A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7. Originally published by Oxford University Press for Victoria County History, Oxford, 1981.
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North cerney parish, which includes the hamlets of Woodmancote and Calmsden, lies 6 km. north of Cirencester in the valley of the river Churn, from which river the parish takes its name. (fn. 1) The parish boundaries remain substantially those of an estate at Cerney and Calmsden that were described in a charter of 852. (fn. 2) Identifiable landmarks in the Saxon perambulation include Bereford, the crossing of the Churn at Perrott's Brook at the south end of the parish; the 'dyke of the spring', part of the Iron Age defences of Bagendon, (fn. 3) which still survives on the west boundary; brihtinc broc, the brook that provides the boundary in the northwest by Shewel wood; hrindan broc, the brook in the valley on the north boundary east of the Churn; a standing stone, which was later known as the Beck stone and still survived in 1660 where the boundary crosses the Roman road called the White way; (fn. 4) the 'winter spring', which rises by Rainbow barn; and the Foss way which provides a long stretch of the east boundary. In the later 18th century an exchange of open-field lands involved some re-drawing of the boundary with Rendcomb near Calmsden (fn. 5) and in 1935 a strip of land at the north end of the parish was given to Rendcomb when the boundary there was moved from the Churn to the Cirencester–Cheltenham main road. (fn. 6) The 1935 alteration reduced the area of the parish from 4,176 a. to 4.156 a. (1,682 ha.). (fn. 7)
The river Churn bisects the parish from north to south in a deep valley. From south of North Cerney village to near Perrott's Brook a straight channel was cut in 1824 alongside the original meandering course of the river to supply a newly built clothmill (fn. 8) but in 1978 the new cut was dry and had been partly filled in. The river valley lies at c. 120 m., the land rising on each side to reach c. 200 m. in the Calmsden area in the east and over 230 m. near Woodmancote in the north-west; in the Calmsden area the high land is broken through by the shallow valley that gives that hamlet its name (fn. 9) and beyond Woodmancote the ground falls towards another valley and is broken into by a short coomb, called Burcombe, probably from a hill-fort which once existed on the high ground to the north. (fn. 10) The narrow Churn valley is formed of the successive strata of the Upper Lias, the Inferior Oolite, and fuller's earth, but the high land of the bulk of the parish is on the Great Oolite. (fn. 11)
Woodland recorded on Gilbert son of Turold's manor of Cerney in 1086 (fn. 12) evidently lay in the north-west part of the parish, where Woodmancote hamlet takes its name from a woodman's cottage. (fn. 13) Old Park, part of the woodland surviving in that area, was presumably imparked by one of the owners of Rendcomb in the Middle Ages; it belonged to the Rendcomb Park estate in 1837 when it covered 71 a. Shewel wood in the northwest corner then belonged to the Colesbourne estate and covered 61 a. (fn. 14) The Woodmancote woods owned by the Coxwells of Ablington in the early 17th century (fn. 15) were apparently other woods east of Shewel wood. (fn. 16) The eastern part of the parish was probably an area of treeless wolds before the 19th century when several small brakes and fox-coverts were planted. In 1544 the trees growing on Calmsden manor were said to be barely sufficient to maintain the hedges and fences. (fn. 17)
The slopes of the Churn valley, above a narrow belt of meadow-land in the valley bottom, and much of the Calmsden area were formerly cultivated as open fields while the high and level ground on the east side of the valley was occupied by extensive downland. In the early 18th century Cerney Downs were said to be famous for hawking, hunting, coursing, and racing (fn. 18) and they were long the venue for the annual Cirencester races. (fn. 19) The starting-post, apparently adjoining the White way, was mentioned in 1712 (fn. 20) and the new course in 1756. (fn. 21) In the early 19th century the course occupied 49 a. of the south part of the downs by the road from Calmsden to Perrott's Brook (fn. 22) with the stand-house, (fn. 23) which gave its name to the later Stand plantation, on the east side of the course.
The Welsh way, the old London–Gloucester road, forms part of the south boundary of the parish before crossing the Churn (fn. 24) at the place called Bereford in 852. A bridge had been built at the crossing by the mid 13th century (fn. 25) and the name, which appears variously as Berrards bridge and Barretts bridge, eventually took the form Perrott's bridge, (fn. 26) the surrounding area becoming known as Berrards (fn. 27) or Perrott's Brook. The White way running northwards across the east part of the parish was a minor Roman road from Cirencester (fn. 28) and remained one of the principal roads through the parish. Until the mid 18th century the White way and a road branching from it apparently provided the usual route from Cirencester to North Cerney village but a lower and more direct road to the village, running along the east side of the valley through Sladbottom copse, existed by 1751 when it was described as a new road. (fn. 29) The route across the north part of the parish, on which all three of the settlements of the parish stand, was presumably of ancient significance, for it links the Foss way to Ermin Street and, as Burcombe Lane, it marks the parish boundary west of Woodmancote. At Woodmancote it crosses another ancient road which forms a long stretch of the west boundary and was described as the way from Cirencester to Colesbourne in the 13th century. (fn. 30) The road through Calmsden down to Perrott's Brook was called Bristol way in the 17th and 18th centuries (fn. 31) and presumably formed part of a route which continued across Bagendon and Daglingworth to join the Cotswold ridgeway route at Park Corner in Duntisbourne Rouse parish.
In 1825 the new Cirencester–Cheltenham turnpike, built along the valley bottom on the west side of the Churn, (fn. 32) became the principal thoroughfare in the parish. It occasioned the stopping up of several of the old roads, (fn. 33) including the Cirencester–Cerney road east of the river, a road from the White way to Rendcomb through Conigree wood which had been built c. 1773, (fn. 34) and a road in the west part of the parish which ran by Scrubditch and Old Park and formed part of a hillside route from Perrott's Brook to Colesbourne.
North Cerney village stands in the centre of the parish on the east bank of the river Churn. The church stands by itself on the opposite bank, probably because it was founded by the owner of an estate which passed to the honor of Gloucester and included the land of Woodmancote tithing west of the river, while the village and the land adjoining on the east of the river belonged to a manor held by the archbishops of York. From a crossing-point on the Churn the village developed up the hillside on the road leading up to the White way near Nordown; a small green was formed at the junction with the Calmsden road. The only large house is the former manor-house, Cerney Manor (formerly North Cerney Farm), at the bottom of the village. The village is formed mainly of stone cottages of the late 17th and the 18th centuries, several of which were restored and modernized in the 1960s and 1970s when some new houses in reconstructed stone were built at the top of the village. On the new Cirencester road south of the village a pair of farm labourers' cottages was built beside an older cottage c. 1835 by the tenant of North Cerney farm, (fn. 35) and four pairs of council houses were built further south on the opposite side of the road in the 1920s. (fn. 36) The few buildings on the west bank of the river opposite the village include the 18th-century mansion called Cerney House, the former rectory, and a cottage by the churchyard which contains a late-medieval arched-braced roof of four bays and was probably the church house mentioned in 1519. (fn. 37)
The hamlet of Calmsden, in an isolated position in the valley in the east part of the parish, had evidently been established by 852. (fn. 38) The hamlet was formed around a small green and a spring, from which the two inhabitants surnamed atte well in 1327 were presumably named. Nine people were assessed for the subsidy at Calmsden in that year, (fn. 39) and 18 people for the poll-tax in 1381, (fn. 40) and the hamlet had its own chapel of ease in the Middle Ages. Calmsden was said to comprise only 6 houses c. 1710 (fn. 41) and it has remained small, comprising two manor-houses and a few cottages, including a row of 6 with rustic details built in the early 19th century. (fn. 42) A medieval stone cross, put up before 1405, (fn. 43) still stands above the spring.
Woodmancote hamlet in the west part of the parish was recorded from the beginning of the 13th century (fn. 44) and had at least 7 tax-payers in 1327; (fn. 45) it too had a medieval chapel. There were 13 houses there c. 1710. (fn. 46) The most substantial house is that called the Manor House which may once have belonged to one of the two Woodmancote manors but had been divorced from its estate by the early 19th century. (fn. 47) It dates from the 17th century and has a front range with three gables and a short rear wing containing the original kitchen. An addition was made on the north in similar style in the late 19th century and the interior of the house was apparently re-arranged in the 18th, when a new staircase was put in. The hamlet also has some cottages and one or two small farm-houses of the 17th and 18th centuries, a few model cottages built in the mid 1860s for the Rendcomb Park estate, (fn. 48) and a group of early-20th-century council houses.
A mansion called Cotswold Park was built in an isolated valley in the north-west corner of the parish in the late 18th century. The few other outlying dwellings of the parish include Scrubditch Farm, built in the late 18th or early 19th century for the Cerney House estate (fn. 49) and named from one of the dykes of the Bagendon complex on which it stands, and Downs Farm which was apparently the new house built c. 1755 in connexion with an inclosure made from Cerney Downs. (fn. 50)
In 1086 32 inhabitants of North Cerney were recorded and there was an unspecified number of other tenants. (fn. 51) In 1327 26 people were assessed for the subsidy (fn. 52) and in 1381 45 people were assessed for poll-tax in Cerney village and Calmsden. (fn. 53) There were said to be c. 145 communicants in the parish in 1551 (fn. 54) and 18 households in 1563 (fn. 55) but only 110 communicants were recorded in 1603. (fn. 56) Later estimates of the population were 40 families in 1650, (fn. 57) about 190 inhabitants in 42 houses c. 1710, (fn. 58) and 384 inhabitants c. 1775. (fn. 59) In 1801 the population stood at 565. It rose slowly to 692 by 1861 but fell during the remainder of the century, to 529 in 1901. It fluctuated during the first 70 years of the 20th century, the lowest figure reached being 499 in 1951. In 1971 it stood at 545. (fn. 60)
An inn built in the parish near Perrott's Brook in 1706 (fn. 61) was evidently the building on the Welsh way later called Perrott's Brook House. In 1732, when it was sold to Lord Bathurst, the inn was called the New Inn (fn. 62) but by 1750 it bore the sign of the Huntsman and Hounds and was advertized as a centre for hunting, a pack being kennelled on the premises. (fn. 63) In the late 18th century the inn appears to have been known as the Bear, (fn. 64) the sign that was taken later by the near-by inn in Bagendon parish at the junction of the Welsh way and the new Cheltenham–Cirencester turnpike. Perrott's Brook House was used as a farm-house on the Bathurst estate from the early 19th century. (fn. 65) The south range facing the Welsh way appears to be the building of 1706, long additions being made to the rear in the 19th century and alterations to the front in the 20th. The Bathurst Arms at the bottom of Cerney village had opened by 1821. (fn. 66) By 1837 there was also the Blue Boy on the Cheltenham road south of Old Park; belonging to the Rendcomb Park estate, (fn. 67) it was later called the Guise Arms. (fn. 68) It closed before 1891. (fn. 69)
A friendly society met at the inn at Perrott's Brook in 1775. (fn. 70) A friendly society for women was meeting at the church in 1812 and was presumably succeeded by that for women of Cerney, Rendcomb, and Bagendon which was meeting at the rectory in 1835. (fn. 71) For most of the 19th century two separate societies for men met at the Bathurst Arms; they were dissolved in 1889 and 1894 respectively. (fn. 72) In 1885 Lord Bathurst built premises for a readingroom and coffee-house in North Cerney village (fn. 73) and a village hall was built in 1921 as a war memorial. A hall for the inhabitants of Calmsden was provided in 1918 by J. A. K. Falconer as a memorial to his son. (fn. 74)
Sir Thomas Viner (1588–1665), a lord mayor of London, was born at North Cerney. (fn. 75)
Manors and Other Estates
In 852 Beorhtwulf, king of the Mercians granted to Alfeah 12 hides of land in Cerney and Calmsden, evidently including the whole of the later parish of North Cerney. (fn. 76) Part of the estate, extended at 4 hides, later passed to St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester, and was among the lands of the priory that the archbishop of York held in 1086. (fn. 77) That land, known as the manor of NORTH CERNEY, was retained by the archbishop as a member of his barony of Churchdown (fn. 78) until 1545 when the manors of the barony were exchanged with the Crown. (fn. 79) In 1552 they were granted to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne (fn. 80) who sold North Cerney manor in 1556 to William Partridge (fn. 81) (d. 1578). William was succeeded by his son Robert (fn. 82) (d. 1600) and Robert by his son John Partridge (fn. 83) of Syde who sold the manor in 1610 to his brother Anthony, of Wishanger. (fn. 84) Anthony Partridge sold it in 1611 to William Poole of Long Newnton (Wilts., later Glos.) (fn. 85) (d. 1625 or 1626) who was succeeded by his son Nathaniel (fn. 86) (d. 1641). (fn. 87) Nathaniel's widow Catherine, who married John Newman, had a life-interest in the site of the manor and some lands and also exercised the manorial rights until her son William Poole came of age c. 1656. William bought out his mother's right in 1659 and later settled the site of the manor and some lands on his wife Elizabeth, who after his death married John Bromwich and died in 1697. William's daughter Eleanor succeeded him in the residue of the manor and died c. 1681. (fn. 88)
Eleanor Poole's heirs were her father's sisters Cecily, wife of Simon Oatridge, Elizabeth, wife of Daniel Oatridge, and Anne, (fn. 89) widow of John Giles. In 1699 Anne Giles conveyed her third share of the manor to her son Nathaniel who sold it in 1702 to Henry Combes (d. c. 1714). Henry's widow Jane sold that share in 1715 to Allen Bathurst, Lord Bathurst. Simon and Cecily Oatridge were succeeded by Henry Oatridge, and Daniel and Elizabeth Oatridge by their son John. Henry and John sold their shares to Lord Bathurst in 1718, thus reuniting the manor. (fn. 90) The manor, or a part of it, was later made over to Lord Bathurst's eldest son Benjamin, (fn. 91) who died in 1767 before his father. Subsequently the manor descended with the Bathurst peerage, (fn. 92) with which it remained in 1978.
Cerney Manor, at the bottom of North Cerney village, evidently occupies the site of the capital messuage of the manor recorded from the 1550s. (fn. 93) For most of its history the house has been used merely as a farm-house; of the lords of the manor only Nathaniel Poole is recorded as being resident at Cerney. (fn. 94) The house dates mainly from a rebuilding of c. 1700 and has a main range with a symmetrical front of seven bays and a short rear wing housing a staircase. Additions were made to the north in the later 18th century and to the east in the 19th and 20th.
Another part of North Cerney, extended at 7 hides, was held in 1066 by two thegns, Eilaf and his brother, for a rent of 2 marks and the service of making journeys for the king. In 1086 it was held by Gilbert son of Turold (fn. 95) and passed with Rendcomb to the earls of Gloucester. The estate evidently included at Domesday the whole of Woodmancote and Calmsden, over which the earls later exercised frankpledge jurisdiction, (fn. 96) but most of the land of those hamlets was apparently subinfeudated with Rendcomb to the de la Mares and had passed to other owners by the early 13th century. Some Cerney lands, however, were retained in demesne by the earls of Gloucester and their successors, following the descent of their small manor in Rendcomb, (fn. 97) and by the early 16th century those Cerney lands were regarded as separate manors of NORTH CERNEY and WOODMANCOTE. (fn. 98) The Woodmancote manor, though included in a sale to Thomas Taylor in 1566 and claimed by his successors, (fn. 99) may actually have been retained by the Staffords, for Mary, widow of Edward Stafford, Lord Stafford, was named as lady of that hamlet in 1608. (fn. 100) Later, however, Woodmancote figures with the Rendcomb and North Cerney manors in the litigation between the Pooles and the Guises, (fn. 101) passing with them to the latter family, (fn. 102) which owned over 500 a. in Woodmancote tithing as part of its Rendcomb Park estate in 1837. (fn. 103)
Sir Thomas Rich, who became lessee of the manors formerly belonging to the earls of Stafford, also acquired a long lease of two farms in Woodmancote tithing called Green's and Viner's which were held from those manors. (fn. 104) They apparently formed the basis of the later CERNEY HOUSE estate. Sir Thomas granted the lease of the two farms to his son William who died before him in 1639. (fn. 105) Sir Thomas at his death in 1647 devised a capital messuage in Woodmancote, where he had been living, and lands to his wife Anne, (fn. 106) and his estate, which was presumably converted to freehold, apparently passed to his grandson Thomas Rich (d. 1705). The family was said to have a good house and estate at Cerney c. 1710 (fn. 107) and in 1719 the owner was Edward Rich, (fn. 108) apparently the son of the younger Thomas. Edward Rich died c. 1721 when in financial difficulties (fn. 109) and the Cerney House estate later passed to the Revd. Edward Pickering Rich, after whose death in 1761 it was put up for sale. (fn. 110) It was bought by Thomas Tyndale (d. 1783), whose son sold the estate c. 1795 to William Kimber. (fn. 111) It later passed to Barrington Price but by 1807 the owner was John Hooper Holder, who sold the estate in 1814 to William Croome. (fn. 112) The estate, which covered 475 a. in 1837, (fn. 113) passed from William Croome (d. 1855) to his son William Fielder Croome (d. 1886). It then passed to the younger William's nephew Thomas Lancelot Croome (d. 1895), and to Thomas's son William Iveson Croome, who was an infant at his father's death. W. I. Croome sold the estate in 1930 (fn. 114) to Mrs. de la Hey, wife of the rector of North Cerney, (fn. 115) and it passed to Capt. R. M. O. de la Hey who put it up for sale in 1953. The farmland of the estate, comprising Scrubditch farm, was then sold to Mr. J. C. Herdman, and Cerney House, sold separately, passed through various owners and belonged in 1978 to Mr. C. P. Francis. (fn. 116)
A small block on the north side of Cerney House, which has the remains of two 17th-century windows, survives from the Rich family's house, as do possibly some thick internal walls incorporated into the main block. The main block dates from a rebuilding carried out by Thomas Tyndale, probably soon after 1761. (fn. 117) Further alterations were made c. 1800, when semicircular bows were added to the sides and the interior was largely refitted, and the porch to the main front was apparently brought from Driffield Manor in 1803. (fn. 118) Additions to the service quarters were made at various times in the 19th century. The small landscaped park around the house was probably the work of Thomas Tyndale, who secured the closure of a road that passed close to the house in 1780. (fn. 119) A circular lodge was built at the end of the drive to the Cirencester road in 1914. (fn. 120)
Another part of Woodmancote, also called the manor of WOODMANCOTE, passed with Rendcomb manor to the de la Mares. In 1204 Robert de la Mare owed a fine to the Crown for the restoration of land at Woodmancote that William Noel had held (fn. 121) and the manor later passed to the Leigh family, apparently by the marriage of Mabel de la Mare and William of Leigh. (fn. 122) In 1221 Richard Noel quitclaimed half of the manor to Maud of Leigh (fn. 123) and in 1233 the manor, extended at 2 plough-lands, belonged to Constance of Leigh, daughter of Mabel and William, and she gave it in that year to the newly founded abbey of Lacock (Wilts.). (fn. 124) William de la Mare of Rendcomb released his right to homage as overlord (fn. 125) but in 1269 his descendant, also William, was claiming aid from Lacock in respect of the manor. (fn. 126) In 1538 the abbey leased the manor for 40 years to Sir Edmund Tame, and the Crown granted the reversion to Giles Poole of Sapperton in 1542. (fn. 127) The later descent of the manor has not been traced but it is likely that it was acquired by the owners of the Rendcomb estate.
An estate called the manor of CALMSDEN also passed to William of Leigh who granted it in 1190 to the Knights Hospitallers, (fn. 128) to whose preceptory of Quenington it was attached until the Dissolution. In 1544 the Crown granted the manor to Thomas Stroud and his partners, who sold it a few days later to Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour, and Henry Brouncker. (fn. 129) Brouncker sold his moiety in 1553 to Catherine Buckler, widow of Sir Walter Buckler and of Sir Edmund Tame, and the same year she bought the other moiety from the Crown, which had taken possession on Seymour's execution for treason in 1549. Richard Buckler, heir to the manor, (fn. 130) apparently conveyed his interest to Catherine's third husband Roger Lygon in 1568, (fn. 131) and Roger and Catherine held it in 1571. (fn. 132)
The sparseness of the evidence for Calmsden in the next two centuries makes it impossible to establish a clear connexion between the two manors that existed there in the Middle Ages and the later estates. It seems most likely, however, that the Lygons' manor was the one that became divided into three parts, one part passing to the Shipside family and being sold c. 1630 to Sir Thomas Crewe. (fn. 133) In 1682 the site and one third of Calmsden manor were conveyed to John Vannam, (fn. 134) D.D., vicar of Bibury, who claimed two-thirds of the manor at his death in 1721, leaving them to his son John. (fn. 135) Dr. Vannam's estate apparently passed eventually to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Robert Hicks of Coombe, in Wotton under Edge, and then to their daughter Elizabeth, wife of George Somerville of Dinder (Som.). William Somerville, vicar of Bibury, son of George and Elizabeth, (fn. 136) claimed to be lord of Calmsden manor in 1785 (fn. 137) and had a considerable estate there in 1795. (fn. 138) After the Revd. William's death in 1803 his widow Jane held the estate (fn. 139) and at her death in 1830 it passed to his nephew James Somerville Fownes, who changed his surname to Somerville. James, whose Calmsden estate comprised 580 a. in 1837, (fn. 140) was succeeded at his death in 1848 by his son James Curtis Somerville, the owner in 1867. (fn. 141) Before 1878 the estate was bought by Sir Francis Goldsmid of Rendcomb and joined to the other Calmsden estate. (fn. 142) The Somervilles' estate was based on the small gabled manor-house of the 17th century which survives at the centre of Calmsden. (fn. 143)
Another estate in Calmsden, known as the manor of CALMSDEN or BARLEY and held from the de la Mares, (fn. 144) may have been the matter in dispute between Robert of Calmsden and William de la Mare in 1185; (fn. 145) Robert or a successor of the same name was recorded in 1231. (fn. 146) In 1327 Roger of Barley was given the highest assessment for the subsidy among the inhabitants of Calmsden, (fn. 147) and in 1402 John Barley and Isabel his wife held the manor subject to Alice Barley's right to a third as dower. (fn. 148) John died c. 1405 (fn. 149) and the manor passed before 1427 to John Blount of Bitton in right of his wife William. John died in 1444 (fn. 150) and William in 1454 when she was succeeded by their son Edmund Blount. (fn. 151) Edmund apparently sold the manor before his death in 1468, though he retained an estate of a plough-land at Woodmancote (fn. 152) that his parents had bought from Richard and Alice Colles. (fn. 153) The Blounts' Calmsden manor was presumably that which later belonged to Sir Edmund Tame (d. 1544) who settled it on his wife Catherine, who later owned the other Calmsden manor. The reversion of Tame's manor was assigned to his sister Margaret and her husband Sir Humphrey Stafford, (fn. 154) and it was presumably still only the reversion that Margaret and her second husband Sir John Cope were dealing with in 1554. (fn. 155)
It was apparently Tame's manor that passed to the Berkeleys and then to the Guises but whether by the same descent as his Rendcomb manor is not clear. Dame Eleanor Berkeley was said to be lady of Calmsden in 1608, (fn. 156) and Sir John Guise, at the beginning of the 18th century, and Sir William Guise, in the 1770s, claimed manorial rights there. (fn. 157) The Guises, however, seem then to have had little or no land at Calmsden; the large farm that was later attached to their Rendcomb Park estate, comprising 634 a. in 1837, (fn. 158) was apparently bought c. 1789 from the Cherington family by Shute Barrington. (fn. 159) The Calmsden land of the Rendcomb Park estate was later increased by the purchase of the Somervilles' estate and, in 1907, the rector's glebe at Calmsden, and when put up for sale in 1914 it comprised 1,290 a. (fn. 160) It was bought then by J. A. K. Falconer (fn. 161) (d. 1948) (fn. 162) who left it to his daughter Mrs. Eleanor Tufnell (d. 1969); Mrs. Tufnell left the estate in trust for the children of her son, Mr. C. J. R. Tufnell, who farmed the estate in 1978. (fn. 163) The house belonging to the Guises' estate in 1837, (fn. 164) presumably the home of the Cheringtons in the 18th century, (fn. 165) stood at the west side of the hamlet. It was described as an old gabled farm-house in 1914, (fn. 166) after which date it became the residence of the owners of the Calmsden estate; it was rebuilt in Cotswold style to the designs of V. A. Lawson in 1924–5. (fn. 167)
The COTSWOLD HOUSE (later Cotswold Park) estate at the west side of the parish was established by 1781 when it was owned by Samuel Walbank, (fn. 168) a former London wine-merchant. It later passed to Grey Jermyn Grove who sold it in 1796 to William Veel. Veel sold the estate in 1808 to Robert Milligan, (fn. 169) a prominent London merchant and chief promoter of the building of the West India Docks. (fn. 170) Robert (d. 1809) left lifeinterests in the estate to such of his daughters as remained unmarried, with a reversionary interest to all his children. The immediate beneficiaries were Jean, who married in 1811, Justinia, who died in 1840, and Mary. In 1851 Mary's brother William Milligan bought her interest and the rights of the other heirs and he sold the estate in 1859 to James Bownes (d. 1873), a tobacco-merchant of Mansfield (Notts.). Bownes's trustees sold it in 1879, when it comprised 202 a. in Cerney, Duntisbourne Abbots, and Winstone, to James Canby Biddle–Cope, who sold it in 1885 to T. T. S. Metcalfe. (fn. 171) By 1897 it had passed to the Revd. John Priestley Foster (fn. 172) who sold it in 1915 to the Hon. F. W. Stanley; (fn. 173) Lt.-Col. Stanley, as he became, remained the owner in 1939. (fn. 174) Later the estate was bought by Lt.-Col. A. M. Gibb (d. 1955), and his widow Yoskyl, (fn. 175) who afterwards married Malcolm McCorquodale, Lord McCorquodale (d. 1971), (fn. 176) retained it in 1978.
Cotswold Park was evidently built shortly before 1781, (fn. 177) the original house comprising a narrow range, with a symmetrical west front of 3 storeys and 3 bays, and a rear service wing of 2 storeys. An extension terminating in a semi-octagonal bay was later added to the north end of the main range, presumably part of the recent additions mentioned in 1795, (fn. 178) and other additions were made to the south side in the later 19th century. The narrow valley overlooked by the house was formed into a small ornamental park before 1825. (fn. 179)
Tewkesbury Abbey owned a small estate at Woodmancote by the mid 13th century, probably granted to it by one of the earls of Gloucester. (fn. 180) Comprising 2 houses and 1½ yardland at the Dissolution, (fn. 181) it was granted to John Pope and Anthony Foster in 1544. (fn. 182) The hospital of St. John at Cirencester had a few acres of land at Calmsden until the earlier 20th century. (fn. 183)
In 1086 there were two plough-teams and a single servus on the demesne of the archbishop of York's manor of North Cerney. (fn. 184) In 1283 three teams were maintained for Cerney and Compton Abdale, another of the archbishop's manors. (fn. 185) The demesne at Cerney was apparently still cultivated for the lord in 1373 (fn. 186) but by 1401 it was leased. In the latter year it comprised 217 a. of open-held land, 5 a. of several meadow, and a 200-acre pasture called Cerney Mead on the wolds, (fn. 187) evidently Cerney Downs, which were presumably as later open to commoning rights of the tenants. In 1657 the land attached to the site of the manor included 160 a. of land in each of the open fields and some meadow closes; extensive rights of sheep-pasture were also used with the demesne in the 17th century, some of them deriving from tenant land that had lapsed to the lord. (fn. 188)
The demesne of Gilbert son of Turold's manor in 1086 had 4 teams and 6 servi. (fn. 189) A small part of the Staffords' lands in the parish were originally in demesne but by 1413 were let at farm. (fn. 190) The Hospitallers' Calmsden manor had 8 yardlands and a meadow at Perrott's Brook in demesne in the early 16th century. (fn. 191) Lacock Abbey had a ploughland in demesne at Woodmancote in 1291. (fn. 192) In the early 16th century its manor there was leased in its entirety. (fn. 193)
The tenants on the archbishop's manor in 1086 were 6 villani and 2 bordars with 5 teams among them, while Gilbert son of Turold's estate had 7 villani and 6 bordars with 5 teams among them. There were also 4 knights holding estates under Gilbert which were worked by 7 teams. The total of 23 teams enumerated in 1086 (fn. 194) and the assessment of the various manors at a total of 24½ plough-lands in 1220 (fn. 195) show the parish to have been intensively cultivated in the early Middle Ages. The agricultural depression of the earlier 14th century, however, caused depopulation and presumably a sharp contraction in arable farming. In 1341 it was reported that 10 of the tenant holdings had been abandoned since 1291 and that wool-production had suffered severely from murrain and a shortage of grazing. (fn. 196) The Black Death presumably caused further depopulation and an account roll for the archbishop's manor in 1401 reflects the general decline. The customary tenants of the manor were then still accounted for at a theoretical strength of 6 yardlanders, 4 half-yardlanders, 3 mondaymen, and 4 cottars but all 11 of the smaller holdings had lapsed to the lord of the manor and one of the yardlands also was given up in the course of the year. Five of the houses belonging to the 11 smaller holdings had been demolished or had fallen down and the lands of those holdings were leased by the year among only 4 tenants. There were then also 3 free tenants holding from the manor. (fn. 197)
In the early 16th century some of the copyholds on the archbishop's manor still betrayed their composition from several original holdings; in 1536 one comprised 4 houses and 2½ yardlands and owed 4 heriots. (fn. 198) In the late 16th and early 17th centuries much of the tenant land of the manor was leased for lives or for long terms of years (fn. 199) but some copyholds remained in 1656. All the tenants held for lives c. 1713, most of them presumably, as later in the 18th century, by leases for 99 years or 3 lives. There were 6 large holdings c. 1713, ranging from 33 a. to 114 a., and 9 cottage-holdings, most with the statutory 4 a of land. (fn. 200)
The bulk of the tenant land of the earl of Stafford's manors in Rendcomb and Cerney lay in Woodmancote tithing. In 1408 six of the seven customary holdings of those manors, ranging in size from a fardel to 1½ yardland, were described as in Woodmancote or Cerney. (fn. 201) In 1566 all the tenant land still attached to those manors lay in Woodmancote tithing and comprised four large farms, three of 5 yardlands and the other of 4 yardlands. (fn. 202) By the early 17th century most of that land had been alienated or granted on long leases (fn. 203) and much of it was later formed into the Cerney House estate. On the Hospitallers' manor of Calmsden the only tenants in 1541 were a free tenant holding 2½ yard-lands and a copyholder, whose holding, comprising 3 houses, a cottage, and 3¾ yardlands, was evidently made up of several original holdings. (fn. 204) The definition of a yardland varied over the centuries: in 1444 a plough-land in Woodmancote contained 60 a.; (fn. 205) in 1635 the yardland used in the parish, or at least in Woodmancote and Calmsden tithings, comprised 24 a.; (fn. 206) and in 1715 46 a. in Cerney tithing was described as a yardland. (fn. 207)
The three tithings, Cerney, Woodmancote, and Calmsden, had their separate open fields. The north and south (or upper and lower) fields of Cerney, which comprised mainly the lands of the archbishop's manor, were recorded from 1401; (fn. 208) they occupied the slopes on the east side of the Churn. (fn. 209) The two large Calmsden fields lay north and south of that hamlet. (fn. 210) Woodmancote tithing appears to have had at least four open fields. Those called Burcombe and Morcombe fields in the 13th century were probably the same as the west and north fields recorded at the same period (fn. 211) and presumably lay in the north-western arm of the tithing, while two fields recorded later occupied the slopes of the south part of the tithing, above the Churn. (fn. 212)
The small amount of meadow (8 a.) recorded in the parish in 1086 (fn. 213) and on the archbishop's demesne in 1401 suggests that the possibilities of irrigating the land bordering the Churn were not fully exploited until the post-medieval period. What meadow land existed earlier was certainly highly prized; the 2 a. belonging to an estate at Woodmancote in 1444 was extended at six times the value of its arable land. (fn. 214) In later centuries a continuous if narrow strip of meadow, some of it said c. 1710 to be among the best in the county, (fn. 215) bordered the Churn, and in 1851 one of the farms on the Bathurst estate had 32 a. of rich water meadow. (fn. 216) The hatches in the river used for controlling the flooding of the meadows that were mentioned in 1824 (fn. 217) had presumably by then been in use for many years. Some of the meadows by the Churn were cultivated on the lot system in the 17th century and another part, though owned by the lord of the manor formerly the archbishop's, was subject to commoning rights of the tenants; William Poole may have planned to inclose the meadows on that manor in 1656 when he reserved the pasture rights in his copyhold grants. (fn. 218) In the 17th century there were also small plots of meadow intermixed with the arable in the open fields. (fn. 219)
Above the open fields on the east side of the Churn valley lay the extensive common downland called Cerney Downs and beyond that was a smaller area of downland belonging to Calmsden. (fn. 220) In the late Middle Ages the eastern corner of the parish beyond Calmsden hamlet was occupied by a large tract of rough pasture known as Oldgore. It covered 600 a. in the 15th century when two-thirds of it belonged to the Hospitallers' manor and one third to the Blounts' manor. (fn. 221) Woodmancote also had an area of common downland, lying north of the hamlet. (fn. 222) Cerney Downs and the open fields on the archbishop's manor were stinted at 60 sheep to the yardland in 1540 but in part of the downs the farmer of the demesne had the sole right to the summer pasture. (fn. 223) Measures for the regulation of the pasture taken by the tenants of that manor in 1672 included the appointment of sheep-tellers. (fn. 224) The stint for sheep on the Staffords' manors was also 60 to the yardland in 1566. (fn. 225)
Sheep-farming had become an important element in the husbandry of the parish by the late Middle Ages though it remained inferior in total value to crop-raising in 1535 when the rector's wool and lamb tithes were valued at £6 17s. and his corn tithes at £10 6s. (fn. 226) Nicholas Gazard of Calmsden was one of the largest sheep-farmers in the 1430s when he was in constant trouble with the earl of Stafford's manor court for pasturing his flock of 400 where he had no rights. (fn. 227) Another flock was kept by the rector William Whitchurch in 1476. (fn. 228) The substantial holdings in the parish acquired by the Tame family of Fairford and Rendcomb were no doubt connected with their sheep-farming operations. William Tame acquired a lease of 200 a. of Oldgore from the Hospitallers c. 1485 (fn. 229) and it was held later by John Tame and his descendants. (fn. 230) The younger Sir Edmund Tame (d. 1544) besides owning one of the Calmsden manors and a free tenement on the archbishop's manor (fn. 231) also held on lease the demesne of the Hospitallers' manor, (fn. 232) Lacock Abbey's Woodmancote manor, (fn. 233) and Tewkesbury Abbey's Woodmancote estate. (fn. 234) William Fifield, who farmed the demesne on the manor formerly the archbishop's, had a flock of 460 sheep in 1558 (fn. 235) and the demesne farm appears to have been exploited for sheep-raising by the Poole family in the earlier 17th century. William Poole, later owner of the manor, took a lease of the farm with pasture for 307 sheep in 1604, and four years later Thomas, one of his sons, took a lease of an additional 340 sheep-pastures. In 1641 820 sheep-pastures were used with the demesne farm, which Nathaniel Poole probably had in hand. (fn. 236)
Inclosure of the Cerney fields had begun by the early 18th century, when Henry Combes's portion of the demesne farm included some newly inclosed arable, (fn. 237) and was evidently completed by the Bathursts later in the century; new inclosures taken out of the south field were mentioned in 1751. Inclosure of the south part of Cerney Downs was in progress in 1755 (fn. 238) and by 1807 72 a. in the north part had also been inclosed and ploughed up. The remaining 244 a. of the downs were attached to North Cerney farm in 1807 (fn. 239) and comprised the land lying east of the White way bounded on the north and south by the roads from Calmsden to North Cerney and from Calmsden to Perrott's Brook. All pasture rights in that land apparently then belonged to the farm but other occupiers had furze-cutting rights. Those rights were apparently extinguished and inclosure of the downs completed by Lord Bathurst in the 1830s. (fn. 240)
The two Woodmancote fields in the Churn valley were called Thomas Rich's north and south fields in 1635 and he apparently then held all the land there apart from some belonging to the rector's glebe. (fn. 241) Rich made some inclosures from the fields by agreement with his son Samuel, the rector, in the early 1630s, (fn. 242) and inclosure of the fields was evidently completed by later agreements between the owners of the Cerney House estate and the rectors; Edward Rich and the Revd. John Coxe made an exchange of lands in the north field in 1719. (fn. 243) In 1837 the Cerney House estate included the succession of regular closes lying between the Bagendon boundary and the meadow land by the Churn, evidently representing the south field, and closes called Woodmancote field lying by the road from North Cerney to Woodmancote, evidently former parts of the north field. (fn. 244) Part of the open fields of the north-western arm of the tithing survived until at least 1781 when Samuel Walbank of Cotswold House and another owner made exchanges there. (fn. 245) Woodmancote Downs, covering 64 a., were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1855 so that they could be turned over to arable. Most of the land was allotted to Sir John Wright Guise and William Croome of Cerney House, who shared the right of soil and the bulk of the pasture rights; William Milligan of Cotswold House and another occupier received small allotments for pasture rights. (fn. 246)
At Calmsden some inclosures were made by private agreement before 1795 but over 1,000 a. of fields and downs remained to be inclosed by Act of Parliament in that year. The bulk of the land went to Shute Barrington and his wife, who received 540 a. for the land and rights belonging to the Rendcomb estate, and the Revd. William Somerville, who received 459 a.; the rector received 47 a. for his glebe in the Calmsden fields. (fn. 247)
From the late 18th century most of the land of the parish was consolidated into six or seven large farms. Lord Bathurst's estate was divided between two farms: North Cerney farm based on the manor-house comprised 794 a. in 1796 while another farm of 252 a., later known as Perrott's Brook farm, was formed from the south part of the estate. (fn. 248) North Cerney farm was tenanted in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by the prosperous Kimber family who farmed it with other land in the parish which they owned or leased. (fn. 249) Perrott's Brook farm, which from the early 19th century had its farm-house at the former inn by the Welsh way, (fn. 250) was usually farmed together with North Cerney farm in the later 19th and early 20th centuries but was leased separately again after the Second World War. (fn. 251) Calmsden was divided between two big farms, comprising 618 a. and 569 a. in 1796, respectively the Rendcomb Park and Somerville family's estates, (fn. 252) and continued as such after the Rendcomb estate became owner of all the land. (fn. 253) The two big farms were taken in hand and administered by farm bailiffs for a short period in the 1890s, and from the First World War the owners of Calmsden farmed the estate as a single unit. (fn. 254)
In Woodmancote tithing the pattern of holdings was more varied. In 1796 a large part of the land was farmed by William Kimber of North Cerney Farm who owned the Cerney House and another smaller estate there and leased the rector's glebe, while another large farm, of 421 a., was formed mainly of the land belonging to the Rendcomb Park estate; the Cotswold House estate and two other freeholds made three smaller farms. (fn. 255) In 1837 William Croome had part of his Cerney House estate, based on a farm-house at the north end of Woodmancote hamlet, in hand while his son W. F. Croome farmed a larger portion including the farm buildings at Scrubditch. The Rendcombe Park land was then farmed with North Cerney farm by Thomas Kimber, (fn. 256) but later in the century it was put with adjoining land in Rendcomb parish to form a large farm, of 681 a. in 1878, for which a new farm-house was built at the south end of Woodmancote. (fn. 257) In the 1890s that farm too was farmed for the estate by a bailiff. (fn. 258)
Some smaller holdings survived in the parish in the late 19th and early 20th centuries bringing its total of agricultural occupiers up to c. 20; in 1926 10 had under 50 a. (fn. 259) By 1976, however, there were only two small holdings (under 10 ha.) run on a part-time basis, and the rest of the land was by then consolidated in five farms, of which the largest were the Calmsden estate and North Cerney farm, which in 1978 had 518 ha. (1,280 a.) and 344 ha. (850 a.) respectively. The farms of the parish gave employment to 38 people in 1976 (fn. 260) compared with just over 100 in 1831 (fn. 261) and 1926. (fn. 262)
After the inclosures one of the usual Cotswold rotations, involving wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and grass-seeds, the last two mainly to provide sheep-fodder, became the usual pattern of husbandry. (fn. 263) The growing of sainfoin on some of the inclosed land as an additional source of fodder is recorded from the early 18th century. (fn. 264) Most of the farms were devoted predominantly to the rotation of arable land in 1796, when for example the two big Calmsden farms had only 72 a. and 19½ a. of permanent grassland respectively, (fn. 265) and arable cultivation became even more dominant during the next 60 years as former downland was put under the plough. In 1837 the parish contained 2,850 a. of arable compared with 914 a. of permanent pasture and meadow (fn. 266) and the comparable figures returned in 1866 were 3,058 to 544. The trend was reversed during the slump of the late 19th century. The acreage of wheat and barley returned in 1896 was down to 660 compared with 1,011 in 1866 and much unwanted arable had been turned to grass; (fn. 267) c. 1899 the lease to a new tenant of North Cerney farm made particular allowances in respect of several fields that had degenerated to a foul condition. (fn. 268) The farms attempted to mitigate the effects of the slump in cereals by building up their flocks and introducing more beef and dairy cattle: 3,070 sheep and 303 cattle were returned in 1896 compared with 2,446 and 195 in 1866, and during that period the acreage of turnips showed only a relatively small decrease while rotated grass for grazing or mowing showed a slight increase. (fn. 269) Sheep-farming was considerably reduced, however, in the early 20th century, but herds were further increased with 540 cattle being returned in 1926 (fn. 270) when they included a pedigree Shorthorn herd on the Calmsden estate. (fn. 271) Dairying and cattle-raising were still important elements in the agriculture of the parish in the later 1970s, though the number of sheep had increased again to the late-19th-century level and the two big farms, Calmsden and North Cerney, were devoted largely to growing cereal crops. (fn. 272)
In 1086 three mills were recorded at North Cerney, one each on the manors owned and held from Gilbert son of Turold and one on the archbishop's manor. (fn. 273) No later record of a mill has been found on the several estates which derived from Gilbert's but the archbishop's mill was presumably at the site of North Cerney mill on the Churn below the manor-house. It remained part of Cerney manor (fn. 274) and during the 19th century was leased to the tenants of North Cerney farm. Though not listed in the directories after 1897 (fn. 275) it perhaps continued to operate merely for the use of the farmer, for the machinery was still in place in 1966 when it was removed to Arlington Mill at Bibury. (fn. 276) A tucker, who was not the tenant of the manor mill, was recorded at Cerney in 1608, (fn. 277) so it is possible that another mill then existed elsewhere on the river.
A new mill built on the Cerney manor estate by Richard Painter c. 1715 (fn. 278) was probably Perrott's Brook mill c. 600 m. upstream of the Perrott's Brook bridge. In 1799 John Radway, a woolstapler, became lessee of Perrott's Brook mill (fn. 279) and he was succeeded there by Giles Radway before 1809, when the mill was described as formerly a grist-mill (fn. 280) and had perhaps been converted to clothmaking. In or shortly before 1824 Giles Radway built a new cloth-mill south of the old mill (fn. 281) and he was still working it in 1837. (fn. 282) In the later 19th century it was used as a corn-mill. (fn. 283) Both the old and new mills survived together with some cottages in 1978 when the newer mill was used as a farm building for Perrott's Brook farm, which had its other buildings and its recently built new farmhouse at the site.
Though predominantly agricultural, North Cerney parish usually had a fairly substantial number of tradesmen. Eight tradesmen, including the tucker mentioned above, were listed in 1608 compared with 21 men employed in agriculture, (fn. 284) and trade supported 33 families in 1831 compared with 90 supported by agriculture. (fn. 285) With the exception of the man described as parchment-maker in 1751 and glue-maker in 1778, the tradesmen found recorded during the 18th and 19th centuries were the usual village craftsmen together with a few small shopkeepers. (fn. 286) Carpenters were perhaps represented in more than usual numbers for a rural parish in 1851 when 12 lived in the parish; the 9 slaters and masons formed the next largest group while other trades had only one or two representatives. (fn. 287) Weavers are occasionally recorded in the parish (fn. 288) and in the early 19th century it presumably had a number of cloth-workers; the increase from 16 to 33 tradesmen families between 1811 and 1831 (fn. 289) may be partly explained by developments at Perrott's Brook mill. A few crafts survived into the mid 20th century: in 1939 Cerney village still had a boot repairer and Calmsden a blacksmith, (fn. 290) and a firm of tailors established at Woodmancote before 1906 (fn. 291) remained in business in 1978. From 1927 a quarry beside the railway in the east corner of the parish was worked by the Fosse Lime and Limestone Co. which burnt lime for agricultural and building purposes; the firm employed 30 men in 1936 and remained at the site until at least 1959. (fn. 292)
Frankpledge jurisdiction over the tithings of Calmsden and Woodmancote was exercised by the court held at Rendcomb by the owners of the honor of Gloucester, and the court baron held with the Rendcomb frankpledge court exercised manorial jurisdiction over the Woodmancote and Cerney lands belonging to the owners of the honor. (fn. 293) The tenants of the archbishop of York's manor attended the hundred frankpledge court. (fn. 294) Manor court rolls for that manor survive for several years in the period 1528–48 when the court was usually held in conjunction with that for the archbishop's manor of Compton Abdale, sometimes at Compton and sometimes at Cerney. (fn. 295) There are also draft rolls for 1656 and 1660. (fn. 296)
Churchwardens' accounts from 1709 (fn. 297) are the only early records of parish government known to survive. A parish poorhouse in Cerney village was recorded in 1799. (fn. 298) In the early 19th century the number of people receiving permanent relief from the parish was c. 40–60. (fn. 299) In 1836 North Cerney became part of the Cirencester poor-law union (fn. 300) and it was later in Cirencester rural district, (fn. 301) becoming part of the new Cotswold district in 1974.
Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester, held the advowson in 1255 (fn. 304) and it descended with his manors in Rendcomb and North Cerney to the Staffords. (fn. 305) The Crown presented in 1533 (fn. 306) and Richard Bridges, who had apparently been assigned the right in satisfaction of a debt owed him by Edward, Lord Stafford, (fn. 307) presented in 1576. (fn. 308) During the 17th and early 18th centuries the ownership of the advowson was in doubt, partly as a result of the uncertainties over the manors formerly belonging to the Staffords. (fn. 309) It was later maintained that Richard Poole acquired the advowson from Edward, Lord Stafford, in 1599 when he secured confirmation of his title to the manors, but Edward's son and heir Edward, Lord Stafford, claimed it at his death in 1625. (fn. 310) The Crown granted it with the wardship of Lord Stafford's grandson and heir, Henry Stafford, to Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, who presented Samuel Rich to the rectory in 1630. A rival candidate, William Poole, was presented by Sir William Masters, Edmund Estcourt, and John Bridges, who claimed differing titles to the advowson: Sir William claimed under a grant from one of Richard Poole's creditors; Estcourt under a grant from Sir Valentine Knightley made for the benefit of Poole's father, William Poole of Long Newnton; and Bridges under the title of his father Richard Bridges. The ensuing litigation resulted in the decision of 1637 confirming Samuel Rich in the living but allowing Poole the option of pursuing his claim in the future. (fn. 311)
The advowson later featured in the dispute between the Pooles and the Guises over the Stafford manors. Richard Poole of London successfully presented in 1684 (fn. 312) in the face of opposition from the Guises, and his successor Nathaniel Poole included the advowson in his release to the Guises in 1721. Jane Parry, a later opponent of the Guises' claim to the manors, (fn. 313) described herself as undoubted patroness in 1727 when she granted the next turn to Charles Coxe with a promise to sell him the advowson in perpetuity. (fn. 314) Some accommodation between the disputing parties had apparently been made by 1736 when Charles Coxe's son, Thomas Chamberlayne Coxe, was instituted on Sir John Guise's presentation, (fn. 315) and the parties later resolved the dispute by granting their rights to University College, Oxford. (fn. 316) After 1974 the college shared the advowson of the united benefice with Jesus College, Oxford. (fn. 317)
The rector owned all the tithes of the parish except those from the demesne of the archbishop of York's manor, which belonged to St. Oswald's Priory and were granted to the dean and chapter of Bristol in 1542. (fn. 318) The priory's portion, valued at 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 319) was being disputed by the rector in 1306 when the prior was said to have forcibly taken sheaves from the archbishop's barn. (fn. 320) By the early 18th century the rector had let all his tithes to the occupiers of the lands, providing him in 1732 with a total rental of £181. (fn. 321) The tithes were commuted for a corn-rent-charge of £750 in 1837. (fn. 322) The glebe comprised a yardland (24 a.) in each of the two Woodmancote fields and one in each of the two Calmsden fields, together with pasture rights and some pieces of meadow land. (fn. 323) In 1837 it covered 106 a. (fn. 324) The rectory house, standing west of the church, was recorded from 1479 when the rector Willaim Whitchurch built a conduit from a near-by spring to supply it with water. (fn. 325) In the 17th century it was a fairly large house with farm buildings ranged round a courtyard. It was rebuilt by the rector John Coxe before 1705 as a substantial square building with a hipped roof and sash windows. (fn. 326) A rounded bow was added to the drawing-room c. 1828 and a kitchen wing c. 1913. (fn. 327) The house was sold in the 1970s and a smaller house in the village acquired for the rector.
The living was valued at £18 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 328) at £21 10s. 5½d. in 1535, (fn. 329) and at £120 in 1650. (fn. 330) In 1722 it was worth c. £180 (fn. 331) and by the 1770s had risen in value to £300. (fn. 332) There was evidently a considerable rise in value by the time of the tithe commutation and in 1850 the value was £668. (fn. 333)
The living of North Cerney, being a fairly wealthy one, encouraged long incumbencies; there were only five rectors in 200 years after 1533. Thomas Taylor, instituted in 1533, neglected his duties in various ways (fn. 334) and was frequently in trouble with the consistory court. In 1551 he declared himself ready to believe whatever was handed down by royal authority, a flexible attitude which no doubt helped his retention of the living through the changes of the mid 16th century; but finally he was deprived of North Cerney and his other rectory at Minchinhampton in 1576. (fn. 335) His successor Philip Pritchard (fn. 336) was described in 1576 as a poor Latinist but sound in religion, (fn. 337) and in 1593 was among those classed as sufficient scholars but no preachers. (fn. 338) The two contenders for the rectory after Pritchard's death in 1630 were both from leading local families: William Poole was brother to Nathaniel Poole, lord of one of the manors, and Samuel Rich was a son of Sir Thomas Rich. Rich was briefly ousted by Poole in the mid 1630s but he returned in 1637 and, though apparently again challenged by Poole in the early 1660s, (fn. 339) he retained the living until his death in 1683. From 1665 he was also rector of Elkstone. (fn. 340) John Coxe, rector 1684–1731, held the living in plurality with Rodmarton from 1722 and Thomas Chamberlayne Coxe (d. 1779), instituted in 1736 after a vacancy due to the dispute over the advowson, held it with the livings of Brimpsfield, Preston, and Avening in succession. (fn. 341) Matthew Surtees, rector 1793–1826, was vicar of Swindon (Wilts.) from 1809. Thomas Dawson Allen, 1827–75, (fn. 342) was a supporter of the Evangelical party and advertised for a curate of similar views in 1866. (fn. 343)
Both Woodmancote and Calmsden had chapels of ease to the parish church in the Middle Ages. That at Woodmancote was said to be still in use and served by a curate in 1563 (fn. 344) but the information was probably out of date, for the chapel building was already in use as a dwelling by 1548. It was then held as a tenement on the Cerney manor formerly belonging to the archbishop of York, (fn. 345) surprisingly in view of the fact that no other land in the Woodmancote part of the parish is recorded as being attached to that manor. The dwelling house (called Chapel House in 1823) which replaced the chapel was apparently Tudor House, standing at the centre of Woodmancote hamlet, opposite the Manor House. (fn. 346) The oldest part of Tudor House, though it seems to betray its origins in its alignment, was rebuilt in the 17th century, presumably the reason for the statement c. 1703 that the Woodmancote chapel had been demolished. (fn. 347) The chapel at Calmsden was said to be no longer served in 1563 (fn. 348) and it also became a dwelling. It can apparently be identified with a cottage that stood above the cross and spring in Calmsden hamlet until the mid 19th century, (fn. 349) though it had been rebuilt or remodelled by the beginning of the 18th century when the Calmsden chapel, too, was said to have been demolished. (fn. 350)
A chantry-chapel was recorded as part of the earl of Stafford's manor of Woodmancote and had presumably been founded by an owner of that manor. By 1402, however, the chantry had evidently lapsed for its property was leased to tenants and the rents were taken by the manor. The profits of the chantry included the herbage of the churchyard (fn. 351) and it had no doubt been held in part of the church.
The church of ALL SAINTS, recorded by that dedication from 1492, (fn. 352) is built of ashlar and rubble and has a chancel, a nave with transeptal chapels, north organ chamber, and south porch, and a west tower with saddle-back roof.
The nave and the base of the tower date from the early 12th century when a new church apparently replaced a smaller building. (fn. 353) Early in the 13th century the upper parts of the tower were added and the chancel was rebuilt, almost certainly to a greater length than its predecessor. The tower arch was enlarged in the later 13th century and in the 14th the tall south porch was added. Evidence of a serious fire in the tower and nave has been found and is thought to be the reason for the reconstruction of their roofs and the rebuilding of the north wall of the nave in the mid or late 15th century. (fn. 354) Soon afterwards the two transeptal chapels were added; they presumably housed the side-altars of St. Catherine and St. Mary mentioned in 1492, (fn. 355) and a window in the northern chapel has an inscription to the rector William Whitchurch, who held the living from 1465 until at least 1479. (fn. 356)
The chancel, which was already showing signs of instability in 1576 when it was propped up with a post, (fn. 357) had to be largely rebuilt in 1736. (fn. 358) The two windows in the south wall of the nave are similar in design to those in the side walls of the chancel and were presumably inserted at the same period. Also in the 18th century a gallery with an outside staircase was added. At a restoration under Waller & Son begun in 1876 the east wall of the chancel was rebuilt, the organ chamber added, and the nave repewed. (fn. 359)
The pulpit which dates from the late 15th century, is of stone, richly carved, and the font is of similar date. The reading desk is dated 1631 but is made up of woodwork, some of it of the 16th century, from pew-ends or other furnishings. The medieval stone altar slab was found under the floor of the south chapel in 1912 and restored to its original use. (fn. 360) A statue of a priest in the south wall of the chancel was removed in 1736 (fn. 361) but the base of the monument survived and was uncovered in the early 20th century. (fn. 362) A brass to the rector Thomas Fereby (d. 1414) (fn. 363) has also been lost. There is some medieval glass, including a crucifixion in the east window of the north chapel. (fn. 364) Eighteenth-century additions include a chandelier acquired c. 1737, (fn. 365) altar-rails, and the font cover. The south chapel has wall monuments to the owners of the Cerney House estate, the earliest a baroque tablet to Sir Thomas Rich (d. 1647).
The present appearance of the interior of the church is largely governed by the lavish furnishing and ornamentation provided in the earlier 20th century by W. I. Croome of Cerney House (d. 1967), who played a leading role in the preservation of ancient churches, (fn. 366) and by the rector E. W. M. O. de la Hey. The additions made at that period include the screen to the south chapel and the roodloft, inserted in 1914 and 1925 respectively and designed on traditional models by F. C. Eden. (fn. 367) The plate includes a chalice and paten of 1701, given by Robert Rich, (fn. 368) and some pieces of foreign workmanship given in the 20th century. (fn. 369) The church had 3 bells (fn. 370) before 1714 when a new peal of 5 was cast by Abraham Rudhall; one bell was recast by John Rudhall in 1820 and the peal made up to 6 in 1863. (fn. 371) In the churchyard is a medieval cross with a restored head. The parish registers survive, with some gaps, from 1568 for baptisms and from 1574 for marriages and burials. (fn. 372)
A house at North Cerney was registered for dissenting worship in 1808. (fn. 373) The Baptist minister at Eastcombe in Bisley registered a house in 1816 (fn. 374) and that sect had a meeting-place in the village, with congregations of up to 50, in 1851. (fn. 375) The Primitive Methodists opened a chapel at the top of the village in 1891; (fn. 376) it remained in use as a Methodist chapel in 1978.
Independents registered a house at Calmsden in 1811. A house at Woodmancote was registered by an unidentified group in 1841 (fn. 377) and in 1914 the hamlet had a Plymouth Brethren mission hall. (fn. 378)
In or before 1796 a school of industry for girls was started at North Cerney and continued until 1825, teaching spinning and knitting to about 9 girls. It was supported by the subscriptions of the chief landowners and the same fund also supported a Sunday school. From 1808 until 1824 and again from 1827 a separate Sunday school was held at Calmsden and one was opened at Woodmancote in 1828; (fn. 379) a total of 78 children were taught in the Cerney and Calmsden schools in 1818. The only day-schools in the early 19th century were paying schools; there were 5 of these with a total of 60 pupils in 1833. (fn. 380)
A National school was built in the village in 1844 (fn. 381) and was supported initially by subscriptions, school pence, and a contribution by the rector. (fn. 382) In 1867, when it had an attendance of c. 60, it was receiving an annual government grant but half the cost of running it had still to be supplied by the rector. The boys who attended then usually left at the age of 10 and the master reported that many of the boys in the parish were still illiterate; a night-school established for boys over 12 had been abandoned through lack of support. (fn. 383) The average attendance at the National school was 90 in 1885 (fn. 384) and the building was enlarged by the addition of a new infants' classroom in 1913. (fn. 385) The average attendance remained at c. 85 in the earlier part of the 20th century, (fn. 386) and in 1978 the numbers on the roll were 52. (fn. 387)
Charities for the Poor
In 1683 14½ a. of land belonged to the parish; the income was then said to be distributed by the churchwardens and overseers, (fn. 388) so part of it presumably went to the poor. Later, however, the whole income went on church maintenance. (fn. 389) Under the Calmsden inclosure of 1795 13 a. of Calmsden Downs were set aside for growing furze as fuel for the poor of the hamlet and the profits of the pasture in the allotment were assigned to be distributed annually amongst the poor. (fn. 390) In the 1820s the pasture was let for £7. (fn. 391) Management of the allotment was regulated by a Scheme of 1953 and the profits were assigned to the general benefit of the poor. (fn. 392)