Parishes: Lower Slaughter

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.

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'Parishes: Lower Slaughter', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6, (London, 1965) pp. 128-134. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

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Lower Slaughter is a small rural parish two and a half miles south-west of Stow-on-the-Wold and immediately north of Bourton-on-the-Water. Its eastern and southern boundaries are formed by the rivers Dikler and Windrush, and on the south-east the Foss Way marks the boundary for a mile. The area of the ancient parish, 1,126 a., included two detached parts, the 144 a. of Fir (or Slaughter Hill) farm on the north and the 8 a. of Little Aston Mill and its grounds on the east, both of which parts were transferred to the civil parish of Upper Slaughter in 1883. (fn. 1) The history here printed of Lower Slaughter, however, relates to the whole area of the ancient parish.

The Slaughter or Ey brook runs across the middle of the parish, and between it and the Dikler, both of which were straightened in the late 18th century, (fn. 2) the land is comparatively flat and level. Between the Slaughter brook and the Windrush, however, is a bold spur rising from 440 ft. to over 650 ft. within the parish. Along the water-courses the soil is alluvial, with beds of river gravel on the Slaughter brook at the centre of the parish and near the eastern boundary between the brook and the Dikler. On the higher ground are the successive layers of Lower, Middle, and Upper Lias Clays. (fn. 3) The parish is largely open farm-land with some middle-sized woods planted after inclosure in 1731 (fn. 4) and an area of 19th-century park-land reaching into the parish from Copse Hill in Upper Slaughter.

Although three ancient roads (the Foss Way, Condicote Lane, and Buckle Street) (fn. 5) pass through the parish, where Romano-British and pre-Roman remains, including those of a large roadside settlement of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, have been found, (fn. 6) there is no evidence of an early post-Roman settlement there. The suggestion that Slaughter was the site of a battle in 626 (fn. 7) derives solely from fanciful etymology. The precise meaning of the name is not clear: there is apparently no connexion with sloe trees, (fn. 8) but whether the name denotes a muddy place or a ditch, it was possibly used of the ford (on the site of the later Slaughter Bridge), which bore the name in 779, (fn. 9) before it was used of either village.

The village of Lower Slaughter stands on the bed of river gravel at the centre of the parish, mostly on the left-hand side of the stream that is an important element in the picturesque character of the place. The houses were built around a green, which may have been larger than the small triangular area, opening on the stream, that survived in 1961; on the upstream side of it stand many of the more recent cottages in a ring facing outwards on the winding street that encircles them, and it is likely that some at least of the land they occupy was, before the 18th century, (fn. 10) open space at the centre of the village. The stream, broad and shallow where it runs past the village, is crossed by several simple stone bridges and along the stretch by the village its banks were lined with coursed rubble in the 20th century. (fn. 11) The main thoroughfare approaches from the Foss Way on the left-hand side of the stream, crosses it just below the green, and runs beside it towards Upper Slaughter. Among the buildings facing the green across this road and the stream, the village school, converted for residential use in 1932, was built in 1871 and the village hall beside it in 1887. In the 20th century the village has spread outwards a little, and the buildings on its edges include the glebe house built c. 1930, and a row of six houses built by the rural district council in 1951. (fn. 12) Of the two outlying farm-houses, the parsonage farm-house, called Slaughter Farm, was built in the 18th century, probably soon after inclosure in 1731, and Fir Farm, or Slaughter Hill Farm, c. 1800. (fn. 13)

As the site of the manor to which the hundred of Slaughter was attached, Lower Slaughter was an administrative centre for a wider area. The view of frankpledge for the hundred may sometimes have been held there up to the early 15th century, instead of at Salmonsbury Camp, (fn. 14) just across the Foss Way. From 1450 to c. 1670 the three-weekly hundred court, or halimote court, was held at Lower Slaughter, (fn. 15) presumably in the Court House, which from 1716 (when the court was dormant) (fn. 16) was leased as a farm-house. (fn. 17) Presumably some other building in the village provided a home for the hundred court on its revival in 1727 (fn. 18) and for the manor courts. (fn. 19) Connected with the hundred jurisdiction, the gallows survived in 1540 (fn. 20) and gave a name to Gallows piece south-west of the village. (fn. 21) The prison in Lower Slaughter for the hundred was probably established in 1247 when the Abbey of Fecamp (Seine-Inf.) received Slaughter hundred from the Crown as part of an exchange in which the abbey surrendered Winchelsea; (fn. 22) in 1200 the Abbot of Fécamp had paid to have a prison at Winchelsea. (fn. 23) Lower Slaughter prison held prisoners in 1276, 1304, and 1312; (fn. 24) it was repaired in 1510 (fn. 25) and was in use until 1630, (fn. 26) but soon afterwards a prison in Stow seems to have been used instead. (fn. 27)

The pattern of roads in the parish, with roads leading north, south, east, and west from the village, existed in its essentials by 1539, (fn. 28) and was almost exactly the same in the early 18th century as in 1961. (fn. 29) The Foss Way, a turnpike from 1755 to 1877, (fn. 30) crossed the Slaughter brook by a bridge (replacing the ford mentioned above) called New Bridge in 1502 (when the bridge was out of repair and the stream out of its course). (fn. 31) It leaves the parish by Bourton Bridge (fn. 32) at one end and by Stow Bridge at the other; (fn. 33) where the road leading east out of Lower Slaughter joins it, between Stow Bridge and Slaughter Bridge, there was by 1761 the toll-house that was still there in 1961. (fn. 34)

The population of the parish appears to have more than doubled in the 15th century: 38 people were assessed for poll tax in 1381, (fn. 35) and there were said to be 94 communicants in 1551. (fn. 36) The population had fallen again by 1650, when there were c. 20 families, (fn. 37) and there were 21 houses in 1671. (fn. 38) Thereafter the numbers grew, the population being estimated at 150 c. 1710 (fn. 39) and 194 c. 1775. (fn. 40) From just under 200 in 1801, it rose to 258 in 1831 before falling to 202 in 1871, and then, unusually, rose to 250 in 1891 and did not fall again until after 1921. (fn. 41)

The village for long took its water from springs around its edge. The inclosure Act of 1731 reserved to the lord of the manor the right to pipe water from King's Well, (fn. 42) south-west of the village, which is the most plentiful of the nearby springs and seems, from its name, to have belonged to the manor since the early 13th century. In 1871 the lord of the manor built a fountain on the green, (fn. 43) and main water was brought to the village in 1948. Main electricity was available from 1939. (fn. 44)

Most of the houses are built of local stone with Cotswold stone roofs, and the red brick of the tall 19th-century mill building at the upper end of the village stands out in striking contrast. The older houses were built in the late 16th century and early 17th; many have the characteristic mullioned windows, and some have projecting gables, elaborate doorways, or moulded capitals on the chimneys. Very few, however, have not been altered, and some of the later buildings have been altered or built with the aim of giving them 17th-century features. Mid20th-century houses with traditional Cotswold stone slates (not reconstituted stone) include the row of council houses.

In 1237 the sheriff was ordered to have the king's hall at Lower Slaughter repaired, (fn. 45) and in the late 14th century the hall there was built partly at least of stone. (fn. 46) This hall was perhaps the same building, or on the same site, as the later Hall Place, which was part of a freehold estate of the manor in the early 16th century (fn. 47) and may have been replaced in the 17th century by the long and low building which in 1961 had long been known as Church Farm. (fn. 48) The house called the Yard was built probably in the early 17th century on the site of Washbourne's Place, which took its name from the family that owned it in 1470. (fn. 49) The manor-house, which in 1604 stood near the 16th-century dovecot, (fn. 50) was said to be beyond repair in 1637. (fn. 51) It was perhaps replaced c. 1640 by a new house built by Valentine Strong; (fn. 52) if so, the new house may have been Manor Farm, though when Manor Farm was enlarged in 1688 it was not the lord of the manor's house. (fn. 53) In 1656 Valentine Strong built a new manor-house to the design, apparently, of the owner, Richard Whitmore. (fn. 54) It was altered and enlarged in 1864 and 1891, (fn. 55) and the symmetrical stable block was built in the mid-18th century. (fn. 56)

Lower Slaughter is unusual in that the manor has been in one family for 350 years. After the mid-19th century the Whitmores lived at the manor-house and, owning most of the land and being the only leisured family settled there, exerted a strong influence on the life of the local community.


The manor of SLAUGHTER, later called LOWER SLAUGHTER, was held by the Crown from before the Conquest. In 1066 and 1086 it was in the sheriff's hands, together with the hundred. (fn. 57) By 1159 the Crown was using the manor for the payment of pensions or alms, (fn. 58) and in 1174 the income from the manor was granted to a royal servant, (fn. 59) who secured a grant of the manor for life in 1190. (fn. 60) His successors in possession of the manor from 1196 to 1219 (fn. 61) are thought to have been Flemish mercenaries, (fn. 62) and the manor continued to provide for royal officials; (fn. 63) attempts to make it a heritable fee (fn. 64) were unsuccessful. In 1247, however, the manors of Cheltenham and Slaughter, with Salmonsbury (otherwise Slaughter) hundred, were granted to the Abbey of Fécamp in exchange for Rye and Winchelsea. (fn. 65) In 1252 the abbey received a grant of free warren. (fn. 66) By the 16th century, and probably earlier, all the free and copyhold land in the parish (except glebe), as well as land outside, was part of the manor. (fn. 67)

After the dissolution of the alien priories the manor, with the hundred, was granted to Syon Abbey (Mdx.), although Sir John Cornwall, Lord Fanhope (d. 1443), (fn. 68) who held it in 1404 for the Crown, (fn. 69) retained a life interest under the abbey. (fn. 70) The manor was confirmed to the abbey in 1462. (fn. 71) After the Dissolution the Crown did not dispose of the manor until 1611, when it was granted to Sir William Whitmore (fn. 72) of London, M.P. for Bridgnorth. On his death in 1649 Slaughter passed to his second son, Richard, (fn. 73) who built the manor-house there and was Sheriff of Gloucestershire. (fn. 74) Richard's son Richard succeeded to the property in 1667 (fn. 75) but apparently did not live there. (fn. 76) The younger Richard's son William (d. 1725) inherited the Shropshire property of the senior branch of the family as well as Lower Slaughter, which passed first to his widow Elizabeth (d. 1735) and then to his second son, Lieut.-Gen. William Whitmore, M.P. (d. 1771), and then to successive sons, George Whitmore (d. 1794), Sir George Whitmore, K.C.H. (d. 1862), Charles Shapland Whitmore, Q.C. (d. 1877), and Charles Algernon Whitmore, M.P. for Chelsea, who died unmarried in 1908. Lower Slaughter passed to one of his brothers, who also died unmarried, and then to another brother's widow. (fn. 77) She was succeeded in 1944 by Mr. G. M. J. LI. Whitmore, son of her late husband's cousin and great-grandson of Sir George Whitmore, K.C.H. Mr. Whitmore was lord of the manor and owned the larger part of the land in 1961. (fn. 78) During the later 18th century and the earlier 19th the manor-house was usually let, (fn. 79) but for nearly 100 years up to 1961 the lords of the manor had been normally resident. (fn. 80)

Economic History.

Domesday Book suggests that farming in Lower Slaughter was expanding in the later 11th century. (fn. 81) A hundred years later, however, the manor was understocked, and in 1195 was restocked with 3 ploughs, 100 sheep, a horse, 6 sows, and 12 pigs. The income from the manor that year included a sum for the sale of bulls. (fn. 82) In the 13th century there are references to surplus corn; (fn. 83) by 1359 the parish was supporting large numbers of sheep. (fn. 84)

Though the demesne may have been mainly a sheep farm in the later 14th century its proportion of the arable land did not change greatly in the Middle Ages: it had four out of the 13 ploughs on the royal estate in Slaughter in 1086, (fn. 85) and in 1539 it had 12 out of about 25 yardlands in Lower Slaughter. (fn. 86) The customary tenants numbered 25 in 1086, and if their grouping into villani and bordars depended on the amount of land they held it is likely that each villanus had about half a plough-land and each bordar about a quarter. (fn. 87) The customary tenants were doing labour services in 1222, (fn. 88) but by 1291 services were not reckoned in an assessment of the manor. (fn. 89) Holdings of one yardland were apparently common in the late 14th century and in the 15th, (fn. 90) but by 1539 some of the 12 copyhold tenements were of three yardlands. At that time three freehold tenements amounted together to nine yardlands. (fn. 91)

In the 16th century, as, apparently, in the early 13th, (fn. 92) the arable land was divided fairly evenly between two fields, North field and South field, (fn. 93) which were later also called Stow side and Bourton side. (fn. 94) There is no evidence of any broad subdivision within each field, (fn. 95) though in the late 14th century the demesne arable was sown not only with wheat and barley but also with smaller areas of pulse and oats. (fn. 96) The demesne arable may have been cropped differently from the rest, for in 1539 the ridges of the demesne in the fields were separated from the tenants' by green meres. (fn. 97)

Each yardland had between 15 and 36 ridges, the average being c. 25, (fn. 98) and the usual size of a ridge was a little over half an acre. (fn. 99) To each yardland there belonged, in 1604, pasture for 60 sheep in the fields of Upper and Lower Slaughter and for five cows or horses. By 1609 the stint for sheep had been reduced to 50, (fn. 100) and in 1655, when the tenants agreed to restore former tillage and grassland and to prohibit animals from Bourton from being pastured in Lower Slaughter, the stint was reduced again to 45. (fn. 101) The free tenants, however, seem to have retained their right to pasture 60 sheep for each yardland until 1705. (fn. 102) The permanent pasture for the sheep of Lower Slaughter was on the downs of Upper Slaughter, while the cows and horses of both villages were pastured on the Marsh in Lower Slaughter, which in 1730 amounted to 127 a. in five pieces (fn. 103) mostly lying east of the village. (fn. 104) The stint here was reduced to two cows and a horse for each yardland in 1672. (fn. 105)

The right of the customary tenants to pasture their beasts on the manorial waste was, in 1656, (fn. 106) one cause of the continuous disputes between them and the lords of the manor during the 17th century. By then the tenants had an unquestioned right to copyhold by inheritance (fn. 107) and seem to have paid heriots in cash, as they did in 1708. (fn. 108) Their claim that entry fines were fixed by custom was disputed in 1609 (fn. 109) and was still at issue in 1650. (fn. 110) It may have been as a counter-measure that in 1646, 1649, and 1658 the lord made difficulties about the admission of purchasers of copyholds. (fn. 111) He seems to have induced some of the tenants to surrender their copyholds to him and to accept leases instead, for by the end of the 17th century three of the 16th-century copyholds were represented by leaseholds. (fn. 112) Eight copyholds survived the inclosure award of 1731, (fn. 113) and some of these lasted into the 19th century; (fn. 114) one man living in the village in 1961 had been a copyholder until copyhold was abolished by statute. (fn. 115)

The pressure on the arable land of pasturing appears to have brought agreement between Lower and Upper Slaughter for inclosure, though not without disputes about the relative value of the sheep and beast pastures. (fn. 116) Both parishes were inclosed under a single Act, (fn. 117) but with separate awards. (fn. 118) The lord of the manor received about a third of the whole area of the parish, and just under a quarter was allotted for glebe and tithe; there were also some 14 allotments of between 10 a. and 100 a. (fn. 119) Some land seems, from the traces of ridge and furrow in pasture, to have been put down to grass immediately after inclosure, and 50 a. in the north-east of the parish were planted as woodland. (fn. 120) By the middle of the century dairyfarming and cereals predominated, and the number of sheep had declined; (fn. 121) in 1801 the arable included an unusually high proportion of land sown with turnips. (fn. 122) In the late 19th century and early 20th much arable land was converted to pasture: in the thirties there was very little arable. (fn. 123) During the Second World War, however, about half the parish was again ploughed up, and in 1961 there was almost as much arable as grassland. The farming then included dairying, sheep-farming, and the breeding of beef-cattle and bloodstock. (fn. 124)

After inclosure some of the smaller farms were amalgamated with the manorial estate. In 1771 the manorial estate comprised over half the parish in area and value, and most of it was let as two large farms. (fn. 125) The number of substantial farms rose during the 19th century from two to five or six, (fn. 126) and in 1961 there were five of which four were over 150 a. (fn. 127)

Apart from agriculture, trades in 1608 provided employment for three millers, two tailors, a mason, and a slatter. (fn. 128) Milling continued to provide employment, and in 1961 Slaughter Mill was run as a mill and bakery, with a shop attached. There was also a malthouse in the village from the late 17th century (fn. 129) to the 19th, and an alehouse was recorded in 1696 and 1755. (fn. 130) A family of masons lived and worked in Lower Slaughter from the early 19th century until the Second World War. (fn. 131) In the early 19th century trade and manufacture supported a third to a quarter of the population, (fn. 132) and later in the century village trades included boot-repairing, carpentry, and butchering; there is no record of a blacksmith's shop. In the 1920's a garage and agricultural engineer's shop was built on the Foss Way, and sand and gravel pits nearby were in use by 1939. (fn. 133) These survived in 1961, whereas three guest-houses of 1939 did not. Old people mostly of the middle class who had retired to the village from elsewhere formed a significant part of the population in 1961, and shops in Bourton-on-the-Water and the local building trade gave employment to others of the inhabitants. Although the village attracted a number of sightseers it made no effort (in the shape of tea-rooms or souvenir-shops) to encourage them.

Mills and Fishery.

There were two mills attached to the royal manor in 1086, (fn. 134) and in 1327 the taxpayers included a miller. (fn. 135) Aston, or Little Aston, Mill was mentioned by that name in 1395 as part of the manorial estate. (fn. 136) It was held as copyhold until the mid-17th century, when members of the Slaughter family of Upper Slaughter held the copyhold (fn. 137) and leased the mill to others, but from 1685 it was leased, sometimes with the fishery in the stream, (fn. 138) directly by the lords of Lower Slaughter until 1791 when it was separated from the manorial estate. (fn. 139) It apparently went gradually out of use as a mill from c. 1880. (fn. 140)

The other Domesday mill was presumably on the Slaughter brook and perhaps on the site of the mill that in 1961 remained in use for milling and baking. This mill was known as Slaughter Mill in 1502, (fn. 141) and was held as copyhold in the 16th century and early 17th. (fn. 142) By 1735 this mill had been separated from the manorial estate, (fn. 143) and by 1879 it was run by members of the Wilkins family, (fn. 144) under whose name it traded in 1961.

Another fishery, between Hide Mill and Wick Mill in the River Dikler, was recorded as belonging to Lower Slaughter manor in 1731. (fn. 145) This was presumably the lord's fishery that was poached by Northleach men in 1503. (fn. 146)

Local Government.

Although there is no record of Lower Slaughter's being exempted from the view of frankpledge for the hundred, (fn. 147) the manor held its own frankpledge court, presumably because the lord of the manor was also lord of the hundred. Lower Slaughter seems not to have attended the view for the hundred in the late 14th century, (fn. 148) and certainly did not in 1413 (fn. 149) and 1494. (fn. 150) Records of the manor court survive from 1502 and 1503, when the manor's halimote court exercised leet jurisdiction and dealt with tenures within the manor. (fn. 151) The halimote court survived by that name in 1611, (fn. 152) and as the 'view of frankpledge' in 1649–51. (fn. 153) By 1725 (fn. 154) (and perhaps by 1668) (fn. 155) its functions were divided between two courts, one dealing with tenures and called view of frankpledge and court baron, the other called court leet and court baron, but from 1777 these courts were combined as the 'court leet, view of frankpledge, and court baron'. (fn. 156) This court continued to present nuisances until 1823, and encroachments until 1837. It also appointed the hayward up to 1786, the tithingman up to 1842, and the constable up to 1852. (fn. 157) Thereafter there was no court, and copyhold business was done out of court. (fn. 158)

In 1650 two surveyors of the highways also were appointed in the manor court, which made orders about the pound and the stocks. (fn. 159) Parochial government seems to have been weak up to the mid-18th century, perhaps because of the strong tradition of manorial government and the uncertain parochial status of Lower Slaughter, which ecclesiastically was only a chapelry of Bourton-on-the-Water. (fn. 160) In 1784 instead of two churchwardens there was a single 'chapelwarden'. (fn. 161) In the late 17th century and early 18th the constables levied their own rates and performed some of the functions more normal to overseers. (fn. 162) From 1740 there is evidence of the overseers' activity: (fn. 163) it may be that the manorial officers became less important as a result of inclosure in 1731. In the 30 years up to 1803 expenditure on the poor rose less than in most parishes of the area, but it had doubled itself ten years later. The total number of people receiving relief fell in those ten years, while the number on permanent relief more than doubled. (fn. 164)

Lower Slaughter was included in the Stow-onthe-Wold Poor Law Union under the Act of 1834, (fn. 165) the Stow-on-the-Wold highway district in 1863, (fn. 166) and the Stow-on-the-Wold Rural Sanitary District under the Local Government Act of 1872 (being transferred to the newly formed North Cotswold Rural District in 1935). (fn. 167) The parish council, established in 1895, (fn. 168) met about six times a year in 1961. (fn. 169)


The belief that in the 12th century Lower Slaughter had an independent parish church derives from a wrong assumption, (fn. 170) and the claim that in the late 12th century the tenant for life of Lower Slaughter manor had given demesne tithes there to Evesham Abbey (fn. 171) seems groundless. (fn. 172) It may derive from the annexation of the living of Lower Slaughter to the rectory of Bourton-on-the-Water, of which the abbey was patron. By 1235, when from architectural evidence there seems to have been a church at Lower Slaughter, the Rector of Bourton had some glebe in Lower Slaughter, (fn. 173) and two years later he successfully intervened with the king on behalf of several of its inhabitants. (fn. 174) The nonappearance of Lower Slaughter in ecclesiastical records of the late 13th century indicates that by that period, if not before, it was annexed to Bourton. From the 16th century to the 18th the church was usually described as a chapel of ease, (fn. 175) but in the 19th century it was more often called a parish church. (fn. 176) The change may have resulted from the keeping of separate registers for Lower Slaughter (from 1813) and from the establishment of a right to burial there. In the 16th century some inhabitants at least were buried at Bourton, (fn. 177) and although between 1667 and 1699 there were a few burials inside Lower Slaughter church none is recorded in the churchyard before 1770. (fn. 178) In 1741 the inhabitants claimed and the rector denied the right of burial at Lower Slaughter. (fn. 179) The burials there from 1770 on were evidently a departure from former practice. (fn. 180) In 1954 Lower Slaughter was severed from Bourton and the benefice united (the parish remaining distinct) with Upper Slaughter. (fn. 181)

In 1650, when it was suggested that Lower Slaughter should be separated from Bourton, the value of the Lower Slaughter living was put at £60 a year. (fn. 182) Fifty years later the endowment included a house and farm buildings, two yardlands amounting to 50 a. with the usual stints for commons, and tithes. (fn. 183) By the inclosure award of 1731 the glebe and tithe were commuted for c. 250 a. worth over £100 a year ten years later. (fn. 184)

This income, however, went to the rectors of Bourton or their farmers, who from 1532 maintained a curate at Lower Slaughter. (fn. 185) In 1563 it was complained that the cure was inadequately served, (fn. 186) but in 1593 the curate was a graduate and a preacher. (fn. 187) The curates may often have been responsible for Clapton, another chapel to Bourton, as well as for Lower Slaughter, as they were in the earlier 19th century, (fn. 188) but by 1741 the rector did not provide even one curate for the two chapels. In that year the inhabitants of Lower Slaughter complained that the rector would perform services not more than once a week and sometimes less, and communion only three times a year; that he refused burial in the churchyard, and private baptism to sickly babies; and that he hardly ever visited the sick. (fn. 189) In 1750 there were services every Sunday afternoon; (fn. 190) in 1851 there were morning services only. (fn. 191) The number of services, particularly of communion services, increased with the building of the new church in 1867 and the arrival of curates to live in the village. From then on some of the curates stayed more than a few years, and the house they occupied in the village was known as the Parsonage. (fn. 192) A new house was built for the curates on land given by the lady of the manor c. 1930, (fn. 193) and it was this house that became the glebe house of the united benefice of Upper and Lower Slaughter in 1954. (fn. 194) Miss Maud Mildred Whitmore (d. 1944) left £2,500 for the augmentation of the curate's stipend; after the union of benefices, when there was no named curate, the trustees were empowered to use the income for the maintenance of church services. (fn. 195)

In the early 16th century a chantry of St. Mary, whose date of foundation is unknown, provided in theory for an additional priest, (fn. 196) though the stipend (fn. 197) was evidently not sufficient to keep the priest in the parish. (fn. 198) In 1933 the £150 realized by the sale of the schoolroom was invested in trust for ecclesiastical purposes. (fn. 199)

The church of ST. MARY, (fn. 200) a building of stone with a Cotswold stone roof, comprising chancel, nave, north aisle, organ chamber, and vestry, and a western tower with spire, was almost completely rebuilt in 1867 by the lord of the manor, Charles Shapland Whitmore, (fn. 201) in the Early English and Decorated styles. It contains, however, an early 13th-century arcade of four bays and a piscina of the same period. The arches of the arcade are of two chamfered orders supported on plain round columns with octagonal scalloped cushion capitals; the easternmost bay may be a 19th-century copy. The piscina has a semi-octagonal projecting basin, scalloped inside. The arcade suggests that the rebuilding was roughly to the plan of the earlier church, and c. 1700 the church had a north aisle and a western tower with a saddleback roof. (fn. 202) By 1851 there was a gallery. (fn. 203)

The church contains monuments, from the late 17th century, to members of the Whitmore family buried in the north aisle. (fn. 204) Of the six bells, one is thought to be by Robert Hendley of Gloucester (fl. c. 1500), two are by Edward Neale of Burford, 1683, and three were made in 1866. (fn. 205) The plate includes a chalice and paten cover of 1576. (fn. 206) Baptisms, marriages, and burials at Lower Slaughter were entered in the registers of Bourton-on-the-Water until 1813.


Joshua Head, representative of a prosperous farming family in Lower Slaughter, (fn. 207) was one of the original trustees of Stow Baptist chapel in 1700 (fn. 208) and took the oath of allegiance as a dissenting preacher in 1715. (fn. 209) A house was registered for worship by a Baptist group in 1824, (fn. 210) and another licensed in 1850 (fn. 211) apparently replaced it; in 1851 the Particular Baptists had congregations of upwards of 70, under the minister of Bourton, in a cottage which seems to have been converted by then for use solely as a chapel. (fn. 212) This chapel was turned into a house again after the Second World War, having long ceased to be used for regular worship. (fn. 213)


In 1863 there was a small school for the parish, (fn. 214) which gave way in 1871 to a new Church school under a certificated mistress in a new building provided and owned by C. S. Whitmore, lord of the manor. There were 42 children paying fees of 1d. or 4d. (fn. 215) Attendance remained fairly constant, (fn. 216) but the school was closed in 1931 as part of a general reorganization. (fn. 217) The children thereafter attended school at Bourton or Upper Slaughter, and the school building, which had been conveyed in trust in 1914, was sold for conversion into cottages, the income from the proceeds to be used for ecclesiastical purposes. (fn. 218)


Under a Scheme of 1865 Lower Slaughter receives one-fifth of the benefit of Dorothy Vernon's charity. (fn. 219)


  • 1. O.S. Area Bk. (1886); L.G.B. Prov. Order Conf. (Poor Law) Act, 1883, 46 & 47 Vic. c. 80 (local act).
  • 2. Glos. Colln., undated map of boundary between Maugersbury and Upper and Lower Slaughter; O.S. Map 1", sheet 44 (1st edn.).
  • 3. Geol. Surv. Map (drift edn., revised), sheet 217.
  • 4. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 15.
  • 5. Buckle Street is the traditional and most convenient name for the road that runs north from Bourton Bridge on the Foss Way to join Ryknild Street at the top of Broadway Hill. The evidence for the argument (Arch. Jnl. xci. 90–94) that the name should be applied to Condicote Lane (part of Ryknild Street) relates to Ryknild Street north of the junction. This, coupled with the usual application of the name Buckle Street and the disappearance of most of Condicote Lane, suggests that by early in the Anglo-Saxon period the part of Ryknild Street south of Broadway had been replaced, as a through route, by Buckle Street. The southern end of Buckle Street was also known as Becky (or Beggy) Hill way (Gent. Mag. 1864, 3rd ser. xvi. 365) and perhaps, like the road branching off it to Guiting Power, as Slaughter way in the 14th century (Cal. Pat. 1364–7, 345).
  • 6. Camden, Brit. (1806), i. 407; Trans. B.G.A.S. lvi. 133–9; lxi. 114–17, 123, 129–31; lxxix. 121.
  • 7. e.g. book-review, Trans. B.G.A.S. xxxii. 341–2.
  • 8. As suggested in Grundy, Saxon Charters, 51–53; see P.N. Glos. (E.P.N.S.), i. 207.
  • 9. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, i, p. 321.
  • 10. It was divided between four owners by 1731: Glos. R.O., P 297/MI 1.
  • 11. Glos. Colln., views.
  • 12. Dates on bldgs.; local information.
  • 13. Cf. Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).
  • 14. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 15.
  • 15. Ibid. M 13–14.
  • 16. Ibid. M 18.
  • 17. Ibid. T 7.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 17. It is tempting to think that the 'meat house', which survived beside the green until c. 1900, was in fact the 'meet house', but Mr. T. C. Wilkins remembers its being used for the sale of meat: ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 19. See p. 132.
  • 20. E 164/39 f. 348.
  • 21. Local information.
  • 22. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 321. The reference in Pipe R. 1197 (P.R.S. n.s. viii), 121, is probably to prisoners in the county in general.
  • 23. Pipe R. 1200 (P.R.S. n.s. xii), 248.
  • 24. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 301–2; Reg. Ginsborough (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 11; Reg. Reynolds (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 56.
  • 25. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1179.
  • 26. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 19/B. 393–4; M 23.
  • 27. Ibid. M 22.
  • 28. E 164/39 f. 348 mentions two Church Ways (one in the north and one in the south field), Stow Way, and Over Slaughter Way; also Evesham's ways, presumably including Buckle Street.
  • 29. Glos. R.O., P 297/MI 1.
  • 30. Glos. and Warws. Roads Act, 28 Geo. II, c. 47; Annual Turnpike Acts Continuance Act, 1871, 34 & 35 Vic. c. 115.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 8.
  • 32. See p. 37.
  • 33. See p. 148.
  • 34. Cf. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 9; Taylor, Map of Glos. (1777).
  • 35. E 179/113/31 m. 1d.
  • 36. 'Bp. Hooper's Visit. 1551', E.H.R. xix (1904), 110. B.G.A.S. Libr., Furney MS. B, p. 21, gives only 11 households in 1563, but Smith, Men and Armour, 143, listing 24 adult males, supports the figure for 1551.
  • 37. C 94/1 f. 29.
  • 38. E 179/247/14 m. 22.
  • 39. Atkyns, Glos. 655; the figure of 16 families in Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 245b seems, compared with earlier and later figures, to be an underestimate.
  • 40. Rudder, Glos. 665.
  • 41. Census, 1801–1951. The transfer of parts of the parish to Upper Slaughter in 1883 has been allowed for.
  • 42. Glos. N. & Q. viii. 63.
  • 43. Date and initials on bldg.
  • 44. Local information.
  • 45. Cal. Lib. 1226–40, 279.
  • 46. S.C. 6/858/24, /29.
  • 47. Hockaday Abs. cxxx, 1548.
  • 48. This seems the most likely house because of its position and because other possible houses can be eliminated.
  • 49. Glos. R.O., D 45/T 10; P 297/MI 1.
  • 50. Ibid. D 45/M 26.
  • 51. Ibid. M 1.
  • 52. Glos. N. &c Q. ii. 264, which may be referring (with a mistaken date) to the house built in 1656; the house of c. 1640, however, is said to have been for 'William Whitmore Esq.' perhaps meaning Sir William (d. 1649).
  • 53. Date on bldg. The initials appear to be for Head or Hayward; cf. Glos. R.O., P 297/MI 1.
  • 54. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 17; date on fireplace.
  • 55. Dates on bldg.
  • 56. Rudder, Glos. 664.
  • 57. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b–163. The identification in Atkyns, Glos. 655, and in later works, of the 11th-century royal estate as Upper Slaughter seems to result from a confused idea of the medieval ownership of the manor.
  • 58. Pipe R. 1159 (P.R.S. i), 27; 1177 (P.R.S. xxvi), 41.
  • 59. Pipe R. 1174 (P.R.S. xxi), 21.
  • 60. Pipe R. 1190 (P.R.S. n.s. i), 122.
  • 61. Pipe R. 1196 (P.R.S. n.s. vii), 207; Rot. Lib. (Rec. Com.), 4, 52; Bk. of Fees, i. 51; Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 231, 263, 354, 393.
  • 62. 'Glos. in the Pipe Rolls', Trans. B.G.A.S. lix. 186; 'Testa de Neville', Trans. B.G.A.S. xii. 281.
  • 63. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 388, 485–7; Close R. 1227–31, 314, 378; Pat. R. 1225–32, 236; Ex. e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), i. 203.
  • 64. B.M. Cotton MS. Vesp. B. xxiv, f. 47; Close R. 1227– 31, 560; 1237–42, 208; Ex. e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), i. 368.
  • 65. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 321.
  • 66. Ibid. 391.
  • 67. E 164/39 ff. 347–9; cf. Glos. N. &c Q. viii. 52.
  • 68. Complete Peerage, v. 253–4.
  • 69. Rot. Parl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 563.
  • 70. S.C. 6/859/4–6; Feet of Fines, Sussex Rec. Soc. xxiii, no. 3070.
  • 71. Cal. Pat. 1461–7, 144.
  • 72. Glos. R.O., D 317.
  • 73. Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), 2424; Glos. R.O., D 45/E 2, f. 27b.
  • 74. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 17; Atkyns, Glos. 655.
  • 75. Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), 2424.
  • 76. E 179/247/14 m. 22.
  • 77. Glos. R.O., D 1395/II 6/M 1; Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), 2424–5.
  • 78. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 79. e.g. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 13, 21; F 3–4; T 2/12.
  • 80. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 81. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b–163.
  • 82. Pipe R. 1193 (P.R.S. n.s. iii), 113; 1195 (P.R.S. n.s. vi), 56, 59.
  • 83. e.g. Close R. 1237–42, 42.
  • 84. e.g. Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, pp. 132–3; S.C. 6/858/30; S.C. 6/858/2.
  • 85. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b–163.
  • 86. E 164/39 ff. 347–9. Some of the copyhold land was in Upper Slaughter.
  • 87. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b–163.
  • 88. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 507.
  • 89. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 237.
  • 90. e.g. S.C. 6/858/28; Glos. R.O., D 45/M 8; cf. D 45/E 16.
  • 91. E 164/39 ff. 347–9.
  • 92. Close R. 1234–7, 145.
  • 93. E 164/39 f. 348; cf. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 26.
  • 94. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 12 (1668).
  • 95. e.g. Glos. R.O., P 297/MI 1.
  • 96. S.C. 6/859/1.
  • 97. E 164/39 f. 348.
  • 98. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 26.
  • 99. Ibid. P 297/MI 1.
  • 100. Ibid. D 45/M 26.
  • 101. Ibid. E 25.
  • 102. G.D.R. Lower Slaughter terrier, 1705; Glos. R.O., D 45/T 8/11.
  • 103. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 25.
  • 104. Ibid. P 297/MI 1.
  • 105. Ibid. D 45/M 10.
  • 106. Ibid. M 19/B. 409–11.
  • 107. Ibid. M 26 (1609).
  • 108. B.M. Add. Ch. 42912.
  • 109. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 26; cf. E 2, f. 28.
  • 110. C 3/467/107.
  • 111. C 3/445/89; C 3/462/80; C 3/438/79.
  • 112. Glos. R.O., D 45/R 1.
  • 113. Ibid. E 23.
  • 114. Ibid. D 1388, bound sale partics. 1870, no. 30; D 1395/II 6/M 4–5.
  • 115. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 116. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 16 and 25.
  • 117. The Act, 4 Geo. II, c. 18 (priv. act), is printed in Glos. N. &c Q. viii. 51–69.
  • 118. The award for Lower Slaughter had apparently been lost by c. 1800 and does not survive.
  • 119. Docs. penes Mr. Whitmore.
  • 120. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 15.
  • 121. Ibid. E 13.
  • 122. Acreage Returns, 1801, Trans. B.G.A.S. lxviii. 181.
  • 123. Land Util. Surv. Map, sheet 93.
  • 124. Local information.
  • 125. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 15, L 3, R 2, and T 10.
  • 126. Census, 1831; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 354; (1879), 738.
  • 127. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 128. Smith, Men and Armour, 143.
  • 129. Glos. R.O., D 45/T 8/13.
  • 130. Ibid. R 1; Q/AV 2, rot. 13.
  • 131. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.); Glos. R.O., P 297/CW 2/2 (1822).
  • 132. Census, 1801–31.
  • 133. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 134. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b.
  • 135. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 18.
  • 136. S.C. 6/858/28.
  • 137. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 14 and 26.
  • 138. Ibid. T 6.
  • 139. Deeds penes Mr. P. L. R. Allen, of Little Aston Mill.
  • 140. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879 and later edns.); O.S. Map 6", Glos. XXVIII. SE. (1st and 2nd edns.).
  • 141. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 8.
  • 142. S.C. 12/36/12; Glos. R.O., D 45/M 26.
  • 143. Glos. R.O., D 45/T 1/27.
  • 144. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879), 738.
  • 145. Glos. N. &c Q. viii. 63.
  • 146. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 8.
  • 147. e.g. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 10.
  • 148. S.C. 2/176/7, where the 'Slaughter' appears to be Upper Slaughter only, as in ibid. 8.
  • 149. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 15.
  • 150. S.C. 2/176/8.
  • 151. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 8.
  • 152. Ibid. M 9.
  • 153. Ibid. M 14.
  • 154. Ibid. D 1395/II 6/M 1.
  • 155. Ibid. M 3–4.
  • 156. Ibid. M 2.
  • 157. Ibid. M 3.
  • 158. Ibid. M 4.
  • 159. Ibid. D 45/M 9.
  • 160. See below.
  • 161. G.D.R. vol. 319; cf. Hockaday Abs. lxviii, 1661 visit. f. 30; but in the 16th century there were two: Hockaday Abs. cccxl.
  • 162. Glos. R.O., D 45/R 1–2.
  • 163. Ibid. R 4–5.
  • 164. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 182–3; 1818, 154–5.
  • 165. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 353.
  • 166. Lond. Gaz. 1863, p. 1706.
  • 167. Census, 1881, 1931.
  • 168. Glos. R.O., CL 01/2, no. 58.
  • 169. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 170. Bigland, Glos. iii, citing Gilberti [Foliot] Epistolae, ed. G. A. Giles, i. 10, which refers to a church of St. Mary; but in the 15th century Upper Slaughter church was St. Mary's (below, p. 140), while Lower Slaughter church was called St. Mary's, so far as is known, only from 1867: e.g. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1863), 338.
  • 171. B.M. Harl. MS. 3763, f. 91; Pipe R. 1190 (P.R.S. N.S. i), 122.
  • 172. There is no evidence that the grantor had any demesne in hereditary possession, or that the abbey received tithes from Lower Slaughter, though it had a tithe portion in Bourton: Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 222.
  • 173. Close R. 1234–7, 145; Cal. Pat. 1232–47, 233.
  • 174. Close R. 1234–7, 507. It is possible that the rector acted not so much because Lower Slaughter was his parish as because he had, as king's doctor, easy access to the Crown.
  • 175. e.g. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 438; Atkyns, Glos. 655. The inclosure Act of 1731 refers to it as a parish church: Glos. N. &c Q. viii. 51–69.
  • 176. e.g. H.O. 129/14/342/1/9.
  • 177. e.g. Hockaday Abs. cccxl, 1546.
  • 178. Bigland, Glos. iii.
  • 179. Glos. R.O., D 45/R 6.
  • 180. Cf. Rudder, Glos. 665.
  • 181. Ex inf. the rector of the united benefice.
  • 182. C 94/1 f. 29.
  • 183. G.D.R. Lower Slaughter terrier, 1705.
  • 184. Glos. R.O., D 45/R 6; D 1395/VII 4; records penes Mr. Whitmore. The inclosure award for Lower Slaughter does not itself survive.
  • 185. Hockaday Abs. xxv, 1532 subs. f. 6; xxvi, 1534 subs. f. 6; cccxl.
  • 186. Ibid. cccxl.
  • 187. Ibid. lii, 1593 state of clergy, f. 3.
  • 188. Ibid. cccxl.
  • 189. Glos. R.O., D 45/R 6.
  • 190. G.D.R. vol. 393.
  • 191. H.O. 129/14/342/1/9.
  • 192. Recollections of Miss A. G. Matthews, TS. penes Mr. Whitmore; cf. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XXVIII. NE. (1st edn.). A. R. Shilleto, the son of Richard Shilleto who achieved some distinction as a scholar, was curate (not vicar) for 3 or 4 years: D.N.B.
  • 193. Char. Com. files.
  • 194. Ex inf. the rector.
  • 195. Char. Com. files.
  • 196. 'Jurisdiction of the Archbishops of York', Trans. B.G.A.S. xliii. 126; the chantry priest in 1547 was not the same as the curate in 1540 and 1551: Hockaday Abs. xxviii, 1540 visit. f. 61; cxxx, 1547; 'Bp. Hooper's Visit. 1551', E.H.R. xix (1904), 110.
  • 197. Chantry Certificates, Trans. B.G.A.S. viii. 301.
  • 198. Hockaday Abs. cxxx, 1547.
  • 199. Char. Com. files.
  • 200. See above, n. 71.
  • 201. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1870), 632.
  • 202. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 245b; D. Royce, Bourtonon-the-Water Church (pamphlet of 1874 in B.G.A.S. Libr.).
  • 203. H.O. 129/14/342/1/9.
  • 204. Cf. Bigland, Glos. iii.
  • 205. Glos. Ch. Bells, 63; 'Church bells of Glos.' Trans. B.G.A.S. xviii. 239.
  • 206. Glos. Ch. Plate, 185–6.
  • 207. e.g. E 179/247/14 m. 22; Glos. R.O., D 45/M 19/B. 462.
  • 208. Blackaby, Stow Baptist Church, 9.
  • 209. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 4 (from TS. cal.).
  • 210. Hockaday Abs. cccxl.
  • 211. Glos. R.O., Q/RZ 1.
  • 212. H.O. 129/14/342/1/10.
  • 213. Ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 214. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1863), 338.
  • 215. Ed. 7/35/202.
  • 216. e.g. Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1919 (H.M.S.O.), 106.
  • 217. Ibid. 1932, 116.
  • 218. Char. Com. files; ex inf. Mr. Whitmore.
  • 219. See pp. 48–49.