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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STANDISH is a rural parish 6 miles south-south-west of Gloucester, partly in the vale and partly on the Cotswold escarpment. Until changes in the parish boundaries of 1882-5 the shape of the parish was unusually complicated. The main part formed a long and narrow wedge stretching from the ridge of the Cotswolds near Whiteshill to an apex not far from the Severn at Epney, a length of 5 miles. The parish included two large detached parts and a number of small ones: Colethrop, north of the main part, was a regular area of 504 a., over 2 miles long and up to ½ mile wide, and to the east of the main part the parish included a portion of Pitchcombe village and 244 a. that were later the south-western half of Pitchcombe parish. South of Pitchcombe were 4 small detached parts, and over on the west was a small detached piece between Moreton Valence and Whitminster, a smaller piece north of it, a still smaller one north again beside the Severn at Epney, and 3 a. beside the river at Longney Crib. In addition the boundary between Standish and Randwick was complex at Oxlinch, where small parts of each parish lay detached within the other, and the boundary with Moreton Valence at Putloe was only slightly less complex. (fn. 1) The complexities appear to have resulted from the ownership of the land, the ownership of the great tithes by the medieval lords of Standish, (fn. 2) the former ecclesiastical dependence of Randwick on Standish, (fn. 3) and the sharing of open fields between Standish on the one hand and Randwick and Moreton Valence on the other. (fn. 4) The two riverside pieces of Standish parish may have been connected with the fishery in the Severn at Framilode that Gloucester Abbey owned as an appurtenance of Standish manor. (fn. 5)
In 1882 two parts of Standish without any houses were transferred to Randwick, seven similar parts of Randwick were transferred to Standish, the small piece of Standish at Epney and the piece south of it were transferred to Moreton Valence, and the four pieces south of Pitchcombe to Stroud. In 1884 Colethrop was transferred to Haresfield, the Pitchcombe part of Standish to Pitchcombe parish, and the 3 a. at Longney Crib to Longney; the boundary between Moreton Valence and Standish was redrawn, so that instead of running roughly east- west it followed the main Gloucester-Bristol road. In 1885 the part of Randwick parish at Oxlinch was transferred to Standish, and a small part of Haresfield parish with no houses was transferred to Standish. The total effect of the changes was considerable: an area amounting to over half the former area of the parish was either added to or taken from Standish, and 46 houses out of 108 were removed from the parish. The net result was a loss of 2 houses and an increase in area from 3,022 a. to 3,211 a. (fn. 6) A remaining detached part of Standish, containing c. ½ a. and no houses or people, was transferred to Randwick in 1894. (fn. 7)
The account printed here relates to the area of the parish before 1882, except that the Pitchcombe part of the parish is reserved for inclusion in a later volume, (fn. 8) the boundary settlement at Oxlinch is treated above, as belonging to Randwick, (fn. 9) and the small pieces in Longney and Epney are covered under Longney and Moreton Valence. (fn. 10) The settlement at Putloe is included here, as though it were entirely, not partly, in Standish.
The western half of the parish is flat, lying between the 25-ft. and 100-ft. contours; to the east the land rises gently to 200 ft. and then precipitously to 800 ft. on Haresfield Hill. The east end of the main part of the parish lies in a steep coomb that divides into two. Down the coomb flows the Arle brook, which runs nearly the whole length of the parish. Colethrop is drained by two streams which mark its south-west and most of its north-east boundary. The northern stream is called the Shorn brook, (fn. 11) but presumably the Turdels brook of c. 1270 (fn. 12) and the Pire brook of the early 14th century (fn. 13) were the same two streams. The lower parts of the parish are on the Lower Lias, which is overlain as the ground rises by the successive strata of the Middle and Upper Lias and the Inferior Oolite. (fn. 14) Some old quarries are visible on the high ground. A spring called Red Well in Standish Park was reputed to have healing qualities. (fn. 15)
The land is mostly pasture but formerly there were open fields not only in the flat vale lands and on the gentle slopes below the escarpment but also on the steep hillside. A gradual process of inclosure was completed in the early 19th century. (fn. 16) The high ground has remained wooded. Gloucester Abbey's wood of Standish, recorded in 1297, (fn. 17) in 1515 provided 12 cart-loads of beechwood a year for the lessee of the demesne, to be delivered by the woodward. (fn. 18) In 1520 a family called Woodward held the offices of collector of rents in Standish and warden of the axe called the sealing axe that was used in Standish and Ebworth woods for marking timber that had been approved for felling. (fn. 19) Later in the century the beechwood provided 20 cartloads a year for the demesne. (fn. 20) The High Wood, as it was called, amounted to 176 a. in 1612, (fn. 21) and in 1842 the lord of the manor had 227 a. of woodland. (fn. 22) Standish Wood was acquired by the National Trust, with Haresfield Beacon, in 1931. (fn. 23) Below the wood lies Standish Park, which was presumably made in the Middle Ages though the first record of it that has been found is in 1582. (fn. 24) In 1612 the park apparently amounted to c. 250 a. (fn. 25) and included two open arable fields, as it apparently had done in the early 16th century, (fn. 26) and the park has continued to be primarily if not exclusively agricultural land. The remains of a bank and ditch marking the north side of the park were visible in 1967.
Settlement in the parish is scattered, and the houses are for the most part divided among small or loosely knit hamlets. The original settlement is likely to have been close under the escarpment, as suggested by the first element of the name of the parish (fn. 27) and by the earliest identification of the later manorial estate as under Evesbury. (fn. 28) Such a site might be that of the small settlement called Standish, which contains the church and manor-house complex, Standish Court, but little else: a 20th-century farm-house and cottage, two former mills, and a building by the church used as a school until 1963. (fn. 29) The pound was on the west side of the churchyard. (fn. 30) The hamlet may have been larger: a statement in the later 18th century about the parish at large, that the cottages had been suffered to fall down, (fn. 31) may have applied to Standish hamlet in particular. Half a mile north is another small hamlet, Little Haresfield, its name suggesting that it was a secondary settlement and never of much size. There were said to be 21 houses c. 1710. (fn. 32) In 1967 the hamlet comprised the ancient vicarage house, (fn. 33) three farmhouses, and half a dozen cottages. Two farm-houses are of brick and were built apparently in the 18th century, but one, on an L-shaped plan, stands on a stone base. One pair of cottages and some farm buildings are of squared stone, which is widely used in the buildings of the parish; the other cottages are of brick.
At Colethrop Romano-British burials have been found near Pool Farm. (fn. 34) There was some form of habitation by 1248, (fn. 35) and there were at least 6 messuages in 1540. (fn. 36) In 1842 there were 5 farmhouses, 9 cottages, and 2 other houses. (fn. 37) The farmhouses are scattered, but two of them and most of the cottages form a loose group near a road-junction where a stone shed survives from the village pound. (fn. 38) Four cottages timber-framed in square panels and built in the late 16th or early 17th century retain thatched roofs; two of them have stone chimneys with moulded caps, two have stone gable-ends, and at least two were once divided into two dwellings. Cross Farm (formerly Pound Farm), partly of brick and partly of stone, some of its windows having mullions and dripmoulds, was apparently built in the 17th century. Some of the internal walls are timber-framed, and one of the diagonal chimney stacks carries a sundial. Pool Farm was originally an L-shaped building, timber-framed in square panels and enlarged in the 17th century with a second cross-wing in ashlar; near-by is a two-story, similarly framed cottage with a stone base and stone chimney. Colethrop Farm retains some timber-framing above a stone base but was mostly rebuilt in brick in the early 19th century; one of the attic dormers is dated 1872. Colethrop Court and the Hayes are mentioned below. (fn. 39)
Oxlinch, a more populous settlement but by no means nucleated, is described above. (fn. 40) In the same part of the parish are Stroud Green and Arlebrook. Stroud Green comprises 7 houses, including Stock's Farm, a brick farm-house, gabled and formerly L-shaped with a stone base and stonemullioned windows, built in the early 18th century, and two early-19th-century stone houses, one with a porch on doric columns. At Arlebrook are two pairs of 19th-century brick cottages and a thatched cottage with square-framed side walls and stone end walls. East of Oxlinch is Standish Park Farm, a large stone house that was built to an L-shape plan in the 17th century and enlarged by extending the cross-wing and adding another cross-wing; it was extensively restored in 1947 and later. (fn. 41)
Putloe hamlet lies on the Gloucester-Bristol road and to some extent owes its growth to the presence of the road. The hamlet existed by 1221; (fn. 42) in 1403 it was large and notable enough for Moreton Valence to be distinguished as Moreton by Putloe; (fn. 43) in 1675 it contained c. 20 houses, including an inn, (fn. 44) but in or before 1717 it suffered from a fire. (fn. 45) At the south end of the hamlet there was a village green until the early 19th century; (fn. 46) the pound was there until the late 19th century, (fn. 47) and in the early 20th there was a hall or parish room that was used for a Sunday school until 1932. (fn. 48) The only buildings clearly older than the early 18th century are part of Putloe Court, (fn. 49) which stands a little north of the hamlet together with the 19th-century Putloe Farm and Gables Farm, and Yewtrees Cottage, which was formerly timber-framed and thatched and incorporates a large stone chimney with a moulded cap; the cottage adjoins the Horse Shoe Café, which was once the blacksmith's shop. (fn. 50) Yewtrees Farm, an early-18th-century house by the main road, may date from about the time of the fire: it is of stone and has keystones to the windows, a platband at firstfloor level, and a hipped roof. It belonged in the early 19th century to John Barron, (fn. 51) whose forebears lived in Moreton Valence by 1696. (fn. 52) The other houses in Putloe are of the 19th century and later; the hamlet contains the cafe mentioned above, a filling-station, and a road haulage firm.
Between Putloe and Standish hamlet are 11 houses strung out along Standish Lane, in the area called Standish Moreton. The oldest house there, the Quintons, was formerly Standish Moreton farm-house until a new L-shaped brick farm-house was built just to the east in the late 18th century, and the Quintons was divided into two cottages. It is a rectangular building, the western part timberframed with a cruck pair in the gable-end, the eastern part added in stone when the western part was refronted in stone. The stone part bears the date 1698 and the initials of, apparently, William and Hannah Lediard. (fn. 53)
The few 20th-century houses in the parish are mostly agricultural cottages. When the Gloucestershire County Council bought the Standish manor estate after the First World War (fn. 54) much of the land became small-holdings: some of the farm-houses were divided into two dwellings, some small houses became homesteads, and the county council built three small homesteads in 1923. (fn. 55)
The Gloucester-Bristol road (fn. 56) crosses the Arle brook by Putloe Bridge, which was presumably the bridge from repairing which the Abbot and Convent of Gloucester exonerated themselves c. 1225, (fn. 57) and the Valence Bridge for which Richard Talbot was responsible in 1388. (fn. 58) Putloe Bridge was mended by the churchwardens in 1679 (fn. 59) and was taken to be a county bridge in 1864. (fn. 60) Gilding Bridge recorded in 1701, 600 yds. to the south on the same road, (fn. 61) may be the Moreton Valence Bridge that was supposed a county bridge in 1866. (fn. 62) The other turnpike road through the parish was the GloucesterStonehouse road through Little Haresfield, Standish, and Stroud Green. From Little Haresfield northwards it is thought to have been a road made in the mid 13th century, (fn. 63) and the earlier road to Gloucester may have gone closer to the escarpment. The road along the crest of the ridge above Standish Wood follows a course possibly of Roman or preRoman origin. (fn. 64) In Colethrop a road called Holloway Street c. 1280 (fn. 65) may have been the Haresfield-Brookthorpe road; a little later the street at 'Huntgrove' was distinguished from the king's highway past Colethrop field. (fn. 66) The Bristol and Gloucester railway, opened in 1844, and the Gloucester branch of the Great Western, opened in 1845, (fn. 67) meet at Standish Junction. The Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, opened in 1827, (fn. 68) crosses the west end of the parish.
In 1551 there were said to be c. 100 communicants, (fn. 69) apparently a considerable underestimate, for 53 households were recorded in 1563 (fn. 70) and 310 communicants in 1603. (fn. 71) In 1672 29 households were assessed for hearth tax (fn. 72) and 50 were exempted. (fn. 73) Those figures exclude Colethrop, which was taxed as part of Hardwicke, (fn. 74) but the exclusion alone is unlikely to account for the difference between the 79 houses recorded in 1672 and the 123 houses noted c. 1710, when the population was put at c. 500. (fn. 75) In 1676 381 communicants were returned. (fn. 76) The high proportion of houses exempted from the hearth tax accords with the statement 100 years later that as the result of cottages being allowed to fall down many poorer families had been compelled to go elsewhere, the population falling to 400. (fn. 77) By 1801, however, the population was 504, and until 1841 it rose slowly, and then fell slowly until 1921. The changes in the parish area of the 1880s had little effect on the net figures of population. The increase after 1921, from 353 to 646 in 1961, was attributable to the opening and expansion of the sanatorium at Standish House: in 1961 only 386 people lived in private families, (fn. 78) and some of them lived in Standish because the sanatorium was there.
The inn at Putloe in 1675 and 1706 (fn. 79) was presumably the 'Plume of Feathers', recorded as in Putloe 1734-89. (fn. 80) Some of the four unlicensed alehouses recorded in 1660-1 in Moreton Valence, (fn. 81) and of the four beershops there in 1838, are likely to have been in Putloe hamlet. There were two beerhouses and a public house in Standish parish in 1838; (fn. 82) the beerhouses were at Putloe, one perhaps being the 'Halfway House,' and the third establishment was the 'Castle' in Oxlinch. (fn. 83) The 'Castle' had evidently gone by 1863; another public house, at Park End Bridge over the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, which was called the 'Crown' in 1863, was later called the 'Castle', and went out of business in the eighties, though the building survived in 1967 as Castle House. (fn. 84)
No lord of the manor has lived at Standish Court since the 17th century, and the chief social influence on the life of the parish has been that of the tenant farmers. The ownership of the manor by Gloucester Abbey in the Middle Ages has left hardly one of the older houses without a tradition of monastic retreat or residence. A more reasonable tradition that Edward II's body rested a night at Standish church on its way from Berkeley to Gloucester has no documentary support but is not unlikely; (fn. 85) it has not been traced earlier than 1889. (fn. 86)