A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
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Tirley is a rural parish on the west side of the River Severn, 4 miles below Tewkesbury and 6 miles north of Gloucester. It is 1,924 a. in area (fn. 1) and fairly compact, stretching 2 miles from east to west and the same from north to south at the widest part. The Severn forms the whole of the eastern boundary; (fn. 2) it is crossed at Tirley by the Haw Bridge, which replaced an earlier ferry crossing. (fn. 3) Tirley was one of the estates of the monastery of Deerhurst that were divided between Westminster Abbey and St. Denis, Paris, (fn. 4) so that it later lay in two hundreds. (fn. 5) The boundaries of Deerhurst hundred and Westminster hundred within Tirley have not been precisely identified, and they followed those of various estates which until inclosure in 1798 (fn. 6) lay intermingled throughout the parish. (fn. 7)
Most of the land lies below the 100 ft. contour line, sloping down to the riverside meadows which are liable to flooding. The flat land of the river's floodplain is alluvial. Further west the ground is gently undulating and lies on the red marl of the Triassic. In the south-west corner a ridge formed by the Rhaetic beds underlying the Lower Lias limestone extends into the parish from Hasfield as a steeply sloped, flat-topped hill, Corse Wood Hill, rising to 250 ft. The blue-grey shaly stone there has been quarried, and it was presumably to a quarry there that Rudder referred when he recorded that none of the houses in Tirley was built of stone although there was near-by a quarry 'of fine blue stone, with a very straight smooth surface, proper for building'. (fn. 8) This appears to be the stone of which the parish church, the school, and parts of Wigwood Farm, Tirley Court, and several farm buildings are built. It has not weathered well.
The western part of the parish was within the large waste or common called Corse Lawn, which was formerly Corse Chase (fn. 9) and extended from Corse across Tirley into Eldersfield and Chacely. Until inclosure in 1798 the part of Corse Lawn in Tirley was rough grazing land, (fn. 10) of which a scrub-covered fragment survived in 1964 on the steep slopes of the south-west corner of the parish. In the Middle Ages there was a fair proportion of woodland in the parish. In 1221 common of pasture in Charlewood belonged to a tenement in Tirley; at that date the wood was so wasted that it had been fenced to enable its regrowth. (fn. 11) Robert atte Green alleged the theft of timber trees from his estate at Tirley in 1358, (fn. 12) and the same estate included 30 a. of woodland in 1490. (fn. 13) Tirley manor contained 100 a. of woodland in the early 16th century. (fn. 14) On the Haw manor, however, which may have had a high proportion of riverside land, the timber was said to be barely sufficient for repairs in 1543. (fn. 15) In later periods many orchards were planted in Tirley, but in the mid-20th century most of them were either broken up or allowed to decay, and were used mainly for pasture. The riverside land is suited primarily for meadow and pasture, and from some time before inclosure arable land has formed a small proportion of the parish. Until 1798, however, there were several open fields which at least originated as arable. (fn. 16)
Settlement in the parish is scattered. The original settlement of the parish in the pre-Conquest period may have followed the piecemeal exploitation of waste or wooded land, and several of the place-names Tirley, the Haw, Cumberwood, and perhaps Ellings signify clearings and inclosures. (fn. 17) There appear to have been two main groups of houses, and each of these was strung out by the late 18th century and has been fragmented by later changes. In addition there are smaller groups that existed on their isolated sites long before inclosure, and also many scattered cottages. The chief manor-house, Tirley Court, occupies one of the remoter sites, close under Corse Wood Hill, where, as the medieval name of the manor indicates, there was a house by the mid-14th century. (fn. 18) The church, with the village pound near-by, (fn. 19) the former vicarage, and the village school all stand a little apart from the main settlement groups (see page 272).
The two main groups of houses are at Tirley Street and the Haw. At the Haw, houses stretched for over half a mile along the river bank, with a farmhouse at each end and at the centre the Haw Bridge Inn, an 18th-century house that was formerly the Passage Inn. (fn. 20) Downstream from the inn two of the houses are timber-framed and survive, apparently, from the 16th century; one is thatched. The others are mainly 18th-century brick buildings, and include a large malt-house, the riverside end of which forms a house with a pedimented door. Upstream from the Haw Bridge Inn is another inn, the New Inn, and beyond it the road led past one or two houses along the river to Haw Green. (fn. 21) At Haw Green, Malthouse Farm and a dozen cottages, built mostly of brick in the 19th century, survived in 1964, but buildings between the New Inn and Haw Green, and others beyond Haw Green, were demolished in the later 19th century. (fn. 22)
The settlement at Tirley Street lies in the eastern half of the parish a little way above the edge of the river's flood-plain. Tirley Street formed a double bend and was part of the main east-west route through the parish, but in the 1820's the northern bend was by-passed by a new road built in connexion with the Haw Bridge scheme. (fn. 23) The older surviving part of the village therefore lies just off the main road. It includes timber-framed cottages, with brick or plaster fillings and thatch roofs; some were later cased in brick, and several have a single gable-end chimney. At Top Farm there is a cruck-framed barn of two bays, the side framing incorporating deep, curved braces from sill almost to eaves level. The later houses are of brick. From the southern bend in the village street a hollow lane called Pankery Lane (fn. 24) led south-west to several scattered houses and thence to Tirley Court. Most of those houses, however, have disappeared, and Pankery Lane leads only to a 17th-century brick and timber-framed house called Red Castle. Red Castle, which was formerly a farm-house, (fn. 25) retains some 17th-century internal features, and is alleged by unsubstantiated and unlikely tradition to have been Queen Margaret's headquarters before the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. (fn. 26) At its north-western end Tirley Street has expanded along the main road. The few timberframed and thatched cottages there are outnumbered by later houses, including two mid-Victorian brick villas and seven pairs of mid-20th century council houses.
Of the smaller settlement sites Town Street was occupied by 1248, (fn. 27) Cumberwood by 1324, and Sandpits by 1658. (fn. 28) All lay in the north-eastern part of the parish, and each included two farmsteads. (fn. 29) In the south-eastern part of the parish there was a scattered settlement at Nethers Green and along Nethers Green Lane; (fn. 30) the settlement, which by 1964 comprised Tirley Hill Farm, two old cottages, and some small 20th-century houses, is likely to be the same as the 'Netheweie' or 'Netherweye' recorded between 1199 and 1236. (fn. 31) In the western part of the parish cottages strung out in a line north of the main road towards Tirley Knowle look as though they derive from squatter settlements built on the edge of Corse Lawn. Later, scattered brick houses were built there on small allotments made at inclosure in 1798. (fn. 32) A few isolated houses were built in the western part of the parish in the 19th and 20th centuries. A village hall, vested in trustees was built in 1933 on the new road by-passing Tirley Street. (fn. 33)
An unlicensed alehouse was being kept in Tirley in 1662. (fn. 34) The inn at the Haw Passage was recorded in 1755 (fn. 35) and perhaps in 1695, when there was an inn in the parish. (fn. 36) By 1843 there was in addition the New Inn at Haw Bridge, (fn. 37) and by 1884 two alehouses, the 'Bee Hive' at New Pools and the 'Prince's Plume' in Tirley Street, neither of which survived in 1923. (fn. 38) The New Inn and the Haw Bridge Inn survived in 1964.
The population of Tirley appears to have increased between 1327, when 27 people were assessed for tax, (fn. 39) and the mid-16th century, when there were said to be c. 180 communicants (fn. 40) and 60 households. (fn. 41) Between then and the mid-17th century there was little change; there were 220 communicants in 1603 (fn. 42) and 198 adults in 1676, (fn. 43) and the number of families was 50 in 1650. (fn. 44) By the early 18th century there had been an increase in the number of houses, though the total population was put at only c. 300; (fn. 45) and there was thought to have been a decrease in population between then and c. 1775 when the number of houses was given as 66 and the population as 280. (fn. 46) The numbers of inhabitants are likely to be underestimates, for in 1801 there were 365 people in 66 houses. The population rose to 550 in 1841; thereafter it fell from 539 in 1861 to 393 in 1891 and 304 in 1931. In 1951 it was 295, and 316 in 1961. (fn. 47)
The main road over Corse Lawn from Gloucester to Upton upon Severn (Worcs.) crosses the northwest corner of the parish. It was a turnpike road from 1747 to 1878. (fn. 48) From it a road branches off and runs through the parish to the river crossing at the Haw, and is crossed at Elm Pool by a minor road leading from Ashleworth and Hasfield to Tewkesbury. The minor road, which runs along the edge of the flood-plain, was called Ridge Way in 1613 (fn. 49) and Port Lane in 1798; (fn. 50) until inclosure in 1798 its course between the church and Town Street was further east. (fn. 51) Several narrow lanes connect the scattered settlements of the parish with the through routes.
The passage of the Severn at the Haw was recorded in 1248. (fn. 52) Two 12th-century bowls were found there in the river bed, (fn. 53) which may indicate a slightly earlier date for the crossing. Walter le Passour was among the taxpayers of the Haw in 1327, (fn. 54) and in 1332 Walter son of Walter le Passour was pardoned for acquiring from the Prior of Deerhurst, without licence, a life tenure of the passage over the water of Haw. (fn. 55) In 1629 the passage or ferry belonged to the lord of Tirley and Haw manors, (fn. 56) but by 1721 it belonged to a much smaller estate. (fn. 57) Later it was owned by the owners of the Passage Inn. (fn. 58) Acts of Parliament of 1823 and 1824 appointed commissioners who were to acquire all the rights in the ferry, which then carried carriages as well as animals and people, and build a bridge. The commissioners were also empowered to build new approach roads, (fn. 59) and it was proposed that Haw Bridge and its roads should provide both a local route between Cheltenham and Ledbury and a post road into Wales. The bridge was opened in 1825 and the approach road through Tirley was straightened and raised on an embankment over the low-lying land. (fn. 60) Toll-houses were built at the east end of the bridge (fn. 61) and at Elm Pool in Tirley. (fn. 62) In 1826, however, the Mythe Bridge by Tewkesbury was built (fn. 63) and attracted much traffic; the more ambitious plans for improving the roads leading to Haw Bridge were abandoned. The original Haw Bridge, designed by James Walker, later President of the Institute of Civil Engineers, (fn. 64) was of three spans of slender cast iron ribs supported on two stone piers. (fn. 65) Tolls were paid for using the bridge until it became a county bridge in 1890. (fn. 66) In 1958 a barge-tanker hit the bridge, and the whole superstructure collapsed. In 1959 a temporary military bridge was built, and a new permanent bridge was begun a few yards downstream. The new bridge, of three steel spans resting on stone piers and abutments, was opened in 1961. (fn. 67)
A bridge called Newbridge in 1387, when it was out of repair through the default of the lord of Tirley Rye manor, (fn. 68) may have been the bridge that carried the road to Haw Green across the watercourse draining the meadow. In 1668 (fn. 69) and 1798 that bridge was recorded as Sea Bridge. (fn. 70)
While the crossing of the River Severn has been an important feature in the history of the parish, the river itself has also played a major part. Its tendency to flood has brought danger and damage, but also an increased fertility to the meadow-land. (fn. 71) As a means of transport the river has been used by the inhabitants of the parish for a double traffic, the carriage of hay grown in the district upstream to the Midlands, and the return carriage of coal; the Goose Stone wharf just above Haw Bridge was in use until the early 1930's. (fn. 72) The inhabitants of Tirley also exploited the river in a less obvious way, as recorded by 18th-century writers: by stirring the river bed and using nets from boats in times of flood, (fn. 73) or by raking in summer, they got a large quantity of small smooth coal which fetched a good price for use in the furnaces of Gloucester. (fn. 74)
Jeremiah Hawkins (d. 1835) of the Haw achieved local fame for his enthusiastic fox-hunting and for his habit of swimming his horse across the Severn. (fn. 75) In his old age he was one of the Haw Bridge commissioners. (fn. 76)
The discovery of a dismembered body in the river at Haw Bridge in 1938 aroused much popular interest. (fn. 77)
Manors and Other Estates.
The whole of Tirley was included in an Anglo-Saxon survey of land belonging to the monastery of Deerhurst. (fn. 78) When the lands of the monastery were divided between the abbeys of St. Peter at Westminster and St. Denis in Paris, Tirley was itself divided, the larger part going to Westminster Abbey. Four estates in Tirley are distinguished in Domesday, three belonging to Westminster and one to St. Denis. The largest single estate was the 2 hides belonging to St. Denis, which was not named but was simply described as beyond the Severn. At 'Telinge' Westminster Abbey had 2 hides which had been held in 1066 by Godric but in 1086 had apparently no mesne tenant; the name of the estate survived in the name of the meadow, Tirley Ellings. Another 1 hide in Tirley, held in 1066 by Edric, was in 1086 held of Westminster Abbey by William son of Baderon and Abbot Baldwin of Bury St. Edmund's in equal parts. (fn. 79)
The estate of 2 hides that had been held by Godric was apparently the same as the manor called APPERLEY'S PLACE in the 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 80) CORSE COURT in the 16th, (fn. 81) and TIRLEY manor from 1542. (fn. 82) It continued to be held of Westminster Abbey (fn. 83) and after the Dissolution was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. (fn. 84) In the early 14th century the manor was held of the abbey by Osbert d'Abitot, who in 1328 granted it, with Apperley manor in Deerhurst and other property, to Robert and Margaret of Apperley. (fn. 85) From them it descended, with Apperley manor, through the Bridges family to the Throckmortons. Sir William Throckmorton, Bt., who sold Apperley manor (fn. 86) and various lands in Tirley, retained Tirley manor at his death in 1629, but his son and heir, Sir Baynham Throckmorton, (fn. 87) sold it in 1632 to Thomas Coventry, Lord Coventry. (fn. 88) Tirley manor thereafter descended with the barony, and later the earldom, of Coventry. (fn. 89) In 1964 the trustees of the estates of the Earls of Coventry owned 635 a., about one-third of the parish, including Tirley Court farm (the largest in the parish) and Town Street farm. (fn. 90)
The manor-house, formerly called Corse Court but afterwards Tirley Court, was occupied by the lords of the manor in the 16th century and early 17th. (fn. 91) It was probably the house with nine hearths occupied by William Cooper in 1672. (fn. 92) The house surviving in 1964 was a rectangular building of brick enlarged in the late 19th century but retaining some stone-mullioned and transomed windows and other features from an earlier house, apparently of the 17th century.
The estate held in 1086 by William son of Baderon later passed to the Monmouth family and thence to the Earls of Lancaster, who held it as knight's fee. (fn. 93) In 1361 the manor of RYE was held of the Duchy of Lancaster by Robert de Green for his life. (fn. 94) Robert de Green was evidently the same as Robert Blackwell, lord of Rye in 1387, (fn. 95) for in 1407 Maud, late wife of Robert atte Green, and her son Henry held land at Tirley and Rye as of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 96) In 1442 and 1455 the manor of Rye was held for life by Elizabeth, the wife formerly of Thomas Swynford, knight, and then of Thomas Rothwell. (fn. 97) In or before 1468 it was granted, under the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster, to Clement, Thomas, and Richard Polynak for life in survivorship; (fn. 98) In 1487 it was granted during pleasure to John Heron, to hold it as fully as had Peter Curtis by a grant of Edward IV. (fn. 99) Agnes Chamber, who with her husband John had held a smaller estate in Tirley and Haw in 1454, (fn. 100) died in 1490 seised of 5 messuages and over 300 a. in Tirley, held of the Duchy of Lancaster; this presumably comprised the manor of Rye. From 1490 until 1506 or later Agnes's lands were occupied by her son, Henry Chamber. (fn. 101) By 1532 William Throckmorton, lord of Tirley manor, was leasing the Rye from the Duchy of Lancaster, (fn. 102) and his son and heir, Thomas, received in 1566 a 40-year lease of the site of the manor, called Rye Court, which in 1591 was held by Thomas's son Thomas. (fn. 103) The Rye Farm, also known as Tirley Rye, belonged in 1657 and 1672 to John Browne, owner of the Great Cumberwood estate, (fn. 104) but in 1686 a conveyance was made of a quarter of Rye manor. (fn. 105) By 1727 Rye Farm with c. 25 a. belonged to Joseph Millard, who died that year (fn. 106) and had acquired property in the parish in 1721. (fn. 107) The farm-house may have been that with three hearths occupied in 1672 by Mrs. Browne, (fn. 108) but it was rebuilt in brick in the 19th century. It was not inhabited after c. 1870; it was used for storage in 1964, by which time the land had been added to Malthouse farm. (fn. 109)
The farm and chief messuage of WIGWOOD may also have been part of the Rye manor. In 1693 they were conveyed by Anne Tompkins, daughter and coheir of John Tompkins of Tirley, to her relation Thomas Miniett of Tirley, who had married Susan Tompkins in 1678. Thomas Miniett's daughter Elizabeth married John Hopkins in 1720. Wigwood was thereafter occupied, and usually owned, by members of the Hopkins family, and Mr. J. T. Hopkins was the owner and occupier in 1964. (fn. 110) The house may be the one with three hearths occupied by Simon Tompkins in 1672. (fn. 111) It includes a room with early 17th-century panelling, and the kitchen quarters incorporate two walls of stone like that of the parish church and three arched freestone openings, apparently rebuilt, that appear to derive from an ecclesiastical building. (fn. 112) In the same part of the house are some stone windows with mullions and dripmoulds of the 17th century. The house was enlarged or partly rebuilt in 1730, (fn. 113) on an L-shaped plan. In the early 19th century the house was altered to include a new staircase.
Another branch of the Hopkins family owned MALTHOUSE FARM, known in 1865 as Haw Court. It had belonged in 1711 to Thomas Cole and in 1737 to John Chadner, whose daughter Sarah married Thomas Hopkins of Wigwood. The farm was c. 110 a. and belonged in 1865 to Miss S. A. Hopkins, (fn. 114) and in 1964 to Mr. E. G. W. Reynolds. The house is a brick building of the 19th century.
The estate held in 1086 by Abbot Baldwin may have been merged with the Rye manor; alternatively, it may have become the estate held in the early 15th century of the Duchy of Lancaster as of the manor of Rye. (fn. 115) That estate was called HASTINGS, and is to be associated with the Hastings family of Tirley recorded in 1310, 1313, (fn. 116) 1327, (fn. 117) and 1345. (fn. 118) It may have been the estate quitclaimed in 1390 by Thomas of Clifton and his wife Joan to Thomas Bridges. (fn. 119) Edmund Bridges, who was apparently the man that held Tirley and Apperley manors, died holding Hastings in 1408. (fn. 120) From 1408 until the 17th century the ownership of this estate has not been traced, but a tenement called Hastings was later included in the estate called GREAT SANDPITS. (fn. 121) In 1658 William Hurdman owned and occupied a chief messuage called Sandpits, and his estate seems to have included a tenement that had belonged to the Slaughter family in the 16th century and afterwards to William Francombe, one of a family with many properties in Tirley. William Hurdman was dead by 1697, when his wife Margaret conveyed the estate to their son George. George mortgaged the estate the same year, (fn. 122) and in 1716 sold it to Abraham Griffin. Abraham Griffin died in 1762, and by 1765 the estate belonged to Edward Griffin. In 1794 Edward Griffin made a settlement of the estate, (fn. 123) apparently to facilitate its sale to George William Coventry, Earl of Coventry (fn. 124) (d. 1809), with whose manor of Tirley it became merged. The house at Great Sandpits had 6 hearths in 1672; (fn. 125) it was probably built in the mid-17th century, as a T-shaped house of brick with two stories and cellars. The central, fluted chimney-stack contains 6 flues, the windows have stone mullions and transoms, and there is a continuous stone dripmould above the ground-floor windows. The stone doorway has stop-moulded jambs and a four-centred head with carved spandrels.
The manor of THE HAW belonged to the abbey of St. Denis as part of Deerhurst Priory, and descended with the priory to Tewkesbury Abbey. (fn. 126) With the manor belonged the great tithes of Tirley, which were regarded as an appropriated rectory. (fn. 127) In 1540 the Crown leased the manor of HAW AND TIRLEY to George Throckmorton of Deerhurst, (fn. 128) a Master in Chancery, who in 1543 received a grant of the manor in fee and a licence to alienate it to his nephew, Sir Thomas Throckmorton of Tortworth, (fn. 129) who already held Tirley manor. The Haw manor passed with Tirley manor to Sir Baynham Throckmorton, who sold it with Tirley manor to Lord Coventry in 1632. (fn. 130) Thereafter the two manors descended together, (fn. 131) and the great tithes belonged to Lord Coventry in 1798, when at inclosure he received 77 a. in their place. (fn. 132) In the early 17th century, however, Sir William Throckmorton had alienated parts of his estate, (fn. 133) and John Bennett, described as of the Haw in 1623, held at his death in 1634 a chief house with one yardland in the Haw, in socage, as of the manors of Haw and Tirley. Bennett's estate may have represented the manorhouse and home farm of the Haw manor. John Bennett was succeeded by his son of the same name, (fn. 134) who was recorded in 1659 and 1664 (fn. 135) but not in 1672. (fn. 136) His estate belonged to William Francombe c. 1705, (fn. 137) and c. 1734 a Mrs. Francombe had the house and estate (fn. 138) that afterwards came to Jeremiah Hawkins. Hawkins was a churchwarden of Tirley in 1785 (fn. 139) and died in 1835. (fn. 140) His great-niece and ultimate legatee, Louisa, Marchioness Guadagni, sold the estate in 1873 to the Revd. Ralph Bourne Baker. Baker acquired several estates in Tirley, (fn. 141) which in 1893 were owned by William Meath-Baker, (fn. 142) of Hasfield Court. In 1964 the Hasfield Court estate owned the land of Haw farm, but the farm-house was sold separately c. 1955. (fn. 143) The house incorporates part of a timber-framed house of the late 16th or early 17th century; the parlour wing at the north end was added or rebuilt in the early 18th century, when the rest of the house was cased in brick and given a new staircase, sash windows, and a doorcase with wooden fluted Doric pilasters, enriched frieze, and segmental pediment. Part of the south end of the house was destroyed by fire in the mid-20th century. In the garden is a square brick gazebo of the early 18th century with a carved wooden doorcase.
The Deerhurst Priory estate appears to have included the house and land known as TIRLEY HILL, and formerly as Hill House or Hill Farm. It was perhaps this estate that in 1625 was known as Newballs and belonged to the Powell family. By his marriage with Mary, daughter of James Gittos, Vicar of Tirley 166480, Joshua Dipper ultimately acquired Hill House; he was succeeded in turn by his son Joseph (d. c. 1768), Joseph's son John (d. c. 1805), and John's son John (d. 1818). Diana, widow of the last John Dipper, afterwards married Edward Barnes and died in 1859, having been a lunatic for 35 years. The estate then appears to have passed to Sarah Elizabeth, daughter of the last John Dipper's sister and wife of William Browne, (fn. 144) and to have been sold to Timothy Pitcher. From Pitcher's wife Elizabeth (fn. 145) it passed to a grandson, John Phillips Fowler, whose son, of the same name, owned and farmed Tirley Hill farm, the second largest in the parish, in 1964. (fn. 146) The house includes a 17th-century timber-framed building with brick filling, and was enlarged in the early 18th century and later. In the garden is a square brick gazebo of the early 18th century, rather like that at Haw Farm.
Another estate that was in Deerhurst hundred (fn. 147) and therefore is likely to have formed part of the Haw manor was that of CUMBERWORTH or GREAT CUMBERWOOD. Cumberworth was recorded in the year 972, (fn. 148) and Henry of Cumberworth witnessed a grant of land at Tirley Ellings in 1345. (fn. 149) Ownership of the estate has not been found recorded before 1627, and Great Cumberwood may have been another part severed from the Throckmortons' estate in the early 17th century. John Browne, who built the house at Great Cumberwood in 1627 (fn. 150) and was described as of Cumberworth in 1635 and 1650, (fn. 151) died in 1656 and was succeeded in turn by another John Browne (d. 1681), (fn. 152) by Henry Browne (d. 1688), (fn. 153) and by Charles Browne (fl. 1698, 1723). (fn. 154) In the early 19th century the coheirs of a member of the Browne family sold Great Cumberwood to William Newman. In 1810 the estate passed to Newman's son David, on whose death it was sold (fn. 155) and apparently divided. (fn. 156) The house and c. 150 a. were owned in 1964 by Mr. R. E. Gilder. (fn. 157) The house built in 1627 is of two stories and attics with three gables on the west front. The timber framing was later rough-cast. The house contained 6 hearths in 1672. (fn. 158) About 1800 the south front was rebuilt in brick, with sash windows and a parapet, but a 17th-century panelled room with a Jacobean overmantel and a staircase survived behind this front. All the old windows were replaced c. 1800 or later.
The estate called LITTLE CUMBERWOOD passed through the ownership of the Francombe family (1634), the Phelps family (165399), and the Edgecombe family. It passed to Balliol College, Oxford, c. 1737 under the will of John Edgecombe. The college sold the farm, comprising 36 a. in Tirley and 21 a. in Chaceley, in 1919 to its tenant, Thomas Hopkins, (fn. 159) and in 1931 it became part of the New Hall estate in Chaceley. (fn. 160) The farm-house, a small early 18th-century building (fn. 161) of brick, was derelict in 1964.
Although Tirley was divided between two townships and comprised the three chief manors of Tirley, Haw, and Rye, for agricultural purposes it appears to have been a single unit. In the 16th century it was not possible to define the bounds of Rye manor because the land lay intermingled with other estates, (fn. 162) and the same was apparently true of the other manors. Tirley manor had a large demesne farm in the 15th century (fn. 163) and Rye manor a small one in the 16th. (fn. 164) Haw manor c. 1300 contained hardly any demesne, and the whole manor was understocked. (fn. 165) Until the 17th century all three manors had copyhold tenants, and Rye and Haw also had a fairly high proportion of land held by free tenants. (fn. 166) Some copyhold in Haw manor had been enfranchised by 1615, (fn. 167) and most of the copyhold land seems to have become free soon afterwards, perhaps as the result of the sale of lands of Tirley manor, and the fragmentation of Rye manor. In Tirley manor some copyhold land remained in 1729, when the custom, as in 1534, was that it was held for three lives, widows having right of freebench. (fn. 168)
The changes in tenure, possibly resulting in a break-down of manorial organization, were accompanied by a decline in arable farming. Until the early 17th century there was a fairly high proportion of arable land. An estate of 140 a. in the Haw in 1472 included 100 a. of arable; (fn. 169) of the 350 a. of Rye manor in 1506 200 a. were arable; (fn. 170) in Tirley manor, 200 a. of 250 a. comprising the demesne were arable in 1436, (fn. 171) and 500 a. of 1,600 a. apparently the whole manor and including extensive rough pasture in 1499. (fn. 172) The arable land lay in at least nine open fields. Northfield, which was divided into upper and lower parts, Southfield or Churchfield, which was also divided in two, Bradley field, and Harley field, lay north and north-west of Tirley Street. Ashfield or Dumbleton field, Redhill field, and Nethers field, which was divided into upper and lower parts, lay south of the main road. Ducknall field and Greenfield have not been located. Three others named in the 16th century, Tilers field, Haw field and Collenes field, may have been the same as, or included in, fields already mentioned. The ridges or selions within the fields were small: many were stated to be a., others were smaller. No estate is recorded as including land in all the fields, and most estates had land in either two or four fields. That may indicate either a former two-course rotation in arable farming, or a fragmentation of holdings. Certainly the freehold estates recorded in the 17th and 18th centuries were small, many being 60 a. and less. (fn. 173)
In that period most estates included a high proportion of meadow, usually lying in small pieces and apparently uninclosed. (fn. 174) Larger pieces of inclosed pasture, up to 20 a. in size, (fn. 175) are likely to have been former open-field arable. In 1729 it was said that there was sufficient inclosed land for any man's convenience. (fn. 176) Some arable had been converted to pasture by 1678, but remained uninclosed. (fn. 177) Several pieces were not merely converted to pasture but were planted with fruit-trees. (fn. 178) Apple-growing and cidermaking became an important part of the economy of the parish. Orchard land formed a high proportion of Wigwood farm in 1808, (fn. 179) and there had been nearly as many orchards as tenants in Rye manor in 1591. (fn. 180) There was a cider-mill house at Tirley Hill from 1677 to 1787, (fn. 181) and the owner of a different estate was described as a cider merchant in 1800. (fn. 182)
Apart from arable, meadow, inclosed pasture, and orchards, the parish contained a large area of rough pasture on Corse Lawn. It is not clear whether all the parishioners, or even all the landowners in the parish, had commoning rights there. References in deeds and surveys of land in Tirley to common of pasture are rare, but this may have been because the right was unrestricted and needed no written evidence. In 1591 the tenants of Rye manor were stated to have common on Corse Lawn for all kinds of commonable animals with no limit on the numbers. (fn. 183) At inclosure in 1798 small allotments were made to replace common belonging to cottages with apparently no land. (fn. 184) Common on Corse Lawn was presumably represented by the 500 a. of common included in Tirley manor in 1499, (fn. 185) and by the 600 a. of furze and heath conveyed with the manor in 1632. (fn. 186) The lord of Tirley manor spoke of all his sheep on Corse Lawn in 1532, (fn. 187) and in 1707 there was a building called the Sheephouse not far from Tirley Court. (fn. 188) The rarity of references to sheep in Tirley in the surviving records is presumably comparable with the rarity of references to common of pasture.
Only just over half the parish remained uninclosed in 1798, when, under an Act of 1795, 1,026 a. were allotted by the commissioners, excluding 86 a. of old inclosures that were exchanged under the Act. Of the newly inclosed land the vicar received 191 a. for tithes, and the Earl of Coventry 402 a.: 237 a. for his common, 77 a. for tithes, 41 a. for land held of him by lessees and other tenants, and 47 a. for right of the soil. The large amount for right of the soil is explained by the high proportion of waste in the newly inclosed land. The commissioners made 5 allotments of between 25 a. and 65 a., 11 of between 4 a. and 20 a., and 21 of under 4 a., all in lieu of land; in addition they made 19 allotments of under 2 a. in lieu of rights of common only. (fn. 189) The inclosure was an expensive one; it was said to have cost 4,500, or 4 10s. an acre, exclusive of fences and buildings, but nevertheless to have been profitable. (fn. 190)
After inclosure the farming remained mixed. On one farm in 1806 the stock included 25 cows and a bull, 69 sheep, 4 cart-horses, 15 pigs, wheat, peas, beans, barley, and hay, cheese, potatoes, cider, and cider equipment. (fn. 191) The proportion of arable land was low: it was reported that most of the land was pasture and meadow, (fn. 192) and in 1801 only 351 a. in the parish were returned as sown, two-thirds of it with wheat. (fn. 193) From the late 19th century the amount of arable land decreased: it had fallen to 210 a. by 1901, (fn. 194) and by 1933 was under 100 a. (fn. 195) In 1964 the proportion of arable land was higher, particularly in the western part of the parish. A notable change by that time was the decline in orchards. Though still numerous, they were not nearly so extensive as 25 years earlier, and were not so well maintained. (fn. 196)
The number of farmers decreased gradually after inclosure. In 1831 there were 19 agricultural occupiers who employed labour and 7 who did not. (fn. 197) Sixteen farmers were recorded in 1863, 17 in 1906, and 13 of whom 6 had over 150 a. in 1923 and 1931. (fn. 198) In 1964 there were 8 farms of 40 a. and upwards, of which one was over 400 a. and three others were 150 a. or more; in addition, at least 3 farms centred outside the parish had land in Tirley. (fn. 199)
A map of the county in 1824 marks a water-mill beside the main road near the Haw. (fn. 200) As the watercourse there was primarily a drain (fn. 201) it is not a likely mill site, and the map-maker may have marked a mill in error for the sluice there. There was a windmill in Tirley in 1287, (fn. 202) and Richard the millward was recorded in 1358. (fn. 203) In 1632 there was a windmill in the Throckmortons' manor; (fn. 204) c. 1734 a windmill stood on the windmill knoll (fn. 205) that has given a name to the group of houses at Tirley Knowle. (fn. 206) There is also a tradition of a windmill that stood in front of the house called Red Castle. (fn. 207) A millwright was living in Tirley in 1658. (fn. 208)
The river once provided employment for a number of inhabitants. A fisherman was drowned at the Haw passage c. 1245 and another was arrested at the Rye c. 1285. (fn. 209) Three fishermen and a boatman were recorded in 17026, (fn. 210) a trowman in 1738, a waterman in 1753, and a boatbuilder in 1775. (fn. 211) The 19th-century register of baptisms records boatowners, fishermen, boatmen, and watermen, (fn. 212) who continued to be named in directories up to the First World War. (fn. 213) Shoemakers are recorded in 1221 (fn. 214) and from 1623, (fn. 215) weavers and tailors from 1608, but none of these trades seems to have survived the 19th century in Tirley. Carpenters (from 1608) (fn. 216) and masons or builders (from 1694) (fn. 217) are recorded up to the First World War. Blacksmiths (from 1672) (fn. 218) and wheelwrights continued their trade in Tirley until the mid-20th century. (fn. 219)
In 1695 a surgeon at Tirley was licensed, (fn. 220) and a physician was living there in 1711. (fn. 221) A large distillery stood south-west of Haw Green c. 1734; (fn. 222) there was a distiller in 1751; (fn. 223) and the large malthouse near the Haw Bridge Inn was built in the late 18th century. The making and marketing of cider in the parish have been mentioned above. In 1811 there were 9 families supported mainly by trade and manufacture, representing 1 in 7 of the population, and the proportion increased in the next 20 years. (fn. 224)
Since it lay in two hundreds, the parish was divided between two tithings or townships. In the late 14th century there was said to have been also a separate tithingman for Rye manor, (fn. 227) but the Rye is not otherwise recorded as a separate tithing. In the early 16th century the part of the parish in Westminster hundred had a tithingman only, and no constable, (fn. 228) and in 1716 one man was serving as constable for the two constituent townships of the parish. (fn. 229) By the mid18th century constables for both parts of the parish were appointed in the court of Tirley manor, which by then was also serving as the court for Haw manor. There are records of the court of Tirley manor for 1545, 1582, and 1583, of Rye manor for 1560, 1562, and 1568. Extracts of the court rolls of Tirley and Haw survive for the period 16331773, and court rolls for 17771935, recording in the last years only presentments for not making suit of court. (fn. 230)
The Tirley Elm estate, though later used as an ordinary eleemosynary charity, appears to have been intended to relieve the weight of parochial obligation. (fn. 231) In 1773 there was a scheme by which the poor of Tirley were to be maintained, at the expense of the parish, in the workhouse at Winchcombe; (fn. 232) it is not clear whether it was ever carried through, and if it was, it was no longer being worked in the early 19th century. (fn. 233) Parish expenditure on the poor did not increase, as it did in so many parishes, in the 40 years after 1775. It was in fact lower in 181315 than in the late 18th century, and the rate in Tirley in 18023 was unusually low. (fn. 234) An increase in expenditure on the poor occurred c. 1830, which made the figure for Tirley more nearly typical of the area. (fn. 235) Tirley became part of the Tewkesbury Poor Law Union formed in 1835. (fn. 236) It was transferred from the Tewkesbury to the Gloucester Rural District in 1935. (fn. 237)
Tirley was originally part of Deerhurst parish, and the great tithes of Tirley belonged to Deerhurst Priory. (fn. 238) There is likely to have been a church or chapel of ease in Tirley c. 1220, when John the priest of Tirley witnessed a deed, (fn. 239) and a chaplain called Bernard of Tirley, who held a free tenement in Tirley in 1221, (fn. 240) may have been associated with it. Two chaplains, one described as of Tirley and the other as of Rye (Eia), witnessed a deed c. 1285. (fn. 241) That may suggest that the chapel of Rye, mentioned in 1291 and 1341, was distinct from the church or chapel of Tirley, though the absence of any mention of Tirley church at those dates is an indication to the contrary. The freestone arches at Wigwood may come from the fabric either of the chapel of Rye or of Tirley church; equally, they may have been taken to Wigwood from elsewhere and have no connexion with either. Whether the chapel of Rye was the same as Tirley church or not, the pension of 5s. that it owed to Monmouth Priory (fn. 242) links it with the lords of the Rye manor. No mention of the pension after 1341 has been found. (fn. 243) In 1502 the Crown assigned to the Abbot of Westminster the issues and profits of several chapels, including those of Rye and Haw. (fn. 244) Haw chapel is not otherwise recorded, and Rye chapel at no later date. By this date Tirley church was a vicarage.
Tirley church had an endowed living by 1316, the date of the first known institution to the vicarage. (fn. 245) The right to present to the vicarage belonged to the abbey of St. Denis (and later to Tewkesbury Abbey) and was exercised, when it was not in the king's hands by reason of war, by the Prior of Deerhurst. (fn. 246) After the Dissolution the Crown retained the advowson. (fn. 247) In 1934 the vicarage was united with the rectory of Hasfield, and the Lord Chancellor presented to the united benefice on alternate vacancies. (fn. 248)
The vicarage was endowed with tithes, but had no glebe apart from the site of the vicarage house. (fn. 249) In 1535 the tithes were let at farm for 9 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 250) In the 1630's a modus was established for the payment of the vicarial tithes, and it remained effective until 1705 (fn. 251) and probably until inclosure in 1798: the vicarage was valued at 40 a year in 1650, (fn. 252) c. 1738, (fn. 253) and c. 1775. (fn. 254) At inclosure the vicar received 193 a. in place of his tithes, (fn. 255) and the value of the living increased to 375 in 1829 (fn. 256) and over 400 in the 1850's. (fn. 257) In 1964 the incumbent retained c. 35 a. of glebe in Tirley. (fn. 258) The vicarage house stood immediately next to the churchyard until the 19th century. (fn. 259) In 1613 it contained three small rooms on the ground floor, and two bedrooms above; the bedrooms were apparently in the roof, for in 1705 the vicarage house was said to be three bays of building one story high. The three bays presumably corresponded to the three rooms described in 1613. (fn. 260) In 1827 the house was said to be too small, and in 1832 a new house was built 150 yards further north. (fn. 261)
In 1342 the king ordered the arrest of William of Hampnett and his adherents: under colour of a papal provision William had taken possession of the vicarage and held it by force of arms. (fn. 262) In 1535 the vicar was also Rector of Hasfield, (fn. 263) and in the preceding years Tirley was served by a curate. (fn. 264) Hugh Dowsing, who was vicar in 1540 and 1551, was a former religious (fn. 265) who appears to have belonged to a family settled in Tirley. (fn. 266) His successor was deprived in 1554 because he was married, and the next vicar in 1558 for contumacy. (fn. 267) Robert Gladwin, vicar 15681618, though neither a graduate nor a preacher, was a Latinist and a 'sufficient scholar', but his parishioners complained of his unseemly language and his wife's behaviour during services. (fn. 268) Richard Beeston, vicar from 1639, (fn. 269) in 1648 subscribed the Presbyterian Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony, (fn. 270) but was not afterwards a nonconformist. (fn. 271) In the 18th century, Charles Parker, vicar 173888, was a pluralist who lived at Hasfield but himself held a service at Tirley each Sunday, (fn. 272) and Charles Sandiford, vicar 1788 1827, lived on his other benefice at Awre and employed a curate for Tirley. (fn. 273) J. F. Hone, vicar 182788, surpassed both his predecessors with the length of his incumbency, and lived away from Tirley for only part of it. (fn. 274)
In 1751 Jane and Mary Atwood gave land in Tirley to pay the incumbent for preaching a sermon there every year on Ascension Day. (fn. 275)
Tirley church was called ST. MATTHEW'S in 1514, (fn. 276) in 1750, (fn. 277) and in the earlier 19th century, (fn. 278) but the name ST. MICHAEL'S, which was used in the early 18th century and c. 1775, (fn. 279) became the accepted one in the 1890's. (fn. 280) It comprises chancel, nave, west tower, and porch. It is built of a shaly stone that has weathered badly and appears to come from a local quarry; the dressings are of limestone, and the roofs tiled. The tower is rough-cast, and the chancel and nave had stucco on the outside in the mid-19th century, (fn. 281) but the masonry was afterwards laid bare.
The plan of the church, together with the tower and one of the south windows of the nave, (fn. 282) survives from the 14th century. The tower arch is of two plain chamfered orders. The chancel arch, which is similar, may have been built at the same time; so may the trussed rafter roofs of the chancel and nave, which, however, were rebuilt in 1894. In the thickness of the wall on the north side of the chancel arch are the remains of a spiral stair to a rood-loft. The tower is of three stages, the top one being separated by a string-course and stepped back. The lowest stage has a west window of three lights with reticulated tracery. The top stage, which has battlements and angle pinnacles and a trefoil-headed light in each face, may have been added, with the western buttresses, in the 15th century.
The chancel had a three-light 14th-century east window, which has been rebuilt. South of it is a small trefoil-headed piscina. Four windows in the nave and the square-headed windows in the chancel were added in the 15th century; in the mid-19th century those in the chancel appeared to have had no mullions, (fn. 283) though in 1964 they had mullions and tracery. In 1563 the glazing of the church, and in 1572 the roof, were presented as out of repair. (fn. 284) In 1733 67 was spent on repairing the church and tower. (fn. 285) In 1737 a gallery was built; (fn. 286) it was removed apparently in the late 19th century. The practice of strawing the church twice a year continued into the 19th century. (fn. 287) The church was restored 18924. (fn. 288) The inside of the church is whitewashed, and over the chancel arch are traces of a wall-painting. The timber south porch of c. 1600 was restored in 1964.
The church has a number of floor-slabs and mural monuments, some of elaborate design, to members of local landowning families. (fn. 289) The font is tubshaped and plain, apparently of the 12th or 13th century. In the nave is a large ancient iron-bound chest standing on ancient trestles. The plate includes a chalice of 1640, a paten of 1704, and a pewter flagon of 1675. (fn. 290) In 1668 the 'great bell' was rehung, (fn. 291) but in 1680 it was agreed that all four bells should be taken down to be recast as five by Alexander Rigby of Cheltenham, who was also to recast the sanctus bell. (fn. 292) In 17857 John and Charles Rudhall provided six new or recast bells, one of which was recast in 1897. (fn. 293) A new clock, built by a local blacksmith from scrap metal, was put up in 1932. (fn. 294) The registers begin in 1653 and are virtually complete. (fn. 295)
Land producing 20s. 6d. a year for the use of the church was recorded in 1535 (fn. 296) but not subsequently. The sum of 4s. 6d. a year given for a light was being distributed in 1549 to the poor. (fn. 297) Both these charities may afterwards have been merged in the Tirley Elm estate charity.
Fifteen Protestant nonconformists were enumerated in Tirley in 1676. (fn. 298) Several of them were Quakers, who were present in Tirley in 1660. (fn. 299) By 1670 there was a Quaker meeting there, which in 1673 was involved in a disagreement with the meeting at Ashleworth. (fn. 300) William Arnold's house was licensed as a dissenters' meeting in 1689, perhaps for Quakers, and a Quaker meeting-house was expressly licensed in 1690. (fn. 301) By 1709 there was a decline in the enthusiasm of the Quakers in Tirley, and in 1714 collections from Tirley for the Quarterly Meeting ceased. (fn. 302) Three Quakers were enumerated in Tirley in 1735 and one in 1743. In 1735 there were also one papist, one Presbyterian, and one Baptist, of whom only the Baptist was mentioned in 1743. (fn. 303) A house had been licensed for Presbyterian meetings in 1702, (fn. 304) but no later evidence of it has been found.
In 1816 buildings belonging to Josiah Hopkins were registered for dissenting worship, and in 1821 a 'temple' built on land belonging to him was similarly registered. (fn. 305) The temple was the Wesleyan Methodist chapel which in 1826 was said to be disused, (fn. 306) but was in use again in 1851. (fn. 307) It remained privately owned, and after the owner's death services were held for a while in a cottage. A new chapel was opened in 1887, on a site in Tirley Street just below that of the old chapel. It is a small building of brick with stone dressings, and in 1964 it continued to be used for Methodist worship. (fn. 308)
A room registered for nonconformist worship in 1837 was replaced two years later by a chapel, (fn. 309) called the Lower Chapel, in contrast to the Upper Chapel of the Methodists. In 1851 it was used by Bible Christians; (fn. 310) no later record of it has been found.
In 1634 and 1635 Ralph Wallis was presented for teaching a school without licence, as was William Williams in 1636. (fn. 311) In 1698 John Edgecombe B.A. was licensed to teach children in Tirley. (fn. 312) In 1816 there was a dissenting Sunday school there, (fn. 313) but in 1818 there was said to be no school at all in the parish. (fn. 314) Presumably any children attending school then went, as in 1826, to the day school at Hasfield for both parishes. (fn. 315) By 1833 there was a Church of England school in Tirley with an attendance of 40 on weekdays and 55 on Sundays. It was supported by an endowment producing 5 a year, by subscription, and by an annual sermon. The children were taught by a man and his wife. (fn. 316) In 1842 part of the glebe was conveyed for the site of a new National school, (fn. 317) which was built the same year. (fn. 318) The capital sum of the endowment helped to pay for the building. (fn. 319) In 1846 there were 56 children in the school, apart from those who went on Sundays only, but two small dame schools still survived. (fn. 320) The new National school was built of the same sort of stone as the church, and included a teacher's house. A classroom was added in 1896. (fn. 321) Average attendance was 43 in 1863, when fees of 1d. and 1d. a week were paid, (fn. 322) 58 in 1897, (fn. 323) and 36 in 1938. (fn. 324) By 1964 it was a 'controlled' school with an attendance of c. 60. (fn. 325)
The Tirley Elm estate charity originated before 1600, when it owned a house called the Church House and parcels of land. The income was to be spent on the repair of the parish roads, in relief of military levies made on the parish, and on other parochial uses. (fn. 326) By 1705 the estate was represented by a rent of 10 a year for the poor, charged on houses and land in Tirley. (fn. 327) To this charity Benjamin Bateman, vicar 170719, (fn. 328) added the sum of 20, which was invested in land, and in 1729 Susannah Gwyn gave 4 a. in Tirley. After inclosure the estate comprised 4 cottages and 18 a., and produced an average of 32 a year, which was distributed to the poor in coal and cash. (fn. 329) In 18535 the gross income was c. 70 a year, of which c. 30 was spent on coal, and c. 20 distributed in cash. (fn. 330) In 1911 the estate included 14 cottages and 20 a., producing 63 a year gross. (fn. 331) In the 1960's the trustees distributed c. 60 a year in cash, but the greater part of the income was spent on the maintenance of the cottages, which provided free or cheap housing for those in need. (fn. 332)
Joseph Millard (d. 1727) gave a rent-charge of 5 for buying clothes for five poor men. From 1787 to 1790 and from 1792 until the 1820's the money was not paid. (fn. 333) Miss Emily Browne by her will proved 1911 gave 250 stock and a pair of cottages to the parish. The income of both charities was applied in 1964 with that of the Tirley Elm estate. (fn. 334)