A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5, Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, the Forest of Dean. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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Littledean, which once had a market and was a centre of ironworking and metal trades, lies 17 km. WSW. of Gloucester. (fn. 1) As defined in 1878 the ancient parish, one of the smallest in rural Gloucestershire, contained 495 a. and was very irregular in shape. (fn. 2) It was bounded by the once extraparochial Forest of Dean on the north and by detached parts of Flaxley and Newland elsewhere, and on the south, beyond Dean hill, a peninsula of Littledean to the west of Newnham touched the Forest at Blaize Bailey. On Dean hill the parish included a small area which as late as 1863 had been a detached part of the Forest. (fn. 3) Littledean's boundaries followed a straight ridgeway on Littledean hill to the west and ancient tracks in places elsewhere. The eastern boundary with part of Flaxley took in Littledean Camp, a small earthwork probably of the late 11 th century or early 12th, which has been identified as 'the old castle of Dean' recorded in the mid 12th century. (fn. 4) The earthwork was acquired in 1987 by the Dean Heritage museum. (fn. 5) The name Littledean, used in its Latin form Dean Parva in 1221, (fn. 6) distinguished it from nearby Mitcheldean (Dean Magna), (fn. 7) with which it presumably had a tenurial connexion in 1086. (fn. 8) Littledean, which remained a member of Mitcheldean in 1316, (fn. 9) had a church by the later 12th century. (fn. 10)
In 1883 Littledean absorbed the parts of Flaxley and Newland, together with a small detached piece of Westbury-on-Severn, to the east. (fn. 11) In 1953, on the dismemberment of East Dean civil parish, it took in part of the Forest to the north, including Pope's Hill, Shapridge, and Edge Hills, to more than double its area to 1,568 a. (634.5 ha.). (fn. 12) The following account covers the parish as it existed before 1883 and the former extraparochial land on Dean hill.
The parish lies at the heads of valleys which drain to the north, north-east, and south. It takes in the surrounding hillsides rising to over 240 m. on Littledean hill and, less steeply, to over 185 m. in the east and south-east. Only in the north-east does the land fall below the 120-m. contour. Littledean was included within the ancient boundaries of the Forest of Dean (fn. 13) but woodland was cleared early and only 7 a. survived in 1839. (fn. 14) The Old Red Sandstone forms the land save in the west where it is overlaid by strata of carboniferous limestone and sandstone containing deposits of haematite ore. The limestone and the ore, which outcrops in a thin band running NE.-SW. just below the ridge, (fn. 15) have been quarried and mined and the ore was used by many rudimentary ironworks in the Middle Ages. Throughout the parish, particularly at Callamore on the west side and on Dean hill, were areas of waste ground, parts of which were used for dumping slag or cinders from those ironworks. Agriculture was predominantly pastoral and was carried on in small closes. In the 1580s Thomas Brayne created a deer park west of Littledean village (fn. 16) but it has not been found recorded in use after the early 17th century. (fn. 17)
Littledean stood at the centre of a network of tracks. They included roads said to have been used by the Romans linking Gloucester with the Forest of Dean, and Newnham and Lydney with Ariconium, near Weston under Penyard (Herefs.). (fn. 18) The route from Newnham, used in 1255 by travellers to Monmouth (fn. 19) and in the later 15th century by travellers to Hereford, (fn. 20) entered the parish on Dean hill and curved north, descending through the village and past the church towards Mitcheldean. The section running along the west side of Chestnuts hill was described c. 1282 as a high road (summum iter) (fn. 21) and survived as a green way in the mid 18th century, when it was no longer the main route between Littledean and Mitcheldean. (fn. 22) A route to the Forest ran north-west from the village centre along Broad Street before forking for Callamore and St. White's. The route to St. White's formed a junction at Pennywell with a track running west from the Newnham road at Dean Hall (fn. 23) but in the later 18th century traffic from Newnham to St. White's and Coleford took the longer and slightly less steep route through the village and Callamore where the road to the Forest divided. (fn. 24) The road running north-west through Callamore is called the Ruffitt and that running south-west from Callamore Reddings Lane, a name recorded in 1674. (fn. 25) The route from Lydney, by way of Soudley, originally crossed Broad Street (fn. 26) to follow an ancient way turning east to the church and a market place. That way was stopped in the mid 17th century (fn. 27) and, further west, George Lane, branching northwards from Broad Street, was the principal road between Littledean and Mitcheldean by the mid 18th century. (fn. 28)
The Littledean-Gloucester road, branching east from the old Mitcheldean road, follows the valley down to Elton and apparently once took a more northerly course, known in 1565 as Washbrook Lane, along the south side of Chestnuts hill. (fn. 29) From 1769 to 1880 it was a turnpike beginning in the centre of the village. (fn. 30) The village's other streets and the road through Callamore to St. White's were turnpiked in 1783 as part of the main route between Newnham and the Forest of Dean. (fn. 31) A tollgate was erected on Dean hill (fn. 32) and in 1819 the road was diverted from the east side to the west side of Dean Hall at the expense of the house's owner, Joseph Pyrke. (fn. 33) In the late 1820s, when the trust administering that route lapsed, (fn. 34) the more direct route between Littledean and St. White's was replaced by a new road running higher up the hillside from the bottom of the Ruffitt. The new road, built by the Forest turnpike trust, turned northwestwards for Nailbridge at the point, east of St. White's, where it rejoined the old route, (fn. 35) and in the 1870s there was a tollgate just below the junction. (fn. 36) The Forest turnpike trustees had responsibility for George Lane from 1796 (fn. 37) until their powers were abolished in 1888. (fn. 38)
Littledean village grew up on the old Newnham-Mitcheldean road. The church, dating from the later 12th century, stands at the northeast end and just beyond it was a large pond, which was filled in c. 1850. (fn. 39) The village was possibly represented in 1282 by a dozen cottages, seven of them relatively new, on 2½ a. of land held under Henry of Dean (fn. 40) and in 1542 it may have contained the building called the church house. (fn. 41) The junction of Broad Street, some way south of the church, took the name the Cross from a high cross erected there by 1458. (fn. 42) It served as a market cross by 1573, (fn. 43) having a low wooden penthouse built against it to shelter traders, (fn. 44) and was removed in 1821 to improve the road junction. (fn. 45) The top of the shaft, which had carvings of small figures in niches below a finial, was placed in the grounds of the Grange, just outside the village, before being moved in the 1890s to a garden in Newnham. (fn. 46) By 1976 part of the shaft was in the garden of Littledean House hotel. (fn. 47) The village extends along the three roads leading from the Cross. Many of the houses were rebuilt in the local sandstone in the 18th and 19th centuries but several earlier ones survive. The house east of the Cross has an early 18th-century street front with a pediment. To the north in Church Street is a house with a timber frame and a jettied upper floor, which may date from the 15th century, and to the south in Silver Street, so called in 1715, (fn. 48) is a 17thcentury cottage. The south side of Broad Street contains a 17th-century gabled house and, further west at the corner of the Soudley road, the former White Lion inn (fn. 49) dates from the 17th century and was altered in the early 19th. Court Farm, much further along the street, was the site of a medieval house. (fn. 50) Frogmore, near the church, is an early 18th-century painted brick house of five bays. In the 1980s it was the home of members of the Colchester-Wemyss family, (fn. 51) which had once owned Littledean manor and a large estate nearby. At the Cross, on the south side of Broad Street, is a house built in 1764 by William Howell, a coal miner. (fn. 52) Further along the north side of the street, on the site of a house which had belonged to Ketford Brayne (d. 1705), (fn. 53) is a house bearing the date 1812 and the initials of Richard Smith and his wife Ann. (fn. 54) Among other buildings put up in the 19th century were a rectory house, a chapel, and a manse in Broad Street and a school in Church Street. After the Second World War the village's appearance was altered by the removal of some old cottages and by the building of council houses and private dwellings in small estates off the principal streets. (fn. 55)
The north-west end of the village centred on Nightingale's Cross, so called by 1591, (fn. 56) where the road forked for Callamore and St. White's; a great elm standing there was a prominent landmark in the 18th century. (fn. 57) That part of the village presumably included the dwelling said in 1436 to be in Nightingale Street. (fn. 58) The architectural history of Brayne Court (formerly the Red House), standing at the entrance to the Ruffitt, has been obscured by an extensive restoration of the 1920s when additions were made to the building and early fittings were introduced. (fn. 59) A 16th-century block, now the stair-hall, may have been a parlour and solar to a hall to the east. The hall was remodelled in the early 17th century when it probably had a screens passage across the east end and service rooms, largely demolished by the late 18th century, beyond that. (fn. 60) A cross wing at the west end of the house probably dates from the early 17th century and provided additional parlour accommodation. Known as the Upper House, it was the residence in 1694 of Anne Brayne and in 1716 of her son John. (fn. 61) There was some refitting c. 1700 and again in the early 19th century. Soon afterwards, presumably in 1855 when the house was converted as three cottages, a carved overmantel with the arms of the Brayne family was removed. (fn. 62) To the south-east Littledean House hotel, which opened as a boarding house in 1906, (fn. 63) occupies a number of former houses and outbuildings. The main block, originally a two-storeyed house, was extended westwards and heightened by a storey in the early 19th century. That work was possibly undertaken by Joseph Bennett, a maltster and grocer, (fn. 64) who resided there in 1838 (fn. 65) and is said to have moved the overmantel from Brayne Court to the house. (fn. 66) To the west a two-storeyed range of the 19th century once contained service rooms and stables and coach houses. To the east a low early 19th-century wing joins the main block to a cottage, which has been much altered but retains a small 16thcentury window in a gable, and beyond that is a short link to a small two-storeyed house bearing the date 1737. The east end of the hotel has been converted from a three-storeyed commercial building which fronts a former malthouse, in which there is a kiln. Among the houses at the bottom of the Ruffitt is one dated 1824.
North-east of the village on the Gloucester road a house of correction, (fn. 67) opened in 1791, was one of several built in the county according to ideas promoted by Sir George Onesiphorus Paul, Bt. Designed by William Blackburn (d. 1790) and completed under the supervision of his brother-in-law William Hobson, (fn. 68) it incorporated a two-storeyed building with a central block, containing an office, committee room, chapel, infirmaries, and accommodation for keeper and turnkey, and east and west wings, containing the cells; open arcades on the ground floor of the wings had been filled in by 1812. Around the building were four courtyards and the whole was surrounded by a perimeter wall with a gatehouse on the south side. In 1844 the ground-floor cells were enlarged and a third storey was added to the central block, one room of which became a schoolroom. From 1854 the building was used as a police station and remand prison and in 1874 the east wing was remodelled as a petty sessional court. During the Second World War the cells were used as a store by the county record office and Gloucester cathedral. The police station was closed in 1972 and the building, which continued to house archives until 1979, was purchased by an insurance company in 1985 for a record and computer centre. (fn. 69)
Outside the village the parish contains scattered dwellings including Dean Hall, by the Newnham road, which for over two centuries belonged to the Pyrke family and was the principal residence in Littledean. In the 17th and 18th centuries several small settlements were formed by squatter development on waste ground just outside the Forest, notably at Callamore in the west but also on Dean hill in the south-east and at Waterend Lane (formerly Waterlane End) on the old Mitcheldean road in the north. At least 15 of the people ejected from the extraparochial Forest in the mid 17th century put up cottages or cabins in Littledean, (fn. 70) evidently in those places, but most of the dwellings were built or rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. Building at Callamore, including the site of the farmstead at Colloegrove, began before 1618. (fn. 71) In 1679 there were 22 squatters living there, (fn. 72) the highest cottages presumably being at Littledean Hill where later buildings marked the eastern limit of the town of Cinderford in 1989. (fn. 73) On Dean hill, at the place sometimes known as Pleasant Stile, there were three squatter cottages in 1679. (fn. 74) The larger surviving buildings include Temple Farm, an early 18th-century farmhouse known in 1797 as Solomon's Temple. (fn. 75) The late 18th-century Hill House was probably the house being built in 1793 for the merchant Joseph Boughton (d. 1801). (fn. 76) Dean Cottage was built in the mid 1850s by Duncombe Pyrke for his sisters Charlotte and Emily. (fn. 77) At Waterend Lane five squatter cottages belonged to Littledean in 1679. (fn. 78) Further north a homestead built by Richard Taylor (d. 1712) became known as the Greenway. (fn. 79)
Twelve inhabitants of Littledean were assessed for the subsidy in 1327. (fn. 80) In 1548 there were said to be 240 communicants in the parish (fn. 81) but the figure was probably nearer 200. (fn. 82) In 1563 the number of households was 62 (fn. 83) and in 1603 the number of communicants was given as 140. (fn. 84) In 1650 the parish was said to contain 132 families. (fn. 85) The parish's population, estimated c. 1710 at 320 in 70 houses, (fn. 86) grew quickly in the later 18th century and early 19th, being estimated c. 1775 at 423 (fn. 87) and enumerated as 541 in 1801 and 754 in 1811. After falling to 617 in 1831 it rose to 947 in 1851, after which it declined to 769 in 1901. The boundary changes of 1883 added little to the population, which fluctuated between 782 and 906 in the early 20th century, but the parish's enlargement in 1953 brought a substantial increase and in 1961 the population was 1,378. In 1981 it had fallen to 1,293. (fn. 88)
Five keepers of victualling houses were recorded in the parish in 1596 (fn. 89) and 14 alehouse-keepers or ale vendors in 1667. (fn. 90) In the later 18th century the number of inns and alehouses was much smaller, those that had closed including the Red Lion, recorded in 1670, in Broad Street. (fn. 91) The White Lion at the corner of Broad Street and the Soudley road was recorded from 1797. (fn. 92) The Cross Keys south-west of the Cross had opened by 1739 (fn. 93) and the Bell in Church Street by 1779. (fn. 94) The Golden Heart at the corner of Broad Street and George Lane, open in 1785, (fn. 95) had been renamed the George by 1819. (fn. 96) The King's Head north-west of the Cross was recorded from 1796. (fn. 97) In 1870 there were six inns and beerhouses in the parish, including the Swan in the Ruffitt, (fn. 98) and in 1889 one beerhouse at Littledean Hill was within Littledean. (fn. 99) There were five public houses in Littledean in 1903 (fn. 100) and the George and the King's Head remained open, with Littledean House hotel, in 1989. Littledean had two friendly societies in 1803 (fn. 101) and societies met in the Bell and Cross Keys inns in 1813. Other societies' rules were enrolled in 1823 and 1842. (fn. 102) The village had a brass band in 1843, and a band organized by temperance supporters played at a horticultural show in the village school in 1865. (fn. 103) Later a room at a chapel in the village was used for meetings and in 1950 a stable at the rectory house was converted as a church hall. Both places were partly superseded by a village hall built by the district council before 1981. The church hall was closed in 1984 (fn. 104) and was converted as a house.
In April 1643 Sir William Waller led a force from Chepstow (Mon.) against Prince Maurice, who had lodged in Littledean. The royalists withdrew from the village, enabling Waller to pass through their line, but they engaged the rearguard covering his march to Gloucester. (fn. 105) In May 1644 cavalry sent by Edward Massey, commander of the Gloucester garrison, surprised and defeated a royalist garrison at Littledean and later massacred a group of soldiers who had broken the terms for their surrender. (fn. 106)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
Littledean with Mitcheldean and Abenhall was presumably part of the estate called Dean held by William son of Norman in 1086 (fn. 107) and apparently had a castle soon afterwards. (fn. 108) Woodland there belonging to the Crown was cleared for cultivation by William of Dean (d. c. 1259), the lord of part of Mitcheldean, who paid a rent of 2s. to St. Briavels castle for it. William's son and heir Henry of Dean made further clearances at Littledean (fn. 109) and at his death c. 1292 was seised there of assarted land, for which he owed the same rent of 2s., and 2 yardlands held from the Crown for a cash rent of 6d. (fn. 110) Henry's lands descended with his Mitcheldean estate to his grandson William of Dean, who at his death c. 1319 had in Littledean a messuage, 51 a., and rents worth £3 17s. 5d. from 18 freehold estates. (fn. 111) His lands, placed in the guardianship of his wife Isabel in 1320, were eventually divided between his infant daughters Joan and Isabel. (fn. 112) The Littledean possessions later became known as the manor of LITTLEDEAN. (fn. 113) Custody of a bailiwick in the royal demesne woodland of the Forest was probably held with the Littledean lands before 1282 when the bailiwick was in the king's hands. (fn. 114) It was restored some time after 1319 (fn. 115) to the lords of the part of the manor acquired by Isabel of Dean, (fn. 116) and in 1565 the Littledean bailiwick, also known as Badcocks Bailey, was held by Richard Baynham (d. 1580) evidently by virtue of his reversionary right to that part of the manor. (fn. 117) The estate later passed to the Vaughans and they were recorded as woodwards of the bailiwick until the late 17th century. (fn. 118)
William of Dean's elder daughter Joan received his Mitcheldean possessions and in 1436 her descendant Robert Baynham (fn. 119) had rents totalling £3 2s. 7d. in Littledean. (fn. 120) Robert died later in 1436 and his Littledean and Mitcheldean estates descended to William Baynham (d. 1568) and were retained by William's widow Anne in jointure in 1573. By 1608 William's son Joseph (fn. 121) held a quarter of Littledean manor (fn. 122) and at his death in 1613 was succeeded by his son Alexander. (fn. 123) The Littledean estate apparently passed with Mitcheldean in 1694 to Maynard Colchester. (fn. 124)
Isabel, William of Dean's other daughter, married Ralph of Abenhall (fn. 125) (d. c. 1347), whose daughter and heir Margaret, wife in turn of Lawrence Greyndour and Robert of Huntley, had rents in Littledean at her death in 1375. (fn. 126) By 1354 Isabel was married to John Basset, (fn. 127) who died in 1362 leaving infant daughters, Margaret and Alice (d. 1367). (fn. 128) Margaret married Walter Brown and in 1383 they conveyed a quarter of Littledean manor to John Greyndour, (fn. 129) the son and heir of Margaret of Huntley. (fn. 130) John died in 1415 or 1416 and his part of the manor descended with his estate in Abenhall and Mitcheldean, which passed at the death of Thomas Baynham in 1611 to the Vaughan family. (fn. 131) By 1634 the Vaughans' share of the manor was described as two thirds (fn. 132) and in 1659 John Vaughan sold it to Henry Heane, whose family already owned land in Littledean. (fn. 133) Henry, who was vicar of Olveston, died in 1661 and his share of the manor passed first to his wife Elizabeth and secondly, in 1676, to his son Henry, rector of Great Witcombe. (fn. 134) In 1679 John Parker of Hasfield, the mortgagee, took possession of the estate, which included fishing rights in the river Severn near Broadoak. (fn. 135) He died in 1692 leaving it to his daughters Mary, Eleanor, Margaret, and Elizabeth, who sold it in 1700 to Maynard Colchester of Westbury-onSevern. (fn. 136) Maynard, who had apparently inherited another portion of the manor, (fn. 137) was regarded as sole lord of Littledean (fn. 138) and the manorial rights passed with his Wilderness estate near Mitcheldean and belonged in the early 20th century to M. W. Colchester-Wemyss. (fn. 139) A house in which the Misses Parker held courts from 1693 became known locally as the manor house. (fn. 140) It stood near the church on the west side of Church Street. (fn. 141)
Flaxley abbey had acquired lands in Littledean by 1269. (fn. 142) Known sometimes as the manor of LITTLEDEAN (fn. 143) they were granted with the abbey's other estates to Sir William Kingston in 1537. (fn. 144) Some of the Littledean land descended, under a long lease granted by Anthony Kingston in 1591 and acquired by James Hawkins in 1612, with the Grange estate in Flaxley. (fn. 145) Anthony Kingston's son William (fn. 146) was among the lords of Littledean in 1608. (fn. 147) The Kingstons' successors at Flaxley owned land in Littledean (fn. 148) and included the Crawley-Boeveys, who had sold some cottages by the mid 1730s. (fn. 149) Sir Thomas Crawley-Boevey, Bt., retained 5 a. in the parish in 1839. (fn. 150)
The Brayne family, which owned a substantial estate in Littledean in the 17th century, was descended from Richard Brayne to whom John Greyndour in 1388 granted the reversion of a house and 36 a. held for life by Margery Hayward. (fn. 151) The house, known in the early 17th century as HAYWARDS or THE COURT HOUSE, (fn. 152) became the chief house of an estate which passed from Richard Brayne (d. 1572) in turn to his wife Jane and his grandson Thomas Brayne. (fn. 153) From Thomas (d. 1604) it passed in jointure to his wife Catherine, (fn. 154) who married John Winford (fn. 155) and retained the estate in 1638. By 1641 it had reverted under Thomas's will to Ketford Brayne, (fn. 156) who, though a royalist, escaped sequestration. (fn. 157) Ketford died in 1682 (fn. 158) and John Brayne, who fell heavily into debt, sold the house and some land in 1710 to Eustace Hardwicke. In 1715, as part of a settlement of Chancery suits between them, Eustace conveyed the house and land back to John and in 1716 John sold the estate, which included land in adjoining parts of Flaxley and Newland, to his attorney and principal creditor, Walter Roberts of Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.). Walter (d. by 1734) was succeeded by his son James. In 1770 James sold the estate to the attorneys Robert Pyrke and Selwyn James of Newnham and in 1775 they conveyed it to trustees for sale to pay their joint debts. After his partner's death in 1780 Selwyn James took legal action to force a sale and c. 1785 the estate was sold to George Skipp. (fn. 159) George, who also acquired the adjoining Grange estate, died in 1804 and the Court House and its lands evidently passed in turn to his wife Frances (d. 1823) and son George. (fn. 160) George (d. 1837) left the estate to his wife Hannah and in 1845 she conveyed the house and c. 155 a. to her son Francis Skipp. (fn. 161) In 1861 the house and most of the land were sold to the ironmaster Henry Crawshay (d. 1879) and in 1884 they were bought by the Mitcheldean brewer Thomas Wintle. He died in 1888 and his trustees sold the house and 60 a. in 1906 to William Smith, the tenant farmer. (fn. 162) In 1984 the house and some land were bought by Mr. Frank Thorpe. (fn. 163) The Court House, which had become a farmhouse by the early 18th century (fn. 164) and was later known as Court Farm, was on the south side of Broad Street near the north-western end of the village. (fn. 165) It was occupied by a farm bailiff by the early 1850s (fn. 166) and was rebuilt as a bailiff's house in the 1860s or 1870s. (fn. 167)
A house outside the village by the Newnham road, known by 1628 as Littledean Hall and later as DEAN HALL, (fn. 168) became the centre of an estate built up by the Pyrke family. The house belonged until 1611 to the Cockshoot estate in Newnham, which Richard Brayne settled in 1552 on his son John, (fn. 169) later described as of Newent. In 1599 John, together with his son Richard, sold the estate to his nephew Thomas Brayne (d. 1604) and in 1606 Richard, who under Thomas's will had a reversionary right, acquired it outright from Thomas's widow Catherine. (fn. 170) Richard sold the house in Littledean in 1611 to Richard Brayne of Bristol, a grocer, who sold it in 1612 to Charles Bridgeman of Poulton Court in Awre. (fn. 171) Charles, who bought land around the house, made it his residence (fn. 172) and at his death in 1643 left the small estate to his wife Catherine (fn. 173) (fl. 1657). His grandson Charles Bridgeman sold it first in 1657 to John Wade, (fn. 174) the chief administrator of the Forest of Dean, (fn. 175) and, having bought it back from Wade in 1662, (fn. 176) secondly in 1664 to Thomas Pyrke of Abenhall, (fn. 177) a landowner at Mitcheldean. (fn. 178) Thomas took up residence in the house and enlarged the estate, (fn. 179) which at his death in 1702 passed to his wife Anne in jointure. She released it in 1703 to his son and heir Nathaniel in return for an annuity. (fn. 180) Nathaniel, who in 1710 added the Cockshoot to the estate, (fn. 181) died in 1715 leaving his son Thomas as his heir. (fn. 182) From Thomas (d. 1752) the estate passed in turn to his wife Dorothy (d. 1762) and his greatnephew Joseph Watts. (fn. 183) Joseph, who changed his surname to Pyrke, took possession in 1764 (fn. 184) and died in 1803 leaving the estate of 185 a. in Littledean and Newnham to his son Joseph Pyrke (fn. 185) (d. 1851). From the latter it passed to his son Duncombe (d. 1893), whose son Duncombe (fn. 186) broke it up by sales. In 1897 H. J. Austin, a Lancaster architect, bought the house and c. 30 a. and in 1898 he sold the same to John Penberthy. (fn. 187) Penberthy, who bought other land in and around Littledean, (fn. 188) died in 1927 and, following the death of his wife Eleanor in 1938, his daughter Eleanor, wife of E. W. Jacques, (fn. 189) sold the house to M. G. Corbet-Singleton (d. 1964). Corbet-Singleton's widow Enid left it in 1975 to Mr. David Macer-Wright, whose son, Mr. D. M. Macer-Wright, was the owner in 1989. (fn. 190)
The north-south range of Dean Hall is probably of the 16th century and has a conventional three-roomed plan. In the early 17th century a new parlour wing, apparently re-using older foundations, was added to the north end. A service wing to the west of the south end of the main range may also be of the 17th century but it was remodelled in the 18th and 19th centuries. Minor additions were made to the north wing in the early 19th century and it was refronted to incorporate the attics and given a central entrance porch in 1852. (fn. 191) At the same time gates were built to the south on the Newnham road at the end of a drive which followed the old line of the road on the east side of the house. (fn. 192) From the late 1850s the house, while it belonged to the Pyrke family, was occupied by tenants, including from 1877 the barrister F. E. Guise (d. 1893). (fn. 193)
In 1688 Lincoln College, Oxford, acquired a rent charge of £14 in Littledean to support scholarships established under the will of Thomas Marshall. (fn. 194) The college apparently received a rent of £12 in the late 18th century. (fn. 195)
In the later Middle Ages the tithes of Littledean belonged to St. Bartholomew's hospital, Gloucester, (fn. 196) which by the later 16th century usually leased them to the curate of Littledean. The rent charge for which they were commuted in 1840 was used to augment the incumbent's living in 1867. (fn. 197) Tithe-free land in the parish presumably represented the estate of Flaxley abbey, which as a Cistercian house was exempt from paying tithes from land which it had brought into cultivation. (fn. 198)
In the 1230s corn was grown on assarted land in Littledean held by William of Dean. (fn. 199) In 1282, as a result of encroachments on Crown land by William and his son Henry, Henry held 26 a. of cultivated land, a pasture close containing 15 a., and 2 a. of woodland in Littledean, and seven tenants under him, including 5 cottagers, shared 2½ a. there. (fn. 200) In addition to the assarts Henry of Dean's estate in Littledean in 1292 included 2 yardlands described as thicket or undergrowth, (fn. 201) and in 1319 that of William of Dean, most of whose 102 a. of assarted land was evidently there, included a yardland (48 a.) of arable, 3 a. of meadow, and rents from 18 freeholders. (fn. 202) In 1436 Robert Baynham, holding a pan of the manor, received rents ranging between 4d. and 2s. 2d. for 65 holdings from 43 tenants, most if not all freeholders, and rents ranging from 6d. to 8s. for seven holdings outside the manor in Littledean and Newnham. (fn. 203) On another part of the manor 13 freeholders and 3 leaseholders paid chief rents to Baynham Vaughan in 1632 (fn. 204) and at least 23 freeholders paid rents to John Parker in 1686. (fn. 205) In 1785 Maynard Colchester received chief rents from 20 small freehold estates, two or three of them outside the manor at Blackmore's Hale and Elton in Westbury-on-Severn. (fn. 206) By ancient custom some freeholders owed henots and, from 1653 at the latest, a fine on selling any land. (fn. 207) Such customary payments were claimed in Littledean as late as 1906. (fn. 208) In 1535 Flaxley abbey had rents and farms worth £10 17s. 2d. clear from its lands in Littledean and, presumably, adjoining parts of Flaxley and Newnham. (fn. 209) In or soon after 1618 owners of former assarts, many of which were contiguous to the Forest, secured their titles by paying compositions to the Crown. (fn. 210)
William of Dean's estate, as extended in 1319, had 2 neifs, both owing rents and three days' work in the harvest, in Littledean. (fn. 211) In 1686 John Parker received rents from at least 14 leaseholders, 3 of whom owed an additional payment of a hen. (fn. 212) A few tenancies were at will. (fn. 213) In the early 18th century many cottage holdings created by squatter development were held under the Colchesters on leases for three lives or 99 years. (fn. 214) In 1785 Maynard Colchester had 6 tenants holding ½ a.-9¼ a. at rack rent, 33 cottage tenants, and a tenant holding 3½ a. in Littledean. (fn. 215)
By the 16th century most land in the parish was in closes of pasture or meadow (fn. 216) and several orchards had been planted. (fn. 217) Among the livestock kept sheep were most numerous, one flock using a sheepcot erected near Collafield by 1638, (fn. 218) but many people also had pigs (fn. 219) and some cattle. (fn. 220) Tenants of land in Littledean enjoyed common rights in the extraparochial land of the Forest of Dean, including Abbots wood, in the mid 17th century. (fn. 221) Those rights, for which the parish paid 3s. 4d. herbage money in the late 18th century, (fn. 222) were exercised by six people in 1860. (fn. 223) Five Littledean holdings continued to enjoy common rights for horses, cattle, and sheep in Abbots wood until 1872. (fn. 224) Throughout the parish, and particularly on the west side, were areas of waste ground. Some of that land was evidently used for grazing and an area on Dean hill was described as a common in 1618. (fn. 225) Inclosure of the waste, which had begun by the mid 17th century and continued into the 20th, was mostly for cottages and gardens. (fn. 226) Some land taken in from the waste on the north-east side of the parish adjoining Chestnuts hill had been planted with orchards or potatoes by 1754. (fn. 227) In 1801 only 46 a. in the parish were said to be under arable crops, mostly wheat and barley. (fn. 228) In 1866, when the area returned as arable was 70 a., half of which grew turnips and other forage crops, permanent grassland accounted for at least 260 a. (fn. 229) The numbers of sheep and pigs returned were 290 and 179 respectively and very few cattle were recorded. (fn. 230) At the end of the century and in the early 20th even less land was under arable cultivation and most was given over to grassland and sheep farming. Some beef and dairy cattle were kept. (fn. 231) A market gardener lived in Littledean in 1885 (fn. 232) and orchards covered at least 66 a. in the enlarged parish in 1896. (fn. 233) Cider production on one farm expanded in the early 20th century into a business supplying cider and perry wholesale to inns in a wide area, an enterprise that failed after 1950. (fn. 234) Littledean had a small area of commercial plum orchards in the later 1980s when most of the land remained under grass and one of the larger farms was devoted to dairying and another to sheep raising. (fn. 235)
There have been many smallholdings and few large farms in Littledean. Parishioners usually combined husbandry with a trade (fn. 236) and in 1831 only 9 of 158 families depended chiefly on agriculture for a livelihood. Many more families evidently derived some support from farming (fn. 237) and in 1851 the inhabitants included 2 full-time farmers, 2 farm bailiffs, and a haulier, an innkeeper, and a teacher with small farms, and 44 agricultural labourers. (fn. 238) In the late 1830s Court farm, part of which was in Flaxley, had 120 a., (fn. 239) Dean Hall farm 55 a., and most other holdings under 20 a. (fn. 240) In 1863 the inhabitants, apart from the two principal farmers, were labourers, craftsmen and small shopkeepers. (fn. 241) Court farm, the tenancy of which had passed to the ironmaster Stephen Allaway by the early 1850s, (fn. 242) had been reduced to 60 a. by 1883. (fn. 243) For the enlarged parish 31 separate holdings, most worked by tenants, were returned in 1896. (fn. 244) Some amalgamation had taken place by 1926 (fn. 245) when 16 separate holdings were returned, of which 7 were under 20 a. and another 6 under 50 a. (fn. 246) In the later 1980s Littledean had two farms with 100 ha. (c. 247 a.) or more and at least eight holdings of 20 ha. (c. 50 a.) or less worked by part-time farmers. (fn. 247)
In the early 1280s there was an old mill north-east of Littledean below Chestnuts hill (fn. 248) and in 1382 two men surnamed 'atte mill' were granted land in Littledean. (fn. 249) A mill, apparently that belonging to John Player in 1515, (fn. 250) stood below Chestnuts hill on the stream north of the Gloucester road and was owned by the Pomfrey family in the mid 16th century. Richard Pomfrey, a weaver, sold it in 1577 to Thomas Pinfold, a Stroud mercer, (fn. 251) and in 1597, when Pinfold sold it to Rowland Heane, it was a grist mill. (fn. 252) Ownership of the mill, which was occupied in 1619 by John Swift (fn. 253) and was operated from 1674 by Ephraim Sansom of Blackmore's Hale, descended to Thomas Heane of Tockington, who in 1679 sold it to Thomas Pyrke. (fn. 254) The mill was in use in 1785 (fn. 255) but the principal building had been removed by 1836. (fn. 256) Another building, dating from the early 19th century and standing downstream on the parish boundary, (fn. 257) was derelict in 1989.
Other Industry and Trade.
Littledean was the home of ironworking and metal trades by the mid 13th century, when four itinerant forges fuelled by timber or charcoal were operating there. (fn. 258) Henry of Dean felled a grove before 1282 to provide charcoal (fn. 259) and among the forges at work in Littledean at that time was one belonging to a sharesmith. (fn. 260) Nailmaking had been established by 1327, when a nailer was one of the wealthier inhabitants, (fn. 261) and became the most important trade in Littledean. Seventeen nailers listed in 1608 included men of some wealth, notably members of the Robinson family (fn. 262) whose descendants were in the trade until the 19th century. (fn. 263) Among the craftsmen of the parish in 1608 were also two pinners. (fn. 264)
The early forges and furnaces, one of which was owned by Richard Brayne (d. 1504), smelted ore mined locally. (fn. 265) The scale of the industry is indicated by the deposits of cinders or slag found by roads throughout the parish in the later 17th century. (fn. 266) In the west at Callamore and Pennywell and in the south-east they formed prominent tumps. (fn. 267) Littledean was one of the principal ironworking centres in the Forest area in the early 1560s, when three local smithholders or ironmasters, including members of the Hawkins family, bought most of the coppice wood in the Crown demesne woodlands for making charcoal. (fn. 268) Metal trades, principally nailmaking, remained a major source of employment long after 1672, when five or more forges were operating in the parish. (fn. 269) By the later 17th century the cinder tips were being removed for resmelting (fn. 270) and in 1680 John Parker agreed to sell cinders on the waste ground of his manorial estate to the Flaxley furnace; they were being taken there from Pennywell in 1710. (fn. 271) The Colchesters removed cinders from Callamore in the mid 18th century (fn. 272) but the digging of cinders had apparently ended by the 1780s. (fn. 273)
Miners were recorded in Littledean from the mid 13th century (fn. 274) and eleven miners and a collier were listed in the parish in 1608. (fn. 275) The number of coal miners probably increased in the 17th century, (fn. 276) when squatters migrated from the Forest to Littledean, (fn. 277) and 12 coal miners were exempted in 1718 from paying parish rates on their cottages evidently because of poverty. (fn. 278) The mining community was centred on Callamore, where at least eight coal miners lived in 1728. (fn. 279) Coal has been mined on that side of the parish (fn. 280) but most colliers presumably worked in adjoining parts of the Forest. A marlpit was dug in Littledean before 1280 (fn. 281) and deposits of iron ore and ochre to the west and south-west of Littledean had been exploited by the 17th century. (fn. 282) In 1608 a parishioner was employed carrying red ochre (raddle). (fn. 283) In the late 17th century limestone was quarried and burnt at Callamore, (fn. 284) at the top end of which a limekiln, perhaps that standing near Colloegrove in 1668, (fn. 285) continued to operate in the early 18th century. (fn. 286)
Littledean's importance as an industrial and local trading centre is indicated by the large number of craftsmen and tradesmen listed in the parish in 1608; of the 107 men named only 6 were described as husbandmen. (fn. 287) Nearby woodland supported several industries and crafts, including the making of hoops in the 1550s, (fn. 288) shovels and trenchers in the 1600s, (fn. 289) and saddletrees in the 1640s. (fn. 290) It also supplied bark for tanning, which had been introduced to Littledean by 1597. (fn. 291) The principal tannery, worked by Rowland Heane (d. 1610) and his son David (d. 1619), (fn. 292) was near the church (fn. 293) and possibly remained in use in the mid 1740s. (fn. 294) Two glovers were listed in 1608. (fn. 295) In the 1790s the merchant Joseph Boughton, a member of a Broadoak family, lived in Littledean and was active in the timber trade. (fn. 296) Although cloth was stolen at Littledean in 1377 (fn. 297) and a few weavers lived in the parish in the late 16th century (fn. 298) and several clothiers in the later 17th century, (fn. 299) the textile trades were not strong. Three weavers were listed in 1608, when the inhabitants included two chapmen, a tinker, and a bone lacemaker and the more usual country crafts and trades were represented by a smith, four carpenters, two joiners, three butchers, and a tiler. (fn. 300) In 1766 there was a thatcher. (fn. 301) Few members of the professional classes have pursued careers in Littledean. Exceptions were an architect and a surgeon, both of the Steel family, in the early 18th century. (fn. 302)
In the later 18th century many poor inhabitants continued to depend on nailmaking and mining for a livelihood. (fn. 303) Although several nailmakers such as Philip Robinson (d. 1809), who took over his uncle's business in 1776 (fn. 304) and acquired some coalworks, prospered, the trade was mostly in the hands of poor labourers working individually. (fn. 305) In 1851 it gave employment to 28 parishioners (fn. 306) but in the later 19th century it was gradually abandoned and by the First World War had virtually ceased. (fn. 307) The mining population of the west part of the parish grew as new and deeper mines were opened, particularly from the late 1820s, around Cinderford. (fn. 308) In 1851 it comprised 49 coal miners and 15 iron miners (fn. 309) and in 1872 or 1873 the Forest branch of the Amalgamated Association of Miners formed a lodge in Littledean. (fn. 310) Among the new pits in the Forest the St. Annals, Perseverance, and Buckshraft iron mines, which extended under Littledean, were closed in 1899. (fn. 311) From the 18th century quarrying and limeburning in Littledean were probably on a small scale. (fn. 312) In the late 19th century two quarries were reopened, one of them, in the Ruffitt above Callamore, by M. W. Colchester-Wemyss. The other, near St. White's, was worked after the First World War. (fn. 313)
In the mid 19th century other inhabitants followed trades usually found in large villages and some, including in 1851 a coal agent, a tinplate worker, a patten-ring maker, a stock taker at an iron foundry, and a number of coke workers and railway labourers, presumably worked in the industrial area centred on Cinderford. There was also a number of small shopkeepers in Littledean, (fn. 314) where in 1912 the Cinderford co-operative society opened a shop. (fn. 315) A small malting industry, established by the mid 18th century, (fn. 316) was represented in the early 1850s by three maltsters, of whom one, Joseph Bennett, also traded as a grocer, draper, ironmonger, druggist, and nailmaker. At that time other residents included two curriers and an auctioneer (fn. 317) and several ran lodging houses. (fn. 318) After the First World War the number of craftsmen and tradesmen in the parish fell, (fn. 319) and by the 1950s most of the working population travelled to factories at Cinderford and Gloucester or were employed in the Forest's remaining coal mines. (fn. 320) In 1989 the village retained several shops, and above Callamore and by the Gloucester road were coal merchants' yards.
Market and Fairs.
Littledean was evidently a mart of some importance in 1276, when a monk of Leonard Stanley priory was dealing there in a wide range of merchandise. (fn. 321) In the late Middle Ages a market may have been held near the church (fn. 322) but in 1573 and later it centred on the market cross. (fn. 323) Leather was presumably traded in 1659, when Henry Heane's court appointed a searcher and sealer of leather. (fn. 324) Grain, butter, and cheese were the principal commodities bought and sold in a Saturday market at the end of the 17th century. Dealing practices, such as forestalling, engrossing, and badging of corn, drove away business and an attempt to revive the market in 1757 (fn. 325) was unsuccessful. (fn. 326) Fairs held in Littledean on Whit Monday and 15 November (26 November after the calendar change of 1752) dealt in livestock, metalware, and clothing in 1724 and were mainly for the sale of pedlary in the mid 1760s. (fn. 327) In 1794 a wool fair was organized for 18 July. (fn. 328) In the mid 19th century the November fair dealt in cattle, sheep, and pigs. Together with the Whitsun fair, which had apparently been revived by 1885, it had been discontinued by the mid 1920s, (fn. 329) when a Monmouth firm of auctioneers conducted two sheep sales, in August and September, handling over 3,000 animals, including a few cattle, each year. (fn. 330) One annual sheep sale was held in 1989. (fn. 331)
William of Dean (d. c. 1319) held a court for Littledean. (fn. 332) The court held for the part of the manor which passed to the Vaughan family in 1611 exercised view of frankpledge and occasionally met as a court of survey. (fn. 333) Among its surviving records are papers for 1623, (fn. 334) for several years in the period 1659- 1701, and for 1754 (fn. 335) and a court roll for 1653. (fn. 336) The court, which apart from tenurial matters dealt with disturbances of the peace and unlicensed alehouses and enforced the assize of bread and of ale, was mostly concerned with the maintenance and cleanliness of streets, streams, and wells and the regulation of encroachments and quarrying, including digging for cinders, on waste land. The lord also claimed waifs, strays, felons' goods, and deodands. (fn. 337) The court, which in 1659 appointed an aletaster, a bread weigher, and a searcher and sealer of leather, (fn. 338) requested the lord in 1700 to repair the manor's common pound and fined two former constables in 1701 for not having set watch and ward during the summer of that year. (fn. 339) It continued to deal with encroachments on the waste at least until 1834. (fn. 340)
Two churchwardens were recorded in 1445 (fn. 341) and from 1543. (fn. 342) By 1716 they also administered poor relief (fn. 343) but in 1805 the offices of churchwarden and overseer of the poor were separated, the churchwardens being responsible for the administration of several charities. Most of the money needed for the church was taken from the poor rate until 1834, after which church rates were levied regularly. During the period 1799- 1810, if not for longer, each overseer accounted half the year. (fn. 344) Poor relief took the usual forms, including apprenticeships for children. (fn. 345) In 1818 the vestry ordered the badging of all paupers receiving parish pay and instructed lodging house keepers not to admit tramps. The parish subscribed to the Gloucester infirmary and by 1813 it retained a surgeon or doctor to attend the poor. From 1816 one or two salaried overseers were employed. (fn. 346) In the early 19th century the parish maintained its poor in a number of houses, including some built for that purpose and some belonging to a charity. (fn. 347) In 1822 it opened a workhouse in the former Red Lion inn (fn. 348) and appointed a governor to farm the poor in it for £240, the inmates' earnings, and bastardy payments. From 1823 the workhouse was also used by the parishes of Abenhall and Flaxley, and from 1824 it was run as a pin factory. In 1826 Littledean parish had 13 bedsteads in the workhouse. (fn. 349)
Six people received regular help in 1709. (fn. 350) The cost of poor relief, which was £64 in 1776 and c. £75 in 1785, had risen to £240 by 1803 when 21 people were given regular and 22 occasional aid. By 1813 the number receiving occasional help had doubled and the cost of relief had risen to £345. After that the annual cost fell (fn. 351) and in the late 1820s and the early 1830s it sometimes was less than £200 and only twice was more than £300. (fn. 352) Many of the paupers assisted by the parish in the early 1830s lived within the extraparochial area of the Forest of Dean. (fn. 353) In 1835 Littledean was included in Westbury-on-Severn poor-law union (fn. 354) and from 1895 it was in the East Dean and United Parishes (later the East Dean) rural district. (fn. 355) In 1974 Littledean became part of the new Forest of Dean district.
Architectural evidence shows that Littledean had its own church or chapel by the later 12th century. In 1405 Littledean was a chapelry of Newnham (fn. 356) but by 1413 the inhabitants had appointed a chaplain and were paying him tithes and other offerings which St. Bartholomew's hospital, Gloucester, claimed as appropriator of Newnham church. (fn. 357) In the mid 15th century, before 1460, the hospital conceded control of the chapel and the choice of priest to the inhabitants and, fora rent of 53s. 4d., granted them the tithes and other profits in Littledean. The patronage, which under a confirmation of that concession in 1477 was conditional on the rent's payment, (fn. 358) was exercised by a group of inhabitants in 1514. (fn. 359) By 1573 it had reverted, together with the tithes, to the hospital's governors, Gloucester city corporation, (fn. 360) and in 1836 both advowson and tithes passed with the hospital governorship to the Gloucester municipal charity trustees. (fn. 361)
A chaplain described in 1508 as rector of Littledean served the church and was presumably receiving the tithes. (fn. 362) From the later 16th century Littledean was served by curates nominated by Gloucester corporation or by the farmer of the tithes. In practice the curate often farmed the tithes (fn. 363) but in 1603, when they were valued at £20, he had a stipend of £6. (fn. 364) From 1684 the corporation combined the curacy with that of Newnham (fn. 365) and the curate held the tithes of both parishes at farm. (fn. 366) Littledean came to be regarded as a perpetual curacy. (fn. 367) The Littledean tithes were taken in kind in 1680 (fn. 368) and were commuted in 1840 for a rent charge of £115. (fn. 369) In 1847, when the livings of Littledean and Newnham were separated under a Chancery decree of 1844, the hospital's governors took the rent charge in hand and paid the perpetual curate a stipend of £70. (fn. 370) The living, which also benefited from two sermon charities, was valued at £90 in 1856. (fn. 371)
In 1866 the governors of St. Bartholomew's hospital sold the advowson and rent charge to William Lockett, the perpetual curate. (fn. 372) The following year the living was endowed by Lockett and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with the rent charge and a further £80 a year and was declared a rectory. (fn. 373) Lockett conveyed the advowson later in 1867 to the trustees of the Church Patronage Society. (fn. 374) In 1984 the benefice was united with that of Woodside, also known as Cinderford St. Stephen, which was in the same gift. (fn. 375) Littledean was enlarged for ecclesiastical purposes in 1909, when the adjoining part of the Forest at Chestnuts hill was transferred to it, and in the late 1970s, when land to the south was added from Flaxley. (fn. 376)
In 1594 a house in Littledean was known as the parish priest's house (fn. 377) but in 1680 and later the curacy lacked a residence. (fn. 378) A grant of £400 from Queen Anne's Bounty (fn. 379) was used in 1822 to buy a house in Broad Street. (fn. 380) That building, part of which had once been a malthouse, (fn. 381) was pulled down and replaced by a new house in the later 1860s, and a field behind it was acquired as glebe in 1878. (fn. 382) After the union of benefices in 1984 the house was sold and the incumbent lived at Cinderford. (fn. 383)
Under the will of George Morse of Henbury, dated 1668, the curate of Littledean was to receive 10s. a year for a sermon but the bequest was evidently never paid. (fn. 384) Two other sermon charities, founded under the wills of Eustace Hardwicke (d. 1718) and Dorothy Pyrke (d. 1762), yielded £1 11s. for the incumbent. (fn. 385) The value of the Pyrke sermon charity, which in 1906 was consolidated with a clothing charity, (fn. 386) remained unchanged at £1.05 in the late 1980s when the incumbent received £5 for Hardwicke's sermon. (fn. 387)
In the early 16th century several chaplains or chantry priests served in the church. One accused of incontinency absconded with a woman in 1508 and another accused in 1522 of fathering two children remained in office in 1525. (fn. 388) George Pomfrey, curate in 1551, (fn. 389) was a former canon of Llanthony priory and chantry priest in the church. From 1563 he also held Rodmarton rectory (fn. 390) and in 1572 was non-resident. (fn. 391) In 1612 the curate was presented for not preaching monthly sermons and for conducting irregular marriages of minors. (fn. 392) Following the death in 1636 of an aged and enfeebled curate and petitions from many parishioners his assistant Walter Ridler became curate. (fn. 393) Soon afterwards Bishop Goodman suspended him for preaching that Roman Catholics were damned (fn. 394) but Ridler, although denounced as 'an inconformable minister' by opponents of his puritan patrons, (fn. 395) retained the cure until 1651. His successor Thomas Ashfield, (fn. 396) a preaching minister who had served the church for a stipend of £22 in 1650, (fn. 397) subscribed to the Act of Uniformity in 1662. In the early 1670s Henry Heane, rector of Great Witcombe and heir to part of Littledean manor, had the cure. (fn. 398) Of the men who served the cures of both Littledean and Newnham John White, admitted in 1714, was also rector of Mitcheldean from 1723 (fn. 399) and his successor John Winfield, admitted in 1727, accepted Churcham vicarage in 1733 and was dismissed in 1739 because of non-residence. (fn. 400) James Parsons, perpetual curate from 1800, (fn. 401) had by 1822 appointed separate curates for Littledean and Newnham. He later resided in Littledean and served the parish in person until 1845. Under H. M. Willis, his successor at Littledean in 1847, (fn. 402) the replacement in 1849 of Joseph Bennett, a long serving churchwarden who had refused to let charity money be used for a new village school, led some members of the congregation to withhold church rates until Willis resigned in 1857. The next incumbent, J. J. Hedges (d. 1864), faced opposition from Bennett over the restoration of the church. (fn. 403)
A chantry dedicated to the Holy Trinity was established in Littledean church in 1412 or 1413. Its founder, Philip Hook (d. 1406), endowed it with Stantway manor in Westbury-on-Severn. (fn. 404) At its dissolution the chaplain had an income of £6 3s. 2d. and the endowments included his house and rents in Westbury and Littledean. They were granted in 1550 to John Butler and Hugh Partridge. (fn. 405) In 1468 there was a chantry of St. Mary in the church. In 1548 its chaplain, who said a morrow mass, had an income from land in Littledean and Westbury of £2 18s. 2d., which the parishioners had often used for repairing the church, highways, and a conduit bringing water to the village. (fn. 406) The Littledean land, which the Crown leased in 1563 to Robert and Goodith Brayne, (fn. 407) was said in 1594 to include houses once occupied by the chantry priest and a bellman. (fn. 408) Thomas Brayne of Mitcheldean by will proved 1531 left land for an obit in Littledean church. (fn. 409)
The church, which had been dedicated to ST. ETHELBERT by 1406, (fn. 410) is built of coursed rubble and has a chancel with north chapel, a clerestoried nave with north aisle and south porch (the porch used as a vestry), and a west tower with the stump of a spire. The responds of the chancel arch and the south wall of the nave date from the later 12th century. In the 14th century the chancel, including the arch, was rebuilt and the aisle was added. The chapel had been built by 1413 to accommodate the Holy Trinity chantry (fn. 411) and was by 1504 the mortuary chapel of the Braynes. (fn. 412) The clerestory and the tower and spire were also added and some windows were enlarged in the 15th century. (fn. 413) The chapel retains its original roof and the chancel, nave, and aisle have 17th-century ceilings. An early 16th-century south doorway in the chancel has been blocked. Much tracery had been mutilated or removed by 1849, when the church was described as in bad order, dirty, and ill kept. Earlier the porch had been closed, the pulpit placed against the south wall of the nave, east and west galleries erected, and a corner of the chapel adapted as a vestry. (fn. 414) Piecemeal restoration began in 1863 and the galleries had been taken down by 1869. (fn. 415) Damage to the building by a storm in 1893 necessitated the removal of the spire in 1894 and further restoration work, notably on the tower. (fn. 416)
Windows in the chapel and aisle contain fragments of medieval glass. (fn. 417) The church has a cloth formed by two medieval chasubles sewn together and used in the late 18th century to cover the reading desk. (fn. 418) A 17th-century communion table stands in the chapel. The font has an octagonal bowl probably of medieval date. (fn. 419) George Pomfrey, the curate, by will proved 1575 left 3s. 4d. towards casting church bells. (fn. 420) In 1752 a peal of six bells was cast by William Evans of Chepstow (Mon.) and in 1894 one bell, which had been broken, was recast. (fn. 421) The church plate dates from the 19th century. (fn. 422) The organ, dated 1790, was bought in the mid 20th century. (fn. 423) There are 18th-century wall monuments to members of the Pyrke family and among the floor tablets is one to Ketford Brayne (d. 1705). (fn. 424) The churchyard contains a number of 18th-century tombchests and carved headstones. The surviving registers date from 1684. (fn. 425)
Several parishioners refused to attend the parish church in the late 16th century and the early 17th (fn. 426) and some Roman Catholics were alleged to have obtained the curate's suspension in 1637. (fn. 427) William Brayne disturbed the incumbent during prayers in 1616 (fn. 428) and John Brayne's house was licensed in 1672 as a place of worship for a Presbyterian group. (fn. 429) Independents registered a house in the village in 1724 (fn. 430) but no dissenters were reported in the parish in 1750. (fn. 431) Independents meeting at Littledean Hill from the late 1790s under the preacher Richard Stiff moved to a house in Broad Street, which they registered in 1805 and converted as a chapel. In 1813 an adjoining house was incorporated in the chapel, which was taken down to make room for a new building in 1820 when the congregation worshipped, temporarily, in premises called the Club Room. (fn. 432) The new chapel, built chiefly through the efforts of the Gloucester minister William Bishop, was opened in 1821. (fn. 433) It sent missions to the Forest of Dean, notably to Pope's Hill and Drybrook, (fn. 434) and had David Prain as resident minister in the later 1820s. (fn. 435) It was enlarged in 1847 and had attendances averaging over 200 in 1851. (fn. 436) A manse was built in Broad Street c. 1870. (fn. 437) The chapel, to which a schoolroom was added in 1885, (fn. 438) was described as Congregational from the later 19th century (fn. 439) and had 60 members in 1900. (fn. 440) It later shared a minister with other churches and in 1972 joined the United Reformed Church. Services were well attended in 1989. (fn. 441)
Two houses registered on the same day in 1815 by John Wright, a Newent minister, were said to be in Littledean but one may have been at Cinderford. (fn. 442) A house in Silver Street was registered in 1823. (fn. 443) The congregation for which Isaac Denison, a Wesleyan Methodist minister living in Littledean, registered a house in 1824 presumably attended the Wesleyan chapel opened at Littledean Hill later that year. (fn. 444) Bible Christians sent a mission to Callamore in or before 1837. (fn. 445) In 1842 a Baptist preacher from Dursley visited Littledean once a month and in 1846 a member of Cinderford Baptist church registered a house in the parish. (fn. 446)
William Ipsley (fl. 1548), the priest of St. Mary's chantry in Littledean, kept a school. (fn. 447) Dorothy Pyrke by will proved 1762 left £200 for a sermon and a school at Littledean. A woman was to have a salary of £4 4s. for teaching 10 poor children to read and the school 10s.-worth of books a year. (fn. 448) There is no evidence when the school started but it was in existence in 1815. (fn. 449) In the mid 1820s Joseph Pyrke, who had the principal sum in hand, made the payments specified in the bequest and his wife Elizabeth frequently visited the school, (fn. 450) which in 1845 was held in the cottage of the teacher, an elderly, ill-qualified woman. (fn. 451) The Independents, who had started a Sunday school by 1814, (fn. 452) supported a school teaching 86 children in 1819. (fn. 453) It may have been the day school recorded in 1825 (fn. 454) and the British school faced in 1845 with closure because of dwindling attendances. During that period Littledean had half a dozen fee-paying schools. (fn. 455) A Sunday school founded to serve Littledean and the surrounding area was financed by voluntary contributions and taught c. 80 children in 1819, when the master and mistress together were paid £11. (fn. 456) It may have been the Sunday school attended by the pupils of Dorothy Pyrke's charity school in the mid 1820s (fn. 457) and supported by subscriptions and conducted in the church in the mid 1840s. (fn. 458)
In 1848 a National school opened opposite the church in a new building on land provided by Joseph Pyrke. Funds for its construction were not readily forthcoming and for some years the building remained uncompleted. The school, with which Dorothy Pyrke's charity school merged, was managed by the incumbent (fn. 459) and had a single department and an average attendance in 1863 of 60. (fn. 460) A wing was added for an infants' school in 1871 (fn. 461) and the building was enlarged further in 1896 and 1912. (fn. 462) Some overcrowding had resulted from the entry in 1901 of children from Pope's Hill and Flaxley. (fn. 463) The school, in which the mixed and infants' departments were amalgamated in 1916, (fn. 464) had average attendances of 199 in 1910 and 148 in 1938. (fn. 465) Problems in raising funds to maintain the school led the managers to apply for controlled status in 1947. (fn. 466) More classrooms were provided in the 1960s (fn. 467) and, as Littledean C. of E. Voluntary Controlled Primary school, it had 97 children on its roll in 1989. (fn. 468) Dorothy Pyrke's bequest had been invested by 1887, when its income for educational purposes was assigned as prizes for local schoolchildren. The educational charity was administered separately from 1906 and, under a Scheme of 1930, (fn. 469) it paid the the primary school c. £30 a year in the late 1980s. (fn. 470)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
The charity of Thomas Bartlem, who by will proved 1714 left the rent of a house for the poor, became due after the death of his widow in 1715 (fn. 473) and was distributed in bread worth £1 5s. (fn. 474) It lapsed when the parish sold the house but was revived and was paid out of the poor rate by 1799, the money raised by the sale having been used to build poorhouses. (fn. 475) The charity was met out of the rents of parish property from 1837. From 1846 the value of the bread distributed was £1 10s. (fn. 476) Following the sale of the property c. 1850 the charity was funded from the poor rate but by the mid 1860s it had been discontinued. (fn. 477)
Eustace Hardwicke by will proved 1718 gave two fields and an orchard for maintaining his tomb, paying for a sermon, and providing £1worth of twopenny loaves for the poor hearing the sermon. (fn. 478) The surplus income from the land was applied, as the donor had intended, in green coats for the elderly. (fn. 479) From 1819 the charity's income was £18, (fn. 480) double that in the later 18th century, (fn. 481) and from 1827 £1 10s. was laid out on bread. Up to c. 70 people, nearly all women, received clothing. (fn. 482) The orchard was used as allotments in the 1920s and 1930s. (fn. 483) The bequest of Dorothy Pyrke (d. 1762) for a sermon and school provided also for a second clothing charity for the elderly. (fn. 484) It was distributed by Joseph Pyrke in the mid 1820s. (fn. 485) Another bread charity was founded by Ann Matthews (d. 1800), (fn. 486) who by will gave rents from property in Littledean for three doles, each worth 30s. (fn. 487) In 1870 the income of the Hardwicke and Matthews charities was assigned, subject in respect of Hardwicke's to the repair of the founder's tomb and the sermon payment, to a wider range of needs, including assistance to schools teaching Littledean children. Dorothy Pyrke's trust, as regulated in 1887, continued, subject to her sermon and educational charities, to provide clothing, and when it was reorganized in 1906 the sermon and clothing charities were consolidated as the Charity of Dorothy Pyrke for Sermon and Poor. By a Scheme of 1929 that charity was brought under the same trust as the Hardwicke and Matthews charities and the trust's income was used to pay for the two sermons and to provide help for the poor and for local schools. (fn. 488) In the late 1980s the income was c. £300, of which up to £150 was given to the village primary school. (fn. 489)
In 1961 £160 from the assets of a local horticultural society, then being wound up, was assigned to provide payments at Christmas to residents aged over 70. In 1969 a bequest of £150 by Mrs. E. G. M. Evans was added to the fund, (fn. 490) which had ceased to function by the late 1980s. (fn. 491)
Jane Walter by deed of 1760 gave £40 to provide bibles equally for the poor of Littledean and Mitcheldean. The charity lapsed after a few years as a result of the loss of the principal sum. (fn. 492)