A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7. Originally published by Oxford University Press for Victoria County History, Oxford, 1981.
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Syde, one of the smallest rural parishes in Gloucestershire, covers 254 ha. (fn. 1) (629 a.) and lies on a high part of the Cotswolds 12 km. south of Cheltenham. The parish takes its name from the hillside which it occupies, (fn. 2) extending from Ermin Street on the east down to the valley of the river Frome on the west.
The higher ground is formed by the Great Oolite and the lower slopes by fuller's earth and the Inferior Oolite. (fn. 3) The main piece of woodland was Calley wood in the north-west corner, which may take its name from 13th-century owners of the manor; the lower slopes generally were fairly well wooded and along Ermin Street was a narrow belt of beech wood called Gloucester Beeches. (fn. 4) The woodland of the parish totalled 40 a. in 1838. (fn. 5) The east corner of the parish was crossed by an ancient salt-way, recorded as the Salt Street in 1301. (fn. 6) In 1678 it was called Tetbury way (fn. 7) and it apparently formed part of the Cheltenham—Tetbury turnpike between 1756 and 1774 when that route was moved further east to Beechpike. (fn. 8)
The parish contained only 17 houses c. 1710 (fn. 9) and 11 in 1801. (fn. 10) The diminutive village stands above the Frome valley where a lane from Ermin Street to Caudle Green meets a bridle path from Brimpsfield. Apart from the substantial early manor-house the only dwelling of any size is Manor Farm, which was built in 1867 by the lord of the manor John Hall to provide a rectory house. His offer of the house to the church authorities was withdrawn, however, apparently when he was asked to establish his title to the building, and the house was occupied by the estate bailiff and later became the farm-house of Manor farm. (fn. 11) The only other dwellings in 1979 were five cottages, not all occupied, and a modern bungalow.
Haycroft, south of the village on the road to Caudle Green, was recorded from the early 15th century when Hawise atte Haycroft was mentioned as a former tenant in the parish. (fn. 12) Haycroft was described as a small hamlet c. 1710 (fn. 13) and there were four cottages there in 1838. (fn. 14) Only one survived in 1979, a medieval building which is traditionally associated with the chantry founded at Syde in 1343 (fn. 15) and may have been the chantrypriest's house. It comprises a small two-storeyed building of the 14th century with a large east doorway inserted in the early 16th; there were later alterations and additions. At Washbrook, below, named from a small tributary stream of the Frome, (fn. 16) there was a pair of cottages within Syde parish in the 18th century but in 1979 only a late-19th-century house. At Harcombe on the lane from Syde village to Ermin Street a farm-house was built near some earlier farm buildings in the mid 19th century, (fn. 17) and higher up the lane a new house was built in 1952. (fn. 18)
Eleven inhabitants of Syde were recorded in 1086 (fn. 19) and 5 people were assessed for the subsidy in 1327. (fn. 20) There were said to be c. 35 communicants in the parish in 1551, (fn. 21) 6 households in 1563, (fn. 22) and 36 communicants in 1603. (fn. 23) Later estimates of the population were 28 families in 1650, (fn. 24) about 70 inhabitants c. 1710, (fn. 25) and 47 inhabitants c. 1775. (fn. 26) In 1801 the population stood at 41 and there were small fluctuations during the next 170 years, the highest number recorded being 55 in 1861 and 1871 and the lowest 29 in 1891. In 1971 the parish contained 40 people and, with Owlpen which had the same number, was the least populous in the county. (fn. 27)
Manor and Other Estates
The manor of SYDE was held by Lewin before the Conquest and in 1086 by Ansfrid de Cormeilles who had an under-tenant, Turstin. (fn. 28) The overlordship of the manor later passed with the honor of Cormeilles, descending after the early 13th century with Elkstone manor. (fn. 29)
In 1200 the manor of Syde was held by William Peto (fn. 30) who granted it in 1221 to Osbert Giffard, son of Ellis Giffard. (fn. 31) Osbert apparently granted the whole or part of the manor before 1228 to another Osbert Giffard, described as Osbert Giffard of Norfolk, (fn. 32) but in 1232 the manor was apparently divided between Maud Giffard, Adam of Kellaways (de Cayley) and Mabel his wife, Isabel de Frevill, and Llanthony Priory. (fn. 33) Adam of Kellaways held the whole or part of the manor in 1243 (fn. 34) and in 1255 Mabel of Kellaways held ½ fee in Syde, over which Adam de Crumbe exercised an intermediate lordship between her and the overlord, John le Brun. (fn. 35) Simon of Kellaways held the manor under Simon de Crumbe in 1279 and 1285 (fn. 36) and Robert of Kellaways held it in 1303. (fn. 37)
Before 1316 (fn. 38) the manor was granted by Adam of Kellaways to John Giffard of Brimpsfield and his mother Margaret Giffard. After John Giffard's execution in 1322 it was granted to Hugh le Despenser, earl of Winchester, executed in 1326, and in 1327 it was restored to Margaret Giffard. (fn. 39) In 1330 the reversion after Margaret's death was granted by John of Kellaways, heir to the Giffards, to John Mautravers, (fn. 40) whose lands were forfeited in 1331. (fn. 41) By the following year the reversion had been acquired by Thomas Berkeley, Lord Berkeley, (fn. 42) who gave the manor in 1349 to a younger son Thomas, on whose death the same year it reverted to his father. (fn. 43)
After the death of Thomas, Lord Berkeley, in 1361 his wife Catherine (d. 1385) (fn. 44) held Syde manor and was succeeded by her son John Berkeley. Before 1411 John granted the manor at farm for life to John Vey; (fn. 45) it had apparently reverted to John by 1419 (fn. 46) and before his death in 1428 he made a grant for life to Robert Poyntz. It reverted to John's son Maurice Berkeley (fn. 47) of Beverstone (d. 1460). It descended to Maurice's son Maurice (fn. 48) (d. 1474), to the younger Maurice's son William (fn. 49) (d. 1485), and to William's uncle Edward Berkeley. (fn. 50) Edward's eldest son Thomas died in 1500 before his father and Syde eventually became divided among Thomas's daughters, Laura who married John Ashburnam, Anne who married John Brent, Elizabeth who married Sir George Herbert, and Alice who married George Whetenall. (fn. 51) In 1531 Sir George and Elizabeth granted their quarter share to Sir William Berkeley, (fn. 52) Elizabeth's uncle, who in the following year acquired another share from John Daniel and Laura his wife, presumably Thomas Berkeley's daughter and a second husband. (fn. 53) The Whetenalls conveyed their share in 1530 to Charles Bulkeley (fn. 54) but it and the Brents' share were presumably also acquired by Sir William, who at his death in 1551 was succeeded in the manor by his son John. (fn. 55)
John Berkeley sold the manor in 1560 to William Partridge (fn. 56) and it followed the descent of Wishanger in Miserden (fn. 57) until 1663 when Henry Partridge sold it to Nathaniel Ridler (fn. 58) of Edgeworth (d. 1707). Nathaniel Ridler left it to his son Walter (fn. 59) (d. 1749) (fn. 60) who left it for life to his brother Samuel, rector of Edgeworth. (fn. 61) It later passed to Nigel Kingscote of Kingscote (d. 1774), who was succeeded by his nephew Robert Kingscote. (fn. 62) Robert sold it before 1803 to Joseph Pitt (fn. 63) and the manor, which then comprised the whole parish except the glebe, descended with Brimpsfield manor (fn. 64) until 1870. Syde later passed to Thomas Ramsbottom of Bury (Lancs.), who died before 1879, and in 1893 Esther and Harriet Ramsbottom (fn. 65) sold it to Theodore Crewdson, a Manchester cotton-manufacturer. Crewdson (d. 1923) was succeeded by his son Joseph Dillworth Crewdson, after whose death in 1946 Syde passed through two firms which exploited the timber on the estate. In 1950 the estate was split up, most of it being bought by Mr. D. Whitaker, the tenant of Manor farm, who sold Manor farm to Mrs. G. Cox the same year but retained some land in the parish. Mrs. Cox sold the farm in 1961 to Maj. S. P. H. Simonds, (fn. 66) who owned it in 1979 when it covered 150 ha. (370 a.).
The manor-house, Syde Manor, a substantial gabled building of various dates, was the home of several of the lords, including John Partridge in the early 17th century (fn. 67) and Walter Ridler in the 18th. (fn. 68) For most of the 19th century it was used as the farm-house of the estate (fn. 69) but from the beginning of the 20th J. D. Crewdson made it his home. (fn. 70) In 1979 it belonged, without any land attached, to Mr. F. I. Fairlie. The oldest part of the house is at the north-west corner, and the short eastern wing, which has an upper cruck roof and 16th-century windows, appears to be an addition. With the possible exception of a buttress on the west front no medieval features survive. The main range appears to have been lengthened southwards in the 17th century, when it was also completely reroofed, and the west porch may have been added c. 1700. The south end may have been partly demolished in the later 18th century when a new south range was put on. The rooms in that range were refitted c. 1830 and minor additions were made in the late 19th century and early 20th. To the north of the house, adjoining the churchyard, a barn of five bays with a central transeptal entrance at the south may be of the 16th century, though its roof was renewed in the 20th. At its western end is a small late-medieval two-storeyed building, presumably originally a church house or priest's house, having diagonal buttresses and windows with ogee tracery. It was in use as stables in the early 20th century but was restored as a dwelling in the early 1950s. (fn. 71)
In 1201 William Peto granted 2 yardlands and pasture-rights at Syde to Llanthony Priory. In the late 13th and early 14th century the estate was held as a single villein tenement, owing services to the priory's manor of Colesbourne. (fn. 72) It was presumably retained by the priory until the Dissolution (fn. 73) but it has not been found recorded later.
In 1086 there were 2 plough-teams and 6 servi on the demesne of Syde manor, and in 1327 the demesne comprised 200 a. of arable, 5 a. of meadow, and a pasture. The tenants in 1086 were a villein, a priest, and 3 bordars having a single team between them. In 1327 there were 4 free tenants, 5 customary half-yardlanders, and 3 other tenants, presumably cottagers. (fn. 74)
Later evidence about the pattern of landholding in Syde is almost entirely lacking until the early 19th century, by which time the parish formed a single manor farm. There were still at least six or seven small tenant or freehold farms in the late 17th century (fn. 75) and the declining population figures presumably reflect their disappearance during the 18th century, perhaps in connexion with the inclosure of the open fields; one small freehold at least remained independent of the manor in 1771. (fn. 76)
In the late 17th century the parish had two open fields, a north and south field, in the eastern half of the parish, (fn. 77) while the steeper slopes in the western half provided pasture closes and the Frome valley some meadow land. The fields had been inclosed by the early 19th century. (fn. 78)
By the 1820s all the farmland of the parish, including the glebe, formed a single tenant farm comprising 595 a. (fn. 79) The farm was taken in hand by the lord of the manor before 1863 and was usually managed by farm bailiffs (fn. 80) until 1920 when most of the estate was leased as two separate farms, Manor farm and Harcombe farm. (fn. 81) The parish remained divided between those two farms and one or two small holdings in the mid 20th century. (fn. 82)
The parish was mainly under the plough in the 18th century (fn. 83) and remained so in the mid 19th. There were 402 a. of arable to 167 a. of permanent meadow and pasture in 1838. (fn. 84) The usual rotation of the region, involving wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and leys of clover or grass, was followed on the manor farm and a considerable stock of beef cattle was kept, together with a flock of sheep; 80 cattle and 422 sheep were returned in 1866. (fn. 85) The later 19th century saw the usual decline in barley and wheat production, the land being turned instead to permanent pasture or to growing more oats. (fn. 86) In the early 20th century more dairy and beef cattle were introduced by Theodore Crewdson who bred Aberdeen Angus cattle. (fn. 87) In the 1970s Manor farm was used for growing wheat and barley and raising sheep while Harcombe farm specialized in dairying. (fn. 88)
Syde had at least three tradesmen, a smith and two masons, in 1608. (fn. 89) In 1831 there were no tradesmen in the parish (fn. 90) and in 1851 a thatcher was the only tradesman enumerated with a shepherd and the farm labourers. (fn. 91)
No records of manorial government for Syde are known to survive. For view of frankpledge it was represented with Elkstone by a single tithingman at Cirencester Abbey's hundred court. (fn. 92)
The parish had two churchwardens in the 16th century (fn. 93) and apparently had its separate overseers of the poor in 1683. (fn. 94) In the early 19th century, however, the tenant of the manor farm, as the sole ratepayer, served the offices of churchwarden, overseer, and constable. (fn. 95) The annual cost of poor-relief rarely rose above £50 at that period, there being usually only one or two people on permanent relief. (fn. 96) In 1836 the parish became part of the Cirencester poor-law union (fn. 97) and was later in Cirencester rural district (fn. 98) until the formation of Cotswold district in 1974.
There was a priest at Syde and therefore presumably a church in 1086 (fn. 99) and the surviving church dates from the early 12th century. The living was a rectory in 1319 (fn. 100) and remained one. After being served for many years together with one or other of the neighbouring parishes it was united with Elkstone in 1927 (fn. 101) and in 1979 formed a united benefice with that parish and Brimpsfield. The advowson descended with the manor, (fn. 102) though in 1592 it was exercised by Anthony Ockhold of Miserden, in 1644 by John Pleydell, and in 1714 by the queen because of a lapse. (fn. 103)
The rector owned all the tithes of the parish. In 1706 they were paid in kind except for those of milk cows for which a modus had been established. (fn. 104) The glebe in the late 17th century comprised 30 a. of open-field land and a few acres in closes, together with sheep- and beast-pastures; (fn. 105) after inclosure it comprised 31 a. (fn. 106) By the early years of the 19th century it had become the practice for the rector to receive £50 a year from the tenant of the manor estate instead of the profits of the tithes and glebe. That payment had come to be regarded as a stipend and the rector Thomas Hooper appeared to be in danger of losing his rights to the rectorial assets before 1832 when he secured recognition of them from the lord of the manor William Lawrence. Lawrence then took a lease of the tithes and glebe from Hooper for a rent of £100. (fn. 107) The rector was awarded a corn-rentcharge of £100 for the tithes at commutation in 1838. (fn. 108) The living received an augmentation of £200 by lot from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1778 (fn. 109) and the rector received £10 a year interest for this in the early 19th century. (fn. 110) The living was valued at 78s. 3d. in 1535, (fn. 111) £28 in 1650, (fn. 112) £20 c. 1710, (fn. 113) £40 in 1750, (fn. 114) and £106 in 1856. (fn. 115)
The parsonage house, recorded from 1678, (fn. 116) was described as a mere cottage with two rooms in 1817. (fn. 117) It appears to have been the small stone cottage beside which John Hall built the new house (later Manor Farm) that he intended for the rectory in 1867. Following the failure to establish the new house as the rectory only one rector apparently resided at Syde and his wife is said to have left him to live in London because of the inadequacy of the accommodation. In the 20th century the cottage was used as part of Manor Farm and was joined to it physically in 1951. (fn. 118)
The poverty of the living and the meagre accommodation for its incumbents meant that Syde was usually held by non-resident pluralists. It was probably one of the more neglected livings in the 16th century: the curate serving it in 1551 was unable to repeat the Commandments, (fn. 119) it lacked the book of homilies and a copy of the injunctions in 1563, and no quarter sermons were preached in 1572. Thomas Paine, who was rector from 1560 and held the living together with Cowley from 1582, (fn. 120) was one of the few rectors to reside in the parish. (fn. 121) The rector Thomas Knight, described as unlearned but honest in 1593, (fn. 122) retained the living until his death in 1644 when Thomas Goddard was instituted. (fn. 123) Thomas Stephens held the living in 1650 (fn. 124) and subscribed at the Restoration. John Laurence, rector 1714–30, (fn. 125) was also curate of St. Mary de Lode, Gloucester. (fn. 126) Thomas Davies, rector from 1731, later held the living with Duntisbourne Abbots rectory, as did Joseph Chapman who succeeded Davies in 1772. (fn. 127) In 1784 Chapman lived at Trinity College, Oxford, of which he was president as well as vice-chancellor of the university; Syde was served for him by another Joseph Chapman, apparently his father, (fn. 128) who had succeeded him at Duntisbourne. (fn. 129) Thomas Hooper, rector 1813–45, lived at Elkstone where he was curate and later rector. (fn. 130) In the early 20th century two successive rectors held Syde with Duntisbourne Abbots and another held it with Brimpsfield. (fn. 131) In the 18th century and the early 19th a single Sunday service was held at Syde, alternating between the morning and afternoon. (fn. 132)
A chantry was founded in Syde church by Thomas Berkeley in 1343, acting through his agent William of Syde. Dedicated to the Virgin, it was endowed with a house and 2 yardlands. (fn. 133) It appears to have lapsed before the dissolution of the chantries.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, so called by 1343, (fn. 134) has a chancel with south vestry, nave with north porch, and west tower. The small nave is of the early 12th century and retains its original plain doorways, the northern one having a medieval door and the southern one being blocked. The chancel was probably rebuilt in the 13th century when the tower, which has a simple saddleback roof, was added. In the 14th century an altar was set up on the north side of the chancel arch, evidently for the chantry of 1343, and a low window made in the north wall to light it. In the 15th century larger windows were put into both sides of the nave, that on the north retaining the rear arch of an original opening and that on the south only the reveals, and the nave was reroofed. About 1850 the chancel was rebuilt (fn. 135) and it was perhaps at the same restoration that the vestry and porch were added.
The church retains 18th-century box-pews and pulpit. The font is of the 15th century with an octagonal bowl and an unusual pentagonal base. (fn. 136) There are two medieval bells and one that was recast in 1771. (fn. 137) A new set of plate was provided in 1856. (fn. 138) The parish registers survive from 1686. (fn. 139)
The parish had no school of any kind in the first half of the 19th century. (fn. 140) By 1867 there was a dame school attended by 9 children, each paying 2d. a week and in that year the lord of the manor John Hall gave the use of a cottage for a parish school, to be maintained by the rector. (fn. 141) In the 1870s Esther and Harriet Ramsbottom ran a school for the younger children in part of the manor-house but it had apparently closed by 1885, and in 1889 the children of the parish attended Winstone school. (fn. 142)
Charities for the Poor
Syde was one of four parishes that shared in the charity of Thomas Muggleton (d. 1659), derived from land in Duntisbourne Abbots. (fn. 143) The poor of Syde were receiving 15s. from that source in 1683 (fn. 144) and 20s. in 1807. (fn. 145) In 1979, when the income was derived from stock, Syde received c. £4 from the charity, which was left to accumulate against particular cases of need. (fn. 146)