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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The rural parish of Coberley lies above the Cotswold escarpment 6.5 km. south of Cheltenham. The parish, which is irregular in shape with an area of 1,437 ha. (3,639 a.), includes in the eastern part the hamlet of Upper Coberley, (fn. 1) formerly called Little Coberley, Over Coberley, or Pinswell. (fn. 2) Upper Coberley was part of Bradley hundred and was assessed for poll tax in 1381 with part of Northleach, with which it was connected tenurially. (fn. 3) For poorlaw purposes Upper Coberley was, at least before the later 18th century, part of the Eastington tithing of Northleach (fn. 4) but in the 19th century Coberley, although divided between two hundreds, was accounted a single civil parish. (fn. 5)
Except where it passes south-east of Leckhampton hill the boundary of the parish on the north and north-west follows the crest of the escarpment from Wistley hill in the north-east to the promontory formed by Crickley hill in the west, where the rector of Coberley erected a stone on the boundary with Cowley in 1690. (fn. 6) Part of the eastern boundary follows an ancient route across Wistley hill, recorded by that name in a description of the boundaries of a Dowdeswell estate in 759, (fn. 7) and in Chescombe bottom in the south the boundary follows a tributary stream of the river Churn. The Churn and another tributary running along Coldwell bottom mark much of the southern boundary. Elsewhere the boundaries follow old field boundaries. (fn. 8) The parish lies almost exclusively above the 183-m. contour and outside the valleys of the Churn and its tributaries rises to over 290 m. at Wistley hill and to over 274 m. at Upper Coberley, South hill in the south-west, and Hartley hill in the north. The valleys, including one running eastwards from Ullenwood, formerly called Hallingwood, (fn. 9) in the western part, lie on Midford Sand; the higher land is formed mainly by the Inferior Oolite but Upper Lias clay is exposed in the Churn valley and above the escarpment near Ullenwood. (fn. 10) Many springs rise in the parish. In the north a group called Seven Springs forms the source of the Churn and has sometimes been considered that of the Thames of which the Churn is a tributary. (fn. 11) On the summit of Crickley hill fortifications and archaeological evidence indicate an interrupted series of occupations from the Neolithic period. There was also Romano-British occupation of the area to the north-east which is now covered by Short wood. (fn. 12)
The woodland which measured 3 furlongs by 2 furlongs in 1086 (fn. 13) was represented later by Short wood and Ullen wood in the west, which were both recorded in 1601. (fn. 14) The principal wood in the east, probably that recorded in 1182, (fn. 15) was Chatcombe wood, in which Gloucester Abbey reserved 300 oaks and ashes for building repairs in 1524. (fn. 16) The woodland of the parish, which measured 615 a. in 1901, (fn. 17) included areas of park-land and plantation created in the later 19th century. On the southern boundary an area east of Cowley village was taken into the park of Cowley Manor in the late 1850s. (fn. 18) Hartley bottom west of Seven Springs was sparsely wooded (fn. 19) until it was laid out and planted before 1894 as grounds for Seven Springs House, (fn. 20) and a park was created at Ullenwood Manor in the late 19th century. (fn. 21) In the early 20th century a few plantations were laid out on the Colesbourne estate in the south-east. (fn. 22)
There was a rifle range west of Chatcombe wood by 1897 (fn. 23) and after the Second World War the area between Ullenwood and Hartley bottom was made into a golf-course. The National Trust acquired the eastern part of the Crickley hill area, known as the Scrubbs, in 1935. (fn. 24) In the later 17th century there were fishponds at Seven Springs, Conygree pool lower downstream, the manor-house east of the river, and Ullenwood. (fn. 25) Conygree pool, the largest, had been drained by 1838 (fn. 26) but had been refilled by 1894 as part of the pleasure grounds for Seven Springs House. (fn. 27)
Several early tracks crossed the parish, including the green way which ascended the escarpment from Shurdington. (fn. 28) The section of the Gloucester–Oxford road which runs from Crickley hill by Seven Springs towards Frogmill was turnpiked in 1751. (fn. 29) A road from Cheltenham, which ran southwards to the Churn, where it crossed into Elkstone at Cockleford, was turnpiked as part of the Cheltenham–Cirencester and Cheltenham–Tetbury routes in 1756. (fn. 30) Its course across the escarpment was moved to the east in 1825 when it became part of the new Cheltenham–Cirencester road built along the Churn valley. (fn. 31) A small brick parcel office, which had been built at its junction with the Gloucester–Oxford road east of Seven Springs by 1894, (fn. 32) was derelict in 1978. In the west a road from Stroud to Cheltenham by way of Leckhampton hill was out of repair in 1661 (fn. 33) and was included in the Painswick– Cheltenham road turnpiked in 1785. (fn. 34)
Coberley church, situated east of a crossing of the Churn, had been built by the 12th century. Next to it stood the medieval manor-house, later incorporated in Coberley Court, which was demolished in 1790; (fn. 35) the farm-house north of the church, which had also formed part of Coberley Court, was rebuilt soon afterwards. (fn. 36) A house lower down the river was formerly a mill. Earthworks, possibly houseplatforms, were visible north-west of the church in a field across the river in 1978 but Coberley village, the main settlement of the parish, grew up further north-west around a green, (fn. 37) on which a sundial was erected in 1902 as a memorial to Queen Victoria. (fn. 38) The village, which in 1838 contained only eight buildings, has remained small. (fn. 39) The oldest surviving houses, including the rectory, date from the early 19th century. The school and most of the cottages were built later that century and some council houses were put up in the northern part in the 20th century. South-west of the village there was evidently a house at Close Farm by 1777 (fn. 40) but the present farm-house dates from the 19th century. To the north-west Dowman's Farm, which probably dates from the 17th or 18th century, has been altered and enlarged considerably. (fn. 41) Booker's Cottage to the west has been converted from an early-18th-century row of dwellings. (fn. 42)
By the later 18th century farmsteads had been established at Ullenwood (fn. 43) and on Hartley hill (fn. 44) where the northern end of Hartley House probably dates from that century and the southern end from the 19th. In the later 19th century three mansions were built in the parish. Seven Springs House at Seven Springs and Salterley Grange near the crest of the escarpment to the west date from c. 1860 (fn. 45) and Ullenwood Manor was built south of the Ullenwood farm-house several years later. (fn. 46) All three were converted to institutional use in the 20th century. Other buildings put up in the later 19th century included estate cottages in the western part of the parish and farm-houses at Seven Springs and on South hill; the latter had been replaced by Cuckoopen Barn by the early 1880s. (fn. 47) North-west of Ullenwood a group of huts, built as a hospital during the Second World War, was later an American Army camp but by 1978 some huts had been demolished and the remainder had a variety of uses, including storage of commercial goods. (fn. 48) In the mid 20th century two farmhouses were built near Ullenwood.
The eastern part of the parish has remained sparsely settled but there were several dwellings there in the mid 12th century. (fn. 49) Upper Coberley, the principal settlement there, contained two farmsteads by the early 18th century. (fn. 50) Lower Farm is of various dates of the 18th and 19th centuries and Upper Coberley Farm to the east is presumably the farm-house built there not long before 1807. (fn. 51) By the Churn the buildings of a former mill belonging to the settlement of Lower Cockleford stand in Coberley parish.
Twelve people were assessed under Coberley for the subsidy in 1327 and 4 under Upper Coberley. (fn. 52) In 1381 at least 42 people outside Upper Coberley were assessed for poll tax in the parish. (fn. 53) The number of communicants in the parish was estimated at 69 in 1548 (fn. 54) and at 50 in 1551 (fn. 55) and there were said to be 11 households in 1563, (fn. 56) 66 communicants in 1603, (fn. 57) and 14 families in 1650. (fn. 58) The same number of families was estimated in the early 18th century when 14 houses in the parish were occupied by c. 80 people. (fn. 59) The population was estimated at 178 c. 1775 (fn. 60) but in 1801 it was 161. It increased rapidly to 237 in 1821 and, after falling away, had recovered by 1851, and by 1861 there had been a considerable increase to 343. During the following century the population fluctuated, never falling below 306 and reaching a peak of 376 in 1911, but by 1971 it had declined to 268. (fn. 61)
On 17 October 1278 Edward I was in Coberley, which has had other royal visits. Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII, stayed at Coberley Court on 4 August 1502 (fn. 62) and Charles I on the nights of 6 November 1643 and 12 July 1644. (fn. 63)
Manors and Other Estates
An estate of 10 hides in Coberley, held at the Conquest by Dena, had been granted by 1086 to Roger of Berkeley (fn. 64) and descended to his grandson Roger of Berkeley (III) (d. 1170). At that time the estate, assessed at 1 knight's fee, was subinfeudated and obtained by a kinsman William of Berkeley. (fn. 65) Overlordship of the estate, called the manor of COBERLEY, passed to Roger's descendants, the Berkeleys of Dursley. (fn. 66) A rent of £4 from the manor was settled with Siston manor on the marriage of Isabel, daughter of Roger of Berkeley (IV), lord of Dursley, and Thomas of Rochford (d. 1205). Isabel later married William Walrond who unsuccessfully claimed Coberley manor by right of escheat in 1224. Alice, Isabel's daughter by Thomas, (fn. 67) granted the rent for a term of years to her half-brother Robert Walrond (d. 1273), and in 1309 the reversionary right belonged to her grandson Alan de Plucknett (d. 1325). (fn. 68) Alan's widow Sibyl, who married Henry of Pembridge, sought dower in Coberley manor. (fn. 69)
The William of Berkeley who acquired Coberley manor was either the founder of Kingswood Abbey or his son. (fn. 70) The younger William, who was patron of Coberley church c. 1188, (fn. 71) was succeeded in turn by his sons Robert (d. by 1224) (fn. 72) and Giles (d. by 1242). Giles's son Nicholas, who apparently came of age in 1257, died in 1263 and, although he had a posthumous daughter by his wife Alice, the manor passed to his brother Giles, sheriff of Herefordshire between 1275 and 1280. Giles (d. 1294) was succeeded by his son Thomas, a minor, who submitted in 1322 after joining the rebellion against Edward II. In 1364, shortly before his death, Thomas settled the manor on himself with remainder to Thomas, his son (fn. 73) by his second wife Joan, later wife of William of Whittington. The younger Thomas, who came of age in 1372, (fn. 74) died in 1405. His heirs were his daughters Margaret, wife of Nicholas Matson, and Alice (d. 1414), wife of Thomas Bridges (d. 1408) and later of John Browning. (fn. 75) Nicholas Matson, who was possibly also called Nicholas Droys, (fn. 76) survived his wife and died in 1435. Margaret's half share of the manor then presumably passed to their son Robert (d. 1458) who was evidently succeeded by Alice's son and heir Giles Bridges. (fn. 77)
Giles Bridges died seised of the whole manor in 1467 and his son and heir Thomas (fn. 78) (d. 1493) was succeeded by his son Giles. (fn. 79) Giles, later knighted, was succeeded at his death in 1511 by his son John. (fn. 80) John, who was created Baron Chandos of Sudeley in 1554, died in 1557 when the manor passed with the title to his son Edmund (d. 1572). Edmund's son and heir Giles died in 1594 leaving two daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine, (fn. 81) but by 1601 his wife Frances held the manor in dower. (fn. 82) She was named as lady of Coberley in 1608 (fn. 83) but by 1618 the manor had been acquired by William Dutton of Sherborne, owner of a manorial estate in Upper Coberley. William was succeeded that year by his son John (fn. 84) who evidently settled the Coberley lands on the marriage of his daughter Lucy (d. 1656) and Thomas Pope, earl of Downe (d. 1660), (fn. 85) for Thomas sold them shortly before his death to Paul Castleman. (fn. 86) Paul (d. 1678) left as his heir his son Jonathan, a minor, (fn. 87) who sold the estate to John Grobham Howe of Stowell in 1720. (fn. 88) John (d. 1721 ) was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 89) who in 1724 settled the Coberley manors on himself and his wife Dorothy. (fn. 90) John, who was created Baron Chedworth in 1741, died in 1742 (fn. 91) and although Dorothy was alive in 1771 (fn. 92) their son Henry Frederick Howe, Lord Chedworth, was evidently in possession of the estate by 1769. (fn. 93) It then passed with the title to John Howe (d. 1804). He devised his estates to trustees for sale (fn. 94) and in 1807, following a Chancery suit, they were auctioned in lots and the Coberley estate was divided. (fn. 95)
Coberley Court, incorporating the Berkeleys' manor-house, (fn. 96) was neglected by the Howe family for some time before it was demolished in 1790. (fn. 97) The house, for which Paul Castleman was assessed on 26 hearths in 1672, (fn. 98) was an extensive building enclosing three open courts. The range containing the hall and other principal rooms divided the southern from the central court, and the parish church was part of the northern dividing range. The northernmost range included a farm-house, a gatehouse, and farm buildings. There were extensive formal gardens to the south and west and a kitchen garden and orchard to the east. Along the southern side of the gardens a canal was crossed by a bridge which led to the avenues of a park. (fn. 99)
At the auction of 1807 the manorial rights and over 1,400 a. in the eastern part of the parish were bought by John Elwes (fn. 100) and then descended with his Colesbourne estate. (fn. 101) In the 20th century much of the Coberley land, including c. 680 a. acquired by John Hamilton Waterston in 1959, (fn. 102) was sold but the estate retained land in the parish in 1978. (fn. 103)
In 1807 the purchaser of the western part of the Coberley estate, amounting to almost 1,700 a., was William Lawrence of Shurdington. (fn. 104) William (d. 1820) (fn. 105) was succeeded by his son William Edwards Lawrence, a minor. (fn. 106) He died in 1857 and the following year c. 850 a. at Ullenwood was sold to John Gay Attwater, the tenant there, and c. 800 a. to the east to William Hall of Bury (Lancs.), a cottonmanufacturer. (fn. 107) Hall, who bought Ullenwood from Attwater in 1863, (fn. 108) died in 1872 (fn. 109) and the estate passed to his daughter Sarah, wife of John Hampson (fn. 110) (d. 1876). (fn. 111) By 1885 Sarah had married Henry Bubb and had sold the eastern half of the estate, including Seven Springs House, to Samuel Peters. (fn. 112) He owned over 800 a in 1894 (fn. 113) when he sold part with the house to Hamilton Fane Gladwin, who died in 1913. (fn. 114) Capt. Alan Richardson owned that part until the later 1930s when much of the land was possibly bought by Mrs. Wills-Goldingham. (fn. 115) Seven Springs House, which was evidently built by William Hall in the late 1850s, (fn. 116) was tenanted in 1875 (fn. 117) and was unoccupied in 1934. (fn. 118) In 1938 the trustees of Barnwood House Hospital bought the house with 76½ a. but at the outbreak of the Second World War Cheltenham Ladies' College took over the building. In 1948 the trustees sold the house, which was a girls' preparatory school from 1945 (fn. 119) until the mid 1960s when Gloucestershire county council bought it. (fn. 120) The stable block had been converted and enlarged to provide classrooms by 1978 when the house was used by Sandford School, which then taught 93 maladjusted children. (fn. 121)
Henry and Sarah Bubb retained the rest of the estate which was based on Ullenwood Manor. Henry, a leading member of the Spiritualist church in Cheltenham, survived his wife and died in 1931. (fn. 122) His representatives agreed to sell the estate, which covered c. 985 a., to Thomas Place of Northallerton (Yorks. N.R.) and in 1934 he sold it in lots, (fn. 123) the house and some land being acquired by Mrs. Wills-Goldingham. (fn. 124) Ullenwood Manor, a symmetrically fronted house in an Elizabethan style, was built c. 1870 (fn. 125) and additions were made on the east c. 1895. The late-19th-century out-buildings include a number of lodges. (fn. 126) After the Second World War the house was in turn an American officers' hostel, a country club, and a boys' public school. In 1967 the house, with c. 30 a., became a residential school for the National Star Centre for Disabled Youth, which later bought the property. Extensive new buildings, including residential blocks, had been put up to the west by 1978 when the centre had 92 students. (fn. 127)
Between 735 and 767 St. Peter's Abbey, Gloucester, acquired an estate of 20 'cassati' at PINSWELL for a sheep-walk. (fn. 128) That property was presumably represented by the hide of land in Upper Coberley belonging to Northleach manor, one of the abbey's estates held in 1066 by Eldred, archbishop of York, and in 1086 by his successor Thomas. (fn. 129) In 1095 those estates were given back to the abbey, which acquired more land in Coberley, including some held from Foxcote in Withington, (fn. 130) and was granted free warren there in 1354. (fn. 131) The Pinswell estate, described as a manor in the mid 13th century (fn. 132) and as Upper Coberley manor in 1524, (fn. 133) was granted by the Crown in 1595 to John Wells and Henry Best (fn. 134) and was later acquired, evidently before 1606, by William Dutton. (fn. 135) Dutton later acquired Coberley manor, with which the Pinswell estate was merged. (fn. 136)
An estate called HARTLEY FARM, which Henry Norwood owned in 1779, (fn. 137) comprised 319 a. and descended as part of his Leckhampton estate to Henry Norwood Trye (d. 1854). (fn. 138) By 1865 the farm had been acquired by Henry Camps (fn. 139) of Cheltenham, who in 1858 had bought 50 a. to the south-west, formerly part of W. E. Lawrence's estate. (fn. 140) Camps sold his estate in 1870 to Lt.-Col. Charles Prevost (fn. 141) who sold it to Theodore Ellis Williams in 1878. In 1907 it was bought from Williams by Birmingham city corporation which sold the farm and farm-house in 1951. (fn. 142) Salterley Grange, which Henry Camps built on his estate c. 1860, (fn. 143) was converted by Birmingham city corporation as a municipal sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis, and chalets were built in its grounds. The sanatorium, which opened in 1908, (fn. 144) became a chest hospital in the 1960s. It closed in the early 1970s and by 1978 the chalets had been converted and sold as private dwellings. (fn. 145)
In 1086 there were 4 servi working 2 plough-teams on the demesne of Coberley manor. The estate included 5 a. of meadow land and its appreciation in the previous twenty years may have resulted from an extension of the cultivated area. (fn. 146) The demesne was organized in part for sheep-farming by the late 13th century (fn. 147) and a shepherd lived in Coberley in 1381. (fn. 148) In the early 15th century the flock on John Browning's part of the manor included 400 ewes. (fn. 149) Sir John Bridges, who took leases of sheep-pastures in several Cotswold parishes in 1539, was evidently an active sheep-farmer. (fn. 150) Sheep-farming was especially important in the eastern part of the parish where Gloucester Abbey had acquired land for a sheepwalk, (fn. 151) and by 1504 a flock of 320 ewes from the abbey's estate in Sandhurst had summer pasture there. (fn. 152) In 1524 the abbey granted a lease of its demesne and the common pasture used by its sheep for a term of 61 years or four lives. (fn. 153)
The tenants recorded on Coberley manor in 1086 were 19 villani and 4 bordars working 5 ploughteams. (fn. 154) Twenty-three customary tenants were recorded on Gloucester Abbey's estate in the mid 1260s. Three were yardlanders but another 5 yard-lands, which had fragmented, supported 13 tenants. Each yardland, which comprised 72 a., had to provide 5 week-works and 3 men performing 4 bedrepes during the harvest. Extra services were owed for ploughing, harrowing, and shearing and washing sheep, and there was a duty to mow in Gloucester for 4 days. A quarter yardland, including a mill, was held for cash rent. The other customary tenants had smaller holdings. One was held for 1 week-work, including the carriage of poultry, eggs, and cheese to Gloucester, and 3 bedrepes; three for works during the harvest; one for cash; and one for cash or the service of repairing demesne ploughs. (fn. 155) By 1548 the land belonging to the Coberley chantry-chapel included six tenements, mainly arable with pasture and some meadow land; a yardland there contained c. 25 a. (fn. 156) In the later 17th century there were six farms held for terms of lives on the Coberley estate. (fn. 157)
Although there were open fields in the eastern part of the parish in the late 12th century (fn. 158) there is not much later evidence of open-field cultivation in the parish. In the later 17th century the demesne of the Coberley estate did not include open-field land, (fn. 159) but there may have been some in 1705 when part of the glebe lay in a south field. (fn. 160) At least part of the woodland on the Pinswell estate may have been open to rights of common before 1182 when the lord of Coberley manor renounced pasture rights in woodland in Upper Coberley, probably Chatcombe wood. (fn. 161) A common in the parish had been stinted by 1303. (fn. 162) The parish contained extensive sheeppastures including in 1601 land at Ullenwood. (fn. 163) Later in the century there was a pasture covering 471½ a. on Monday hill, south-east of Upper Coberley, and some of the large fields recorded then in the eastern half of the parish may have been sheep-pastures. There was also a common pasture, which was stinted for at least 400 sheep (fn. 164) and may have been in the area north of Seven Springs called Coberley Downs in the early 18th century. (fn. 165) In the later 13th century the men of Coberley manor had common rights in a field in Cowley. (fn. 166)
A sheepfold was mentioned in 1705 (fn. 167) and there were some good pastures at that time but most of the land was then devoted to arable husbandry. (fn. 168) In 1801 1,076 a. were returned as producing arable crops, mainly cereals but including 90 a. of turnips and smaller areas of peas and potatoes, (fn. 169) and almost two-thirds of the land (2,370 a.) were given over to arable in 1838, when grassland covered 774 a. (fn. 170) By the end of the century the area returned as under cereals and roots had fallen by over half and more land was under permanent grass. In 1896 there were 135 a. of heath used for grazing. (fn. 171) Sheep-farming was on a large scale in 1866 when at least 1,811 sheep were kept in the parish. Fewer were returned in 1896 but sheep-farming and stock-rearing became relatively more important in the later 19th century and early 20th. There was also some dairying and pig-rearing then. (fn. 172)
In 1838 most of the agricultural land was included in six principal farms which covered 775 a., 646 a., 564 a., 558 a., 319 a., and 209 a. (fn. 173) There were eight farmers in 1896 but in 1926, when 50 agricultural labourers worked in the parish full–time, there were thirteen: five of the farmers in 1926 were smallholders with less than 20 a. each and the other farms were four of over 300 a., two of 150–300 a., and two of 50–150 a. (fn. 174) In 1976 about half of the land in the parish was worked in four farms, each with over 100 ha. (247 a.), and six of the remaining eight farms had less than 20 ha. (50 a.) each. One farm specialized in dairying and two were devoted mainly to cereal production, but sheep-farming and stock-rearing remained important. (fn. 175)
Two mills have been recorded on the Churn in Coberley parish. Coberley mill, a corn-mill SSW. of the church, had possibly been established by the later 17th century (fn. 176) and was let with a bakehouse by the later 19th century. (fn. 177) The mill, which was on that part of the Coberley estate eventually acquired by Samuel Peters, (fn. 178) stopped working in the 1930s and the building, mainly of the 19th century, was converted to domestic use. (fn. 179)
Cockleford mill, at Lower Cockleford in the south-eastern corner of the parish, was possibly the mill recorded on Gloucester Abbey's estate in the mid 1260s. (fn. 180) It was probably a cloth-mill by the later 17th century, when Tuck Mill mead was recorded, (fn. 181) and was acquired, evidently from Thomas Gibbons in 1701, by Matthew Walbank. It then passed with his Caudle Green property to Abraham Walbank who sold the mill in 1764 to James Bidmead. (fn. 182) It remained a cloth-mill in 1788 (fn. 183) but for much of the 19th century was owned and worked as a corn-mill by Edward Williams (fn. 184) (d. 1870). (fn. 185) It apparently went out of use in the late 1880s. (fn. 186) In 1978 the mill-house, dating from the 18th century with stabling of the 19th, was a substantial residence.
A fuller lived in the parish in the mid 13th century and a walker in the mid 14th, but the cloth industry, based presumably on local mills, was evidently small in scale. (fn. 187) The character of employment in the parish has remained principally agrarian and few trades have been recorded. In 1831 only 4 of 37 families depended solely on trades for a livelihood. (fn. 188) Coberley residents included a millward in 1347 (fn. 189) and a smith in 1381. (fn. 190) There was a smith on Gloucester Abbey's estate in the mid 13th century and early 14th. (fn. 191) In the later 19th century a carpenter and a shoemaker lived in the parish. The stonemason recorded at the end of the century (fn. 192) probably worked stone quarried in the parish, especially in the western part near Crickley hill. (fn. 193) A timber-merchant lived in Coberley in 1817. (fn. 194) The parish usually had at least two shops in the later 19th century and early 20th (fn. 195) and the village retained a post office in 1978.
In the early 15th century the view of frankpledge for most of the parish was held in the hundred court but Upper Coberley as part of the foreign tithing of Northleach attended the view held in Bradley hundred court. (fn. 196) Gloucester Abbey's Upper Coberley halimote was recorded from 1287 (fn. 197) and the lessee of the abbey's demesne from 1524 had to provide hospitality for its steward. (fn. 198)
Proctors of the church accounted in 1351 for repairs to the church, (fn. 199) a duty that later passed to the churchwardens. Two churchwardens were recorded from 1498 (fn. 200) but in the 18th and 19th centuries there was frequently only one. Their surviving accounts begin in 1779. (fn. 201) Other parish officers included a surveyor of the highways, whose accounts survive for the period 1783–1838. (fn. 202) The cost of poor-relief in Coberley was exceptionally high in 1776 when £172 was spent, and had risen to £205 by c. 1784. (fn. 203) In the early 1780s 74 inhabitants, between a third and half of the population, were listed as poor (fn. 204) but only 19 people received regular help in 1803 and the cost had fallen by then to £164. (fn. 205) Each year during the period 1798–1836 two overseers of the poor were elected but only one accounted. The parish then had a workhouse which from c. 1808 was at Booker's Cottage, one of several dwellings in Coberley and Leckhampton rented for the poor in the early 1830s. In addition to cash payments the parish provided clothing, fuel, and medical care, some inhabitants being sent to Gloucester Infirmary. (fn. 206) Expenditure was £218 in 1813, when 15 people received regular help and 31 occasional, (fn. 207) but was considerably less in the late 1820s and early 1830s. (fn. 208) Coberley, which became part of the Cheltenham poor-law union in 1835, (fn. 209) remained in Cheltenham rural district (fn. 210) and in 1974 was included in Tewkesbury district.
Coberley church was evidently granted to Leonard Stanley Priory, which Roger of Berkeley (II) founded c. 1131 and which became a cell of Gloucester Abbey in 1146, (fn. 211) but c. 1188 the abbey and priory surrendered their rights in the advowson to William of Berkeley. (fn. 212) The living, recorded as a rectory from 1274, (fn. 213) was united with Colesbourne in 1868 (fn. 214) but the union did not take effect until 1871. (fn. 215) In 1937 Cowley was joined to the united benefice, (fn. 216) but Colesbourne became a separate living in 1954. (fn. 217)
From the late 12th century the advowson usually followed the descent of Coberley manor. (fn. 218) In 1270 Giles of Berkeley granted Walter Helion and his wife Alice, widow of Nicholas of Berkeley, an alternate right of presentation during her life–time. (fn. 219) Alice unsuccessfully claimed the advowson in 1307 when it was adjudged to belong to the Crown, which held the manor in ward. (fn. 220) The holders of the two halves of the manor in the early 15th century probably had alternate rights of presentation. (fn. 221) John Cary and William Beauvoir presented to the living in 1657 (fn. 222) and Dorothy, widow of John Howe, Lord Chedworth (d. 1742), in 1771. (fn. 223) The church had the same patron as Colesbourne when the benefices were united but after the union with Cowley the Lord Chancellor had the right to present at every third vacancy. (fn. 224) In 1978 the executors of Henry Cecil Elwes and the Lord Chancellor had alternate rights of appointment. (fn. 225)
Leonard Stanley Priory received a pension of 5s. from the church until c. 1188 when it was granted half the tithes of William of Berkeley's demesne land and cottage tenants. Soon afterwards Gloucester Abbey granted those tithes for life to Robert the clerk for ½ mark yearly paid to the priory. (fn. 226) In 1291 the priory and abbey had tithe portions valued at 13s. 4d. and 3s. 4d. respectively. (fn. 227) The priory's portion later lapsed and the abbey, which in 1504 evidently accused a former rector of appropriating some of its tithes, (fn. 228) was receiving a pension of 13s. 4d. at the Dissolution. (fn. 229) The rector, who in 1451 had been disputing some tithes with the rector of Leckhampton, (fn. 230) later took all the tithes in kind. (fn. 231) In 1705, when tithes of lambs were paid on 3 May and of cheese during the summer, he received 1d. per sheep at shearing. (fn. 232) Charles Coxwell, rector 1778– 82, received fixed cash payments, and in 1782 Henry Norwood was arrested for non-payment. (fn. 233) The tithes were commuted for a corn-rent-charge of £470 in 1838. (fn. 234) In 1342 the rector had 1 plough-land in demesne (fn. 235) but the glebe was extended at c. 8 a. in 1705 and c. 17 a. in the 19th century. (fn. 236) It was sold c. 1916. (fn. 237) In 1291 the living was worth £10 (fn. 238) but in 1535 only £9 14s. 7d. clear. (fn. 239) The value was reckoned to be £75 in 1650 (fn. 240) and £180 in 1750, (fn. 241) and in 1787 the rector received £190. (fn. 242) In 1856 the living was worth £326. (fn. 243)
The three hearths on which the rector was assessed in 1672 (fn. 244) presumably represented the rectory house which was described in 1705 as a building of seven bays with a barn of three bays. (fn. 245) The house, which stood east of the village green, (fn. 246) was rebuilt on a large scale to a design by Richard Pace in 1825 and 1826. (fn. 247)
Philip of Coberley, rector from 1270, was licensed in 1274 to study for 2 years and to farm out the church during that period. (fn. 248) Edward Heydon, rector by 1542, who was dispensed to hold two benefices in 1546, (fn. 249) was non-resident and employed curates. The latter included John Phillips who, although found ignorant on some points of doctrine in 1551, (fn. 250) had become rector by 1553. (fn. 251) Phillips, who was probably a cripple, also held Sudeley from 1565 and Maisey-hampton by 1572. (fn. 252) At Coberley, where he was suspended in 1570 for not preaching and instructing the young, (fn. 253) he may have employed Thomas Greise, a preacher who was found in 1581 to have forged his licence. (fn. 254)
The living has had several incumbents notable for their longevity. Lewis Jones, rector from 1599, (fn. 255) who employed a curate described as a preaching minister in 1650, (fn. 256) was reputed to be 105 years old when he died the following year. (fn. 257) Robert Rowden, who had apparently been ejected from Notgrove in 1654, (fn. 258) was presented to Coberley in 1657 but was not admitted for two years. Both Rowden (d. 1712) and his successor John Brown (d. 1754), also vicar of Longdon (Worcs.), employed curates in their later years. John Arnold, rector 1771–8, held Coberley in plurality with Dowdeswell. (fn. 259) His successor Charles Coxwell, rector until 1782, was also rector of Barnsley. At Coberley he employed as curate Thomas Nash, D.D., (fn. 260) rector of Great Witcombe, who also served Cowley. (fn. 261) Nash continued for a time as curate to Coxwell's successor William Wright, (fn. 262) who was said in 1807 to be a lunatic. (fn. 263) From 1816 Coberley was held by William Hicks, also rector of Whittington (fn. 264) where he lived until he had rebuilt Coberley rectory. (fn. 265) From 1853 he appointed curates who lived in or near Cheltenham (fn. 266) and was succeeded at his death in 1866 by Charles Wilson, who was rector of the united benefice of Coberley with Colesbourne from 1871 until c. 1912. (fn. 267)
In 1270 Geoffrey of Coberley built a chantry-chapel dedicated to Holy Trinity on a tenement held from the Berkeleys' manor but its later history is not known. (fn. 268) Thomas of Berkeley founded a chantry dedicated to Our Lady in Coberley church in 1337 when he granted it 2 tofts, 4 yardlands, and rents totalling 2 marks a year. The foundation was confirmed in 1340 but was superseded in 1347 when Thomas founded another chantry, dedicated to Holy Trinity, Our Lady, and St. Giles. That chantry, which he endowed with 13 messuages, 2 tofts, and 36 yardlands, including 2 of woodland, was to be served by three priests, including a warden, who were to live in a house called Beauvalley. (fn. 269) The chantry was known as Beauvalley in the late 14th century and the 15th when the warden was presented by the rector. (fn. 270) By 1532 it was served by a stipendiary priest (fn. 271) whose salary at the dissolution of the chantries was £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 272) In 1548 the endowments, which included c. 374 a., were bought by Sir John Bridges (fn. 273) (d. 1557). He devised the land, called Beauvalley farm, to Elizabeth Clarke for life with remainder to her daughter Anne (fn. 274) but it was later merged with his Coberley manor. (fn. 275)
Clerk's Patch, part of a small plantation south of the Coberley-Ullenwood road, was vested in the parish clerk but by 1857 he had exchanged it for the use of 1¾ a. in a field belonging to W. E. Lawrence. (fn. 276) That exchange was evidently temporary for under a charitable Scheme of 1932 the income derived from Clerk's Patch was confirmed to the parish clerk. (fn. 277)
The parish church, which had been dedicated to ST. GILES by 1294, (fn. 278) is built of coursed rubble and rusticated ashlar and has a chancel with south chapel, nave with south porch, and west tower. The walls incorporate 12th-century fragments but the church was extensively rebuilt and enlarged in the mid 14th century (fn. 279) and the earliest features in situ, the south doorway and porch, are of that date. The chapel, which was built to house the chantry founded in 1347, (fn. 280) presumably formed part of the same rebuilding, which was evidently paid for by Thomas of Berkeley. The tower, which may have been added then, has a sundial dated 1693. With the exception of the porch and tower the church was largely rebuilt between 1868 and 1871 (fn. 281) to designs by John Middleton of Cheltenham, (fn. 282) and while some parts of the old building, like the chapel, appear to have been faithfully reproduced that was not generally so in the chancel and nave, between which a chancel arch was inserted. (fn. 283)
In the church are several ancient monuments but by the early 18th century some had been defaced, including that on the south wall of the chapel to Sir Giles Bridges (d. 1511) and his wife Isabel. (fn. 284) On the south wall of the chancel is a small monument to Giles of Berkeley (d. 1294), whose heart was buried in the chancel. (fn. 285) That monument was moved from the north wall of the chancel during the rebuilding when two large recumbent effigies, believed to be of Thomas of Berkeley (d. c. 1365) and one of his wives, and a much smaller one, perhaps a daughter, were moved from the chancel to the chapel. Also in the chapel, in a recess on the south wall, is a recumbent effigy of a young man. (fn. 286) Of the three bells recorded in 1681 (fn. 287) one had been cast or recast by Edward Neale of Burford in 1661. The other two were medieval, but one was recast by John Warner in 1870. (fn. 288) The church plate includes a paten given in 1835 when two chalices were fashioned from a flagon given by Jonathan Castleman and a chalice stolen and damaged earlier that year. (fn. 289) The registers begin in 1539. (fn. 290)
Particular Baptists, for whom Henry Hawkins, minister of Eastcombe, registered a meeting–place in Coberley in 1822, (fn. 293) built a chapel in the village the following year. The chapel, which later controlled meeting-places in the surrounding countryside, had Thomas Davis as minister from 1832 (fn. 294) and claimed congregations of up to 130 in 1851. (fn. 295) It remained open until 1939 or later, (fn. 296) and was converted as a house in 1966. (fn. 297)
In the late 1880s and early 1890s there was a meeting of Plymouth Brethren in the parish. (fn. 298)
In 1818 30 children attended a Sunday school in Coberley, (fn. 299) and in 1833 a church Sunday school, begun in 1823, and a chapel Sunday school taught 20 and 30 children respectively. (fn. 300) About 1846 a dame school taught 11 children (fn. 301) and by 1856 the rector was supporting a day-school. (fn. 302) During 1859 and 1860 a National school with a school-house was built in the village. It was supported by voluntary contributions and pence, and in 1860 evening classes were being held twice a week. (fn. 303) The school had average attendances of 60 in 1885 (fn. 304) and 47 in 1904, when it was called Coberley C. of E. school. (fn. 305) A temporary classroom had been erected by 1978 when 32 children from several Churn valley villages attended the school. (fn. 306)
Charities for the Poor
The congregation of the Baptist chapel shared in a charity founded in 1856 by Thomas Davis. (fn. 307) Hamilton Fane Gladwin by will proved 1914 left money to be invested in stock to produce an annual income of £5 for the poor of the parish at Christmas. (fn. 308)