A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
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The parish of Prestbury lies on the lower slopes of the Cotswold escarpment 1½ mile north-east of Cheltenham. Prestbury, which in the Middle Ages had a market and fair, (fn. 1) has been overshadowed by the growth of modern Cheltenham, and although the village centre has preserved its identity the parish has become largely a residential suburb of that borough. The parish was compact and roughly oblong in shape. In 1935, 300 a. of its 3,054 a., (fn. 2) in the southern part of the parish, were transferred to Cheltenham Borough; (fn. 3) the account given here relates to the whole area of the parish as it existed before the transfer. The former south boundary ran south of the Cheltenham Municipal Cemetery in a roughly straight line to Prestbury Road and from there it followed Wyman's brook. (fn. 4) Hyde brook, rising on the east side of the parish, marks the north boundary. The parish includes the hamlet of Noverton, formerly called Overton, (fn. 5) a small, scattered settlement north-east of the main village.
The parish lies mainly on flat land at about 200 ft. On the west side the land rises slightly at Marle Hill and the east side rises steeply to 600 ft. A small stream, called Mill brook in 1732, (fn. 6) runs across the middle of the parish. Most of Prestbury is on the Lower Lias, with alluvial soil near the streams. In the west, on the slopes of the Cotswolds, the Lower Lias is overlain by the successive strata of the Middle and Upper Lias and Inferior Oolite, (fn. 7) and in this part of the parish quarries were in use from the 16th century or earlier until the early 20th. (fn. 8) It was said that stone from Prestbury was used in the building of Tewkesbury Abbey. (fn. 9)
Most of the parish was arable, lying in a number of small open fields until inclosure in 1732 under an Act of 1730, but over 600 a. of rough pasture was inclosed at the same time. (fn. 10) A wood was recorded at Prestbury in 1086 (fn. 11) but it was perhaps mainly in Sevenhampton parish, and only small areas of wood survived on the east side of the parish in 1964. By 1136 a large area in the north-west part of the parish had been made into a park by the Bishop of Hereford. (fn. 12) The bishop was granted free warren in his demesne in 1241. (fn. 13) Prestbury Park was stocked with deer, rabbits, and other game, which was frequently poached in the Middle Ages. (fn. 14) By 1535 the park had been so neglected that the bishop considered destroying it. (fn. 15) In the late 16th century there were still about a hundred deer in the park, but they had gone by 1611 when there was a long dispute among lessees of the manor about cutting the timber. (fn. 16) In the 18th and 19th centuries the park was used for farm-land, (fn. 17) and later for the Cheltenham racecourse. (fn. 18) In the late 19th century the Cheltenham Borough Cemetery, with a small Gothic chapel, was opened in the south-east corner of Prestbury parish. (fn. 19)
The suggestion that the name Prestbury derives from its belonging to Cleeve Monastery, (fn. 20) whose lands were given to the church of Worcester in 889, (fn. 21) implies the existence of some sort of settlement by that date. Shaw Green, by the moated site of the Bishop of Hereford's manor-house, may mark an early settlement, and it was there that the parish pound was later located. (fn. 22) The church is ½ mile further south, and it is likely that the main settlement was round the church by 1136, perhaps by 1086. (fn. 23) Between the west end of that settlement and Shaw Green runs the street called the Burgage, (fn. 24) where the market was held and which is likely to have been developed about the time of the grant of a market in 1249. (fn. 25) Possibly the Cheltenham-Winchcombe road once followed the line of the Burgage, but the decline of the market and the establishment of the course of the main road along the angled street south of the church confirmed that street as the chief one in the village. It was called Deep Street by the 14th century; (fn. 26) later the eastern part was called High Street while the southern part remained Deep Street.
The village, a big one even before it became part of the suburbs of Cheltenham, contains a high proportion of houses, of the 17th century and later, that are larger than ordinary village houses. The Burgage is a wide straight street with houses and cottages lining the west side; on the east side former burgage tenements (fn. 27) were replaced c. 1700 by a large house and its grounds. (fn. 28) It is said that the Burgage was destroyed by fire in the reign of Henry VII; (fn. 29) the earliest houses there survive from the 16th and 17th centuries. They are of various materials and styles: a few are timber-framed with rubble or brick panels, some of stone, with stone mullions, dripmoulds, and dormer windows. One 16th-century stone house has a later brick front, and a steep roof with coped gable-ends, and stone-mullioned windows; part of the Royal Oak Inn is also of stone, with mullioned windows and gabled dormers. Roof materials include Cotswold stone, thatch, and Welsh slate. The later houses in the Burgage are of the 18th and 19th centuries, two late 18th-century houses having the mansard roofs which are a common feature in the parish.
It was probably the tenants who did not hold by burgage tenure who had their houses in Deep Street in 1393. (fn. 30) In the 13th century a distinction was made between the borough of Prestbury and the rest of the village. The borough included the Burgage and, by the 16th century, Bowbridge Lane. (fn. 31) On the north side of Deep Street the older houses include a row of three altered 16th- or 17th-century stone houses with new Welsh slate roofs. The houses are traditionally associated with Llanthony Priory's property. Reform Cottage, a thatched cottage partly weather-boarded, is probably a converted barn. It is also associated with the priory, and may be the tithe barn which stood at the entrance to the rectory from the 16th century. (fn. 32) The King's Arms Inn (fn. 33) is a restored 16th-century timber-framed and brick house. It is said that up to the 19th century the churchyard opened to Deep Street, (fn. 34) and several of the houses on the north side of High Street are 19th-century buildings. One timber-framed house (the Bakery Stores), originally of three bays, retains a pair of large crucks internally, but tie-beam trusses were later inserted to support the roof; at the west end shortened cruck-blades have been re-used in the gable of an additional timber-framed bay. A few 16th- or 17th-century timber-framed houses survive, some with thatched roofs. The other houses in the High Street are of the 18th and 19th centuries, including a large 19th-century house with a stuccoed front surmounted by a pediment. Mansard House, a late 18th-century stone building of two stories and attics, has a mansard roof of Cotswold stone, a bow window on the ground floor, a plat band at floorlevel, and a cornice supported by pilasters. At the east end of High Street are three substantial stuccoed houses of the early 19th century standing in large gardens. Mill Street, north-east of the church, Lake Street, running west from the Burgage, and Bowbridge Lane contain farms and a few houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. A timber-framed cottage, called the Manor House in the 20th century, at the junction of Lake Street and Bowbridge Lane, was partly faced in brick in the 18th century (fn. 35) and was extensively restored in the 20th century; a small two-light stone window and some 14th-century tracery, perhaps from the church, have been incorporated in an outbuilding. The Hayes, a large 19th-century house on the west side of the main road, north of the village, was at one time the residence of the Baghot-De la Bere family. (fn. 36) At the junction of Deep Street and Bouncer's Lane a timber-framed, thatched cottage and a romantic Gothic cottage of vermiculated stone were pulled down c. 1960 to allow for road-widening.
There was presumably a house at Noverton by the 13th century (fn. 37) when the name Overton occurs as a personal name. In 1964 a large moated site was visible at Lower Noverton, among mid-20th century houses. (fn. 38) There is no other evidence, however, that Noverton was more than a very small settlement centred upon a few farm-houses, of which those that survived in 1964 were of the 16th or 17th century. Of the outlying farm-houses only Hyde Farm is likely to have existed before the inclosure of 1732. Lower and Upper Hill Farms, near the crest of the escarpment, were built in the late 18th century. (fn. 39)
In spite of some fluctuations the population of Prestbury remained fairly constant until the early 19th century when a rapid increase reflected the change in the social structure of the parish. Thirtysix people were recorded in Prestbury in 1086. (fn. 40) The 29 people assessed for tax in 1327, and the relatively high assessment, suggest that Prestbury was at that time prosperous though perhaps not very populous. (fn. 41) There may have been some decrease in population, as alleged in the 16th century, with the decline of the market and the supposed destruction of part of the town by fire. (fn. 42) In 1551 there were said to be c. 160 communicants, (fn. 43) and in 1563 the number of households was 54. (fn. 44) The population had increased by 1603 when 300 communicants were recorded, (fn. 45) and in 1650 there were 60 families. (fn. 46) The population was estimated at 445 in the early 18th century, (fn. 47) c. 400 in mid-century (fn. 48) and between 400 and 500 c. 1775. (fn. 49) In the early 19th century the population began to increase rapidly, from 485 in 1801 to 906 in 1821 and 1,231 in 1831. The increase continued steadily and accelerated in the late 19th century and early 20th, the population rising to 2,154 in 1931. The continuing increase more than offset the loss in total numbers resulting from the boundary change of 1935. Between 1951 and 1961 the population of the diminished parish rose from 2,858 to 4,235. (fn. 50)
In 1824 the population was concentrated in the village, (fn. 51) but in the earlier 19th century the number of houses in Prestbury doubled (fn. 52) as Cheltenham expanded into the south side of the parish. The development followed, in the main, the line of roads existing by 1824. The Cheltenham-Winchcombe road, passing through the village south of Prestbury church by 1675, (fn. 53) was probably the one referred to in 1732 as the highway to Cheltenham through Sandfield and to Winchcombe through Nuffield. (fn. 54) The road was turnpiked under an Act of 1792. (fn. 55) The part between Cheltenham and Prestbury became known as Prestbury Road. The bridge on that road, at the south boundary of the parish, was probably the one called Cakebridge in 1699. (fn. 56) Bouncer's Lane extended from the village to Charlton Park by 1824. (fn. 57) New Barn Lane, going west from Prestbury village, was so called by 1828, (fn. 58) and Mill Lane and Noverton Lane ran from the village to Noverton by 1824. (fn. 59) The road from Cheltenham to Bishop's Cleeve, crossing the west part of the parish, was turnpiked in 1810. (fn. 60) The bridge by which the road crosses the Hyde Brook, said in 1833 to be repaired at the expense of Prestbury and Southam, (fn. 61) was perhaps the bridge called Kellam Bridge in 1575. (fn. 62) The main Midland railway line, opened in 1840, (fn. 63) crosses the west of the parish. An electric tramway through the village was completed in 1901 and was in use until the thirties. (fn. 64)
In the mid-18th century a chalybeate spring in the north-west corner of the parish was found to have medicinal properties. By 1751 Lord Craven, on whose estate the spring rose, had provided hot and cold baths and lodgings for people taking the water. Although the water was said to be stronger than that of the Cheltenham spas, (fn. 65) the spa, called the Hyde spa, never became very popular. (fn. 66) The spring, visible in 1909, (fn. 67) could not be located in 1931. (fn. 68) Before 1844 a centre known as the Prestbury Establishment was opened to promote the use of cold water for the cure of various diseases. The Establishment had closed by 1846. (fn. 69) In 1904 a spring on Marle Hill was found to have highly saline medicinal water, and a chalybeate spring at Noverton had a reputation for curing affections of the eye. (fn. 70) At another spring, near the south boundary of the parish, Joseph Pitt of Cheltenham in 1830 (fn. 71) opened a spa with an elaborate pump room, as part of a comprehensive development for a residential estate incorporating a spa. As a spa the Pittville Pump Room never achieved the expected success, and had ceased to be profitable before 1889. Part of the Pittville estate with its large Regency villas and terraces was in Prestbury parish. The main feature of the estate was the pump room, which has been described as one of the best architectural works in the Cheltenham area. It is a stone building, designed by J. B. Forbes, standing on raised ground at the north end of the Pittville estate overlooking a park and lake. The pump room has a colonnade with Ionic columns and cornices which are copied, on a larger scale, from the Ionic temple on the bank of the River Ilissus near Athens. The building consists of a hall, with an apse in which the pump was situated, surmounted by a dome and surrounded by a gallery. Small rooms led off each end of the hall and the gallery. The plaster ceiling of the dome was elaborately decorated with coffering and rosettes; the lantern light with canted windows is 70 ft. above the ground. In the 19th century the pump room had a card room, billiard room, reading room, and library as well as the assembly room and spa; it was used for balls, public breakfasts, and exhibitions. Its popularity had declined by 1889, when it was bought by the Cheltenham Borough Council. The pump room was used occasionally for receptions, dances, and exhibitions up to the Second World War, when it was used by the Army. The building was extensively repaired after the war, and was re-opened in 1960, when it was used mainly for private functions. In 1962 a bar and a kitchen were added, flanking each side of the apse. (fn. 72) The upper story was used in 1964 by the Gloucestershire College of Art (for which a large new building was being erected in New Barn Lane) for its school of architecture.
By 1838 houses had been built near the parish boundary on Prestbury Road, and scattered houses stood on Bouncer's Lane. (fn. 73) Typical of the development of the mid-19th century is a row, at the east end of Prestbury Road, of detached three-storied stuccoed houses with narrow frontages and coachhouses at the ends of their long gardens. In 1880 the Vicar of Prestbury said that the parish could be divided into three parts: the village and Noverton, the middle class population on Prestbury Road, and the wealthy Cheltenham suburb of Pittville. (fn. 74)
By 1903 some large, detached brick houses had been built in Prestbury Road, and smaller brick houses in New Barn Lane and in Mill Street. On the west side of the parish several large houses — Rosehill, Marle Hill House, Cleevelands — were built, standing in extensive grounds, in the 19th century. (fn. 75)
Between the wars the number of houses again increased rapidly, (fn. 76) and houses were built in Prestbury Road and in Coronation Road and Glebe Road running east from Prestbury Road, in Bouncer's Lane, in scattered groups along New Barn Lane, and almost continuously along the north side of Shaw Green Lane. A small estate was built at Lower Noverton. The houses built at this period are almost all of brick, mostly semi-detached or detached suburban houses; the biggest are those in Park Lane, running west from Bowbridge Lane. After the Second World War a large estate was built between Bouncer's Lane and Prestbury Road by the Cheltenham Borough Council. Between 1951 and 1961, when the number of houses increased by about half, (fn. 77) the main feature was the building of groups of small semi-detached brick houses and bungalows, though the building of larger detached houses in various styles continued. By 1964 the parish was almost entirely built-up between the centre of Cheltenham and the village, but there had been little extension north of the village.
The parish had an inn by 1668 (fn. 78) and three licensed alehouses in 1755. (fn. 79) The number had risen to five by 1831 (fn. 80) and to seven by 1891; (fn. 81) there were five licensed houses in 1964. By 1784 a house in Mill Street with a garden with grottoes, a pavilion, and a Chinese temple was described as a tea-drinking house. (fn. 82) In the early 19th century the Grotto tearoom was said to be one of the main attractions of the village. (fn. 83) The house, which was decorated with shells and fossils and had Gothic windows with painted glass, was an inn by 1820. (fn. 84) The Grotto Inn apparently acquired a bad reputation and was closed by the late 19th century; the house was pulled down. (fn. 85) In 1820 a Friendly Society met at the Grotto Inn, (fn. 86) and in 1830 the Prestbury Friendly Society, meeting at the 'King's Arms' had 90 members. (fn. 87) Prestbury had a working men's club by 1879. (fn. 88) Extensive public playing fields on Prestbury Road were opened in the 1950's, and the parish has two parish halls.
There was a race-course at Prestbury Park in the 1830's, (fn. 89) and during the 19th century Prestbury had strong associations with horse-racing. Dr. Fothergill ('Fogo') Rowlands who, trained the Prince of Wales's steeplechasers, had his headquarters at Prestbury. Tom Oliver, who rode three Grand National winners, trained at Prestbury. (fn. 90) The 'King's Arms' in High Street was a popular meeting-place for sportsmen in the mid-19th century, (fn. 91) when William Archer, himself a jockey and the father of Frederick Archer the jockey, was landlord there. (fn. 92) The Cheltenham Racecourse Company bought Prestbury Park in 1902. (fn. 93) A grandstand and club-house were built in 1908 (fn. 94) and a race-course station was opened in 1912 (fn. 95) on the main railway line. The course has been described as the finest steeplechase course in the world and since 1924 the race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup has been held there. (fn. 96)
In September 1643 the Parliamentary Army camped at Prestbury and a garrison occupied the manor-house formerly belonging to the Bishop of Hereford. Royalist soldiers had been in Prestbury the day before the Parliamentary Army arrived, (fn. 97) and bullet holes found in the walls of some of the houses in the village support the tradition that fighting took place there.
Manors and Other Estates.
It has been suggested that land in Beckford and Cheltenham claimed in 803 by Wulfheard, Bishop of Hereford, from Denebeorht, Bishop of Worcester, included the 30 hides at Prestbury and Sevenhampton (fn. 98) which the Bishop of Hereford held in 1066 and 1086. (fn. 99) The bishops of Hereford continued to hold PRESTBURY manor until 1560, (fn. 100) when, during a vacancy of the see, Prestbury manor was taken by the queen and retained by the Crown. (fn. 101)
The manor, which had been leased to John Harford for 80 years in 1533, (fn. 102) was leased by the Crown in 1564 to Thomas Chamberlayne and in 1574 to Robert, Earl of Leicester; in the early 17th century it was disputed who the rightful lessee was. (fn. 103) By 1612 Prestbury manor was said to be held in chief by Reginald Nicholas (d. 1612), (fn. 104) who was apparently a servant of John Chamberlayne, (fn. 105) Thomas's son. Thomas Nicholas, son and heir of Reginald Nicholas, conveyed Prestbury to Elizabeth Craven, widow of Sir William Craven, and others in 1622. In 1630 it passed to her son William Craven, (fn. 106) though Thomas Nicholas was said to be seised of the manor at his death in 1639 (fn. 107) and his co-heirs were dealing with the manor-house in 1647. (fn. 108) William Craven, created baron in 1627 and earl in 1665, owned Prestbury in 1646 (fn. 109) and until his death in 1697, when it passed to his cousin William, Lord Craven (d. 1711). The younger William was succeeded by his sons, William (d. 1739) and Fulwar (d. 1764), in turn. (fn. 110) The manor-house or site was apparently retained by the Chamberlayne family and at inclosure in 1732 Edmund Chamberlayne received a small allotment. (fn. 111) In 1762 he conveyed the manor-house site to Fulwar, Lord Craven. (fn. 112) Fulwar was succeeded by his cousin, William (d. 1769), and then by William's nephew, another William (d. 1791). (fn. 113) The manor then passed to a younger son, Henry Augustus Berkeley Craven, on whose death in 1836 (fn. 114) it passed to his nephew William, Earl of Craven, who sold it in 1853 to F. T. Cudden. Cudden sold Prestbury in 1859 to Walter Justice who in turn sold it the following year to John Walker of Cheltenham. In 1889 the executors of John Walker's will sold Prestbury manor to Frederick Worsey of Cheltenham. At the time the manor included only quit rents and two cottages in Shaw Green. Worsey's son, Frederick William Worsey, sold the manor in 1906 to William Horsley, (fn. 115) and in 1925 the owner was K. G. Fisher of Cheltenham. (fn. 116) By 1963 any claim to manorial rights had apparently lapsed. (fn. 117)
The Bishop of Hereford had a manor-house at Prestbury by the 13th century when it was one of his residences, (fn. 118) and pottery found on the site suggests there may have been a house there in the 11th century. The large moated site, at Shaw Green, was excavated in 1951 and revealed part of the plan of the house. The house was of stone with possibly a timber-framed upper story. It included a hall aisled in two bays with an open hearth, and a large kitchen. (fn. 119) The repair of a drawbridge was recorded in 1289. (fn. 120) Extensive repairs were made in 1344 when the chapel, on the west side of the house in the upper story, was rebuilt. (fn. 121) In the 1530's the manor-house was described as 'a fair place'. (fn. 122) When the manor was leased in 1531 the bishop kept the house for his own use, except the south side of the gatehouse. (fn. 123) The manor-house was evidently altered in the 16th century after it passed out of the bishop's hands, probably by Thomas Chamberlayne, who may have lived there. (fn. 124) The chapel became a living room and was given a stone fireplace and a decorated plaster ceiling. A fireplace was built against the west wall of the hall. (fn. 125) Thomas Nicholas occupied the house in the early 17th century, and in 1647 Robert Brereton held it by lease. (fn. 126) The manor-house had probably fallen into disrepair by 1698, when stone from it was being used for repairing the church. (fn. 127) The house had gone by 1777, (fn. 128) and no other house has been associated with the manor. Although none of the outbuildings survives, documentary references suggest they were once extensive. In 1344 there were several stables and sheds, a granary, a grange for hay, a brewhouse, and a dairy. (fn. 129)
Land held by Durand of Gloucester and said to be in Sevenhampton in 1086 may represent part of the estate in Prestbury later held by Llanthony Priory. (fn. 130) Another part of the priory's estate derived from the gifts of Ernald, a tenant of the Bishop of Hereford, and his descendants. Before 1144 Ernald gave 1 yardland to Llanthony Priory, his son Ralph gave another ½ yardland, and Ralph's son Philip gave more land. (fn. 131) Further grants in fee were made to the priory by other tenants in Prestbury. (fn. 132) About 1164 Bishop Robert of Hereford granted to Llanthony the small tithes of Prestbury and the tithes of the demesne except for a portion held by the dean and precentor, and Bishop William confirmed to Llanthony all the land and tithes belonging to Prestbury church except the same portion. (fn. 133) In 1292 the prior was granted free warren in his demesne in Prestbury. (fn. 134) In the late 15th century the prior's demesne and the rectory were farmed together. (fn. 135) By the mid-16th century Llanthony's estate was referred to as the manor of PRESTBURY, and the priory's house next to the church was called the manor-house or rectory. (fn. 136)
In 1520 the prior leased the manor and rectory for 50 years to Robert Atwell, to whose son John the Crown renewed the lease for 21 years in 1553. (fn. 137) The reversion in fee of the manor only was granted in 1557 to Thomas Gratwick and Anselm Lamb, (fn. 138) but by 1558 it had evidently passed to William Baghot, who held a court in the manor in that year. (fn. 139) By the 1540's William Baghot had a 'fair house' at Noverton called Hall Place, (fn. 140) which may have belonged to Llanthony Priory. In 1569 William Baghot's manor of HALL PLACE was described as lately belonging to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 141) The Baghot family's estate was usually treated as a single manor after that time. The rectory, including the house, was in 1608 granted in fee by the Crown to Francis Phillips and Richard Moore, (fn. 142) who sold it in the same year to William, Earl of Pembroke. In 1622 the earl sold the rectory, then occupied by George Baghot, to Thomas Baghot, George's brother, (fn. 143) and it afterwards descended with the rest of the Baghot family's estate until the 19th century. The first William Baghot was succeeded in 1579 by his son Richard, the father of another William whose son was the George Baghot alive in 1622. The estate passed to George's son Edmund (d. c. 1657), to Edmund's son Edward (d. 1673), and to Edward's son William (d. 1724). William Baghot married Anne, daughter of John de la Bere of Southam, and their son William (d. 1764) added de la Bere to his surname. William's son Thomas died without issue in 1821, (fn. 144) and his estate passed to Thomas's sisters, Sarah Baghot-De la Bere and Grace, wife of Richard Webb, (fn. 145) both of whom apparently died without issue. By 1838 the estate was owned by John Edwards, (fn. 146) the great-grandson of Thomas, brother of William Baghot-De la Bere (d. 1764). Edwards, who later took the name Baghot-De la Bere, died in 1886, and his son, another John Edwards (later Baghot-De la Bere), in 1909. Each was Vicar of Prestbury. The estate passed to the second John's son Cyril (d. 1909), to Cyril's son, also Cyril (d. 1916), and to a younger son of the first Cyril, Wilfrid, (fn. 147) for whom the estate was held in trust by his sister, Mrs. R. F. W. Cumming, in 1964. (fn. 148)
The rectory was sold in 1823 by Sarah Baghot-De la Bere and Grace Webb to James Agg (fn. 149) (d. 1828). It passed to James's son, William John Agg, (fn. 150) who received a corn-rent for his part of the great tithes in 1838. (fn. 151) The rectory later reverted to the owners of the Baghot-De la Bere estate, probably at the same time as the advowson. (fn. 152)
The Prior of Llanthony had a house in Prestbury by the mid-13th century, when it was called the court; (fn. 153) it was perhaps the house on the moated site at Lower Noverton. (fn. 154) By 1538 the house belonging to the priory stood beside the church and was called the manor-house or rectory. A tithe grange, recently built, stood near the gate, (fn. 155) and it was still there in 1823. (fn. 156) After the rectory house passed to the Baghot family it was called Prestbury Farm. (fn. 157) Later the house became known as the Priory. It was described as a fair and spacious house c. 1700 when the Baghot family had moved there from Noverton. (fn. 158) In 1860 John Edwards, Vicar of Prestbury, was living at the Priory because the vicarage was not big enough for his large family. (fn. 159) In the early 1950's the house was divided and sold. (fn. 160) The older part of the house is a long rectangular structure of timber-framing and stone with a Cotswold stone roof. It incorporates a 14th-century hall of four bays, formerly singlestoried and open to the roof. Most of the arch-braced collar-beam trusses were later cut back to receive plaster, but one brace on the south side retains a boltel moulding and springs from a semi-octagonal wall-post with a moulded capital. At both ends of the hall are additional two-storied bays, probably of the 16th or early 17th century. The insertion of a floor in the hall and a chimney in its easternmost bay presumably took place during the same period. In the 18th century the house was largely cased in stone, concealing most of the timbering, sash windows and dormers were inserted, and a stone wing was added on the north side. In 1886 the north wing was extended, (fn. 161) and later the sash windows on the south front were replaced by casements, some of the external timbering was restored, and a Georgian porch was removed. (fn. 162) A square stone dovecot with a Cotswold stone roof stands west of the house.
Hall Place was probably built by the Baghot family in the early 16th century, (fn. 163) but appears to have been altered during the next 100 years. The house stands at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment at the east end of the hamlet of Noverton, (fn. 164) and is a long two-storied building of stone with a Cotswold stone roof. It has stone-mullioned windows with segmental-headed lights, and near the centre the north and south doorways to the former screens passage survive; they have four-centred arches and the massive oak doors appear to be original. A small room to the west of the passage, traditionally said to have been a chapel, has two blocked square-headed openings in the north wall. Externally there is a diagonal buttress beyond this room, suggesting that the west end of the house is an addition. In the roof above the former hall, which presumably lay east of the passage, is an arch-braced collar-beam truss which may have belonged to the hall or to a room above it. Gables on the north and south sides of the house do not appear to be original features. Below the north gable a blocked opening perhaps marks the position of an outside staircase. The stone porch to the north doorway was added in the 19th century. By the end of the 17th century the Baghot family apparently no longer lived at Noverton, (fn. 165) and the house became a farm-house, called Upper Noverton Farm.
By 1672 William Capel had a house in Prestbury which had five hearths, (fn. 166) and it was perhaps the one said to be on the west side of the Burgage in 1679. (fn. 167) During the 18th century the Capels continued to live in Prestbury and to buy land and houses in the parish. (fn. 168) In 1737 13 people held estates as tenants of Christopher Capel. (fn. 169) By 1831 the Capel family had 327 a. in the parish, (fn. 170) and up to the Second World War remained one of the principal landowners. (fn. 171) Major Christopher Capel (d. 1964) gradually sold off most of the estate, and at his death only the house and grounds surrounding it still belonged to him. (fn. 172) The grounds occupy almost the whole east side of the Burgage and reach nearly to the churchyard. The house, known as Prestbury House, was probably built c. 1700, but it may incorporate part of an earlier house. It is a square three-storied building, partly of rubble-stone faced with roughcast and partly of ashlar, with a moulded string at first-floor level and a hipped roof of Welsh slate. On the north and east sides some mullioned and transomed windows survive, but elsewhere there are sash windows, probably inserted in the late 18th century. Of the same period is an added east wing of two tall stories with a projecting bow. The house contains some reset oak panelling of the 17th century.
Prestbury had a market in the Middle Ages and was sometimes called a borough, but agriculture was the main occupation until the 19th century, and even in the 19th and 20th centuries, as Prestbury became increasingly a residential suburb of Cheltenham, the greater part of the parish remained farm-land.
Agriculture. The Bishop of Hereford had 3 ploughs on the demesne in 1086. (fn. 173) In the 12th century the bishop's demesne included pasture for 400 sheep, (fn. 174) and in 1240 there were 30 head of cattle on the demesne. (fn. 175) There was apparently an increase in arable during the 13th century, for in 1292 the bishop had 4 plough-lands. (fn. 176) About the same time the demesne was said to comprise 390 a. arable, 101 a. meadow, and 15 a. pasture, besides the park and a dovecot. (fn. 177) The bishop's arable land in Prestbury at that time was valued at 6d. an acre, compared with 4d. an acre in his demesne land elsewhere. (fn. 178) Llanthony Priory's demesne was one plough-land in 1291. (fn. 179) In 1289 the prior had claimed against the bishop 5 a. land and pasture in the park for 8 oxen; he retained the 5 a. and surrendered the pasture. (fn. 180) Small parts of the priory's demesne were being leased in 1365, (fn. 181) and by 1481 the whole was farmed with the rectory at £16; (fn. 182) it was valued at the same figure in 1538. (fn. 183) Before 1389 several pieces of arable, presumably enclosed, on the Bishop of Hereford's demesne had been converted to meadow or pasture. (fn. 184) Parts of the demesne were leased in the 16th century, and in 1575 there were 11 tenants of the demesne apart from the lessee of the manor-house. The size of their holdings varied from 2 yardlands to a few acres, and one included all the demesne pasture in Puckham — partly in Prestbury and partly in Sevenhampton — and a sheep-house with eight separate rooms. The demesne land leased in 1575 included closes and ridges in the open fields. (fn. 185) The part of the demesne which was not leased was presumably the 4 yardlands held by John Chamberlayne in 1602 with several pieces of meadow and pasture. (fn. 186) The park had apparently been separated from the rest of the demesne and was claimed by Reginald Nicholas at that time, (fn. 187) but when Thomas Nicholas conveyed the manor to Elizabeth Craven in 1621 he held all the demesne, including the park, the pasture called Great Hyde, 30 a. of pasture and 20 a. of meadow in the Hyde, and several smaller closes of meadow and pasture, in addition to arable land. (fn. 188) The greater part of the demesne was evidently inclosed by 1732, when Lord Craven received only a small allotment under the award of the inclosure commissioners. (fn. 189)
In 1086 the Bishop of Hereford's manor included a radknight with 2 ploughs, and 18 villani and 5 bordars with 9 ploughs. (fn. 190) The large increase in the number of tenants in the next two hundred years was partly the result of new land being brought into cultivation. About 1280 there were 24 free tenants whose holdings were mostly assarts. The manor included also 33 tenants said to be holding pro basta, 30 burgage tenants, 16 customary tenants, 6 cottars, 15 mondaymen, and 5 tenants described as buchi; the nature of tenure pro basta and of that of the buchi is unclear.
Of the free tenants two held by military service 7 and 2 yardlands respectively, another held one yardland by military service and rent and another yardland in socage, and the others held smaller holdings for rent. The military tenants owed suit of court, heriots, relief, and scutage. A number of the free tenants held 'forelet' land (fn. 191) with their freehold estates. It was land granted only for the life of the bishop and could be taken back by his successor; it was normally held for money rent only. (fn. 192) The 15 customary tenants held a yardland or ½ yardland each, the cottars each held ½ yardland, the buchi apparently 1 yardland each, and the mondaymen ¼ yardland. All owed labour services. The customary tenants apparently owed only the service of carrying the demesne grain. The services of the other tenants were not proportionate to their holdings, the cottars owing a total of 114 days' work a year each, the buchi 146, and the mondaymen 61. (fn. 193) The cottars had also to mind the demesne pigs and cows. (fn. 194) In 1506 the labour-services of three customary tenants had been commuted, and some were demised to the Prior of Llanthony. (fn. 195)
The grant of a market in 1249 presumably helped to increase the number of tenants, and the burgage tenants formed one of the largest groups c. 1280. They apparently held no land; (fn. 196) their rent of 3s. was higher than the usual rent of burgage tenants, (fn. 197) and they owed suit of court at the bishop's will. In the late 13th century several customary tenants were allowed to live in the Burgage. (fn. 198)
The holdings of the tenants of Llanthony Priory's manor, which numbered at least 9 in 1365 (fn. 199) and perhaps 6 in 1539, (fn. 200) seem to have been small. In 1437 two tenants, one of whom owed a heriot, had holdings of ¼ yardland. (fn. 201) That may have been the usual size of holdings.
The number of tenants on the Bishop of Hereford's manor had decreased by 1575, and the kinds of tenure had been simplified. Only three kinds of tenant were distinguished in 1575: free tenants, lessees of the demesne, and copyholders. Nineteen free tenements were held by 13 tenants, one having 6 holdings. Burgages were included among the free tenements, some being held with larger free estates and others with cow pastures only. Apart from the burgages free tenements ranged in size from 3 butts to 3½ yardlands. All were said to be held freely in socage for rent and relief. (fn. 202) Three of the 11 lessees of demesne land also held free tenements. (fn. 203) About 1587 six messuages and c. 500 a. formerly copyhold were held in fee by Reginald Nicholas. (fn. 204)
Twenty-five copyholds in 1575 were held by 23 tenants, several of whom also held free tenements and demesne land. The commonest holdings were 1 or ½ yardland, and none was more than 1½. Several copyholders had small pieces of forelet land for which they paid money rent only. (fn. 205) All other customary tenants paid heriots of one beast for each messuage; there is no evidence that labour-services were performed in 1575. Customary estates were granted to a single tenant, to several tenants jointly, to a tenant and his heirs, or for 3 lives, but all customary tenants had the right of inheritance. The fine on surrender or exchange of property was limited to 3 years' rent or 20d.; an estate could be surrendered to another tenant out of court in the presence of two customary tenants, and the surrender presented at the next court. Widows had freebench. (fn. 206) Forelet land was held for life. (fn. 207) The same customs may have existed in Llanthony Priory's manor, for in 1558 the son of a customary tenant of 4 messuages claimed 3 of them by virtue of a grant made to him by his father and the other by the custom of the manor; another tenant forfeited a copyhold granted to him and his sons because he had sold it and had not presented the sale at the next court. (fn. 208)
Most of the arable land in Prestbury presumably lay in the open fields at one time, and the newly assarted land, though it may sometimes have been inclosed, was also incorporated into the existing open fields. (fn. 209) By the 16th century the fields were divided into eight parts: Westfield in the west of the parish, Ryefield and Linworth south-east of the village, Sandfield south-east of the road to Cheltenham, Berryfield north-west of the village, Watershoot field west of the village, Nuffield north of Noverton, and Drinkseed field. (fn. 210) Another, called Awfield, was mentioned in 1732, when it was only 29 a. (fn. 211) By the late 16th century, when some land had been inclosed, (fn. 212) each field was quite small. The fields were divided into furlongs. (fn. 213) By 1575 most holdings had been consolidated into pieces of a few acres. (fn. 214) In the late 16th century it was said that a yardland was 24 field-acres, (fn. 215) but in 1575 several yardlands were as much as 36 field-acres. (fn. 216)
Puckham Wood and Prestbury Hill afforded permanent commonable pasture, (fn. 217) and there was common meadow among the open fields, apart from closes of several meadow. (fn. 218) In the 16th century the proportion of permanent grass-land to arable was high, with 14 cow-pastures and 80 sheep-pastures for each yardland. Burgage tenants had normally one cow-pasture in the common meadow for each burgage. (fn. 219) Towards the end of the 16th century tenants were allowed to inclose part of the common meadow and hold it in severalty in the proportion of 2 a. to a yardland. (fn. 220) The meadow concerned may have been within the open fields, and in 1575 some tenants held closes of meadow in the fields. (fn. 221) Puckham Wood, in Sevenhampton and Prestbury, comprised 214 a., divided in the 16th century into 13 coppices. (fn. 222) In 1575 the tenants of Sevenhampton denied the right of the tenants of Prestbury to common of pasture there, (fn. 223) and in 1652 an agreement was reached between the two parishes for the division of the wood into three parts, for the tenants of Sevenhampton, the tenants of Prestbury, and the farmer of the demesne of Prestbury. (fn. 224) The number of animals that could be commoned for each yardland was reduced in 1726 from 50 sheep, 4 cows, and 4 horses to 35 sheep, 3 cows, and 3 horses. (fn. 225)
Crops grown at Prestbury in the Middle Ages included wheat, barley, and oats. (fn. 226) On the demesne, where there was a high proportion of meadow, (fn. 227) dairy farming may have been as important as arable: in 1275 cheese was sold from Prestbury. (fn. 228) Pigs were perhaps particularly numerous in view of the pannage provided by the park. (fn. 229) Some estates may have been mainly pasture, and in 1641 John Chamberlayne, who had 1,002 lambs at Prestbury, seems to have used his pasture there for wintering sheep from other estates. (fn. 230) In the 1620's tobacco was being grown at Prestbury, (fn. 231) and in 1664 in spite of orders to destroy it, some was still grown. (fn. 232)
By the early 18th century large parts of Prestbury had been inclosed: the parliamentary inclosure in 1732 dealt with 630 a. of waste and common on Prestbury Hill and in Puckham Shrubs and 725 a. in the open fields and common meadow. Seventyseven people received allotments, of whom 25 had only small pieces on the waste and common, and two had land only in the open fields. The largest allotments were those of William Baghot, 310 a., Thomas Baghot, 162 a., and Lord Craven, 100 a. for his manorial rights and 10 a. for his land in the open fields. Five people received allotments of between 50 a. and 100 a., eight others received allotments of between 20 a. and 50 a., and the rest had less than 20 a. The land allotted lay in the same 8 parts of the fields as in 1575, and also in Smith's mead, on Prestbury Hill, and in Puckham Shrubs. (fn. 233)
After inclosure the land continued to be divided into a large number of small holdings held as leasehold, freehold, or copyhold (fn. 234) of the three principal landowners, Lord Craven, the Baghot family, and the Capel family, with a few large farms. Christopher Capel had 13 tenants in 1737. (fn. 235) Copyhold tenants of Lord Craven continued to pay heriots and their estates were granted usually for three lives. After 1858 copyholders were enfranchised. (fn. 236) Of the larger farms Prestbury Park farm was 519 a. in 1768, Hyde farm was 149 a., and Puckham farm (partly in Sevenhampton) was 208 a. (fn. 237) Piccadilly farm was 271 a. (fn. 238) When Thomas Baghot sold Hewlett's farm, in Prestbury and Cheltenham, to James Agg in 1797 it included 342 a. (fn. 239) In 1831 two farms were over 300 a., six were between 100 a. and 200 a., and there were c. 67 small holdings of 50 a. or less, most being only a few acres. (fn. 240) During the late 19th century and in the 20th many of the smaller holdings became building land. (fn. 241) The parish had 11 farmers in 1856, and the number remained about the same at the end of the century. Seven farms were recorded as over 150 a. in 1923, and three, Piccadilly farm, Hunting Butts farm, and Hyde farm, in 1935. (fn. 242) In 1964 Prestbury had some 11 farms, of which 4 belonged to the Baghot-De la Bere estate, and a few small holdings; they employed only a very small proportion of the population.
Inclosure was perhaps not immediately followed by any significant increase in pasture and meadow, and during the 18th century it seems to have been usual for farms to have more arable than pasture. (fn. 243) In 1779, however, it was said that the parish consisted of rich pasture with a small amount of arable. (fn. 244) In 1801 581 a. were returned as sown, mainly with wheat, barley, and beans, (fn. 245) and in 1838 there were 1,090 a. of arable and 1,760 a. of meadow and pasture. (fn. 246) Some of the farms in the late 19th century were dairy farms, (fn. 247) and c. 1901 only 408 a. was arable compared with 1,785 a. of permanent grass. (fn. 248) One of the larger farms in the 1920's was for poultry, (fn. 249) and there was still a poultry farm in 1964. Farming was then mixed, with an emphasis on dairy farming; Noverton farm, comprising about 150 a. in Prestbury, was a dairy farm retailing its own milk. (fn. 250) A feature of the village in the 19th century was the number of orchards surrounding the houses, (fn. 251) and there was still a number of orchards in the parish in 1933. (fn. 252) From the mid-19th century market-gardens became increasingly numerous. There were 3 in 1856, 6 in 1889, and 8 in 1906, and the number remained about the same until 1935. (fn. 253) After the Second World War the number of market-gardens declined, probably because of the growing need for building land.
Market and fair. In 1249 the Bishop of Hereford obtained a grant of a weekly market at Prestbury and an annual fair for three days at the beginning of August. (fn. 254) The market was by a main road, (fn. 255) and the number of burgage tenants suggest that the market was flourishing c. 1280. (fn. 256) The grant of the market and fair was confirmed in 1394. (fn. 257) It was said that the market declined in the 15th century partly because of a fire which destroyed the greater part of the Burgage. In the early 16th century the market was revived, (fn. 258) but it apparently remained small and by c. 1700 it had lapsed. (fn. 259)
Mills. In 1292 the Bishop of Hereford had a water-mill at Prestbury. (fn. 260) It was held in demesne in 1344. (fn. 261) The Prior of Llanthony was leasing a mill from the bishop in 1389; (fn. 262) it may have been the Lower Mill, standing close to the church and Llanthony Priory's manor-house, on the small stream that runs through the village and gave the name to Mill Street. In 1506 and 1536 the bishop's mill was held by a lessee. (fn. 263) William Baghot was lessee of the demesne water-mill in 1575. (fn. 264) The Lower Mill, so-called by 1832, (fn. 265) went out of use between 1885 and 1894. In 1919 it was being used as a laundry, which had apparently closed before 1923, (fn. 266) and the building became a private house.
Upper Mill, higher up the stream at Noverton, was in use by 1722, when William Cook conveyed it to Thomas Etherton, miller, of Prestbury. The Mrs. Dinah Adderton who had the mill in 1793 was perhaps a member of the same family. She sold the mill to Bridges Hughes, and Thomas Hughes sold it in 1836 to William Stephens. (fn. 267) In 1870 the mill was called Noverton Mill and under that name continued in use until c. 1910. (fn. 268) The buildings, of stone with a Cotswold stone roof, formed a private house in 1964.
Industry and trade. The name Scop Street used in 1398 may indicate shops, and a house in the Burgage at that time was called Bakehouse. (fn. 269) A baker and a butcher were recorded in 1608, and the parish then had a weaver and three tailors. (fn. 270) A cordwainer was working in Prestbury in 1768, (fn. 271) and by 1831 Prestbury had a number of shops and workshops including three bakehouses. (fn. 272) In 1836 5 butchers and 3 cordwainers were recorded. (fn. 273) From the late 19th century Prestbury has had grocers, butchers, bakers, shoemakers, coal dealers, and general shops, and a post office from 1889. Other occupations included dressmaking, shirtmaking, and hairdressing. (fn. 274) In 1964 the south side of High Street was mainly occupied by shops, and there were several general stores outside the village.
The bishop's manor included a forge c. 1290, (fn. 275) and there were probably smiths working in Prestbury from that time. One recorded in 1608 kept a servant. (fn. 276) A smith was working in the parish in 1836, (fn. 277) and one or two smiths were recorded in the late 19th century. (fn. 278) A smithy, which gave the name to Blacksmith Lane, running east from the junction of Bouncer's Lane and Deep Street, was in use in 1903. (fn. 279) The smithy had gone by 1927. (fn. 280) There were three carpenters in Prestbury, two of whom employed servants, and a slatter in 1608, (fn. 281) and a mason was living in the parish in 1654. (fn. 282) The place name Ironmongers occurs in the early 17th century. (fn. 283) In 1836 5 carpenters, 7 plasterers, a bricklayer, a cooper, and 6 painters were recorded, (fn. 284) and from 1870 Prestbury had a variety of building workers. (fn. 285)
A noticeable feature of the parish from the early 19th century was the increase in the professional and leisured classes and the corresponding decline in the proportion of the population employed in agriculture, trade, and industry. In 1811 87 families were employed in agriculture, 37 in trade and industry, and there were 14 other families; by 1831 the figures were 65 in agriculture, 68 in trade and industry, and 71 others. (fn. 286) After the Second World War a few light engineering works and small factories were opened, mainly in Bouncer's Lane, but the greater part of the population in 1964 worked outside the parish, mainly in Cheltenham. Professional people, particularly civil servants and teachers, then formed a considerable part of the population.
In 1287 the Bishop of Hereford claimed view of frankpledge and quittance of his men from suit of shire and hundred court, with all pleas except pleas of the Crown, in his manor of Prestbury by virtue of a grant of Henry III. (fn. 287) The bishop was granted in 1394 assize of bread, wine, ale, and other victuals, and assay and sealing of weights and measures. (fn. 288) A court was held once every three weeks in the 14th century. (fn. 289) In 1506 there were apparently two separate courts bi-annually, for the borough and for the rest of the manor. (fn. 290) View of frankpledge and court baron were held at the same court, and in the 18th century they were held together once a year in October and a court baron only was held more frequently. Court rolls survive for 1529, 1535, 1537, 1552, and 1570, and a court book for 1726–1871. A constable and tithingman were elected at the court in the 18th century. (fn. 291)
Llanthony Priory's manor of Prestbury had a court baron by the 14th century; court rolls survive for 1365, 1385, 1387, 1426, 1428, 1434, 1436, 1437, 1441, 1443, 1558, and 1575. The court, to which the priory's tenants in Sevenhampton were subject, was apparently held twice a year. (fn. 292) No record of a court after 1575 has been found.
The parish had two churchwardens and two overseers. Churchwardens' accounts from 1674 and overseers' accounts from 1684 survive. (fn. 293) Expenditure on poor relief, which was comparatively low for the size of the parish in 1776, rose less steeply than in many parishes between 1776 and 1803, from £128 to £167. The number of people receiving relief in 1803, 20 regularly and 20 occasionally, (fn. 294) had not changed significantly during that period. (fn. 295) In 1815, when the number receiving occasional relief had fallen, expenditure on relief had decreased slightly from the amount in 1803. (fn. 296) A select vestry was set up in 1824 and a workhouse was opened in the same year. The parish provided yarn and spinning-wheels to employ the women and children in the workhouse, and a committee was set up to visit the workhouse weekly. (fn. 297) Expenditure on poor relief had risen to £493 by 1826. (fn. 298) The vestry complained that the parish was infested with vagrants, and asked the parishioners not to give them help. (fn. 299) By 1834 expenditure had fallen to £400. (fn. 300) The workhouse was closed in 1835 (fn. 301) when Prestbury became part of the Cheltenham Poor Law Union. (fn. 302) In 1964 the part of the ancient parish of Prestbury outside Cheltenham Borough remained in Cheltenham Rural District. The parish council has met regularly since 1894.
A priest was recorded at Prestbury in 1086, (fn. 303) and in 1136 Bishop Robert of Hereford gave the church of Prestbury with its dependent chapel of Sevenhampton to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 304) The priory evidently appropriated the rectory, for the parish priests presented by the priory in the 13th and 14th centuries were vicars. (fn. 305) In 1395 the priory was licensed to appropriate the vicarage also, and to nominate one of its canons to serve the cure. (fn. 306) In 1403, 1422, and 1425, however, vicars presented by the priory were instituted. (fn. 307) If the appropriation of the vicarage was afterwards revived, it lapsed at the Dissolution. The Crown was said to be patron of the vicarage between 1539 and 1584, (fn. 308) and the Baghot family presented from 1581 (fn. 309) although the advowson was not apparently owned by that family until 1622. The advowson was sold with the rectory in 1823, (fn. 310) but by 1860 John Edwards was patron, (fn. 311) and the patronage has since descended in his family. In 1964 Wilfrid Baghot-De la Bere was patron. (fn. 312)
Bishop Robert's grant of the church to Llanthony Priory included all the tithes except those of the park and a portion of the demesne tithes belonging to the Dean and Precentor of Hereford. (fn. 313) In the 13th century the prior granted his tithes to the priest serving the cure with half a yardland and half a house. (fn. 314) Of the £6 13s. 4d. at which the church was valued in 1291 the vicar's portion was £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 315) and the vicarage was valued at the same amount when it was appropriated to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 316) The vicarage was said to be worth £12 6s. 8d. in 1535, (fn. 317) and £50 in 1650. (fn. 318) In 1635 the glebe included c. ½ yardland and a house in Deep Street. (fn. 319) At inclosure in 1732 the vicar received 14 a., and in 1807 he had a few other closes also. (fn. 320) The glebe amounted to 21 a. in 1838 (fn. 321) and in 1964 two small fields still belonged to the vicar. (fn. 322) In 1704 the vicar had half the great and small tithes, except for the tithes of the former demesne of Llanthony Priory and the portion belonging to the Dean and Precentor of Hereford. (fn. 323) In 1838 the tithes were commuted for a corn-rent. (fn. 324) The gross income of the benefice was £370 in 1851 (fn. 325) and fell in the later 19th century. (fn. 326)
In 1704 it was said that the vicarage had been very ruinous and had been lately largely rebuilt. (fn. 327) Part of the earlier house may survive as the central part of the house existing in 1964. There were six bays of building in 1704, with a brewhouse, barn, stable, and cowhouse. (fn. 328) The house was apparently rebuilt again later in the 18th century, for in 1807 the rebuilding was said to have been about 40 years ago. (fn. 329) The 18th-century house, two-storied and with dormers, is of ashlar with a Cotswold stone roof and moulded stone eaves cornice. The windows retain some mid-18th-century sashes with heavy glazingbars. The doorway is flanked by pilasters and surmounted by a niche which once contained the Madonna and Child, carved in the 1830's, that were moved c. 1955 to the outside of the new vicarage. From 1835 the vicar, John Edwards, was allowed to let the house because it was too small for his family, (fn. 330) but in 1866 (fn. 331) he enlarged the vicarage, building at the back of the house a stone wing with dormers and mullioned windows. The barn was pulled down, and brick stables were built. The vicarage, afterwards, called the Three Queens, was sold c. 1955, and a new brick vicarage was built on part of the garden. (fn. 332)
The vicar in 1551 could not repeat the Commandments or prove the Articles. (fn. 333) Edmund Lightfoot, vicar 1555–81, (fn. 334) was resident and a satisfactory scholar. (fn. 335) In 1563, however, people complained that services were not said at convenient times; (fn. 336) in 1580 the churchwardens presented that there had been only three sermons in seven years, that the vicar did not hear the catechism, that he neglected the reading of the scriptures, and that he had bought his vicarage. (fn. 337) The next vicar was neither a graduate nor a preacher, and his successor was not a graduate. (fn. 338) Francis Welles, vicar 1699–1756, held another benefice from 1714, (fn. 339) but he lived at Prestbury and it was he who rebuilt the vicarage before 1704. (fn. 340) In the mid-18th century Prestbury was served by curates, (fn. 341) but from 1779 when John Baghot-De la Bere became vicar Prestbury was normally served by the vicar, who often employed a curate also. (fn. 342)
In 1825 John Edwards (later Baghot-De la Bere), who afterwards held the advowson, became vicar; he retained the living until 1860 (fn. 343) and was followed by his son, also John, who was vicar until 1884. (fn. 344) The younger John Edwards (later Baghot-De la Bere) had come under the influence of the Oxford Movement and his incumbency was marked by controversy. He appointed a curate of similar leanings, and in 1869 hand-bills attacking the curate were pasted on parishioners' doors. (fn. 345) The curate afterwards became a Roman Catholic. In 1868 Edwards introduced the use of vestments and candles during Communion services. (fn. 346) There were three morning services and one evening service on Sundays, a daily Communion service, and weekly confessions. (fn. 347) In 1878 Edwards was suspended, ostensibly because of his use of vestments and candles. (fn. 348) The opposition to him came from Evangelicals in Cheltenham, and he apparently had the support of most of his parishioners. On a few occasions riots occurred during services and the congregation had to be protected by the police. In 1880 Edwards was deprived, but he refused to accept the sentence and continued to serve the cure until 1884 when he resigned. (fn. 349) The elder John Edwards was still patron of the living, and the next vicar, Frederick Gurney, described as a Ritualist in 1888, (fn. 350) evidently shared the opinions of his predecessor. In 1924, when the vicar was another member of the Baghot-De la Bere family, permission was given for the reservation of the sacrament, (fn. 351) and the sacrament was reserved in 1964. In 1964, when Prestbury was served by the vicar and a curate, there were three or four services on Sundays and a daily Communion service. A small temporary wooden building in Swindon Lane was used as a chapel of ease, and a morning and evening service were held there. (fn. 352)
The church of ST. MARY (fn. 353) comprises chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, south porch, and north and south vestries. The church appears to have been largely rebuilt in the 14th century when the north and south aisles were perhaps added to an earlier building. The church was so thoroughly restored in 1864–8 that the date of the medieval work is difficult to determine. In 1578 a south chapel was mentioned; (fn. 354) it apparently opened off the chancel, for before 1864 two pointed arches could be seen built into the south wall of the chancel. (fn. 355) The west tower was begun in the 13th century: it has small lancet windows on each side of its two lower stages. The chancel arch and the north and south two-light windows of the chancel were built in the 14th century. The north aisle arcade consists of four pointed arches on octagonal pillars; on the south side a similar arcade of only two bays opened to the south aisle which did not reach to the west end of the nave. The four two-light windows of the north aisle, two of the south aisle and one in the south wall of the nave near its west end (fn. 356) were of the 14th century.
In the late 14th century the tower was completed or partly rebuilt, giving it four stages with an embattled parapet and gargoyles at the angles, the top stages of the tower being narrower than those below. It may have been in the 15th century or later that a clerestory was added to the nave with three small square-headed windows on the north side only, and that two square-headed windows, one above the other, were inserted in the south wall of the nave west of the south aisle. The bellcot on the east gable of the nave is of the 15th century, as was the former three-light east window of the chancel. A doorway and steps leading to the roodloft survive on the south side of the chancel arch. The church had a north entrance and porch in 1698, when they were being repaired, (fn. 357) and the roof-line of a former north porch could be seen in 1964. Also in 1698 buttresses were added to the tower. (fn. 358)
By the 19th century the church was too small for the congregation; a west gallery had been built by the end of the 18th century, (fn. 359) and in 1827 a north gallery was added. (fn. 360) More buttresses were added to the tower, which had a large crack on its south side, c. 1824. (fn. 361) A new vestry at the north-east end of the church was used for the first time in 1840. (fn. 362) A new west gallery was built above the existing one in 1843, (fn. 363) when an organ was installed, (fn. 364) and c. 1849 the south aisle was extended to correspond to the north aisle. (fn. 365) A south gallery, built some time before 1864, was approached by an exterior staircase on the east side of the south porch. A small window above the doorway was presumably to give light to the gallery. (fn. 366)
Between 1864 and 1868 the church was thoroughly restored under the direction of G. E. Street. (fn. 367) The north and south aisles were extended eastwards to flank the chancel, and the small window from the south gallery was inserted in the east wall of the south chapel. A perpendicular window, probably from the chancel, was inserted at the east end of the north aisle, which became the organ chamber. The chancel was given a new east window of five graded lancets, and the roofs were rebuilt. In the clerestory four windows corresponding to those on the north side were added on the south. Half-arches acting as buttresses to the chancel arch were inserted between the north and south aisles and their eastward extensions. The galleries and a stone rood-screen were removed. A vestry was built near the east end of the church on the south side.
The windows once contained painted glass which by c. 1700 had mostly been broken, and only a lower window on the south side of the chancel retained the image of John Wyche, Prior of Llanthony (1409– 1436); (fn. 368) the initials J.W. survived in the early 19th century. (fn. 369) All the windows were given stained glass in 1864, (fn. 370) but some of it had been removed by 1964. Several of the monuments were removed in the restoration of 1864, (fn. 371) and in 1964 only a few 18thcentury and later memorial tablets could be seen in the church. The plain octagonal font was replaced in 1864 by one of coloured marble with inlaid panels, and the church was re-seated; until then the chancel had contained 'carved ancient pews and desks'. (fn. 372) A new organ was installed after 1864. (fn. 373) Six of the bells are dated 1748 (fn. 374) and two more were added in 1886. (fn. 375) A chalice and paten of 1638 recorded in 1906 (fn. 376) were apparently missing in the mid-20th century, when a tankard flagon of 1734 was the only pre-19th-century plate. (fn. 377) The parish registers are complete from 1633.
Ten nonconformists were recorded in 1676 in Prestbury; (fn. 378) in 1684 there was a Quaker in the parish; (fn. 379) and in 1735 ten nonconformists were described as Anabaptists. (fn. 380) Eight houses were registered for nonconformist meetings between 1798 and 1838, one at least, in 1838, being for a Methodist meeting. (fn. 381) There were Methodists at Prestbury by 1835, and also in 1849 when services and a Sunday school had for some time been held in private houses. By 1850, however, plans for a Methodist chapel in Prestbury had been dropped. (fn. 382)
A Congregational church in Deep Street was opened in 1866, (fn. 383) a building of variegated brick with an angle tower and a schoolroom. There was a resident minister by 1878, (fn. 384) and membership at the end of the century was c. 18. (fn. 385) In the 1960's, when the membership was 31, the church was served from Cheltenham. (fn. 386)
In 1964 Roman Catholic services were held on Sundays at the Women's Institute hall in Prestbury; the centre was served from St. Gregory's church, Cheltenham. (fn. 387)
Two people were presented in 1634 for teaching a school without licence. (fn. 388) In 1704 it was said that there was no free school in the parish, but about two years before some of the parishioners had set up a school to teach poor children reading, writing, religion, and accounts. (fn. 389) In 1818 there was a Sunday school financed partly by voluntary contributions and partly by the rent from the Poor's Ground. There were 50 pupils and a master and a mistress. At the same date another Sunday school had 50–60 pupils. A day school, presumably financed by the parents, was attended by c. 20 children of farmers and tradesmen. A few children attended the National school at Cheltenham. (fn. 390) In 1833 Prestbury had three day schools, one for c. 50 infants, and a boys' and a girls' school with 62 pupils between them. A boys' day and boarding school was started in 1830 and had 35 pupils in 1833, and a girls' boarding school, begun in 1824, had 17 pupils. (fn. 391) The girls' school was perhaps the 'establishment for young ladies' called Field House. (fn. 392) All were financed by the parents, except the infants' school and the Sunday school, which received support from charity. (fn. 393) There was a private girls' school in the late 19th century, (fn. 394) and in the mid-20th century two private schools. (fn. 395)
In 1836 a National school was built in Bouncer's Lane. It was a red-brick building with a slate roof comprising two schoolrooms and a teacher's house. It was supported partly by subscription and partly by school pence. (fn. 396) In 1847 73 children were taught by a master and mistress, with 23 extra children on Sundays. (fn. 397)
By 1908 the school had mixed and infants' departments with an average attendance of 115 and 36 respectively. Between 1936 and 1938 the school was re-organized as a junior mixed and infants' school, the older children attending schools in Cheltenham. Average attendance in 1938 was 71. (fn. 398) In the early 1950's the school was extended by the addition of four new classrooms. In 1964 there were c. 300 children. (fn. 399)
Pate's Grammar School for Girls, the Cheltenham girls' grammar school, (fn. 400) moved in 1939 to new buildings in Albert Road, (fn. 401) within the ancient parish of Prestbury. In 1964 there were over 700 girls. (fn. 402)
All the parochial charities of Prestbury were regulated by a Scheme of 1891, under the name of the Prestbury Parochial Charities. Before 1700 a house in the Burgage known as the church house belonged to the parish and was let at 14s. for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 403) Pasture called Culver Breach or the Poor's Ground, apparently bought by the parish with money left for the poor, produced £2 10s. a year in 1700. The church house was then falling down, (fn. 404) but by 1779 had been rebuilt and produced 40s., while the Poor's Ground was let for £7. (fn. 405) In 1826 the income of £25 was used for the Sunday school, to repair almshouses, and for coal for the poor. (fn. 406) The Poor's Ground charity, presumably including the church house, was regulated by a scheme of 1866, (fn. 407) and in 1889 it was said to include 6 a. and six cottages producing £38 a year. (fn. 408) The cottages were sold in 1905 for £550. (fn. 409) In 1720 Anne Goodrich gave an almshouse of six rooms in High Street for the use of the 'religious poor'; (fn. 410) in 1856 there were 10 people in the almshouse, (fn. 411) but in 1889 only 3 men and 3 women, (fn. 412) and later only 3 people in all. (fn. 413) The almshouse was sold to the Rural District Council c. 1958, and replaced by old people's flats.
By will proved 1805 Mary Ellis gave £150 stock for 20 poor men and women, and in 1820 Thomas Baghot-De la Bere gave £50 stock for the poor. Further sums of £50 stock were given by Hester Anne Durham and Mary Durham by wills of 1849 and 1854, £449 by John Surman Surman by will proved 1880, and £1,793 by George Perton by will proved 1881. The income from the charities in 1888 was £185. The Scheme of 1891 was opposed by those who thought that the Congregational minister should be one of the trustees, and that the charities had been used to persuade people to attend the parish church. (fn. 414) By will dated 1923 Mrs. Margaret Ryley gave the trustees of the Prestbury Parochial Charities £200, and in 1950 Miss Urling Smith conveyed three cottages called York Row in High Street to the trustees. The cottages were modernized and converted into two in 1956. In the 1960's the trustees distributed c. £100 a year mainly in cash to the sick and to old people. (fn. 415)