Miserden: Introduction

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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'Miserden: Introduction', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 47-49. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp47-49 [accessed 11 April 2024]


Miserden, a rural parish, once the site of a castle, lies about four miles north-east of Stroud. Called Greenhampstead in 1086, (fn. 1) the parish retained that name until the late 13th century although the alternative name of la Musarder, taken from the family that held the manor, had then been in use for a century. The form of the name had settled to Miserden, or very close variants, by the late 15th century. (fn. 2)

The ancient parish was approximately crescentshaped with a peninsulated part at its western end and a detached part, amounting to 55 a. at Wateredge, ½ mile north of the parish. (fn. 3) The western boundary of the parish was formed partly by Holy brook and the streams running either side of the spur called Down hill; the river Frome formed the east boundary and part of the southern boundary followed the stream which runs along Ashcombe Bottom; elsewhere the boundaries followed old field boundaries. In 1882 a detached part of Bisley, 3 a. near Honeycombe Farm, was absorbed by Miserden. In 1884 the detached portion of Miserden was united with Cranham and Miserden received from Bisley the tithing of Bidfield immediately north of the parish. (fn. 4) In 1958 the peninsulated part of the parish, amounting to 481 a., was transferred to Painswick. (fn. 5) The following description refers to the ancient parish as it was in 1882, an area of 2,515 a. (fn. 6)

The parish lies almost exclusively above the 500 ft. contour. The land rises steeply in the east from the river Frome to Miserden village at over 700 ft.; it then rises more gently to 825 ft. before falling steeply to the valley of the Holy brook, along which stand Wishanger Manor, Honeycombe Farm, and Sudgrove House. The west bank of the brook rises again to over 800 ft. at the top of the steep spur formed by Down hill and Famish hill. Most of the central area of the parish lies on the Great Oolite but the Frome valley and Down hill rest on the Inferior Oolite; there are also deposits of fuller's earth in the parish. (fn. 7)

Most of the land on the high central plateau is arable but in the valleys and on the Down hill spur woodland and pasture predominate. The woodland has always been extensive and measured one league by ½ league in 1086. (fn. 8) The wood on the manor estate was very profitable in the early 19th century when Sir Edwin Bayntun Sandys was trying to clear his debts. (fn. 9) In 1901 there were 690 a. of woodland in the parish. (fn. 10) A park was recorded at Miserden from 1297 (fn. 11) and in the 18th century its circumference was said to extend to seven miles; (fn. 12) it included part of Winstone. In 1331 there were 60 a. of pasture and 40 a. of great timber in the park, (fn. 13) and in 1535 Henry VIII had a day's hunting there. (fn. 14) In the north part of the park were fish stock ponds, (fn. 15) apparently used by the Crown in 1233. (fn. 16)

The Sapperton-Birdlip road passes ½ mile west of the village and was probably a route of some local importance, for there was an abortive plan to turnpike it in 1815, from which time (fn. 17) until c. 1880 there was an inn, the King's Head just south of Lypiatt Gate, serving the road. (fn. 18) The road on which Miserden village stands branches eastwards from the Sapperton-Birdlip road a little to the north-west of the village and was probably an ancient trackway leading from Painswick to a crossing of the river Frome. The eastern section of the track was diverted away from Miserden Park in 1864 (fn. 19) and in 1970 formed a private drive to the house. The settlement called the Camp stands on the other important route through the parish, the Bisley-Birdlip road which was turnpiked in 1800. (fn. 20) There was a toll-house south of the Camp cross-roads. (fn. 21)

Saxon work in the church (fn. 22) indicates the antiquity of the settlement at Miserden village, and the existence of a castle, commanding the crossing of the river Frome, suggests that the route on which the village lies was once of considerable local importance. The village is situated at the junction of that route and the road to Lypiatt Gate, but the manor-house which replaced the castle by the early 14th century (fn. 23) stands some way east of the junction. The whole village was built in the local stone and among surviving 17th-century houses are the rectory, a cottage called Lampacre near by, (fn. 24) and a pair of cottages, one of which was formerly the blacksmith's shop, (fn. 25) at the east end of the village. About 1710 there were 20 families (fn. 26) in the village, and c. 1775 there were said to be 39 houses. (fn. 27) The dowerhouse, on the south side of the road leading to the manor-house, dates from the 18th century and is of two storeys with an ashlar-faced front. An east wing was added to the house in the 1860s by Sir John Rolt who undertook extensive rebuilding in the village. Most of the other houses date from that time and are stone cottages with gables and barge-boards. The public house, the Carpenters' Arms, was also extended and restored at that time, and a singlestorey building on the south side of the junction, later used as a reading-room and school, was built for the benefit club. (fn. 28) A Primitive Methodist chapel, built at the south end of the village in the later 19th century, (fn. 29) was a private residence in 1970, and there are also two pairs of Cotswold-style cottages built c. 1940. (fn. 30) The 20th-century buildings also include the school and parish hall built at the west end of the village.

The hamlet of Sudgrove lies ¾ mile south of Miserden village and probably had a habitation in 1327 when William Sodgrave was assessed for tax. (fn. 31) Sudgrove Farm is a 17th-century gabled farm-house, and there is also, further north, a pair of small 18th-century cottages. Two underground chambers, probably shepherd's cots dating from the 17th or 18th century, were discovered at Sudgrove in 1938. (fn. 32) The size of the hamlet increased from 10 families c. 1710 (fn. 33) to 24 houses c. 1775. (fn. 34) In the 18th century Sudgrove House (fn. 35) was built and a number of cottages were rebuilt during the 19th century, as was Warneford House, a Cotswold-style building, presumably on the site of the house belonging to the Warneford family in the early 18th century. (fn. 36)

Honeycombe Farm, where there was probably a habitation belonging to William Honicombe in 1327, (fn. 37) lies in the Holy brook valley about 1 mile west of Miserden village. The present house and out-buildings have a number of 16th- or 17thcentury features but the house was extensively restored and a symmetrical east front added in the 18th century, probably when Giles Mills, rector of Miserden, owned the estate. (fn. 38) About ½ mile north of Honeycombe Farm is Wishanger Manor, (fn. 39) which has two or three cottages near by, one of which was a malt-house in 1838. (fn. 40) The settlement at the Camp, formerly called Hazle House Gate, (fn. 41) lies ½ mile west of Wishanger and is probably of more recent origin. Local tradition has linked the name either with a Danish settlement or with Cromwellian troops (fn. 42) but it apparently derives from prehistoric earthworks and tumuli. (fn. 43) New Inn House was recorded as a public house from 1781 (fn. 44) to 1939 (fn. 45) and is a stone and rubble house of two storeys built in 1694. (fn. 46) A former Baptist chapel (fn. 47) was used as an out-building of the house in 1970. On the south side of the cross-roads is a 17th- or early 18th-century stone cottage and there are two smaller cottages of similar date behind on the road to Honeycombe Farm. Camp Barn, a long, low 18thcentury barn, had been converted to a riding school by 1970 when there were also eight modern wooden labourers' cottages at the Camp.

There are scattered buildings in the peninsulated part of the parish, much of which belonged to the Townsend family of Steanbridge House in the 19th century. (fn. 48) They include Steanbridge Farm, a farmhouse converted from a 17th-century mill, (fn. 49) and Snow's Farm, a 17th-century gabled farm-house. Down Farm, an 18th-century farm-house enlarged to make a residence in the 19th, probably occupies the site of an earlier house, for further east there is a group of 17th-century cottages, formerly for labourers employed on the farm. Further up the valley on the southern slope of Down hill are three or four scattered cottages of the 18th or 19th centuries, possibly built for men employed in the exploitation of the woodland or in the cloth industry.

Eighteen people were assessed for tax at Miserden in 1327. (fn. 50) In 1563 there were 19 households (fn. 51) but there had been an increase to 50 families by 1650. (fn. 52) About 1710 there were c. 250 people at Miserden (fn. 53) and in 1773 477 inhabitants were recorded. (fn. 54) In 1801 the population was 469 and during the first half of the 19th century it fluctuated within 10 per cent of that figure until it stood at 489 in 1851. A recession in local employment reduced the population to 452 in 1871 and it declined further to 371 in 1901 despite the addition of Bidfield tithing to the parish. There was a steady rise to 514 by 1951 but the boundary changes reduced the population to 451 in 1961. (fn. 55)

In 1643 Miserden was garrisoned by the royalists and in 1645 by 300 parliamentary troops. (fn. 56) Thomas Sandys, a younger son of Sir William (d. 1641), compounded for his royalist sympathies in 1648. (fn. 57)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 169v. The history of Miserden given here was written in 1970.
  • 2. P.N. Glos. (E.P.N.S.), i. 129-30.
  • 3. O.S. Area Bk. (1885).
  • 4. Ibid.; ibid. Bisley (1885).
  • 5. Census, 1961.
  • 6. O.S. Area Bk. (1885).
  • 7. Geol. Surv. Map 1", solid, sheet 44 (1856 edn.).
  • 8. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com), i. 169v.
  • 9. Glos. Colln. RX 207.1.
  • 10. Acreage Returns, 1901.
  • 11. Cat. Anct. D. i, A 927.
  • 12. Rudder, Glos. 552.
  • 13. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1302-58, 230.
  • 14. Trans. B.G.A.S. xiii. 90.
  • 15. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. NE. (1884 edn.).
  • 16. Cal. Lib. 1226-40, 232.
  • 17. Glos. R.O., Q/RUm 56, 65.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879), 705.
  • 19. Glos. R.O., Q/SRh 1863 C/3; D 1042, cert. of completion of order.
  • 20. Tetbury Roads Act, 41 Geo. III, c. 85 (Local and Personal).
  • 21. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxvi. 145.
  • 22. See p. 55.
  • 23. See p. 50.
  • 24. Cf. G.D.R. wills 1671/201.
  • 25. Glos. R.O., Q/SRh 1863 C/3.
  • 26. Atkyns, Glos. 562.
  • 27. Rudder, Glos. 555.
  • 28. Inits. on bldgs; J. Stratford, Glos. Biographical Notes (Glouc. 1887), 226.
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 843.
  • 30. Ex inf. W/Cdr. H. M. Sinclair, of Miserden Park.
  • 31. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 30.
  • 32. Trans. B.G.A.S. lx. 343.
  • 33. Atkyns, Glos. 562.
  • 34. Rudder, Glos. 555.
  • 35. See pp. 51-2.
  • 36. Atkyns, Glos. 562; cf. Glos. R.O., D 1405, Sudgrove est. deeds 1703-1847, deed 1712.
  • 37. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 30.
  • 38. Rudder, Glos. 555; Glos. R.O., D 127/199.
  • 39. See p. 51.
  • 40. G.D.R., T 1/122.
  • 41. Rudder, Glos. 553.
  • 42. Trans. B.G.A.S. li. 256.
  • 43. Rudder, Glos. 553; cf. G.D.R., T 1/28, which names Camp Hill and Far Berry Mead NW. of the hamlet.
  • 44. Glos. R.O., Q/AV 3.
  • 45. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1939), 264.
  • 46. Date on bldg.
  • 47. G.D.R., T 1/122.
  • 48. Glos. R.O., D 1815, Townsend fam., est. partics. c. 1900.
  • 49. See p. 53.
  • 50. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 30.
  • 51. Bodl. MS. Rawl. C. 790, f. 9v.
  • 52. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 53. Atkyns, Glos. 562.
  • 54. Rudder, Glos. 556.
  • 55. Census, 1801-1961.
  • 56. Bibliotheca Glos. ii. 75-6, 131.
  • 57. Visit. Glos. 1623, 143; Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, iii. 1863.