Quedgeley: Economic history

Pages 220-221

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

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In 1292 the demesne of the Prior of Llanthony comprised three ploughlands. (fn. 1) Exchanges of small pieces of open-field land in the Middle Ages (fn. 2) may indicate consolidation of the demesne. In 1502 parts of former demesne were granted to copyhold tenants, whose labourservices were remitted. (fn. 3) The change apparently accompanied a swing from arable to pasture: in 1517 the prior was said to have inclosed and converted 50 a. of arable in 1510; the prior said that the conversion was less extensive and happened earlier. (fn. 4) The demesne of Woolstrop manor comprised two plough-lands in 1246; (fn. 5) in 1329 William Walsh's plough-land in Woolstrop was 110 a. of arable and 6 a. of meadow, while in Netheridge he had a yardland of 40 a. and 4 a. of meadow. (fn. 6)

Other free tenants included several surnamed freeman in the 14th century. In 1327 Edmund the freeman seems to have had only a small holding, (fn. 7) but the holdings of others, Philip the freeman (fn. 8) and Roger the freeman, (fn. 9) may have been larger. Philip of Quedgeley in the 13th century was a free tenant of the lord of Netheridge manor. (fn. 10) His land passed to his son, Henry Culverbrid, and then to William Culverbrid. (fn. 11) One free tenement, in the 13th or 14th century, was in Woolstrop. (fn. 12) Apart from the lords of Netheridge there was only one free tenant of Quedgeley manor c. 1400 (fn. 13) and in 1538. (fn. 14)

Almost no record has been found of customary or servile tenure before the 16th century; tithes of villeins were mentioned in the 12th century, (fn. 15) and the villeins of Woolstrop held 2½ yardlands in 1246. (fn. 16) In 1502 Llanthony Priory granted a house and land formerly held by a neif to Richard Chapman, his wife Elizabeth, and his son John for their lives in survivorship: Richard was to hold as though he were a free tenant, but after his death the holding was to owe the customary dues. (fn. 17) The manumission of a neif was recorded in 1514. (fn. 18)

Some of the open fields on the edge of the parish had the same names as the fields of neighbouring parishes, perhaps suggesting that they had originated as fragments of fields belonging to other settlements. A notable example was Westfield, which lay east of Quedgeley. Other fields were shared by Quedgeley with its neighbours, presumably for the same reason, Canmore, for example, with Elmore, and Whaddon's Hill with Whaddon. (fn. 19) Quedgeley's open fields, recorded from the 13th century, (fn. 20) were numerous and small. In 1605 there were 14 arable fields, of which the largest were Sandfield and Westfield. Despite exchanges of open-field land, mentioned above, and inclosure by Llanthony Priory in the early 16th century, much of the land in 1605 lay in pieces of 1 a., ½ a., or ¼ a. (fn. 21) There was piecemeal inclosure during the next two centuries: in 1719 an orchard stood on former arable, (fn. 22) and in 1790 there were several new inclosures and consolidated pieces of open-field land. (fn. 23) By 1840 the greater part of the parish, including apparently the whole of Woolstrop, was inclosed, and the number of fields had fallen to four. (fn. 24)

The common meadows and pastures, like the open fields, were small and numerous, including Southmead or Southmore beside the river, Broadmead, Longmead, Horsebrook, and Cattleland. (fn. 25) The extent of common meadow and pasture may have decreased through inclosure by the 16th century. In 1605, in a survey of customary tenants' land, only five common meadows and pastures were mentioned, and much of the tenants' meadow and pasture was in closes. (fn. 26) In the 16th century the commoning of cattle in Broadmead was stinted. (fn. 27) In 1841, when one common meadow was inclosed, the landholders claimed right of common without stint in all the land to be inclosed. (fn. 28)

Hemp, hops, and flax were grown in Quedgeley in the 17th century. (fn. 29) In the early 18th century the parish was said to consist of good meadow, pasture, and arable, (fn. 30) and c. 1775 of meadow, pasture, and orcharding. (fn. 31) In 1794 only 250 a. and in 1795 only 262 a. were sown, with wheat, barley, and beans, (fn. 32) and in 1803 the parish was said to be mainly meadow and pasture. (fn. 33)

In 1605 Quedgeley manor included two leaseholds for lives, of which the larger was 26 a., and there were 23 copyhold tenants. Holdings varied from 30 a. to a few acres of arable, mostly between 10 a. and 20 a., with about half as much meadow and pasture. Some included two or three messuages and less than 20 a., suggesting that they were amalgamations of even smaller holdings. Some tenants had more than one estate. Copyhold tenants held for up to three lives, and owed fines, rents, and heriots in kind. (fn. 34) They were not allowed to sublet without licence. (fn. 35)

During the 17th and 18th centuries there was a decline in the number of landholders, and a corresponding increase in the average size of the farms. Copyholds were apparently enfranchised in the later 17th century, and the latest known record of a copyhold was 1692. (fn. 36) In 1795 18 landholders were recorded in Quedgeley, (fn. 37) and in 1841 the number was c. 20. At that time the manor farm was 313 a., three others including Netheridge were between 134 a. and 170 a., and the rest were c. 50 a. or less.

The inclosure award of 1841 dealt with only 24 a. of open arable and meadow, lying in Long Meadow in the north, Nash field, Long Hill and Little Hasbrook field in the south-east, and Whaddons Hill on the east side of the parish. Twenty-five people received allotments, mostly of fractions of 1 a. (fn. 38) A second award of 1866 dealt with small parts of the parish that lay intermingled with the land of several other parishes on the east. (fn. 39)

In 1875 Manor farm was 327 a., two others owned by the Curtis-Haywards were 175 a. together, and two more were respectively 84 a. and 90 a. (fn. 40) From then the number of farms remained at about nine, of which only one was said to be more than 150 a. in the 1920s. (fn. 41) There were eight farms in Quedgeley in 1967, mostly of 100 a. or less and farmed by tenants of Glevum Estates Ltd. or the Air Ministry. (fn. 42)

After inclosure the land continued to be mainly meadow and pasture with only small areas of arable. In 1901 260 a. of arable were recorded (fn. 43) and in 1933 there was less than half that amount. (fn. 44) The area of orchards probably increased in the early 20th century; fruit growers were recorded in the parish in the twenties and thirties, (fn. 45) and in 1933 the parish had extensive areas of orchard. (fn. 46) By 1967 few of the orchards remained: farming was mixed, with the emphasis on cattle-farming.

In 1137 the tithes of the mill of Quedgeley manor were granted to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 47) In the earlier 13th century the priory's mill, with 4½ a., was held by a free tenant. (fn. 48) There were two water-mills in 1538, Upper Mill farmed with the manor and another mill leased to Richard Barrow. (fn. 49) The tenant of what was evidently Upper Mill, holding under lease from Arthur Porter, was said by his widow in the later 16th century to have repaired it when it was in decay. (fn. 50) Tithes of a water-mill were reserved in 1564 when the rectory was leased, (fn. 51) but no later reference to mills in Quedgeley has been found. The Upper Mill was near Long field, (fn. 52) but the site of neither mill has been located.

There were fishponds at Quedgeley manor in the early 12th century, and in 1146 tithes of fishing in Quedgeley were confirmed to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 53) The Prior of Llanthony complained in 1359 that his fish at Quedgeley had been stolen. (fn. 54) The Walsh family owned a fishery in the Severn c. 1500. (fn. 55) In 1592 Thomas Porter was dealing with fishing rights in the Severn at Woolstrop and Quedgeley. (fn. 56)

The parish had a smith in 1327, (fn. 57) a chapman in 1466, (fn. 58) and a clothier in 1608. (fn. 59) In 1811 only 6 families were supported by trade and manufacture, compared with 41 supported by agriculture. (fn. 60) There was a smith's shop in 1839, and by the late 19th century Quedgeley had a few craftsmen and shops. The number of small shops, particularly on the main road, increased in the earlier 20th century, when also guest-houses, cafés, and garages were opened. There were three basket-makers in 1927, (fn. 61) and two in 1967. In the First World War a munitions factory was built near the railway north of Naas Lane. Most of it had apparently been demolished by 1924, (fn. 62) but the eastern part of the site later, it seems, housed G. H. Mayo & Sons, cidermakers and fruit merchants, (fn. 63) and the western part was later incorporated in the R.A.F. unit. The eastern part was acquired by Dow-Mac Concrete Ltd., which in 1963 opened there a factory making precast concrete railway sleepers. By 1967, when various types of large precast concrete units were made there, the factory employed 240 people. (fn. 64) After the R.A.F. maintenance unit was opened in 1939 it became the main employer in the parish, giving work in 1967 to 1,750 people, mostly civilians. (fn. 65) From the late 1950s the area around the junction of Bristol Road and Cole Avenue was used for industrial and commercial sites. Several service and petrol stations and premises for the distribution of motor vehicles and accessories were opened. Daystrom Ltd. in 1959 opened a factory employing c. 150 people in the manufacture of electronic instruments, (fn. 66) the largest of a group of small factories, warehouses, and depots west of the road junction, north-east of which a small trading estate was opened in the 1960s.


  • 1. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 232.
  • 2. C 115/K/A 1/2/12, 20.
  • 3. C 115/L 2/A 14 f. 2v.
  • 4. C 43/2 no. 8.
  • 5. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1236-1300, 6.
  • 6. Ibid. 1302-58, 277.
  • 7. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 51; C 115/K 2/A 7 f. 212v.
  • 8. C 115/K/A 1/2/19.
  • 9. C 115/K/A 1/2/20-22.
  • 10. C 115/K/A 1/2/16, 18.
  • 11. C 115/K/A 1/2/11-14.
  • 12. B.M. Harl. Ch. 79.A.32.
  • 13. Rylands Libr., Ryl. Ch. 1764.
  • 14. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1224 m. 17.
  • 15. C 115/K/A 1/2/1; C 115/K/A 12 f. 44v.
  • 16. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1236-1300, 6.
  • 17. C 115/L 2/A 14 f. 2v.
  • 18. C 115/L 2/A 14 f. 86.
  • 19. Cf. Glos. R.O., PA 260.
  • 20. e.g. C 115/K/A 1/2/8-9, 12, 16.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., D 127/608.
  • 22. Glos. Colln. RF 243.10.
  • 23. Ibid. 3.
  • 24. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 114.
  • 25. C 115/K/A 1/2/9, 16; C 115/L 2/A 14 f. 2v; C 115/K 1/A 9 f. 70v.
  • 26. Glos. R.O., D 127/608.
  • 27. Rylands Libr., Ryl. Ch. 1765.
  • 28. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 114; D 61.
  • 29. Ibid. D 123/E 6.
  • 30. Atkyns, Glos. 612.
  • 31. Rudder, Glos. 612.
  • 32. Glos. R.O., D 149/E 79.
  • 33. Rudge, Hist. of Glos. i. 365.
  • 34. Glos. R.O., D 127/608.
  • 35. Rylands Libr., Ryl. Ch. 1766.
  • 36. Glos. R.O., D 127/622.
  • 37. Ibid. D 149/E 79.
  • 38. Ibid. Q/RI 114.
  • 39. Ibid. 32.
  • 40. Ibid. D 123/E2.
  • 41. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1870 and later edns.).
  • 42. Local information.
  • 43. Acreage Returns, 1901.
  • 44. Land Util. Surv. Map, sheet 92.
  • 45. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1923 and later edns.).
  • 46. Land Util. Surv. Map, sheet 92.
  • 47. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxiii. 4.
  • 48. C 115/K/A 1/2/25.
  • 49. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1224m. 17d.
  • 50. Req. 2/49/47.
  • 51. C 66/1390 m. 2.
  • 52. E 164/39 f. 372.
  • 53. C 115/K/A 1/1/3; C 115/K/A 2 f. 215.
  • 54. Cal. Pat. 1358-61, 279.
  • 55. C 1/374/75.
  • 56. C.P. 25(2)/262/34 Eliz. Trin./6.
  • 57. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 51.
  • 58. Cal. Pat. 1461-7, 525.
  • 59. Smith, Men and Armour, 306.
  • 60. Census, 1811.
  • 61. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1870 and later edns.).
  • 62. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Glos. XXXIII. 10, 14 (1923 edn.); Glos. R.O., DC/H 38.
  • 63. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1935), 289.
  • 64. Ex inf. Dow-Mac Concrete Ltd.
  • 65. Ex inf. Ministry of Defence, Air Historical Branch.
  • 66. Ex inf. Daystrom Ltd.