Rodborough: Manors and other estates

Pages 221-224

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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In 1086 Rodborough formed part of Caen Abbey's manor of Minchinhampton, and the manorial rights over Rodborough, which was usually described as a member of Minchinhampton but occasionally accounted a separate manor of RODBOROUGH, (fn. 1) descended with Minchinhampton (fn. 2) until 1806. In that year Philip Sheppard sold Rodborough manor, comprising merely the manorial rights and £12 6s. 7d. a year in quit-rents and quarry rents, to Sir George Paul, with whose Hill House estate it subsequently descended to Charles Apperly. (fn. 3) Apperly and his mortgagees sold the manor in 1923 to Capt. George Gorton of Hillgrove House, Rodborough, from whom it was bought the following year by G. B. Philpin of Rodborough Fort, who died in 1932. (fn. 4) The manorial rights presumably passed to Mr. Bainbrigge Fletcher who gave Rodborough common to the National Trust in 1937, thus divesting the manor of its remaining significance. (fn. 5)

Three small estates, which all claimed manorial status, were held from the chief manor of Minchinhampton. One of them, later known as the manor of RODBOROUGH, may have been held by Hawise, widow of Ellis of Rodborough, who contested ½ yardland with Richard Rufus in 1199. (fn. 6) The estate has not been found definitely recorded, however, until c. 1300 when it comprised 1½ yardland and was held by Thomas of Rodborough by the service of helping to carry Caen Abbey's treasure to Southampton. (fn. 7) Thomas of Rodborough died c. 1334 when the chief messuage and part of the estate was retained in dower by his widow Joan, the remainder passing to the Crown during the minority of his heir Hugh, son of Hugh of Rodborough. (fn. 8) Another Thomas of Rodborough held the estate by 1359 when he settled it on his wife Alice and their heirs with remainder to William of Rodborough, (fn. 9) his brother. Thomas died in 1367 and William in 1377, possibly in Alice's lifetime; William's daughter Agnes married John Browning, whose son Richard was heir to the estate in 1393 (fn. 10) but died a minor in 1400. Richard's heir was his sister Cecily, also a minor, (fn. 11) who with her husband Guy Whittington had livery of the estate in 1404. (fn. 12) John Whittington of Pauntley held the estate at his death in 1525 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 13) who died in 1546, having settled it on his six daughters, Elizabeth who married Giles Poole of Sapperton, Anne who married Brian Berkeley, Joan who married Roger Bodenham, Margaret who married Thomas Throckmorton, Alice, and Blanche. (fn. 14) Roger Bodenham died in 1579 and his interest passed successively to his sons Thomas (fn. 15) (d. 1583) and Roger. (fn. 16) Sir Giles Poole had a conveyance of two parts of the manor from Thomas Throckmorton in 1581 (fn. 17) and at his death in 1589 was succeeded by his son Henry. (fn. 18) The Berkeley interest has not been found recorded after 1578. (fn. 19)

In 1594 Henry Poole and Roger Bodenham, who were presumably by then in possession of all six shares, conveyed the site of the manor to Edward Webb, (fn. 20) and Thomas Webb conveyed it to Michael Stringer (fn. 21) c. 1628. The estate, which comprised the house that became known as Stringer's Court and c. 50 a. of land, had passed by 1669 to Edward Stringer (d. 1688 or 1689), who was succeeded by his brother Richard (d. c. 1709). It then passed to Richard's son Richard, who was dead by 1726 when his sisters and heirs Abigail and Anna, with their respective husbands Joseph Dudbridge, clothier, and John Messenger, clothier, partitioned the estate. Joseph Dudbridge, son of Joseph, released his moiety in 1745 to his mortgagee John Hodges, who sold it in 1754 to William Shurmur, a naval officer; Shurmur bought John Messenger's moiety in 1758. At his death in 1777 Shurmur devised the estate to his mother Mary for life with reversion to his nephew Driver Wathen, (fn. 22) and Philip Wathen owned and occupied it in 1804 and 1839. (fn. 23) In 1973 Stringer's Court belonged to Mr. J. Daniels, whose family had bought it c. 1918. The house originally comprised a long, 17th-century, gabled range, the central bay of which was extended on both sides in the 18th century. The resulting angles on the south side were filled in the 19th century, and c. 1920 the house was extensively refitted. (fn. 24)

Another estate, later called the manor of SPILLMANS COURT, was held from Minchinhampton manor by the same service as the Rodborough family's manor. (fn. 25) It comprised 1½ yardland and was held by Adam Spilman in Henry II's reign and by Ellis Spilman c. 1200, (fn. 26) later passing to John Spilman, who was described as Caen Abbey's serjeant in 1218. (fn. 27) It perhaps belonged to another John Spilman of Rodborough who went to Paris to study in 1287. (fn. 28) Adam Spilman apparently held it by 1291 (fn. 29) and he was in possession c. 1300, when he also held ½ yardland at Seinckley (fn. 30) which Caen Abbey had granted to John Spilman in 1220, charged with the maintenance of a lamp in Minchinhampton church. (fn. 31) Adam was succeeded, apparently before 1316, by his son John. (fn. 32) The estate later passed to Thomas Spilman (d. by 1397), (fn. 33) and later it apparently passed in succession to Maud Spilman, who married Edmund of Rodborough, a benefactor to Rodborough church, to their daughter Margery, who married William Payne (fl. 1417), and to William, son of Margery and William; (fn. 34) William Payne the younger was recorded as the owner of Spillmans Court in 1438. (fn. 35) The younger William was succeeded by his son Thomas, whose son John (fn. 36) died seised of the estate in 1541. John Payne was succeeded by his son Giles (fn. 37) (d. 1570), and Giles by his brother Walter (fn. 38) (d. 1571). During the minority of Walter's son and heir Richard, Jane, widow of Giles Payne, and Elizabeth, widow of Walter, together with their second husbands William Hampshire and Giles Greville, took the profits of the estate. (fn. 39) Richard died in 1630, having settled Spillmans Court on his wife Jane with reversion to his son Giles. (fn. 40) Giles conveyed the estate in 1650 to his daughter Anne and her husband George Lloyd, reserving an annuity and the use of part of the house. (fn. 41) Spillmans Court was probably the house that Nathaniel Beard (d. c. 1695) left to his wife Sarah with reversion to his son Nathaniel. (fn. 42) The younger Nathaniel owned Spillmans Court, by then apparently devoid of all manorial pretensions, in 1724, (fn. 43) and by his will dated 1748 left his lands in Rodborough to be sold for the benefit of his daughters Elizabeth and Catherine. Catherine had married William Halliday by 1757, (fn. 44) and it was presumably by her marriage that Spillmans Court had passed by 1805 to another William Halliday, owner of the Fromehall Mill estate. (fn. 45) Henry Burgh lived at the house for a number of years until his death in 1848. (fn. 46) In 1864 it belonged to Lindsey Winterbotham of Stroud who sold it in that year to William Rollett, a schoolmaster. Rollett's mortgagees sold it in 1873 to William Foster, a nurseryman. (fn. 47) The house, which stood on the west side of Rodborough Hill, was burnt down c. 1900, (fn. 48) and the site was later built over.

An estate later called the manor of ACHARDS was probably held by Roger Achard who witnessed a Rodborough deed in 1218 and by Peter Achard who was recorded in the late 13th century. (fn. 49) It probably belonged with the neighbouring manor of Woodchester to the Mautravers family by 1292 when John, son and heir of John Mautravers, made a grant of land at Dudbridge, (fn. 50) and c. 1300 the younger John, who had by then succeeded his father, held the Achards estate from Caen Abbey by rent and seasonal works; it was then extended at 2½ yardlands. (fn. 51) Apparently it followed the descent of Woodchester until the death of John FitzAlan in 1379, although certain evidence is lacking until 1364. (fn. 52) FitzAlan's widow Eleanor, later the wife of Reynold Cobham, held Achards in dower until her death in 1405 when it reverted to her grandson John FitzAlan, (fn. 53) later earl of Arundel (d. 1421). The whole of Achards was held in dower by Eleanor, widow of the earl and later the wife of Walter Hungerford, but from her death in 1455 (fn. 54) it descended with Woodchester until 1559 when Henry, earl of Arundel, and John Lumley, Lord Lumley, conveyed it to Richard Webb. (fn. 55) Richard died in 1561 leaving it to his infant son Richard. Edward Webb, possibly the younger son of the elder Richard, (fn. 56) was dealing with Achards manor in 1591 (fn. 57) and in 1634 Thomas Webb conveyed it to Giles Mason, clothier (d. 1638), who was succeeded by his son James. (fn. 58) Later it passed to Philip Wathen who sold Achards house with a few closes to John Gyde (d. 1729), and it passed to John's son Thomas and Thomas's son John. The younger John, a clothier like his father and grandfather, devised it to his mother Mary, from whom it passed to her brother Giles Gardner of Stratford House, Stroud. Giles's sister Sarah owned it in 1766. (fn. 59) By 1805 it was part of William Halliday's estate. (fn. 60) In 1973 the house belonged to Mrs. S. D. G. Careless. It dates from the early 18th century and retains its original entrance front on the east, but in the 19th century the house was enlarged and altered to be approached from the west. An 18th-century summer-house survives.

The HILL HOUSE estate in Rodborough had its origin in 1651 when John Stephens of Over Lypiatt bought the freehold of a house and 51 a. which he held by copy from Minchinhampton manor. The estate passed to his son Thomas who conveyed it in 1697 to his own second son John. John sold it in 1703 to James Barnfield, clothier, whose widow Lydia sold it in 1711 to Samuel Tanner, a carrier. (fn. 61) Samuel sold the estate, then known as the Hill Living, in 1721 to Richard Cambridge of Pudhill, Woodchester (d. 1756), and Richard's widow Mary sold it in 1757 to Onesiphorus Paul, (fn. 62) the successful Woodchester clothier. Onesiphorus, who built a mansion called Hill House there, was made a baronet in 1762 and was succeeded on his death in 1774 by his son Sir Onesiphorus Paul. (fn. 63) The son took the additional forename of George in 1780 when he began his distinguished career in the spheres of county administration and prison reform, (fn. 64) preoccupations which did not preclude him from taking an active part in the affairs of Rodborough parish. (fn. 65) At his death in 1820 Sir George devised the Hill House estate and the manor of Rodborough, which he had purchased in 1806, to his nephew Robert Snow, who changed his name to Robert Snow Paul (fn. 66) and in 1847 conveyed the estate to his kinsman Sir John Dean Paul. Sir John, who had been created a baronet in 1821, the original Paul baronetcy having expired on Sir George's death, died in 1852 and was succeeded by his son and namesake, who sold the estate in 1854 to Thomas Marling. In the following year Marling sold the 141-a. estate to Lord John Russell, who sold it in 1870 to William Cowle of Stroud. It returned to the Paul family in the following year when Cowle sold it to trustees for Edward John Dean Paul, who later succeeded to the family baronetcy. E. J. D. Paul was living at the house, which had been renamed Rodborough Manor, in 1884, (fn. 67) and he sold it in 1889 to Sir William Marling of King's Stanley, who conveyed it to his son Samuel Stanley Marling in 1898. The house was gutted by fire in 1906 and remained a ruin in 1917 when sold by S. S. Marling to Charles Apperly, whose financial difficulties led to a bank taking possession. The bank sold it in 1922 to E. Lee Godfrey (fn. 68) who rebuilt the house; just before the Second World War it was divided into two houses (fn. 69) and remained as such in 1973.

Onesiphorus Paul's original house, which comprised a tall square block, was considerably altered and extended by his son. Lower wings were added on the east and west, probably the work carried out under Anthony Keck in 1784, (fn. 70) and in the early 19th century a colonnaded porch was added to the centre of the south front; there were probably also additions to complete the symmetry of the west elevation. (fn. 71) The fire of 1906 was evidently a very destructive one and the subsequent rebuilding created a much smaller house although incorporating some of the old materials, including a mid-18th-century fireplace and a blazon of the Paul arms which had occupied the pediment above the south front. (fn. 72)

A house called the WOODHOUSE, with an estate of c. 60 a., belonged to John Freame of Woodchester in 1610 when he sold it to William Chapman, clothier, and in 1637 Henry Chapman sold the estate to Edward Pinfold. In 1640 Edward, then of Longfords Mill, Minchinhampton, settled the estate on the marriage of one of his sons, John Pinfold, later of Stinchcombe. John sold it in 1665 to Giles Pinfold, clothier, who was apparently the same Giles who settled it on his own marriage in 1683. (fn. 73) The Woodhouse estate appears to have been included in the lands in Rodborough that John Pinfold of Salmon's Mill, Painswick, (d. 1764 or 1765), devised to a kinsman John Pinfold, whose son, another John, owned the estate in 1806. (fn. 74) The last John died in 1834, leaving the estate to his brother Joseph (d. 1845), and then to Joseph's children, of whom the survivors, Edward Joseph and Frederick, sold the Woodhouse in 1853 to Joseph Partridge, (fn. 75) a dyer. After Joseph's death in 1860 the estate was held by his widow Mary Ann until her death in 1873, and in 1875 their son Joseph Arthur Partridge, a brassfounder living in Birmingham, took up an option under his father's will to buy the estate from the trustees. (fn. 76) The trustee for the liquidation of J. A. Partridge's estate offered the Woodhouse estate for sale in 1880, and it was apparently bought then by the tenant of the house, James Smith, (fn. 77) whose trustees put it up for sale in 1912, after his death. (fn. 78) In 1973 the house, a mid-19th-century building with some re-used 18th-century fittings, was a Simon Community home.


  • 1. e.g. Glos. R.O., D 25/20.
  • 2. See p. 190.
  • 3. Glos. R.O., D 25/1/2; see below.
  • 4. Glos. R.O., D 846/II/8.
  • 5. Properties of the National Trust (1969), 80.
  • 6. Rot. Cur. Reg. (Rec. Com.), ii. 32.
  • 7. Trans. B.G.A.S. liv. 300.
  • 8. Cal. Inq. p.m. vii, pp. 409-10; Cal. Close, 1333-7, 479- 480, 632.
  • 9. B. L. Sloane Ch. xxxiii. 40.
  • 10. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1359-1413, 183-4; cf. V.C.H. Glos. viii. 62.
  • 11. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1359-1413, 223-4.
  • 12. Cal. Close, 1402-5, 256.
  • 13. C 142/44 no. 156.
  • 14. C 142/74 no. 79.
  • 15. C 142/189 no. 90.
  • 16. C 142/203 no. 40.
  • 17. C.P. 25(2)/143/1846 no. 16.
  • 18. C 142/222 no. 45.
  • 19. C.P. 25(2)/260/20 Eliz. Trin. no. 1.
  • 20. C.P. 25(2)/145/1897 no. 19.
  • 21. C.P. 25(2)/420/5 Chas. I East. no. 29.
  • 22. Stringer's Court deeds penes the owner Mr. J. Daniels; and for dates of death, cf. G.D.R. wills 1689/158; 1709/161; Bigland, Glos. iii. no. 219.
  • 23. Glos. R.O., P 272A/VE 1/1; G.D.R., T 1/120.
  • 24. Ex inf. Mr. Daniels.
  • 25. Trans. B.G.A.S. liv. 298-9.
  • 26. Glos. R.O., MF 339/5, ff. 56-7; Worcs. R.O., 705: 128 [BA 1188/11 (iv)].
  • 27. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxi. 65, in an article by C. E. Watson which gives a translation of a cart. of the Spilman fam. (in Glos. R.O., D 149/T 1165).
  • 28. Cal. Pat. 1281-92, 278.
  • 29. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxi. 91.
  • 30. Ibid. liv. 298-9.
  • 31. Ibid. lxi. 66.
  • 32. V.C.H. Glos. x. 225; Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 17.
  • 33. S.C. 2/175/87.
  • 34. This descent was given by John Payne in an account of his ancestors c. 1540 (C 1/1005 no. 4), but Visit. Glos. 1623, 122, gives a descent from Thos. Spilman to his daughter Margaret, who married Wm. Payne, and to their son the younger Wm. For a reference to the elder Wm. in 1417, see Cal. Pat. 1416-22, 97.
  • 35. S.C. 11/241.
  • 36. C 1/1005 no. 4.
  • 37. C 142/64/no. 125.
  • 38. C 142/155 no. 153.
  • 39. C 142/177 no. 98.
  • 40. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1625-42, iii. 116-17.
  • 41. Glos. R.O., D 149/T 1166.
  • 42. Ibid. T 477.
  • 43. Ibid. T 479.
  • 44. Ibid. T 480.
  • 45. Ibid. P 272A/VE 3/1.
  • 46. Glouc. Jnl. 11 Mar. 1848.
  • 47. Glos. R.O., D 1347, deeds of Spillmans Court 1864-80.
  • 48. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxi. 53; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Glos. XLIX. 3 (1885 edn.).
  • 49. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxi. 65, 92.
  • 50. B. L. Sloane Ch. xxxiii. 15; for Woodchester, see p. 296.
  • 51. Trans. B.G.A.S. liv. 300-1.
  • 52. Cal. Inq. p.m. xi, p. 454; xiv, p. 189; xv, p. 80.
  • 53. Cal. Close, 1377-81, 316; Inq. p.m. Glos. 1359-1413, 241-2.
  • 54. C 139/162 no. 29.
  • 55. C.P. 25(2)/141/1769 no. 11.
  • 56. C 142/129 no. 97.
  • 57. C.P. 25(2)/261/33 & 34 Eliz. Mich. no. 26.
  • 58. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1625-42, iii. 111-12.
  • 59. Glos. R.O., D 149/T 50; and for the elder John Gyde, G.D.R. wills 1729/675.
  • 60. Glos. R.O., P 272A/VE 3/1.
  • 61. Ibid. D 25/1/1.
  • 62. Ibid. 1/2.
  • 63. Rudder, Glos. 629; for the Pauls, see Burke, Peerage (1959), 1751.
  • 64. For an account of his career, see Finberg, Glos. Studies, 195-224.
  • 65. Glos. R.O., P 272A/VE 2/2.
  • 66. Glos. R.O., D 589, Paul fam., trust deed 1836.
  • 67. Ibid. D 25/1/2.
  • 68. TS. notes penes Mrs. Thomas, Rodborough Manor; cf. Glos. R.O., D 846/II/8.
  • 69. Ex inf. Mrs. Thomas.
  • 70. Glouc. Jnl. 23 Aug. 1784; Glos. R.O., D 589, Paul fam., acct. bk. of Sir G. O. Paul 1767-1803; cf. S. Lysons, Antiquities of Woodchester (1797), plates II-III.
  • 71. Glos. R.O., D 1388/SL 7, no. 35.
  • 72. Ibid.
  • 73. Ibid. D 1347, deeds of Woodhouse est. 1609-83.
  • 74. Ibid. Rodborough deeds 1764-1813.
  • 75. Ibid. deeds of Woodhouse est. 1806-61.
  • 76. Ibid. 1758-1880.
  • 77. Ibid. SL 137.
  • 78. Ibid. SL 47.