A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
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Great Rissington lies three miles south-east of Bourton-on-the-Water, on the east bank of the River Windrush. The parish is 2,493 a. in area and is compact in shape. The Windrush forms the western boundary, field boundaries separate Great Rissington from its neighbours north and south, and on the east the boundary with Oxfordshire is marked partly by a small brook. (fn. 1)
The flat land beside the Windrush, lying at 400 ft., makes a wedge-shaped re-entrant towards the centre of the parish. Small streams flow south, southwest, and west to meet before flowing into the Windrush. From the bowl so formed the land rises steeply on the north towards Little Rissington and on the east towards the ridge that reaches 700 ft. and separates the larger part of the parish from the eastern third, sloping more gently towards the southeast. The landscape has given the parish its name, which signifies a hill overgrown with brushwood. (fn. 2) The western side of the parish, where were the former open fields, has long been mainly agricultural land, with meadow alongside the water-courses and a cow-common in the north-west corner of the parish. East of the ridge the land was probably rough pasture until it began to be broken in the 17th century; after that, and particularly after inclosure in 1816, it was nearly all taken into cultivation. (fn. 3) Nearly 400 a. in the north-east corner of the parish has been taken since 1937 to form part of Little Rissington airfield. (fn. 4) In the western half of the parish are several small woods, and the amount of hedgerow timber (hedges appear to have been numerous in the 18th century, before inclosure) (fn. 5) gives the parish a well-wooded appearance. The soil is stony, overlying successive strata of Lower, Middle, and Upper Lias, Inferior Oolite, and Chipping Norton Limestone, with alluvial deposits along the Windrush; (fn. 6) its fertility, however, for pasture, arable, and meadow has been highly rated by several writers. (fn. 7)
The village lies near the centre of the parish, on the west-facing slope between the 450 and 600 ft. lines. It straddles the edge of the Upper Lias where it gives way to the Middle Lias, and is thus provided with wells and springs. The road from Bourtonon-the-Water to Great Barrington runs through the village, but the original village centre may have been near where the church and manor-house stand close to each other 400 yards south-west from the road. This group of buildings, including the rectory and another farm-house, marks the south-west limit of the village. From it a widely spaced street runs east and then north-east up the hill to a triangular green on the road through the village: this, the Upper Green, is one of the focal points of the village, having near it in the late 19th century two inns, a shop and post office, the smithy, and the pound. A short way north-west the road divides to go round a larger four-sided green, the Lower Green, inclosed in 1816. There are a few houses along the north and east sides, which appear to have been preferred to the other two sides as the through route. In 1962, however, the south and west sides carried the larger road. Just beyond the north-east corner of the Lower Green is the large house called Great Rissington Hill and its adjoining farm-house. Scattered along the winding lane (Rectory Lane) that joins the south-west corner of the Lower Green to the village street near the church are a few more houses. The village appears to have conformed to this layout from the 17th century to the 20th, although several of the houses within it are of the 19th century or later. The houses are generously spread out, and, while the village is nucleated in character and does not straggle, it covers a large area. (fn. 8)
In the 19th century Folly Farm and a lodge for Great Rissington Hill were built beside the road from Stow to Great Barrington, Northmoor Barn half a mile south of the village, and some large farm buildings, later demolished to make way for the airfield, near the north-east corner of the parish: other building has remained concentrated in and around the village. In the 20th century a few houses were built before the Second World War along the lane leading from the village street towards Northmoor Farm, and a group of 12 council houses was built after the Second World War on the west side of the Lower Green.
The road from the north-west corner of the Lower Green towards Bourton-on-the-Water, called Leasow Lane (presumably because it led to the cowcommon), was earlier known as Dick Lane (fn. 9) and was presumably the 'highway at the dyke' out of repair in 1547. (fn. 10) It crossed the brook by Dick Bridge, mentioned in 1622. (fn. 11) From Leasow Lane another lane runs east to cross the Windrush by New Bridge, mentioned by that name in 1482. (fn. 12) It was a county bridge, called Rissington or Clapton Bridge, by 1840. (fn. 13) The lane has been variously known as Leach (i.e. Northleach) Way, (fn. 14) New Bridge Lane, (fn. 15) and (in the 20th century) Clapton Lane. East of the village, the road through it leads up to the road along the ridge from Stow to Great Barrington. A lane leading north-east from the village, across this road, and on to Fifield (Oxon.) has been interrupted by the building of the airfield. Sherborne Lane, leading due south from the village, was formerly called Mill Lane, as it led to Dodd's Mill in Great Barrington. (fn. 16)
Great Rissington was the fourth largest township in the hundred, in terms of recorded population, in 1086 and 1327, (fn. 17) but by 1381 it had dropped to eighth, with 62 people assessed for poll-tax. (fn. 18) In 1551 there were c. 107 communicants (fn. 19) and in 1563 23 households. (fn. 20) A rise in population in the late 16th century is suggested by the figures of c. 160 communicants in 1603 (fn. 21) and c. 50 families in 1650. (fn. 22) There were said to be 54 families at the end of the 17th century, (fn. 23) but there may have been a fall in the number of inhabitants, which was estimated at 277 in 1710, (fn. 24) 240 in 1735, (fn. 25) and c. 252 in 1775. (fn. 26) If so the population rose again in the late 18th century, and it continued to rise in the 19th: from 349 in 1801 numbers grew progressively, despite many deaths from a fever which struck the village in 1847, (fn. 27) to 499 in 1861. After 1871 the population fell sharply, to 245 in 1921, thus reducing itself by half (though the numbers of houses and families were reduced only by a quarter) in 60 years, and then rose again to 304 in 1951. (fn. 28)
In 1926 eight standpipes were set up in the village to replace the wells, but by 1940 most houses had a piped water supply from a reservoir filled from a local spring and maintained by the district council. Main water was brought to the village in 1954, and main electricity in 1937. (fn. 29)
Except for those of the 20th century, most of the buildings in the village are of the traditional materials of the area, with stone (usually rubble) walls and Cotswold stone roofs. Some of the stone may have come from quarries in the parish, the remains of which can be seen above the village. There are, however, few documentary references to such quarries, and none has been found earlier than the 18th century. Not many 17th-century buildings survive (although there were two masons in the parish in 1608) (fn. 30) and none earlier; there is a high proportion of 18th-century and early 19th-century building, some of it disguised by 20th-century restoration. Restorations and enlargements with 17th-century features are numerous: the Old Forge is a notable example.
The three major houses in the village are the rectory, Great Rissington Manor, and Great Rissington Hill. The front part of the rectory has features of the earlier 18th century, with a hipped roof and a doorway with rusticated stone architrave and keystone with voussoirs, but the house was remodelled and enlarged in the 19th century. Great Rissington Hill was a 17th-century farm-house, called Great Rissington Farm, of which the restored south front, with two gables and a flat arched central doorway, survives; the house was enlarged in the 19th century and again in the early 20th. (fn. 31) Great Rissington Manor stands presumably on the site of the chief messuage recorded in 1309. (fn. 32) It was rebuilt as a farm-house in the 17th century; in 1672 it was known as the Farm and had five hearths. (fn. 33) The gables, the mullioned windows with dripmoulds, the flat arched doorway, and the chimneys of the 17th-century house survive, although it was wholly restored, partially rebuilt, and enlarged in 1929, when some of the farm buildings (including the granary) were incorporated in it. (fn. 34)
Glebe Farm and the Fields are small 17th-century farm-houses, the Fields having 18th-century additions. Endicott, dated 1687 and having a doorway with a stone hood, and a house in Rectory Lane dated 1703 are also likely to have been built as farmhouses. An 18th-century house of ashlar with a Welsh slate roof, built in a comparatively isolated position on the west side of the Lower Green, was a departure from the normal tradition of small village houses.
Another unusual 18th-century house, but in a more traditional form, was an inn, the 'Swan'. The windows have mullions, and the gable-ends have stone verges. A moulded stone eaves cornice is carried round the gable-end as a dripmould, and at first-floor level is a flat string-course. The porch has carved and fluted Tuscan columns, and the gateposts have ball finials. The 'Swan' remained a licensed house until the 1920's. The 'White Horse', an inn in 1879, was no longer one by 1891. The third of the three inns open in the late 19th century, the 'Lamb', (fn. 35) alone survived in 1962.
A village friendly society existed until 1909. A small corrugated iron reading room stood near the church in 1895, when it was temporarily used as a schoolroom. (fn. 36) In 1962 it was used for Women's Institute meetings. Meetings of other bodies were held in the Rectory and in the former granary at Great Rissington Manor. (fn. 37)
The parish has no close associations with people who have achieved national repute, apart from a few of the rectors. (fn. 38) The most potent single influence on the life of the village has been not a personal one but the nearness of Little Rissington airfield. The most obvious result is the noise of low-flying aircraft, but the airfield has also brought employment for the inhabitants, trade for the inn and shops, and a bus service that is unusually good for a rural village far from any centre of population.
Manors and Other Estates.
The manor of GREAT RISSINGTON or BROAD RISSINGTON originated in the estate held in 1066 by Ulf and in 1086 by Robert de Todeni. (fn. 39) Robert's estate at Great Rissington, from which he granted twothirds of the demesne tithes to his foundation of Belvoir Priory (Lincs.), may have descended with his Belvoir estate to his great-grandson, William de Albini Brito the younger (d. 1166), (fn. 40) but by 1187 Great Rissington was held by Alard le Fleming, who confirmed the grant of tithes. (fn. 41) Alard held one knight's fee in chief c. 1212 in Great Rissington, Sapperton, and Frampton Mansell, (fn. 42) and died in or before 1220 on crusade. Great Rissington passed to his son and heir Henry le Fleming (fn. 43) who was alive in 1235. (fn. 44) In 1236 the estate was in the hands of John le Fleming, (fn. 45) apparently Henry's son, (fn. 46) and before 1263 it had passed to John's brother, Alard le Fleming (d. 1262 or 1263). John's widow Alice, who held dower in Great Rissington, (fn. 47) and Henry le Fleming (another brother) were parties in 1268 in a suit about the advowson, (fn. 48) which descended with the manor, but Alard's heirs were his daughters Joan and Florence. Joan married Sir Henry Husee or Hussey (d. 1290) and Florence married Walter de Lisle (d. 1309). (fn. 49)
The Husee moiety of the manor, later known as COKESEY'S manor, (fn. 50) was held as knight's fee by Henry, Lord Husee, son of Sir Henry and Joan, at his death in 1332, when it passed to his son Sir Henry, (fn. 51) Lord Husee. He died holding it in 1349, (fn. 52) having settled it on his second son Henry (d. 1383), whose son Henry (d. 1409) (fn. 53) made a life grant of the moiety to Thomas de Lee and his wife Joan in 1390. (fn. 54) Another Henry Husee (d. 1450), son of the last-named Henry, with his wife Constance mortgaged the moiety in 1440 and sold it in 1444 to John Greville, (fn. 55) who already had an interest in the moiety in 1439. (fn. 56) Greville died in 1444; (fn. 57) his son Sir John Greville (d. 1480) had a son Thomas, who assumed the surname Cokesey (and may therefore be assumed to have held the moiety), and Thomas was succeeded in 1497 by his nephew John Greville of Milcote (Warws.). (fn. 58) In 1498 this John Greville sold a moiety of Great Rissington manor to Sir William Nottingham's trustees, (fn. 59) and the two moieties were thus reunited.
The other moiety, known in the 16th century as LISLES (fn. 60) or NILES (fn. 61) manor, passed from Walter de Lisle and Florence to their son William, (fn. 62) who granted it to Robert of Aston for life. (fn. 63) William was succeeded by Walter, who died holding the moiety in 1345 and was succeeded by his son and heir, also Walter. (fn. 64) This Walter de Lisle held the manor jointly with his wife Joan at his death in 1352, and left a two-year-old son William, (fn. 65) who with his wife Joan got possession in 1375, (fn. 66) on the death of Joan his mother. (fn. 67) William was dead by 1385, when his heir was a minor; (fn. 68) the heir may have been Robert de Lisle, who granted land in Great Rissington in 1395. (fn. 69) It was perhaps the same Robert de Lisle that before 1452 made an abortive settlement of the moiety on his son John, (fn. 70) who granted it to Ralph Boteler for life in 1460 (fn. 71) and conveyed it outright in 1481 to Sir William Nottingham. (fn. 72) Sir William died in 1483 seised of a manor of Great Rissington said to be held of the Abbess of Syon (Mdx.). (fn. 73) (The grant in 1478 of a lease of a manor of Great Rissington, formerly John Lisle's, by Sir John Greville to Richard Chadwell (fn. 74) has not been accounted for.) Nottingham's trustees granted this moiety for life to his widow Elizabeth and her second husband Richard Pole, but whereas members of the Pole family continued to hold Sapperton, which had descended with Great Rissington, in the mid-16th century, (fn. 75) the moiety of Great Rissington was reconveyed to the trustees in 1498 (when they acquired the Cokesey moiety) by Richard Pole and his wife. (fn. 76) This was apparently to prepare for the sale of the whole manor to Sir Reynold Bray, K.G. (d. 1503), (fn. 77) who was one of Nottingham's trustees (fn. 78) and to whom John Greville's moiety was confirmed in 1499. (fn. 79) Bray's manor of Great Rissington passed to his niece Margery, who with her husband William Sandys (fn. 80) (created Lord Sandys of the Vyne in 1523) (fn. 81) held the Lisle moiety, which they leased to Michael Ashfield, (fn. 82) and presumably, therefore, the whole manor.
Thomas, Lord Sandys, succeeded his father William in 1540 (fn. 83) and was in turn succeeded in 1559 or 1560 by his grandson William. (fn. 84) This William leased Lisles manor to Thomas Degle, who lived there until c. 1593 (fn. 85) and whose wife Joan later married John Dawtry, (fn. 86) who lived there in 1595; (fn. 87) in 1571 he sold the whole of Great Rissington manor to Edmund Bray (fn. 88) of Great Barrington, who died in 1620 having made a settlement of the manors of Cokeseys and Niles 'commonly called the manor of Great Rissington'. (fn. 89) From then the manor descended with that of Great Barrington, (fn. 90) and in 1962 the lord of the manor was Mr. C. T. R. Wingfield of Barrington Park. (fn. 91) In 1920, however, over 1,100 a. of the estate in Great Rissington were sold, in three main lots, and only small parcels of land were retained in the Barrington Park estate. (fn. 92) The manor-house and the largest estate in the parish were acquired in the 1920's by Major W. J. P. Marling (d. 1940), who was the leading inhabitant of the village and whose widow sold the estate in 1957 to Mr. D. Godman. (fn. 93)
An estate referred to as TENACRES manor in 1600 and 1601 when it was sold by John Sandford of Bristol to John Barnard of Great Rissington had previously been held by Thomas Sandford, John's uncle and son of Arthur Sandford of Stow-on-theWold. (fn. 94) The estate evidently existed by the name of Tenacres before 1236, when it had given a surname to a family of freeholders in Great Rissington. (fn. 95) John Barnard died in 1621, (fn. 96) and was apparently succeeded by another John Barnard (fl. 1639). (fn. 97) In 1669 Henry Barnard was a substantial sheep-farmer in the parish, (fn. 98) and in 1672 John Barnard was returned as having much the largest house there. (fn. 99)
Another substantial estate was that built up by Bruern Abbey (Oxon.). In 1392 the abbey was licensed to receive the reversion of a house, rent, and 4 yardlands in Great Rissington, (fn. 100) and got possession of what seems to have been the same holding in 1395. (fn. 101) The abbey received further grants of land in 1457 (fn. 102) and (a house and 4 yardlands) in 1465, (fn. 103) and in 1517 this estate, described as the manor or grange of GREAT RISSINGTON, was granted to Robert Lambert by copy of court roll. (fn. 104) The freehold was sold in 1554 to Thomas Reeve and George Cotton of London, (fn. 105) and passed before 1589 to another Robert Lambert, who was succeeded at his death in 1600 by two daughters, Alice, who married Lawrence Mace, and Katherine, who married John Hayward. (fn. 106)
Richard Chadwell, member of a family long established in Great Rissington, (fn. 107) at his death in 1592 held of Edmund Bray a capital messuage and land called DANDOES. Richard Chadwell's son and heir Simon (fn. 108) was living in Great Rissington in 1608, (fn. 109) but soon afterwards agreed to sell 16 yardlands and the lease of the eight yardlands of Cokesey's manor to Sir Paul Tracy of Stanway, (fn. 110) who in 1614 held the lease of Cokesey's manor. (fn. 111) Sir Paul's son, Sir Richard, was dealing with property in Great Rissington in 1627, (fn. 112) and at his death in 1637 held the messuage called Dandoes and various lands there. (fn. 113) His son Sir Humphrey, who was burdened with a heavy composition for his support of the royalist cause, (fn. 114) sold some 15 yardlands in Great Rissington to 13 different buyers between 1647 and 1650. (fn. 115)
Belvoir Priory's estate of two-thirds of the demesne tithes, together with a bovate and a man with a garden, granted by Robert de Todeni in the early 12th century, (fn. 116) was a source of friction between the priory and the rectors of the parish until 1363. The tithes were then granted to the rector at a perpetual farm of 30s. a year, (fn. 117) the amount of the priory's portion there in 1535. (fn. 118)
Of the 13 ploughs on the 13 hides recorded in Domesday, three belonged to the demesne, to which were also attached eight servi and ancille. (fn. 119) When the manor was divided into two moieties the demesne was also divided: the demesne of the Lisle moiety, containing 72 a. of arable in 1309, (fn. 120) was reckoned as one plough-land in 1375, (fn. 121) while the demesne of the other moiety, containing 120 a. of arable in 1332, (fn. 122) may have comprised the other two of the three demesne plough-lands of 1086. It is possible, however, that the amount of arable and the number of ploughs on the whole estate had changed radically, for in 1220 Great Rissington (though possibly including Little Rissington) was assessed at 24 ploughs, (fn. 123) and if there was such a change it would be unreasonable to look for any continuity in the amount of arable demesne land.
The remaining 10 ploughs in 1086 were shared by 23 villani and six bordars. (fn. 124) In 1309 the Lisle moiety of the manor had nine customary tenants, each with one yardland, and there were also some free tenants. In 1332 the rents and services of the tenants, free and bond, of the other moiety were worth rather more than those of the Lisle moiety, so those tenants may have been more numerous and their combined land more extensive. On the Lisle moiety each of the holders of a yardland owed, in addition to 3s. rent and tallage, 10 works in summer and 16 works in autumn. Labour-services on the other moiety in the 14th century are not specified, (fn. 125) but they were referred to as late as 1614, (fn. 126) and ploughing and reaping services on the Lisle moiety were being demanded in the late 16th century. (fn. 127) The copyholds appear not to have been heritable in 1622, but held for a number of lives. Heriots were then paid at least partly in kind on the copyholds of the chief manor; (fn. 128) for Bruern Abbey's estate in 1517, a heriot in cash was payable at the end of each life named in the lease. (fn. 129) In the later Middle Ages the various agricultural holdings varied widely in kind and in size: in addition to the estates mentioned above, four yardlands in Great Rissington parish belonged to the lords of Little Rissington manor, (fn. 130) so that demesne farms, other freeholds, leaseholds, and copyholds were worked side by side, and the copyholds themselves ranged in size from one to four yardlands. (fn. 131)
In the open fields of the village the arable land lay scattered in strips, which appear to have been half an acre or less in size. (fn. 132) By the late 13th century there had been some consolidation of strips, (fn. 133) and by 1609 the manorial demesne had been sufficiently consolidated, presumably by exchange, for the lord of the manor to reach an agreement with the freeholders and tenants for the inclosure of most of it and the extinction of common on what was inclosed. (fn. 134) Otherwise, however, there was little consolidation before the 19th century: in 1705, 82 of the 94 plots of arable on the glebe were single acres, lands, butts, or fardels, (fn. 135) and in 1775 an estate comprising 65 statute acres in the open fields lay in 150 separate pieces. (fn. 136) Each yardland was likely to contain some 40 pieces of arable and to measure rather under 20 statute acres. (fn. 137)
In 1605 a three-course rotation was followed: winter wheat and maslin; beans, barley, oats, and vetches; and fallow. (fn. 138) At that time all the arable seems to have been on the west side of the road from Stow to Great Barrington, which formed the boundary of the permanent upland pasture. (fn. 139) By the early 18th century some of the land east of the road had been put under the plough, and was divided into the north and south fields (or north and south hills), the land to the west being divided for identification and apparently also for agricultural purposes into four 'hitchings'. (fn. 140) In the mid-18th century references to the wheatfield and the pulsefield (fn. 141) suggest that there were also two others, one for oats and barley, and one fallow. The high land beyond the road was presumably not included in this rotation, and in 1775, when all the open-field arable of the parish was divided simply between a north field and a south field, every crop on the hill land (which seems to have included some of the former Ten Acre hitching and the hitching 'above the town') (fn. 142) was succeeded by a fallow, while three crops were taken before each fallow on the low land. (fn. 143)
The meadow-land bordering the river and the streams was mostly lot meadow, (fn. 144) in the 16th century apportioned each year according to a customary rate. (fn. 145) By the 18th century the wood and furze growing on the cow-common and the sheep-pastures was held in severalty. In 1775 the rate for sheepcommons remained 40 to a yardland, (fn. 146) and sheepfarming had long been an important part of the village economy. Several inhabitants were surnamed shepherd in 1381, (fn. 147) and shepherds were mentioned in 1608 (fn. 148) and 1631. (fn. 149) In the late 16th century loans to a widow included 80 sheep, (fn. 150) and at his death in 1601 William Chadwell of Broadwell had 200 sheep at Great Rissington. (fn. 151) Later in the century Henry Barnard put 700 sheep into the stubble field, and paid four tods of wool in tithe. (fn. 152)
In 1609 land in the fields and commoning rights were held by 20 freeholders and copyholders. (fn. 153) No reference to copyholds has been found after 1624; (fn. 154) the several purchasers of the Tracy estate in 1649 may have been buying what they had held until then by copy. Those purchases were mostly of 1 yardland or yardland, though two were of 2 and 3; (fn. 155) there are references to other holdings in the 17th century of 1, 2, and 4 yardlands. (fn. 156) In 1705 there were 24 people named as holding land in the open fields, (fn. 157) and 22 in 1775. (fn. 158) At inclosure in 1816 allotments were made to 24 different owners, (fn. 159) so their numbers had remained fairly constant over two centuries. Most of the estates, however, had shrunk, and much of their land had been acquired, by 1808, either by the lord of the manor or by Lord Sherborne. (fn. 160)
The inclosure Act for Great Rissington, passed in 1813, referred to open fields and common amounting to 1,600 a. (fn. 161) The award made under it, however, affected the whole parish, then reckoned to be 2,585 a. including 577 a. of old inclosures. Of this the lord of the manor, Lord Dynevor, received 1,389 a., including 453 a. of old inclosures which for the most part was the manorial demesne inclosed in 1609; 509 a. went to the rector, 304 a. to John Dutton (later Lord Sherborne), and there were three allotments of 50100 a. and six of 525 a. The remaining 12 owners received 1 a. or less, all of old inclosures. (fn. 162) The extent to which Lord Dynevor may have bought up land specifically to make inclosure easier is not known.
In 1831 there were nine agricultural occupiers in the parish, all but one of whom employed labour. (fn. 163) Three years later there was said to be too much agricultural labour available in the parish, and wage rates were comparatively low. The proportion of arable land, however, was fairly high, three-fifths of the whole parish, with pasture making up nearly two-fifths. (fn. 164) These proportions survived until the sixties, but over the next 40 years they were reversed (fn. 165) and by the 1930's less than one-fifth of the parish was arable land. (fn. 166) The number of farms also fell steadily from 9 in 1870 to 4 in 1935, (fn. 167) which was the number in 1962. Manor farm was joined in the twenties with another that had belonged to the Barrington Park estate to make one of over 800 a., and Rissington Hill farm, of which the nucleus was the former Sherborne estate, (fn. 168) was over 500 a. The farming was mixed, with sheep, beef and dairy cows, pigs, and cereals. (fn. 169)
In the past Great Rissington supported a number of non-agricultural trades. As is to be expected, smiths, masons, and carpenters occur from the 17th century; (fn. 170) there was a shoemaker in 1661, (fn. 171) a brewery in 1711, (fn. 172) and a butcher in 1794. (fn. 173) Evidence of the woollen industry in the village is provided by the presence of a weaver, a tucker, and a woolwinder in 1608 (fn. 174) and of a clothier in 1662, (fn. 175) and it may be that a German living there in 1436 (fn. 176) was connected with the wool trade. In 1834 the women of the village could earn a meagre wage in winter by knitting and spinning. (fn. 177) In 1811 and 1831 about one-fifth of the population was supported by trade or manufacture. (fn. 178) Tailors, shoemakers, a maltster, and a fellmonger figure among the population in the mid-19th century, a baker until the end of the century, and a smith and wheelwright until the early 20th. Building trades continued to provide employment in the mid-20th century, and there were two general stores. (fn. 179) The houses and gardens of the larger farms and of a number of retired people living in the village provided some employment, and some inhabitants went outside the parish to work, to Witney, to Cheltenham, and especially to Little Rissington airfield. (fn. 180)
A mill was included in the Domesday estate of Robert de Todeni. (fn. 181) In 1218 a mill in Great Rissington was held by Millicent, wife of Robert of Windrush. (fn. 182) This was presumably the same as the water-mill called Hardys Mill which in 1375 was conveyed or settled, together with a watercourse and weir and suit of multure, by John of Slaughter. (fn. 183) No later evidence of the mill has been found: the 14thcentury name apparently survived in the name Hardys Leys, a close near the river and south-west of the village. (fn. 184)
Rolls of manorial courts baron survive for 1622 and 1624; the courts dealt with copyhold tenures and agricultural arrangements. (fn. 185) Leet jurisdiction in Great Rissington belonged to the hundred court, but by 1413 a separate court leet and view of frankpledge (still belonging to the lord of the hundred) for Great Rissington alone was held there. (fn. 186)
In the mid-16th century this separate court was combined with a similar one for Widford and the tithings of Windrush, (fn. 187) but by 1620 there was again a separate court leet for Great Rissington. Draft court rolls survive for the period 16201770. The business was largely confined to the taking of frankpledge and the presentment of nuisances; constables were appointed, and from time to time agricultural officers were chosen: in 1756, for example, a man (who apparently also kept the pound) was appointed to serve as hayward, crowkeeper, and molecatcher, at a salary of 2s. 6d. from each yardland. (fn. 188) It is possible that the tithing of Great Rissington was larger than the parish, including land in neighbouring parishes which were otherwise quit of the hundred: this would explain 16th-century references to meadow in Sherborne (most of which belonged to the Abbot of Winchcombe's liberty) as being within the tithing of Great Rissington. (fn. 189)
The earliest records of parochial government begin in 1787 with the accounts of the overseers of the poor. Expenditure on the poor in the last quarter of the 18th-century increased rather less in Great Rissington than in most neighbouring parishes, and in 1802 the parish rate was the lowest in the lower division of the hundred. (fn. 190) By 1813, however, expenditure was double what it had been in 1803, and the number of people receiving occasional relief had risen sharply. (fn. 191) Expenditure remained high in the twenties, but at the beginning of 1834 the abandonment of the roundsman system and of the practice of supplementing wages out of parish funds reduced expenditure to little over a quarter of what it had been in 1831. The parish officers had a large measure of independence, for the vestry seldom met more than once a year. (fn. 192)
The parish subsequently became part of the Stow-on-the-Wold Poor Law Union. (fn. 193) It became part of the Stow-on-the-Wold highway district in 1863 (fn. 194) and of the Stow-on-the-Wold Rural Sanitary District under the Act of 1872 (being transferred to the newly formed North Cotswold Rural District in 1935). (fn. 195) A parish council was established under the Act of 1894. (fn. 196)
The grant of tithes in Great Rissington in the early 12th century (fn. 197) suggests that there was a church there by then, and part of the surviving church was built about 1200. The earliest known incumbent is Henry, Rector of Rissington, in 1233, (fn. 198) and the living remained a rectory. In 1281 a presentation to the rectory was made by Sir Richard de Croppes, by what right is unknown; in 1294 Walter de Lisle presented Matthew Husee, presumably a relation of his wife's brother-in-law, who was not, however, instituted because he was not in holy orders, and it may have been that this presentation was an attempted compromise between the owners of the two moieties of the manor. In 1301 the bishop collated by lapse, (fn. 199) perhaps because ownership of the advowson had been in dispute. In 1303 and 1304 Walter de Lisle again presented, though the living was apparently not vacant; (fn. 200) in 1325 the life-tenant of the Lisle moiety presented, (fn. 201) and the advowson subsequently descended with that moiety, the lord of the manor being patron in 1962. (fn. 202)
The living was a rich one: in 1291 its valuation was 16, the highest in the deanery, (fn. 203) and in 1535 it was third highest at 22 clear. (fn. 204) The value was c. 175 in 1650 and once again the highest in the deanery, (fn. 205) and had risen to 200 by 1750. (fn. 206) For most of the 19th century the rectory was worth 700 a year or more. (fn. 207) The glebe, said to be worth only 2 a year in 1535, (fn. 208) amounted in 1678 to four and a half yardlands, (fn. 209) of which half a yardland had a house belonging to it and a different rate on the commons and may therefore have been a separate and fairly recent endowment. (fn. 210) At inclosure in 1816 the rector was allotted 98 a. for glebe and 411 a. for tithe. (fn. 211) The glebe house, which contained 11 bays of building in 1705, (fn. 212) was rebuilt before 1710 (fn. 213) and enlarged in the mid-19th century. Glebe Farm, a 17th-century house, may be the house that belonged to the glebe half-yardland.
Most of the 14th-century rectors held the living for comparatively short periods, (fn. 214) but Thomas Goter, who belonged to a local family, (fn. 215) was rector from 1349 to 1370. (fn. 216) Thomas Lucas, instituted on exchange with Peter Collingham in 1379, (fn. 217) was licensed in 1396 to put the living to farm and live elsewhere because he was well over 60 and ill. (fn. 218) His successor, instituted in 1401, may have been another old man, for his name also was Peter Collingham. (fn. 219) The rector instituted in 1457 was licensed to hold another benefice in plurality but resigned in 1462. His immediate successor, John Buckland, (fn. 220) remained rector for 24 years, (fn. 221) and John Hauchurch, M.A., rector by 1498, (fn. 222) remained rector until 1533 or 1534. On his death two conflicting presentations were made; (fn. 223) the rectory was farmed, (fn. 224) and the successful presentee was a pluralist, an absentee (the cure being served by curates), and contumacious, (fn. 225) and in 1554 he was deprived because he was married. (fn. 226) Richard Aldridge, instituted in 1558, was a pluralist and neglected the parish; in 1602 he was a lunatic, and died a year or two later. (fn. 227) Dr. Thomas Whittington, instituted in 1602, (fn. 228) who was also Rector of Hazleton, supported the royalist cause, and had his livings sequestrated, (fn. 229) but in 1650 he was receiving part of the income from Great Rissington. (fn. 230) In 1636 the consistory court ordered the churchwardens to remove the communion table to the upper end of the chancel, with no seats above it, and to rail it off. (fn. 231)
During the fifties and sixties four rectors were concerned in disputes about the living. In 1652 Sir Edmund Bray, the patron, presented Samuel Broad, the ejected Rector of Rendcomb, who was not admitted. (fn. 232) In 1654 Dr. Lewis Atterbury, who was later alleged to have fought on the parliamentary side, was admitted rector, and he appears in 1656 to have obtained a presentation from Bray. By 1657, however, Atterbury's title had been set aside; Bray presented Edmund Hall (who from about that time was Bray's private chaplain), but Abraham Drye, an assistant to the county commission, was admitted on the grounds that the advowson was sequestrated. At the Restoration, Hall assumed the cure, and Bray tried to have his admission confirmed; Hall, however, had served in the parliamentary army, though he was not antimonarchical and was later imprisoned for writings critical of Cromwell, and in 1662 Atterbury was admitted. (fn. 233) How long he remained is not known; soon after 1662 Samuel Broad (some ten years after being presented) was in possession of the rectory. (fn. 234) In 1679 Hall, who had retained the patron's support throughout, was finally instituted. (fn. 235)
The rector from 1686 to 1720 was Knightly Chetwood, who was Rector of Little Rissington also from 1702 and Dean of Gloucester from 1707. (fn. 236) From 1789 to 1897 there were only three rectors, and they were relations of the patrons and lords of the manor: George Talbot, who did not reside, resigned in 1810 to be succeeded by Edward Rice, who was Dean of Gloucester and lived at Oddington; Edward Rice resigned in 1856 in favour of his son Henry, who lived at the rectory. (fn. 237)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST is a cruciform building of rubble with a Cotswold stone roof, and comprises chancel, north vestry, north and south transepts, nave, south porch, and a broad central tower. The church was largely rebuilt in 1873. The oldest parts of the fabric are the lower stage of the tower, which rises from four dissimilar pointed arches of c. 1200, and the single-light window with a slightly pointed head in the south transept. The western arch of the crossing has two orders of semi-cylindrical shafts with massive scalloped capitals, and the northern respond of the chancel arch is similar. The arch to the north transept, which is much lower, springing from unusually heavy single responds with shallow foliated capitals, is thought to be a little later, (fn. 238) and that to the south transept, slightly lower than the chancel and nave arches, has plain square-cornered responds, like the southern respond to the chancel arch, and this work is probably later again. On the stonework of these arches are traces of early 14thcentury painting. (fn. 239)
The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century. In the 14th century the north transept was rebuilt: the east window has three trefoil-headed lights with tracery, in a square-headed opening; there are three image-brackets above the deeply splayed sill, and in the north-east corner is an empty niche of the 15th century with cinquefoil head. The west wall is blank, and the north wall has a wide pointed window divided by two mullions, perhaps of the 18th century. Two 15th-century windows were removed in 1873.
In the 15th century the upper stage of the tower was rebuilt, with battlements, pinnacles, and angle buttresses rising half-way up the upper stage, which is marked off by a string-course. The nave may have been rebuilt c. 1500, for there is a blocked north doorway of that period with decorated spandrels, and the two north windows of two cinquefoilheaded lights high in the wall may have originated then. The south transept contains three- and fourlight windows of the 16th century or later, much restored.
Most of the nave, however, and the whole of the chancel, vestry, south transept, and porch were rebuilt in 1873. (fn. 240) The nave had already undergone some alteration, including the removal of a gallery (fn. 241) put up c. 1723. (fn. 242) The chancel, of two bays in a 13thcentury style, incorporates a restored piscina. A 14th-century piscina was reset in the south transept, which also contains a mural monument, with miniature figures in relief, to John Barnard (d. 1621). Reset in the porch is a carved stone panel of the 15th century, surmounted by a shallow canopy and embattled cornice, the upper half depicting the Crucifixion and the lower half what is thought to be the Ascension. The font is of the 15th century, much restored. (fn. 243) The altar is backed and flanked by a curtain supported on painted posts. The tower contains five bells of 1716 by Abraham Rudhall, one of 1791 by John Rudhall, and a sanctus bell of 1670 by John Neale. (fn. 244) The rent from 2 a. for bell-ropes, mentioned in 1705, may have been the same as the rent-charge of 1s. 8d. said in 1683 to be for the repair of the church: neither survived in 1828. (fn. 245) An older organ was replaced in 1940. The plate includes a chalice of 1576 and a paten of 1628, dated 1632; a pair of candlesticks, possibly Dutch, of 1674 (fn. 246) were no longer in the church in 1962. The registers begin in 1538 and are virtually complete. (fn. 247)
In 1676 Great Rissington was returned as having 15 Protestant nonconformists. (fn. 248) In 1735 and 1750 there were said to be two families of Presbyterians, (fn. 249) and a dissenting meeting-house (of which the denomination is not known) was registered in 1797. (fn. 250) This meeting had disappeared by 1826. (fn. 251) Between 1851 and 1870 a Primitive Methodist chapel (fn. 252) was opened in a building adjoining the Lamb Inn, but it went out of use c. 1920. (fn. 253)
In 1739 the rector, John Webb, gave 50 from which the interest was to be used for teaching six poor children to read. In 1828 the interest, 2 a year, was being paid for that purpose to a mistress, who also taught 20 or more children from the village at the rector's expense. (fn. 254) The school of industry with six children mentioned in 1803 was presumably no more than this village school, though the materials on which the parish spent 17 in that year (fn. 255) may have been for the school. In 1826 32 children attended the day school and 50 the Sunday school. (fn. 256) A site for a National school was given in 1841, (fn. 257) and the school was built in 1842. (fn. 258) Attendance was c. 30, there was one mistress, and the teaching was said to be very elementary. (fn. 259) The expense was met largely by the rector, though fees of 1d. and 2d. were charged and the school received the interest from Webb's gift. (fn. 260) In 1871 a certificated mistress was appointed, and the school, with an average attendance of 56, was reorganized. (fn. 261) The school appears to have been unsatisfactory, there was competition from a dame school which survived until the late eighties, (fn. 262) and in 1875 a school board for the parish was compulsorily formed. (fn. 263)
The board school was held in the National school building, near the church, until 1895. A room for infants had been added in 1877, but the building was too small and apparently insanitary; in 1895 it was condemned, and classes were held in the village reading room and a private house (fn. 264) until 1897, when the new board school, facing over the Upper Green, was opened. (fn. 265) Average attendance was 75 in 1904, (fn. 266) but fell to under 40 in the twenties and thirties. (fn. 267) A teacher's house, where earlier the dame school had been held, (fn. 268) was acquired in 1919. (fn. 269) In 1949 the older children were transferred to Bourton-on-theWater and Northleach, and from then until 1955 the school was enlarged by the presence of 50 or more children from Little Rissington airfield. (fn. 270) After 1955 attendance fell again, and was c. 35 in 1962. The income from John Webb's gift was spent on prizes. (fn. 271)
Joan, wife of John Barnard (d. 1621), gave 20, and an unknown donor gave 12, (fn. 272) for the poor, and c. 1700 these sums were lent at 5 per cent. (fn. 273) Jane Bray of Shilton (Oxon., formerly Berks.) by will dated 1715 gave 20s. a year for the poor. In 1828 the income of 5 from these three gifts was laid out in linen, and the income of 8 from 200 given to the poor by Mary, Countess Talbot (d. 1787), was spent on cloth for making into clothes. (fn. 274) A further endowment of 433 stock was given by the rector, Edward Rice (d. 1862), and these five charities were combined as the United Charities under a Scheme of 1895. (fn. 275) In 1961 18 interest from stock was distributed in the form of vouchers to 30 recipients. John Bradley by will proved 1895 gave 80 stock, the income of 2 to be distributed to the three oldest and poorest inhabitants, and Elizabeth Dobson by will proved 1914 gave 619 stock; from these two charities 25 6s. of interest was distributed among 33 recipients in 1961. (fn. 276)