A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
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The parish of Ashchurch lies immediately east of Tewkesbury. In the Middle Ages Ashchurch was part of the parish of Tewkesbury, and also part of Tewkesbury manor, but it established its independence soon after the Dissolution. (fn. 1) Ashchurch is a large parish, fairly compact in shape and formerly 4,284 a. in area. In 1882 a detached part comprising 10 a. round Aston Mill (fn. 2) was transferred to Kemerton; in 1935 Ashchurch lost 133 a. in the west to Tewkesbury and gained 96 a. from Tewkesbury, so that in 1966 Ashchurch parish amounted to 4,237 a. (fn. 3) The account here printed relates to the area of the parish as it was from 1882 to 1935. The parish was bounded on the north by the Carrant brook, which at the western end divided it from Worcestershire; the rest of the parish boundary followed streams and minor roads for short stretches but was marked mainly by field boundaries. (fn. 4) The parish was divided into several townships or tithings, the number being four from the late 15th century onwards; (fn. 5) the boundaries between the tithings roughly quarter the parish, with Northway and Newton in the north-west, Aston on Carrant in the north-east, Pamington in the south-east, and Fiddington in the south-west. (fn. 6)
The land of the parish is flat and low-lying: it is almost exclusively between the 50 ft. and 100 ft. contours. (fn. 7) The soil and sub-soil are heavy clay of the Lower Lias, but there are some sandy patches. The Tirle brook, which has several tributaries, flows across the middle of the parish. Near where it enters the parish it was straightened in one place after 1768 (fn. 8) and in another after 1816. (fn. 9) The Carrant brook has a divided course along the north-west of Ashchurch. A diversion may be indicated by an order to the inhabitants of Newton in 1482 to construct (facere) part of the River Carrant. (fn. 10) In 1520 the miller of Cowfield Mill made an agreement with the tenants of Northway and Newton that the tenants should have sufficient water in Gloucestershire for their beasts and that the miller should turn the watercourse from Gloucestershire into Worcestershire; (fn. 11) below Cowfield Mill the county boundary follows the southern instead of the northern branch of the stream.
For most of its history Ashchurch has been agricultural. A large part of the land lay in open fields, which were inclosed partly in the 16th century or early 17th and partly in the period 1809–16 under separate Acts of Parliament for Pamington, Fiddington, and Aston on Carrant. (fn. 12) In 1966 ridge and furrow was still to be seen in pasture in all corners of the parish, not only where the land was inclosed in the early 19th century but also where it had been inclosed earlier. Northway takes its name from a hay or park (fn. 13) from which presumably was made the assart of Northway granted to Tewkesbury Abbey in 1107. (fn. 14) Something at least of the hay survived into the 17th century as the close called High, (fn. 15) and between 1667 and 1675 Northway manor court presented the park as defective or in decay. (fn. 16)
During the Second World War the location of Dowty's engineering works and a large army camp in the middle of the parish began a major change. The engineering works extended, and the army camp became the Central Vehicle Depot of the R.A.O.C. and a vehicle depot of the R.E.M.E.; near-by, substantial housing estates were built in the two decades after the war. In addition the eastward extension of Tewkesbury covered most of the eastern tip of the parish with houses and small factories. By 1966, therefore, the parish had become — partially in terms of area, and predominantly in terms of population — industrial and residential.
Settlement was formerly spread fairly thinly over the parish, in a number of small hamlets and in scattered farms. Pamington, recorded in 969, (fn. 17) Fiddington and Newton, recorded in 1004, (fn. 18) and Natton and Aston on Carrant, recorded in 1087, (fn. 19) appear to have been the primary sites of settlement, and the termination of each name suggests a hamlet that had developed from a single farmstead. By c. 1145 the church was built (fn. 20) near the centre of the parish, but not apparently near existing houses; it is equidistant from Aston and Fiddington, and its position is likely to have been determined by the need for it to be tolerably close to all the hamlets that it served. Newton is only ¼ mile from the church, but it was one of the smallest groups of houses and never ranked as a separate township. (fn. 21) Northway, ½ mile north of the church, was recorded as a township from 1205; (fn. 22) the group of houses there is unlikely to have existed before the 12th century, and the sites at Cowfield Farm and Northway Mill may have been inhabited earlier. Homedowns, or Pamington Homedowns, (fn. 23) a straggling settlement on the road between Newton and Fiddington, appears to have developed rather late, and although the demolished building that was the Homedowns Inn was possibly an openhall house (fn. 24) the earliest known documentary reference to Homedowns as a habitation is of 1683. (fn. 25)
Through-routes of some antiquity or importance cross the parish, and their use and development have influenced changes in the pattern of settlement. The main east-west road, where it enters the parish on the east, was referred to in the late 10th century as Port Street. (fn. 26) The road was placed under a turnpike trust in 1726 and again, after that trust had lapsed, was a turnpike from 1755 (fn. 27) to 1872. (fn. 28) In 1775 it was said that the road had been almost impassable before it was turnpiked. (fn. 29) From Aston Cross, where it crosses the Cheltenham-Bredon road, to the west boundary of the parish, the road appears to have been straightened; although there was an alternative route from Isabel's Elm, 200 yds. north of Aston Cross, the more southerly road existed in the mid-16th century, when both roads were in use. Isabel's Elm was then called Dame Isabel's Elm, (fn. 30) and was presumably called after either Isabel, Countess of Warwick (d. 1439), or her grand-daughter, Isabel, Duchess of Clarence. (fn. 31) The road from there, which became a footpath between 1811 and 1828, joined the turnpike road near the first milestone from Tewkesbury. (fn. 32) Earlier it may have joined the turnpike road ½ mile further west, following the course of a footpath that was closed in 1830. (fn. 33) The footpath marking the eastern end of the road was closed in 1954. (fn. 34)
By 1828 the main road had encouraged the building of small houses at Aston Cross and Newton. (fn. 35) At Newton most of those houses had been demolished by the mid-20th century. At Aston Cross, with a public house and a shop, most of the surviving houses were of the early 20th century, including some council houses, though there was also in 1966 a ruinous rubble cottage with a thatched roof. In the mid-19th century a row of small houses was built on the north side of the road at the west end of the parish, near Walton House, (fn. 36) and the settlement came to be called Newtown despite the existence of Newton a mile east along the same road. The area of Newtown was the part of the parish transferred to Tewkesbury in 1935, (fn. 37) and after the Second World War it was comprehensively developed: the western part of the area was used for houses, some built privately and some by the borough council, and the north-eastern part became, in the sixties, an industrial estate. On the south-east, just outside the area transferred to Tewkesbury, are the grounds and buildings of the Elmbury County Secondary School for Girls. (fn. 38)
The Cheltenham-Bredon road was a turnpike as far as Isabel's Elm from 1755, and north of Isabel's Elm from 1826, until 1872. (fn. 39) The road crossed the Carrant by a bridge called Stone Bridge in the mid16th century. (fn. 40) A bridge to carry the road across the Tirle brook was built before 1287 when it was broken and impassable. (fn. 41) It was called Pamington Bridge in 1588, (fn. 42) but seems to be the same as the one called Albridge in 1485. Another bridge in Pamington was then called Home Bridge. (fn. 43) Forthey Bridge, which the Abbot of Tewkesbury was ordered to repair in 1491, (fn. 44) may have crossed the Carrant brook near Northway Mill. The Sea Bridge recorded in 1545 and 1547 is likely to have carried the road from Newton to Fiddington across the Tirle brook, for it was the object of bequests by inhabitants of Fiddington and Natton. (fn. 45) None of the bridges visibly retained its ancient fabric in 1966. The road to Fiddington was evidently difficult to maintain. Ripple Cross, where the highway needed repair in 1485 and 1536, (fn. 46) seems to have been where the Fiddington road was crossed by the Oxenton-Tewkesbury road, (fn. 47) which in 1966 was no more than a footpath. Along with other charitable gifts, William Ferrers (d. 1625) gave £5 a year for the highway from Fiddington to Tewkesbury either by Walton Cardiff or by Newton. (fn. 48)
The Bristol-Birmingham railway line was built through the middle of the parish and opened in 1840. (fn. 49) A station was built near the church, and its main function was to serve the branch line to Tewkesbury. (fn. 50) With the opening of the branch from Ashchurch to Evesham in 1864, (fn. 51) Ashchurch became a minor railway centre; two terraces of railway cottages were built, and a large four-story brick store-house was built beside the railway station for the provender of the horses of the Midland Railway. (fn. 52) The branch line to Evesham was closed in 1963, (fn. 53) and that to Tewkesbury in 1964. (fn. 54)
The ease of access provided by the railways brought gentry to Ashchurch as residents, where before they had been lacking. Walton House, it is true, had been built before the railways, but its neighbour Ashchurch House (formerly Southfield) (fn. 55) followed the railway, as did two of the larger houses at Northway. At Northway the small group of existing houses included Northway Court Farm, a tall 18th-century house of brick with a dentil cornice and parapet and a fanlight over the door. Along the main road a few small villas were built, and a row of railway cottages was built north of the station. The bridge across the railway immediately south of the station became the focal point of the parish: there the main lines of communication met, the parish church was not far off, and among a small cluster of houses, slightly east of Newton — a name hardly remembered in 1966 — were the police station, the village school, (fn. 56) and the village hall, which existed as a reading room by 1910 (fn. 57) and was rebuilt in 1928. (fn. 58)
Although the availability of a former railway building, rather than the existence of the railways, brought the Dowty works to Northway, adequate communications made feasible the expansion of the works (fn. 59) and the building of a large housing estate immediately north of them, on the site of a war-time camp. The housing site of c. 60 a. is in fact divided into two, the eastern part containing houses built by Cheltenham R.D.C. mainly soon after the war, and the western part developed by private builders mainly in the sixties. The residential area lies immediately south-west of Northway hamlet, which by 1966 had itself been transformed by infilling. The new residential area has shops, a social and church centre, a nonconformist chapel, and an infants' school. (fn. 60) By 1966 the army camp, built east of the church during the Second World War, occupied the north side of the main road as far as Aston Cross, and reached back as far as the disused railway line; the buildings were then undergoing a major reconstruction. The south-west corner of the camp site was used to build married quarters in the fifties, and opposite, on the south of the main road, another housing estate was built for the families of the camp staff in 1964. (fn. 61) Whereas the railway may have lost its power as a magnet to the area by the sixties, the proposal to build the Bristol-Birmingham motorway between Northway and Newtown encouraged continued development in the area.
The hamlets in the east and south of the parish remained in 1966 relatively unaffected by the changes that had transformed the north-west part. Fiddington, in the south-west corner of the parish, comprises six farm-houses and a few cottages lying in two loose clusters 200 yds. apart. The western cluster contains the 16th-century Fiddington Manor on what may be a moated site, (fn. 62) the 17th-century Rectory Farm, (fn. 63) and Fiddington House Farm, a brick building with segmental-headed windows which bears the date 1755. In 1965 a firm of demolition contractors began to build workshops behind Rectory Farm, where there had previously been a small cider factory. (fn. 64) The eastern cluster of houses contains buildings mainly in brick ranging from the 18th century to the mid-20th; in the south-east corner the uneven ground south of Fiddington (formerly Yew Tree) Farm (fn. 65) may indicate an earlier settlement site. In each cluster there are two small houses built after the Second World War.
Scattered houses and cottages were built in the late 19th century and early 20th along the road leading from Fiddington through Homedowns to Newton, and along the lane (the former Oxenton-Tewkesbury road) leading to three 19th-century farm-houses. Though at least two of the three farm-houses are on land that was inclosed before the parliamentary inclosures of 1809–16, (fn. 66) all three appear to have been first built after that period. One, Starveall Farm, (fn. 67) was uninhabited in 1966. Natton, on a loop road off the Fiddington-Newton road just south of the Tirle brook, was always a small hamlet, but whereas it was separately tallaged in 1205, (fn. 68) and had 5 taxpayers in 1327, (fn. 69) it was usually accounted at later dates merely as an outlier of Fiddington, and by 1966 had shrunk to one farm-house, of brick and rough-cast over a timber frame, and one brick cottage. The remains of another farm-house show it to have been of rubble masonry, as was a surviving 18th-century cottage by the turning to Natton.
Pamington village grew up along a spur road leading off the Cheltenham-Bredon road on the south side of the Tirle brook. In 1630 the village had 12 houses of 3, 4, or 5 bays, and 3 cottages. (fn. 70) In the 18th century the village street led only to the village and to field roads; at its western end it formed a small triangle, within and near which most of the houses and cottages were loosely grouped. (fn. 71) The houses there, including Pamington Court, (fn. 72) are of the 18th century and later. At the east end four widely spaced, small houses were built in the 17th century, with timber frames and thatched roofs that survived in 1966. One of them, the Stirrups, has numbered posts. In 1809 a road was built from the west end of the village across the Tirle brook to the turnpike road. (fn. 73) The north-east and north-west sides of the triangle later went out of use as thoroughfares, and in 1883, though roughly followed by footpaths, did not survive. (fn. 74) Before the Second World War a few small houses were built west of the village on the Cheltenham road; between the road and the village a much larger group of small houses, faced in reconstituted stone, was built in the sixties, and some were being built in 1966.
Aston on Carrant village lies on the south bank of the Carrant brook, its straight village street forming a spur off the Cheltenham-Bredon road. Although the houses are well spaced along the village street, Aston comes nearest of the hamlets of Ashchurch to being nucleated. The house called the Manor, though it is not known to have been associated with a manorial estate in Aston, is a fine timber-framed house of the 16th century, of two stories, oversailing at first floor, with carved bressummers at first-floor and eaves levels, and has a projecting gable with quadrant bracing; it has a stone chimney-stack and a tiled roof. The house appears to have belonged to members of the Guy family; (fn. 75) a small addition in stone carries the initials 'T.G. 1614', and the initials 'R.G.' surmount a 17th-century fireplace. In the garden is a stone dovecot. Opposite the Manor is a house with an 18th-century brick exterior, like several of the older houses in the village, but having inside features of an earlier period. To the west are two 17th-century timber-framed farm-houses, one L-shaped on plan, opposite which is the Old Forge, a thatched house with walls of timber framing and rubble. The village in 1966 contained 6 houses built after the Second World War. After inclosure of the fields in 1816 (fn. 76) an outlying farm-house was built ½ mile west of the village, and a barn ½ mile to the east. A few isolated cottages were also built along the road to Isabel's Elm. South of the village, by the Tirle brook, another post-inclosure, outlying farm-house called Goodman's (fn. 77) was converted to two cottages called Brickyard Cottages; the disused brickyard may have supplied many of the bricks that in the 19th century and early 20th replaced timber frames with whitened plaster fillings as the characteristic building material of the parish.
In 1327 there were 89 taxpayers in the whole parish, evenly divided between Aston, Northway, Pamington, and Fiddington, with only Natton having a much smaller number than the rest. (fn. 78) The relative numbers contrasted with the apportionment of the tallage in 1205, when Pamington was assessed at more than Northway, Fiddington, and Natton put together. (fn. 79) From the mid-16th century to the mid19th there was a gradual rise in the population of the parish. The number of communicants was given as c. 260 in 1551 (fn. 80) and as 283 in 1603, (fn. 81) the number of households as 64 in 1563, (fn. 82) and the number of families as c. 70 in 1650. (fn. 83) The inhabitants were said to number 308 c. 1710, (fn. 84) 400 in 1750, (fn. 85) and 436 c. 1775, when the parish registers were cited as evidence of an increase. (fn. 86) The population was 558 in 1801, and had reached a peak of 786 in 1851. The same figure was again reached in 1911; in 1931 the population was 711, of whom 199 were in the part of the parish transferred to Tewkesbury in 1935. (fn. 87) By 1608 Northway and Newton was the most populous of the four tithings, and remained so in 1672, 1801, and 1841; Pamington, the second most populous in 1608 and 1672, did not afterwards keep pace with the other tithings, and had the fewest inhabitants in 1801 and 1841. (fn. 88) To the development of Northway must be attributed the rapid increase in the population of the whole parish to 1,641 in 1951 (when there were more than twice as many males as females) and 2,049 in 1961. (fn. 89) Main gas, electricity, and water supplies were available both in Northway and in the other hamlets before 1941. (fn. 90)
An alehouse at Northway was recorded from 1507 to 1543, and in 1533 its keepers were forbidden to allow card-playing. There was a tavern at Pamington also in 1541 and 1543. (fn. 91) In 1666 a cottage on the waste in Northway, said to have been built long ago, was called the 'Nag's Head'. (fn. 92) In 1676 the minister and inhabitants of Ashchurch petitioned Quarter Sessions for the renewal of William Rose's licence to sell ale. (fn. 93) Two inhabitants of Ashchurch were licensed to keep alehouses in 1755. (fn. 94) In 1849 Pamington had a beer-house and a cider-house, Fiddington had a cider-house at Homedowns, Aston had the 'Sudeley Arms' and a beer-house at the smithy, and Northway had the 'Rose and Crown'. (fn. 95) No licensed house has been found at Pamington at a later date, and the 'Rose and Crown', possibly surviving in 1856, had gone by 1863. Two beer retailers in Aston were recorded in 1856 but not in 1863, by which date the 'Queen's Head' (possibly the 'Sudeley Arms' under a new name) was established at Aston Cross. The beer-house at Homedowns continued in use until the First World War. (fn. 96) In 1966, in addition to the 'Queen's Head', there was a licensed hotel at Northway House. The Aston Cross Pig Club, meeting at the 'Queen's Head' in 1890, later met at the reading room near the station until it was dissolved in 1910. (fn. 97) The Northway Church Centre, on the housing estate there, was opened for social and ecclesiastical uses in 1956. (fn. 98) The Swifts Boys Club, organized in Tewkesbury in 1956, moved to new premises in Newtown that were opened in 1961. (fn. 99)
The mineral waters that occur in the limestone bed under the west end of the parish first attracted notice c. 1746, but no serious attempt was made to exploit them until after the publication of Dr. James Johnstone's analysis in 1787. (fn. 100) In the early 19th century it was said that attempts to exploit the waters a few years earlier had failed, (fn. 101) though afterwards it was recorded that the Walton wells were 'at one time much resorted to'. (fn. 102) A spa at Ashchurch offered for sale in 1823 (fn. 103) may have been on the site of Walton Spa, on the north side of the main road, where a spa house was built c. 1835. The spa house was never used for its intended purpose, (fn. 104) for the promoters were paid by people interested in the Cheltenham spas to abandon their plans. (fn. 105) The small brick building, with a stone front and a fourcolumned Roman Doric portico supporting the eaves of a slate roof, survived in an orchard until 1961 (fn. 106) when it was removed to make way for houses.
William Cartwright, the playwright (d. 1643), was born at Northway. (fn. 107)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 1066 the whole of what was later the parish of Ashchurch, specified as Fiddington, Pamington, Natton, and Aston, formed part of Brictric's manor of Tewkesbury. (fn. 108) The lands subsequently descended with Tewkesbury manor, (fn. 109) though they included land that had been granted to the abbeys of Tewkesbury and of Bolbec (Seine Inf.) and land that was subinfeudated to lay lords. Thus while parts of Northway, Fiddington, and Pamington remained within the demesne of the chief manor, (fn. 110) other parts of those places belonged to Tewkesbury Abbey, (fn. 111) parts of Fiddington and Pamington were held by lay under-tenants, (fn. 112) and Aston was divided among the two abbeys and among lay estates that were separate from Tewkesbury manor. (fn. 113) In 1322 Ashchurch, Pamington, Fiddington, Natton, and Northway were named as though they were distinct manors, (fn. 114) but that was unusual; in the Middle Ages only Ashchurch was frequently named as a separate manor. (fn. 115)
The estate at Fiddington and Newton, which Archbishop Aelfric (d. 1005) gave by his will to his sisters and their children, (fn. 116) may have been the same as the 3 hides at Fiddington and Natton which belonged to the church of Tewkesbury in 1087 (fn. 117) and later passed to Tewkesbury Abbey. In 1105 the abbey's lands at Fiddington were assigned to the provision of the monks' table and those at Pamington to the almonry; (fn. 118) in 1107 3¼ hides in Pamington and Aston were confirmed to the abbey, together with the assart of Northway. (fn. 119) In 1256 the abbey had a dairy-farm at Fiddington. (fn. 120) Among lands in Ashchurch that the abbey acquired or regained in the next 250 years were 1 hide in Pamington from William de Godshalf in 1249, (fn. 121) 1 yardland in Natton from Nicholas and Helen of Natton in 1283, (fn. 122) 1 yardland in Fiddington from Thomas of Cannings in 1340, (fn. 123) and land in Northway in 1476. (fn. 124)
In the early 16th century most of the lands in the parish passed through the hands of the Crown, either as part of the late Countess of Warwick's Tewkesbury estate, called Warwick's and Spencer's land, or as a result of the surrender of Tewkesbury Abbey's estate at the Dissolution. In 1547 the Crown granted the manor of ASHCHURCH, referred to as part of Warwick's and Spencer's land and described as a manor in a lease of 1474, (fn. 125) to Sir Ralph Fane, (fn. 126) who in 1547 also was licensed to sell it to William Hawtrey. (fn. 127) Hawtrey in turn was licensed in 1553 to sell the manor to Humphrey Baskerville and Roger Martin, (fn. 128) and Martin sold it to Henry Cassey of Wightfield in 1573. (fn. 129) Henry Cassey died in 1595, (fn. 130) having settled Ashchurch manor on his son Thomas, (fn. 131) and in 1604 Thomas Cassey and his son Henry sold the manor to Robert Atkinson. (fn. 132) Since Ashchurch manor was later associated with Stowell, Atkinson was presumably the Robert Atkinson who was succeeded as lord of Stowell manor by his son Henry. Henry Atkinson devised Stowell manor to his great-nephew William Wentworth, Earl of Strafford (d. 1695). (fn. 133) The earl, who was dealing with Stowell and Ashchurch manors in 1667, (fn. 134) sold those manors in 1689 (fn. 135) to John Grubham Howe, the M.P. and paymaster-general characterized by Macaulay. Howe was succeeded in 1722 (fn. 136) by his son John, created Lord Chedworth (d. 1742), and by Lord Chedworth's sons and successors, John Thynne Howe (d. 1762), and Henry Frederick Howe (d. 1781), as lord of Stowell, (fn. 137) with which Ashchurch was held until at least 1775. (fn. 138) Ashchurch is likely to have been severed from Stowell when John Howe, Lord Chedworth (d. 1804), put in order the estates which he had inherited from his uncle, Henry Frederick. (fn. 139)
In 1803 Ashchurch was said to be vested in the widow of Nicholas Smithsend; (fn. 140) it was apparently Nicholas who built Walton House (fn. 141) shortly before his death in 1790, when he left a widow Mary and four daughters. (fn. 142) The daughters owned Walton House and c. 115 a. in Ashchurch in 1816. (fn. 143) Elizabeth Smithsend, the last of the daughters, who died in 1833, gave 120 a. in Fiddington to augment the living of Ashchurch, and the house and 44 a. passed as a private estate to Francis Henry Romney, the incumbent of Ashchurch. (fn. 144) In 1879 the house and 44 a. were offered for sale by the executors of Churchill Romney, (fn. 145) and were afterwards owned by Lt.-Col. Henry Gillum Webb (d. 1904). Until c. 1927 the estate was owned by Mrs. Edith Palairet Scobell, and afterwards by her son, (fn. 146) later Maj.-Gen. Sir John Scobell (d. 1955). (fn. 147) By 1946 the house and land had been acquired by the Gloucestershire County Council, for use as a children's home. (fn. 148) The house served that purpose in 1965. In 1474 the site of Ashchurch manor included a hall of two bays with a chamber and granary built above it. (fn. 149) In 1595 there was a chief house of the manor; (fn. 150) it may have been one of the two houses near the church. (fn. 151) It was replaced as the chief house in the late 18th century when Walton House was built, a three-storied house, square on plan, with a pedimented front. (fn. 152) From 1833 until 1863 or later Walton House was occupied by George Ruddle. (fn. 153) Webb largely or completely rebuilt the house in red brick, putting up his initials and what may have been his coat of arms; he and his successors as owners lived at the house until 1934 or shortly before. (fn. 154)
The larger parts of Pamington and Fiddington, and nearly all of Northway, formed estates within Tewkesbury manor that were not subinfeudated. Thus in the late 15th century, when the lands of Anne, Countess of Warwick, were in the hands of the Crown, the rents of the freeholders, copyholders, tenants at will, and farmers of former demesne were paid to the Crown's collectors for the three estates. (fn. 155) The Northway estate was leased by the Crown in the early 16th century as the manor of NORTHWAY; (fn. 156) in the 17th century it was sometimes called NORTHWAY AND NEWTON manor. (fn. 157) The manor was granted in fee, apparently by the Crown in 1581, (fn. 158) to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and John Morley, who in the same year conveyed it to Thomas Cocks of Bishop's Cleeve. (fn. 159) Following the death of Thomas Cocks in 1601 (fn. 160) the Crown granted the manor to three of his sons, described as his heirs and assigns, Richard, Charles, and Christopher Cocks, (fn. 161) who in 1607 conveyed the manor to another of the sons, Thomas. The younger Thomas died in 1638, and his son, (fn. 162) Sir John Cocks, was ultimately succeeded as lord of the manor by his niece Eleanor, daughter of his sister Catherine, wife of Edward Stanford. (fn. 163) Eleanor married Francis Stafford, who died in 1708, (fn. 164) and their son Henry, who was in possession of the manor in 1715, (fn. 165) died in 1743 (fn. 166) without legitimate issue. Trustees had sold the manor to Thomas Hayward (fn. 167) of Quedgeley by 1754. (fn. 168) Thomas Hayward was succeeded in 1782 by his son Charles, and Charles, who died unmarried in 1803, by his brother William, who had taken the additional surname Winstone. William Hayward Winstone's daughter, Albinia Frances, who married the Revd. John Adey Curtis (d. 1812) (fn. 169) and was called Mrs. Curtis Hayward, was in possession of the estate in 1822, (fn. 170) and in 1829 had 711 a. in Northway. (fn. 171) By 1848 the estate had been split up, two of the larger shares evidently belonging then to William E. Wall and Edward Pugh. William Woodward, who then owned 100 a. in Northway, (fn. 172) was later said to be one of the four chief landowners in the parish. He appears to have been followed in the 1860's by the Revd. Charles Holden Steward, whose family continued to own some land in the parish until 1939 or later. Northway House, which belonged to William Woodward (fn. 173) and may have been built by him, is a stone building, with gables, of the mid-19th century. It had become an hotel by 1955. (fn. 174) None of the lords of the manor before the mid-19th century is known to have lived in the parish, and no evidence has been found of a manor-house. There may have been one, however, within the moat of Cowfield Farm; (fn. 175) although the house there was of the 19thcentury, incorporating only part of a small 18thcentury house, and the moat had been filled, the line of the moat could still be traced in 1966.
An estate called COLE'S PLACE in Northway, though not recorded as a manor, was one of long standing. The Cole family was widespread in Ashchurch and the neighbouring parishes up to the 18th century; in 1327 Robert Cole and John Cole were among the taxpayers of Northway. (fn. 176) In 1487 John Cole held Cole's Place in Northway as a freehold of the Northway estate of Warwick's and Spencer's land. (fn. 177) John Cole was succeeded in or before 1509 (fn. 178) by his son John (fn. 179) who died in 1524 holding a chief house in Northway and Hall Court manor in Fiddington, (fn. 180) where a Thomas Cole had had a holding in 1396. (fn. 181) The Coles appear to have had a connexion with the Eyres who held 1/6 knight's fee in Oxenton and Pamington in the 14th century: (fn. 182) John Eyre of Oxenton c. 1420 claimed a large estate in Northway and Fiddington, (fn. 183) a Roger Eyre of Northway was recorded in 1531, (fn. 184) and the William Cole of Northway who sold the Fiddington manor in 1572 was alternatively surnamed Eyre. (fn. 185) William was apparently the son of the John Cole who died in 1524, and the father of Rowland Cole, (fn. 186) who succeeded his father as owner of the heath in Northway c. 1580. (fn. 187) Rowland Cole and his son Thomas were both living at Northway in 1623, (fn. 188) but in 1626 Henry Ferrers (created a baronet in 1628) (fn. 189) had the freehold of Cole's Place, which Thomas Ferrers held at his death in 1636. Thomas's son and heir William was then a minor. (fn. 190) The Ferrerses did not have the whole of the Coles' estate, for Thomas Cocks, lord of Northway manor, held the Heath at his death in 1638, (fn. 191) and Thomas Cole — presumably son of Thomas son of Rowland — had a house with mills and land in Ashchurch in the fifties. (fn. 192)
No record has been found of Cole's Place in the next 100 years. In 1765 William Beale Brand, who was presumably connected with the William Beale who had a lease of houses and land in Aston on Carrant in 1637 (fn. 193) and with the Edward Beale who acquired tithes in Northway from William Haynes in 1726, (fn. 194) sold Cole's Place to John Morris. John Morris conveyed the estate in 1780 to Robert Morris, (fn. 195) who owned land in Northway c. 1790. (fn. 196) Part of the estate was included in a sale by William Haynes to John New in 1813, (fn. 197) and New, who owned 214 a. in 1829, (fn. 198) sold to Thomas Lea in 1834. Lea owned over 200 a. in 1853, (fn. 199) but his estate was afterwards absorbed either in the Northway House estate of William Woodward or in the Northway Farm estate of the Revd. W. E. Wall. (fn. 200) Wall's estate was put up for sale in 1909, after his death, (fn. 201) and fragmented. (fn. 202) It included Northway Mill Farm, which John New had bought in 1804. (fn. 203)
In 1303 Odo de Acton held 1/6 knight's fee in Fiddington of the lord of Tewkesbury manor, (fn. 204) and he was one of the two chief taxpayers in Fiddington in 1327. (fn. 205) John de Acton held Odo's estate in 1349, (fn. 206) and at his death in or before 1362 Roger de Acton held of Edward Despenser a house and a ploughland in Fiddington, leaving as his heir his brother John. (fn. 207) The family surname is likely to have derived from an early form of the place-name Natton, (fn. 208) and in 1283 Nicholas and Helen of Natton were recorded as granting land to Tewkesbury Abbey. (fn. 209) The Acton family's estate may have been included in the holding of nearly 3 plough-lands in Fiddington which Ralph Damsel and his wife Maud conveyed to Thomas Cole in 1396, (fn. 210) which in turn is perhaps to be associated with HALL COURT manor in Fiddington, later called FIDDINGTON manor and COLE'S manor, which John Cole of Northway held at his death in 1524. John's son William (fn. 211) was presumably the William Eyre otherwise Cole who sold Cole's manor in 1572 to Robert and Margaret Kedward. (fn. 212) In 1584 the Kedwards settled the manor on John Roberts and his wife, their daughter Eleanor. (fn. 213)
John Roberts died in 1632, having settled Cole's manor on his son John and daughter-in-law Isabel. (fn. 214) The younger John made settlements of the manor in 1649 and 1650, (fn. 215) and although his daughter Mary married and had children, (fn. 216) the manor appears to have passed to Alice and Eleanor, daughters of John Roberts the elder. It was divided first into halves, of which one was further divided into thirds held respectively by Henry Chivers and his wife Bridget, Charles Hancock and his wife Judith, and John Parsons and his wife Elizabeth. In 1704 the Hancocks and Parsonses conveyed their interests to Henry Chivers, who by the time of his death in 1720 appears to have acquired the other half of the manor. Chivers devised the estate to his grandson, Henry Chivers Vince, who owned the whole manor by 1737. (fn. 217) Vince sold the manor in 1768 to John Morris of Tuffley; in 1792 Morris's son and heir Robert sold Cole's manor, comprising 250a., to William Fendall. (fn. 218) Fendall was recorded as lord of the manor of Fiddington and Natton in 1803, (fn. 219) but in 1808 John Stone bought the estate. (fn. 220) Stone died in 1811 leaving an only child, Edward Gresley Stone, (fn. 221) who had 440 a. in Fiddington in 1829. (fn. 222) Half the estate was sold in 1841, (fn. 223) the rest in 1920, following the death of E. G. Stone's son, Capt. W. H. Stone. (fn. 224) It was then bought by the farmer, John Clarke, whose family had farmed the land for many years. Clarke sold the estate in 1941; (fn. 225) in 1966 it was part of the 520 a. estate in Fiddington and Tredington belonging to Messrs. R. & R. H. Juckes.
The chief house of the estate, called Fiddington Manor, was built in the 16th or 17th century. A pond on the south side of the house and a bank along the north side suggest that the site was moated. The house is timber-framed, L-shaped on plan, with a stair-case block in the angle. The entrance front, which was formerly rough-cast, (fn. 226) is of closeset framing and untarred. At each end is a stone stack with two chimneys. Inside, the house has some early 17th-century features including decorative plaster-work. Beside it is a square stone dovecot, with cross-gables and a central lantern. It is inscribed 'I.R. 1637' and 'I.I.R. 1637', the initials standing for John and Isabel Roberts.
The Fiddington estate formerly of the Countess of Warwick was called FIDDINGTON manor when the Crown leased it, in each instance to one of the king's musicians, in 1530 and 1542, (fn. 227) and as FIDDINGTON AND NATTON manor was granted in fee to Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour, in 1547. (fn. 228) In 1550 the Crown granted Fiddington manor to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and his wife Joan, (fn. 229) and in 1557 Joan and her second husband, Edward Unton, conveyed the manor to Robert Ashton. (fn. 230) Ashton had evidently acquired an effective title to the manor some years earlier, for in 1555 he and Richard Ashton were licensed to grant it to Henry Moody. (fn. 231) In 1558 Moody sold in turn to Lionel Duckett, and in 1584 Lionel Duckett sold to Stephen Duckett what was described as the manors of Fiddington and Natton. (fn. 232) Stephen Ducket sold the manor in 1587 to Thomas Clutterbuck, (fn. 233) who settled it on his younger son Thomas and died in 1614. (fn. 234) Thomas Clutterbuck (fl. 1632) was succeeded by his son Thomas (fl. 1669), who married Elizabeth Fream and whose son Fream Clutterbuck mortgaged the manor in 1705. In 1707 the beneficiary of the mortgage was Anne Kemble, widow, (fn. 235) who already held, as had her husband Thomas before her, a lease of the small estate in Fiddington belonging to Brasenose College, Oxford, and leased by the college to successive members of the Kemble family. Richard Kemble, who preceded Thomas as the college's lessee, (fn. 236) had in 1651 acquired lands in Fiddington from Sir Henry Ferrers, Bt., son of John Ferrers of Fiddington. John Ferrers's father, Roger, who came from Corsham (Wilts.), had married Margaret, daughter of Giles Badger (fn. 237) of Fiddington (fl. 1536), (fn. 238) and was recorded in 1547 as a copyholder of the Warwick manor of Fiddington and Natton, along with Christopher Kemble who had succeeded to the holding of his father, Richard. (fn. 239) John Ferrers's younger brother, William (d. 1625), a citizen of London, whose monument is in Ashchurch church, endowed charities in Ashchurch and Tewkesbury. (fn. 240)
Anne Kemble (d. 1713 ?) appears to have been succeeded by Daniel Kemble, a woollen-draper of Tewkesbury (fl. 1718–32), Daniel by his nephew, another Daniel Kemble, D.D. (d. 1761), Rector of Bourton-on-the-Hill, and the second Daniel by his brother Thomas Kemble (d. 1776), whose widow Margaret (fn. 241) had the manor c. 1790. (fn. 242) Thomas Kemble's daughter married first a Mr. Martin and secondly Thomas Bland. Bland was in possession of the manor in 1803, (fn. 243) and Charles Martin, presumably his step-son, had over 150 a. in Fiddington in 1814. (fn. 244) The Revd. W. Martin had the estate in 1829, and the Revd. C. H. Martin in 1848. (fn. 245) In the 16th century there was no demesne land or demesne house; (fn. 246) in the 19th century the chief house was Yew Tree Farm, (fn. 247) later called Fiddington Farm, a brick building of the early 19th century.
Tewkesbury Abbey had a manor of FIDDINGTON, and in 1534 demised the demesne to Richard Wakeman, son of William. (fn. 248) The Crown granted the manor in 1553 to Daniel and Alexander Peart, (fn. 249) who were licensed the same year to sell the manor to William Thornby and Richard Wakeman. (fn. 250) In 1566 Thornby conveyed his half of the manor to Wakeman, (fn. 251) who in 1582 sold the manor to Thomas Clutterbuck, (fn. 252) later lord of the Warwick manor of Fiddington. By his will Clutterbuck devised the abbey manor of Fiddington to his son Ferdinand, (fn. 253) who was in possession in 1622. (fn. 254) The later history of this manor has not been traced in detail, but in 1662 John Clutterbuck, gentleman, lived in a house in Fiddington with 3 hearths, (fn. 255) and in 1672 Mr. Clutterbuck had a house there with 5 hearths. (fn. 256) This may have been the estate, including a chief house, which Henry Moore sold to Nicholas Smithsend in 1678, (fn. 257) and which appears to have descended with other of the family property to Elizabeth Smithsend (fn. 258) who in 1829 had Rectory farm, comprising 129 a. (fn. 259) The name of the farm perhaps recalls the ownership by Tewkesbury Abbey, which had the tithes of Fiddington that afterwards passed through the same hands as their manor of Fiddington. In 1832 Elizabeth Smithsend settled the farm in trust for the incumbent of Ashchurch. (fn. 260)
By the demise of 1534 Tewkesbury Abbey was to provide for the buildings on the site of Fiddington manor timber and carpentry, stone tiles, and other stone. (fn. 261) The house surviving in 1966 was built in the 17th century, and is a small two-storied, L-shaped building of rubble covered with rough-cast, with a gabled front and windows with stone mullions and dripmoulds.
Tewkesbury Abbey also had lands in NATTON, together with a chief house there which was let at farm in 1517. (fn. 262) The Crown granted the house, with pasture for 120 sheep and 28 cattle at the Pen and all the abbey's lands in Natton, to John Bellow and Robert Bigod in 1546, and in the same year licensed the conveyance of the estate to Daniel Peart. (fn. 263) By 1606 the estate was held in fee by Richard Haynes, who died in 1626 and was succeeded by his son Richard. (fn. 264) The younger Richard in turn died holding the estate in 1630, when his son and heir, another Richard, was a minor. (fn. 265) The descent of the estate has not been traced thereafter, but members of the Haynes family continued to live in Natton until 1771 or later. (fn. 266)
The Warwick estate in PAMINGTON, of which part was held with Oxenton by an under-tenant in the 14th century, (fn. 267) was described as a manor from 1557; (fn. 268) it had no chief house in 1487, when all the demesne was in the hands of tenants. The issues of the estate then included the chief rents of Alderton and Dixton, (fn. 269) and the lords of those manors were said in the late 16th century to owe suit to the court of Pamington manor. (fn. 270) In 1557 the Crown granted Pamington to Anne Fortescue, along with Great Washbourne, (fn. 271) Gotherington, and Tredington manors. With those manors Pamington descended in the Fortescue and, from 1621, Craven families. It was forfeited in the Interregnum and sold in 1654 to Gabriel Marden, (fn. 272) but reverted to the Cravens and thus passed to Henry Augustus Berkeley Craven (d. 1836), (fn. 273) who had nearly 500 a. in Pamington in 1809, (fn. 274) and was succeeded there by his brother Keppel. Soon after 1849 the estate was sold to Simpson Anderson, (fn. 275) who owned it in 1856. (fn. 276) It seems to have been the Pamington estate that belonged to Henry Paul in 1910 and 1914. (fn. 277) In 1917 the estate amounted to over 700 a. and was sold in various lots; W. A. Bindley, who bought two farms together comprising 532 a., sold them again separately in 1928. (fn. 278) By that time the lordship of the manor had evidently lapsed. The chief house of the manor was apparently Pamington Court, an 18thcentury brick house of two stories with dormered attics and a Cotswold stone roof.
Tewkesbury Abbey's estate in PAMINGTON, leased at farm in 1530 and then comprising a chief house, demesne lands, and the rents and reversion of customary lands, (fn. 279) were granted in fee by the Crown to Richard Guy in 1576. (fn. 280) Richard was the son of William Guy of Natton who died c. 1547. (fn. 281) Richard conveyed the estate in 1601 to his son Richard, who died in 1608 leaving as heir his infant son, another Richard. (fn. 282) The last Richard, who came into possession of the estate in 1625 (fn. 283) and was escheator in Gloucestershire in 1628, (fn. 284) was perhaps the Mr. Guy who lived in the largest house in Aston on Carrant, with 7 hearths, in 1662. (fn. 285) In that year Richard Guy's lands were partitioned among his five daughters. The chief house in Pamington went to Bridget and her husband John Sandbach. (fn. 286) Part of the Guys' estate may be represented by that belonging to the Procters in the early 19th century, (fn. 287) which appears to have been absorbed into the larger Pamington estate by 1917. (fn. 288)
Although land in Aston on Carrant was confirmed to Tewkesbury Abbey in 1107, (fn. 289) the abbey was not recorded as holding land there in the 16th century. (fn. 290) Bolbec Abbey received a grant or confirmation of lands in Aston and Ashton under Hill from King John in 1201, (fn. 291) and it is possible that the lands were part of Tewkesbury manor, which John then held. In 1307 a rent from the tenants of the Abbot of Bolbec in Aston belonged to the lord of Tewkesbury manor. (fn. 292) The lands, sometimes described as the manors of ASTON ON CARRANT and Ashton, (fn. 293) produced £16 a year in rent in 1325. (fn. 294) In 1386 Sir John Cheyne of Beckford was licensed to treat with Bolbec for a life grant of the estate, (fn. 295) which was afterwards associated with Beckford manor. The estate was not among those confirmed to Bolbec in 1421, (fn. 296) and after being in possession of Eton College in 1448 (fn. 297) it was granted with Beckford to Fotheringhay College in 1462. (fn. 298) In the 16th century it was held, still with Beckford, by Sir Richard Lee, (fn. 299) and afterwards by the Franklins and Wakemans. (fn. 300) William Wakeman was named as lord of the manor in 1812; (fn. 301) in 1816 the inclosure commissioners allotted him 1 a. in Aston for his manorial and chief rents, but that was all the land he had there. (fn. 302)
Part of Aston was held of the Earls of Gloucester from the 13th century, by the Talbots and their successors, with Kemerton and Boddington. (fn. 303) The association with Kemerton lasted, (fn. 304) and in 1816 a member of the Parsons family of Kemerton received an inclosure allotment for chief rents in Aston. (fn. 305) An estate in Aston which appears to have derived in the late 16th century and early 17th partly from the Beckford estate and partly from the Kemerton estate belonged by 1664 to John Surman, whose family retained it in the mid-18th century. (fn. 306) It appears to have been the estate of 238 a. owned by Thomas Jelf Sandilands in 1816, (fn. 307) most of which was owned by William Wakeman in 1829 (fn. 308) and by Thomas Wakeman in 1849. It was then occupied by John Tombs, (fn. 309) who was one of the chief landowners in the parish in 1885 and whose executors held his estate until c. 1906. (fn. 310) Land in Aston bought by William Wakeman in 1823 was sold in 1869 to Robert Martin of Overbury Court, and the Overbury estate in Aston was further enlarged by the purchase of three farms in 1944 and 1954. (fn. 311)
Apart from the cornmills along the Carrant brook, agriculture provided almost the only means of support for the inhabitants until the Second World War, and the economic history of the parish is primarily that of the exploitation of the soil.
Agriculture. Up to the late 14th century the evidence for the agrarian history of Ashchurch is mostly indistinguishable from that of Tewkesbury. (fn. 312) It is not clear whether there was any demesne land in Ashchurch in 1087. (fn. 313) In 1220, however, the bailiffs of the Earl of Gloucester were said to be answerable for 3 plough-teams in Fiddington, (fn. 314) where Tewkesbury Abbey also had its dairy-farm in 1256. (fn. 315) In 1327 the demesne at Ashchurch of the honor of Gloucester appears to have been well stocked. (fn. 316) By 1425 the demesne, lying in Pamington and Northway, was let to tenants in small parcels (fn. 317) later called pennyland; in 1487 land at Pamington called Homepens that was similarly let to tenants was said to be demesne land, (fn. 318) although in 1425 it was described as customary land. (fn. 319) The Homepens may have been the same as what was later called Pamington Homedowns, lying within the boundaries of Fiddington tithing. (fn. 320) In the early 16th century tenants held 684 a. of demesne in Ashchurch. (fn. 321) Tewkesbury Abbey's demesne of Fiddington was held at farm in the early 16th century. (fn. 322)
The recorded freehold tenants with land in Ashchurch were few in number. In addition to Tewkesbury Abbey in Northway and Fiddington, and the Coles in Northway as mentioned above, two free tenants held land in Pamington, and one in Fiddington in the 15th century. (fn. 323) The customary tenants appear to have held relatively large amounts of land and to have been prosperous. In 1327 only in Aston on Carrant, of the five tithings, were the taxpayers assessed at an average of less than 2s. (fn. 324) On the Warwick estate in the 15th century the 26 customary holdings, with one exception, ranged from 1 yardland to 3, and the average was 1¾ yardland. There may have been some amalgamation of holdings at an earlier period, for the names of the holdings numbered 41, only 6 fewer than the number of yardlands. The tenants were said to pay rents at the will of the lord, (fn. 325) but they are most unlikely to have been other than copyholders; (fn. 326) they owed heriots, and widows were entitled to freebench. (fn. 327) In addition, most of the customary tenants held parcels of demesne or other land. (fn. 328)
It appears that in the Middle Ages, as later, there were four groups of open fields for the several tithings. In 1540 the fields of Fiddington were distinguished as the field east of the town, Cartway field, Meade Dean, and Whitecross field. (fn. 329) A rent payable to Tewkesbury Abbey in 1535 in wheat and barley (fn. 330) may indicate the main crops grown. Sheephouses belonging to Ashchurch manor were mentioned in 1541, when it was claimed that the lessee had ploughed up 56 a. of pasture-ground and sown it with barley and pulse. (fn. 331) Whereas presentments in the hundred court suggest that sheep in Ashchurch were too numerous in the early 16th century, (fn. 332) 4 out of 5 tenants of the abbey in Fiddington had common of pasture for only 15 sheep but for as many cows as they could keep through the winter. (fn. 333) In 1546 a holding in Natton included pasture for 120 sheep and 28 cattle at Natton Pen. (fn. 334)
In the early 17th century the four open fields of Pamington were defined simply as the North, South, East, and West fields, which were each between 114 a. and 147 a. and among which the tenants' lands were fairly evenly divided. (fn. 335) By 1775 the fields were still fairly even in size, but were smaller and had been renamed as Long Ends, Dean, Longdon, and Atcham fields; (fn. 336) and by 1808, just before inclosure, Dean field had swallowed most of Longdon and Atcham fields. (fn. 337) It seems, therefore, that the division into four fields ceased to be significant for agricultural practices there in the late 18th century. The ridges in the fields averaged under ½ a. (fn. 338) The fields of Fiddington also had undergone some changes since 1540, perhaps mainly as the result of the partial inclosure indicated below. Nevertheless, in 1792 the Kembles' estate had roughly equal areas of land in each of the four fields, Rudgeway field, Tier field, Furzen field, and Little Mead (otherwise Claydon or Homedown) field. (fn. 339) There the ridges averaged only ⅓ a., but the consolidation of ridges had offset their small size and the 198 a. of the Cole's manor estate were divided into only 140 parcels. (fn. 340) The fields ranged in size from 44 a. to 175 a. (fn. 341) The fields of Aston on Carrant also numbered 4 immediately before inclosure in 1816, and, whether or not they had once been equivalent in size, by then they were as varied as the fields of Pamington, ranging from Upper field and Lower field, at 207 a. and 172 a. respectively, through Elm field at 77 a. to Ox Leasow field at 26 a. (fn. 342)
At Northway and Pamington the number of tenants and the size of their holdings does not appear to have changed greatly between the early 16th century (fn. 343) and the mid-17th. In 1665 there were still 7 copyholders in Northway, but only 3 had more than 10 a. The 12 tenants by indenture, who between them had 283 a., had on average rather larger holdings; of the 14 tenants at will 3 held over 60 a. and 5 held 2 a. or less. (fn. 344) Copyholds have not been found recorded in Ashchurch after 1675, when a widow was admitted to her freebench at Northway. (fn. 345) At Pamington, where in 1630 all the 12 substantial tenants' holdings were by copy, (fn. 346) there were in 1652 as many leaseholds for lives as copyholds. (fn. 347) The number of substantial holdings there fell by only 2 between 1630 and 1775, but, whereas in 1630 all were between 42 a. and 69 a., in 1775 they varied from 38 a. to 118 a. (fn. 348)
In 1740 the chief crops in the parish were wheat, peas, and oats, with smaller areas of barley and some clover and vetches. (fn. 349) In the eighties the chief crops were said to be wheat, barley, and beans, (fn. 350) and only those three crops, in nearly equal proportions, were included in the returns of 1801. (fn. 351) In 1803 pasture and tillage were nearly equal, and the production of cider apples was remarked. (fn. 352) The parish was said to contain rich meadow and pasture; (fn. 353) in addition to the meadow-land lying along the streams that water the parish the tenants of Pamington, and apparently of other manors, had the mowing of parts of Severn Ham and Avon Ham in Tewkesbury. (fn. 354)
By the 18th century about one-third of the parish had been inclosed, lying at Northway, Newton, and Natton. Northway field was recorded in 1564, (fn. 355) Newton field in 1647, (fn. 356) and the name Cowfield survives as a farm name. In 1601 an inclosure of 74 a. of pasture in Northway (fn. 357) apparently comprised Cowfield or part of it. (fn. 358) In 1609 the owners of land in Natton agreed to the redistribution and presumably the inclosure of 166 a. of arable, together with the 60 a. of Natton Pen and 14 a. called Sheepleys, both pasture. (fn. 359) The 7 ridges in Fiddington recorded in 1706 as lately inclosed with a hedge (fn. 360) may have been part of that land. In 1652 it was alleged that the 40 a. of Ashchurch farm in Northway, once sown with wheat, barley, and pulse, had recently been converted to pasture, and that whereas there had once been 7 plough-teams of horses or oxen in Northway and 6 in Newton and Natton there were then only 3 altogether, most of the arable having been converted to pasture. (fn. 361) In 1666 some open field land survived in Northway, comprising 134 lands, apparently of ¼–½ a. each, in the Town field, the Flathers field, and Ashfield furlong. (fn. 362) The open fields of Northway have not been found recorded at a later date; the statement in 1801 that Ashchurch parish was inclosed (fn. 363) was presumably intended to refer to the tithing of Northway and Newton.
The remaining open field land in Pamington, Fiddington, and Aston on Carrant was inclosed under three separate Acts of Parliament. Pamington was inclosed in 1809, when 650 a. of land were allotted for inclosure and 135 a. of old inclosure were confirmed or exchanged. Nearly 500 a. were allotted to H. A. B. Craven, and most of the rest was allotted to three members of the Procter family. (fn. 364) The inclosure award for Fiddington in 1814 covered 750 a., of which 104 a. was not exchanged or allotted and the remainder was almost all land first inclosed by the award. The estates allotted were one (Stone's) of 185 a., two of c. 120 a., four of 30–60 a., and six under 20 a. (fn. 365) The award for Aston, in 1816, allotted nearly 600 a. in Aston and confirmed the ownership of 30 a. of old inclosure; there was one allotment of 238 a., two of c. 100 a., three of 30–60 a., two of 3–30 a., and three under 3 a. The Aston award also provided for the commutation of small tithes in Northway and for the inclosure of Pamington Homedowns, where 68 a. were already inclosed and 38 a. were allotted among 8 landowners and tithe-owners. (fn. 366)
Inclosure was followed by no rapid change in the early 19th century in the proportions of arable and grass-land. In 1829 Aston on Carrant and Fiddington remained mostly arable, Northway remained mostly pasture, and Pamington was fairly evenly divided. (fn. 367) An estate of 220 a. in Fiddington was nearly three-quarters arable in 1841, (fn. 368) and two smaller farms in Aston were each half arable in 1869. (fn. 369) Later the amount of arable decreased, and by 1901 amounted to less than a quarter of the farmland of the parish. (fn. 370) In Northway, where large crops of hay were produced, (fn. 371) the proportion of arable seems to have remained at about a quarter; (fn. 372) it fell to a quarter or less in Pamington, where in 1917 there were three 70-acre farms with no arable, (fn. 373) and in Fiddington. (fn. 374) By 1933 there were only c. 200 a. arable in the whole parish. (fn. 375) Although the proportion of arable increased temporarily in the forties (fn. 376) and was increasing in the sixties, most of the agricultural land was permanent grass, used for dairying and sheep-rearing, in 1966. In the 19th century the orchards were used to produce cider-apples, (fn. 377) and cider was manufactured until 1965 at Rectory Farm, Fiddington. (fn. 378) At Grange Farm, Northway, the farm buildings included hop-kilns. In the 20th century osiers were grown, (fn. 379) though no record of basketmaking in the parish (fn. 380) has been found after 1879.
The inclosure of Aston, Fiddington, and Pamington had no sudden effect on the pattern of landownership; in 1829 there were still many small estates, and the medium and large estates had hardly changed in numbers since inclosure. Eleven agricultural occupiers farmed 150 a. or more in 1829, and 16 farmed 30–150 a. Only 4 were owner-occupiers. (fn. 381) In 1831 there were 21 farmers employing labour, and 5 who did not. (fn. 382) In 1849 there were 10 farms over 150 a. and 15 of 30–150 a. (fn. 383) The number of farms remained unusually constant: 27 farmers were enumerated in 1879, 26 in 1902, and 31 in 1939, when 12 farmed 150 a. or more. (fn. 384)
Several families, apart from those mentioned above as holding manors, had connexions with the parish over long periods. William New of Northway, perhaps an ancestor of John New who had a large estate there in the 19th century, (fn. 385) and Edith Rowles of Pamington, an ancestor of Anthony Rowles of Pamington in 1672, (fn. 386) were among the taxpayers of the parish in 1327. The Clarkes of Pamington spanned the period from 1487 to 1809, the Pursers of Pamington and Natton from c. 1555 to 1927, and the Yeends of Aston from 1608 to 1927. (fn. 387)
Mills. There were several mills along the Carrant brook. In 1291 the kitchener of Tewkesbury Abbey received an assized rent of £2 from Carrant Mill by Tewkesbury. (fn. 388) It was presumably the Carrant's Mill recorded in 1503 (fn. 389) and in 1540, when it was held at farm granted by the abbey with a house in Northway called Carrant's Place and a dovehouse. (fn. 390) It may have been the same as the mill held of the abbey by Alexander Carrant at his death in 1375, (fn. 391) although Alexander's mill was said to be in Aston on Carrant. (fn. 392) Carrant's Place and Carrant's Mill in Northway, granted by the Crown to George Tresham in 1544, (fn. 393) had in 1536 been leased for 68 years by the abbey to William Higgins, (fn. 394) who was one of two millers in Northway in 1529. (fn. 395) From the evidence about the other mill in Northway it is apparent that the two water-mills in Northway (presumably under one roof) with which Edward Higgins was dealing in 1570 and 1573 (fn. 396) are to be identified with the three mills in Northway belonging to Rowland and Thomas Cole in 1613, to Thomas and Anne Cole in 1617, (fn. 397) and to Thomas Cole before 1653. (fn. 398) They may have been what was called Salter's Mill in 1613. (fn. 399) Northway Mill and the farm belonging to it were bought by John New in 1804. (fn. 400) The mill continued in use until 1945, (fn. 401) and the machinery was still in position in 1966. The surviving house at Northway Mill is a timber-framed building apparently of the 17th century, standing on a stone plinth, roughcast on one side and cased elsewhere in brick. It has a roll-moulded stone doorway of the 14th century, which may survive from the house called Carrant's Place, and, reset on a gable-end, two carved stone angels bearing shields, which are likely to have been brought from another building.
Tewkesbury Abbey had another mill in Northway called Barcock's Mill; (fn. 402) the miller was Richard Davis, 1506–8, and Humphrey Davis, 1517–43, (fn. 403) and the mill was alternatively called Davis's in the early 17th century. It then belonged to Thomas Cocks, (fn. 404) whose father, also Thomas, had acquired it in 1584, (fn. 405) and it descended with Northway manor to Mrs. Curtis Hayward, (fn. 406) who in 1829 owned Cowfield Mill, (fn. 407) then otherwise called Mayall's Mill. (fn. 408) The tenant, James Mayall, had recently renewed the machinery. (fn. 409) When Cowfield Mill was offered for sale with the rest of W. E. Wall's estate in 1909 it had machinery driving one pair of stones, (fn. 410) and although it was not listed in directories after 1870 (fn. 411) it remained a corn-mill in 1921. (fn. 412) The mill had ceased to work by 1939, (fn. 413) and in 1966 the mill buildings were the local depot of Lawes Chemical Co. Ltd.
Aston Mill belonged with Kemerton and is discussed elsewhere. (fn. 414) A miller in Pamington in 1529 (fn. 415) presumably worked the windmill which had given a name to Windmill furlong by 1427 (fn. 416) but has not been found recorded outside those dates. (fn. 417)
Industry and trade. Perhaps because Tewkesbury was so close, only a few tradesmen and craftsmen are recorded in Ashchurch. Smiths are recorded in 1327, (fn. 418) 1425, (fn. 419) 1487, (fn. 420) and 1579, (fn. 421) carpenters in 1558 (fn. 422) and 1588, (fn. 423) and a tanner in 1535. (fn. 424) In 1608 the tradesmen of the parish included 4 smiths, 3 tailors, a wheelwright, a joiner, a weaver, a collarmaker, and a surgeon. (fn. 425) A cordwainer was recorded in 1645, a tailor in 1662, (fn. 426) and a smith in 1775. (fn. 427) In 1811 trade and industry supported less than a tenth the number of families supported by agriculture, but by 1831 the proportion had risen to a sixth. (fn. 428) In the late 19th century and early 20th there were shops in three of the hamlets of the parish, and in Aston, which included the settlement by the main road at Aston Cross, there were three shops from 1914 and a petrol station by 1939. The blacksmiths declined in numbers from 3 in 1879 to 1 in 1927. The Cotswold Packing Co. had established a fruit-canning factory at Ashchurch near the railway station by 1935. (fn. 429) The railway itself was one of the main nonagricultural employments in the parish. (fn. 430)
Modern industry in Ashchurch is represented predominantly by the engineering factories of the Dowty Group. In 1941 the Dowty Equipment Co. took over the former railway provender store, then occupied by Birds Custard Ltd. (fn. 431) and used in the previous decade as a jam factory by the Cotswold Packing Co. (fn. 432) Dowty's used the store for the repair of aircraft components, and in 1945 the Air Ministry enlarged the works by providing a large hangar alongside. In 1956 a new factory and administrative block next to the hangar was opened for Dowty Hydraulic Units Ltd., which had been occupying part of the Ashchurch works, and in 1958 another new block was opened for Dowty Mining Equipment Ltd., making hydraulic pit-props and roofsupporting equipment. Dowty Seals Ltd., formed as a separate company within the Dowty Group to make a large variety of washers and mouldings, and previously sharing the old railway store with the associated companies, moved in 1961 into a new block facing the main road, the most southerly of the Dowty Group's five Ashchurch factories. (fn. 433)
Other modern industry in 1966 was also mainly engineering, with the vehicle repair-shops of the army camp, the light engineering firms on the Newtown industrial estate, and the machine-tools factory of D. Merrett & Co. Ltd. in Northway hamlet. While the factories, particularly those of the Dowty Group, drew their workers from many miles around, large numbers of the inhabitants of the housing estates in Northway and Newtown went to Cheltenham and Bishop's Cleeve to work. (fn. 434)
The view of frankpledge of the inhabitants of Ashchurch belonged mainly to the lord of Tewkesbury, but the Abbot of Tewkesbury claimed the view of his tenants in the parish. (fn. 435) Six townships within the parish were distinguished in 1287: Ashchurch, Aston on Carrant, Fiddington, Natton, Northway, and Pamington. (fn. 436) It is not clear what constituted the township of Ashchurch, unless it was the small settlement at Newton, which in later times was usually regarded as part of the township of Northway, otherwise Northway and Newton. In 1327 only five townships, which did not include one of Ashchurch, were assessed for tax. (fn. 437) By the late 15th century Fiddington and Natton were merged as one township, and the division into four townships became the lasting arrangement. Aston, however, was not a fully independent township, and whereas the other three townships attended the Tewkesbury hundred court severally the inhabitants of Aston were represented as tenants either of Kemerton or of Ashton, (fn. 438) with which places Aston was associated tenurially. (fn. 439) In the 18th century Aston was said to be in the constablewick of Kemerton. (fn. 440) At the Tewkesbury hundred court in the early 16th century two tithingmen were appointed for each of the other three townships. (fn. 441) In 1664 separate constables, albeit inactive ones, were recorded for Northway and Newton, Pamington, and Aston. (fn. 442)
No court is recorded of Ashchurch manor. Rolls of the Northway manor court, which was recorded c. 1560, (fn. 443) survive for 1667–9. (fn. 444) Court rolls of Pamington manor, which had taken on the function of appointing the two tithingmen, survive for 1559 and 1586–7, (fn. 445) and there are also a precept of the court of 1664 and estreats of 1684–6. (fn. 446) In 1652 it was said that there was a court baron for Pamington held at the lord's will and a court leet held at the usual times. (fn. 447) A court for the Fiddington manor that was formerly Tewkesbury Abbey's is known only through a copy of court roll of 1553, (fn. 448) and of Aston on Carrant manor court all that has been discovered is that if one ever existed it had ceased to function long before 1775. (fn. 449)
There were four churchwardens for Ashchurch in 1540, (fn. 450) and up to 1685 or later, (fn. 451) and it is likely that one served for each of the townships. (fn. 452) By 1764 there were only two churchwardens, (fn. 453) one chosen by the minister and one by the parishioners. (fn. 454) The overseers numbered six in all in 1680, and four in 1685, when two of them were also churchwardens. (fn. 455) By the mid-18th century there was one overseer for each township or tithing, and each overseer collected his own rate, distributed relief to the poor, and rendered his accounts to the vestry. (fn. 456) There appear also to have been separate surveyors of highways for the several tithings. (fn. 457)
In 1680, 1685, and 1709 the parish levied rates with the purpose of providing a stock with which to give work to the poor. (fn. 458) A proposal in 1769 to relieve the poor of Ashchurch in Winchcombe workhouse (fn. 459) appears to have come to nothing. In addition to cash payments, the parish provided poor-relief in the late 18th century and early 19th by buying coal, paying rents, and paying for medical attention. (fn. 460) In 1808 it was decided that some of the church land should be sold to meet the cost of building cottages for the poor, (fn. 461) and the five tenements on the north side of the churchyard, said in 1828 to be on land belonging to the poor, (fn. 462) may have been the result of that decision. The expenditure of the whole parish on the poor rose from £141 in 1767 (fn. 463) to over £300 c. 1784 and to nearly £600 in 1803. By 1813 it was £807, (fn. 464) and thereafter was usually less. In 1817 the parish decided to employ a paid overseer, but had reverted to dependence on unpaid overseers by 1832; (fn. 465) in that year expenditure on the poor reached a peak of £906. (fn. 466)
Ashchurch church, first recorded c. 1145, (fn. 469) was originally a chapel of ease belonging to Tewkesbury Abbey and remained dependent until the Dissolution. It may have been the building, described as a hermitage, that was attacked in 1226. (fn. 470) The constituent parts of Ashchurch were said to be in Tewkesbury parish in 1341. (fn. 471) The church was served by chaplains: John the chaplain of Ashchurch was recorded in 1306, (fn. 472) and in 1314 the chaplain of Ashchurch held a house in Tewkesbury manor, for which he paid rent. (fn. 473) In the early 16th century the chaplain was entitled to some tithes from Carrant's Place and Carrant's Mill, (fn. 474) but the greater part of his income was an annual pension from Tewkesbury Abbey, (fn. 475) which also provided him with a house. (fn. 476) By 1540 Ashchurch had one major characteristic of a parish church, for the churchyard was being used for burials. (fn. 477) The church was said to be a parish church in 1597. (fn. 478)
The tithes of Ashchurch were part of Tewkesbury rectory and after the Dissolution were divided among several different owners. Two substantial parts of the tithes, however, were leased before the Dissolution. In 1539 the abbey leased to James Brandard, for 96 years, a part of the tithes called, in 1540, Ashchurch rectory, Brandard being obliged to find a priest at his own expense and to repair the priest's house. (fn. 479) In 1544 Brandard was paying the stipend of the chaplain or curate. (fn. 480) In 1536 the abbey had leased another part of the tithes for 68 years to William Higgins, (fn. 481) and in 1572 Edward Higgins, described as parson, was held responsible for the disrepair of the chancel. (fn. 482) By 1574 Edward Higgins possessed a freehold estate in what was called Ashchurch rectory, which he sold that year to John Harrington. (fn. 483) Possibly Higgins had acquired Brandard's interest, but in 1603 the king was said to be impropriator. (fn. 484) In 1607 Sir Charles Hales made a disposition of the rectory and patronage of Ashchurch; Sir John Hales held tithes in Ashchurch in 1648 valued at £200 a year; and a Stephen Hales sold the rectory and patronage to Vincent Oakley (fn. 485) at some time after 1679, when Anne Hales was paying the curate out of her tithes. (fn. 486) Oakley, by his will dated 1722, devised the estate to his brother-inlaw, Randolph Hicks, who in 1728 gave it to Charles Parsons in repayment of a loan. (fn. 487) Charles's nephew John (d. 1757) devised the estate to his son John, (fn. 488) and William Parsons, who assumed the surname Hopton, (fn. 489) sold it to Francis Henry Romney, incumbent of Ashchurch. In 1832 Romney and Miss Elizabeth Smithsend, the owner of Rectory farm in Fiddington and the Walton House estate, (fn. 490) settled on the incumbent property that was considered to form the rectory of Ashchurch, and from 1868 the incumbent, previously styled a perpetual curate, was called rector. The patronage was exercised by successive incumbents up to 1862, (fn. 491) when George Ruddle nominated the new perpetual curate. Betsy Dumble, (fn. 492) the Revd. C. W. Williams, and the Revd. E. V. Amery severally exercised the patronage in the sixties and seventies, and by 1887 the advowson belonged to Sir George Allanson Cayley, Bt. (fn. 493) (d. 1895). Sir George Everard Arthur Cayley (d. 1917) succeeded as patron, and his son Sir Kenelm Cayley was patron in 1966. (fn. 494)
In 1603 the curate of Ashchurch had a stipend of £10 a year paid out of the impropriate tithes. (fn. 495) By his will dated 1625 William Ferrers gave £5 a year for maintaining a resident preacher in Ashchurch, (fn. 496) and in 1650 the minister's income was £15. (fn. 497) By 1679 the payment out of the tithes had been reduced to £8, but the curate had acquired 1 a. of pasture. (fn. 498) The tithes which Edwin Skrymsher gave to the minister of Tewkesbury were charged, by his deed of 1683, (fn. 499) with a yearly payment of £12 to the curate of Ashchurch, and in 1730 Queen Anne's Bounty met that benefaction with a grant of £200, with which 24 a. were bought in 1790. (fn. 500) In 1825 the living was worth £45 a year; (fn. 501) in the next ten years the endowment of the curacy with part of the rectory estate greatly increased the value, (fn. 502) which was £190 a year, mostly from land, in 1851, (fn. 503) and had risen to £320 by 1879. (fn. 504) The priest's house recorded in 1540 (fn. 505) may have been the one described as adjoining the churchyard in 1679, as comprising three bays of building in 1705, (fn. 506) and as a small old house in 1710. (fn. 507) The house was rebuilt before 1828, (fn. 508) and was again rebuilt c. 1840. (fn. 509)
In the 16th century there were frequent changes of minister: the names of 11 are recorded between 1534 and 1597. Thomas Morris, in 1551, was found to be not very learned; (fn. 510) John Wright, in 1593, was an adequate scholar but no preacher; (fn. 511) John Ash, in 1597, was interrupted while taking authorized church services and forcibly removed from the church by two parishioners. (fn. 512) John Malden, the minister in 1648, subscribed the Presbyterian Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony, (fn. 513) but in 1650 there was no settled minister. (fn. 514) John Langston, the Independent, (fn. 515) is said to have been ejected from Ashchurch in 1660 in the interest of the sequestrated curate, (fn. 516) but in 1662 there was again no minister. (fn. 517) Thereafter the difficulty of finding a minister for so poor a living may have been met by nominating to the perpetual curacy clergy who were beneficed elsewhere: William Williams, who became curate in 1728, (fn. 518) was also Vicar of Elmstone Hardwicke in 1743; (fn. 519) his successor, Matthew Bloxam, was also Vicar of Overbury; (fn. 520) William Smith in 1795 was also Rector of Birtsmorton; (fn. 521) and D. C. Parry, perpetual curate 1796–1830, was also Rector of Kemerton. (fn. 522) William Parsons (later Hopton) of Kemerton was curate for two brief periods, 1788–90 and 1831–2. (fn. 523) The increased value of the living in the thirties, while it gave Ashchurch resident ministers for the first time in many years, did not result, even when combined with the growing attractions of the parish as a residential neighbourhood, in any long incumbency until 1898, when B. H. Chambers began a 30-year ministry. (fn. 524) In the mid-20th century the church served not only the scattered settlements of a rural parish but the growing housing-estates at Northway and along the main road.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS (fn. 525) is a building of stone, with roofs of Welsh slates and tiles, comprising chancel, unusually long clerestoried nave and north aisle, west tower, and south porch. The earliest part of the church is the south wall of the nave, which was built in the later 12th century. It includes the outer order of an enriched 12th-century arch round the surviving doorway and a small, deeply splayed window immediately east of the doorway. From the appearance of the rubble masonry of the nave wall it seems that the nave was as long in the 12th century as later. (fn. 526) In the late 13th century the chancel, which may have been afterwards truncated, was built or rebuilt to the same width as the nave, and two side windows, a south doorway, and a trefoil-headed piscina survive from that period. There is no chancel arch. In the same period a simple north aisle was built, the full length of the nave with an arcade of six bays. (fn. 527) The aisle retains its four original windows and a blocked doorway; some quarries survive in the windows similar to those in the late 14th-century windows of Gloucester cathedral. (fn. 528) The eastern part of the north wall of the aisle was rebuilt vertically, perhaps in the 17th century, and joins awkwardly with the western part, which remains on the tilt. Two windows in the south wall of the nave were also inserted in the late 13th century. Another nave window, and one at each side of the chancel, were added in the early 14th century. In the late 14th century the tower, the south porch, and the clerestory with an embattled parapet on the south side of the nave were built; the clerestory windows were a later insertion. The tower is of three stages, embattled and with crocketed pinnacles; the west window in the lowest stage is a later insertion, perhaps of the same date as the east window of the chancel. The porch, nearly as high as the nave and lit by three windows, was given a remodelled inner doorway, which retains an ancient door, with an ogee-headed stoup beside it.
The oak rood screen, considered to be the chief point of interest in the church, was built in the late 15th century. The shafts of the screen support a coved projecting canopy for the loft. The tracery on the panels and in the openings of the screen is mainly cast iron, the work of restorers. The screen, formerly below the rood beam at the junction of chancel and nave, was moved one bay further west in, apparently, 1931.
The aisle has a trussed-rafter and tie-beam roof, and the chancel the remains of three arch-braced tie-beam trusses. The church was repewed in 1834, (fn. 529) but the framing of some of the bench-ends is ancient. A new organ, by Harrod of Birmingham, was opened in 1838, (fn. 530) and replaced c. 1956 by one of 1898, by W. Sweetland of Bath, which stands in front of the tower arch. The church was restored in 1888, (fn. 531) and again, to the designs of Ellery Anderson, in 1931. (fn. 532) At one of the restorations, apparently, two heavy flying buttresses were put in the north aisle to support the arcade. The font has a plinth and pediment of the 14th century, and a pillar and bowl of the 16th. (fn. 533) The monuments include one with a half-length figure and a long inscription for William Ferrers, citizen of London (d. 1625). (fn. 534) The royal arms, on canvas, are of the period 1714–1801. (fn. 535) There were two or more bells in 1542; (fn. 536) the six bells recorded c. 1775 (fn. 537) and surviving in 1966 were cast by Abraham Rudhall in 1759 and 1763. (fn. 538) The carved altar-table at the east end of the aisle, which is known as St. Thomas's chapel, is of the early 17th century, and some painted panelling, with portraits and initials, on the wall-plate of the aisle is perhaps of the same date. The church contains an ancient oak chest. The plate includes an Elizabethan chalice and a paten of the reign of Charles II. (fn. 539) The registers begin in 1555 and are virtually complete.
Pieces of land given for lights in the church were recorded in 1549. (fn. 540) Some land so given may have survived as the church land, comprising three ridges in the fields and 1 a. on the north side of the church, (fn. 541) where there were some cottages belonging to the church in 1828. The church house, mentioned in 1683, was said to be in the churchyard in 1705. The income from the land was used for repairs. (fn. 542) The churchyard was enlarged northwards in 1923. (fn. 543) The parish stocks stood in the churchyard until c. 1944. (fn. 544)
The ejection of the minister from the parish church by two of his parishioners in 1597 (fn. 545) was perhaps an early manifestation of a leaning in the parish towards religious nonconformity. John Malden and John Langston, ministers of the parish church during the Interregnum, (fn. 546) may have encouraged such a leaning. In 1668 two labourers of Pamington were indicted for not attending church; (fn. 547) in 1676 there were said to be 30 nonconformists in the parish. (fn. 548) In 1672 the house of Richard Davison was licensed for Congregational worship. (fn. 549) In 1735 the Congregationalists were reputed the largest group of dissenters in the parish, with 26 members, but later records of them have not been found. Two Quakers were recorded in 1735, (fn. 550) one in 1743, (fn. 551) and none in 1750. (fn. 552) A disused Quaker burial ground north-west of Fiddington (fn. 553) was apparently in use by 1722, (fn. 554) and was marked by trees in 1966.
By 1661 there was at Natton a group of SeventhDay Baptists (fn. 555) (observing the Sabbath of the Old Testament), and it survived 250 years. The SeventhDay Baptists numbered 20 c. 1719, under John Purser, (fn. 556) whose family was the main support of the group until it came to an end. (fn. 557) In 1735 they were described as 'sabbatarians and congregationalists', were said to number 24, and had a meeting-house. (fn. 558) Benjamin Purser was one of a group that registered a house in Natton, specially fitted up, for dissenting worship in 1746. (fn. 559) The chapel at Natton, as a distinct building, was said in 1851 to have been licensed in 1748. In 1851 the chapel had 90 sittings and an attendance of 12. (fn. 560) In the eighties, when Natton had the only Seventh-Day Baptist chapel outside London, services were conducted by an ordinary Baptist minister. (fn. 561) In 1901 it was said that the congregation could not survive much longer, (fn. 562) and by 1910 the chapel was disused. (fn. 563) It stood beside a farm-house at the south end of Natton, and c. 1955 both the house and the chapel were replaced by a large barn. A burial ground belonging to it, 100 yds. to the south, (fn. 564) was used from 1746. (fn. 565) It was derelict, but survived within a walled enclosure, in 1966.
A Baptist meeting at Aston on Carrant was registered in 1775; it was perhaps for the same congregation that in 1819 an orchard at the west end of Aston village was registered, and in 1821 a house in the village, (fn. 566) but no more is known of such a congregation. For a Wesleyan congregation a house was registered in 1844, (fn. 567) and the Ebenezer chapel was built in 1845. (fn. 568) In 1851 the congregation numbered 45 or more. (fn. 569) The chapel continued in regular use, (fn. 570) within the Tewkesbury circuit, and services were held there in 1966. It stands at Isabel's Elm, 200 yards north of Aston Cross, and is a small building of brick with a hipped roof of slate. The Sycamore Chapel, a non-denominational chapel on the Northway housing estate, was opened in 1955, (fn. 571) in a prefabricated building, and was in use in 1966.
In 1638 John Daston was presented for teaching school without licence, and also for not going to church. (fn. 572) There was no school in Ashchurch in 1683, (fn. 573) but in his benefaction to the grammar school at Tewkesbury William Ferrers provided for 4 poor men's children from Ashchurch to be taught there free. (fn. 574) In 1819 it was said that, while some of the poor children of Ashchurch attended Tewkesbury national school, there was no endowment or institution and no school of any sort in Ashchurch. (fn. 575) By 1833, however, there were 4 dame schools in Ashchurch, with 72 children between them, and a Sunday school with 39 children, (fn. 576) endowed with £7 a year under the will of Elizabeth Smithsend (d. 1833). (fn. 577)
A site for a National school was acquired in 1840, (fn. 578) and a new school built in 1842. (fn. 579) In 1846 there were 70 children, with an additional 10 on Sundays; there was a teacher's house, and the school was supported by subscription, school pence, and a grant from the National Society. (fn. 580) By 1856 there was a certificated teacher, (fn. 581) but the school was evidently thought at a later date to be inadequate, (fn. 582) and the buildings were taken over by a school board formed in 1871. (fn. 583) Attendance was 80, in three departments, in 1889, and after the enlargement of the buildings in 1894 rose to 94 before the First World War. (fn. 584) The numbers were down to 25 in the thirties, (fn. 585) but with the establishment of the Dowty works at Northway and the building of the associated houses the attendance grew again. Additional buildings were put up in the sixties, and in 1966 attendance was c. 200. (fn. 586) The older children went to schools in Tewkesbury or to the Elmbury County Secondary School for Girls. That school, next to the boundary with Tewkesbury, was opened with c. 250 girls in 1961 to replace the girls' department of the county secondary school in Tewkesbury. (fn. 587) The buildings, of buff brick and concrete, stand among extensive playing fields next to the site intended for the boys' secondary school.
The infant school on the Northway housing estate was opened in 1961 and had c. 90 children in 1966. (fn. 588)
In the mid-16th century the income of 23d. from land given for a lamp in the church was distributed, from the time the lamp was taken down, among the poor. (fn. 589) William Ferrers (d. 1625) (fn. 590) gave a £20 rent-charge from which £10 a year was for the poor of Ashchurch, the remainder being divided between the minister of Ashchurch and the roads of Fiddington. Up to 1828 the £10 was divided, after deductions, among 130 poor inhabitants, but a more 'discriminate and proportionate' distribution was then promised. (fn. 591) In 1867, (fn. 592) 1912, and 1944 the charity was distributed in the form of coal. (fn. 593) Thomas Haynes in 1694 gave 40s. a year for poor widows not on the parish books; (fn. 594) in 1828 the charity was distributed with Ferrers's, apparently without regard to the limitation. Charles Parsons of Bredon, by will dated 1713, gave a 20s. rent-charge for bread for the poor on Christmas day. (fn. 595) Elizabeth Smithsend (d. 1833) gave £400 from which the income, after £7 had been given to the Sunday school, was for blankets, (fn. 596) and c. £7 was spent on blankets in 1912 and 1944. (fn. 597) The rent-charge for Parsons's charity was for a time lost in the 20th century, but was recovered c. 1960, and thereafter the income was distributed in the form of biscuits at the church on Christmas day. The other three charities yielded c. £16 a year in the sixties, of which £5 was spent on blankets and the remainder on coal which was distributed by lot. (fn. 598)