A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.
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The parish of Hempsted (fn. 1) lay by the river Severn south-west of Gloucester city, its parish church 2.3 km. from Gloucester Cross. The boundaries of the ancient parish were very irregular. On the north side Hempsted was intertwined with the extraparochial South Hamlet and on the south side with Quedgeley; in the Middle Ages all three places were estates of Llanthony Priory, and Hempsted and Quedgeley were chapelries to its church of St. Owen, Gloucester. The main body of Hempsted parish, including the village and, east of the Gloucester-Bristol road, Podsmead farm, extended from the Severn on the north-west to the boundaries of Tuffley hamlet, near the course of the Bristol railway line, on the south-east. A southern peninsula of the parish extended between the river and the Netheridge estate in Quedgeley to include the area known as Lower Rea. The largest detached part of Hempsted lay in a bend of the river west of the village, divided from the main body by a spur of South Hamlet. Smaller detached parts, representing land in shared common meadows and open fields, lay to the north in Sud Meadow, to the north-east in the Bristol road and Tredworth areas, to the east on the slopes of Robins Wood Hill, and to the south-east in the Lower Tuffley area. (fn. 2) In 1879 the parish was estimated to contain 904 a. (fn. 3)
In 1882 Hempsted absorbed two detached parts of South Hamlet and lost a detached part to Tuffley. In 1885 there was a major rationalization of its boundaries. The north boundary was fixed on the Gloucester city boundary: detached parts in the upper Bristol Road and Tredworth areas, which had been taken into the city in 1874 and had a population of 344, were transferred to South Hamlet, while a large part of South Hamlet in the Sud Meadow area, with a population of 33, was transferred to Hempsted, giving it all the land lying within the broad loop of the Severn south-west of the city. In the south the parish boundary was fixed on the Gloucester and Berkeley canal and Tuffley Lane: the Netheridge area of Quedgeley north-west of the canal was transferred to Hempsted, while Quedgeley took land lying south-east of the canal near Sims bridge and Tuffley took land in the Lower Tuffley area. The alterations left Hempsted with an area of 1,495 a. (fn. 4) Gloucester city absorbed land adjoining Bristol Road and the canal in 1900, the Podsmead area in 1935, and Netheridge and Middle and Upper Rea in 1951; by the last extension Lower Rea was left as a detached part of Hempsted (fn. 5) until it was transferred to Quedgeley in 1954. The remainder of Hempsted, including the village, was absorbed by the city in 1967. (fn. 6) The account given here covers the parish as it was before the late 19th-century boundary changes, together with some parts of South Hamlet which were islanded within or closely interconnected with the parish. Aspects of Hempsted's history which relate to Gloucester's industrial and suburban development, affecting mainly the area adjoining the canal and Bristol Road, are treated above with the city.
The west part of the parish comprises a tract of meadow land lying at below 15 m., defended from the river by a continuous earthen bank; in the mid 1980s the level of parts of the area was being raised by tipping refuse. The village sits on a low but pronounced hill in the centre of the parish, rising to c. 27 m. above the meadows, and a low ridge runs alongside the river in the Rea area in the south part of the parish. The low-lying land is formed by alluvial soils and the higher ground by the Lower Lias clay, which is capped by gravel at the village site. (fn. 7) At Lower Rea the clay was fairly extensively worked for brickmaking in the late 19th century. (fn. 8) The parish was predominantly grassland; some small open fields in the east and central parts were inclosed during the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 9) The only known woodland, recorded from 1615, was Rea Grove (a detached part of South Hamlet), which crowned the ridge above the Severn between Middle and Lower Rea. It covered 7 a. in 1839, (fn. 10) and was felled before 1883. (fn. 11)
The north end of the hill at the centre of the parish is partly occupied by the earthworks of a Roman military camp, evidently built to command the approach to Gloucester from the south. (fn. 12) Its site (in South Hamlet) was later known as the Coneygar, (fn. 13) having been preserved by Llanthony Priory as a rabbit warren in the Middle Ages. (fn. 14) A spring rising on the west side of the camp is enclosed by a small ashlar-built wellhouse of the 14th century. (fn. 15) There is a figure, now defaced, carved in the east gable, and the name Lady's well, recorded from the late 18th century, (fn. 16) presumably recalls an ancient invocation to the Virgin Mary.
The main Gloucester-Bristol road, running north-south through the parish, was a turnpike from 1726 until 1877. (fn. 17) From Hempsted village two lanes ran down the hill to meet the main road, (fn. 18) and the village was also connected to Gloucester by Hempsted Lane, running northwards past the site of Llanthony Priory and sometimes known in the 19th century as Llanthony Road. (fn. 19) Rea Lane, running south from the village to the houses at Upper and Middle Rea, was formerly known as Horsepool Street (or Lane). (fn. 20) The Gloucester and Berkeley canal, running alongside and west of the Gloucester-Bristol road, was built in the 1790s but not fully opened until 1827. (fn. 21) Hempsted bridge, a wooden swing bridge, was built to carry the southern of the two lanes leading from the village to the Bristol road, and the northern lane was closed. Two other swing bridges, Sims bridge and Rea bridge (within the ancient parish of Quedgeley), were built where minor lanes linked the south part of the parish to the Bristol road. (fn. 22)
The village, whose name means the 'high homestead', (fn. 23) occupies the south end of the hill at the centre of the parish. Most of the houses were built along a single street crossing the top of the hill. (fn. 24) The parish church at the west end was founded in early Norman times. In 1671 a substantial rectory house (in 1986 a private house called Hempsted House) was built adjoining the churchyard, (fn. 25) and a village school was added nearby in 1851. (fn. 26) Further east at the junction with Rea Lane is a late-medieval village cross, presumably that originally standing in the churchyard for which William Franklin left money in 1417 before setting out on pilgrimage to Compostella. (fn. 27) In the early 19th century only the steps survived. The shaft, found buried in the churchyard, was restored to its place in 1839 by the lord of the manor, the Revd. Samuel Lysons, who provided a new top stage in 1850. (fn. 28)
Some small 17th-century farmhouses survive in the village, including Church Farm near the west end and Home Farm near the east, which both have later brick casings. There are also a few cottages of the late 18th century or the early 19th, mainly in the north-west part of the village. In the late 17th century a large new house, Hempsted Court, was built for the Lysons family on the east side of the village overlooking the Bristol road. (fn. 29) In the early 19th century, before 1835, two villas with large gardens, Elm Lodge and Willow Lodge, were built on the south side of the village street, east of its junction with Rea Lane. (fn. 30) Several other substantial private residences were added in the later 19th century and the early 20th, including Milocroft, at the junction with Hempsted Lane, built for a Gloucester solicitor c. 1890, and Dudstone (later Fairmead House) built further east before 1901. (fn. 31) In spite of the proximity of the growing city, Hempsted village retained its rural character in the late 19th century, when it was a favourite destination of Gloucester people out for a Sunday walk. (fn. 32) Its character was transformed in the 1960s when Hempsted Court, Elm Lodge, and Willow Lodge were demolished and their grounds developed for housing. (fn. 33)
Some way north of the village by Hempsted Lane the large house called the Newark was established as a residence for the priors of Llanthony in the late Middle Ages. (fn. 34) Newark Farm nearer the village was built (in part of South Hamlet) by the owners of the Newark and Llanthony estate in the earlier 19th century, probably soon after 1815 when the estate was reorganized at an inclosure. (fn. 35) Podsmead, a grange of Llanthony and the ancient site of Hempsted manor, occupied a moated site in an isolated position beyond the Bristol road in the south-east part of the parish. (fn. 36)
A scattered group of small farms stood in the part of the parish known as the Rea, where there were some dwellings by the mid 15th century (fn. 37) and five houses c. 1710. (fn. 38) A small farm at Middle Rea was alienated from Hempsted manor in 1683, and in the 18th century was owned by the Payne family; (fn. 39) the brick house is apparently a rebuilding of the late 18th century but has a 17th-century plan. Sims Farm, which stood on the lane east of Sims bridge until replaced by new housing in the 20th century, was presumably the house sold by the lord of the manor to Joanna and Hannah Sims in 1700. (fn. 40) Both farms were once more part of the manor by 1839. (fn. 41) At Lower Rea on the south boundary of the ancient parish stands a small timber-framed house of the late 17th century or the early 18th. A short row of brick cottages was built beside it in the mid 19th century, and other new dwellings added in the south part of the parish at that period included the Bungalow, between Middle and Lower Rea, (fn. 42) which was replaced by a modern house in the mid 20th century.
Twenty-five inhabitants of Hempsted were assessed for the subsidy of 1327. (fn. 43) About 100 communicants were enumerated in 1551 (fn. 44) and 31 households in 1563. (fn. 45) About 1710 there were said to be c. 140 inhabitants in 30 houses, (fn. 46) and about 1775 c. 129 inhabitants. (fn. 47) In 1801 there were 159 inhabitants and 22 houses in the parish. By 1811 the population had fallen to 128, but it had risen again to 251 in 51 houses by 1851. There was then a rapid rise to 424 in 88 houses by 1861 as parts of the parish near the canal and Bristol Road began to be affected by the growth of Gloucester. (fn. 48)
There was an alehouse in Hempsted in 1667. (fn. 49) There is no later record of a public house in the village, (fn. 50) and in 1883 when the Lysons family put their estate, including the bulk of the village, up for sale potential purchasers were required to convenant not to open one. (fn. 51) Waterworks, which pumped supplies from a spring in Rea Lane up to a reservoir in the village, (fn. 52) were constructed by the Revd. Samuel Lysons in 1871 to serve the village and a suburban area of Gloucester on Bristol Road. (fn. 53) A parish room was put up in the school playground in 1902 (fn. 54) and replaced by a village hall adjoining the churchyard in 1929. (fn. 55)
John of Hempsted (d. 1240), prior of Llanthony, was presumably a native of the parish. (fn. 56) From the late 17th century to the late 19th Hempsted was the home of the Lysons family, leading Gloucestershire landowners, whose members also followed antiquarian pursuits and professions in the church, medicine, and the law. (fn. 57)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
In Edward the Confessor's reign the manor of HEMPSTED was held by Edric Lang, a thegn of Earl Harold. After the Conquest it was acquired by William FitzOsbern (d. 1071), earl of Hereford, who held it in demesne. On his son Roger's rebellion in 1075 it was taken by the Crown. (fn. 58) The manor was apparently granted after 1086 to Henry de Beaumont, earl of Warwick, whose heirs had rights as overlords. (fn. 59) It was later held in demesne by Walter of Gloucester who gave the chapel and tithes there to St. Owen's church, Gloucester. (fn. 60) Walter's son Miles, earl of Hereford, gave the manor in 1141 to his foundation, Llanthony Priory. (fn. 61) William (d. 1184), earl of Warwick, later confirmed that grant and released the heirs of Miles from relief and other services; the prior of Llanthony was to continue to provide a service of hospitality for the earl and his retinue twice a year. The service of hospitality had lapsed by 1236 when the prior acknowledged the obligation to Thomas, earl of Warwick, and the following year the earl quitclaimed the service. (fn. 62)
Llanthony Priory held the manor until the Dissolution. In 1545 the Crown sold it to Thomas Atkyns (d. 1552) of London and his wife Margaret, who survived him. It passed in direct male line of descent to Richard Atkyns (fn. 63) (d. 1610) of Tuffley, a justice of sessions in North Wales, Richard (fn. 64) (d. 1636), and Richard. (fn. 65) The last Richard sold it, apparently in 1653, (fn. 66) to his cousin Robert, later Sir Robert Atkyns of Sapperton. Sir Robert, gave it to his son Sir Robert, the historian of Gloucestershire, on the latter's marriage in 1669. (fn. 67) In 1699 the younger Sir Robert sold part of the estate to Daniel Lysons and another part to Thomas Lysons, (fn. 68) whose family had held leasehold estates from the manor since the 1630s or earlier. (fn. 69) On Sir Robert's death in 1711 the manor passed to his wife Louise for life, and in 1716 she and Sir Robert's trustees sold it to Allen Bathurst, Lord Bathurst. (fn. 70) In 1721 Lord Bathurst sold it to Daniel Lysons, the owner of part of the estate since 1699. (fn. 71)
From Daniel Lysons (d. 1736) (fn. 72) the manor passed to his son Daniel (d. 1773) and to that Daniel's son Daniel (d. 1800), a physician. (fn. 73) The last Daniel was succeeded by his brother the Revd. Samuel (fn. 74) (d. 1804). The manor then passed in direct male line of descent to the Revd. Daniel (d. 1834), the antiquary and joint author with his brother Samuel of Magna Britannia, to the Revd. Samuel (d. 1877), who like his father and grandfather was rector of Rodmarton, and to Lorenzo George Lysons, later Col. Lysons. (fn. 75) In 1883 the estate, comprising c. 580 a. with Hempsted Court, most of the village, and five farms, was offered for sale. (fn. 76) Part was sold then or soon afterwards but the bulk of the estate remained in possession of the trustees for sale and was again offered for sale in 1918. By 1923 the farmers were the chief landowners in the parish. (fn. 77)
Under Llanthony Priory the manor was administered from Podsmead, which passed into separate ownership at the Dissolution. (fn. 78) No later lords of Hempsted resided on the manor until Daniel Lysons became owner in 1721. Hempsted Court, which then became the manor house, was apparently begun by his father Daniel Lysons, a Gloucester draper, who bought leasehold lands in the parish a few years before his death in 1681. The house is said to have been completed during the younger Daniel's minority. (fn. 79) It was of two storeys and attics, having a main, east, front of seven bays and a low service wing on the south-west. It stood within a walled enclosure surrounding formal gardens, and adjoining on the north-west was a large walled kitchen garden. (fn. 80) At the beginning of the 19th century the house was refronted and the attics brought into the elevation, (fn. 81) apparently to the designs of Robert Smirke. (fn. 82) The house and grounds, and apparently also the manorial rights, (fn. 83) were bought from the Lysons trustees c. 1887 by the Revd. Joseph Brereton, who opened a boys' school, later transferred to the Gloucestershire County Schools Association. The school closed in 1891 (fn. 84) and some additions made to the house for it were pulled down soon afterwards. (fn. 85) Later owners of Hempsted Court included from c. 1914 Arnold Hurry (d. 1927), who was regarded as squire of the village, (fn. 86) and from 1928 C. B. Trye (d. c. 1961). (fn. 87) The house was demolished in 1962 (fn. 88) and the site used for a housing estate. When the house was built in the late 17th century a small park was laid out east of it with a broad double avenue of elms and a series of ornamental gates, leading down to the Bristol road. (fn. 89) The eastern end of the avenue was destroyed when the canal was built in the 1790s but the remainder of it survived in 1839, by which time a drive had been constructed branching from it to a lodge on the lane west of Hempsted bridge. (fn. 90) Parts of the avenue had been felled by the early 1880s and a more irregular pattern of planting adopted in the park, (fn. 91) but some trees survived until the outbreak of Dutch elm disease in the early 1970s. (fn. 92)
The lands bought from the manor by Thomas Lysons in 1699 apparently comprised MANOR FARM, based on a house in Hempsted Lane on the north side of the village. Thomas (d. 1714) left his Hempsted lands to his wife Mary (fn. 93) who was succeeded before 1716 by his son Silvanus. (fn. 94) Silvanus Lysons (d. 1731) left Manor farm to his wife Mary and after her death, which occurred in 1750, for charitable purposes. (fn. 95) The farm comprised 64 a. following inclosure in 1815. (fn. 96) Some land was sold in 1979, and in 1986 the charity trustees retained the farmhouse, which had been rebuilt in the early 20th century, a cottage, and 29 a. (fn. 97)
By 1291 and until the Dissolution Hempsted manor was administered from Llanthony Priory's grange of PODSMEAD, lying east of the Bristol road, and Podsmead was sometimes used as an alternative name for the manor. The priory granted a 60-year lease of Podsmead to Richard Partridge and his family in 1507. (fn. 98) The freehold was bought from the Crown in 1539 by Joan Cooke, who that year granted a new lease for 99 years to John Partridge, son of Richard, and his family. In 1540 Joan Cooke settled the estate on Gloucester corporation as part of the endowment of the Crypt school; her trust deed directed that after the expiry of the existing lease the corporation was to grant 31-year leases at fixed rents and fines, giving preference to the heirs of her relation Margaret Woodward, a stepdaughter of John Partridge. (fn. 99) In 1633 the lessee of Podsmead was Henry Holman, a grandson of Margaret, and his son Richard held it in 1652. (fn. 100) In 1690 a lease was granted to Richard's daughters Elizabeth Hoskins and Sarah Evans. Elizabeth's son Holman Hoskins later acquired, reputedly by dubious means, the interest of Sarah's son George Evans of Tewkesbury, and in 1715 surrendered the lease in return for a new one naming him as sole lessee. Holman, who lived at Podsmead, died in 1717. Chancery suits later were brought involving Ann Russell, who had succeeded to Holman's interest, Elizabeth Hope, another heir of Elizabeth Hoskins, and George Evans; the suits were finally resolved in 1732 when the corporation was directed to grant a new joint lease to Ann Russell and George Evans. (fn. 101) Between the mid 18th century and the early 19th members of the Phelps family, heirs of George Evans, and the Hope family were joint lessees of the Podsmead estate, (fn. 102) which covered c. 220 a. (fn. 103) The interest of both lessees was bought c. 1815 by Samuel Jones, (fn. 104) later an alderman of Gloucester, who farmed Podsmead and was succeeded there at his death in 1844 by his son Samuel. (fn. 105)
From 1844 Gloucester corporation's right to the freehold of Podsmead and the other Crypt school endowments was challenged in Chancery by the municipal charity trustees for the city who established their right in 1851, (fn. 106) though a further suit brought by the Hope family delayed the transfer of the estate until 1857. (fn. 107) Subsequently the estate was leased to farmers for short terms, the restrictive provisions of the trust having been set aside. (fn. 108) It passed with the other Crypt endowments to the governors of the United Schools in 1882 and back to the city corporation in 1937. Part of the estate became the site of the new Crypt school in 1939 (fn. 109) and most of the remainder was used for council housing in the 1940s and 1950s. (fn. 110)
The house at Podsmead was built on a moated site. Work on a servants' hall and barn there was carried out in the time of William of Cherington, prior of Llanthony 1377–1401. (fn. 111) The lease of 1507 reserved to the prior, when he wished to lodge there, chambers, study, chapel, underparlour, hall, kitchen, pantry, and buttery, and lodgings for his servants. (fn. 112) In 1731 the house, standing within its square moat, was a gabled building, apparently with a detached gatehouse. (fn. 113) It was rebuilt as a small brick farmhouse c. 1867. (fn. 114) It was demolished in 1985 and the site, where part of the moat had still survived, (fn. 115) was used for new houses.
The house called THE NEWARK, later Newark House, north of Hempsted village, was recorded on Llanthony Priory's estates in 1507, (fn. 116) and, according to tradition, was built by a 14th-century prior to rival the Vineyard, the abbot of Gloucester's house on a similar site at Over west of the Severn. (fn. 117) After the Dissolution the house with some lands in the parish descended with the Llanthony manor estate in the Porter, Scudamore, and Higford families. (fn. 118) The bulk of that estate lay in South Hamlet, though John Scudamore, Viscount Scudamore, made the whole of his land tithable to Hempsted church in 1662, (fn. 119) and a reorganization of the estate at inclosure in 1815 increased its holding of land in Hempsted parish. (fn. 120) The Newark was described c. 1540 as a pretty stone house. (fn. 121) It was rebuilt by Viscount Scudamore in the mid 17th century (fn. 122) and was described c. 1710 as a handsome, beautiful house. (fn. 123) It is said, however, to have remained unfinished until c. 1830 when John Higford rebuilt it (fn. 124) as a plain ashlar-faced mansion, incorporating part of the old foundations. In the early 1860s it was occupied by a private school. (fn. 125) From 1883 until c. 1910 it housed a branch of St. Lucy's Home, Gloucester, training girls for domestic service. (fn. 126) In 1986 it was occupied as flats.
The rectory of Hempsted was held by Llanthony Priory before the Dissolution, and in the late 16th century the great and small tithes from the relatively small area of the parish that remained tithable were leased from the Crown. (fn. 127) In 1603 the rectory was valued at £30. (fn. 128) By 1628, comprising the tithes, two houses, and a small parcel of land, it was owned by Richard Powle who on his death that year was succeeded by a kinsman Henry Powle. (fn. 129) Henry's younger son, Henry Powle of Williamstrip, Coln St. Aldwyns, (fn. 130) sold the rectory in 1662 to Viscount Scudamore, who gave it as part of his endowment of the living of Hempsted. (fn. 131)
In 1086 the demesne of Hempsted manor was worked by 3 ploughteams and employed 6 servi. The tenants of the manor were 6 villani and 8 bordars, having 6 ploughteams between them. (fn. 132) In 1291 the manor had 4 ploughlands in demesne. (fn. 133) The demesne farm of Podsmead was leased from Llanthony Priory before 1507 for a rent in produce, and in 1535 there were also pieces of demesne land leased at cash rents. (fn. 134) Bondmen of the manor were given manumission by the priory in 1503 and 1506. (fn. 135) In 1535 there were free tenants owing rents of 13s. and customary tenants owing rents of £27 0s. 9¾d. (fn. 136)
After the Dissolution, when the Podsmead estate passed into separate ownership, Hempsted manor apparently had no demesne farm until the mid 18th century when the Lysonses kept some land in hand. (fn. 137) In 1699 the manor estate comprised c. 26 small holdings, some held by copy but most of them leased for 60 years or lives. (fn. 138)
In the late 17th century the parish contained a number of small open fields. A field called Streetley lay north-east of the village and one called Hill field was probably represented later by the close called Hill Ground lying to the south-east; Oakley and Whitcroft adjoined the east side of the Bristol road at its junction with Tuffley Lane; and South field lay near Lower Rea at the south end of the parish. Hempsted tenants also had land in Upper and Lower Tredworth fields south of Gloucester, (fn. 139) and in West field near Quedgeley. (fn. 140) Exchanges and inclosures were carried out in Oakley and Hill field before 1686 (fn. 141) and all the fields were inclosed by such private agreement before the early 19th century, some of the land being turned to pasture and orchard. (fn. 142)
West of Hempsted village, bounded by a bend of the river Severn, was a large tract of common meadow land. After the Dissolution much of it, comprising Oxlease and Cowlease (both in South Hamlet), Great Moors, and some smaller parcels, was subject to a division of rights between the various estates which derived from Llanthony's demesnes south of Gloucester. Oxlease and Cowlease were said to belong to Llanthony manor in 1662, but Hempsted manor was entitled to the latter math of Oxlease. In 1759 Great Moors, covering 59 a., lay in 31 parcels for the purposes of the first mowing, the bulk of them belonging to Hempsted manor, Podsmead farm, and the Silvanus Lysons charity estate (an offshoot of Hempsted manor); two of the parcels changed ownership each year. The whole of the latter math of Great Moors was taken by Llanthony manor. The winter pasture of the three large meadows belonged to Hempsted manor, but Llanthony manor and Podsmead each had the right to pasture 21 beasts in Great Moors and Oxlease during part of the summer and autumn, rights which the owner of Hempsted, Daniel Lysons, rented from them each year in the 1750s. (fn. 143) The meadows were inclosed in 1815 by Act of Parliament. Most of the land, including the three large meadows, was awarded to the owner of Llanthony manor, the duke of Norfolk, who gave up some of his old inclosures to Hempsted manor, Podsmead, and the Lysons charity estate in return for the extinction of their rights. The Act also inclosed Sud Meadow, lying further north, where a few parcels belonged to Hempsted parish. (fn. 144) Another large common meadow called Hempsted Ham lay between the village and Oxlease and Cowlease. Apart from Podsmead's right to one horse pasture, extinguished in 1815, (fn. 145) it belonged wholly to Hempsted manor after the Dissolution. Some of the tenants had rights of common there, mainly for sheep, in the late 17th century, (fn. 146) but the Lysons family inclosed the meadow before 1796, taking 68 a. while the Lysons charity estate took 6 a. (fn. 147)
The bias towards pasture farming in Hempsted was already evident by 1553 when 65 a. of Podsmead farm had been recently converted from arable. (fn. 148) In 1731 only 28 a. of the 213-a. farm were arable. (fn. 149) About 1775 the parish was said to comprise rich pasture and orchard, producing excellent cheese and cider. (fn. 150) In 1839 the parish together with the tithable parts of South Hamlet adjoining it contained 188 a. of arable compared with 1,106 a. of pasture and meadow. (fn. 151) In 1866 94 a. in Hempsted parish were returned as under crops and 669 a. as permanent grassland; (fn. 152) 130 dairy cows, 253 other cattle, 259 sheep, and 45 pigs were then kept in the parish. (fn. 153) By 1926 the arable had shrunk to a few acres and the farms of the enlarged parish (including former parts of South Hamlet and Quedgeley) were given over to dairying, raising cattle and sheep, and keeping poultry. (fn. 154)
In the 19th century and the earlier 20th the land was divided among six or seven farms, of which only Podsmead, which remained a compact farm of c. 220 a., (fn. 155) was large. The land of the Llanthony manor estate in Hempsted, with some land in South Hamlet, was farmed from Newark Farm, built north of the village in the early 19th century, and Manor farm, belonging to the Lysons charity, was a small farm of c. 30 a. (fn. 156) On the Hempsted manor estate in 1839 the farms were Church farm with 99 a., Hill farm with 96 a., and 116 a. in the south part of the parish held with the houses and buildings at Sims Bridge Farm and Middle Rea. (fn. 157) In the 1850s and 1860s the Revd. Samuel Lysons carried out drainage and other improvements on the farms, using loans from the Land Improvement Co. (fn. 158) In 1882 the main farms on the estate were Church farm (82 a.) and Middle Rea farm (102 a.). Sims Bridge farm (25 a.) was held with Netheridge farm in Quedgeley, which had been added to the estate, and there were various smallholdings, including Upper Rea farm (19 a.). (fn. 159) In 1926 in the enlarged parish there were 12 agricultural holdings, of which two were over 150 a. and four were 100–150 a. (fn. 160) The farms still working then included Podsmead, Newark, Manor, Hill, Church, and Middle Rea, and other land was farmed from the Bungalow at the Rea. (fn. 161) By 1986 the Bungalow was the only working farm based in the ancient parish. The land in the south part was then mainly under crops, while the meadows of the north part were used by smallholders for grazing sheep.
Llanthony Priory apparently held a market and fairs on the manor in the late Middle Ages. They were included as an item in the bailiff's account at the dissolution of the priory in 1539 but no profits were received that year. (fn. 162)
In 1608 the inhabitants of Hempsted included a weaver, a cordwainer, and a sailor. (fn. 163) Among the very few parishioners later recorded as following a trade were fishermen, a smith in 1669, (fn. 164) and the tenant of a coalyard recorded in 1750 and 1808, apparently at Lower Rea (fn. 165) where there was later a wharf on the river. (fn. 166) In 1831 only two families of the parish were supported by trade compared with 26 supported by agriculture. (fn. 167)
Half of a fishery called Horsepool weir, situated at the bend in the river at Upper Rea, (fn. 168) was given to Llanthony Priory with the manor in 1141. (fn. 169) The priory apparently acquired the other half by grant from Henry II c. 1173. (fn. 170) It was among weirs in the Severn below Gloucester whose owners were indicted in the 1390s for taking fish of too small a size, (fn. 171) and in 1502, when the priory granted it on lease together with the lops of riverside willows for its repair, possibility of its destruction by royal officials was mentioned. (fn. 172) After the Dissolution the fishing rights in the river above the site of Horsepool weir descended with Llanthony manor, (fn. 173) while Hempsted manor had the rights in the stretch adjoining the south part of the parish. (fn. 174) The latter were held with the small farm at Middle Rea until that was sold by the manor in 1683, and were later granted on short leases. In 1731, when it was worked with a boat and nets, the fishery was leased together with another owned by the Lysons family in Minsterworth at an annual rent of £40 and 30 lb. of salmon. (fn. 175) In the late 19th century it was known as Foxhole salmon fishery. (fn. 176)
In 1287 the prior of Llanthony claimed view of frankpledge, waif, and gallows on his manor of Hempsted; the Hempsted view was also attended by his tenants from Quedgeley and Elmore. (fn. 177) In 1456 or 1457 the priory claimed assize of bread and of ale in addition to the other liberties. (fn. 178) The lords of the manor continued to exercise leet jurisdiction after the Dissolution, but the courts leet and baron were not recorded after the early 18th century. (fn. 179) No court rolls are known to survive.
No parish government records survive before the mid 19th century. Two churchwardens were recorded from 1498. (fn. 180) Women held the office fairly regularly in the late 16th century and the early 17th. It was served in rotation by houses, as were the offices of overseers and highway surveyors which were recorded from the mid 17th century. In 1663 and 1673, and possibly on a regular basis, the parish constable was appointed by the county magistrates. (fn. 181) Poor relief was probably never a severe burden in Hempsted, with usually no more than 10 people on permanent relief during the early 19th century, (fn. 182) and the rise in expenditure only a gradual one until the last years of the old poor law. (fn. 183) In the depressed years of the mid 1780s Daniel Lysons excused his tenants a large part of their rents and he and another resident, Charles Tyrell Morgan, provided aid for the poor. (fn. 184) In the 19th century the Hempsted poor continued to enjoy the benevolent attention of local landowners, as well as benefiting from the substantial parish charities. (fn. 185) Hempsted became part of the Gloucester poorlaw union in 1835 (fn. 186) and remained in the Gloucester rural district (fn. 187) until the residue of the parish was absorbed by the city in 1967.
A church was built at Hempsted soon after the Norman Conquest, and Walter of Gloucester granted it with the tithes of the villani there to St. Owen's church, Gloucester. (fn. 188) In 1137 it passed with St. Owen's church to Llanthony Priory, (fn. 189) which soon afterwards, in return for an annual payment of 16s., had a grant of tithes and a small piece of land in Hempsted held by Lire Abbey (Eure). (fn. 190) Some of the profits of the chapelry were assigned as part of the portion of the vicar of St. Owen in the mid 13th century, by which time the chapel had acquired burial rights. (fn. 191) By 1428 a separate vicarage of Hempsted had been ordained and Llanthony presented a priest to it. (fn. 192) In 1513, however, the living had only the status of a chaplaincy, though endowed with certain tithes and offerings, (fn. 193) and from the mid 16th century it was called a curacy. (fn. 194) In 1662 it was newly endowed with tithes by John Scudamore, Viscount Scudamore, and became a rectory. (fn. 195) In 1984 the living was placed in the care of a priest-in-charge while plans for its future were considered. (fn. 196)
After the Dissolution the curates were appointed, and presumably paid, by the owners or lessees of the rectory estate. At the endowment of the living in 1662 the advowson was assigned to Viscount Scudamore (fn. 197) and it descended with Llanthony manor. (fn. 198) In 1920 trustees for the Higford family transferred it to the bishop of Gloucester. (fn. 199)
In 1540 the curate was said to receive a tenth of the profits of the church, (fn. 200) and in 1603 his stipend was £9 10s. (fn. 201) In 1653 he was receiving £12, to which the trustees for the maintenance of ministers added £20; a further £5 was added in 1657. (fn. 202) The living owed its endowment to Viscount Scudamore's unease over lay ownership of tithes, which also led him to endow several livings in Herefordshire. His Llanthony manor estate had been tithe free since the Dissolution but he charged himself with arrears of tithes from the time he took possession of it, using them during the Interregnum in aid of a fund for dispossessed clergy. In 1662 he gave all the tithes from Llanthony manor together with the Hempsted rectory estate, which he bought from the lay owner for £376, to the living of Hempsted. (fn. 203)
The new rectory thus became possessed of the tithes of a large part of South Hamlet and Hempsted, but 316 a. of Hempsted, comprising Podsmead, Great Moors, and Hempsted Ham, as former Llanthony demesne, remained tithe free and another considerable area of the parish was free of great tithes by ancient custom. In 1796 the rector leased the tithes owed from the Hempsted manor estate to the owner Daniel Lysons for £52 10s. a year. The rector's tithes from Hempsted and South Hamlet were commuted for a corn rent charge of £286 in 1839. (fn. 204) A small parcel of glebe land, a house called the vicarage house, apparently that built beside the churchyard for the vicar of St. Owen in the mid 13th century, a church house, and a barn passed to the living among the assets of the lay rectory in 1662. (fn. 205) The glebe was sold in 1899. (fn. 206)
About 1710 the rectory was worth £80 a year. (fn. 207) From 1750 it was much augmented from the charity founded by Silvanus Lysons, who by will dated 1731 left the rector the surplus rent of lands in Hempsted and elsewhere after the provision of £180 a year in pensions to clergy widows of the diocese. In 1825 the rectory was worth c. £400 a year, drawn about equally from the Lysons charity and from the other endowments, (fn. 208) and in 1856 it was worth £449. (fn. 209) A Scheme of 1879 gave the rector a fixed annual sum of £860 from the charity (fn. 210) and in 1885 the rectory was worth £1,000 a year. (fn. 211) The Lysons charity, which retained its land, became very wealthy in the mid 20th century. A Scheme of 1962 assigned to the rector half of the large annual surplus left after payment of the pensions, (fn. 212) and one of 1980 awarded him £6,000 a year or a sum exceeding by at least 25 per cent the minimum clerical stipend for the diocese. (fn. 213)
Under the Lysons charity the rector received 21s. for a sermon and prayers on Ascension day; the payment was increased to £5 in 1980. (fn. 214) Under a charity of Mary Harris established in 1721 he received 20s. for preaching a sermon and administering communion on the anniversary of the founder's death. (fn. 215)
The curates of Hempsted before 1662 were possibly allowed to use the house called the vicarage house belonging to the lay rectory. (fn. 216) Viscount Scudamore began building a large new rectory house on the south side of the churchyard and it was completed by his trustees in 1671 after his death. (fn. 217) It is of brick with stone-framed windows and has two storeys and attics. The symmetrical design has an east front of five bays and a long rear wing. The doorcase, though renewed in gothick style in the mid 18th century, repeats the date 1671 and a couplet that was inscribed on the original doorway: (fn. 218)
'Who' ere doth dwell within this door,
thank God for Viscount Scudamore'
Most of the interior fittings of the house were renewed in the early 19th century, and later in the century bays were added to the south side. The rectory was sold in 1954 and became a private house called Hempsted House; a new rectory was built on part of its garden. (fn. 219)
Among 16th-century curates of Hempsted were Robert Nash, who in 1551 could repeat the Articles and Lord's Prayer but not the Commandments, (fn. 220) and John Gravestock, described in 1593 as a poor old man, unlearned but honest in life. (fn. 221) Curates during the Interregnum included William Warren in 1653 and Jonathan Smith, who was appointed in 1658 (fn. 222) and ejected in 1660. Smith later led Congregationalist groups at Tetbury and at Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.), where his father had been rector before the Restoration. (fn. 223) The first rector of Hempsted after the re-endowment of the living was George Wall. He was succeeded in 1669 (fn. 224) by John Gregory (d. 1678), archdeacon of Gloucester, (fn. 225) whose son John succeeded him in 1679 and died in 1708. John Webb, rector 1737–53, (fn. 226) was also rector of Great Rissington and employed a curate at Hempsted. (fn. 227) John Taylor, rector 1753–92, (fn. 228) was living at Clifton in 1784 when Thomas Stock, master of the College school, Gloucester, served as curate. (fn. 229) Thomas Jones, instituted as rector in 1826, was presented by his father Samuel Jones, alderman of Gloucester, who had bought the patronage for one turn. (fn. 230) Jones, who died in 1867, was absent because of ill-health during much of his incumbency. (fn. 231)
The church of ST. SWTTHUN, so called by 1417, (fn. 232) is built of ashlar, and comprises a chancel, central tower, and nave with north vestry and south porch. The oldest parts of the building, including the south doorway, the porch, and the lowest stage of the tower are of the 14th century, as were the chancel windows before restoration in the 19th century. (fn. 233) The upper stages of the tower and the windows and roof of the nave appear to have been rebuilt in the 15th century. Between 1837 and 1839, to the designs of G. V. Maddox, a vestry room was added on the north side of the nave, a west gallery with an external entrance was inserted, the church was repewed, and the nave was reroofed. The cost was met from subscriptions, principally £200 given by the patron John Higford, and church rates. (fn. 234) In 1885 during a restoration carried out under F. S. Waller the vestry was replaced by a new one, connected to the east end of the nave by a cloister, the gallery was removed, the nave was extended westwards and its roof altered, a new east window was inserted, and the interior was refitted. The cost was met by subscriptions, the patron Daniel Higford Burr giving £500. (fn. 235)
The font is of Transitional date, having a cylindrical bowl on a pedestal with clustered shafts. (fn. 236) The tomb of Richard Atkyns (d. 1610) bears his effigy in his judge's robes. (fn. 237) There are wall monuments to members of the Lysons family, including the antiquary Samuel Lysons (d. 1819). A bishop's head in a north aisle window is the only fragment surviving of the more substantial remains of medieval glass recorded in the late 18th century. (fn. 238) A peal of five bells was cast by Abraham Rudhall in 1694; one was recast by Thomas Rudhall in 1764 and two by John Rudhall, at the cost of Samuel Lysons, in 1817. (fn. 239) In 1885 the peal was restored and a treble, given by the rector Benjamin Dawson, was added by the Whitechapel foundry. (fn. 240) The peal was rehung in 1979. (fn. 241) The plate includes a salver of 1697, and a chalice, paten, and flagon of 1721 acquired with a gift from Mary Harris. (fn. 242) The parish registers survive from 1558. (fn. 243)
The curate Thomas Stock, the joint founder of the Gloucester Sunday schools, had started a Sunday school at Hempsted by 1784, (fn. 244) and it continued to be held in 1818. (fn. 245) By 1833 there was also a small dame school teaching nine children. (fn. 246)
A parish school was held in a cottage before 1851 when a new church school was built east of the churchyard; the site was given by the Revd. Samuel Lysons and the cost met by subscriptions raised by the rector Thomas Jones. In 1877, when the average attendance was 42, voluntary contributions provided the bulk of the income and pence were also charged. (fn. 247) A new classroom was added in 1880, the cost being met partly by grants from the trustees of the Mary Harris and Parish Allotment charities. (fn. 248) The school, which was united with the National Society before 1889, (fn. 249) had an average attendance of 51 in a single mixed department in 1904. (fn. 250) In 1938, as the Hempsted C.E. school, it had an average attendance of 70 in mixed and infants' departments. (fn. 251) In 1949 a large bill for repairs forced the managers to accept controlled status for the school. It passed from the county to the city education authority in 1967. (fn. 252) The school was rebuilt on a site further north in 1976. (fn. 253) In 1984 it was a primary school with 122 children on the roll. (fn. 254)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Hempsted was one of the parishes benefiting under the charity of Giles Cox, established by will dated 1620 and trust deed dated 1633; its poor received £1 a year, which was increased to £2 for several years in the 1820s. (fn. 255) A Scheme of 1892 applied the charity to a wide range of purposes throughout the benefiting parishes generally, and another of 1957 created separate charities for each parish, each with an endowment of £256 stock and a small sum in cash. (fn. 256)
Mary Harris, sister of Silvanus Lysons, by will dated 1721 gave £1,000 to buy land to support charities in Hempsted and Whaddon. In Hempsted four poor widows were to be clothed each year at a cost of 25s. each and part of the residual income was to be used to apprentice boys of the parish or, failing suitable candidates, to provide gowns for old men. The £900 received under the will was used in 1728 to buy a small farm in Upton St. Leonards. In the mid 1820s, when the rent was £60, Hempsted's share was used generally for clothing and apprenticing within the parish. (fn. 257) By a Scheme of 1889 the surplus income after the fixed payments under the will was assigned to Hempsted and Whaddon at the rate of two thirds and a third respectively and Hempsted was required to make payments from its share to St. Luke's ecclesiastical parish, Gloucester, which included former parts of Hempsted in the Bristol Road area. Part of the surplus income was to be used for apprenticing or educational purposes and part for clothing old men. (fn. 258) In 1918 the farm was sold for £1,800, which was invested in stock. (fn. 259) In 1970 Hempsted received c. £22 a year from the charity. (fn. 260)
In 1972 a Scheme amalgamated the endowments of the Cox, Harris, and Higford charities to create three new charities for the parish. A relief in need charity, endowed with £446 stock, was to help the poor with cash, goods, and services; an educational foundation, endowed with £455 stock, was to help young people entering higher education or starting work; and an ecclesiastical charity, endowed with £39 stock, was to make a payment for a sermon under Mary Harris's will and help the work of the ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 263)
Richard Atkyns (d. 1636), lord of the manor, left £5 for the poor; it was placed as parish stock in the hands of the churchwardens who were to distribute 8s. a year for it, (fn. 264) but it has not been found recorded later.
At the inclosure of the common meadows in 1815 1 a. of land was awarded to the parish officers for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 265) The income was used in aid of the poor rates before 1867, when it was applied instead to the parish school. (fn. 266) In 1878 the land was sold for £1,250, which was invested in stock and administered by trustees as the Parish Allotment charity. (fn. 267) In the late 19th century and the 20th the annual income, £32 in 1970, (fn. 268) was applied to various parish purposes, including a clothing club, the village school, and church repairs. (fn. 269)
In 1962 part of a large annual residue of funds from the wealthy charity of Silvanus Lysons was applied to religious and charitable purposes within the ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 270) From 1980 the trustees were empowered to use the surplus funds within the diocese generally, giving preference to the needs of Hempsted; (fn. 271) the church fabric, the repair of the village hall, and help in providing scholarships for Hempsted boys at the King's school, Gloucester, were among objects of the charity at the period. (fn. 272)