Tewkesbury hundred: Upper division

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

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'Tewkesbury hundred: Upper division', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6, (London, 1965) pp. 185-188. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol6/pp185-188 [accessed 29 February 2024]


The hundred of Tewkesbury lies in the north-east quarter of the county; it comprises a compact area round Tewkesbury and eight disjointed parishes or parts of parishes, most of them strung out towards the east.

The hundred of Tewkesbury (upper division), 1845

The hundred was tenurial rather than geographical in character, and appears to have originated as the large manor of Tewkesbury. The manor was part of the possessions of the great thegn Brictric. In Edward the Confessor's reign the manor was assessed at 95 hides, and with the five hides in the dependent estate at Oxenton amounted to a round hundred hides. Half of the hundred was in the hands of Brictric, or was held of him by unfree or not wholly free tenants. Apart from the five hides at Oxenton, this included 45 hides free of geld and royal service at Tewkesbury and Southwick, Tredington, Walton Cardiff, Aston on Carrant, Fiddington, Natton, and Pamington, the last four apparently being the constituent parts of the later parish of Ashchurch. The other 50 hides, which paid geld and royal service for themselves and the 45, comprised 20 hides belonging to the monastic church of Tewkesbury, at Stanway and Taddington, Lower Lemington, Great Washbourne, Fiddington, and Natton, and 30 belonging to various tenants of Brictric at Clifford Chambers, Forthampton, Hanley in Worcestershire, and Shenington. Also belonging to the church of Tewkesbury and entered in the Domesday Survey as though part of Tewkesbury manor were four and a half hides at Stanley Pontlarge; these, however, were not reckoned as owing geld with the other hides of the hundred, (fn. 1) and Stanley Pontlarge is not otherwise recorded as part of the hundred. The other estates of the church of Tewkesbury, except the small ones at Fiddington and Natton, were all detached from the main body of the hundred; Hanley and Shenington lay within the boundaries of other counties; and Clifford Chambers and Forthampton were peninsulas of Gloucestershire extending into Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

In addition to these hundred hides the estates of other tenants of Brictric, some or all of whom may have become his tenants by commendation, were included in the Domesday Survey as though part of Tewkesbury hundred, and in Tewkesbury hundred (with one exception) they remained. They amounted to 35¼ hides and lay in Ashton under Hill, Kemerton, Boddington, Wincot (in Clifford Chambers), Alderton and Dixton, (fn. 2) Twyning, and Stoke Orchard (fn. 3) (in Bishop's Cleeve). It is to be noted that all these places except Twyning were away from Tewkesbury and the main body of the hundred, and that part of each of them (with the exception of Dixton) was held of another lord and lay in another hundred: Ashton under Hill and Stoke Orchard in Tibblestone hundred, Boddington and Kemerton in Deerhurst hundred, (fn. 4) Alderton and Twyning in Greston hundred, (fn. 5) and Wincote in Witley hundred. (fn. 6)

The consequent complexity of the hundred boundary was to some extent reduced because after the 11th century Twyning was not recorded as part of Tewkesbury hundred and Kemerton was wholly included in Tewkesbury hundred. (fn. 7) After the 16th century Alderton ceased to be partly in Greston hundred, (fn. 8) and from the end of the 18th Stoke Orchard was wholly outside Tewkesbury hundred. (fn. 9) Hanley was removed from the hundred and the county soon after the time of the Domesday Survey; (fn. 10) Shenington was transferred to Oxfordshire under the Act of 1844; (fn. 11) Clifford Chambers was transferred to Warwickshire and Kemerton to Worcestershire in 1931. (fn. 12) A complication in the hundred boundary was introduced in the late 11th century when part of Bourton-on-theHill, in Deerhurst hundred, was added to Tewkesbury hundred. (fn. 13) By 1287 the whole of Prescott, (fn. 14) originally in Winchcombe parish but long owned by Tewkesbury Abbey, was also in the hundred; (fn. 15) it is not clear in which hundred it was earlier. In 1327 Didcot (fn. 16) (in Beckford) and irregularly between 1483 and 1536 Hardwicke (fn. 17) (in Elmstone Hardwicke) appeared as members of Tewkesbury hundred, but they are not otherwise recorded as part of it.

Area around Moreton-in-Marsh, 1962

The manor and hundred of Tewkesbury, along with other property formerly belonging to Brictric, were granted on his death to the Conqueror's queen Maud, and from the time of her death in 1083 were in the hands of the Crown until granted by William II to Robert FitzHamon, as part of what was afterwards the honor of Gloucester. Thus the hundred was held by Robert, the illegitimate son of Henry I, who married FitzHamon's daughter Mabel and was created Earl of Gloucester, and by his successors as earl. (fn. 18) On the partition of their inheritance among the sisters and coheirs of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester (d. 1314), Tewkesbury was allotted to Eleanor, who married Hugh le Despenser the younger, and passed through the Despenser family to Anne daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. After the death of her husband, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, in 1471 her estates were divided between the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Gloucester. Clarence was succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 19) who as Earl of Warwick was named as lord of Tewkesbury hundred and manor in 1482 and 1483. In 1490 his grandmother Anne, the dowager Countess of Warwick, was named as lord, but in 1491 was replaced by the king, (fn. 20) to whom she had in fact made over nearly all her possessions immediately after their restoration to her in 1487. (fn. 21) The hundred and manor remained in the possession of the Crown until 1547 when they were granted to Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, (fn. 22) on whose attainder in 1549 (fn. 23) they reverted to the Crown. In 1610 they were granted to the bailiffs and burgesses of Tewkesbury and thereafter remained the property of the corporation. (fn. 24)

In the late 13th century the Earl of Gloucester claimed return of writs at Tewkesbury (fn. 25) and pleas de vetito namio. (fn. 26) All the places within the hundredal view of frankpledge, even Shenington 30 miles away, attended the view at Tewkesbury then (fn. 27) and in the late 15th century and early 16th, the period for which rolls of the frankpledge court survive. (fn. 28) Within the hundred, however, the estates of Tewkesbury Abbey formed a separate liberty, for which there were four views of frankpledge: two at Tewkesbury, one for the abbey's tenants in Tewkesbury, Fiddington, and Pamington, and one for the rest of the town; one at Forthampton for that vill and its hamlet of Swinley; and one at Stanway for Stanway, Taddington, Lower Lemington, Prescott, and Great Washbourne. (fn. 29) These places remained outside the hundredal view in 1545. (fn. 30)

By the mid-17th century the hundred was divided into upper and lower divisions, (fn. 31) and in 1684 there was a separate high constable for the upper division of the hundred. (fn. 32) The partition of the hundred continued for fiscal, (fn. 33) petty sessional, (fn. 34) and censal purposes. (fn. 35)

The lower division comprised the contiguous parishes around Tewkesbury (including in the 18th century part of Stoke Orchard) and the part of Boddington that was in the hundred. (fn. 36) The histories of the parishes within the lower division are reserved for another volume.

The upper division comprised the parishes detached (or nearly so) from the main body of the hundred: Alderton with Dixton, part of Ashton under Hill, part of Bourtonon-the-Hill, Clifford Chambers, Lower Lemington, Prescott, Shenington, Stanway, and Great Washbourne. The history of Ashton under Hill is reserved for the volume covering Tibblestone hundred, in which the rest of that parish lay, and the history of Shenington is reserved for treatment in Oxfordshire, in which county Shenington has been since 1844.

Partly because they are scattered over a wide area, these parishes afford a variety of characteristics. The landscape extends from the flat land of the vale in which Great Washbourne lies, up the steep escarpment of the Cotswolds, which presents itself boldly in Prescott and Stanway, to the uplands of Bourton-on-the-Hill (draining into both Avon and Thames) and the gentler reverse slopes on which Lower Lemington lies. In size the parishes range from Stanway, at c. 3,000 a. among the largest in the north-east quarter of the county, to Great Washbourne (638 a.) and Prescott (430 a.), two of the four smallest. There is similar variety in the patterns of settlement and ownership; there are nucleated villages both large (for example, Bourton-on-the-Hill) and small (the three hamlets of Stanway), and also scattered settlements (Prescott); some parishes were wholly within single manors (Lower Lemington, Great Washbourne), while others contained a number of distinct estates (Alderton and, after the Dissolution, Prescott). The whole of the upper division of the hundred is rural in character, and notwithstanding the growing influence of Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon at its two ends it remained in 1962 primarily agricultural, retaining in varying degrees a seclusion that in the upland parts was as undisturbed as anywhere in the county.


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 163ab.
  • 2. Named with Alderton and Dixton was a hide at Hundewic, for which see p. 191, n. 59.
  • 3. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 163b.
  • 4. Ibid. 164a, 165a, 166a.
  • 5. Ibid. 165b.
  • 6. Ibid. 167a.
  • 7. e.g. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 253.
  • 8. See p. 195.
  • 9. It was partly in the hundred in 1774; Glos. Colln. JF 6.98 (tax assessment); but not in 1800: Glos. R.O., Q/RE1.
  • 10. Pipe R. 1159 (P.R.S. i), 23.
  • 11. V.C.H. Glos. ii. 175n.
  • 12. Census, 1931.
  • 13. See pp. 203–4.
  • 14. Technically an extra-parochial place before 1857, but having many of the characteristics of a parish and treated here as though it were one.
  • 15. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 246; cf. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 38.
  • 16. Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 38.
  • 17. Glos. R.O., D 184/M 14.
  • 18. Complete Peerage, v. 682–714; cf. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 170.
  • 19. Complete Peerage, iv. 269, 271n, 282; xii (2), 393–4.
  • 20. Glos. R.O., D 184/M 14/1–5.
  • 21. Complete Peerage, xii (2), 393.
  • 22. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 26, 33.
  • 23. D.N.B.
  • 24. J. Bennett, Hist. of Tewkesbury (1830), 334–5. The date has usually been given wrongly as 1609: e.g. ibid. 88.
  • 25. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 253.
  • 26. J.I. 1/278 rot. 50d.
  • 27. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 253.
  • 28. Glos. R.O., D 184/M 14; S.C. 2/176/17.
  • 29. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 246.
  • 30. S.C. 2/176/17.
  • 31. B.M. Add. Ch. 42185; E 179/116/554.
  • 32. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 1, f. 43.
  • 33. Glos. Colln. JF 6.97–98 (tax assessments).
  • 34. e.g. Glos. R.O., Q/SRh 1820 D/5.
  • 35. Census, 1801 and later.
  • 36. Glos. Colln. JF 6.97.