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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Rodmarton, a rural parish which included the settlements of Culkerton, Hazleton, and Tarlton, lies four miles north-east of Tetbury and six miles west of Cirencester. The second part of the name derives from its situation on the boundary of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. (fn. 1) Until 1883 the parish had an area of 4,130 a. (fn. 2) and was approximately rectangular in shape. To the south-east the parish and county boundary followed the Foss Way. The other parish boundaries were marked by old tracks and field boundaries including on the south-west Ashley hedge, mentioned in the late 18th century. (fn. 3) The north-western boundary was in part marked by the former Tetbury-Cheltenham road, (fn. 4) and where the parish extended beyond the road to take in Hazleton the boundary followed an ancient trackway and field boundaries, including Lowesmore hedge mentioned in the early 17th century. (fn. 5) The northeast boundary with Coates, running through the open fields of Tarlton tithing, had become so obscured by 1793 that it was redefined, (fn. 6) and four small detached parts of Coates, comprising 14 a., lay within Tarlton until 1883 when they were absorbed by Rodmarton. (fn. 7) In 1935 891 a. around Culkerton in the south with a population of 100 were transferred to Ashley. (fn. 8) The account given here covers the ancient parish but includes the whole of Tarlton hamlet.
The parish lies at over 400 ft., rising to 500 ft. in the north, and is mostly on Forest Marble; the underlying strata of the Great Oolite outcrop in the lower parts. (fn. 9) The soil varies from a thin light loam to a stone brash. The parish formerly had several good quarries; (fn. 10) at inclosure in 1793 several stone pits were assigned for road repairs (fn. 11) and in the early 20th century local stone was used in the construction of Rodmarton Manor. (fn. 12) Until 1793 the land lay mainly in open fields in which there was some early inclosure. Sheep-farming occupied an important part in the parish economy for centuries; in the 14th century the wool crop of the lands of the Cistercian abbey of Kingswood drew Italian merchants to the parish. Pasturage was provided on the downlands in the south and east where Culkerton Down and other commons were located. (fn. 13) The parish is not heavily wooded but the name of Purley Covert, on the south-west boundary, (fn. 14) might indicate a larger area of woodland there formerly. (fn. 15) At the end of the 18th century 60 a. of woodland were recorded (fn. 16) and in 1901 127 a., (fn. 17) most of which was accounted for by Tarlton wood on the north-east boundary, which in the late 17th century was a several wood belonging to Tarlton manor. (fn. 18) The lack of water in the parish, which has no natural stream, caused the monks of Kingswood to desert Hazleton for Tetbury in the mid 12th century, (fn. 19) and in the 18th century water was collected in pools puddled with clay. (fn. 20) Kemble airfield, built during the Second World War, (fn. 21) includes an area of the south-east part of the parish.
The parish is crossed by several old and important routes. An ancient trackway between Cirencester and Chavenage Green, which runs close to a long barrow with which it was mentioned c. 1200, was used by the Romans. (fn. 22) At near-by Hocberry, mentioned by that name c. 1200, (fn. 23) the remains of a Roman villa were uncovered in 1636. (fn. 24) The road, called London way in the early 17th century, (fn. 25) was crossed by another ancient trackway, the Portway mentioned c. 1200, (fn. 26) which passed north- south through the parish (fn. 27) and was possibly the Saltharpewey recorded in 1339. (fn. 28) It was evidently linked to the Cotswold ridgeway system, as was the former Tetbury-Cheltenham road, called Hazleton way in 1661; (fn. 29) the latter was apparently in use in 1793 (fn. 30) but had fallen into disuse by 1815. (fn. 31) The main Tetbury-Cirencester road which crossed the south part of the parish was mentioned in 1282 as the route to Bristol. (fn. 32) It was turnpiked as the Bath- Cirencester road in 1743. (fn. 33) The Kemble-Tetbury branch railway, running alongside and south of the road, was opened in 1889. (fn. 34) There was a station for Culkerton and a halt for Rodmarton, both of which remained open until shortly before the line was closed in 1964. (fn. 35)
The parish comprised three tithings, Rodmarton, Culkerton, and Tarlton, all of which had settlements by the late 11th century. (fn. 36) Tarlton tithing was originally connected tenurially with Coates parish in which it partly lay. (fn. 37) In 1086 the Tarlton estates were described in Cirencester hundred (fn. 38) and in 1327 the tithing was recorded as a member of Coates. (fn. 39) Its open fields were divided between the parishes of Rodmarton and Coates. (fn. 40)
Rodmarton village grew up on London way, near the intersection with the Portway. It formed around a green which was mentioned in 1394 (fn. 41) and was planted with elms by the rector in 1633. (fn. 42) The settlement, apparently with a church by 1086, (fn. 43) was presumably the oldest in the parish. Fifteen people were assessed for tax in Rodmarton tithing in 1327. (fn. 44) The medieval manor-house stood south-east of the church. (fn. 45) The Old Cottage south of the green was evidently the church house recorded in 1544. (fn. 46) In the 16th century the building appears to have had a long open room on the upper floor. It was converted to domestic use in the 17th century when an internal chimney stack was put in and the long room was divided. The east end was later reconstructed, perhaps in the 19th century. The rectory stands west of the green, and beyond it is a 17thcentury farm-house. The village, which c. 1710 comprised only four houses and the church, (fn. 47) expanded in the 18th century at the end of which about 100 people were enumerated in Rodmarton and Hazleton. (fn. 48) The village includes several 19thcentury buildings including the former school by the green, the school at the east end, and a farmhouse at the west end. Rodmarton Manor was built south of the village in the early 20th century by Claud Biddulph (fn. 49) together with several cottages, some of them on the site of the old manor-house. Hazleton, an outlying farmstead with several cottages west of the village, was established before 1066 and was from the 12th century the site of a grange belonging to Kingswood Abbey. (fn. 50) Irongate Farm, formerly Rectory Farm, an outlying farmhouse south of Rodmarton village, (fn. 51) was built for the post-inclosure glebe estate together with a barn there and Oathill barn west of the village. (fn. 52) There are several outlying cottages, including a group east of the village, called Little Tarlton in 1881. (fn. 53)
The hamlet of Culkerton lies 1½ mile south-west of Rodmarton. Eighteen people were assessed for tax in the tithing in 1327 (fn. 54) and 25 in 1381. (fn. 55) The hamlet includes two farm-houses, Holt Farm and Westend House, and two rows of cottages, all of which were built in the 17th century. The population was estimated at 15 families c. 1710. (fn. 56) In the mid 18th century there was some expansion, which was apparently due to the proximity of the Bath- Cirencester turnpike road, (fn. 57) and three cottages were built adjoining Holt Farm. Another block of cottages dates from later in the century. The population was estimated at 82 c. 1775 and in 1794 was 77. (fn. 58) About 1785 the hamlet had two inns, one called the Mitre, (fn. 59) but no later record of an inn there has been found. The outlying Trull Cottages, belonging to the Trull estate in Cherington, were built in the mid 19th century in a revived Tudor style.
Tarlton tithing derived its name from the thorny downland in which it lay. (fn. 60) The hamlet, which straddles the parish boundary 1½ mile north-east of Rodmarton, grew up at the junction of London way with several other roads. Another focal point was associated with the chapel (fn. 61) and manorial buildings to the north. The hamlet expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries when most of the cottages, twostorey rubble buildings with stone or thatch roofs, were built. There were 10 families c. 1710. (fn. 62) The population c. 1775 was estimated at 59 in 13 houses; by 1794 it had increased to 77. (fn. 63) The New Inn, recorded in 1717, is a 17th-century building to which a Wesleyan chapel was added in the early 19th; it ceased to be an inn and was renamed Woodbine Cottage. (fn. 64) Another building was evidently used for the retailing of beer in 1870. (fn. 65) Tarlton includes three farm-houses. Tarlton Farm, standing north of London way, is a typical Cotswold farmhouse, and has an 18th-century barn among its out-buildings. Manor Farm and Hullasey House were built in matching style c. 1867 after the destruction of the old manor-house by fire. (fn. 66) Although the name Hullasey is attached to houses in Tarlton, the deserted village of that name lay to the south-east within Coates. After the Second World War several council houses were built north of the Rodmarton road.
In 1086 69 male tenants were enumerated on nine estates in Rodmarton, Hazleton, Culkerton, and Tarlton. (fn. 67) In 1551 there were said to be c. 160 communicants in the parish (fn. 68) and 227 people were enumerated c. 1628. (fn. 69) Although it was certainly underestimated in 1650 at 22 families, (fn. 70) the population evidently declined in the 17th century to 180 in 37 houses c. 1710. (fn. 71) By c. 1775 it had increased to 241 in 56 houses (fn. 72) and by 1794 had risen to 309. (fn. 73) The population recorded in 1801 was 305. It dropped to 286 by 1811 but then rose to 431 by 1841. By 1881 it had fallen to 382 but by 1911 had increased to 446. After a drop to 425 by 1921 the population reached a peak by 1931 of 456 of whom 100 lived in the area amalgamated with Ashley. The population of the reduced parish declined to 318 by 1961. (fn. 74)
Although three victuallers were licensed in 1755 (fn. 75) the parish had no inns in the 1790s. (fn. 76) A beer-house recorded in 1840 (fn. 77) was probably in Rodmarton village but after 1870 (fn. 78) there is no evidence of any inns in the parish. A village hall was built in Rodmarton in 1936, (fn. 79) and in Tarlton a building next to the chapel was used as a village hall in 1974. A reading room was built in Culkerton in the early 20th century. (fn. 80) In 1894 Michael Biddulph provided the parish with a pumped water-supply (fn. 81) from a reservoir at Tarlton, (fn. 82) and in 1930 the supply was improved by Claud Biddulph who had a well dug in Rodmarton village. (fn. 83)
The Lysons family which held the living of Rodmarton between 1756 and 1893 included eminent scholars. In 1808 the Gordon family acquired most of the land in the parish and Anna Gordon (d. 1884) was responsible for the building of several farm-houses in Rodmarton and Tarlton and the restoration of Tarlton chapel. In 1884 the position of leading family passed to the Biddulphs who remained the principal landholders and employers in the parish in 1974.