A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
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The small parish of Leigh, known locally as 'the Lye', (fn. 1) lies mainly between the River Severn and the Gloucester-Tewkesbury road, 6 miles north of Gloucester and 4 miles south of Tewkesbury. The area of the parish is 1,504 a., (fn. 2) and it is triangular in shape. The parish was divided between the hundreds of Deerhurst and Westminster, the division corresponding to that between the estates formerly belonging to Westminster Abbey and Deerhurst Priory, (fn. 3) and comprised the two tithings of Leigh and Evington. In 1964 the name Evington survived in names of houses, but was not normally used to distinguish any part of the parish.
The parish is mainly flat and low-lying, but a ridge runs through the eastern half and the land rises to 100 ft. in the north-east corner at Coombe Hill. The parish is bounded almost entirely by watercourses, the River Chelt and its tributaries, the Morris brook (fn. 4) and the Leigh brook, on the southeast, south-west, and a short part of the north-west, the Coombe Hill Canal (opened c. 1796 and closed in 1876) (fn. 5) on most of the north-west. Before the construction of the canal the north boundary with Deerhurst was undefined. The parish stops short of the River Severn but is close enough to be affected by flooding, (fn. 6) particularly the north and east parts which are intersected by streams. It is mainly on the Keuper Marl (fn. 7) and, on the east side, the Lower Lias, with extensive alluvial deposits beside the canal and on the west side of the parish. (fn. 8) Until inclosure in 1815 Leigh included a large area of common pasture, shared with Deerhurst parish, (fn. 9) and there has always been a large proportion of pasture in the parish. There was no woodland in the parish in 1964, and the extensive orchards there were used mainly for pasture.
It is said that an ancient track went west across the south part of the parish, and that the moated site of Leigh manor-house was made close to the track. (fn. 10) It is probable that the main settlement in the parish was there in the late 12th or early 13th century, when the church was built near the moated site. Leigh End, as the settlement was later called, (fn. 11) does not, however, appear ever to have been a nucleated village, and perhaps by the 14th century the larger settlement was at Evington, (fn. 12) c. ½ mile north-east of the church, on the edge of the common lying between Deerhurst and Leigh parishes. The reason for the site of the village at Evington is likely to have been the proximity of the common, which provided most of the pasture in the parish. (fn. 13) Evington has more the character of a nucleated village than Leigh End, with houses grouped around the inside of a triangle of roads. One of the houses in Evington, Cyder Press Farm, incorporates in an outbuilding some herring-bone masonry that has been thought to be Saxon, and tradition associates the wall with a sheep-house belonging to Deerhurst Priory. (fn. 14) The timber-framed farm-house is L-shaped: the smaller, lower wing includes a pair of incomplete cruck blades that may be re-used, while the larger four-bay wing is of the 17th century but contains timber from an earlier building, including smoke-blackened rafters.
Other houses in Evington were built in the 17th century, timber-framed with wattle and daub or brick panels. Three retained thatched roofs in 1964. Thirty-four houses were recorded in the parish in 1672, (fn. 15) probably mainly in Evington village. Five houses besides the manor-house were mentioned in Leigh manor in 1757, (fn. 16) and by 1793 a farm-house called the Great House, (fn. 17) later Leigh End Farm, (fn. 18) had been built west of the church and manor-house. A few thatched cottages near the church were removed after the mid-19th century. (fn. 19) Scattered cottages were built by the early 19th century along the lane connecting Leigh End with Evington village, (fn. 20) and scattered houses were built in the late 19th century and early 20th along the road linking Leigh End with the Tewkesbury-Gloucester road. Houses built in Evington in the late 18th century or early 19th were of brick with slate or tile roofs and segmental-headed windows, and more brick houses including a few farm-houses were built in the late 19th century. East of Evington stands Brick House Farm, and further east again Evington Hill Farm, both of which are mentioned below. (fn. 21) By the stream beyond Evington Hill Farm are earthworks that may mark another settlement site.
The pattern of settlement has been determined largely by the lines of communication running through the parish. In 1287 the road from Gloucester to Tredington and Tewkesbury passed through Evington, (fn. 22) and in 1675 there were a few scattered buildings along the Gloucester-Tewkesbury road where it crossed the east side of the parish. (fn. 23) At Coombe Hill, where that road was joined by the Cheltenham-Tewkesbury road, there was a guidepost in 1726. (fn. 24) From Coombe Hill to the southern boundary of the parish the Gloucester road was a turnpike from 1764 to 1872. (fn. 25) The course of the road through the parish was altered in the late 18th century and early 19th. (fn. 26) Its earlier course was less direct and lay west of the crest of the ridge. Between 1792 and 1795 a canal was built from the Severn, at the south-west corner of Deerhurst parish, across the undefined boundary between Deerhurst and Leigh, to Coombe Hill. (fn. 27) Built at the expense of three people, it was intended mainly for the carriage of goods between Cheltenham and the Severn: with the opening of the Gloucester-Cheltenham tramway the traffic on the canal declined, (fn. 28) and in 1876, despite a protest by the Sharpness New Docks and the Gloucester and Birmingham Navigation Co., the canal was closed. (fn. 29)
In the late 18th century some small brick cottages were built at the Coombe Hill Canal wharf. During the 19th century most of the new building in the parish was along the main road, particularly at Coombe Hill. (fn. 30) Leigh House, the largest house in the parish, was built beside that road in the early 19th century, probably by the Hill family. (fn. 31) The house is of brick, faced with stone at the front, with a hipped slate roof and moulded eaves cornice, altered and enlarged at different times. Brick stables belonging to the house were being converted into a house in 1964. Evington Villa, later Evington House, which lay beside the old course of the road near Coombe Hill was rebuilt for Sir Arthur Brooke Faulkner in the early 19th century. A timber-framed 17th-century wing was retained, but the large brick addition, described in 1847 as an 'Italian villa', (fn. 32) was in a picturesque gabled style with Gothic windows; further alterations and additions were made in the late 19th century. Two farms and several smaller houses, mostly detached or semidetached and of brick, were built along the road, especially near Coombe Hill, in the late 19th century, and a few more houses were built beside the road to Cheltenham. Cheltenham Rural District Council built two pairs of houses at Coombe Hill in the mid20th century. The growth of Coombe Hill as a local centre of population in the 19th century was recognized by the opening of a mission church (fn. 33) and the building of the Methodist chapel there. (fn. 34) In 1964 the only shop in the parish was at Coombe Hill.
Twenty-eight people in the parish were assessed for tax in 1327, and the comparatively high assessment suggests a substantial population at that time. (fn. 35) In 1551 120 communicants were recorded, (fn. 36) and the population seems to have increased thereafter; 40 families were recorded in 1563, (fn. 37) 52 adult males in 1608, (fn. 38) and 59 families in 1650. (fn. 39) In 1676 151 adults were recorded (fn. 40) and in the mid-18th century the population was said to be 256, (fn. 41) increasing to 303 by 1801. The population grew steadily, in spite of the emigration of 22 people in 1841, to 470 in 1851. Thereafter it declined rapidly until 1881, and then more slowly to 281 in 1931. There was an increase in population by 1951 but in 1961 it had decreased again. (fn. 42)
Apart from the two main roads mentioned above the only roads are those from the Gloucester road to the church, called Leigh End road in 1815, and to Evington village, called Leigh field road, (fn. 43) and one between those two. The bridge carrying the Gloucester road over the Leigh brook, called Stains Bridge by the 18th century, (fn. 44) was made of wood in 1675; (fn. 45) it was later rebuilt in brick. Knight's Bridge, at the boundary with Elmstone Hardwicke on the Cheltenham road, was so called by 1497. (fn. 46)
There was an alehouse in Evington in 1755, (fn. 47) and in 1839 the parish had four inns, (fn. 48) including the 'Swan' at Coombe Hill which was opened by 1824. (fn. 49) The number had fallen to two by 1856, and the 'Swan' was the only inn from c. 1923. (fn. 50)
Manors and Other Estates.
The whole of Leigh had apparently belonged in the early 11th century to the monastery of Deerhurst. In 1066, after the division of the monastery's lands, the abbey of St. Denis had an estate of 1 hide in Leigh. (fn. 51) In 1227 Ivicia, lately wife of Adam de Paris, claimed dower in an estate of one plough-land and more in Leigh against John de Paris, (fn. 52) who presumably held of the abbey. Later the manor of LEIGH was held as of Deerhurst Priory, (fn. 53) a tenure that was recorded up to 1604. (fn. 54)
In 1283 William of Coleville granted the manor, subject to the life tenancy of Simon of Deerhurst, to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 55) In 1336 Gilbert of Kinnersley granted Leigh manor to Joan of Rodborough of Notgrove, (fn. 56) wife of Thomas of Rodborough (d. 1308). (fn. 57) Although in 1338 an Edmund of Kinnersley was dealing with the manor, (fn. 58) Joan's descendants retained it. In 1377 William of Rodborough, great-grandson of Joan, died seised of an estate of two plough-lands in Leigh. (fn. 59) William's son and heir, John, died in 1382 while still a minor, and the manor passed to his sisters, Agnes wife of John Browning, and Alice who later married John Winter. (fn. 60) The Brownings' moiety was delivered in 1415 to their daughter Cecily and her husband Guy Whittington (fn. 61) (d. 1441 or 1442), (fn. 62) and the other half of the manor may have passed to them also: the Whittington estate was usually referred to as the manor (fn. 63) of Leigh, and no evidence has been found of the descent of the other half. The manor probably descended to Richard, the second son of Guy and Cecily, who was described as of Leigh; (fn. 64) John Whittington, clerk, who held the manor when he died in 1503, was perhaps Richard's son. John's heirs were the infant daughters of his brother Richard, (fn. 65) and from them the manor seems to have passed to John Whittington of Pauntley, grandson of Guy's and Cecily's eldest son Robert, who had land in Leigh at his death in 1525. (fn. 66) John's son and heir, Thomas Whittington of Pauntley, died in 1546 leaving six daughters and co-heirs. (fn. 67)
It was said that Richard Browne died seised of the manor in 1572 or 1573 and his grandson Thomas Browne had livery of it five years later. (fn. 68) William Rudhall died seised of a manor of Leigh in 1609, (fn. 69) but in 1634 Richard Browne of Bishop's Norton owned Leigh manor, which passed to his younger son, also Richard, after his death in 1638. (fn. 70) The second Richard was perhaps the Mr. Browne who was living in Leigh in 1672 (fn. 71) and sold Leigh in 1691. The purchaser was William, Viscount Tracy of Rathcoole, (fn. 72) who in 1705 sold it to Stephen Cooke. (fn. 73) By his will of 1727 Stephen Cooke left the manor to his son, Thomas, with contingent remainder to his daughters Anne and Susannah. By 1755 the manor had been divided between Anne Cooke and Sophia Dalton, daughter of Susannah Cooke, (fn. 74) and by 1779 both parts were held by Edmund Probyn of Newland, (fn. 75) who in 1757 had married Sophia Dalton, (fn. 76) and was the owner in 1815. By 1820 the manor had passed to Charles Hammond, the owner in 1832. (fn. 77) Most of the land belonging to the manor was held by two tenants in 1793. (fn. 78) In 1964 the owners were Mr. A. G. Troughton and Mr. S. Chandler whose families had owned the land since the late 19th century. (fn. 79)
A moated site at Leigh Court, south-west of the parish church, marks the position of the ancient manor-house, where presumably Agnes and John Browning were living in 1389. (fn. 80) In the late 17th century Richard Browne lived in a different house; Leigh Court was nevertheless regarded as the chief house in 1757, (fn. 81) and in 1793 had four rooms on each floor and extensive outbuildings built of brick and stone with roofs of tile and thatch. (fn. 82) The house was rebuilt in the mid-19th century (fn. 83) as a two-storied brick farm-house and later enlarged. It stands on the west part of the moated site.
The other part of the parish, 1¼ hide, belonged in 1066 to Westminster Abbey, and was held of the abbey by a radknight, Elwi. (fn. 84) Westminster Abbey retained the manor of EVINGTON until the Dissolution, (fn. 85) and, although it was not mentioned in the grant of the abbey's property to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, (fn. 86) from the 17th century it formed part of the manor of Deerhurst or Plaistow. (fn. 87) An allotment of 32 a. for manorial rights was made at inclosure in 1815, (fn. 88) and although in the late 19th century and early 20th the dean and chapter, and later the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, were said to be lords of the manor, (fn. 89) no manorial rights survived. A manor-house may be represented by Evington Hill Farm, which is mainly a cruciform timber-framed building of which part is of the 16th century or earlier. The south-east wing, which has a jettied gable-end with some decorative timberframing, is probably an addition of the early 17th century. In the 19th century the north-west end was largely rebuilt in brick.
In 1285 Bevis de Knoville, Westminster Abbey's under-tenant in Evington, was granted free warren in his demesne land there, (fn. 90) and in 1303 he was said to hold ¼ fee in Evington. (fn. 91) A William Wyffield, who had the highest assessment for tax in Evington in 1327, (fn. 92) was probably the William of Wightfield who held Bevis de Knoville's ¼ fee in 1346. (fn. 93) The descent of Evington manor in the later Middle Ages cannot be traced in detail. It may be represented by the estate of 2 messuages and 2 plough-lands in Evington called Derneford and Devereux held by Joan, late the wife of Edmund Toky, at her death in 1436. Joan's heir was her son Thomas Toky. (fn. 94) That estate, however, was later held of the manor of Boddington and in 1586 was called the manor of DERNEFORD. (fn. 95) An estate of 100 a. in Evington held of Westminster Abbey by John Deane at his death in 1493 may have been Evington manor. John Deane's heir was his nephew John Moore. (fn. 96) The estate that was held at his death in 1497 by William Twinhoe in right of his late wife Katherine, daughter of John Solers, was probably Evington manor although it was described as the manor of Leigh. William Twinhoe was succeeded by his son Walter, (fn. 97) and in 1548 a William Twinhoe and his son Edmund demised Evington manor to Richard Atwell. The manor passed to Richard's son, Thomas Atwell, (fn. 98) and a Richard Atwell or Wells was living at Evington in 1608. (fn. 99) Richard Wells died in 1612 and the manor passed to his son John, (fn. 100) perhaps the John Wells who died in 1663. (fn. 101) A Mr. Wells living at Evington in 1672 (fn. 102) may have been the William Wells of Evington who disclaimed arms in 1682. (fn. 103) A Robert Wells died in 1686, and a John Wells was buried at Leigh in 1731. (fn. 104) Another John Wells, of Evington, owned a considerable estate there in 1757, when Isaac Maddox, Bishop of Worcester, and a Mr. Francombe each owned a slightly larger one. (fn. 105)
The Wells estate evidently passed to a family called Hill, and by his will of 1808 John Hill left the Wells or Evington manor-house estate to his brother Richard Hill and then to the children of his brother William Hill. The estate was divided after Richard Hill's death between the daughters of William Hill, Frances, wife of Edmund Rudge, and Eliza Ann Hill, who bought her sister's share in 1842. (fn. 106) By 1874 the estate belonged to Joseph Higgins, who had married Eliza Ann Hill. (fn. 107) About 1948 a house and c. 40 a. land, which may represent the manorial estate, were bought by Mr. A. G. Griffiths, (fn. 108) the owner in 1964. The house, a twostoried brick building with a symmetrical front of five bays, was called Evington Manor Farm in 1824 (fn. 109) and Brick House Farm from 1883. (fn. 110) It was built of brick in the early 18th century, and contains a staircase and a panelled room of that period; a large rubble barn of an earlier date was destroyed by fire in 1962. (fn. 111)
A piece of pasture in Leigh that had belonged to the Carmelite Friars of Gloucester was granted in 1544 to Thomas Bell. (fn. 112) In 1612 Richard Wells's estate included 3 a. of pasture formerly belonging to the Carmelite Friars. (fn. 113)
The great tithes of Leigh belonged to Deerhurst Priory, which paid a portion from them to the vicar. (fn. 114) In 1573 the Crown granted the tithes to Richard Pate, (fn. 115) who conveyed them to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, for the maintenance of the free school in Cheltenham. (fn. 116) At inclosure in 1815 Corpus Christi College received 96 a. for tithes; (fn. 117) some of the land was sold in the 19th century, and in 1964 the college owned 36 a. at Leigh. (fn. 118)
Several small parts of the parish belonged to manors in the surrounding parishes. The manors of Apperley in the 15th century, of Elmstone Hardwicke and Deerhurst Walton in the 16th, and of Staverton in the 17th included land in Leigh. (fn. 119)
In 1086 Deerhurst Priory's estate in Leigh was only one hide and no details of tenants were given. In Evington one hide and one yardland had been held by a radknight in 1066. (fn. 120) Some land in Evington was held in demesne by Bevis de Knoville in 1285. (fn. 121) In Leigh manor two plough-lands and two messuages in Leigh and Heydon were demesne in 1379, (fn. 122) and the demesne was perhaps the same in 1525 when John Whittington had two messuages in Leigh. (fn. 123)
If the two hides and one yardland recorded in 1086 represents the whole of the two estates there was an increase in arable, presumably from assarted land, in the 12th and 13th centuries. The number of people assessed for tax in 1327 — 17 in Evington and 11 in Leigh — and the fairly high assessment of Evington (fn. 124) suggest a number of large landholders at that date. The highest individual assessment was that of John de Paris, who may have been connected with the man of the same name holding land in Leigh in 1227. (fn. 125) Roger of Eston who held ½ ploughland in 1241 (fn. 126) was probably a free tenant, and Thomas of Aston who held land in Leigh in 1322 may have belonged to the same family. (fn. 127) In 1536 a tenant of Elmstone manor had 34 a. arable, 11 a. meadow, and 13 a. pasture in Evington and Leigh. (fn. 128) Rents of free and customary tenants of Leigh manor were recorded in 1535, (fn. 129) but no other evidence of customary tenants before the Dissolution has been found. The 90 a. of arable, 30 a. of meadow, and 40 a. of pasture which Richard Wells held in 1612 was presumably all demesne land. (fn. 130)
Although the demesne of Leigh manor was extensive in 1691, (fn. 131) only 4 a. of meadow were associated with the manor-house in 1757, (fn. 132) and that may have been all the demesne land to survive the changes in ownership. About 70 a. was associated with the former Evington Manor Farm in the 20th century, (fn. 133) but the farm buildings suggest that the farm had been larger.
A freeholder had a small estate in Evington in 1619, (fn. 134) and the 17 people in Evington distinguished from the customary tenants as 'residents' in 1673 may have been freeholders; (fn. 135) during the 17th and 18th centuries, however, the majority of tenants in Evington seem to have been copyholders, and in Leigh copyholders or leaseholders. (fn. 136) Seven copyholders were recorded in Evington in 1673. (fn. 137) They held on the same conditions as the tenants of Plaistow manor elsewhere. Rent and heriots were normally owed, and estates were often granted for three lives. The usual unit of a holding, as in Deerhurst, seems to have been a messuage and ½ yardland. (fn. 138) Two copyhold estates of Boddington manor in Leigh in 1586 and 1601 were held for three lives; heriots and rent, in one case in cash and hens and geese, were owed. (fn. 139) In 1757 Leigh manor had 15 tenants with 17 holdings. Two were tenants at will and the others were leaseholders; all the leaseholders owed heriots as well as rent. Estates were held for one, two or three lives. The largest holding was 43 a. arable and 5 a. meadow, four were between 20 a. and 36 a. and the rest were under 20 a. (fn. 140) By 1793, however, the whole of the Leigh manor estate was divided into two farms of 164 a. and 157 a. held by two leasehold tenants. (fn. 141)
The arable land perhaps never amounted to more than about half the parish. Little evidence of openfield agriculture has been found, but it seems that Evington and Leigh had at one time separate field systems; in the 18th century Evington had its own hayward. (fn. 142) In 1584 the vicar's glebe lay in three fields, Leigh field, east of Leigh village, Longdown, and Woefield, which may have been all in Leigh manor. (fn. 143) Church field or Dodworth, lying between the two villages (fn. 144) may have been shared by the two manors, and Lowlands field in the north-east part of the parish apparently belonged to Evington manor alone. (fn. 145) The lands or ridges of the glebe in 1584 were each between ¼ a. and ⅓ a., and some were grouped in twos and threes. (fn. 146) By the early 18th century some holdings comprised consolidated units of about 10 lands. (fn. 147) Pasture-land described as lying in high ridges in 1793 may have been formerly part of the open fields. (fn. 148) At inclosure in 1815 open arable land remained in Lowlands field, Dodworth field, Leigh field, Surridge field, Woefield, and Asterleigh field (south of Leigh End road). (fn. 149)
Landowners in the parish had common of pasture in the large common which lay between Deerhurst and Leigh. (fn. 150) In 1761 the people of Leigh parish made a ditch to divide the common of the two parishes, which was destroyed by a riotous mob. (fn. 151) The common was apparently used mainly for sheep. (fn. 152) Cow-commons lay in Incham Moor, (fn. 153) in Cobney meadow (partly in Deerhurst) which was 61 a. in 1793, (fn. 154) and in Wickham. (fn. 155) Morris mead and Great and Little Small mead were perhaps used only by Evington, (fn. 156) and some tenants had common of pasture in Boddington Moor. (fn. 157) One estate of only a few acres had 8 sheep-commons in 1752, (fn. 158) but others were recorded as having only beast- or cowcommons. (fn. 159) Of the 19½ a. belonging to the vicar's glebe in 1584 c. 10 a. were meadow. (fn. 160) By 1757 some common had evidently been inclosed. (fn. 161)
In 1757 Leigh was said to be famous for cider, and the practice of using land for both pasture and fruit trees was widespread by the late 18th century. (fn. 162) The common was described as rich pasture in 1779, (fn. 163) but as in Deerhurst it was probably not being fully used (fn. 164) and, with other land in the parish, could have been improved by drainage. (fn. 165) Only 266 a. in the parish were returned as sown in 1801, mainly with wheat, barley, and beans, (fn. 166) and in 1803 the parish was described as mainly pasture. (fn. 167)
In 1815, by a joint award with Deerhurst, the common and the remaining open fields in Leigh were inclosed. The award, which also dealt with some old inclosures, covered about two-thirds of the parish. The largest allotments were 126 a. to the vicar, 115 a. to Edmund Probyn, 96 a. to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and 82 a. to William Hill. Five people received between 20 a. and 40 a., and six between 8 a. and 20 a. About 30 people received smaller allotments, most of them less than 1 a. (fn. 168)
In the 19th century the pattern of land ownership did not alter significantly. Leigh manor continued to be divided into two large farms held by lessees, and Evington had a few large estates and several small holdings. Up to 1844 there were still estates in Evington held by copyhold of Plaistow manor. (fn. 169) In 1839 51 people had estates in the parish, mostly occupied by tenants. The largest farms were 165 a. and 151 a., and six others were over 50 a. (fn. 170) In 1834 it was said that c. 50 agricultural labourers were employed in the parish, (fn. 171) and in 1831 less than half the farmers employed labour. (fn. 172) In 1874 Leigh Court and Leigh End remained the largest farms, and there were seven others over 50 a. and c. 20 smallholdings. (fn. 173) By 1964 the number of small-holdings had decreased, and four farms were over 100 a. (fn. 174)
In 1834 the parish had 1,105 a. pasture and 300 a. arable, (fn. 175) and c. 1901 only 131 a. arable were recorded. (fn. 176) In 1964 the land was used mainly for dairy cattle; the orchards in the villages were largely neglected or had been ploughed up.
There were four carpenters, three tailors, and a smith in the parish in 1608, (fn. 177) a carpenter was recorded in 1831, (fn. 178) and in the later 19th century Leigh had smiths, carpenters, and a tailor. (fn. 179) A smithy remained in use until c. 1940. (fn. 180) The parish had a baker in 1662, (fn. 181) a butcher in the late 18th century and early 19th, (fn. 182) and a shopkeeper, a grocer, and a haberdasher in the 1930's. (fn. 183) In 1964 the only shop was on the main road, where there was also a café and three petrol stations. Inhabitants of the parish recorded as millers (fn. 184) appear to have been connected with Slate Mill in Boddington parish. A quarry was mentioned in 1839, (fn. 185) and a small brickworks was in use in 1824. (fn. 186) Some employment outside agriculture was provided by the Coombe Hill Canal. In 1811 trade and industry supported 7 out of 48 families. (fn. 187) In 1964 a large part of the population travelled outside the parish to work, and several retired and professional people lived there.
Although in the 17th century and early 18th view of frankpledge and courts leet and baron were often mentioned with the manor of Leigh, (fn. 188) and the lord of the manor was said to have the right to hold a court, (fn. 189) no evidence that he in fact held one has been found. The tithing of Leigh had its own constable in 1716. (fn. 190) Evington attended the view of frankpledge and court baron of Westminster Abbey at Deerhurst or Hardwicke. In the mid-16th century Evington was apparently treated as part of the tithing of Deerhurst, (fn. 191) and does not appear separately in the rolls of Deerhurst court; (fn. 192) but by 1678 it was a separate tithing with its own constable and tithingman. (fn. 193)
Churchwardens' and overseers' accounts survive for 1703–36, and overseers' accounts for 1776–1801. There is no evidence of separate overseers for the two tithings; the parish normally had two overseers, (fn. 194) but by 1834 there was only one. (fn. 195) A parish clerk was paid out of the income from the church lands charity. (fn. 196) Expenditure on poor relief doubled between 1776 and 1803, when 23 people were receiving regular relief and 85 occasional relief. (fn. 197) Expenditure was at its highest in 1814, when £216 was spent on relief and £69 on lawsuits, but the numbers receiving occasional relief had fallen to 28. (fn. 198) In 1834 it was said that between 3 and 5 labourers received regular relief in the winter. (fn. 199) In 1835 Leigh became part of the Tewkesbury Poor Law Union, (fn. 200) and in 1935 was transferred from the Tewkesbury to the Cheltenham Rural District. (fn. 201) The parish council has met regularly since 1894. (fn. 202)
The parish of Leigh was originally within the area served from Deerhurst Priory church. The church at Leigh may have been built by the late 12th century (fn. 203) as a chapel of Deerhurst, and it continued to be referred to as a chapel up to 1540. (fn. 204) By 1316 the cure was served by a vicar presented by the Prior of Deerhurst. (fn. 205) There were burials in the churchyard of Leigh by 1511. (fn. 206) In 1953 the benefice was united with the benefice of Norton with which it had been held in plurality for some years. The parishes remained distinct. (fn. 207)
The advowson of Leigh was said to have been held by John Throckmorton (d. 1472) by descent, (fn. 208) but in 1540 George Throckmorton held it with the great tithes on a lease from Deerhurst Priory. (fn. 209) The Crown retained the advowson after the Dissolution, (fn. 210) and when the benefice was united with Norton the patronage belonged in turn to the Lord Chancellor and the former patrons of Norton. (fn. 211)
The vicarage was endowed with glebe and a portion of the tithes, valued together in 1535 at £7 13s. 2d. (fn. 212) The value had risen to £36 by 1650 (fn. 213) and to £50 by 1750. (fn. 214) The glebe land was 20 a. in 1535, (fn. 215) and it was the same in 1584 when there was also a glebe house consisting of three bays of building with barns, stables, and a sheep-house. (fn. 216) At inclosure in 1815 the vicar received an allotment of 106 a. for tithes and 20 a. for glebe. (fn. 217) The value of the living was £240 in 1851 (fn. 218) and remained about the same in the late 19th century. (fn. 219) The glebe was sold in the early 20th century. (fn. 220) The glebe house in Evington was in 1812 described as a cottage not fit for a clergyman to live in, and the vicars lived elsewhere. (fn. 221) In 1840, when the house was let to a butcher, the curate lived in a cottage in the parish. (fn. 222) A new vicarage was built c. 1847, (fn. 223) a large brick house with a slate roof near the junction of the main road and the road to Leigh End. The vicar in the mid-20th century lived at Norton, and c. 1950 Leigh vicarage was sold. (fn. 224)
John Sheriff, vicar from 1565, (fn. 225) was said to be 'perfect in Latin and scripture', (fn. 226) and whereas his successor was neither a graduate nor a preacher, (fn. 227) the next vicar was both. (fn. 228) The vicar from 1648 to 1664 was Robert Huntington, father of Robert Huntington, the orientalist and Bishop of Raphoe (d. 1701). The father was probably resident, and died at Leigh. (fn. 229) Some of the later 17th- and early 18th-century vicars were probably resident, as they were buried at Leigh, but in the later 18th century and until the new vicarage was built the parish was usually served by curates, who sometimes lived outside the parish. (fn. 230) Services were held alternately in the morning and evening in 1750, (fn. 231) when Daniel Bond was vicar. (fn. 232) In the earlier 19th century at least one parishioner, Sir Arthur Brooke Faulkner of Evington, was dissatisfied with the way the parish was served, and wrote several letters to the bishop before writing in 1840 to the archbishop. He complained that there was no resident priest, and in 15 years only two curates had lived in the parish, for short periods only. When the parish had a resident vicar he was 'of a scandalously low standard'. Only c. 30 people ever went to church, while the Methodist congregation was increasing. The churchyard was neglected and used for grazing animals. (fn. 233) After the new vicarage was built the parish had a resident vicar, and John Southgate Austin, presented in 1851, held the living for 42 years. (fn. 234) In 1890 a mission church, known as St. Stephen's, was opened at Coombe Hill in a small wooden building and afternoon services were held there. (fn. 235) In 1964 a morning service was held every Sunday at the parish church, and another morning service and an evening service were held alternately at the parish church and the mission church.
By the early 17th century the parish owned the church house, (fn. 236) which until 1840 or later stood in the churchyard. (fn. 237) Land given for the poor before 1683 (fn. 238) was held in 1768 with the church house and other tenements in trust for the repair of the church, the churchwardens' expenses, and the poor; in 1826 the income of £44 was used mainly for church repairs, (fn. 239) and in 1964 the income of £48 was spent entirely on the church. (fn. 240)
The church of ST. CATHERINE, so called since the restoration of the church in 1885, (fn. 241) perhaps because of a 15th-century, decapitated statue of the saint over the west door of the tower, was called St. James's from the early 16th century. (fn. 242) It comprises nave, chancel, west tower, south transept, and south porch; it is of coursed rubble with a Cotswold stone roof. Some of the masonry in the north wall of the nave is thought to survive from the late 12th century. (fn. 243) The nave, not separated by a chancel arch from the chancel, with which it has a continuous trussed rafter roof, has the appearance of being long and narrow. On the south side a transept, opening from the nave through a plain chamfered arch, was probably built in the 14th century; the east wall has a small ogee-headed lancet, the west wall a larger lancet thought to be reset from another part of the church; (fn. 244) the south wall has a plain piscina and a window of two lights. In the chancel is a 14th-century piscina with a shelf and crocketed opening, and in the south wall a blocked doorway and window behind the organ are visible from the outside.
The windows of the nave and chancel were replaced in the 15th century. The west tower, in three stages separated by string courses, was built in the 15th century, buttressed, embattled, and pinnacled, with gargoyles at the angles. The west face and parts of the others are ashlar. In the northwest angle is an octagonal, pinnacled stair-vice. A wooden north porch was built in the 15th or 16th century. (fn. 245) The church had a gallery by 1736, (fn. 246) and a north vestry was added before c. 1850. (fn. 247) The church was restored in 1885 when the gallery was removed and a carved wooden screen put between the nave and tower, the former north and south doorways were replaced by windows, the north porch was moved to give access to a new doorway on the south side, and the plaster ceilings were removed. (fn. 248) It may have been then that the statue of St. Catherine, perhaps brought from another part of the church, was placed above the west door of the tower. (fn. 249) The pews were replaced by open seats. (fn. 250)
A large stone slab, thought to have been a medieval altar slab, (fn. 251) has been used in the churchyard wall, opposite the west entrance. The octagonal font is 15th-century. (fn. 252) Small fragments of 14th-century glass survive in the east window of the transept, and of 15th-century glass in the nave windows. (fn. 253) Monumental inscriptions of the 17th century recorded in the early 19th century, (fn. 254) and one to Robert Huntington (d. 1664) mentioned in 1884, (fn. 255) had been removed by 1964. The church has six bells: a 16th-century bell, two of 1619 and one of 1628 by Henry Farmer of Gloucester, one of 1667 by Richard Keene of Woodstock, (fn. 256) and one of 1908. (fn. 257) The plate includes an Elizabethan chalice, a paten of 1664, and a flagon dated 1760. (fn. 258) The registers begin in 1560 for marriages and burials, and in 1569 for baptisms, but the early ones are not complete.
One nonconformist was recorded in Leigh in 1676 (fn. 259) and six in the mid-18th century. (fn. 260) In 1810 a private house was registered for religious worship by Methodists, and another in 1819 was also probably used by Methodists. (fn. 261) A Methodist chapel was built at Coombe Hill in 1820, (fn. 262) and in 1887 it was replaced by a new chapel, also on Coombe Hill, a red brick building to which a schoolroom was added in 1902. (fn. 263) In 1964 Coombe Hill Methodist Chapel was part of the Tewkesbury circuit and was served from Tewkesbury. (fn. 264)
In 1826, 1837, 1838, and 1841 nonconformists, presumably not Methodists, were using private houses in the parish for religious worship. (fn. 265)
In 1818 Leigh had a Sunday school with 30 pupils and one or two small day schools attended by c. 15 children. (fn. 266) In 1833 a mixed day school, started in 1828, had 8 pupils, and another day school twenty. (fn. 267) A British school was apparently opened in 1839 in a brick house on the south side of the road to the church, (fn. 268) but it may have closed soon after. In 1840 it was alleged that the schoolmaster was a farm labourer with no education and that the vicar believed that the poor should not be educated. (fn. 269) In 1846 there was a day and Sunday school with 44 children taught by a mistress. (fn. 270)
A National school was established in the 1850's and was held in a single brick-built schoolroom. The teacher was not trained or certificated in 1858. (fn. 271) A new school with a teacher's house was built in 1862 (fn. 272) not far from the vicarage on the road to the church. Average attendance was c. 40 in the late 19th century, (fn. 273) 37 in 1907, (fn. 274) and 20 in 1938, when the school had two departments, junior mixed and infants, (fn. 275) the older children going to schools in Tewkesbury. In 1962 Leigh school was closed and the children went to school in Norton. (fn. 276)
Land given before 1683 for the poor was merged in an estate used primarily for the repair of the church, (fn. 277) and by 1855 the poor received no benefit from this charity. (fn. 278) By 1683 Robert Butt had given a rent-charge of 6s. to the poor of Leigh End, and Mrs. Leech one of 20s. to the poor of Leigh. (fn. 279) Before 1702 Benjamin Huntington gave £5 stock for the poor; (fn. 280) it had been lost by 1826. Further sums of £2 and £1 a year, given by John Fluck and Elizabeth his wife before 1826, (fn. 281) were invested in land. Leigh shared with Deerhurst Dr. Robert Huntington's charity for apprenticing poor boys. (fn. 282) In 1954 the incomes from the Elizabeth Fluck, John Fluck, Butt, and Leech charities were respectively £3, £6, 18s., and £5 13s. (fn. 283) The charities were jointly administered in 1964, and the income was distributed in January to old age pensioners and widows. (fn. 284)