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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The manor of NEWNHAM, which in spite of repeated statements to the contrary (fn. 1) included the borough of Newnham and was presumably co-extensive with the borough, (fn. 2) belonged to the Crown in the 11th century. (fn. 3) In 1086 it was included, apparently, in the large royal estate of Westbury, though not by name. (fn. 4) The king's demesne in Newnham was mentioned in 1130. (fn. 5) During Stephen's reign Miles, Earl of Hereford, may have received a grant of the manor, (fn. 6) for it was expressly excepted from the lands which Henry II granted to Roger, Earl of Hereford, in 1154. (fn. 7) The manor remained in the Crown's possession (fn. 8) until 1327, when it was granted to Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, (fn. 9) who, however, had still not obtained seizin in 1331 because the manor had wrongly been stated to have been part of the forfeited estates of the elder Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 10) In 1332 the Earl of Norfolk surrendered the manor to the king, who granted it to William de Bohun, (fn. 11) created Earl of Northampton in 1337. In 1344 William Talmadge held 20 messuages, 2 ploughlands, 160 a. of meadow, woodland, and pasture, and £20 rent in Newnham, possibly amounting to the whole manor, by grant of William de Bohun, (fn. 12) but the estate evidently reverted to the de Bohuns. William de Bohun's son Humphrey succeeded his father in 1360, and in 1361 succeeded his uncle as Earl of Hereford and Essex. (fn. 13) At his death in 1373 he held Newnham, apparently in his own possession; the statement that he held it by service of being constable of England presumably resulted from confusion with Haresfield manor, which he held allegedly by that tenure. (fn. 14)
On the partition of the de Bohun estates between Humphrey's daughters, Newnham was assigned to Mary, wife of Henry of Lancaster, later Henry IV, (fn. 15) who granted it for life to Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (d. 1397), (fn. 16) the husband of Mary's sister Eleanor. Eleanor's daughter and eventual sole heir Anne, Countess of Stafford, (fn. 17) received Newnham in 1421 when the partition of the de Bohun estates was altered, (fn. 18) and her son Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was seised of rents and liberties there at his death in 1460. (fn. 19) Humphrey's great-grandson Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was lord of the manor at the time of his attainder in 1521, (fn. 20) and Newnham was among the estates granted in 1554 to Edward's son Henry, Lord Stafford. (fn. 21) In the interval the manor or borough was held at farm, (fn. 22) and it was again held by farmers in the late 16th century. (fn. 23) Newnham descended with the Stafford peerage, and in 1640, following the death in 1637 of Henry Stafford, Earl of Stafford, was claimed as part of the honors of Gloucester and Hereford by William Howard, (fn. 24) who had married Mary, sister and heir of Henry Stafford, and was created Viscount Stafford. William was beheaded in 1680 and forfeited his estates, (fn. 25) but the next year Mary made a settlement that included Newnham. (fn. 26) Their son was created Earl of Stafford in 1688 and his successors as earl held the manor until 1736 or later. (fn. 27) Before the death of the last earl, John Paul Stafford-Howard, in 1762, and possibly in 1751 on the death of his nephew and predecessor, William Matthias StaffordHoward, (fn. 28) the manor passed to another branch of the Howard family, for in 1759 Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, was lord. (fn. 29) His son and heir, also Thomas, held the manor at his death in 1791, and by 1801 had been succeeded as lord of Newnham by Henry Howard, (fn. 30) a younger brother of the Duke of Norfolk. Henry Howard, who was M.P. for Gloucester and by the assumption of a courtesy title and additional surnames eventually became known as Lord Henry Howard-Molyneux-Howard, (fn. 31) held the manor until his death in 1824, and was succeeded by Henry Howard, (fn. 32) his son, who with the father's widow Elizabeth (fn. 33) sold the manor and borough in 1835 to William Thomas. (fn. 34)
William Thomas sold the manor in 1850 to John James of Newnham. (fn. 35) James died in 1855, (fn. 36) but his executors retained the manor until 1866 when they conveyed it to W. H. Collins, who in turn conveyed it in 1876 to Tom Goold of Newnham. (fn. 37) In 1879 Tom Goold was succeeded by C. A. Goold, (fn. 38) who in 1886 sold the manor to Russell James Kerr (fn. 39) of the Haie; Kerr was already lord of Ruddle manor, with which Newnham manor thereafter descended. (fn. 40) There is no evidence that there was any manorhouse, other than the castle, in the town; the large early-19th-century house on the west side of High Street that was called Manor House from 1879 (fn. 41) was apparently so named only because it belonged to the Goolds. (fn. 42)
Before the Conquest RUDDLE was held by Tovi, and in 1086 by Walter Arblaster (Balistarius). (fn. 43) Soon afterwards the manor passed to Ralph Blewett, who granted it to Gloucester Abbey; the grant had been made by 1100, when the Bishop of Hereford granted the abbey two-thirds of the tithes of their demesne in Ruddle, (fn. 44) and in 1114 the Crown confirmed Ralph Blewett's gift. (fn. 45) Henry I also made a grant to the abbey's sacrist of the manor, a fishery, and the right to hold the wood of Southridge outside the regard of the forest; another Crown grant associated the tenure of the manor, in free alms, with the maintenance of lights for the soul of Robert Curthose, in terms suggesting that the king himself had given the manor. (fn. 46)
The abbey retained Ruddle manor until the Dissolution. In 1539 George Baynham received a lease of the manor at farm for 21 years; (fn. 47) his widow Cecily married Sir Charles Herbert, who in 1552 conveyed the lease to Walter Flower and his sons John and Richard. (fn. 48) In 1553 the Crown granted the manor in fee to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who in 1557 sold it to Sir Giles Poole. (fn. 49) Poole died in 1589; his son and heir Sir Henry (fn. 50) was succeeded in 1616 by his son Henry, (fn. 51) who was lord of Ruddle in 1625. (fn. 52) In the early 19th century one of the Pooles, possibly Henry, was said to have sold the manor and tithes of Ruddle to William Jones of Nass in 1734; (fn. 53) the sale may have been 100 years earlier, for no record of the Pooles' lordship after the early 17th century has been found, and a rental of the manor in 1633 appears to have been made with a view to reaching a purchase price. (fn. 54) Certainly the Joneses had acquired Ruddle by 1678, when Charles Jones of Nass agreed to settle it on the marriage of his son William with Anne Morgan. (fn. 55) William may have been the Mr. Jones of Nass recorded as lord of Ruddle c. 1703. (fn. 56) In 1735 and 1763 another William Jones of Nass, son and heir of Roynon Jones, was lord of Ruddle. His son, another Roynon Jones, (fn. 57) was lord in 1791 (fn. 58) and was succeeded c. 1815 by his son the Revd. Edward, (fn. 59) who in 1839 owned 660 a. in Ruddle. (fn. 60) Edward Jones died in 1847, and in 1850 his son the Revd. Edward Owen Jones (fn. 61) sold the estate of 920 a. in Ruddle to William Willets, (fn. 62) who in turn sold it in 1857 to William Charles Kerr. (fn. 63) Kerr was succeeded in 1878 by his son Russell James (d. 1910), whose son Sir Russell James Kerr, chairman of the Gloucestershire County Council 1920-31, (fn. 64) conveyed the estate before his death in 1952 to his nephew Andrew Kerr, the owner in 1968. (fn. 65)
The manor-house of Ruddle was evidently the house described in the later 13th century as the new court of the sacrist of Gloucester Abbey. (fn. 66) A house existed in 1618 (fn. 67) on the site of Ruddle Court, which was perhaps the house with 8 hearths occupied by James Jefferies in 1662 and 1672, (fn. 68) and was evidently the 'site house' of 1713 (fn. 69) and the chief house mentioned in 1735. (fn. 70) The house was rebuilt in the late 18th century as a three-storied, rough-cast farm-house. About 1770 Roynon Jones built for himself a 'handsome house' at Hayhill, (fn. 71) where there had been no building in 1618. (fn. 72) The site, over 300 ft. above the Severn, has commanding views; in 1850 the house was said to be substantially built, presenting a good elevation. (fn. 73) A surviving part of the 18th-century house shows it to have been of stone, but the main part was apparently replaced by a two-story stone block, with Dutch gables on the east elevation, during the ownership of William Willetts, who called the house Newnham Park. (fn. 74) A further massive stone block, in Tudor style and incorporating an entrance portico, was added on the north in 1883, (fn. 75) and a single-story pavilion wing of similar date was added on the west. The house, which was renamed the Haie by the Kerrs, (fn. 76) was separated from the rest of the estate and sold c. 1947, and was converted into more than a dozen dwellings. (fn. 77)
Of three estates that William son of Baderon held in Newnham in 1086, one, held in 1066 by Ulfeg, was called STAURE, (fn. 78) later the manor otherwise called STAIRS or STEARS. Unlike William's Newnham estate called the Hyde, (fn. 79) Stears did not become part of the honor of Monmouth, from which the fee of Staure was distinguished c. 1240. (fn. 80) Stears may have been held by a succession of men surnamed of Staure: Leofric and William in the later 12th century, (fn. 81) Gilbert in 1199, (fn. 82) Alexander in the early 13th century, (fn. 83) John in 1277. (fn. 84) In 1308 William of Staure died holding a house, rent, and 40 a. at Stears as of Rodley manor, leaving as heir his son William. (fn. 85) A William of Staure witnessed a deed of 1340; (fn. 86) Thomas and John Staure each owned a mill in Newnham in 1418, (fn. 87) and in 1421 John Staure was described as of Staures. (fn. 88) John was recorded as holding land of another estate in the parish in 1437 (fn. 89) but no later reference has been found to the Staure family of Stears.
By 1539 the manor of Stears, as it was then called, had passed to William Aylburton, who died in that year holding it together with the woodwardship of Blaize Bailey and a forestership in fee in the Forest of Dean. His son and heir Thomas (fn. 90) died in 1580 having settled Stears, which was held as of Rodley manor, on his wife Mary and leaving as heir his brother John. (fn. 91) In 1614 John's son William held the estate by gift of his uncle Thomas. (fn. 92) It may have passed by 1622 to another John Aylburton, who had land in that part of the parish. (fn. 93) In 1662 William Aylburton had one of the larger houses in the parish, with six hearths, (fn. 94) but it may not have been Stears, for in the first decade of the 18th century a Mr. Aylburton was said to have a good house and estate at a time when Stears was the seat of William Morwent. (fn. 95) Seventy years later Morwent's house at Stears had fallen into decay. (fn. 96) The estate passed by devise to one Baron, who sold it to Thomas Morris, (fn. 97) the owner in 1803. (fn. 98) Morris died in 1815, his wife Mary in 1858, and their son Thomas in 1862, (fn. 99) when the estate amounted to 101 a. The house and 90 a. were bought by the Revd. H. Fowler, (fn. 100) and were let to tenant farmers. The farmer in 1927 was David Hinds, (fn. 101) and his family owned and occupied Stears in 1968. The house is a three-story building of stone, rough-cast; behind the main range a projecting early-17th-century staircase wing is flanked by two later, gabled wings. A stone with the date 1612 was formerly visible, (fn. 102) and much of the internal woodwork, including panelling, doors, and doorways, is of that period.
The estate called Newnham, comprising a hide of land, that William son of Baderon held in 1086 (fn. 103) is to be identified with the estate later called HYDE. With other lands of William's (fn. 104) it descended to the Monmouth family: (fn. 105) Hugh Charke held it c. 1195 from Bertha of Monmouth, (fn. 106) and his son Hugh held it c. 1240 as part of the fee of John of Monmouth. (fn. 107) Four centuries later, in 1635, John Braban was described as of Hyde, (fn. 108) and in 1747 Hyde Farm was said to have been lately occupied by Edward Braban. (fn. 109) In the early 18th century the Hyde estate belonged to John Hampton, and was divided between his five daughters. A succession of conveyances resulted in an equal division c. 1747 of the whole estate between two of the children of Sarah Hampton and Richard Wintle, namely Richard Wintle and Elizabeth wife of Richard Webb. (fn. 110) Webb may have acquired the whole, and in 1760 he offered Hyde Farm and 200 a. in Newnham and Westbury for sale. (fn. 111) Lancelot Cannock owned Hyde c. 1785, (fn. 112) Thomas Cannock in 1809 and 1824, (fn. 113) and Benjamin Mayo in 1839 and 1841. (fn. 114) In the sixties it belonged to the Morris family, (fn. 115) and it was offered for sale with 165 a. in 1878. (fn. 116) The decayed house called the Hyde, belonging to John Trigge of Hill House in 1645 (fn. 117) and sold in 1762 to Robert Pyrke by Anne, wife of Gen. Robert Napier and widow of Thomas Trigge, (fn. 118) may have been Little Hyde, which was farmed by Thomas Morris in 1812. (fn. 119) In the earlier 20th century both Hyde and Little Hyde were owned by members of the Wiltshire family. (fn. 120) The house at Hyde is of brick, built in two parts in the late 18th century; its barn, of four cruck-framed bays with large curved braces in the side walls, is of the 16th century or earlier. The house at Little Hyde was rebuilt in stone in the Gothic style c. 1870.
A third estate held by William son of Baderon in 1086, which comprised 2½ yardlands and had been held by William's ancestor Wihanoc though the county said that it was part of the king's demesne of Westbury, (fn. 121) is assumed to have been in Newnham. (fn. 122) Much later it may have been represented by the HILL HOUSE estate, which like William son of Baderon's manor of Stears was held of Rodley manor. Hill House belonged to Thomas Trigge in 1576 and 1605 and to his son John in 1635 and 1645. In 1645 John settled Hill House and other property on his brother Thomas, but it was apparently another Thomas Trigge who owned Hill House in 1668 and c. 1703, and whose son John owned it in 1738. John's son and heir Thomas settled Hill House in 1741 on his marriage with Anne Brodrick, and by 1765 it belonged to Robert Pyrke, (fn. 123) who had bought an estate at Hyde from the same Anne three years before. (fn. 124) Pyrke, whose family had been prominent in Newnham from the late 16th century, (fn. 125) died insolvent (fn. 126) between 1777 and 1780. (fn. 127) Hill House was occupied in 1804 by Thomas Tovy, (fn. 128) but Martha Edmunds, who lived there in 1821, (fn. 129) was evidently Pyrke's widow. (fn. 130) The owners in 1839 appear to have been trustees, (fn. 131) but by 1856 it was the home of James Wintle (fn. 132) who practised as a solicitor in Newnham from 1840 until a few years before his death in 1899. (fn. 133) Wintle's trustees sold the house in 1908, (fn. 134) and it became the home of Walburga, Lady Paget, who renamed it Unlawater House. In 1938 it became a residential hotel, (fn. 135) was temporarily occupied by an assurance company during World War II, and was thereafter used as a children's home called Newnham House. (fn. 136) The house, which apparently had five hearths in 1662 (fn. 137) stood in a small park in 1824. (fn. 138) The western part of the building in 1968 was an L-shaped stone structure with internal fittings of the early 18th century. The only visible evidence of an earlier house on the site is part of a carved stone fireplace lintel which has been uncovered in the hall and is said to carry the date 1547. (fn. 139) The hall, with its former entrance front facing south, has elaborate early-18th-century panelling, Ionic columns, and round-arched doorcases. The design of the staircase west of the hall resembles that of the contemporary stair at the Victoria Hotel. Later in the 18th century a new and loftier range was added on the east side of the house, presumably for Robert Pyrke. Its east front has a parapet pierced with oval openings, a modillion cornice, and two bows to the full height flanking a pedimented doorway. The mullioned and transomed windows to the house and the curious dormers on the south front are presumably alterations of c. 1908.
The estate that centred on BLYTHES COURT, otherwise called the CULVER HOUSE, belonged to the family of Blythe or Bleith, whose surname also survives in the name Blaize Bailey. (fn. 140) Walter Blythe witnessed a late-12th-century deed of Flaxley Abbey that alluded to Newnham. (fn. 141) William Blythe's court stood near the boundary of Blaize Bailey in 1282. (fn. 142) He died in 1306 holding in Newnham a chief house, 60 a., and the rents of 10 cottagers for a rent of 5s. payable at St. Briavels Castle and by serjeanty of being a knight forester in the Forest of Dean; (fn. 143) he left a widow Joan (fn. 144) and a son John who came of age in 1310. (fn. 145) John Blythe witnessed a deed in 1341, (fn. 146) the last occasion on which the family has been found recorded in the parish. In 1437 John Staure and William Hill held land called Blythesland for a rent of 5s. (fn. 147)
In 1591 John Tomes was described as of the Culver House, (fn. 148) which was evidently the same as Blythes Court, (fn. 149) and by 1614 the property had descended from John to Edmund Tomes. (fn. 150) In 1619, however, John Hill owned Blythes Court along with much other property in the parish, and in 1633 was succeeded by his son Richard (fn. 151) who in 1634 claimed to hold a plough-land in Newnham called Blythes Court, the bailiwick of Blaize Bailey, and a forestership belonging to Blythes Court with various rights within the forest. (fn. 152) The estate evidently remained in the possession of the Hill family c. 1703, when it belonged to Mrs. Anne Hill. (fn. 153) In 1709, however, it was occupied by John Pyrke, who had a life interest, while the reversion belonged to Gilbert Hearne. On Hearne's death in 1716 his wife Joyce sold the reversion to John Jelfe, (fn. 154) who conveyed it in 1717 to Miles Beale of Newent (d. 1748). Miles's son John was succeeded in 1775 by his uncle Thomas (d. 1784), whose son the Revd. Thomas Beale (d. 1805) devised Blythes Court to his nephew Thomas Beale Cooper, who in 1851 sold the estate, comprising 190 a., to John James of Blythes Court or Culver House; tenants had occupied the estate throughout the Beales' ownership. James died in 1855 and his trustees sold the estate in 1865 to W. H. Collins. In 1872 Collins redeemed the annual rent of 5s. still payable to the Crown, and in 1875 he sold the estate to C. A. Goold. (fn. 155) Soon afterwards, apparently in 1876, (fn. 156) the estate was again sold and became merged with the Kerrs' estate of Ruddle or the Haie, to which it still belonged in 1968. (fn. 157)
The house, known as the Culver House in the mid 20th century, stands on a commanding site overlooking the Severn. A house evidently existed, as indicated above, in 1282 and was the chief house recorded in 1306. In 1662 and 1672 the Hills' house had 6 hearths. (fn. 158) That was the old house, apparently two separate dwellings in 1716, (fn. 159) described as having the appearance of a mansion or court house; it was rebuilt as a brick farm-house by John Beale, whose initials are on the weather-cock over the stables, for his tenant Walter Taylor, perhaps in 1767. (fn. 160) By 1856 the adjacent farm-house appears to have been built. (fn. 161) The main house may have been remodelled for the younger R. J. Kerr, who lived there from c. 1897 to 1902, since when it has been let as a private house. (fn. 162)
Two monastic estates in Newnham cannot be readily identified with holdings in the 17th century and later. Flaxley Abbey acquired lands in the parish in the 12th century (fn. 163) and in the 14th (fn. 164) which were granted with the abbey's other estates to Sir William Kingston in 1537 (fn. 165) and to Sir Anthony Kingston in 1543, (fn. 166) and which Edmund Kingston was licensed to alienate in 1563. (fn. 167) The lands in Newnham were referred to in the 16th century as the manor of Newnham, and both Anthony Kingston (d. 1591) and his son William (d. 1614) were said to have held the manor. William's heir was his uncle Edmund Kingston. (fn. 168) Llanthony Priory's estate in Newnham was recorded in 1293. (fn. 169)
One of the two monastic estates may have been COCKSHOOT, marked on a map of the late 16th century. (fn. 170) In 1634 William Rowles of Newnham owned the house called the Cockshoot, which he had bought from Richard and John Brayne, with 110 a. or more. (fn. 171) He died in 1637, and his son William in 1694. The younger William's grandson Rowles Scudamore (fn. 172) apparently sold the estate in 1708 to Nicholas Lane, (fn. 173) although soon afterwards Cockshoot was said to be the house of Mr. Rowles. (fn. 174) Later in the 18th century it passed into the ownership of the Pyrkes, who were said to retain it c. 1807. (fn. 175) Joseph Pyrke (formerly Watts) of Littledean, great-nephew and heir of Thomas Pyrke, was the owner in 1803, (fn. 176) and his son Joseph in 1839. (fn. 177) The house, a rendered stone farm-house, was apparently completely rebuilt in the 18th century.
The other monastic estate may have been LUMBARS, which John Morse of Newnham bought with 40 a. from Sir Robert Cooke of Highnam in 1622 and sold with 60 a. to Henry Yate of Bristol in 1629. Yate's daughter Mary and her husband Edward Prince sold Lumbars in 1643 to Josias Clutterbuck, whose son Sir William sold it in 1707 to Jonathan Chinn, a mariner of Newnham. (fn. 178) Shortly afterwards Mr. Chinn was described as having a good house and estate, (fn. 179) but in 1741 Lumbars was occupied by Godwin Scudamore as tenant to Thomas Chinn, (fn. 180) Jonathan's son. In 1801 Elizabeth Chinn, widow of Thomas's son Jonathan, sold the estate, (fn. 181) apparently to James Fream, (fn. 182) members of whose family owned and occupied the farm (fn. 183) until it was sold, with 55 a., in 1869. (fn. 184) Thereafter the house apparently went out of use as a dwelling, and collapsed or was demolished soon after 1921. (fn. 185)