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 parish of Elkstone is situated on one of the highest points of the Cotswolds, 10.5 km. south of Cheltenham. It covers 856 ha. (2,116 a.) (fn. 1) and its boundaries include on the south-west the Roman road, Ermin Street, on part of the north the old Gloucester–Northleach road, on the north-east the river Churn, and on the south and part of the east two brooks which combine to form the Bagendon brook.
The high ground of the parish lies at over 270 m. On the north-east the land falls steeply to the Churn and from the south it is broken into by a system of coombs, including the long central coomb at the head of which Elkstone village stands. Most of the parish lies on the Great Oolite, while fuller's earth and the Inferior Oolite outcrop on the slopes and Cotswold Sands form the base of the Churn valley. (fn. 2) The high ground was once almost all farmed as open fields, of which the still substantial remains were inclosed in 1835, and the slopes mostly as sheep-runs. Ward's wood at the north end of the parish, covering 14 a. in 1630, (fn. 3) is the only significant piece of woodland, though the inclusion of a wood measuring a half by a quarter league in the description of the manor in 1086 (fn. 4) suggests that woodland once claimed more of the slopes.
The most significant thoroughfare in Elkstone was that crossing the parish from Cockleford in the north to Beechpike, formerly called Combend Beeches, on Ermin Street in the south. It was mentioned as Cheltenham way in 1680 (fn. 5) and served as the main Cheltenham–Cirencester road until 1825 when the new Churn valley road was built, in part to avoid the obstacle posed to travellers by Cockleford hill on the old road. (fn. 6) The original course through the centre of the parish was presumably along the road, later partly closed, on which Elkstone village grew up; from High Cross, at the junction with the Gloucester–Northleach road at the top of Cockleford hill, that road ran due south into the north part of the village and continued east of the church and manor-house to take a curving course through the head of the coomb and meet the present road c. 1 km. due south of the church. (fn. 7) The higher and easier course running from High Cross west of the church is presumably later and may have been built only in the mid 18th century as the result of the establishment of a new turnpike route between Cheltenham and Tetbury. The Act for that route in 1756 apparently included the stretch from High Cross to the west side of the church, where the route branched away to Smith's Cross on Ermin Street to connect with the old ridgeway and salt-way by Winstone and Park Corner. (fn. 8) Possibly at the same time the road was continued southwards from the church to meet the old village road and provide an easier route for the Cirencester traffic; certainly the whole of the western road existed by 1769. (fn. 9) After 1774 the Tetbury and Cirencester routes through the parish were the same, for the former was switched in that year from Smith's Cross to Beechpike. (fn. 10) The old village road, bypassed by the improvements, was truncated in 1834 when its northern part, between High Cross and the village, and its southern part, leading into the Beechpike road, were closed. (fn. 11)
Ermin Street, which was usually known as the foss way (fn. 12) before the 19th century, was turnpiked in 1747. (fn. 13) Minor roads leading from it through the parish included the old Gloucester–Northleach road by way of High Cross and Colesbourne, the Gloucester–Rendcomb road branching away near Sparrowthorn, (fn. 14) and the road, recorded in 1612, from Beechpike to Colesbourne. (fn. 15) The last probably once followed the track and footpath passing close to Combend Manor before being diverted northwards away from the house, causing the sharp bend at the point where it meets the parish boundary. (fn. 16)
Elkstone village grew up on the old road running east of the church and formed two separate groups of buildings, which were of similar size (fn. 17) until the mid 19th century when the southern group, lying around the church, manor-house, and rectory, was reduced in size and the northern group, lying around the junction with a lane called Cock Lane, (fn. 18) was enlarged. The southern group once included dwellings east of the church and further south where the old road crossed the coomb. Two houses described as in Elkstone coomb in 1433 (fn. 19) probably stood in the latter area and three houses there mentioned in 1707 included one long held by the family of Baldwin or Combe, whose alternative surname doubtless derived from the location of the house. (fn. 20) In 1769 most of the cottages on the manor estate were in the southern group while the northern comprised mainly the old tenant farmhouses in their home closes. (fn. 21) The pulling down of almost all the cottages in the south part of the village and the removal of some of the old farm-houses in the north part and the building of new cottages there appears to have been the work of the lord of the manor William Hall; he was said to have pulled down c. 12 cottages in the 1860s and to have built almost as many new ones. (fn. 22)
The oldest house surviving in the village is the former church house, at the south-east corner of the churchyard, which was probably built in the 15th century. It comprised a main range of two storeys with a small staircase projection at the north-east corner. The principal room, on the first floor, could be entered direct from the churchyard and had a fire-place at the east end and an open arched-braced roof. The lower floor may always have been in two rooms, the eastern one having a large fire-place. By 1589 the building was let as a cottage, (fn. 23) and its roof was reconstructed in the 17th century. Later it was divided into two dwellings, a new chimney being built at the west end, but by 1979 it had been restored and enlarged as a single dwelling. The fact that the church house was singled out by the description of a 'fair house of stone' in a survey of the manor in 1630 (fn. 24) suggests that the other dwellings of the village were at that date still built mainly of other materials.
In the north part of the village two or three of the old farm-houses survive; one of them (called Elkstone Court in 1979) dates from the 17th century but has a 20th-century addition on the north. Otherwise most of the houses are the plain stone cottages built by William Hall, and there are also a pair of cottages built by the Revd. R. H. M. Bouth in 1902 (fn. 25) and two pairs of mid-20th-century council houses. Ivy Cottage Farm is a small 19th-century farm-house on the turnpike west of the village and a few houses were built on that road further north in the 20th century. The 19th-century school building in the north part of the village became the village hall in 1961. (fn. 26)
Where the central coomb meets the east boundary of the parish a small hamlet called Combend existed by 1630 when it was referred to as a 'town'. (fn. 27) The hamlet, grouped around the Beechpike–Colesbourne road, comprised only 4 houses c. 1710 but appears to have been somewhat larger by the early 19th century. (fn. 28) All but one of the houses were pulled down before 1883. (fn. 29) The house called Combend Manor, on the hillside to the south-west, was established by the early 16th century and from 1612 was the centre of a large freehold estate.
At Cockleford on the north boundary where the Cheltenham road crossed the Churn there was a group of three houses c. 1710. (fn. 30) Among them was the early-17th-century house which had been opened as an inn by 1675, the only one found recorded in the parish. It was known as the Cockleford inn or the Green Dragon (fn. 31) and remained open under the latter sign in 1979.
An early outlying dwelling appears to have existed at Oldbury close, lying in the angle of the Beechpike–Colesbourne road and the Gloucester–Rendcomb road. (fn. 32) Adam of Oldbury, mentioned in 1327, presumably had a dwelling there (fn. 33) and in 1537 the close was the site of the manor sheep-house. (fn. 34) The name may derive from the Roman site which has been discovered beneath the farm buildings at Slutswell at the north-west corner of the close (fn. 35) but as two other closes on the north side of the Gloucester–Rendcomb road, one and probably both inclosed from the open fields, were known as Clay Oldbury and Green Oldbury (fn. 36) there may also have been some earlier fortification which enclosed the whole of the end of the ridge.
Butler's Farm, in the Churn valley near the east corner of the parish, was built before 1671 on a small estate which passed from the manor to the Rogers family of Sandywell Park, Dowdeswell, at the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 37) Highgate Farm, another outlying farmstead, in the opposite corner of the parish by Ermin Street, was built shortly before 1729 by Thomas Hamlett, a stone-cutter, (fn. 38) who presumably worked one of the nearby quarries. The house was rebuilt or remodelled in the later 19th century when it was a farm-house on the Cowley estate. (fn. 39)
Nineteen inhabitants of Elkstone were recorded in 1086. (fn. 40) Fourteen people were assessed for the subsidy in 1327 (fn. 41) and 29 for the poll tax in 1381. (fn. 42) There were said to be c. 56 communicants in 1551, (fn. 43) 10 households in 1563, (fn. 44) and 24 families in 1650. (fn. 45) The population was estimated at c. 160 about 1710 (fn. 46) and at 178 inhabitants about 1775. (fn. 47) The latter figure was probably an underestimate as 299 people were enumerated in 1801. There was virtually no change during the next 30 years and then a slight increase brought the numbers up to 336 by 1851. The population then went into a decline, which quickened with the period of agricultural depression: between 1871 and 1891 it fell from 302 to 199. There was a slight recovery before 1901, when another decline set in, bringing the population down to 140 by 1971. (fn. 48)
Manors and Other Estates
In Edward the Confessor's reign Elkstone was held as two separate manors by two men called Lewin. After the Conquest the whole of Elkstone was granted to Ansfrid de Cormeilles, though in 1086 a knight held half of it from him. (fn. 49) The manor of ELKSTONE then descended with the honor of Cormeilles and after the death of Walter de Cormeilles (fl. 1211) passed to his daughter Aubrey who married Richard le Brun. John le Brun, son of Richard and Aubrey, (fn. 50) who was presumably the John of Elkstone who was in the king's wardship in 1221, (fn. 51) held Elkstone as 2 knights' fees from the honor of Cormeilles in 1236. (fn. 52) John le Brun died c. 1266 and was succeeded by another John le Brun, (fn. 53) who in 1303 settled the manor from after his death on John son of John of Acton. (fn. 54)
The younger John of Acton had succeeded to the manor by 1316 (fn. 55) but in 1322 it was in the king's hands (fn. 56) because of John's involvement in the rebellion. (fn. 57) It was later granted to Hugh le Despenser, earl of Winchester, (fn. 58) executed in 1326. By the following year the same or another John of Acton had recovered possession of the manor. (fn. 59) John of Acton (d. c. 1362) was succeeded, under the terms of an agreement of 1343, by John Poyntz (fn. 60) (d. 1375). During the minority of John Poyntz's son Robert (fn. 61) the manor was held by John Cousin (fn. 62) of Cirencester, and in 1381 when Robert had come of age he granted it to Cousin and his wife Joan for their lives. (fn. 63) Cousin died in 1403 (fn. 64) and the manor had reverted to Robert Poyntz by 1411 when he made it over to his son Nicholas, (fn. 65) who was succeeded at his death before 1460 by his son Humphrey. (fn. 66) Humphrey (d. 1487) was succeeded by his son Nicholas, (fn. 67) and the manor later passed to Robert Poyntz (d. c. 1521) and then in succession to Robert's sons Sir Francis (fn. 68) (d. 1528) and Sir Anthony. (fn. 69) In 1539 it belonged to Sir Nicholas Poyntz of Iron Acton who sold it that year to John Huntley of Standish. (fn. 70)
In 1542 John Huntley made the manor over to his son George and George's wife Catherine. (fn. 71) George died in 1580 and was survived by Catherine; later the manor passed to their son James who was, however, described as farmer of the manor until the mid 1590s and so presumably then held it on lease from his mother. (fn. 72) James Huntley died in 1611, having a few days earlier granted a 900-year lease of the manor to his sons Edmund and John, excepting the site and demesne lands which he devised to another son, Henry. Henry was joined by his brothers in a sale of a large part of the demesne land to Sir John Horton in 1612, and the site and residue of the demesne were acquired by Edmund Huntley who sold them in 1613 to his cousin Sir George Huntley of Frocester. In 1614 Edmund, having acquired his brother John's interest in 1612, sold the manor to Sir George. (fn. 73) Sir George (d. 1622) was succeeded by his son William (fn. 74) who sold Elkstone in 1623 to Dame Elizabeth Craven and her son William. (fn. 75)
William Craven, who was created Lord Craven in 1627 and earl of Craven in 1665, died in 1697 and the manor followed the descent of the Craven barony, (fn. 76) passing to another William Craven (d. 1711), to his sons William (d. 1739) and Fulwar (d. 1764), to their cousin William Craven (d. 1769), and to William's nephew William Craven (d. 1791). The last-mentioned William, Lord Craven, devised the manor to his second son Henry Augustus Berkeley Craven (fn. 77) (d. 1836) who was succeeded by his brother Richard Keppel Craven (d. 1851). On Richard's death or soon afterwards the manor reverted to the representative of the main line, William Craven, earl of Craven, (fn. 78) who sold the 1,040-acre estate in 1858 to William Hall, later of Seven Springs, Coberley. (fn. 79) Hall died in 1872 and his daughter Mrs. Sarah Bubb of Ullenwood (fn. 80) owned the manor in 1885. By 1889 it had passed to a Mrs. Bouth, and R. H. M. Bouth, rector of Elkstone, owned it in 1902. Before 1919 it was acquired by Sir James Horlick, Bt. (fn. 81) (d. 1921), of Cowley Manor, whose son Sir Ernest put it up for sale in 1928. (fn. 82) It was bought c. 1930 by John Pearce Pope, auctioneer of Gloucester, members of whose family had farmed Manor farm and Combend farm during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Pope family sold the estate, comprising Manor farm, in 1954 to the tenant Mrs. G. M. Price, who retained it in 1979. (fn. 83)
The manor-house of Elkstone, which comprised a hall and other buildings in 1537, (fn. 84) stood south of the church. After the early 17th century it was used as the farm-house of the manor farm, (fn. 85) none of the lords of the manor apparently living at Elkstone. In the mid 19th century the house was demolished and replaced by new farm buildings, and a new house, called Elkstone Manor, was built on the opposite side of the road. (fn. 86)
The sale by the Huntleys to Sir John Horton in 1612 created the separate COMBEND estate. Included in the sale were the mansion at Combend and 544 a. of land, comprising all the closes south of the Beechpike–Colesbourne road and a substantial acreage of open-field land. (fn. 87) Sir John Horton (d. 1667) was succeeded by his son Thomas (fn. 88) (d. 1693) and Thomas by his grandson Thomas Horton, who was a lunatic by 1722 (fn. 89) and died in 1727. (fn. 90) The last Thomas was succeeded by his son Thomas Horton of Wotton, Gloucester, who was declared a lunatic in 1746 and his estates placed in the custody of his brothers-in-law. Although by a will made in 1735 Thomas had devised his estates to members of the Brereton family, in 1739 he settled them on his sisters Eleanor, wife of Richard Roberts, and Elizabeth, wife of William Blanch, and after Thomas's death in 1755 the interested parties disputed the estates; in 1758 an agreement was reached for a threefold partition and in 1763 the Gloucestershire lands were confirmed as the share of William Blanch, son of William and Elizabeth. (fn. 91) William died in 1766 leaving Combend for life to his widow Anne, who married Samuel Walbank, with reversion to James Rogers of Gloucester. (fn. 92) The estate was later sold, apparently in 1778 by the Walbanks and Rogers's heirs, to Samuel Bowyer, (fn. 93) an Exchequer official. Samuel's son Samuel sold the estate, which with adjoining land in Colesbourne amounted to 860 a., to William Robinson in 1797. (fn. 94) In 1841 the estate belonged to the same or another William Robinson (fn. 95) and by 1856 it had passed to Thomas Dunn (d. 1894). (fn. 96) It was acquired before 1897 by C. F. Greathead of Kirkham Abbey (Yorks. E.R.), who held it until c. 1919 when it was acquired by G. R. P. Llewellyn. (fn. 97) Llewellyn offered it for sale in 1923 (fn. 98) and it was bought then or soon afterwards by Asa Lingard (fn. 99) (d. 1957), whose executors sold it to Capt. P. H. Gibbs. Capt. Gibbs owned the estate in 1979 when it comprised 486 ha. (1,200 a.) in Elkstone and adjoining parishes. (fn. 100)
Architectural evidence shows that there was a house on the site of Combend Manor some 100 years before the beginning of the 17th century when James Huntley, lord of Elkstone manor, lived there. (fn. 101) Sir John Horton lived there or at his manor-house at Broughton Gifford (Wilts.), (fn. 102) and his son, who was assessed on 12 hearths in 1672, (fn. 103) and his great-grandson also used Combend. (fn. 104) By 1735, however, the house had fallen into disrepair (fn. 105) and about 1780 it was said to have been demolished. (fn. 106) In 1795 the property included a farm-house, occupied by the tenant of the estate, and a newly-built dwelling-house, (fn. 107) and it was presumably the latter that was destroyed by fire in 1807. (fn. 108) Alterations carried out in the 20th century, however, make the documentary evidence difficult to relate to the surviving buildings. A two-storey building of the early 16th century at the north end of the site, used as a barn in 1979, is presumably a remnant of the original house. South-east of it another range of buildings incorporates on the north a barn of the 16th or 17th century and on the south a domestic building which may be of the 17th century. That range was transformed in 1921 to the designs of Sidney Barnsley when part of the barn was taken into the house. (fn. 109)
An estate at Elkstone, assessed at ¼ knight's fee, was held in 1303 (and probably by 1285) by Thomas de Gardino. The same or another Thomas held it in 1346 and John Mene held it in 1402. (fn. 110) It was evidently that estate which was later accounted a manor and in 1431 was held with part of Colesbourne, (fn. 111) descending with it to John Vampage (d. 1548). (fn. 112) The estate, then comprising two houses and 4 yardlands, was divided among three coheirs of Vampage. Vampage's nephews Edmund Harewell and John Higford sold their shares to George Huntley, lord of Elkstone, in 1556 and 1564 respectively; (fn. 113) the third share has not been traced.
Before 1285 William de Sollers gave 1 yardland and 4 a. at Cockleford in Elkstone to Llanthony Priory which received two other gifts at the same period, 1 yardland and 6 a. from William Atwood (de Bosco) and ½ yardland from William of Oldbury. (fn. 114) The land was presumably retained by the priory until the Dissolution as part of its manor of Colesbourne. (fn. 115)
In 1086 each half of the manor had two plough-teams working the demesne land, and that half kept in hand by Ansfrid de Cormeilles had 4 servi. (fn. 116) In 1376 the demesne of the manor comprised 2 plough-lands, 12 a. of meadow, and 10 a. of several pasture. (fn. 117) At the beginning of the 17th century, when several former freehold tenements had been absorbed into it, the demesne was very extensive, including more than two-thirds of the parish. Even after the sale of 424 a. in closes, 120 a. of open-field land, and 300 sheep-pastures to Sir John Horton in 1612 (fn. 118) there remained 880 a. of land on the manor demesne, including c. 350 a. of open-field land and the large slaits, or sheep-runs, which occupied the hillsides of the parish. (fn. 119) The whole 880 a. was on lease with the manor-house as a single unit in 1665. (fn. 120)
In 1086 each half of the manor supported 5 villani and 2 bordars, on one half working 3½ plough-teams between them and on the other 3 plough-teams. (fn. 121) In 1376 the manor had villein and free tenants paying a total rent of 40s. (fn. 122) and in 1415 28 tenants held from the manor. (fn. 123) The number of separate holdings in the parish was reduced by the Huntleys who bought in some free tenements in the 1540s (fn. 124) and the Vampage estate later. Some tenements were held on leases for years in 1433 but by the end of that century the same tenements were held as copyholds. (fn. 125) From the later 16th century leases for lives became the usual form of tenure (fn. 126) and had all but ousted copyholds by 1630. There were eight main holdings on the manor in 1630, ranging in size from 23 a. to 79 a., and a few cottage holdings. (fn. 127)
The high ground of the parish was originally in open fields, while the coombs and hillsides provided pasture closes and large sheep-runs and the valley bottoms by the Churn and the streams in the Combend area some inclosed meadow land. A three-field rotation was the practice in the parish in 1376 (fn. 128) but in the post-medieval period it had only two large open fields, the north field, extending across north of the village and along the spur of high ground as far as Slutswell, and the south (or Combend) (fn. 129) field, which appears originally to have occupied the whole of the west side of the parish bordering Ermin Street. Uncomb common, 11 a. of rough grazing lying above Lower Cockleford, was the only common pasture by the late 18th century, (fn. 130) though earlier there had been others: common rights in Comb Green, adjoining Combend Manor, and in the woods of the manor were reserved in copyholds granted in the 1570s and later. (fn. 131) In the open fields pasture was stinted at 3 sheep to the acre in 1707. (fn. 132) Some flocks belonging to non-parishioners were apparently pastured regularly in Elkstone in the late 16th century (fn. 133) and the tithing customs recorded in 1705 covered both the wintering and summering of sheep by outsiders. (fn. 134)
Some considerable inclosures from the open fields were made by James Huntley and his tenants in 1594; (fn. 135) Sir George Huntley exchanged land in the north field with the rector in 1621; (fn. 136) and William Huntley inclosed a large area of the north field by agreement with nine of his tenants in 1622. (fn. 137) One motive for those inclosures was evidently the provision of additional permanent sheeppasture: New field, a 160-acre sheep-pasture included in the sale of Combend in 1612, was evidently formed of land taken out of the south end of the south field, (fn. 138) and Clay Oldbury, inclosed out of the east of the north field, (fn. 139) had been turned to pasture by 1630. (fn. 140) About 520 a. of open-field land remained on the manor estate in 1630 (fn. 141) and inclosure presumably continued in a piecemeal fashion during the next 150 years, for by 1775 only 263 a. remained on that estate, the two fields being limited by then to an area in the immediate vicinity of the village. (fn. 142) The remaining open-field land was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1835, when the lord of the manor received the bulk of it and the rector was the only other substantial recipient. (fn. 143)
The pattern of holdings on the manor estate had altered considerably by the later 18th century, most of the old tenant holdings having been absorbed into larger units. In 1775 there were five main farms. The manor-house, part of the demesne land, and a former tenant holding made a farm of 601 a., and another of 260 a., with farm buildings at Slutswell, comprised a further part of the demesne and a former holding. Two other former holdings, 74 a. in all, were leased to the rector Humphrey Lloyd, who perhaps farmed them with the glebe, and there was a farm of 50 a. in the west corner of the parish, presumably farmed from Highgate Farm though the house itself was not part of the manor estate. Another farm of 35 a. was the only one to survive from those described in 1630 and was still in the possession of the family of the rector William Poole, who had been the tenant in 1630. Five other tenants held small pieces of land in 1775 and there were 14 cottagers. (fn. 144) Most of the remainder of the parish was included in the Combend estate, which after the early 18th century appears to have been farmed by lessees as a single unit. (fn. 145) The only substantial farm independent of the two big estates in the 18th century was Butler's farm covering c. 90 a. in the Churn valley. (fn. 146)
After the parliamentary inclosure most of the manor estate was farmed as a single unit, Manor farm, which comprised 1,065 a. in 1841. William Proctor, who farmed it together with the rector's glebe and some land of his own, (fn. 147) employed 45 labourers in 1851 and almost as many worked on Combend farm, which comprised 998 a. (fn. 148) Butler's farm, lately bought by the lord of the manor, had had other land added to it by the 1850s to make a farm of 177 a., (fn. 149) and the only other substantial farm based in the parish after the mid 19th century was Highgate farm, which had most of its land in Cowley, to which estate it belonged. (fn. 150) Various small holdings brought the total of agricultural units in the parish up to 9 in 1896 (fn. 151) and 15 in 1926, when the 11 smaller ones were all under 50 a. (fn. 152) Most of those small holdings had gone by the 1970s (fn. 153) when the Manor farm and Combend estates still divided most of the parish between them.
In the later 18th century the parish was predominantly arable, (fn. 154) the land under the plough including the former demesne sheep-pastures of Cockleford slait and North slait, on the hillsides above the Churn, and Home slait and Walling slait, in the central coomb. (fn. 155) The Combend estate, however, had 260 a. of permanent meadow and pasture in 1795, which was then said to be an unusual amount for a hill estate. (fn. 156) The high and exposed situation of Elkstone, which made the harvest one of the latest in the county, (fn. 157) did not encourage agricultural innovation; in 1773 the inclosed land of the manor estate was managed on a three-course rotation with a fallow or else clover and grass-seeds in the third year, while the open-field land was still cropped and fallowed in alternate years. (fn. 158) Turnips had been introduced on at least some farms by 1801, (fn. 159) however, and in the mid 19th century the arable was evidently managed on the usual four- or five-course rotation of the region, comprising turnips, barley and oats, seeds in one or two years, and wheat. (fn. 160) In 1841 1,372 a. were under the plough and 576 a. were permanent meadow and pasture. (fn. 161) With the agricultural depression of the later 19th century the acreage of wheat and barley slumped. That was offset to some extent, however, by an increase in oats, of which 128 a. were returned in 1866 and 322 a. in 1896, and turnips and temporary grassland were little affected, the number of sheep showing a considerable increase in the period. (fn. 162) In the early 20th century, however, arable farming suffered a severe reduction, with only 708 a. being returned as under the plough in 1926 when the bulk of the parish was classed as permanent grassland, including 511 a. described as rough grazing. (fn. 163) The farms came to concentrate mainly on cattle, of which 242, including 31 milk cows, were returned in 1896, and 366, including 84 milk cows, in 1926. (fn. 164) In 1906 one of the farmers and the landlord of the Green Dragon both had cattle-dealing as a sideline, (fn. 165) and W. H. Hitch, who farmed Combend in the 1920s and early 1930s, built up a pedigree herd of dairy shorthorns. (fn. 166) In 1979 Manor farm specialized in dairying while Combend was used mainly for cereals.
A mill called Badnams mill was sold by the lord of the manor, George Huntley, to William Bayly of Wheatenhurst in 1549. (fn. 167) John Bayly sold it in 1570, when it comprised a fulling-mill and a corn-mill, to Thomas Pleydell of Shrivenham (Berks.), whose son George succeeded to it before 1594. (fn. 168) In 1630 Edward Pleydell was paying rent for right of access through North slait to his mill, (fn. 169) so it was presumably located at Lower Cockleford. A mill at Lower Cockleford in Elkstone was sold by Lord Chedworth's trustees to John Elwes of Colesbourne in 1808 (fn. 170) but may have been demolished by the 1840s when the only mill there was apparently one in Coberley parish. (fn. 171)
Another corn- and fulling-mill was built c. 1582 by William Gibbons (fn. 172) on the Churn 600 m. below Lower Cockleford at the point where the river is joined by the small stream called the Wash brook. It was being worked as a fulling-mill by Samuel Gibbons in 1612 and Richard Gibbons in 1636 but Anthony Gibbons, who renewed the lease of the site from the lord of the manor in 1671, was described as a yeoman of Miserden. (fn. 173) The mill had apparently been demolished by 1775 when the site was called Old Mill close. (fn. 174) In the late 19th century and the early 20th a small mill called Bone mill stood on the Watercombe brook on the Combend estate. (fn. 175)
Nathaniel Poole was trading as a clothier at Elkstone in 1677 (fn. 176) as was Robert Bompass in 1818, (fn. 177) but they are the only representatives of the cloth industry found recorded apart from the fullers in the late 16th century and the early 17th. Otherwise Elkstone had only a few of the usual village tradesmen. Five were listed in 1608 (fn. 178) and in 1831 only 4 families were supported by trade. (fn. 179) Two masons, one of whom was the lessee of Brimspits quarry by Ermin Street, (fn. 180) were among the tradesmen listed in 1608, and the stoneworking trades, including masons, slaters, and quarrymen, provided most of the small number of tradesmen recorded later. (fn. 181) In the later 19th century Edwin Draper, who worked a smithy at Cockleford and kept the Green Dragon inn, appears to have been almost the only representative of trade in the parish. (fn. 182) In the 1880s there was a small brickworks by the Churn in the east corner of the parish. (fn. 183)
Frankpledge jurisdiction in Elkstone, which formed a single tithing with Syde for that purpose, was exercised by the Rapsgate hundred court. (fn. 184) Court rolls for the Elkstone manor court survive for the period 1571–1609 (fn. 185) and for 1670. (fn. 186) It was presumably still being regularly held in 1735 when a lease of the manor farm reserved the use of the house for the court twice a year. (fn. 187)
Churchwardens' accounts from 1791 are the only records of parish government known to survive. (fn. 188) The appointment of churchwardens was one of several matters disputed between the rector William Prior and the parishioners. Another appears to have been the administration of poorrelief, for in 1699 Prior got an order from the magistrates that payments should be made monthly in church after Sunday service in the presence of the rector and leading parishioners. (fn. 189) In the early 19th century the cost of relief seems to have been about average for a parish of the size; c. 20 people were usually receiving permanent relief. (fn. 190) In 1836 Elkstone became part of the Cirencester poor-law union (fn. 191) and it passed into Cirencester rural district, (fn. 192) being absorbed by Cotswold district in 1974.
The church at Elkstone dates from the later 12th century. The living was a rectory in 1291 (fn. 193) and has remained one. It was united with Syde in 1927, (fn. 194) and Winstone was added to the united benefice in 1949 but was replaced in it by Brimpsfield in 1972. (fn. 195) The advowson of Elkstone descended with the manor, (fn. 196) though in 1525 Thomas Poyntz exercised it for one turn, (fn. 197) in 1583 the Queen presented through lapse, and in 1625 trustees for the former lord, William Huntley, presented. (fn. 198)
The rector received all the tithes of the parish except for small portions that had been granted to religious houses. In 1291 Newent Priory was entitled to a portion worth 13s. 4d., Eynsham Abbey (Oxon.) to one of 6s. 8d., and Fontenay Abbey (Calvados) to one of 3s., though Fontenay's right was then being disputed by the rector. (fn. 199) In 1535, however, only a portion of 6s. 8d. owed to Fotheringhay College (Northants.), successor to Newent's endowments, was recorded. (fn. 200) By 1680 the owner of Combend had negotiated a composition with the rector for all the tithes of that estate. From the rest of the parish, however, tithes were still paid in kind, except those for young animals in cases where there were insufficient numbers to be tithed. (fn. 201) The tithes of the parish were commuted for a corn-rent-charge of £356 in 1841. (fn. 202) The rector's glebe in 1680 comprised 51 a. in closes and 52½ a. in the open fields with sheep- and beastpastures. (fn. 203) After inclosure the total glebe amounted to 78 a. (fn. 204)
The rectory house standing north-east of the church was recorded from 1608. (fn. 205) It incorporates reset windows of the 14th and 17th centuries but otherwise appears to have been rebuilt in the early 18th century. The principal front, on the west, is of five bays and three storeys and has windows with semicircular heads and rusticated architraves. (fn. 206) The east front was partly of three and partly of two storeys over a basement until 1847 when that front was reconstructed to the designs of Francis Niblett; (fn. 207) it was raised to the same height as the main front, given projecting bays at each side, and refaced and refenestrated. At the same time the interior was remodelled and a new staircase put in. The house remained the residence of the incumbent of the united benefice until 1973. (fn. 208)
In the post-medieval period the living was usually held by non-resident pluralists and served by stipendiary curates. James Huntley, who later succeeded to the manor, was rector from 1562 until 1570; (fn. 214) he was non-resident in 1563. (fn. 215) William Broad, rector 1583–1611, was also rector of Rendcomb, where he lived. (fn. 216) William Poole, who held the living from 1625 until his death in 1665, probably resided at Elkstone. (fn. 217) Poole was an unsuccessful claimant to North Cerney rectory and it was his rival there, Samuel Rich, (fn. 218) who succeeded him at Elkstone and held both livings until his death in 1683. (fn. 219) William Prior, rector 1683–1726, (fn. 220) lived at Elkstone where his relations with his parishioners were often troubled. (fn. 221) Humphrey Lloyd, 1727–79, was also portioner of Tredington (Worcs.), and his successor, Charles Bishop (fn. 222) (d. 1788), was also rector of Rudford but lived at Elmore Court where he kept a private school. (fn. 223) Fulwar Craven Fowle, rector 1788–1840, was later also vicar of Kintbury (Berks.). Thomas Hooper, who served Elkstone as curate from 1794 (fn. 224) and later was also rector of Syde and curate of Winstone, (fn. 225) succeeded Fowle in the rectory and died in 1845. (fn. 226) In 1825 he was holding one Sunday service at Elkstone, alternating between mornings and evenings, (fn. 227) but in 1830 the bishop intervened to get full services at Elkstone and a rise in salary for Hooper. (fn. 228)
The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, the dedication of which is recorded from 1506, (fn. 229) is built of rubble and ashlar and has a chancel, a nave with south porch, and a west tower. The chancel is in two vaulted compartments separated by a wide arch and it is suggested that in the later 12th century when the church was built the western compartment was the base of a central tower. Although small the church is notable for its sculptural decoration, including that of the corbel table and the south doorway, which has a carved tympanum depicting Christ in Majesty. The central tower was probably removed in the 13th century at the time when new windows were put into the south sides of both compartments of the chancel, and it was probably at the same remodelling that a chamber, later adapted as a columbarium, was formed over the eastern compartment. The nave was refenestrated in the 14th century and a new window put into the north wall of the eastern part of the chancel. The tall west tower, which has a lofty, vaulted lower stage, was added in the 15th century. (fn. 230) The western chancel arch, which had become broken and misshapen as a result of the instability of its southern pier, (fn. 231) was carefully rebuilt in 1849. (fn. 232)
The church has an octagonal font of the 15th century. (fn. 233) The carved woodwork of the pulpit is of the early 17th century but rests on a medieval stone base, and the reading-desk, dated 1604, was apparently made from the sounding-board of the pulpit. A ring of four bells was cast by Edward Neale of Burford in 1657 and one bell recast by Abraham Rudhall in 1719; (fn. 234) a treble bell was added in 1927 when all were rehung. (fn. 235) The plate includes a patencover of 1576 and a chalice of 1634, the latter apparently acquired in 1720. (fn. 236) The churchyard monuments include two late-17th-century carved chesttombs. The parish registers survive from 1592. (fn. 237)
Houses at Elkstone were registered for a group connected with Eastcombe Baptist chapel, in Bisley, in 1818 and 1822, and two other houses were registered by unidentified groups in 1829; (fn. 238) no later record of nonconformity in the parish has been found.
By 1818 Elkstone had a Sunday school on the National plan in which 36 children were taught at the cost of one of the Milligan family of Cotswold House, North Cerney. (fn. 239) In 1833 a dame school, with 6 children attending, provided the only weekday education, (fn. 240) but by 1847 a church day-school, supported by subscriptions and pence, had been started and taught 26 children. (fn. 241) In 1867 the average attendance was 30–35 but varied considerably according to the weather and the state of the roads. An evening school for older boys was then held as well. (fn. 242) A new schoolroom was built in the north part of the village in 1871. (fn. 243) Average attendance was c. 30 in 1885 (fn. 244) and rose to 42 by 1910 but fell back to c. 25 by the 1930s. (fn. 245) The school was closed in 1951 when the children, whose numbers had fallen to c. 12, were transferred to Cirencester schools. (fn. 246)
Charities for the Poor
Robert Rogers of Sandywell, Dowdeswell, by will proved 1628 gave £5 to the poor of Elkstone. (fn. 247) Before 1705 it was placed out at interest of 5s. a year (fn. 248) and the principal was later lost. A building given for an alms-house was mentioned in 1705 but appears to have been lost to the parish through the invalidity of the deed of gift. (fn. 249)