Frocester: Manor and other estates

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Frocester: Manor and other estates', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds, (London, 1972) pp. 171-174. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]


In the early 9th century, probably between 823 and 825, the manor of FROCESTER was granted to the secular priests then at Gloucester Abbey by Ravenswart, brother of King Beornwulf of the Mercians. (fn. 1) Frocester was among the estates of the abbey which Aldred annexed to the archbishopric of York, but it was regained before 1086 by Abbot Serlo with the aid of the king, (fn. 2) and remained a possession of the abbey until the Dissolution. The Abbot of Gloucester had a grant of protection in the manor in 1322, (fn. 3) and grants of free warren there in 1354 and 1377. (fn. 4)

The Crown granted the manor in 1547 to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset; (fn. 5) it reverted to the Crown on his attainder in 1552, but in 1556, save for the manor-house and demesne lands, it was granted to his widow Anne. (fn. 6) In spite of a grant to Christopher Hatton in 1575, (fn. 7) Anne evidently held the manor until her death c. 1587. By the end of that year it was owned by William Dodington (fn. 8) (d. 1600), who was succeeded by his son Sir William Dodington (d. 1638). Sir William was succeeded by his son John, who was dead by 1647 when his infant daughter Anne held the manor under the guardianship of her grandfather, Thomas Trenchard. (fn. 9) Anne, who married Robert Greville, Baron Brooke (d. 1677), and secondly Thomas Hoby, held the manor until her death in 1691, (fn. 10) when it passed to Robert's brother Fulke Greville, Baron Brooke (fn. 11) (d. 1710). It then presumably passed to Fulke's grandson, Fulke (d. 1711), and in 1725 it was owned by William Greville, brother of the younger Fulke (fn. 12) (d. 1727); it passed to William's son Francis, Baron Brooke, (fn. 13) who was created Earl Brooke of Warwick Castle in 1746 and Earl of Warwick in 1759 and died in 1773. Francis was succeeded by his son George, Earl of Warwick, who put the Frocester estate up for sale in 1803. (fn. 14)

The manor and the larger part of the estate were bought by Leonard Parkinson of Kinnersley Castle (Herefs.) who in 1806 also bought out one of the other purchasers, Henry Eycott of Stonehouse. (fn. 15) Leonard Parkinson's estates passed on his death c. 1818 to his daughter Mary Elizabeth and her husband, John Altham Graham-Clarke, (fn. 16) who owned 869 a. at Frocester in 1839, (fn. 17) and was succeeded at his death in 1862 by his son John Altham Graham-Clarke (d. 1897). Emma, widow of the second John, held the estate until her death in 1904 when it passed to her son Leonard GrahamClarke (d. 1920). Leonard was succeeded by his son John Graham-Clarke (fn. 18) who died in 1961, when most of the estate was bought by Henry Pelham-ClintonHope, Duke of Newcastle, who owned it in 1968; Home Farm and Spring Farm in the east of the parish and the manorial rights were retained by John Graham-Clarke's daughter Mary Elizabeth and her husband, Sir Charles Cooper. (fn. 19)

No post-medieval lord of the manor lived at Frocester until the mid 19th century when theGraham Clarke family became resident at the Manor House in the village. (fn. 20) There was a fairly large house on the site in 1737 (fn. 21) and it was called the Manor House in 1838, (fn. 22) but later in the 19th century it was rebuilt or remodelled in brown brick in Tudor style with steep gables. The GrahamClarkes lived there until 1961 when it became a home for the mentally handicapped. (fn. 23)

The medieval manor-house, known as FROCESTER COURT, and the demesne lands of the manor were granted by the Crown in 1554 to George Huntley (fn. 24) who died in 1580 evidently by suicide. (fn. 25) The estate passed to his grandson George, (fn. 26) later knighted, who died in 1622, and to Sir George's son William Huntley, (fn. 27) who sold it in 1628 to Robert Ducie, (fn. 28) an alderman of London, who was created a baronet in 1629 and died in 1634. (fn. 29) Shortly after his death Sir Robert's widow Elizabeth conveyed her right in the estate to her son Sir Richard Ducie, (fn. 30) who was imprisoned in 1647 for his royalist activities and redeemed his estates by a large fine in 1649. (fn. 31) On his death in 1657 Sir Richard was succeeded by his brother Sir William Ducie, later Viscount Downe (d. 1679). Sir William's widow Frances was disputing the estate with his niece and heir Elizabeth and her husband Edward Moreton in 1681, (fn. 32) and Frances apparently held it until her death in 1699, (fn. 33) when it passed to Elizabeth's son, Matthew Ducie Moreton, later created Lord Ducie. The estate, which in 1839 comprised 572 a. mainly in the south-east of the parish and including Buckholt Wood, (fn. 34) then followed the descent of King's Stanley manor in the Moreton, Reynolds, and Leigh families (fn. 35) until c. 1922 when Frocester Court with about half of the estate was brought by John GrahamClarke, on whose death in 1961 it passed to his nephew, Philip Graham-Clarke; the other half of the estate, based on Hill Farm, was brought c. 1922 by the tenant, Mr. Cullimore, whose son sold it in 1967 to Mr. F. J. Holpin. (fn. 36) The rectory of Frocester, which had formerly belonged to Gloucester Abbey, was included in the grant to George Huntley in 1554 (fn. 37) and descended with the Frocester Court estate; in 1839 Thomas Moreton, Earl Ducie, received a corn-rent of £100 in place of tithes. (fn. 38)

Gloucester Abbey presumably had a house on the site of Frocester Court from early medieval times, but the architectural evidence suggests that the oldest part of the surviving building is unlikely to date from much before 1500. It may even represent the remains of a house newly built by George Huntley when he was granted the property in the mid 16th century. Two carved oak panels which have been reset in the house are typical earlier Tudor work and may be intended as portrait heads of Huntley and his wife. (fn. 39) In 1628 the house contained 19 rooms, including a hall, gallery, kitchen, buttery, pantry, ploughman's hall, and several chambers; one called the queen's chamber (fn. 40) was presumably that occupied by Elizabeth I on her visit in 1574. (fn. 41) The house had 18 hearths in 1672. (fn. 42) An estate map of 1737 (fn. 43) shows the building as consisting of a central range flanked by two cross-wings projecting westwards. No owner of the estate seems to have lived in the house after the 17th century and by 1784 it had evidently been reduced in size; it was then said to have formerly made three sides of a spacious quadrangle. (fn. 44) Certainly by 1803 the north wing had disappeared, (fn. 45) and between 1839 and 1859 a westward extension of the south wing, by tradition a walking-gallery but perhaps consisting only of out-buildings, had also gone; additions had, however, been made at the rear of the house and they were further extended later in the century. (fn. 46)

The surviving house has the external appearance of a 17th-century stone building, considerably restored in the 19th century; on its west front the central range has a projecting two-storied porch and further north two buttresses probably mark the position of the demolished wing. The wing to the south, however, contains internal evidence that five of its bays were part of an earlier timberframed building. On the first floor the three front bays form a lofty 'great chamber' which retains anopen roof with arch-braced collar-beam trusses andcurved wind braces. The original construction at the rear of the wing has been obscured by a 17thcentury stone-built extension housing the kitchen, but the timber-framed bay next to it has a heavilysmoke-blackened roof, and may have been thesmoke outlet from an earlier kitchen or from a 'ploughman's hall' in this position. Projecting fromthe south side of the wing are two narrow bays of apossibly more ancient timber-framed range whichhas an arch-braced collar-beam roof with chamfered timbers. This range had apparently been truncated (fn. 47) and cased in stone before 1605, a date scratched on a mullioned window in its end wall. The date at which the central range was rebuilt or remodelled remains obscure. The inventory of 1628 suggests that the house then retained a basically medieval plan with an open and galleried hall. Such a hall is likely to have occupied the central range which may have been rebuilt in stone in its present two-storied from later in the 17th century. (fn. 48) Several features of the range, however, including the roof, are of 19th-century date.

A large rectangular stone dovecot behind the house is presumably the one mentioned from 1515. (fn. 49) The gatehouse to the north has a stone base and a square timber-framed upper story with a cruciform gabled roof; the elaborately-patterned framing appears to have been completely renewed in the late 19th or very early 20th century. (fn. 50) This and an adjoining stone range with two gables and mullioned windows had evidently been built by 1628 when the gatehouse comprised five chambers. (fn. 51) To the west of the house stands the great barn which is apparently that built by Abbot John de Gamages (1284-1306). (fn. 52) It is 184 ft. long and of 13 bays, having buttressed stone walls and a stone slate roof. The masonry is of several periods and some of it, including the flying buttresses between the two projecting porches on the south side, may date from the 19th century. Internally the purlin roof has two tiers of slender curved wind-braces. The trusses are of the base-cruck type with long, almost straight, braces below the truncating collar-beam, and a secondary collar-beam above. (fn. 53) The farm buildings at the Court were extended in the mid 19th century when a group of stone cowsheds with arcaded fronts were built on the south of the barn.

In 1805 a farm-house, later called Frocester House, (fn. 54) and 104 a. of the manorial estate in the east of the parish were bought from the Earl of Warwick by William Mills (d. 1809). The estate was held by William's widow Caroline, who married James Harmar, until her death in 1852, when it passed to her son, the Revd. William Lewis Mills, who sold the estate in 1865 to J. A. GrahamClarke, the lord of the manor. (fn. 55) The house, built c. 1800, (fn. 56) is of rendered brick and has a porch with columns. In 1968, when it was called Frocester Lodge, it was the home of Sir Charles and Lady Cooper.

Another part of the manorial estate, comprising Capehall Farm and 143 a. in the north-west of the parish, (fn. 57) was brought in 1804 by James Ricketts (d. c. 1821). The estate passed to James's son James (d. 1848), to Edward (d. 1856), brother of the younger James, and to Edward's son James. In 1908 James Ricketts made the estate over to his son Edward Ernest Ricketts who sold it in 1920 to the Gloucestershire County Council (fn. 58) which owned it in 1968. The house is an L-shaped building of brick dating from the late 18th or early 19th century.

Another member of the Ricketts family bought Elmtree Farm and 128 a. in the east of the parish from the Earl of Warwick c. 1805, and the estate was owned by Hannah Ricketts in 1839. (fn. 59) It was apparently owned by Thomas Ricketts in 1856 and by Mrs. T. R. Ricketts in 1889, (fn. 60) and in 1898 it was put up for sale by the trustees of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Ricketts. (fn. 61) Elmtree Farm was a brick house, partly thatched and partly tiled in 1803; (fn. 62) it was rebuilt or remodelled in brick in the mid 19th century. The owners of the estate probably built Osborne House, a large mid 19th-century stone house to the north, which was occupied by Thomas Ricketts in 1856, (fn. 63) and belonged to the estate in 1898. (fn. 64)


  • 1. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i. 77; V.C.H. Glos. ii. 53.
  • 2. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. i. II; Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 165v.
  • 3. Cal. Pat. 1321-4, 69.
  • 4. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 142; Cal. Pat. 1377-81, 69.
  • 5. Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 121.
  • 6. Ibid. 1555-7, 200; see below.
  • 7. Atkyns, Glos. 445.
  • 8. Glos. R.O., photocopy 472; D.N.B. s.v. Seymour, Edw.
  • 9. Warwick Cast. Mun. 7727, 7733-4; see below, p. 217.
  • 10. Warwick Cast. Mun. 7719-24; for the Grevilles see Complete Peerage, ii. 334-6.
  • 11. Warwick Cast. Mun. 7725.
  • 12. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 5.
  • 13. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 26.
  • 14. Bigland, Glos. i. 605; Glos. Colln. RV 140.3.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., D 1889, Graham-Clarke fam. 1800-96.
  • 16. Ibid.; Glos. Colln. RF 140.6 (5-6).
  • 17. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award.
  • 18. Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), 421; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 19. Ex inf. Lady Cooper.
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 21. Glos. R.O., D 340A/P 1.
  • 22. Glos. Colln. RF 140.5.
  • 23. Ex inf. Lady Cooper.
  • 24. Cal. Pat. 1553-4, 342.
  • 25. C 142/194/16; cf. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 201; Hockaday Abs. cci, 1580.
  • 26. C 142/194/16.
  • 27. C 142/394/57.
  • 28. Glos. R.O., D 340A/T 85.
  • 29. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1625-42, i. 212-15; for the Ducies see Burke, Peerage (1956), 684-5.
  • 30. Glos. R.O., D 340A/T 173.
  • 31. Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, i. 85.
  • 32. Glos. R.O., D 340A/L 9.
  • 33. She held the advowson, which descended with the estate, in 1686 and, with Philip Sheppard, her husband, in 1692: Hockaday Abs. cci.
  • 34. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award.
  • 35. Glos. R.O., DC/S 58; G.D.R. Frocester tithe award; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.); see below, p. 246.
  • 36. Ex inf. Mr. Price.
  • 37. Cal. Pat. 1553-4, 342.
  • 38. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award.
  • 39. It has been suggested that they may represent Queen Mary and Philip of Spain: Country Life, 20 May 1905, 702.
  • 40. Glos. R.O., D 340A/F 19.
  • 41. See p. 171.
  • 42. E 179/247/14 rot. 14.
  • 43. Glos. R.O., D 340A/P 1.
  • 44. Bigland, Glos. i. 605.
  • 45. Glos. Colln. RV 140.3.
  • 46. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award; Glos. R.O., D 340A/P 1; D 1011/P 11; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Glos. XLIX. 5 (1883 edn.).
  • 47. Foundations have been found of walls extending southwards: ex inf. Mr. Price.
  • 48. A suggestion that the truncated south range represents the remains of a single-storied medieval hall is unlikely: its roof shows no smoke-blackening, and it cannot have existed as a complete galleried hall in 1628 if the date 1605 on its end wall is authentic.
  • 49. Glouc. Cath. Libr., Reg. Abb. Malvern, i, f. 38; Glos. R.O., D 340A/F 19.
  • 50. Cf. photog. of late 19th cent. penes Mr. Price; Country Life, 20 May 1905, 702-4. See plate opposite.
  • 51. Glos. R.O., D 340A/F 19.
  • 52. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i. 40; V.C.H. Glos. ii. 61.
  • 53. Radio-carbon measurements suggest that many of the timbers were renewed in the 15th century: ex inf. Prof. W. W. Horn, Univ. of California. See also Trans. Anc. Mons. Soc. n.s. ix; Arch. Jnl. cxxii, 209-11; plate opposite.
  • 54. Glos. Colln. RF 140.5.
  • 55. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award; Glos. R.O., D 1889, Graham-Clarke fam. 1800-96.
  • 56. Glos. Colln. RV 140.3.
  • 57. G.D.R. Frocester tithe award.
  • 58. Glos. R.O., DC/S 58.
  • 59. Ibid. D 1889, Graham-Clarke fam. 1800-96, sale partics. plan, 1803, marked with names of purchasers; G.D.R. Frocester tithe award.
  • 60. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 61. Glos. R.O., D 1388/SL 8, no. 53.
  • 62. Glos. Colln. RV 140.3.
  • 63. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 289.
  • 64. Glos. R.O., D 1388/SL 8, no. 53.