful, (fn. 48) and the village remained small and, until the 20th century, confined almost entirely to the roadside.
The earliest house surviving on the street is the principal farmhouse, Duncastle Farm. Its back range is a late-medieval hall house, into which an upper floor was later inserted; a low range adjoining the south-west end was possibly its service wing. About 1800 the old house became the kitchen and service rooms of a long new range built along its street front on the south-east. (fn. 49) Two cottages in the village, one heavily restored, are 1½-storeyed buildings of the 18th century or earlier. The other houses are of predominantly 19th-century appearance, though a short row of cottages, undergoing restoration in 1994, revealed evidence of having been heightened, and several other buildings may have earlier structures as their basis. A number were enlarged and restored in the late 20th century. North of the village street, there was a small farmhouse at Nupend near Clanna Lane by 1601 (fn. 50) and another further along the lane, near Beanhill green, was recorded in 1770. (fn. 51) South of the street, the old manor house at Alvington Court (fn. 52) is probably on a site occupied in the Middle Ages, and Courtend, a farmhouse on the lane nearby, dates from the late 18th century.
Additions to the village in the 19th century included a substantial dwelling called Severn Lodge built north-east of the church c. 1820 and a pair of brick villas built on the main road in 1889 by W. B. Marling (fn. 53) of Clanna. South of the village on Wyefield Lane, which formerly gave access to an open field of that name, the Lydney rural district council built its isolation hospital in 1896. (fn. 54) The hospital closed c. 1950 and part of the buildings was converted into a pair of bungalows. (fn. 55) A few other houses and bungalows were added on the lane and near the church later in the 20th century. About 1932 the rural district built six pairs of houses near the bottom of Clanna Lane. (fn. 56) Another eight houses were added to the council estate in 1948, (fn. 57) and another 26 houses and bungalows in 1968 and 1969. (fn. 58)
In the upper part of the parish Clanna, established by the late 16th century, (fn. 59) was probably the only early dwelling apart from buildings at forge sites on Cone brook. (fn. 60) Before inclosure in 1814 two small cottages were built on encroachments from the common, one near the Hewelsfield boundary north of the later Clanna woods and another, which was enlarged as the farmhouse of Cottage farm after the inclosure, north of Woodwards brook. (fn. 61) After the inclosure three new farmsteads were established. Barnage Farm, under the ridge at the north-west, was built shortly before 1828 by William Stevens, who then worked a paper mill at Rodmore in St. Briavels. (fn. 62) Glebe Farm, on a high part of the former common at the north end of the parish, and Park Farm, at the south end of the former park, were probably both built before 1830. (fn. 63) Later in the 19th century estate buildings were added around Clanna, but the mansion itself was demolished in the early 1950s. (fn. 64)
In 1327 41 people were assessed for subsidy at Alvington. (fn. 65) In 1551 there were said to be c. 110 communicants in the parish (fn. 66) and in 1563 34 households. (fn. 67) The population was estimated at 52 families in 1650 (fn. 68) and c. 200 people in 40 houses c. 1710. (fn. 69) There was apparently little change in the 18th century, for 211 people, living in 40 houses, were enumerated in 1801. There was then a fairly steady rise in population, to 340 by 1841 and 408 by 1871. During the next 90 years the population fluctuated between 408 and 342, and between 1961 and 1971 it rose from 407 to 515, presumably accounted for mainly by the enlargement of the council estate. By 1991 the population had fallen again to 459. (fn. 70)
The Globe inn, at the junction of the main road and Clanna Lane, had opened by 1805. (fn. 71) The village also had a beerhouse in 1856, (fn. 72) and by 1891 the Blacksmiths Arms had opened in a building enlarged from a former smithy on the main road. (fn. 73) The Globe and the Blacksmiths Arms remained open in 1994. A friendly society met at the Globe in 1805, (fn. 74) and in 1815 80 villagers were members of it or other societies. (fn. 75) A village hall was built north-west of the churchyard in 1924. (fn. 76)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1066 the manor of ALVINGTON, then part of the Herefordshire hundred of Bromsash, was held by Brictric. (fn. 77) Later claims to it suggest that after the Conquest it was granted to William FitzOsbern (d. 1071), earl of Hereford, whose son Roger de Breteuil forfeited his estates by rebellion in 1075. (fn. 78) By 1086 it was held by Thurstan son of Rolf. (fn. 79) It was apparently held later by Miles of Gloucester (fn. 80) (d. 1143), earl of Hereford, whose son Walter of Hereford granted the manor before 1148 to Llanthony priory, Gloucester. A claim to the overlordship was made then by William son of Reynold, grandson of Roger de Breteuil, and c. 1160 William made a grant of the manor to Walter and received his fealty for it. The claim was continued by William's heir, Reynold de Balon, at the end of the century, but he then quitclaimed his right to Llanthony. (fn. 81) The manor was included in a general confirmation of Llanthony's possessions by the Crown in 1199. (fn. 82) In 1277 when Bartholomew de Mora gave the adjoining manor of Aylburton to Llanthony the priory gave him Alvington in return, to hold for life at the annual rent of £6, but in 1285 Bartholomew surrendered his right in return for an annual pension of £45. (fn. 83)
Llanthony retained the manor until the Dissolution, after which the demesne farm and site of the manor, at Alvington Court, formed a separate estate, though it was in the same ownership again for parts of the 18th century. (fn. 84) The rest of the manor was granted by the Crown in 1547 to Sir William Herbert, (fn. 85) who conveyed it in 1550 to Walter Compton. (fn. 86) It had passed by 1583 to Walter's son William (fn. 87) (d. 1617), whose son and heir Walter (fn. 88) conveyed it c. 1622 to William Higford. (fn. 89) It was owned by the same or another William Higford in 1640, and later by Thomas Higford (d. 1651) and by Edward Higford (fl. 1658). By 1660 it belonged to Dorothy Higford, a spinster, who died in possession in 1676. (fn. 90)
The manor later belonged to John Higford (d. 1706) (fn. 91) and it may have passed to his brothers James and the Revd. Henry. (fn. 92) By 1716 it was owned by a fourth brother, William Higford (d. 1733) of Dixton, in Alderton, who under his entail was succeeded in turn by his sons James (fn. 93) (d. 1742), (fn. 94) William (d. 1770), (fn. 95) and the Revd. Henry (d. 1795). Henry was succeeded by the heirs of James Higford: John Parsons inherited one moiety and four children of James Davis of Chepstow, namely the Revd. Francis, James, Ann Susanna, and Mary, inherited the other moiety. (fn. 96) The share of the younger James Davis (d. 1798) passed to his brother the Revd. Francis (d. c. 1802), who left his shares to Mary. (fn. 97) The manor estate, which then included Alvington Court farm but had as its principal residence Clanna in the north part of the parish, comprised almost the whole parish in 1805. (fn. 98) In that and the next few years, however, it was dismembered (fn. 99) and much of its customary land enfranchised. (fn. 100)
In 1806 John Parsons and the two Davis sisters sold the manorial rights with the house called CLANNA and a demesne farm of 242 a. to James Proctor Howell. Howell sold that estate in 1820 to William Middleton Noel (d. 1859), who devised it to his nephew Edward Andrew Noel. The Noels bought back some of the lands alienated from the manor at the beginning of the century, and bought land in adjoining parishes, (fn. 101) and the estate comprised 654 a. in 1884 when E. A. Noel sold it to WalterBentley Marling, (fn. 102) brother of Sir William Marling, owner of the adjoining Sedbury Park estate. (fn. 103) W. B. Marling further enlarged the Clanna estate by adding farms in Hewelsfield and St. Briavels, and in Alvington, where he bought Glebe farm in 1898. (fn. 104) In 1919, when he offered his estate for sale, it comprised 1,966 a. and included eight tenant farms. Some farms were sold separately, while Clanna and the bulk of the estate were bought in 1920 by Richard Pryce-Jenkin of Raglan (Mon.). (fn. 105) Pryce-Jenkin died in 1951 (fn. 106) and his estate was split up during the next few years. (fn. 107)
William Compton, who was sometimes described as of Alvington and had servants there in 1608, (fn. 108) may have lived at Clanna, where there was a house by 1586. (fn. 109) Dorothy Higford was assessed on eight hearths at Alvington in 1672, (fn. 110) and John Higford (d. 1706) lived at Clanna. (fn. 111) The later Higfords seem to have usually resided on their estate at Dixton. (fn. 112) In 1818 Clanna was stone-built and had three sitting-rooms on the ground floor. (fn. 113) In 1838 it was a plain but substantial mansion with its principal front facing south-east with views to the Severn and a service range at the rear. The central part of the front was of six bays and two principal storeys with, above the cornice, an attic storey and the plan of the rooms behind it was irregular, suggesting that it survived from an 18th-century house; flanking it were projecting wings, each of two bays and two storeys, probably additions made by W. M. Noel after 1820. In 1885 W. B. Marling made some alterations to the house, mostly internal, and added a billiard room at the north-east end of the main front. (fn. 114) He also added many features to the gardens and grounds, among them a home farmhouse with mock timber-framing south-west of the house and, to the north-west, a gardener's cottage in similar style and a walled kitchen garden. (fn. 115) In the home woods in the Cone valley the Noels made a fishpond and ornamental waterfall, after which the house was known in the mid 19th century as Clanna Falls. (fn. 116) The house was demolished c. 1952, and in 1994, when part of the site was a caravan park, its cellars, some garden walls and ornaments, and the stable block survived. The kitchen garden was then the garden to a new house built at its north-west end in 1989. (fn. 117)
The manor house, ALVINGTON COURT, and the demesne lands were leased by Llanthony priory in 1537 to Arthur Porter, (fn. 118) who received them in fee together with the site of the priory, at Gloucester, in 1540. Arthur (d. 1558 or 1559) was succeeded by his son (fn. 119) Sir Thomas Porter (d. 1597), whose son Arthur (fn. 120) sold Alvington Court farm in 1599 to Sir Robert Woodruff. Sir Robert (d. 1609) was succeeded by his nephew Robert Woodruff (fn. 121) (d. 1638) and Robert by his son Thomas. (fn. 122) At the end of the century the estate belonged to Sir George Woodruff who sold it to the lord of the manor John Higford (d. 1706). It then passed in turn to John's brothers, (fn. 123) James, the Revd. Henry (d. 1715), (fn. 124) and William (d. 1733). William left it to his son William (fn. 125) (d. 1770), who gave a life interest to his wife Elizabeth. She married c. 1774 James Eaton but separated from him in 1780. (fn. 126) On her death or surrender c. 1791 the estate reverted to her brother-in-law, the Revd. Henry Higford. (fn. 127) In 1805 John Parsons and the two Davis sisters sold Alvington Court farm to William Pride, who sold it in 1808 to Thomas and John Morse. Thomas (d. 1833) left his share to John, who sold the farm in 1837 to Nathaniel Lloyd (d. 1845). Lloyd left it to his brother Thomas, who left it to his nephew John James (d. 1855), a Newnham solicitor. (fn. 128) Later owners included Richard Beaumont Thomas (d. 1917), managing director of the Lydney tinplate works. The farm, a compact group of closes in the south-east corner of the parish, covered 206 a. in 1918. (fn. 129) In 1994 it was owned and farmed by Mr. and Mrs. G. N. Rogers.
Llanthony priory's manor house at Alvington was recorded from the late 14th century, when between 1377 and 1401 repairs or alterations to a principal chamber, a lesser chamber, and outbuildings were made. (fn. 130) Sir Robert Woodruff, who had 10 servants at Alvington in 1608, (fn. 131) apparently built a new house at Alvington Court. The surviving farmhouse, a tall stone block of c. 1600 with a large lateral stack and some mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, apparently formed the cross wing of a larger house. The main range apparently lay to the east where the wall seems to have been reconstructed early in the 19th century.
A number of farms held by lease for lives under Alvington manor were acquired by James Davis (d. 1780) of Chepstow, heir to a half share of the manor, to which his children eventually succeeded in 1795. In 1805 those leaseholds, including Duncastle farm and comprising 332 a., were held by his widow Martha. (fn. 132) Mary and Ann Susanna Davis evidently later bought out the rights that their partner in the manor, John Parsons, owned in those and in other leasehold and copyhold estates and enfranchised them. Following the inclosure of the parish in 1814 Mary, her husband Lt.-General Daniel Burr, and her sister had a substantial estate covering most of the central part of the parish. Daniel died in 1828 (fn. 133) and Mary, who evidently succeeded to her sister's share, retained the estate until her death in 1836. It passed to her son Daniel Higford Davall Burr (fn. 134) (d. 1885), who was succeeded by his son Higford Higford, who had assumed the surname of his distant ancestors in place of Burr. Higford's devisees offered the estate, then 500 a., for sale in 1912. The largest part, Duncastle farm with 314 a., was bought then by Alfred Mullins (d. by 1917), whose executors sold it to W. R. Lysaght of Tidenham. In 1922 Lysaght sold the farm to Leo Chislett, (fn. 135) whose son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. R. F. Hardacre, owned and farmed it in 1994.
In 1086 Alvington manor, which had increased four times in value since 1066, had 2 ploughteams and 5 servi on its demesne. (fn. 136) In 1291 Llanthony priory had 3 ploughlands at Alvington and its adjoining manor of Aylburton, (fn. 137) which was presumably, as in the early 16th century, administered with Alvington. A stud of horses which the Crown allowed Llanthony to pasture in the Forest in 1223 (fn. 138) was probably based at Alvington, for a stud there was reserved to the priory when it leased the manor in 1277. Also reserved in the same lease was a moiety of a new sheephouse, and the priory was running sheep on the manor in 1318 when it complained that Tintern abbey's men had driven off 100 of them. (fn. 139) In the early 16th century the basis of the priory's substantial demesne estate was the later Alvington Court farm in the south-east part of the parish but it also included woods, and possibly farmland, in the upper part of the parish and woods and farmland in Aylburton. (fn. 140) Alvington Court farm was separated from the manor estate in 1540, but the lords of the manor later had a demesne farm based on Clanna in the upper part of the parish. Clanna farm, including the former park, comprised 242 a. in 1805. (fn. 141)
The tenants in 1086 were 12 villani with 9 ploughteams. (fn. 142) At Alvington and Aylburton in 1291 there were free tenants owing £2 10s. rent and bondmen whose works were valued at £3. (fn. 143) In 1540 customary tenants predominated on Alvington manor, paying a total of £23 4s. 7d. in rent while free tenants paid £2 19s. 1d. (fn. 144) In 1548 a total of 32 tenants, possibly all the customary tenants, held by copies for terms of years but, that being declared inconsistent with the custom of the manor, they had to exchange them for copies for lives. Most of their estates were then very small, and the largest, comprising four houses and 27 a. and two houses and 22 a. respectively, were presumably the result of amalgamation. (fn. 145) In the late 18th century most tenants held either by copy or by lease for lives, but there was little obvious difference between the two types of tenancy, both of which were granted for three lives, paid cash rents and two capons annually, and owed heriots; widows of copyholders had no right of freebench, and entry fines were fixed at the lord's will. (fn. 146) The original pattern of tenancies had by then been much obscured by amalgamation and redistribution: in 1805, though the details given of the copyholds and leaseholds still indicated their origin in over 30 estates, they were shared among 22 tenants. The estate held by Martha, widow of James Davis, whose two daughters then owned shares of the manor, included five of the larger leaseholds with a total of c. 150 a. of land. The rest of the Davises' estate, Duncastle farm with c. 180 a. held by lease but with no heriot payable, had possibly originated in lands severed from the manorial demesne. The Davises' estate had the bulk of the open-field land. The other larger estates included 41 a. held by Elizabeth, widow of James Collins (d. 1800), who was the most significant farmer in the village, as she was also tenant at rack rent of the bulk of the Davises' estate. Other tenancies comprised 31 a. and 26 a., while the rest were under 13 a. Two small customary tenements had been taken in hand by the lords and rack rented by 1805, (fn. 147) and during the dismemberment of the manor estate in that and succeeding years much of the rest of the customary land, including that of the Davises, was enfranchised. (fn. 148) Six other tenancies, to which the Davis sisters acquired all the reversionary right, were enfranchised after 1814 and absorbed in their estate. (fn. 149)
By the mid 16th century (fn. 150) the open-field arable was apparently confined to three fields. Wye field occupied land south of the village, sloping to the riverside level and the Woolaston boundary, Haw field was on the north-west between the village and the Cone brook valley, and Den field was on the north-east of the village. Earlier, however, there was evidently an extensive open field on the riverside level, bounded by Aylburton on the north-east and Mare Ley Lane on the south-east. That land was possibly inclosed by Llanthony priory before the Dissolution, and it was held in severalty as part of Alvington Court farm in the early modern period. It was meadowland in 1814 but parts were still called Little and Great Furlong, (fn. 151) and the whole area was in ridge and furrow (fn. 152) before it was put under the plough in the late 20th century. In the 1780s the rotation in the three open fields was a fallow, followed by clover which was mown in early summer and the aftermath grazed, followed by a spring crop of peas, followed by wheat. (fn. 153) Presumably the tenants grew wheat in their closes every fourth year when it was not sown in the fields. Before inclosure in 1814 the three fields contained a total of 108 a. (fn. 154)
By the early 17th century there was a common meadow on part of the riverside level between Mare Ley Lane and the south-east boundary of the parish; in 1814 it covered 50 a. Mare Ley, a small piece of land at the parish boundary at the east end of the common meadow, was a common pasture for horses in 1661. (fn. 155) In the later Middle Ages the tenants of Alvington and Aylburton intercommoned in a large tract of land, probably then mainly woodland, extending across the north parts of both manors. Alvington common in that area, whose bounds were probably not clearly defined until the early 18th century, (fn. 156) comprised 269 a. of the north part of the parish before inclosure in 1814. Land called Clanna green, lying south of the common, between Clanna and the former park, was apparently also commonable waste until the inclosure. (fn. 157) Alvington's tenants also had rights of common in the woodland and waste of the royal demesne land of the Forest: it was among parishes recorded as paying herbage money for that right from the early 15th century. (fn. 158)
In 1814 the open fields, common meadow, Alvington common, and some small pieces of waste were inclosed under an Act of Parliament of 1810, the expenses being met by a levy on the landowners. The award, which also re-allotted some old inclosures, caused a major reorganization of the principal estates. Of the main owners, J. P. Howell received 21 a. in the common for his manorial rights and 52 a., including another 26 a. in the common, for his Clanna farm; Daniel and Mary Burr and Ann Susanna Davis received 196 a., including 65 a. in the common and 68 a. of the open fields and common meadow; and Thomas and John Morse, for Alvington Court farm, received 48 a., including 33 a. in the common. A new estate, comprising 156 a. and including 120 a. of the common, was created by an allotment to the rector of Woolaston in lieu of the tithes. The smaller owners, with common rights or a few strips in the fields, were mainly accommodated with re-allotted old closes, though six cottagers received tiny parcels in the common. (fn. 159)
During the 19th and 20th centuries there were nine or ten farms in the parish and a few smallholdings. (fn. 160) Adjoining the village the principal farms remained Duncastle farm, comprising the bulk of the Burr family's estate, and Alvington Court. In 1851 the former had 400 a. and employed 12 labourers and the latter had 200 a. and employed 6 labourers; there were then also farms based on Courtend (155 a.) and Severn Lodge (90 a.). (fn. 161) In the upper part of the parish the farms were Park farm with the old closes of Clanna farm, Barnage farm, which was added to the Clanna estate in 1859, (fn. 162) Cottage farm, which was added to the estate in 1871 and comprised a former part of the common and the land of Park grove, (fn. 163) and Glebe farm on the north part of the former common, which passed from the rector to the estate in 1898. (fn. 164) In 1919 Park farm had 113 a., Barnage farm 280 a. including 105 a. of the estate's land in Hewelsfield, Glebe farm 95 a., and Cottage farm 52 a. (fn. 165) In 1988 nine farms with more than 10 ha. (25 a.) and two smallholdings were returned for the parish; a total of 36 people then worked on the land, but 16 of them were seasonal or casual workers. (fn. 166)
In 1866 699 a. of the parish were returned as under crops, mainly wheat, barley, turnips, and clover or grass seeds, compared with 531 a. of permanent grassland. The land returned as under crops fell to 394 a. by 1896 and to 185 a. by 1926. Stock raising, dairying, and sheep farming all increased proportionately, and 442 dairy and beef cattle and 877 sheep were returned in 1926. (fn. 167) Land was put back under the plough in the later 20th century, and 139 ha. (343 a.) of arable were returned in 1988, when barley was the principal crop and some land was under maize. Of the largest farms, however, two were then principally concerned with raising cattle and sheep and one with dairying, and there was also a large poultry enterprise. (fn. 168) Sixty acres of orchard were returned in 1896 (fn. 169) but in 1988 only 0.5 ha. (1.2 a.). (fn. 170)
Mills and Ironworks.
There was a mill on Alvington manor in 1086, (fn. 171) and in the early 13th century and 1318 Llanthony priory had a fulling mill there, somewhere near the village. (fn. 172) Iron was worked at Alvington in 1086 when the tenants of the manor owed a render of 20 blooms of iron. (fn. 173) Lands called Cinderhill, by Small brook on the south-west boundary, and Cindermead, by Cone brook on the south boundary, (fn. 174) recall those activities, but the iron industry may have deserted Alvington by the 13th century when no inhabitants figured in lists of forgeowners of the Forest area. During the 18th century there were three forges on Cone brook in the parish. (fn. 175)
A fulling mill held by copy from the manor in 1548 was described as in Alvington wood next to Barnage grove. (fn. 176) It was probably at a site on Cone brook by the north-west boundary where Barnage grove formerly adjoined the stream. (fn. 177) A forge called Barnage forge later stood there (fn. 178) and belonged to the manor estate c. 1695, when it was described as decayed. (fn. 179) Between 1701 and 1709 it was among the forges of the Forest area that were worked by the Foley family and its partners. (fn. 180) In 1775 it was leased with Rowley forge, with which it was worked until c. 1800. (fn. 181) The buildings of Barnage forge survived as part of Thomas Morris's estate in 1814, (fn. 182) but were apparently not used later. The dry pond remained in 1994.
Another mill held as copyhold of the manor in 1548 and described as between Rowley and Clanna (fn. 183) was possibly on the site of the later Clanna forge, further down Cone brook, west of Clanna. (fn. 184) Clanna forge was worked with Rowley forge in 1775 and until c. 1800. (fn. 185) In 1824 there was a mill on the site, (fn. 186) and it was probably there that the owner of Clanna had a water-powered threshing machine, suitable for conversion to a grist mill, in 1818. (fn. 187) In the mid 19th century a leat was constructed to supply the mill from the old Barnage forge pond and from another pond built east of that, (fn. 188) and before 1879 F. J. Noble rebuilt the mill to manufacture paper board. Called Clannaweir Mill, it continued in use until 1887 or later. (fn. 189)
Rowley Mill, on Cone brook just above its confluence with Small brook, (fn. 190) was recorded on the manor estate in 1413 (fn. 191) and comprised two grist mills under one roof in 1539. The mill descended with Alvington Court from 1540 (fn. 192) and the forge later at the site belonged to the manor estate in the 18th century and until 1805. (fn. 193) In 1646 Robert Kyrle and John Brayne, partners in a number of local ironworks, agreed to build a forge at a place called Atkins Mill or the Burnt Mill in Alvington, (fn. 194) and that was presumably at Rowley, for Brayne was later reported to have built a forge at 'Rowland Mill'. (fn. 195) By 1703 Rowley forge was worked by the Foleys. (fn. 196) In 1775 Rowley, Clanna, and Barnage forges were leased for three lives to David Tanner, and with Tanner's Lydney ironworks they passed in 1790 to the Pidcock family. (fn. 197) The stock at Rowley forge was for sale under an execution for debt in 1804, (fn. 198) and all three forges had probably ceased working by 1805, though the Pidcocks still held the lease. (fn. 199) In 1809 the paper maker Thomas Morris bought the lease, (fn. 200) and a paper mill at Rowley was worked by the Morris family until 1841, and later continued under other manufacturers; (fn. 201) 7 hands were employed there in 1851. (fn. 202) In 1879 F. J. Noble & Co. worked Rowley Mill as a board mill, together with Clannaweir Mill. (fn. 203) A leather board maker recorded at Alvington in 1906 and 1914 presumably worked Rowley Mill. (fn. 204) In 1927 it was worked by the Gloucester Millboard Co., and apparently closed soon afterwards. (fn. 205) A pair of cottages, the ruins of some subsidiary buildings, and the overgrown pond remained in 1994.
The next mill downstream, Cone paper mill, belonged to Woolaston parish. (fn. 206) Another mill, also called Cone Mill, stood within Alvington downstream of the Chepstow road and was supplied by a leat from a pond just above the road; (fn. 207) it was apparently always worked as a corn mill. It was probably the mill with a tanhouse adjoining or nearby that John Barrow of Badhamsfield, in Newland, owned at his death c. 1645, (fn. 208) for members of that family owned Cone Mill in the 18th century. From John Barrow (fn. 209) (d. 1775) of Woolaston Grange, it passed to his relatives, members of the Buckle and Harris families, though the tenant in 1814 was Charles Barrow. (fn. 210) It continued in use as a corn mill until 1920 or later. (fn. 211)
Other Industry And Trade.
In 1265 Llanthony priory was granted a market on Mondays and a fair at the Assumption (15 August), but in 1267 another grant changed the market day to Tuesday and the fair to the feast of St. Laurence (10 August). (fn. 212) A third grant, in 1394, confirmed the market day as Tuesday and granted two fairs at Whitsun and the Nativity of the Virgin. (fn. 213) The market and fairs presumably never became firmly established and had almost certainly lapsed by 1539. (fn. 214) The priory may have hoped that trade in and out of Wose Pill, where it was licensed to levy tolls in 1345, (fn. 215) would contribute to the success of the market and fairs.
In 1608 a tucker, four weavers, and a shearman were living at Alvington, (fn. 216) the tucker perhaps working the mill at Barnage. (fn. 217) That small cloth industry has not been found recorded later. Also living at Alvington in 1608 were two millers and six other tradesmen. (fn. 218) Only the usual village tradesmen were recorded during the 17th and 18th centuries, apart from the owner of a sloop in the 1790s. (fn. 219) Since Wose Pill had long since silted, his vessel perhaps traded from the nearby Cone Pill in Woolaston. For a small village Alvington was well supplied with craftsmen in the 19th century, with 11 carpenters, 5 smiths, 4 masons, and 3 shoemakers among those enumerated in 1851. There were then also 3 fishermen. (fn. 220) In 1870 a small engineering works was run by James Lee, who had patented paper-making machinery (fn. 221) and presumably equipped and serviced the local mills. In 1879 there was also a small brewery. (fn. 222) There were two smithies on the main road in the 1880s, (fn. 223) and the village still had a few tradesmen, together with three or more shopkeepers, in 1939. (fn. 224) In 1994 it had a post office and a petrol station.
Llanthony priory claimed its manor of Alvington to be free of suit to Bledisloe hundred, and exemption was confirmed by the lord of the hundred in 1244 after his officers had attempted to exact suit. (fn. 225) In 1287 the priory held two views each year for Alvington and a small estate called Archer's Hall in Lydney. It also had gallows at Alvington. (fn. 226) In the 1530s the priory was apparently holding a single court baron for Alvington and Aylburton and one tithingman served both manors. (fn. 227) Court rolls for Alvington survive for 1548 (fn. 228) and 1661 (fn. 229) and a court book for the years 1770-99. Leet jurisdiction was still claimed in the late 18th century. (fn. 230) The court probably lapsed at the start of the 19th century with the dismemberment of the manor estate and inclosure.
Alvington had two churchwardens in 1572 (fn. 231) and later, and their accounts survive from 1829, (fn. 232) together with vestry minutes for the years 1831-40. (fn. 233) In 1803 the parish expended £87 on poor relief and nine able-bodied and sick poor were on permanent relief and nine people received occasional help. (fn. 234) The cost appears to have been fairly well contained during the early 19th century. Between 1813 and 1815 the number on permanent relief was c. 13, (fn. 235) and during the late 1820s and early 1830s the relatively modest sum of £159 was the highest annual figure recorded for expenditure. (fn. 236) A number of apprenticeships, some to local paper makers, were made in the early 1830s, and in 1832 a family was assisted to emigrate to America. The parish became part of the Chepstow poor-law union in 1836. (fn. 237) From 1867 it was part of the Lydney highway board (fn. 238) and from 1894 part of Lydney rural district. (fn. 239) With the rest of the rural district it was transferred to the new Forest of Dean district in 1974.
Llanthony priory built, or rebuilt, a church at Alvington in the 1140s. Between 1145 and 1148 the bishop of Hereford, Robert of Bethune, consecrated it and gave it the status of a free chapel held directly from himself. (fn. 240) Parochial rights over Alvington were claimed, however, by Tintern abbey (Mon.), owner of Woolaston church, and disputes between the two religious houses followed. By an agreement made before 1169 Llanthony renounced all claim to parochial rights in Alvington, except to the tithes of its demesne lands, and Tintern agreed to serve the church on Sundays, three weekdays, and certain feast days. Tintern also surrendered possession of ½ yardland which had formerly belonged to the church. In the early 13th century William, rector of Woolaston, complained that Llanthony had collected tithes from some of the parishioners and had appropriated the ½ yardland to its own use; Llanthony then surrendered the land to the rector. A later rector claimed Llanthony's demesne tithes but gave up his claim in 1243 in return for a grant of land adjoining the churchyard. (fn. 241) In 1318 Tintern abbey, which then had Woolaston church in hand, was accused by Llanthony of neglecting the cure of souls in Alvington. (fn. 242) Alvington church subsequently remained a chapel to Woolaston. (fn. 243)
The rector of Woolaston had no glebe in Alvington in the 18th century, (fn. 244) the disputed ½ yardland and the land granted in 1243 having presumably been absorbed long since into Llanthony's demesne estate. Large areas of the parish, including Alvington Court farm and the woods and closes around Clanna, presumably all former parts of the demesne, were tithe free, (fn. 245) though an 18th-century rector challenged their status. The rector's tithes in Alvington were valued at £27 7s. 6d. in 1743 and £49 18s. 9d. in 1775. In 1743 he leased them to the separate landholders there, but in 1769 they were held on lease by the curate serving Alvington; in 1775 they were leased among the tenants again. (fn. 246) At the inclosure in 1814 the rector's tithes were commuted for 156 a. of land. Most of it was on the former common at the north end of the parish, (fn. 247) and in 1898 the rector conveyed Glebe farm there to W. B. Marling in return for an annual payment of £90, which was charged on the farm and on other land of Marling's Clanna estate. (fn. 248) The rector still owned 36 a. of glebe in the south part of the parish in 1910. (fn. 249)
In 1544 and 1563 a stipendiary curate served Alvington under the rector of Woolaston. (fn. 250) In the late 18th century and early 19th the rectors appointed a single curate to serve both Woolaston and Alvington. (fn. 251) In 1750 one service was held each Sunday and four communions were held each year. (fn. 252) Full services were said to be held in 1825. (fn. 253) In 1857 the rector appointed a curate for Alvington, who was to reside there, (fn. 254) and in 1872 and until 1914 or later there was a resident curate, styled curate-in-charge. (fn. 255) In 1994 Alvington was served by the rector, who then lived in a modern house in Alvington village, the old rectory at Woolaston having been sold. (fn. 256)
A small plot of land in Woolaston, comprising ½ a., was given for the repair of Alvington church before 1705. (fn. 257) In the 1820s the income, then 10s. a year, was applied to the school at Woolaston, which Alvington children attended. (fn. 258)
Alvington church was dedicated to St. Mary in 1523 (fn. 259) but by the late 18th century it was called ST. ANDREW, (fn. 260) perhaps by transference from the mother church of Woolaston. It is built of coursed rubble with freestone dressings and comprises chancel with north vestry and south chapel, nave with south aisle and south porch, and west tower with north vestry.
A window close to the north-east corner of the chancel and probably also the thick south wall survive from the mid 12th-century church. The three-bayed nave arcade and the unbuttressed tower are both of c. 1300 and may define the extent of an earlier nave. The aisle windows and the south doorway are of the early 14th century, though the windows were renewed in the 19th century. The arches into the south chapel are of the 15th century but the windows in the chapel and those in the nave were renewed in the 19th century in a 14th-century style.
The south chapel was annexed to the manor by c. 1710. (fn. 261) About 1780 the church tower was said to be partly of wood, (fn. 262) and it perhaps had a timber top stage; the battlemented top with pinnacles may date from alterations made c. 1835 to plans of John Briggs. (fn. 263) A thorough restoration of the church in 1857 included the remodelling of the south porch, which formerly had a room above it, the rebuilding of the north wall, and the addition of a small vestry at the north side of the chancel. (fn. 264) In 1890, at the cost of W. B. Marling, a new vestry was built at the north-west corner of the church, (fn. 265) and c. 1902 the church was reroofed and the south chapel refitted. (fn. 266)
A stone slab incised with a cross, used as the altar in the south chapel, is presumably a former coffin slab, and a small coffin slab is set into the south wall of the aisle. Later monuments include a large slab in the chapel with a rhyming inscription to Sir Robert Woodruff (d. 1609) and his wife Mary. The church furnishings mostly date from the restoration of 1857. A new ring of five bells was supplied by Abraham Rudhall in 1704 and 1705, and the tenor and treble were recast by the Loughborough foundry in 1887 and 1905 respectively. (fn. 267) A chalice and paten cover were given by Dorothy Higford, lady of the manor, in 1676. (fn. 268) A burial ground was consecrated for the new church in the 1140s, (fn. 269) and the church presumably retained burial rights from that date. The registers, for christenings, marriages, and burials, survive from 1688. (fn. 270) The churchyard has a small but well preserved collection of carved headstones in the local rustic styles of the late 17th century and the 18th.
A group of Quakers was meeting at Alvington in 1670 and in 1684, when the leading member of the group, Henry Lloyd, died. (fn. 271) Only a single Quaker was recorded in the parish in 1735, with one Presbyterian and one Roman Catholic. (fn. 272) An unidentified dissenting group registered a house in Alvington in 1806, (fn. 273) and in 1817 and 1818 Daniel Edwards, an excise officer living in the village, was leading an Independent meeting. (fn. 274)
In 1818 and until the mid 19th century the poorer children of Alvington attended the National school at Woolaston. (fn. 275) About 1850 a parish school was built on the west side of the lane leading to the church by D. H. D. Burr, (fn. 276) who transferred it to trustees in 1854. (fn. 277) In 1871, when the school was managed by the parish clergy, the churchwardens of Alvington, and E. A. Noel of Clanna, the income came mainly in the form of voluntary contributions, though school pence were also charged. (fn. 278) In 1885 the average attendence was 52. (fn. 279) In 1910, as Alvington C. of E. school, it had an average attendance of 66 in mixed and infants' departments. (fn. 280) By 1932 the average attendance had fallen to 39. (fn. 281) The children aged 11 and over went to secondary school at Lydney from 1949, and in 1953 the Alvington school had 22 pupils, taught as one class; about the same number of children from the parish then attended primary school in Woolaston. The Alvington school was closed in 1958. (fn. 282)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.