A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 9, Bradley Hundred. The Northleach Area of the Cotswolds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.
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Withington, a large rural parish 10.5 km. south-east of Cheltenham, included the village of Withington with hamlets at Foxcote, Hilcot, Little Colesbourne, Cassey Compton, and Owdeswell which were mostly reduced in size in the late Middle Ages. The parish covered 5,830 a. (2,359 ha.) in 1881, (fn. 1) its boundaries being in part those perambulated in a late AngloSaxon survey of the bishop of Worcester's Withington estate. (fn. 2)
From a ford at Andoversford on the Gloucester to Stow-on-the-Wold road the east boundary of the parish descended the river Coln, called in the late Anglo-Saxon period 'Tilnoth', as far as a valley then called 'Waecles cumbe'. Leaving the river, it climbed over a ridge to join the Compton Abdale stream, called Dene brook in Anglo-Saxon times and in 1647, (fn. 3) and descended that stream to rejoin the Coln at Cassey Compton. The south boundary traversed a ridge, where the landmarks in late AngloSaxon times included roads called 'cnictes ferweye', probably the White way leading from Cirencester towards Compton Abdale and thought to have been a minor Roman route serving local villas, (fn. 4) and the 'old stone way', probably a ridgeway that ran from the White way northwards through Withington parish. (fn. 5) The 'head of Possecumbe', a landmark in the ancient perambulation beyond the latter road, evidently referred to the top of the coomb (fn. 6) which descends to Woodbridge on the river Coln; the name survives for a house called Postcombe just within Chedworth parish. The boundary descends into the Churn valley to Colesbourne ford, by the junction of the river Churn and its tributary Hilcot brook, and in the ancient perambulation was said to follow the 'Churn' to 'merecombe' (boundary valley). The later parish boundary between Withington and Colesbourne followed Hilcot brook northwards and then turned west along a valley called Markham or Merecombe, leading to the suggestion that Hilcot brook was regarded as the headwater of the Churn in late Anglo-Saxon times; (fn. 7) but a large part of Colesbourne also belonged then to the see of Worcester (fn. 8) and it is possible that the perambulation followed the Churn through Colesbourne and that the 'boundary valley' mentioned in the perambulation was that between Colesbourne and Coberley parishes, later called Chescombe. On the west side of the area of Withington known as Hilcot the boundary is marked in part by a rough field path, presumably that described in the perambulation as 'the muddy way leading to Nataleahes ash'; that name survived as Neatley on the Coberley side of the boundary and, possibly, as Needlehole on the Withington side. (fn. 9) To the north the ancient perambulation included Dowdeswell as part of the bishop's manor, but the later parish boundary between Withington and Dowdeswell ran from Needlehole along wooded coombs and then across high downland called Cold Comfort to meet the Gloucester to Oxford road west of a junction called Kilkenny. From Kilkenny the boundary followed the GloucesterStow road back to Andoversford.
Dowdeswell became a manor and parish in its own right in the early Middle Ages, but land called Rossley, comprising c. 102 a. on the southern slope of the valley of the river Chelt, remained a detached part of Withington parish within Dowdeswell. (fn. 10) Rossley was absorbed by Dowdeswell parish in 1883, (fn. 11) and in 1956 Withington also lost 189 a., lying between the GloucesterStow and GloucesterOxford roads and including Owdeswell farm, to a new civil parish of Andoversford. (fn. 12) Rossley for several centuries formed part of the Dowdeswell manor estate and is treated in this volume with Dowdeswell parish. The Dowdeswell history also includes some buildings on the south edge of Andoversford hamlet just within the old Withington parish boundary.
The principal feature of the landscape of Withington and the seat of most of its settlement is a broad valley running from north to south. Down its east side the river Coln follows a meandering course and on its western slopes a series of springs rise and flow to join the Coln. The long ridge on the west side of the valley, incorporating Foxcote hill, Withington hill, where the parish reaches its highest point (289 m.), and Shill hill, presumably provided the last part of the parish's name in the early Middle Ages, when it is usually recorded in forms such as 'Widindun' or 'Wythyndon'. (fn. 13) Another prominent ridge rises to c. 230 m. on the east side of the valley. West of the main ridge, Hilcot brook, flowing southwards to join the river Churn at Colesbourne, forms a narrower valley with a series of wooded side valleys. The floor of the main valley is partly on the Upper Lias clay and the Midford Sand, but in the parish as a whole the overlying Inferior Oolite predominates, with fuller's earth and the Great Oolite capping parts of the higher ground. (fn. 14)
Until parliamentary inclosure of Withington parish, which was begun in 1813 and confirmed by an award of 1819, (fn. 15) the main valley and parts of the hills on either side were cultivated as open fields, including separate groups of fields for Owdeswell, Foxcote, and the two parts of Withington village which lie respectively west and east of the river Coln. (fn. 16) Much of the land of the later parish had evidently been taken into cultivation by c. 700 a.d. when 20 cassati (a land measure apparently the equivalent of the hide) were given to a monastery founded at Withington, (fn. 17) but the winning of new agricultural land continued in the early Middle Ages. Seven assarts were mentioned in a survey of Withington manor in 1299, the most recent being presumably one made during the lordship of William de Blois, bishop of Worcester 121836, and distinguished as 'new'. (fn. 18) Most of those assarts were evidently on the high ground in the south-west part of the parish. (fn. 19) Large parts of the central ridge of Foxcote and Withington hills remained common downland, pasturing sheep and growing furze, until the parliamentary inclosure but downland on the west side of the ridge was inclosed by the owner of Hilcot manor in the early 17th century. (fn. 20) A line of tall pylons carrying an electricity grid cable was a prominent feature of the high ground of the parish from c. 1970, when it replaced a line of smaller pylons put up in 1943. (fn. 21)
A belt of woodland called Withington woods lay on the south boundary of the parish, forming with the adjoining Chedworth woods one of the few large tracts of ancient woodland in the central Cotswolds. Withington manor had a wood measuring 1 league by league in 1086, (fn. 22) and the great wood of its lord, the bishop of Worcester, was mentioned in 1299. (fn. 23) In the 15th century, when sales of timber were a regular and significant item of the profits of the manor, (fn. 24) the manor bailiff was also the woodward and took windfallen trees as part of his fee. (fn. 25) In the mid 17th century and until inclosure Withington woods were usually leased with the manor farm, and were managed as coppice. By custom the lessee had the right to inclose at any time 7 out of a total of 17 coppices into which the woods were divided and keep them inclosed for a period of seven years, the remainder being left open as commons for the inhabitants of the upper end (the west part) of Withington village. The woods were said to comprise c. 212 a. in 1647, (fn. 26) when a larger 'woodland acre' was probably used in the measurement, (fn. 27) and in 1819 they covered 473 a. (fn. 28)
About 1840 lessees under the manor grubbed up c. 80 a. on the west side of Withington woods for cultivation. (fn. 29) Most of the remainder was felled to provide timber for wartime use in the First World War, but during the Second World War the woods were replanted with a mixture of conifer and hardwoods, using the labour of prisoners-of-war. (fn. 30) The eastern end of the woods was sold before 1923 to the owners of the Stowell Park estate and, with adjoining woodland in Withington which had long formed part of the estate's Cassey Compton farm, became a preserve of pheasants. In the main part, which remained with Withington manor farm in the possession of R. J. Gunther in the mid 20th century, fallow deer were introduced and deer stalking was organized in the 1960s. Sportsmen were also then attracted to Withington by trout fishing in the river Coln and in a small lake which Gunther made between the Coln and his house, Halewell Close. (fn. 31)
Another tract of ancient woodland called Ayles wood or Hale wood occupied the northwest part of Hilcot and an adjoining part of Dowdeswell parish. By the mid 16th century ownership of Ayles wood was divided among five estates, which suggests that it was formerly common woodland, inclosed by an agreement between local freeholders. A part later known as Hilcot wood, lying south of Needlehole Lane (leading east from Needlehole farmhouse), was in three divisions belonging respectively to Winchcombe abbey's Hilcot estate, (fn. 32) the Colesbourne manor of the Vampage family and its successors, (fn. 33) and an estate of Bruern abbey (Oxon.) in Colesbourne and Little Colesbourne; (fn. 34) a part between Needlehole Lane and the boundary with Dowdeswell belonged to the Upper Dowdeswell estate; (fn. 35) and a part within Dowdeswell parish belonged to Dowdeswell manor. (fn. 36) From 1617 all three parts of the later Hilcot wood, then said to total 75 a. (fn. 37) but having an actual area in 1819 of 166 a., (fn. 38) belonged to the owners of Hilcot manor; the wood became divorced from the manor in 1694 but returned to it in the early 19th century as part of a large estate in the west of the parish acquired by the Elwes family of Colesbourne. (fn. 39) The section of Ayles wood belonging to Upper Dowdeswell manor, said to cover c. 60 a. in 1649, was partly cleared by the mid 18th century to form Needlehole farm (fn. 40) and more of it was cleared after 1819, when the north part of Hilcot wood was also cleared for cultivation. (fn. 41)
As the value of agricultural land declined in the later 19th century the process was reversed and by 1883 several new plantations had been made in the west part of the parish, some of them enlarging existing small coppices on the east side of the valley of Hilcot brook. (fn. 42) Between 1895 and 1915 more extensive planting, with a range of species including many conifers, was carried out by the arboriculturalist Henry John Elwes; he enlarged Hilcot wood to the east and from 1901 included farmland and existing woods east of Hilcot brook near Little Colesbourne in a large experimental plantation called Centenary wood. (fn. 43) In 1908 the Hilcot part of his estate was said to produce only timber and rabbits, its agricultural land being then held on a sporting lease. (fn. 44) By 1905 the parish as a whole had 996 a. of woodland. (fn. 45) A further large plantation was made for the Colesbourne estate at Little Colesbourne farm in the 1930s, and the estate managed its woodlands in Hilcot and Little Colesbourne in 1998 as part of a commercial timber enterprise. (fn. 46)
Withington parish was fairly populous in 1299 when a total of 56 tenants was recorded on Withington manor (fn. 47) at a time when Foxcote, Owdeswell, Hilcot, Little Colesbourne, and Little Compton, within the parish but outside the manor, all probably had hamlets. In 1327 30 of the wealthier inhabitants were assessed for tax, 16 under Withington and 14 under the outlying hamlets. (fn. 48) The figure of only c. 30 communicants recorded in 1551 (fn. 49) seems unlikely, particularly in view of the 35 households reported in 1563, (fn. 50) but the latter figure alone reflects the late-medieval decline in population that is also indicated by the settlement history. In 1603 120 communicants were recorded (fn. 51) and in 1650 87 families. (fn. 52) The population was said to be c. 320 people living in 73 houses c. 1710 (fn. 53) and over 500 inhabitants c. 1775. (fn. 54) In 1801 572 inhabitants living in 124 houses were enumerated. The population rose to 818 by 1841 but then fell away to 583 by 1891. In the early 20th century it fluctuated at around 500 and by 1961 had dropped to 458, partly a result of the removal of dwellings at Andoversford from the parish in 1956. In 1991 the population of Withington was 486. (fn. 55)
The main routes through Withington parish bypassed at some distance its principal settlement, and the two which remained significant in the days of coaching and motor traffic cross the parish's extreme northern end. The main road from Gloucester to Oxford and London enters the parish at the place called Kilkenny and leaves it at a crossing of the river Coln at Frogmill, and the Gloucester-Stow road, forming part of the original north boundary of the parish, branches from the Oxford road at Kilkenny and crosses the Coln further north at Andoversford. Before the development of coach traffic there was a third crossing 500 m. downstream of Frogmill at a place called Fulford (east of the small farmhouse of that name). In 1600 the Withington parishioners, with those of the adjoining parishes Dowdeswell in the case of Andoversford and Shipton Solers in the cases of Frogmill and Fulford were indicted to repair the three crossings. Fulford, then described as being on the Gloucester-Burford road, was evidently used as an alternative to Frogmill, (fn. 56) though whether travellers reached it by a route across the parish from the Gloucester road near Cold Comfort or turned south from that road on a track that led from west of Frogmill to Fulford farmhouse is not clear. In 1764 the ford was marked on a map (fn. 57) as part of a route from Shipton to Cirencester, which could be reached by way of an old road across the parish called Fulford way, mentioned below. A bridge mentioned at Fulford in 1596 and 1747 (fn. 58) was probably only for foot or horse traffic, for the map of 1764 suggests that there, and at the two crossings further north, vehicles still used fords. The road across the Coln at Fulford went out of use before the end of the 18th century, but in 1819 a narrow strip of waste called Fulford green marked its course between the ford and the farmhouse. (fn. 59) No road was visible there in 1998, though the ford was still evident.
Before inclosure c. 1815 the principal route running from south to north through Withington left the White way on Chedworth Downs (fn. 60) and entered the parish at a place called Bearstaple (or Barfords Stable) green near Postcombe farmhouse; (fn. 61) there, as mentioned above, it seems to have been recorded in a late Anglo-Saxon perambulation of Withington. (fn. 62) It ran through Withington woods, passed east of Staple Farm, and followed the central ridge to form a crossroads with the Gloucester-Oxford road near Cold Comfort. Northwards from the point where it crossed the Withington-Hilcot road it was used by the Withington villagers to go to Cheltenham and Gloucester and was called the Cheltenham market way in 1636 (fn. 63) and the plough way to Gloucester in 1768. (fn. 64) It was recommended as part of a route between Lechlade and Cheltenham c. 1710, (fn. 65) and in 1785 it was described at Bearstaple green as the CirencesterCheltenham road, (fn. 66) though it was evidently only one of several alternative routes then in use between those two towns. In 1998 it survived in Withington woods partly as a green lane and partly a hollow way, but on Withington and Foxcote hills it was only a field path, following a continuous field boundary. South of Shill hill a road, called Fulford way in 1680, branched from the Cheltenham road and ran northeastwards by way of a farmhouse and former hamlet called Thorndale; (fn. 67) at Fulford farmhouse it forked, one branch connecting with the ford over the Coln mentioned above and the other leading by way of Owdeswell to Andoversford.
Lesser roads included an old road connecting Withington village to Foxcote by way of Upcote Farm and Thorndale, (fn. 68) and a road from the east part of Withington village to Chedworth crossing the Coln at Woodbridge, where there was a ford with a bridge beside it in the 1650s. (fn. 69) In the west part of the parish there was very little local traffic. On a lane leading west from Hilcot to Upper Coberley it was difficult to name more than a handful of regular users in 1908 when the landowner H. J. Elwes attempted to get Northleach rural district to repair it, (fn. 70) and on the road down the Hilcot valley and on that running east from Hilcot towards Withington village fords across the brook were replaced by small bridges only in the late 20th century. (fn. 71)
The Gloucester-Oxford road was a turnpike from 1751 until 1870 (fn. 72) and the Gloucester-Stow road was a turnpike from 1755 until 1877. (fn. 73) A new stretch of road branching from the latter at a place called Garricks Head to join the former roughly halfway between Kilkenny and Frogmill was made as part of a new Cheltenham to Oxford turnpike in 1786, (fn. 74) and c. 1815 at the Withington inclosure a new straight road was built northwards up the valley from Withington village to connect with the junction on the Gloucester-Oxford road. (fn. 75) The creation of that new south-north route rendered the old Cheltenham road along the ridge and Fulford way redundant other than for very local use.
The Midland and South Western Junction railway, built through the parish from Cirencester to Andoversford, was opened in 1891 with a small station for Withington just north of the village. (fn. 76) The line was closed in 1961. (fn. 77)
A Roman villa was discovered in the parish in 1811 and excavated by Samuel Lysons. The site, south of Withington village, by a road to Chedworth near a spring called Wall well, had traditionally been known as the Old Town. (fn. 78) The surviving documentary record of Withington begins with a monastery founded there in the late 7th or early 8th century. (fn. 79)
Withington village has two distinct parts which are divided by the river Coln. The part west of the Coln, including the church and manor house and presumably the site of the Anglo-Saxon monastery, was known as 'the upper end'. The part east of the river, on the road to Compton Abdale, was called either 'the lower end (fn. 80) or by a name that appears from the early 16th century in a variety of forms, possible modernizations being Brockwell End, Brookwell End, Brookhall End, Brockhole End, or Broadwell End; (fn. 81) the first is used in this account. The two parts of the village were distinct also in their agricultural organization, having separate field systems and commoning rights, (fn. 82) though they were part of the same manor and subject to the same manor court. It has been suggested that the agricultural unit of Brockwell End derived from a manor called Compton, which was in the same ownership as Withington manor by 962 a.d. and which, it is surmised, may have included all the land of the parish lying east of the Coln. (fn. 83) The estate called Little (later Cassey) Compton that derived from the AngloSaxon manor (fn. 84) had, however, no obvious physical or tenurial connexion with Brockwell End, being based on a house 1.5 km. distant on the far side of a steep hill and having much of its land on the other bank of the Coln, between the river and the Chedworth boundary. (fn. 85) A more likely explanation is perhaps that Brockwell End was a post-Conquest extension of the village, made in connexion with the formation of a new group of open fields in the part of the parish east of the Coln. The name Brockwell End went out of use during the 19th century but the distinction between the upper and lower ends of the village was still recognized in the 20th. (fn. 86)
The upper end of the village, which c. 1710 had 28 houses compared to 26 in Brockwell End, (fn. 87) was a fairly compact settlement. At its centre various local roads define a rectangular enclosure formerly called Stocks Hay, which may represent an early green around which the Anglo-Saxon and medieval settlement formed. By 1813, however, and apparently for many years previously, Stocks Hay was inclosed and belonged to two tenant holdings of Withington manor (fn. 88) and only a small patch of green existed at its north-west corner. That corner was the focal point of the upper end of the village: on the north is the church and churchyard, on the east is a range of building which once housed the George inn (fn. 89) and, in the 19th century, the smithy, (fn. 90) and on the west stood the church house, recorded from 1610 when it was used as an alehouse. (fn. 91) The church house was apparently a building dating from the 16th century in the 1850s, when it was demolished and replaced by the village school. (fn. 92)
Four substantial dwellings and their grounds form, with the church and churchyard, the basis of the upper end of the village. To the north are the manor house (called Withington Manor in 1998) and its farm buildings, to the north-east is the former rectory house, to the east of Stocks Hay is a house called Withington House in the 19th century, Withington Manor in the early 20th, (fn. 93) and the Court or Withington Court from c. 1945, (fn. 94) and to the south is a house called from the 1920s Halewell Close.
Withington Court was a modest-sized copyhold farmhouse in the 17th century. In 1753, however, its tenant Richard Rogers (fn. 95) (d. 1757), a lawyer and a member of a prominent landowning family at Dowdeswell, (fn. 96) extended it with a new range facing southwards to the river Coln, on which side he or his successors landscaped the grounds. (fn. 97) A later tenant was (Sir) John Guise (d. 1794) of Highnam, who may have used it for a time as a residence, though he had an undertenant there in 1774. (fn. 98) The older, north part of the house is a mid 17th-century rubblebuilt farmhouse of three rooms with a through passage and a staircase north of the east stack. There are chamfered beams on the ground floor and the roof is 17th-century. Large mullioned and transomed windows, uncovered during restoration in the 1980s, (fn. 99) show that the 17thcentury house faced south; the windows were blocked when a new south range was added in 1753. The new two-storeyed range, raised on a half-storey with a cellar, has a five-bayed, stuccoed classical facade; the pedimented Roman Doric doorcase is of stone. The details outside and within are plain but of good quality. Two rooms on each floor flank a central staircase hall with an oak staircase, having three twisted balusters to each tread, a ramped and swept handrail and dado, and a closed string with carved tread ends. Three contemporary chimneypieces survive. Alterations to the house in the 19th and 20th centuries mainly affected the older part, where the west gable wall was almost entirely rebuilt and some chimneypieces inserted. The stables and coach house, standing north of the house, appear to be contemporary with the new south range.
At Halewell Close the size and quality of a surviving late-medieval range has led to the suggestion that it was built for the lord of the manor, the bishop of Worcester; if such was the case, it probably dates from after 1476 when the bishop reserved the use of the manor house for his visits. (fn. 100) By 1637 it was probably part of a leasehold farm held from the manor by Edmund Lawrence and his daughter Hannah. (fn. 101) That farm passed, by his marriage to Hannah, to a Gloucester physician Robert Fielding (fn. 102) (d. 1709), who left it to his eldest son Charles. (fn. 103) From the Fieldings it passed to the Robertson family in the later 18th century, (fn. 104) and in 1819, including the later Halewell Close house, it was held by Isabella Nicholls and Henry Brooke. (fn. 105) Later the house became known as Bennetts Farm after mid 19thcentury sublessees. (fn. 106) In 1926 it was sold with a large part of the manor estate to R. J. Gunther, (fn. 107) who enlarged it as his own residence between 1926 and 1928 (fn. 108) and renamed it Halewell Close after a nearby spring. (fn. 109)
Much of the external appearance of Halewell Close is due to the remodelling in the 1920s by Gunther, who overrode his architect Leslie Mansfield on many points of design. The builder was J. E. M. Cummings of Withington. (fn. 110) The house is stone-built, of two and three storeys, and comprises three ranges round a court, partly closed on the north by a detached block. The west range is the remains of a high-status, late-medieval house; now of four bays, its north end appears to have been truncated, and it is not known whether the range stood alone or else formed part of a larger house with a separate hall range. What survives dates from the late 15th or early 16th century and comprises a great chamber above a lower hall or chamber, each of four bays. The upper room has a roof of three trusses with arch-braced collars which carry king posts; there are double purlins and two tiers of windbraces. A frieze of painted boards with a Latin biblical quotation, which in 1926 was found attached to the central truss, probably once formed part of a central partition; Gunther used it to make the front of a musician's gallery at the south end of the chamber. A stone staircase at the north-east corner of the wing, of which only the head and foot survived, was restored by Gunther. Along the west side are original windows, of one and two lights with arched heads, and a central four-centred headed doorway, which may have been the original entrance. The lower room is fitted with linenfold panelling with brattishing, brought by Gunther from a house in Cornwall. (fn. 111) The south wing was added or rebuilt in the 17th century. It was much altered by Gunther, who added a short south-west wing and a large L-plan service and bedroom wing, which doubled the house in size and gave it a U plan. He also built a detached studio block on the north side of the courtyard and stables further north. Some alterations made in the late 20th century included the insertion of an east staircase and the conversion of the studio to dwellings.
The smaller houses of the upper end of the village are mainly of the 19th century and include a row of 1-storeyed cottages on the north-west side of Stocks Hay. There was another group of houses on the Chedworth road near the southern corner of Stocks Hay, (fn. 112) some of which were removed in the late 19th century and some in the 1920s during the enlargement of Halewell Close and the laying out of its grounds. (fn. 113) They included a fairly large house just west of Halewell Close belonging to a farm formerly called Freemans farm. (fn. 114) By 1867 the farmhouse was also a public house called the New Inn (fn. 115) and it remained open under that sign until a few years before the house was demolished in 1927. (fn. 116) Stocks Hay was filled in the late 20th century by a group of detached houses and their gardens.
The former village mill and the Mill inn standing by a bridge over the Coln form a separate group of buildings between the two parts of the village. The part formerly called Brockwell End is a long straggling settlement on the Compton Abdale road. Its principal dwellings were four or five copyhold farmhouses. (fn. 117) Two dating from the 17th century survive on the north side of the street, one of which, called Ballingers Farmhouse in 1998, was the home of a branch of the Lawrence family for much of the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 118) Otherwise the older houses are mainly mid 19th-century cottages, including short rows on two side lanes which lead southwards, Woodbridge Lane (formerly Compasses Lane and Post Office Lane) (fn. 119) and King's Head Lane leading towards Cassey Compton. Harnham Lane leading northwards from the east end of the village has a small group of late 18th- and early 19th-century cottages at its far end. Several cottages in Brockwell End were demolished in the late 19th century and the early 20th, (fn. 120) but its east end was enlarged by new building in the mid and late 20th century. The Northleach rural district built a pair of houses near the junction with Harnham Lane in 1943, (fn. 121) to be followed in 1947 by six Swedish-style wooden houses (only two of which survived in 1998) south of the main street. (fn. 122) Another 16 council houses were added in the same area of the village in the early 1950s. (fn. 123) In the 1960s and 1970s private houses were built on Harnham Lane and south of the main street, where they replaced the buildings of a farmhouse called Lower Farm. (fn. 124)
Withington parish had several hamlets in the early Middle Ages. From the 14th century depopulation removed some of the smaller ones, which probably each comprised no more than four or five dwellings, and reduced others to single farmsteads, leaving Foxcote as the only hamlet. Some isolated dwellings, mainly cottages, were built in the 17th and 18th centuries and some new farmsteads after inclosure in the early 19th.
At the south-east corner of the parish Little Compton manor, later represented by the house and estate called Cassey Compton, had four tenants in 1086. (fn. 125) Their dwellings were possibly situated on the spur of land, enclosed by a meander of the river Coln, where the White way descends to its crossing of the river just below Cassey Compton house. On part of that land, to the west of the road, the foundations of four or five dwellings were evident in 1999 and a scatter of medieval pottery was found, unearthed by recent tree planting operations. (fn. 126) On the stretch of the Coln near by, to the north-west, a mill belonging to the Cassey Compton estate was worked until the late 18th century. (fn. 127) The small hamlet was apparently deserted early in the Middle Ages, and in later centuries, apart from the mill, the big house was the only dwelling at Compton within Withington parish.
Foxcote was established before 1086 at the north end of the parish in a low valley formed by a tributary stream of the Coln. (fn. 128) Foxcote had 15 or more inhabitants in 1381, (fn. 129) and c. 1710 it comprised 13 houses. (fn. 130) The manor house, Foxcote Manor, (fn. 131) and its grounds occupy the south side of the valley and the rest of the hamlet the north side, with most of the houses based on a lane running eastwards across the hillside from the road linking Foxcote to the Gloucester road at Kilkenny. A small farmhouse at the east end, called Home Farm in 1998, belonged during the 17th and 18th centuries to a yeoman family called Longford, which enfranchised its farm, a copyhold of Shipton Solers manor, in 1702. (fn. 132) The farmhouse dates from the 17th century and is probably that which Nicholas Longford (d. 1648) is recorded as having built. (fn. 133) Foxcote House at the west end of the lane was rebuilt by a branch of the Rogers family in the early 19th century (fn. 134) with a symmetrical south front of five bays of sash windows. In 1871 its owners also owned 10 of the cottages in Foxcote, (fn. 135) which are 19th-century labourers' cottages in short terraces. A track following the stream at the bottom of the valley was widened to form a new lane in the 1930s, and in the 1950s a small group of houses was built at its east end by the owner of the Foxcote Manor estate. (fn. 136)
By the end of the 12th century there was a small hamlet called Owdeswell in the north-east corner of the parish, (fn. 137) near Andoversford. It was perhaps more populous then than it was in 1381, when it had the status of a separate township but only four people in two households were assessed for the poll tax. (fn. 138) In later centuries the hamlet comprised only Owdeswell Farm.
Another early medieval hamlet called Thorndean was situated near the centre of the main valley by the head of a coomb formed by one of the small tributary springs of the Coln. The place was called Thorndell in 1680 (fn. 139) and Thorndale became the usual form in the 19th century. (fn. 140) Six customary tenants of Withington manor were surnamed 'of Thorndean' in 1299, (fn. 141) but the hamlet was later largely deserted. There was still at least one house there in 1507 (fn. 142) and a toft (the site of a vanished house) was mentioned in 1528. (fn. 143) At the time of the inclosure c. 1815 a single cottage stood at the head of the coomb on the old road called Fulford way and it then became the centre of a new farm, Thorndale farm, created for the glebe. (fn. 144) South-east of it, near the head of the spring, earthworks indicate the sites of several dwellings. (fn. 145)
Upcote Farm occupies a similar site at the head of a spring on the old road from Withington village to Thorndean and Foxcote. It was the centre of a freehold estate in the early Middle Ages (fn. 146) and possibly had more than one dwelling in 1288 when it was referred to as a vill. (fn. 147) Later, however, there was only the one farmstead. (fn. 148)
Hilcot, in the narrow western valley of the parish, was established by 1086 and formerly comprised a small hamlet. (fn. 149) It was listed for tax as a separate township in 1381 but by then was uninhabited. (fn. 150) Some at least of its dwellings were near Upper Hilcot Farm, which stands on the west side of the lane leading down the valley. In a field on the opposite side of the lane is a well-defined group of earthworks, bounded on the east by a steep bank falling to Hilcot brook and on the north by a track leading to a ford over the brook: the sites of six or seven houses are visible beside a former hollow way down to the ford (replaced by the track), and to the south are the foundations of a long, narrow building, probably a sheephouse built in the late medieval or early modern period after the hamlet was depopulated. (fn. 151)
The owner of Hilcot manor, Winchcombe abbey, probably had a farmhouse or farm buildings at the site of Upper Hilcot Farm in the early 16th century. (fn. 152) In 1698 the farmhouse was the only dwelling recorded on the manor, apart from a cottage on land called the Downs near the west boundary of the parish. Following a partition of the manor in 1698 a second farmhouse, Lower Hilcot, was built in the valley further south, where the road to Withington village forded Hilcot brook. (fn. 153) By the late 17th century there was also a dwelling in a remote position at Needlehole in the north-west corner of Hilcot. It was an alehouse in 1680 (fn. 154) and it later became a small farmhouse on the Upper Dowdeswell estate (fn. 155) after adjoining land, part of the former Ayles wood, was cleared. (fn. 156) It was rebuilt as a private dwelling in the late 20th century. About 1750 the owner of the part of Ayles wood that became known as Hilcot wood built a cottage for his woodward at its south-west corner, near the Upper Coberley road, (fn. 157) and during the 19th century and the early 20th the Hilcot area had, apart from the two farmhouses and Needlehole, several isolated cottages, two of which were occupied in 1908 by gamekeepers. (fn. 158)
At Little Colesbourne in the south-west corner of the parish, opposite Colesbourne, another small manor had been established by 1086. (fn. 159) In the modern period it comprised a single farmstead at Little Colesbourne Farm beside the WithingtonColesbourne road. The medieval settlement was evidently larger, for Little Colesbourne had a chapel by the early 13th century and its own open fields. (fn. 160) Earthworks by the road c. 200 m. south of Little Colesbourne Farm, where a house called Chapel Close was built in 1892, indicate the site of another farmstead or farmsteads. (fn. 161)
The high land in the south part of the parish between Withington village and Hilcot brook had a number of early dwellings, some of them evidently established in connexion with assarting during the 12th and 13th centuries. Staple Farm, a farmstead south of the WithingtonColesbourne road, probably existed by 1299 as the centre of an estate formed partly of assarts. (fn. 162) On Chatterley hill, by the junction of the Hilcot and Colesbourne roads, (fn. 163) a toft and a yardland belonged to Withington manor in 1507 (fn. 164) and may have represented the yardland tenancy in possession of Robert de Chaddesleye in 1299. (fn. 165) Two other tenants in 1299, one of whom had assart land, took their names from Greensty, (fn. 166) an area at the south end of Shill hill at the junction of the old Cheltenham road and Fulford way; the place name, meaning a 'green lane', (fn. 167) presumably refers to one of those roads. Two tofts were recorded at Greensty in the early modern period, belonging respectively to Upcote farm (fn. 168) and to a leasehold of Withington manor called Freemans farm, which was based in Withington village and was an amalgam of a number of former customary holdings. (fn. 169) The only building later found recorded at Greensty was a barn beside the old Cheltenham road. It was converted to a dwelling in 1748, (fn. 170) and later (possibly because it became part of the Colesbourne glebe (fn. 171) ) it was known as Jerusalem; (fn. 172) it had been demolished by 1998. A toft called Sharpenhull, which with its yardland was also absorbed into Freemans farm before 1528, (fn. 173) was possibly in the area later called Shornhill on the west side of Withington hill. Three tenants surnamed Uphill in 1299, one holding an assart, may have been other dwellers on the high land above and to the west of Withington village. (fn. 174)
In the same part of the parish, land between the Hilcot and Colesbourne roads called Cothill in 1819 was evidently the area earlier known as Cotwell, once also the site of dwellings. The heir of William of Cotwell held assart land from Withington manor in 1299, (fn. 175) and in 1507 the lord of the manor had in hand two tofts and two yardlands called Cotwell. (fn. 176) One toft and its land formed part of Freemans farm by 1528 (fn. 177) and a reversionary grant of another was made in 1550. (fn. 178) In addition, the site of a house called Cotwell belonged to Upcote farm in 1687. (fn. 179) Those early tenant farmhouses may have stood around Cothill green, just south of the Hilcot road, where there is a well at the head of a short coomb leading down to Hilcot brook. There was a single cottage at Cothill green in 1819, (fn. 180) and the small stone building, probably dating from the 18th century, survived in 1999, then uninhabited and becoming derelict. A new house built at Cotwell in 1644 on land belonging to Hilcot manor (fn. 181) was presumably one that in 1819 stood in a more southerly part of Cothill adjoining land later planted as Barncombe wood; (fn. 182) it became a farmhouse on the Colesbourne estate in the 19th century but was demolished early in the 20th. (fn. 183)
At Elwell, on the old WithingtonFoxcote road north-west of Upcote Farm, a mason called Anthony Stallard built a cottage in 1751, and by 1806 there was a group of five cottages there. (fn. 184) Several buildings remained in 1883 (fn. 185) as part of the Colesbourne estate's Upcote farm, but in 1998 Elwell comprised only a pair of cottages built by the owner J. H. Elwes in 1885. (fn. 186) Elwes built a pair of cottages for Staple farm on the Colesbourne road north of its farmhouse in 1860, (fn. 187) and another pair was built at the same period further east near a barn called Hill barn. The barn had been converted as a dwelling by 1998.
A small farmhouse called Fulford Farm, standing on the old road to Andoversford at its junction with the abandoned road from the Fulford ford, (fn. 188) was recorded from 1712 (fn. 189) but was completely rebuilt in the late 20th century.
Farmsteads established following the inclosure of c. 1815 included Pegglesworth Hill (or Foxcote Hill) Farm, on the north-west part of the central ridge. It was built for a large allotment sold to meet the expenses of the inclosure to J. F. Croome, the tenant and later owner of the adjoining Pegglesworth estate in Dowdeswell. (fn. 190) Farm buildings, including a large barn, had been put up by 1824 (fn. 191) and there was a pair of farm cottages there in 1869. (fn. 192) In 1998 the cottages formed a single dwelling called Foxcote Hill House. Shornhill Farm, on the west side of the central ridge, was built c. 1830 on part of the rector's large glebe estate. On another part of the glebe at Ravenswell, on the steep ridge above and to the north-east of Withington village, a large barn and other buildings were put up before 1835. (fn. 193) One end of the barn was later converted to a farmhouse and the rest of the barn was taken into the house in the mid 1950s. (fn. 194) At Northfield, south of Fulford Farm, another of the glebe farms was given a small farmhouse and buildings in 1889, (fn. 195) and a new house was built there in 1929 to the designs of Norman Jewson. (fn. 196)
Before 1507 a new inn was built in Withington village on the orders of the lord of the manor, the bishop of Worcester, (fn. 197) and an inn with a sign was recorded at Withington in 1528. (fn. 198) Both references are likely to be to the inn called the George in a range of buildings just south of the churchyard (comprising in 1998 Corner House and Forge Cottage). (fn. 199) The sign was given as the St. George in 1676, (fn. 200) which suggests a preReformation origin, and architectural remains are consistent with the reference in 1507. The George was the village's principal (possibly the only) inn in the late 17th century, (fn. 201) and it remained open as such for much of 18th century, when it formed part of a copyhold under the manor based on the house later called Withington Court. (fn. 202) It closed soon after 1791 because the rector Benjamin Grisdale prevented a renewal of its licence, (fn. 203) and when the property was sold by the lords of the manor in 1897 it carried a covenant barring its use as a public house. (fn. 204) The Corner House incorporates at its south end one bay of what was probably a twobayed, late-medieval open hall; its roof, which has an arch-braced central truss and two tiers of windbraces, is similar to that at Halewell Close. Now floored, the hall may have remained open until the 19th century when a tall mullioned and transomed window and a chimney stack were built on the west front. Some thick walling may be medieval, but otherwise the north end of the house, including what was presumably a north bay of the hall, has been rebuilt. The parlour, forming the north-west corner of the building has a 17th-century ceiling. Forge Cottage, the south end of the range of buildings, was the village smithy in the 19th century; it was rebuilt before 1851 when the whole range was in four occupations. (fn. 205)
The New Inn, at the south-west of the upper part of the village, is mentioned above. The Mill inn beside the Coln, between the two parts of the village, had opened by 1856 and was long in the same management as the village mill on the opposite side of the road. (fn. 206) The inn, which occupies a range of buildings of two periods, both probably within the 18th century, was extended to the rear c. 1960. (fn. 207) In the lower end of the village, by the lane to Cassey Compton, a small public house called the King's Head opened before 1883, (fn. 208) and by 1891, and until 1924, there was another called the Compasses on the east side of Woodbridge Lane. (fn. 209) The Mill and the King's Head remained open in 1998. Inns that served traffic on the main roads at the north end of the parish, at Kilkenny, Garricks Head, and Andoversford, stood just within Withington parish but are included above with the history of Dowdeswell. (fn. 210)
A former army hut was re-erected beside the railway line between the two parts of Withington village in 1921 to serve as a reading room and clubroom (fn. 211) and a new village hall was built on the same site before 1998. A tall maypole, surmounted by a weather vane, stood at the road junction south-west of the churchyard by the 1840s. The pole was renewed several times in the 20th century (fn. 212) and survived until the 1970s. (fn. 213) The village had football and cricket clubs in the 1950s, (fn. 214) and a new playing field at the east end of the village, beyond Harnham Lane, was opened in 1967. (fn. 215) Land in the north-east part of the parish near Frogmill was given to Shipton parish before 1959 for a playing field by the owner of Fulford farm, E. F. Fieldhouse of Shipton Solers, and a later owner of the farm laid out a golf course between the playing field and the Withington-Cheltenham road in the mid 1990s. (fn. 216)
Visitors to Withington included the topographical writer Thomas Baskerville, who found welcome accommodation at the George inn after he and his companions lost their way on the wolds in 1682, (fn. 217) and William Cobbett, whose depiction in 1826 of the village as an example of rural decay and depopulation exaggerated the size of the parish church and misinterpreted other features. (fn. 218)
Manors and Other Estates.
At a date between 674 and 704 a.d. a monastery was founded at Withington by Ethelred, king of Mercia, and Oshere, under-king of the Hwicce, who gave 20 cassati of land there to Dunne and her daughter Bucge. Dunne bequeathed her rights as abbess of the monastery to her granddaughter Hrothwaru, who was confirmed in possession in 736 or 737, with reversion on her death to the see of Worcester. In 774 Milred, bishop of Worcester, gave the monastery to Abbess Aethelburg for life, with reversion to his church. (fn. 219) The monastery is not recorded later and Withington remained a possession of the bishops of Worcester, the estate including in the late Anglo-Saxon period the whole of the later parish together with Dowdeswell. (fn. 220) In 1086 the bishop's manor of Withington comprised estates held in demesne at Withington and Little Compton and tenanted sub-manors at Foxcote, Little Colesbourne with Hilcot, Dowdeswell with Pegglesworth, Notgrove, and Cold Aston. (fn. 221) The bishops of Worcester remained owners of the manor of WITHINGTON until the forfeiture of episcopal estates in the Civil War. In 1648 the manor was sold to John Howe of Cassey Compton, already lessee of the manor farm; (fn. 222) he remained lord in 1657 (fn. 223) and presumably until the bishop recovered his estates at the Restoration. Withington then remained in the bishops' possession until 1860 when it passed with their other estates to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 224)
The manor house and demesne farm of Withington were leased under the bishop of Worcester by 1466, (fn. 225) and in 1510 an 80-year lease was granted to Thomas Bush, a Northleach wool merchant, whose son Thomas had assigned it to another party by the 1540s. (fn. 226) In the early 17th century the manor farm was held by Ralph Cotton, who had five servants at Withington in 1608. By 1636 (fn. 227) it was held by John Howe, and in 1662 the bishop granted a new lease for three lives to John's second son John Grubham Howe. The younger John sold his lease in 1682 to Thomas Smith, who also bought the lease of Withington woods, which had been held from the bishop by members of the Rich family. Thomas's son Humphrey Smith (d. 1718) of Kidlington (Oxon.) (fn. 228) succeeded him as lessee, (fn. 229) and a new lease was granted in 1727 to Humphrey's son Thomas Smith, whose son and heir, also Thomas, sold it in 1764 to his brother William Smith (fn. 230) (fl. 1784). (fn. 231) Elizabeth Smith of Headington Hill, near Oxford, renewed the lease in 1796, (fn. 232) and George Knapp was the lessee c. 1803 (fn. 233) and Henry Knapp in 1819 and 1840. (fn. 234) The manor farm remained on lease for lives in 1855, when including the woods it comprised 774 a., (fn. 235) but by 1865 it had reverted to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 236)
In 1866 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners used the manor farm, another farm, and Withington woods, apparently the whole of the estate not then held from them by copyhold or leasehold for lives, as a part of the re-endowment estate of the dean and chapter of Gloucester cathedral. The dean and chapter returned that land to the Commissioners in exchange for other property in 1892. (fn. 237) Having enfranchised the copyhold land of the manor, (fn. 238) the Commissioners sold the manorial rights, the woods, the two farms, and a third farm, based on the house later called Halewell Close, in 1926 to Reginald Julius Gunther. (fn. 239) At Gunther's death in 1967 his estate was divided, the manor farm with the woods passing to his niece Mary, the wife of Anthony Noel, earl of Gainsborough. (fn. 240) Lady Gainsborough's son, the Hon. Gerard Noel, sold the farm, a total of c. 800 a. including the woods, in 1997. (fn. 241)
In the Middle Ages the bishops of Worcester frequently stayed on their manor of Withington during journeys through their large diocese. About 1182 one group of tenants owed additional labour services to meet the needs of the household when the bishop was in residence, (fn. 242) and in 1288 a freehold estate at Upcote owed the service of carrying writs within the diocese. (fn. 243) Godfrey Giffard, bishop 12681302, was a regular visitor (fn. 244) and in 1271 had licence from the Crown, possibly not acted upon, to crenellate his house at Withington. (fn. 245) A lease of the manor house and the demesne farm in 1476 reserved the use of the house for visits by the bishop, at which time the tenant was required to move into the gatehouse; the tenant also had to provide hospitality for the steward and other officers coming to hold the manor court at Michaelmas, (fn. 246) an obligation which by the late 17th century had been commuted for an annual payment of 40s. (fn. 247) Under the lessees of the early modern period the house and farm were sublet. (fn. 248) R. J. Gunther took up residence at the manor house when he bought the estate in 1926 but within a few years moved to Halewell Close, which he had much enlarged. By 1931 (fn. 249) the manor house was occupied by W. S. Morrison, M.P. for the Cirencester and Tewkesbury constituency and Speaker of the House of Commons from 1951 to 1959; Morrison, later Vct. Dunrossil, lived there until his appointment as governor-general of Australia in 1960. (fn. 250)
The manor house, called Manor Farm in the late 19th century (fn. 251) and Withington Manor in 1998, occupies with its farm buildings a large site at north end of the upper part of Withington village; in the Middle Ages it may have comprised a complex of buildings, as the reference to the gatehouse in 1476 suggests. The earliest part of the surviving house is an L-shaped mid 17th-century building, partly ashlar faced, with twin gables on both the east and south facades. By 1883 (fn. 252) the angle of the L-shaped house had been filled in, making a rectangular plan and wings had been built to the north-east and north-west. The entrance was on the east. In 1927 the house, which then had two- and threelight mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, was extensively remodelled by R. J. Gunther. (fn. 253) The projecting wings were demolished and a new range, as tall as the rest of the house, was built along the north side, adding an extra 18thcentury style bay to the east facade and concealing the low range built in the angle of the L. A service wing was added to the new range. The external details, including the string courses and most of the six-light windows, date from that remodelling, as do many of the internal features. On the north-west of the house is a square, cross-gabled dovecot, probably of the 17th or early 18th century. A small new farmhouse for the tenant of the manor farm was built to the north-east of the house by Gunther in 1935. (fn. 254)
An estate of 1 mansa at Compton was leased from the see of Worcester in 962 a.d. and until 989 or later (fn. 255) and, comprising 1 ploughland in demesne, a mill, and tenant land, was retained in hand by the bishop in 1086. (fn. 256) From it evidently derived the estate of LITTLE COMPTON, usually called from the late 16th century CASSEY COMPTON. John de Mucegros, who died c. 1275, held 1 ploughland at Little Compton from the bishop for a chief rent of 1 mark, (fn. 257) which the owners still owed to Withington manor in the early 20th century. (fn. 258) John's widow Cecily held the estate for some years. (fn. 259) Descendants of the Mucegros family, the Ferrers family of Chartley (Staffs.), still drew rents from Little Compton in the early 15th century, (fn. 260) but the estate had passed by 1299 to John Russell. (fn. 261) In 1436 Walter Percival and Blanche, the former wife of Nicholas Cassey, granted the estate to John Cassey. (fn. 262) It presumably then remained in the ownership of the Casseys of Wightfield, in Deerhurst parish, (fn. 263) John Cassey holding it in 1497 (fn. 264) and William Cassey at his death in 1509. William's son Leonard (fn. 265) died a minor in 1513 and Compton passed to Leonard's brother Robert, who came of age c. 1528. (fn. 266) Robert (d. 1547) settled it on his wife Elizabeth, who was succeeded by their son Henry (fn. 267) (d. 1595). Henry's son Thomas succeeded (fn. 268) and in 1610 he and his family levied a fine of an estate at Cassey Compton and Compton Abdale to Thomas Rich. Rich, later of North Cerney, (fn. 269) had probably taken up residence at Cassey Compton in 1608 and was certainly living there in 1614. (fn. 270) He was dealing with the estate in 1623, (fn. 271) but by 1636 it belonged to John Howe, (fn. 272) perhaps as a result of his marriage to Rich's daughter Bridget. (fn. 273)
John Howe was M.P. for Gloucestershire 16545 and 16568 and was created a baronet in 1660. (fn. 274) He died in 1670 (fn. 275) and was succeeded at Cassey Compton by his second son John Grubham Howe (d. by 1682), (fn. 276) who was M.P. for the county in 1659 and 166179. (fn. 277) The latter's widow Lady Annabella Howe owned Cassey Compton in 1684, (fn. 278) but it passed before 1701 to Richard Howe, (fn. 279) her husband's nephew, who succeeded to the family baronetcy in 1703. Sir Richard (d. 1730) left Cassey Compton with other estates to his wife Mary (d. 1735), with reversion to his kinsman John Howe, (fn. 280) later 1st Lord Chedworth, a grandson of John Grubham Howe. From 1735 it descended with the Stowell Park estate (fn. 281) and formed part of a large tenant farm which included land in Compton Abdale; (fn. 282) the acreage in Withington parish in 1819 was 309. (fn. 283) In 1923 the earl of Eldon sold Cassey Compton house with 909 a. of land and woods in Withington and adjoining parishes to the agriculturalist Professor (Sir) William Somerville, (fn. 284) and in 1927 Somerville sold it to Samuel Vestey, (fn. 285) thus re-uniting it with Stowell Park. In 1998 the house was tenanted by a sculptor and painter, Mr. Jonathan Poole, while the land round about was farmed by the estate.
Cassey Compton house stands in a secluded valley near the south-east corner of Withington where the river Coln is joined by the Compton brook. The Cassey family had a mansion there in 1601, (fn. 286) and the Howes lived there in the 17th and early 18th centuries, John Grubham Howe being assessed on 18 hearths in 1672. (fn. 287) The house was extensively remodelled on a U plan by (Sir) Richard Howe c. 1700 and a large part of the house and outbuildings survive as drawn by Kip a few years later, (fn. 288) although the house was reduced in size when it became a farmhouse after 1730. A fragment of a three-storeyed, early 17th-century house with hollow-chamfered mullioned windows was incorporated in the rebuilt house as service rooms at the north-east angle of the central block (fn. 289) and was extended northwards as a low range of one and a half storeys. The central block and north wing have their original mullioned and transomed windows but only two of their original dormers and one north stack. On the first floor of the north wing three rooms have contemporary cornices and angled walls where corner fireplaces must have fitted, and that wing retains its tiebeam and collar-truss roof. The matching south wing was demolished before 1819, (fn. 290) and it was perhaps at the same time that the central block, shown by Kip as double pile with a central cupola, was reduced to a single pile with windows re-used where the east range formerly abutted. The interior of the house was much altered during the 19th and 20th centuries: new entrances were made into the central block and north wing, the original central doorway was blocked, the staircase was removed and a new staircase made at the inner angle of the central block and north wing, and the ground-floor arrangement of rooms was replanned. A low stable or lodgings block running south had its mullioned and transomed windows half blocked and internal partitions removed, perhaps in the 19th century to convert it for agricultural use; in 1998 it was used as an art gallery.
Of the formal garden that existed in the early 18th century the main survival is the canalized Coln, with coped walls and a small bridge across, running close to the site of the vanished south wing. Gatepiers with urn finials survive in the wall on the south side, though the wall there has been altered, but a similar set of piers in the west wall, aligned with the main entrance of the house, has been removed. In a field beyond Compton brook to the north-east, within Compton Abdale parish, traces could be seen in 1998 of part of the garden, showing it to have been much smaller in scale than suggested by Kip's view. A large deer park belonging to the owners in the early 18th century occupied the hillside in Compton Abdale to the east of the house. (fn. 291)
In 1086 three hides at FOXCOTE were held from the bishop of Worcester's Withington manor by Morinus. (fn. 292) In the late 12th century Roger de Mynors held an intermediate lordship between the bishop and a tenant-in-demesne, and Roger's grandson Henry de Mynors (fn. 293) granted his rights before 1214 to the Knights Templar. (fn. 294) In 1219 the Templars sought warranty from Henry's three daughters and heirs after being distrained for suit to the bishop's court at Withington. (fn. 295) In the late 13th century the tenant-in-demesne held the manor as 3 hides and knight's fee under the successive overlordships of the Templars, the heirs of the Mynors family, and the bishop of Worcester. (fn. 296) In 1530 Foxcote manor was thought to be held directly from the bishop, (fn. 297) though a small rent was owed from it to the Templars' former preceptory of Temple Guiting in 1535. (fn. 298) The Templars evidently also acquired land at Foxcote in demesne, for in 1329 some was attached to Temple Guiting, which received a rent of 4s. from a tenant at Foxcote in 1535. (fn. 299)
Bertrand Crochun held Foxcote manor in the late 12th century, (fn. 300) and Adam Crochun (or Crocum) in 1214 and 1220. (fn. 301) William Crosson (presumably a form of the same surname) held it in 1285 and 1303, (fn. 302) and John Crosson in 1346. (fn. 303) By 1507 the manor had been acquired by the college of Westbury-on-Trym, (fn. 304) possibly by grant of John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, who bought an adjoining estate in Dowdeswell in the 1460s to include as part of his re-endowment of the college. (fn. 305) In 1544 the Crown sold Foxcote with the college's other lands to Sir Ralph Sadler, (fn. 306) who sold it in 1549 to Robert Lawrence. (fn. 307) It apparently belonged soon afterwards to Thomas Upcote, whose widow married Richard Lawrence, the manor becoming divided between the widow and Thomas's son Walter. (fn. 308) Richard Lawrence, however, acquired an unrestricted title and at his death in 1576 left of Foxcote manor to his widow Margaret (apparently his second wife), the residue passing to his son Richard, then a minor. (fn. 309) Richard later succeeded to the whole and died in 1617, having settled it on his wife Elizabeth, with remainders to members of the family of his sister Anne Hilton; (fn. 310) Richard Hilton had lands at Foxcote in 1647, but the largest estate in the hamlet was then owned by the heirs of John Lygon. (fn. 311) In 1652 John Heath and his wife Elizabeth were dealing with Foxcote manor, (fn. 312) and in 1660 John settled it, from after his death, on Elizabeth's sister Katherine and her husband Fleetwood Dormer. (fn. 313) Dormer, who was later knighted, retained the manor in 1684. (fn. 314)
About 1710 a Mr. Rook was said to be lord of Foxcote, (fn. 315) and in 1717 John Wright the younger of Kelvedon (Essex) owned a life interest in the manor. (fn. 316) In 1771 the manor belonged to Sarah Jordan, who married Edward Ansell (fn. 317) (d. by 1784) and later William Marshall (fl. 1807). Sarah left the manor, with a farm based on the house called Foxcote Manor, to her nieces Ann, Sarah, and Maria Ansell, (fn. 318) and those three, of whom Ann married a Mr. Sylvester (d. by 1830) and Maria married John Festus Fegan, were the owners in 1819 and 1830. (fn. 319) At a partition of Foxcote Manor farm in 1868 the bulk of it was assigned to Thomas Hodges Graham and a small part, 1/10 of the farm, to representatives of the Fegan family. (fn. 320) In 1907 the farm with 248 a. was offered for sale by Arthur Preston, (fn. 321) and in 1911 Gideon Spearman was the owner. (fn. 322) In 1919 Foxcote Manor farm was acquired by Mrs. Emma Abell, (fn. 323) whose son Victor farmed it in the 1920s and 1930s. Mrs. Abell was succeeded before 1939 by her eldest son George (fn. 324) (d. 1946), and George's eldest son, Sir George Abell, owned Foxcote in 1954 though his second son Sir Anthony Abell lived there then and during the 1960s. (fn. 325) The Abells, who had added glebe land, bought from the rector in 1921, (fn. 326) and Thorndale farm (former glebe), bought c. 1932, sold the Foxcote estate in 1973 to the Hon. M. W. Vestey, brother of Lord Vestey of Stowell Park. Mr. Vestey further enlarged the estate by acquiring two other farms at Foxcote and parts of Withington Manor farm, and in 1998 he owned c. 404.5 ha. (c. 1,000 a.) in the parish. (fn. 327)
Foxcote Manor, which was much extended in the 20th century, retains at its centre a rubblebuilt, five-bayed house of c. 1700. It has two storeys with mullioned and transomed windows and dormered attics in a hipped roof. Its plan, single pile with a short north-west wing, was determined by an earlier house, the outer walls and stacks of which are incorporated in the three northern bays. Flanking gabled wings in an early 17th-century style were later added, that on the north by the Abells c. 1920 and that on the south by Mr. Vestey in 1973, and other additions included a north bay window (1989), a south loggia (1991), and the visually significant classical porch (19978). After c. 1980, when farming operations on the estate were centred on Thorndale Farm, an 18th-century barn was converted to a billiard room and squash court, using windows from a demolished service wing at Stowell Park, and the cattle yard was made into a stable court. Work carried out from the late 1970s onwards incorporated several fields to the south and south-east of the house in landscaped grounds. (fn. 328)
In 1086 two hides in Colesbourne and 'Willecote', evidently Little Colesbourne and Hilcot at the western edge of the parish, were held from the bishop of Worcester's Withington manor by Anschitel. (fn. 329) Later, apparently c. 1200, Philip of Colesbourne held two hides at those places, (fn. 330) and a man of the same name claimed the advowson of the chapel at Little Colesbourne in 1227. (fn. 331) By 1209, however, the two parts of the estate had passed into separate ownerships, the hide at LITTLE COLESBOURNE being held by Joseph Marsh. (fn. 332) By 1285 Bruern abbey (Oxon.) held that estate under the intermediate lordship of John Marsh of Ampney, who owed the bishop knight service and a rent of 10s. in respect of it. (fn. 333) Bruern retained Little Colesbourne until the Dissolution, and in 1543 the Crown sold it to Edmund Harman, who sold it in 1544 to the tenant Thomas Preedon. (fn. 334) Thomas Bridges died in possession of Little Colesbourne shortly before 1647, (fn. 335) and the Revd. Thomas Bridges owned it in 1662. (fn. 336) Charles Fettiplace was the owner in 1701 (fn. 337) and Josiah Roberts by 1706; (fn. 338) the same or another Josiah Roberts owned it in 1743. (fn. 339) In 1794 the house called Little Colesbourne Farm and 344 a. belonged to John Roberts of Chalford, (fn. 340) and Adam Oldham owned that estate, a compact enclosed farm, in 1819. (fn. 341) Before 1830 Little Colesbourne was added to the adjoining Colesbourne estate of the Elwes family, (fn. 342) which retained it in 1998 when much of the land was under plantations and the farmhouse was occupied by the estate gamekeeper. (fn. 343)
Little Colesbourne Farm comprises a twostoreyed range of the later 17th century with end stacks serving two ground-floor rooms; the larger room is distinguished by a four-light mullioned and transomed window. The house was much altered in the 19th century when a new roof was put on, the through-passage was partitioned, and a small service wing added. (fn. 344)
In 1209 1 hide at HILCOT, formerly in the same ownership as Little Colesbourne, was held from Withington manor by William Marsh. (fn. 345) In 1285 it was held by knight service by another William Marsh, (fn. 346) who died c. 1302 and was succeeded by his son Walter. (fn. 347) Thomas de la Mare held Hilcot in 1346. (fn. 348) At the Dissolution Winchcombe abbey owned an estate which comprised lands called Hilcot, Mereplots, and Cotwell with part of Ayles wood; that estate was not termed a manor until the late 17th century. William Berners bought it from the Crown in 1546 and sold it a few days later to the lessee William Lawrence, (fn. 349) who was succeeded before 1552 by his son Edmund. By 1589 the estate had passed to Richard Lawrence, who sold it in 1598 to John Carter. Carter sold it in 1601 to Robert Rogers (fn. 350) (d. 1628) of Sandywell, in Dowdeswell, with which it descended to his son William and granddaughter Elizabeth, who married first Sir Walter Raleigh and second Paul Dodwell (fn. 351) (d. 1691). (fn. 352) Under an agreement of 1694 (fn. 353) Dodwell's heirs retained the woodland belonging to the estate, which as a result was again in the same ownership as Sandywell in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 354) The farmland, a total of 535 a., was divided in 1698 between the two daughters of Sir Walter and Elizabeth, Elizabeth, the wife of Sir John Elwes, and Anne, the wife of William Knight. (fn. 355)
The Elweses' share of Hilcot, which included the manor house (later called Upper Hilcot Farm) and the manorial rights, belonged to a Major Elwes in 1750 (fn. 356) and to John Dodington Forth, of King's Sutton (Northants.), in 1796, (fn. 357) passing before 1804 to a Mr. Clarke. (fn. 358) The Knights' share, for which a new farmhouse called Lower Hilcot was provided, had been acquired by c. 1770 by Henry Howe, Lord Chedworth, (fn. 359) passing with his other estates in the area to his nephew John (d. 1804). (fn. 360) Both Hilcot farms were bought c. 1810 by John Elwes (fn. 361) (d. 1817), owner of the Colesbourne estate, whose son Henry owned a total of 1,067 a. in Withington parish in 1820, including also Upcote farm and land held as copyhold from Withington manor. (fn. 362) Staple farm, Little Colesbourne, (fn. 363) and, before 1830, Hilcot wood (fn. 364) were also added to the Colesbourne estate. Although a large part of Withington remained in the possession of the Elweses' Colesbourne estate in 1998, some farmland was sold in the 1950s, (fn. 365) including Upper Hilcot Farm and 261 a. which were bought by Mr. T. C. Owen in 1952. Mr. Owen sold the farm in 1976 to Capt. R. D. Kennedy, (fn. 366) who bought Lower Hilcot from the Colesbourne estate c. 1980. Capt. Kennedy later sold the house at Lower Hilcot and retained Upper Hilcot Farm with 202.5 ha. (500 a.) in 1998. (fn. 367)
The manor house of Hilcot, at Upper Hilcot Farm, was described in the early 17th century as the ancient messuage called Hilcot grange, (fn. 368) indicating that the site was occupied during Winchcombe abbey's ownership. The old part of Upper Hilcot Farm is a 16th-century, rectangular, timber-framed range with a closestudded ground floor, a box-framed upper storey, and attics; it has a tiled roof and the south end of the house is rendered. It was originally on a through-passage plan with a rear stack, but little survives internally of the original plan and fittings. The roof retains two arch-braced trusses and some windbraces of a fairly deep section. Alterations made after 1952 included the removal of the fireplace on the ground floor to make room for a new bathroom, and the house was much enlarged by Capt. Kennedy in two stages, in 1976 and c. 1990, (fn. 369) adding a rear extension with a three-ridged roof, gables, and mock timber-framing.
Lower Hilcot Farm, which stands further downstream where the road to Withington village crosses Hilcot brook, was built soon after the partition of the Hilcot estate in 1698. Built on an unusually compact plan, it is of coursed rubble with two storeys and attics, the two rooms on each floor flanking a staircase in dogleg flights within a rectangular well, lit by a tall window. The ground- and first-floor rooms to the south of the stair have tall stone chimneypieces with four-centred headed openings, those on the first floor filling the angles of the rooms. In the 19th century a small service addition with a large stack was made on the north-west, and it was linked to a converted outbuilding in the late 20th century.
The small manor of OWDESWELL in the north-east corner of the parish was recorded from 1299 when it was owned by Studley priory (Warws.). Assessed at 1 hides, it was held from the bishop of Worcester by performing suit for him at the county court and responding to summons and distraints in hundred courts. (fn. 370) The priory had been given some or all of its land in Owdeswell by Peter of Ashridge and Jordan, his brother, and in 1330 John, son of John of Owdeswell, quitclaimed his right in the land of their gift to the priory. (fn. 371) Studley held Owdeswell until the Dissolution, (fn. 372) and the Crown sold it in 1543 to two dealers in monastic lands, (fn. 373) who transferred it almost immediately to Henry Heydon of Watford (Herts.). (fn. 374) Heydon owned it at his death in 1559 when he was succeeded by his son Francis, (fn. 375) who sold the manor in 1569 to Thomas Phelps and his son Thomas. The younger Thomas Phelps mortgaged Owdeswell in 1617 to Robert Lawrence of Sevenhampton, who later became owner. (fn. 376) Robert died in 1644 when his heir was William Lawrence (fn. 377) of Little Shurdington, in Badgeworth, who owned Owdeswell at his death in 1682. William devised Owdeswell to his nephew William Lawrence (d. 1697), (fn. 378) and it belonged to a Mr. Lawrence of Badgeworth c. 1710 (fn. 379) and to Robert Lawrence in 1779. (fn. 380) William Lawrence of Little Shurdington owned it in 1787, (fn. 381) and in 1819, following the inclosure of the parish, his estate comprised the house called Owdeswell Manor and 158 a. (fn. 382) He died in 1820 or 1821, when his heir was his son William Edward Lawrence, then a minor, and his trustees and W. E. Lawrence sold Owdeswell in 1837 to Fulwar Craven of Brockhampton, in Sevenhampton. (fn. 383) Owdeswell then descended with Brockhampton, but at the sale of Brockhampton in 1900 (fn. 384) it was retained out of consideration for a long-standing tenant, who still held the farm under a trustee for the Colquitt-Craven family in 1935. (fn. 385) By 1941 the farm belonged to C. Payne, (fn. 386) and in 1998 Owdeswell, comprising Owdeswell Manor and 72.5 ha. (180 a.), was owned and farmed by Mr. and Mrs. J. F. G. Richardson.
Owdeswell Manor is a two-storeyed, lobbyentry house of the mid 17th century on an L plan, with mullioned windows on the main west front. In the 18th century the south elevation of the south wing was refaced in ashlar, and a new block was added in the angle of the two older ranges, making the house rectangular. In the 20th century sash windows were replaced with mullioned and transomed windows, and new mullioned windows were added on the west front. A barn adjoining appears to date from the early 18th century and has 19th-century additions.
STAPLE FARM, adjoining Withington woods near the south end of the parish, was established before the late 13th century, partly from assarts. William de Stabulo held hide from the bishop of Worcester's Withington manor c. 1285, (fn. 387) and in 1299 John de Stabulo had an estate which comprised 1 yardland, 2 pieces of assart land, one of them deriving from a grant made by Bishop William de Blois between 1218 and 1236, and a house granted by his successor Walter Cantilupe before 1266. (fn. 388) Richard atte Stable, a free tenant under the bishop in 1349, (fn. 389) presumably had the same estate. The farm was apparently included in lands in Withington owned in 1436 by John Vampage, (fn. 390) passing to his successors, the owners of Colesbourne manor. (fn. 391) The heirs of Robert Vampage were free tenants of Withington manor in 1520 (fn. 392) and his widow Eleanor, who married John Guise, held 8 yardlands at her death c. 1545; her estate then owed a rent of 10s. to Withington manor (fn. 393) which was still paid by the owners of Staple farm in 1789. (fn. 394) Eleanor's son John Vampage held an estate described as the manor of Withington at his death in 1548, (fn. 395) and in 1602 John's nephew Edmund Harewell sold that estate, styled the manor of Withington 'alias Staples', with Colesbourne manor to William Higgs (d. 1612). (fn. 396)
By 1647 Staple farm belonged to Edmund Lawrence, (fn. 397) who settled it, together with a leasehold estate, on the marriage of his daughter Hannah to Dr. Robert Fielding in 1655. (fn. 398) It passed, apparently in Robert's lifetime, to a younger son Edward Fielding, who died before 1716 when his widow Mary and brother Charles conveyed it to Caleb Baily of Berwick Bassett (Wilts.). (fn. 399) Baily retained it in 1748, (fn. 400) and it passed soon afterwards to William Hillier (d. 1750), a Cirencester woolstapler, who left it to his son William. (fn. 401) William died in 1768, having settled Staple farm on his wife Susanna, with remainder to his brother Richard, (fn. 402) presumably the Richard Hillier, a bankrupt, whose assignee held the farm in 1778. (fn. 403) A member of the Hillier family still owned it in 1789. (fn. 404) The farm was presumably among estates that John Elwes of Colesbourne acquired, for his second son John Meggot Elwes owned it comprising 197 a. in 1819. (fn. 405) By 1830 it belonged to John Elwes's eldest son Henry Elwes, (fn. 406) and it remained part of the family's Colesbourne estate in 1998 when the land was in hand and the farmhouse leased separately. (fn. 407)
Staple Farm is of two storeys and forms a T plan. The three-bayed south front, built of coursed rubble, is of the later 18th century, but the west end of the house includes some massive walling and a section of wall-plate, suggesting that part of a lower, older house was incorporated; remains of old walling surviving to the north of the present house in 1903 presumably represented other parts of the earlier farmhouse. (fn. 408) In the 20th century an outbuilding attached to the west end was restored as part of the house.
In 1299 Nicholas de Staveby held hide at UPCOTE, near the centre of the parish, from the bishop of Worcester by knight service. (fn. 409) About 1450 that estate belonged to John Cassey, owner of Little Compton, (fn. 410) and his family retained it c. 1510, when it was described as a manor, comprising two houses and 300 a. (fn. 411) The owner in 1539 was Robert Cassey (d. 1547), who leased it to his brother-in-law William Reed. (fn. 412) In 1548 custody of Upcote was granted to Reed during the minority of Robert's son and heir Henry. (fn. 413) In or shortly before 1619 Peter Garnons and his wife Anna sold Upcote to John Seaman, chancellor of Gloucester diocese, (fn. 414) who at his death in 1623 left it to his younger son William Seaman (fn. 415) (fl. 1630). (fn. 416) By 1647 it belonged to Edward Rich, who also held a large leasehold farm in the same part of the parish under Withington manor. (fn. 417) Edward Rich died in 1681 but Thomas Rich, presumably Edward's eldest son who died in 1678, (fn. 418) owned Upcote farm in 1662. (fn. 419) In 1687 it belonged to Edward's grandson Lionel, successor to his Upper Dowdeswell estate, (fn. 420) who sold it in 1722 to Richard Page, a Northleach mercer. Page's trustees sold Upcote in 1743 to Caleb Hillier, a Cirencester clothier and later a woolstapler. (fn. 421) Hillier (d. 1753) left it to his daughter Susanna, (fn. 422) who was succeeded by her sister Sarah, the wife of the Revd. Joshua Parry (d. 1776). Sarah (d. 1786) was succeeded by her son Caleb Hillier Parry, a prominent Bath physician, who sold Upcote in 1794 to Joseph Pitt of Cirencester. Pitt sold it a few weeks later to John Elwes of Colesbourne, (fn. 423) and the farm, which covered 227 a. in 1819 after the inclosure, (fn. 424) descended with the Colesbourne estate until 1952 when it was sold to the Revd. P. C. Moore. (fn. 425) It changed hands several times before c. 1970 when it was bought by Brian Montague-Fuller, who left it to his wife Sheila. She farmed Upcote with her second husband Mr. J. R. R. Platt in 1998, when it covered 137.5 ha. (340 a.). (fn. 426) The farmhouse was rebuilt in the early 19th century, probably c. 1830, (fn. 427) with a symmetrical, south-east main front of two storeys with a hipped roof.
In 1086 the demesne of the bishop of Worcester's manor of Withington had 2 ploughteams and 6 servi. (fn. 428) About 1290 it comprised 15 a. of pasture, 47 a. of meadow, and 363 a. of arable with 48 a. of newly-broken land; 2 ploughs and 18 oxen were then maintained to work the demesne arable, and in 1303 the manor employed a carter and 2 ploughmen. (fn. 429) The newly-broken land was part of a general extension of the cultivated land of the manor in the early Middle Ages. It may have been the same demesne arable that was described in 1299 as on the 'ridgeway', perhaps meaning that it adjoined the old Cheltenham road on the high land to the west of the village. A small group of the tenants owed customary ploughing works on the ridgeway land in 1299 and included four who held assarts, (fn. 430) which suggests that when new land was assarted for the demesne the labour-services to work it may have been assigned specifically to tenants who were assarting land for their own holdings at the same time. The demesne was capable c. 1290 of carrying a stock of 600 sheep, 12 cows and a bull, and 4 sows and a boar. (fn. 431) Its arable was still being cultivated for the bishop in 1389 when his stock at Withington included 11 oxen, together with 637 sheep, 3 horses, 3 cows, and 9 pigs. Sheep from some of the bishop's manors in more lowlying areas, such as Bredon and Kempsey (both Worcs.), were summered at Withington at that period, (fn. 432) and in the early 15th century the demesne was used, with Bibury and Blockley (Worcs., later Glos.), mainly as pasture for the bishop's total flock of c. 2,500 animals. That flock was farmed out to Thomas Bleke, the lessee of the Withington and Bibury demesnes, in 1454 and sold outright to him in 1458. (fn. 433) By 1466 the whole demesne at Withington was leased, with the manor house as its farmhouse and with pasture rights for a flock of 1,000 sheep. (fn. 434) By the beginning of the 17th century the lessee's allowance for sheep pasture was for 600 animals, further reduced to 480 in 1638. (fn. 435) The manorial demesne remained the principal farm of the south part of the parish and in 1796 comprised 341 a. of arable and 124 a. of inclosed meadow and pasture. (fn. 436)
Among a variety of small manors and freeholdings held from Withington manor in 1086, Compton, then in the bishop's hands, had 1 ploughteam in demesne with 2 servi and a tenantry comprising 2 villani and 2 bordarii. Four other estates held by radknights totalled 2 hides and 3 yardlands. (fn. 437) About 1170 the dependant estates of the manor included Little Compton, Foxcote, Little Colesbourne with Hilcot, Upcote, a 1-hide freehold (possibly Owdeswell, listed with the same hidage in 1299), and two -hide freeholds (perhaps including Rossley). (fn. 438) Assarting had added a number of other freeholds by 1299, probably including land at the later Staple farm and at Cothill. (fn. 439)
In 1086 the unfree tenants on the bishop's manor were 16 villani and 8 bordarii with 7 teams between them. (fn. 440) About 1182 the customary tenants included yardlanders, cotmanni (apparently holders of quite large tenements), and mondaymen, (fn. 441) and in 1299 there was a total of 53 customary tenants 8 yardlanders, 16 half-yardlanders, 5 enchelondi (holding tenements of 16 a.), 17 mondaymen (whose tenements comprised 4 a., 2 a., or just a house), and 7 cottagers. The weekly services of the yardlander between November and June were four days' manual labour and three days' carrying service and in August and September four days' reaping with 2 men and two days' binding sheaves. The services of the enchelondi were roughly equivalent to those of a half yardlander but one of them was a smith whose duties included shoeing horses and the upkeep of ploughs. The mondayman's one day a week could involve carrying produce between the bishop's manors, driving cattle, and carrying messages. The cottagers also owed one day a week. Most tenants owed bedrips in the harvest, and other dues included church-scot, a payment called wood silver, toll on brewing, and pannage. (fn. 442)
In the autumn of 1349, immediately following the great plague but probably a result also of the general slump in arable cultivation, only 16 customary tenants 8 yardlanders, 3 enchelondi ('inchemen'), and 5 cottagers remained on Withington manor. (fn. 443) In 1507 27 former customary holdings were in the lord's hands but much of the land belonging to them was rented out, presumably among holders of the surviving customary tenements. The lapsed holdings then included 9 messuages, 3 cottages, and 8 tofts (fn. 444) and many of the dwellings evidently went out of use and were demolished. By the 16th century the customary tenancies were mostly amalgams. The two largest were a copyhold of the Freeman family (known in the 17th century as Freemans farm), which in 1528 comprised six former holdings, a total of 6 yardlands, (fn. 445) and a copyhold of a branch of the Lawrence family, which in 1545 comprised some five former holdings and which (by its old description) included 3 messuages, a cottage, Withington mill, 3 yardlands, 8 a., and the land of an enchelondus. (fn. 446)
In 1647 the tenants of the manor estate were 4 leaseholders for lives and 9 copyholders. (fn. 447) Both Freemans farm and the Lawrence family's holding had by then been converted to leasehold. The former, which was probably by then based on a house in the upper end of the village by the Chedworth road, had passed to the Rich family, and for much of the 18th century the Young family were the lessees, holding 320 a. in respect of it in 1753. (fn. 448) The Lawrence holding, which by 1647 was apparently based on the house in the same part of the village later called Halewell Close, passed in 1655 to the Fielding family; (fn. 449) in 1803 it comprised a house, c. 180 a. of farmland, and 8 cottages. (fn. 450) The other two leaseholds in 1647 were the large demesne farm and an alehouse at Andoversford. The principal copyhold in the upper end of the village was held in 1647 by Giles Driver, comprising by the old description 4 messuages and 4 yardlands; based on the house later called Withington Court, it had 160 a. of open-field land in 1798. (fn. 451) The other main copyhold in the upper end was held for two centuries or more by the Burroughs family. (fn. 452) The main copyholds of Brockwell End were one described as 3 messuages and 3 yardlands, having c. 80 a. of open-field land, held in the 17th century by another branch of the Lawrences, and one described as 2 messuages and 2 yardlands which was held by Elizabeth Teale in 1647 when it included c. 120 a. in the open fields. The copyholds were granted for up to four lives, with widows having freebench and the heirs or executors of a tenant remaining in possession for the 'dead's year'.
The tenancies on Withington manor altered little between the mid 17th century and the early 19th. By the late 18th century, however, the pattern of farming units cut across that of the tenancies, for leaseholders and copyholders were often non-parishioners holding their land as an investment and subletting it at rack rent. (fn. 453) The land of the Withington Court copyhold and that of the Halewell Close leasehold was then farmed by members of the Savory family, (fn. 454) while another large farm in 1794 incorporated glebe land of the rector, the Burroughs' copyhold, and the freehold Staple farm. (fn. 455)
By the early 16th century only Foxcote among the sub-manors of the parish apparently had any tenants, Westbury college receiving 4 6s. 8d. rent from a demesne farm and 1 3s. 6d. from free and customary tenants in 1535. (fn. 456) In 1717 that manor's only tenants were two cottagers holding by leases for lives and it also received a small sum in quit rents. (fn. 457) There were also some independent freeholds at Foxcote, one deriving from the enfranchisement of a copyhold of Shipton Solers manor in 1702. (fn. 458) The other monastic estates in 1535 comprised only demesne farms. The most valuable was apparently Winchcombe abbey's at Hilcot, farmed at 8 a year; (fn. 459) the lease was renewed the following year for that rent plus a render in malt and cheeses. (fn. 460) Studley priory's Owdeswell and Bruern abbey's Little Colesbourne yielded only 2 and 1 7s. 4d. respectively in 1535. (fn. 461)
In the south part of the parish the two parts of Withington village called the upper end and Brockwell End had separate field systems and pasture rights in lands lying respectively west and east of the Coln. Apart from the rector no owner had lands in both sets of fields. (fn. 462) Intercommoning was not permitted between the two areas and in the early 18th century the manor court appointed separate sheep tellers for each. (fn. 463)
In 1299 the arable on the manor demesne was described as being divided between a north and a south field, probably referring to the two pairs of fields in which the tenants of the upper end (fn. 464) carried on a two-course rotation of a corn crop and a fallow in the 18th century. (fn. 465) In the centre of the parish, together spanning the valley between Withington hill and the coln, were Upcote field and North field; Butts field was west of the village by the Hilcot road and Wood field was to the south-west between the Coln and Withington woods. (fn. 466) Pasture for sheep was in the fields and in common downland on Withington hill. In 1548 the stint was 60 sheep to the yardland, (fn. 467) and at the beginning of the 17th century, at the same stint, the seven estates of upper end the manor farm, the two other large leaseholds, two copyholds, and Upcote and Staple farms had pasture for a total of 2,610 sheep. The numbers were reduced later by an inclosure from the fields, probably that carried out c. 1628 under which the rector took 30 a. from North field at Tuckwell (later Tithewell) near Fulford, and by a reduction in the stint made in 1638 to prevent over-grazing. (fn. 468)
On part of Withington hill the old Cheltenham road traditionally distinguished an area on the east grazed by the flocks of Withington's upper end from an area on the west used by the Hilcot estate. About 1620 to enforce the distinction Robert Rogers, owner of Hilcot, made a bank and hedge on or near the road, but his claim to exclusive rights in the land west of the road was later disputed by the upper end tenants, led by the lessee of the manor farm, John Howe. Their suit against Robert's son William was lost in 1636 when arbitrators upheld the Hilcot claim, allowing the upper end flocks only a right of passage through the Hilcot land to water at Hilcot brook. Further south, on the part of the hill called Shornhill another pasture was common in alternate years in the 1630s, the tenants of Freemans farm having exclusive use every other year; (fn. 469) it was presumably that land that the lessee of the farm, Simon Young, was reported to have inclosed in 1703. (fn. 470)
By 1813 only c. 100 a. of Withington hill, on a high plateau between the old Cheltenham road and the ridge overlooking Thorndale and Elwell, remained subject to rights of common, (fn. 471) which included an exclusive right claimed by the upper end tenants to cut furze; they had defended the right to furze vigorously against incursions by Brockwell End tenants in 1794. (fn. 472) The upper end tenants also had common in Withington woods, in those parts that lay outside seven coppices that the bishop's tenant was allowed to keep inclosed at any one time. In 1703 the stint in the woods was 6 cows and 3 horses to the yardland. (fn. 473)
The inhabitants of Brockwell End had two fields, North and South Brockwell End (or Brockland) fields, the former occupying the top of the ridge north-east of the village (where Ravenswell farm was later established) and the latter the hill between the village and Cassey Compton. (fn. 474) In the early 18th century, when most of the land in the two Brockwell End fields belonged to copyholds under Withington manor, eight occupiers had pasture rights there for a total of c. 600 sheep. (fn. 475) The principal estate in that part of the parish, Cassey Compton, had apparently long been inclosed, possibly as the result of the actions of a mid 15th-century owner, John Cassey, who c. 1450 was reported to be excluding the bishop of Worcester's Withington manor tenants from their common rights in a field called 'Compton field' and impounding their animals. (fn. 476) A group of closes on the estate (one called Inn field) lying north of Cassey Compton house, and forming an indent into the corner of South Brockwell End field before its inclosure, may have been taken out of the field by the owners by agreement or by such arbitrary action. In the early 18th century Sir Richard Howe still had a right to put 22 sheep in the south field every other year, but if his estate then retained any open-field land in either of the Brockwell End fields it was inclosed before the parliamentary inclosure of c. 1815. (fn. 477) About 1450 John Cassey was also said to exclude the Withington manor tenants from their rights after hay harvest in a group of meadows by the Coln, in one of which, Broadmead adjoining Cassey Compton house on the east, the tenants of Chedworth manor also claimed common; (fn. 478) those rights too seem to have been extinguished long before the inclosure.
Three of the outlying hamlets, Foxcote, Owdeswell, and Little Colesbourne, had open fields. The two Foxcote fields, called Over and Nether (later north and south) fields, lay respectively north and south of that hamlet. In the early 17th century they were stinted for sheep pasture at 60 to the yardland, (fn. 479) the same rate as in the Withington manor fields. Foxcote's south field, judging from its shape by the time of the parliamentary inclosure, was subjected to fairly extensive private inclosures for the benefit of the Foxcote manor estate. East of the hamlet, south-west of the GloucesterOxford road, lay a common meadow called Foxcote mead, (fn. 480) in which most of the landowners in Dowdeswell parish had meadowland (fn. 481) together with those of Withington. On Foxcote hill, the north part of the central ridge, the Foxcote inhabitants had a common pasture, covering over 200 a. in 1813. Owdeswell had two open fields, called North field and Upper field in 1680, occupying the north-east corner of the parish by the GloucesterOxford and GloucesterStow roads. Little Colesbourne had a north field and a south field in 1680 when all the land in them belonged to the rector or to the owner of Little Colesbourne manor. (fn. 482) In the 18th century the former leased his land to the latter, with the result that their respective strips had become difficult to distinguish by 1792; the two owners then agreed an inclosure, the rector taking a close of 17 a. (fn. 483)
No open fields are recorded in Hilcot. The downland on the west side of Withington hill was presumably common to its early-medieval tenants but Robert Rogers was apparently the sole occupier in the hamlet when he carried out the inclosure mentioned above. Land called the Downs in the south-west part of Hilcot, adjoining Coberley parish, was probably another area of former common land; by 1698 it too was held in severalty by the owners of Hilcot. (fn. 484)
The inclosure of Withington parish was carried out under an Act of 1813 and its provisions decided by 1815, (fn. 485) though the award was not made until 1819. It caused a major reorganization of the farms of the Withington village and Foxcote areas of the parish. It inclosed the Withington upper end, Brockwell End, Foxcote, and Owdeswell open fields, Foxcote common mead, and Foxcote and Withington hills, extinguished the common rights in Withington woods, re-allotted many small ancient closes, and commuted the tithes. The rector of Withington received 1,030 a. for his glebe and tithes. The other main beneficiaries in the south part of the parish were lessees under the bishop of Worcester: Henry Knapp for the manor farm received 490 a., including most of Butts field and the greater part of Withington woods, Thomas Day for Freemans farm received 202 a., including part of Wood field and c. 100 a. of Withington woods, which his successors later felled and used for agriculture, and Henry Brooke and Isabella Nicholls for the farm based on the later Halewell Close received 122 a., including the bulk of Wood field. Nine copyholders under the bishop received allotments in the upper end and Brockwell End fields, including Henry Elwes of Colesbourne, who was awarded the bulk of Upcote field in respect of the farmland of the copyhold based on the later Withington Court, and the owner of the former Lawrence family copyhold at Brockwell End, who received 93 a., a large part of the Brockwell End south field. Elwes also received 84 a. in respect of his Upcote farm freehold. At Foxcote the Foxcote manor estate received 152 a., the Foxcote House estate 99 a., and the farm later called Home farm at the east side of the hamlet 67 a. The owner of Owdeswell received 95 a., the bulk of the two Owdeswell fields. A total of 512 a., mainly on Foxcote and Withington hills, was sold to pay the expenses of the inclosure. (fn. 486)
Following the inclosure the parish contained c. 15 farms, most of them of middling size for the Cotswold area. The Withington manor farm had 777 a. (including its part of Withington woods) and employed 14 labourers in 1851; it was then still a leasehold for lives and was managed by a farm bailiff for the bishop's lessee. (fn. 487) By 1865 the Ecclesiastical Comissioners had taken it in hand and leased the house and farmland for 14 years, and the following year they also granted a 15-year lease of the farm allotted to Thomas Day at inclosure, the farmhouse of which was soon afterwards licensed as the New Inn. (fn. 488) The farm based on Halewell Close remained on lease for lives for some time longer; (fn. 489) in 1851 the subtenant was William Bennett who also occupied other land, a total farm of 508 a., and employed 22 labourers. (fn. 490) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had begun enfranchising the copyhold land on the manor estate by 1863, a process which continued until 1904 or later. (fn. 491)
The large rectory estate had been organized by 1835 into four farms: Tickwell farm had 252 a., farmed from buildings at Fulford and adjoining the rectory house, Ravenswell farm on the ridge north-east of the village had 240 a., Thorndale farm in the central part of the parish had 353 a., and Shornhill farm on the west side of Withington hill had 208 a. (fn. 492) Most of the farmland belonging to the Elwes family's Colesbourne estate was formed into three farms, two of which were managed for the owner by farm bailiffs in 1851: Upcote and Little Colesbourne farms then had 350 a. each and Upper Hilcot farm had 300 a. (fn. 493) By 1861 the estate's Withington land had been reorganized into four tenanted farms, based on Upcote, Little Colesbourne, Upper and Lower Hilcot, and Staple and Cothill. The rents of the farms then reflected the varying quality of the land and its suitability for arable, the Upcote farm with 267 a. paying 220 a year but the Hilcot farm with 372 a. paying only 207. (fn. 494) At Foxcote in 1851 the three main farms had 320 a., 246 a., and 140 a. respectively, and Owdeswell farm had 164 a. Cassey Compton farm, which in 1851 comprised 500 a. and employed 23 labourers, included much land in adjoining parishes. (fn. 495) There was also a number of smaller farms, some based in Brockwell End. The total number of agricultural occupiers returned for the parish in 1896 and 1926 was 27, including at the latter date nine with less than 20 a. The farms returned in 1926 employed a total of 46 full-time labourers and 16 other workers on a part-time or seasonal basis. (fn. 496)
Turnips had been introduced to the parish on a limited scale by 1801, but wheat, barley, and oats were then the staples of the rotation in the open fields. (fn. 497) In the mid 19th century the parish was intensively farmed, most of the farms following a five-course rotation (fn. 498) with cereals, roots, and clover or grass leys. In 1866 2,805 a. was returned as under crops compared with only 825 a. of permanent grassland. Sheep remained a significant livestock enterprise, with 2,325 adult beasts and 787 lambs returned in 1866, as well as 364 cattle. (fn. 499) Oxen were still used on some of the farms in the 1860s. (fn. 500) The agricultural depression much reduced the amount of land cropped, 1,938 a. being returned in 1896, (fn. 501) and rents fell drastically; the rector's income, drawn mainly from glebe, fell from 686 in 1856 to 288 in 1897. (fn. 502) By the end of the 1870s the farms of the Colesbourne estate in the parish, apart from Upcote, had been taken in hand by the owner H. J. Elwes. He later took the Hilcot farm out of cultivation and let it for the sporting rights (fn. 503) and planted some land there and on his other farms with timber. (fn. 504) By 1926 there had been a further fall in the amount of land under crops, with 1,259 a. returned compared with 2,511 a. of permanent grassland, over a third of which was classed as rough grazing. Large sheep flocks remained, with 2,061 adult beasts returned and over 1,000 lambs; 617 cattle returned in 1926 were kept mainly for beef, (fn. 505) though some farms supplied the milk trade, which had benefited from the opening of stations at Withington and Andoversford. In the mid 1950s cereals and beef were the main enterprises on the farms of the parish, and two farms had dairy herds. (fn. 506) The land returned as under crops had recovered to 1,912 a. in 1956 and cattle, a total of 893 returned, had increased at the expense of sheep, returned at a total of 1,093. Among the cereals barley was dominant (fn. 507) and by 1967 accounted for as much as 1,366 a. of the 2,151 a. returned as under crops. In the 1960s the parish also had one or more large broiler chicken units, rearing in 1967 over 24,000 birds. (fn. 508)
In the late 20th century the trend for estate owners to keep their land in hand caused the disappearance of several farms as separate units, though most of the farmhouses survived as residences. Between 1967 (fn. 509) and 1986 the number of farms returned for the parish fell from 21 to 12, half of them at the latter date worked on a part-time basis. The farms returned in 1986 employed a total of only 12 full-time workers, but including the farmers and their wives, 3 salaried farm managers, and a large number of part-time or seasonal workers, a total of 75 people gained some part of their livelihood from the farms of the parish. One of the large farms then still specialized in dairying while another specialized in sheep raising. A total of 3,339 sheep and lambs was returned and 413 cattle. The arable was then mostly cropped with barley and wheat, in roughly equal proportions, but 48 ha. (119 a.) of oilseed rape was returned. (fn. 510)
In 1998 much of the north part of Withington parish was managed from Thorndale Farm for the Hon. M. W. Vestey of Foxcote as a large sheep farm and laid mainly to grass, the remaining farmland of the Colesbourne estate in the west of the parish was managed from Colesbourne, principally as an arable enterprise, and the land formerly farmed from Cassey Compton was in hand for the Stowell Park estate. On Withington Manor farm the arable land had recently been converted to pasture and the whole farm was used for raising sheep and beef cattle on organic principles. There were some smaller family-run farms remaining but most had to some extent diversified from traditional husbandry: Owdeswell was concerned mainly with breedding horses, much of Fulford had been turned into a golf course, on Upcote a cross-country horse-riding course had been laid out around the field edges, and other, smaller enterprises included a mushroom farm near Garricks Head in the north of the parish and a game farm, rearing pheasants, near Staple Farm in the south. (fn. 511)
There was a water mill on the bishop of Worcester's Withington manor by the end of the 12th century. (fn. 512) Perhaps it was on the site of the later village mill, standing between the upper end of the village and Brockwell End and supplied by a long leat leaving the Coln near the east end of Brockwell End. (fn. 513) The village mill was included for many years in the large tenancy under the manor of a branch of the Lawrence family which passed to the Fieldings and their successors; in 1546 the tenant William Lawrence was himself the miller. (fn. 514) In the late 17th century and the 18th the mill was sublet under the Fieldings and Robertsons, (fn. 515) but it was leased directly from the manor after c. 1790. (fn. 516) By 1813 it was leased with the house on the opposite side of the road that later became the Mill inn, (fn. 517) and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the same man was miller and publican. (fn. 518) The mill ceased working in the early 1930s. By 1957 it had been converted as two flats, (fn. 519) and between 1964 and 1980 it housed a restaurant. The building, which included mill and miller's house under the same roof, dates from the 17th century. In the early 1960s it was restored and enlarged by a new range at the north-west end, and in 1970 a gazebo was added to the south-west front. (fn. 520)
A mill was recorded at Little Compton in 1086. (fn. 521) It was perhaps at the site of a mill later belonging to the Cassey Compton estate on the Coln a short way above Cassey Compton house. (fn. 522) John Cassey, the owner, was evidently working the mill on his own account in 1497: he was then described as a common miller and took a lease from the bishop of Worcester of the water of the Coln between Withington village and Compton. (fn. 523) The Cassey Compton mill was working in 1673 (fn. 524) and in 1777, (fn. 525) but it was demolished before 1812. (fn. 526)
In 1608 six tradesmen three tailors, a smith, a carpenter, and a shoemaker were listed at Withington, (fn. 527) and crafts of that nature continued to be represented in the parish in modest numbers. (fn. 528) The parish also had a few weavers in the 17th and 18th centuries, (fn. 529) and until the introduction of machinery to the cloth industry at the end of the 18th its women and disabled men were employed in spinning for clothiers. (fn. 530) In 1831 there were 29 families supported by trade compared to 113 supported by agriculture, (fn. 531) and in 1851 a total of 28 heads of households, including 4 masons living at Foxcote, followed trades. (fn. 532) The trades listed in 1906 included a hurdle maker and a firewood dealer, (fn. 533) and in 1908 a clogmaker occupied Lower Hilcot Farm, employing four men and sending his products to Lancashire by rail. (fn. 534) The trades of hurdle maker, wheelwright, and smith survived in Withington village in 1957, when the village also had two small shops. (fn. 535) There were no shops in 1998, when, apart from two public houses and one working farm, its character was purely residential.
Withington and the manors held from it were included in the hundred called 'Wacrescumbe' in 1086; (fn. 536) by 1221 they were within Bradley hundred (fn. 537) but formed a separate frankpledge jurisdiction, which was termed the 'liberty of Withington' in 1274, (fn. 538) a 'free hundred' in 1299, (fn. 539) and 'a hundred and liberty' in 1498. (fn. 540) In 1299 the bishop claimed return of writs, view of frankpledge, pleas of vee de naam, waif, and gallows at Withington, and claimed for his court suit from Foxcote, Hilcot, Owdeswell, Little Colesbourne, and Little Compton within the parish and from Dowdeswell, Cold Aston, and Notgrove outside it. (fn. 541) The bishop's claim to return of writs was being challenged by the lord of Bradley hundred, Cirencester abbey, in 1315. (fn. 542)
From the late 15th century, when the first records survive, the views of frankpledge were held twice a year together with sessions of the Withington court baron. Foxcote, Owdeswell, Little Colesbourne, Notgrove, and the two tithings of Cold Aston (Great and Little Aston) sent tithingmen, paid common fines, and owed the suit of their free tenants. There was also a tithingman and constable for Withington itself, the latter office being served in the mid 17th century by a rota of householders. Assaults, bloodshed, and strays were among items presented in the late 16th century; pleas of debt were prosecuted in the court in 1528 and 1588 but those seem to have been isolated instances. In the 1650s the court made orders about the management of the fields of Foxcote and Owdeswell but that presumably reflected new and wider claims made by the lord of the manor under the Commonwealth, John Howe; at other times its role as a court baron was confined only to Withington manor. Full court rolls or records of presentments survive for the years 14978, 1520, 1528, 1530, 15389, 154455, 15745, and for most years from 1585 until 1858. For the late 19th century and the early 20th there are records of surrenders of copyholds made before a deputy steward acting for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 543)
The few parish records surviving for Withington include the accounts of its two churchwardens for the years 163679 (fn. 544) and vestry minutes from 1861. (fn. 545) Two surveyors of the highways were elected in the Withington manor court in 1649, (fn. 546) and in 1617 the court was the venue for an agreement by householders to give security against subtenants becoming chargeable to the parish. (fn. 547) The church house in Withington village was used as the parish poorhouse in the early 19th century, (fn. 548) and probably had had that function for many years: in 1658 a Withington boy whom the parish apprenticed was apparently living there, and in 1679 three chimneys were inserted in the building, (fn. 549) perhaps in the course of fitting up rooms for paupers. In the early 19th century Withington suffered severely from the burden of poor relief: in 1803, when the loss of employment for women and the infirm in spinning was mentioned as a contributory cause, 66 people received regular relief, (fn. 550) and in the years 181315 there were over 40 regular recipients. Annual totals of over 450 spent on relief were common at the period and in 1828 a peak of 678 was reached. (fn. 551)
Withington formed part of the Northleach poor-law union from 1836 (fn. 552) and the Northleach rural district from 1895; (fn. 553) it passed with that rural district to the new Cotswold district in 1974.
The recorded ecclesiastical history of Withington begins with the foundation of a monastery there between 674 and 704 a.d. The monastery continued, under the rule of abbesses, until some time after 774, when it passed to the see of Worcester. (fn. 554) It is probable that when the monastery lapsed the bishops of Worcester continued to maintain a church at Withington; in the 13th century the customary tenants on the bishop's manor of Withington owed the Anglo-Saxon due of church-scot, presumably once paid to support the priest, (fn. 555) and there was a priest on the manor in 1086, endowed with a half hide of land. (fn. 556)
In the 13th century Withington was a rectory in the patronage of the bishop. It was among churches which Bishop Godfrey Giffard assigned as prebends to the college of Westburyon-Trym in 1290, ordaining a vicarage at Withington, to which apparently he intended the prebendary to present. Giffard's scheme was, however, challenged by the prior and monks of his own cathedral church and in its eventual, modified form it did not include Withington as a prebend of the reorganized college. In 1290 Withington church had chapels at Little Colesbourne and Owdeswell within the parish and at Dowdeswell; (fn. 557) Dowdeswell secured separate parochial status, though its inhabitants continued to be buried at Withington until 1413 and its incumbent owed 2 a year to the rector in acknowledgement of the ancient connexion. (fn. 558) The rectory of Withington was made a united benefice with Compton Abdale in 1962 and Hazleton was added to the united benefice in 1975. (fn. 559)
Because of its close connexion with the see of Worcester, Withington with its former chapelry of Dowdeswell assumed the status of a peculiar, which it retained after the formation of the diocese of Gloucester. The rector of Withington enjoyed exemption from archidiaconal visitations and held a court with jurisdiction over moral offences and probate of wills. (fn. 560) Wills proved in the peculiar court survive for 16241776 and act books for 16781752. (fn. 561)
The bishop of Worcester remained patron of the living until c. 1850 when that right was transferred to the bishop of Gloucester. (fn. 562) The bishop of Worcester rarely exercised the patronage in person after the mid 16th century, usually granting away each turn. Incumbents were presented by the Crown on three occasions and in 1791 by Caroline Cornwallis, widow of the late archbishop of Canterbury, who had taken the right as his 'option' at the election of a new bishop of Worcester in 1781. (fn. 563)
Withington rectory was endowed with a large glebe estate, which in 1613 was claimed to have manorial status and to possess court rolls dating back to Henry VII's reign. (fn. 564) In 1535 the rector owned 10 yardlands, including land in the two sets of fields adjoining Withington village and in those of Foxcote, Owdeswell, and Little Colesbourne. His successor retained that large holding of open-field land in 1680, together with a number of cottages and closes. The rector owned all the tithes of the parish, (fn. 565) where of the various former monastic estates only Winchcombe abbey's part of Hilcot wood secured tithe-free status, confirmed to its owners after disputes with the rector in the early 17th century. (fn. 566) At the inclosure of the parish, completed in 1819, the rector retained 52 a. of inclosed glebe and was allotted 212 a. for his open-field land and common rights, 818 a. for tithes, and corn rent charges in respect of the tithes of estates, including Hilcot and Cassey Compton, which were already inclosed. The extensive post-inclosure glebe estate, extending across the centre of the parish, (fn. 567) was divided into four farms, Shornhill, Thorndale, Ravenswell, and one farmed from buildings at Fulford and adjoining the rectory; (fn. 568) in the late 19th century the last-mentioned farm was also provided with buildings at Northfield. (fn. 569) The main glebe farms were sold between 1919 and 1925, (fn. 570) leaving the rector with only 30 a., which he sold c. 1945. (fn. 571)
The rectory house, standing on the east side of the churchyard, was described in 1680 as of 11 bays with extensive farm buildings adjoining. (fn. 572) Part of that house was incorporated as the west wing of a large U-plan rectory built by the rector John Hayward under a faculty acquired in 1743; in 1763 he stated that the work had cost him 1,500. (fn. 573) One wing, evidently the eastern, was occupied as a separate dwelling by a tenant of the glebe in 1807 and was used as stables by 1835; (fn. 574) a new farmhouse and buildings had been built to the east of the house by 1872 (fn. 575) and were demolished in the early 20th century. (fn. 576) The rectory house was sold as a private house in 1971 and a new one was built north of it. (fn. 577) There were later considerable alterations to the old rectory, but in the late 1990s the main south front still retained the formal, symmetrical appearance illustrated c. 1790. (fn. 578) In the mid 19th century a footpath crossing the garden on that front was concealed from the house by the building of a sunken way, spanned by two small bridges. (fn. 579)
The old west wing of the former rectory is the remaining six bays of a rubble-built medieval house, (fn. 580) which once extended further north. In the late 13th century or early 14th it probably had an open hall and at least one end that was storeyed. What appears to have been the partition between the hall and storeyed south end survives and incorporates one cruck truss, which has collars joining the blades, straight-braces from blade to collar, and struts joining blades and braces. About 1430 the building north of the partition was reconstructed to provide two heated storeys, which had a passage entered through an east doorway with a four-centred head and probably had two ground-floor rooms. The first floor was an upper hall or great chamber with an arched-braced roof, (fn. 581) which was of at least four bays (before the north end was truncated); the roof has moulded principal rafters and upper purlins and had three tiers of windbraces, but the lower two tiers of braces were destroyed, probably by the insertion of a ceiling in the 17th century. The room had two windows each side with three- and four-arched lights, but only one window, at the north-east, survived the 17th century when windows were replaced and added. Also in the 17th century a chimney stack and associated newel stair were built between the earlier and later bays and an attic was inserted into the former.
At the rebuilding in the 1740s John Hayward added a parapet and ashlar south front to the old wing, built a five-bayed central range of two storeys and basement, containing the principal rooms, and added an east wing to balance the west. The central range, one room deep with a north staircase projection, has a plain, classical ashlar facade. Inside is a dogleg staircase of good quality, having two turned balusters to each tread, and there are some original doors. The east wing has a blank screen wall on the inner face, presumably because it was built to serve as a separate farmhouse, (fn. 582) and retains 19th-century stable fittings. In 1852 a bay-windowed drawing room and service rooms were added to the north side of the central range to designs of David Brandon. (fn. 583) After 1971 those additions were demolished, the west wing was stripped of most of its post-medieval accretions, and many fittings were inserted in the central range, including door architraves, (fn. 584) a marble fireplace of the 1820s from Grange Park (Hants), and another fireplace said to be from Lady Mary Wortley Montague's house in London. (fn. 585) Between 1997 and 1999 the old west wing was extensively restored in an attempt to recover its latemedieval form.
In 1291 Withington church and its three chapels were valued at 20. (fn. 586) The living was worth 30 a year in 1535, (fn. 587) 160 in 1650, (fn. 588) and 300 in 1716. (fn. 589) In 1856 it was worth 686 (fn. 590) but the effect of the agricultural depression on the rents of the glebe reduced the value to 288 by 1897. (fn. 591)
In 1535 the rectory was held by John Lawrence, (fn. 592) from the prominent local family of yeomen and copyholders; he was found fairly satisfactory in his knowledge of doctrine in 1551. (fn. 593) He was succeeded at his death in 1568 by John Pedder, dean of Worcester, on whose death in 1571 (fn. 594) the bishop of Worcester Nicholas Bullingham presented his brother John Bullingham. John Bullingham resigned on his consecration as bishop of Gloucester in 1581 (fn. 595) and was succeeded by Thomas Knowles. In 1610 Knowles complained of suffering continual opposition, libel, and slander from leading parishioners, including Thomas Rich of Cassey Compton and two members of the Lawrence family; in one of a series of incidents his opponents had summoned the villagers to the churchyard by ringing the church bells and publicly ridiculed him. Thomas Rich, in his defence, claimed that the supposed libels were statements of Knowles's serious negligence of his cure, drawn up in an attempt to secure remedial action by the diocesan bishop and the patron, the bishop of Worcester. Rich said that he had urged the diversion of part of the rector's income to support a lecturer and had himself offered to find a suitable cleric for that post. (fn. 596)
William Osborne, rector from 1615, was a canon of Salisbury and from 1617 vicar of Bampton (Oxon.); he resigned the rectory in 1634 but apparently resided in the village until his death in 1646. He was succeeded by his kinsman Gilbert Osborne, a prebendary of Gloucester cathedral, who served the living himself, (fn. 597) being classified as a preaching minister in 1650. (fn. 598) Gilbert Osborne (d. 1657) (fn. 599) was succeeded by John Gilman, who kept the living at the Restoration with the aid of testimonials to his orthodoxy and loyalty to the Crown (fn. 600) and remained resident as rector until his death in 1716. Under his successor Richard Smallbrook, vicar of Lugwardine (Herefs.) and bishop of St. Davids from 1724, Withington was served by curates. Smallbrook resigned the living soon after his translation to the see of Lichfield and Coventry in 1731. His successor John Hayward, of a prominent clerical and landowning family of the county, was resident during his long incumbency until his death c. 1790. (fn. 601) The Hon. George Gustavus Chetwynd Talbot, a son of Earl Talbot, was rector from 1834 until his death in 1896. (fn. 602) As the owner of over 1,000 a. of glebe, living in the substantial rectory house, and preoccupied with horses, carriage driving, and other country pursuits, Talbot's role at Withington was akin to that of squire. (fn. 603)
There was a chapel at Little Colesbourne in 1227 when Philip of Colesbourne successfully claimed the patronage against the rector of Withington, the bishop being ordered to admit a parson on Philip's presentation. (fn. 604) In the late 18th century the chapel was said, on what authority is not known, to have been endowed with tithes worth 20 a year. (fn. 605) No other record had been found of it as an independent benefice; in 1290 it was described as a chapel to Withington, (fn. 606) whose rector later owned glebe land in Little Colesbourne. (fn. 607)
In 1290 there was also a chapel at Owdeswell. (fn. 608) In 1574, when its dedication was given as St. James, lands belonging to it, comprising a close by the Coln at Andoversford, 1 yardland, and another close called Lamphey, were claimed by the Crown as lands concealed at the time of the Chantries Act and were leased to Richard Bridges. No building was then mentioned (fn. 609) but its site may have been on the close at Andoversford, where it perhaps had served travellers using the ford. Its site and lands were probably absorbed later into the Owdeswell manor estate, perhaps by 1615 when a deed of the manor house listed 'chapels' among the more usual appurtenances. (fn. 610)
A close called Haleshay and a yardland in Foxcote were said in 1574 to have been given for ringing a bell in Withington church called the 'booebell'. The Crown included them, with the Owdeswell chapel lands, in the lease in 1574 to Richard Bridges (fn. 611) but may have later made a grant in fee to the Lawrence family, owners of Foxcote manor. In 1613 the lands were in dispute between Richard Lawrence of Foxcote and the rector Thomas Knowles, who claimed they had been in possession of his predecessors for many years. (fn. 612)
The church of ST. MICHAEL, so called by the early 18th century (fn. 613) but called St. Mary in 1227, (fn. 614) comprises chancel with north organ chamber, central tower with transeptal south chapel, aisleless nave, and south porch. The building is basically of the 12th century, though its appearance is dominated by 15th-century additions. (fn. 615)
From the 12th-century church survive the basic plan, the lower stage of the tower, including re-used west piers, the north and south doorways, the south one heavily decorated, and the chancel corbel table. In the 13th century the chancel was lengthened, its corbel table being reset, a south porch was added, and the nave and tower were remodelled: lancets (later blocked) were inserted in the nave, at least two of the tower arches were rebuilt, and the tower was heightened. In the 14th century the south transeptal chapel, which has a large south window and contains a piscina, was added. In the 15th century the tall nave clerestory and the top stage of the tower, which has large and elaborate bell-openings, were added. Also inserted at that period were new east and west windows and a south nave window, which has a piscina and credence below.
In 1840 settlement on the north side of the tower, due partly to the recent replacement of a spiral stair, was remedied by building buttresses there. (fn. 616) In 1872 and 1873 the body of the church was restored to the designs of David Brandon and at the cost mainly of the rector the Hon. George Talbot. The work included the removal of a west gallery and plaster ceiling from the nave, reseating and refitting, the reroofing of the transeptal chapel, and the scraping down of the walls internally. (fn. 617) The chancel, to which the north organ chamber was added, was reconstructed using many of the old features, by Talbot to the designs of William Knight of Cheltenham; that work was planned in 1872 and has rainwater heads with that date (matching others on the body of the church) but apparently it was not carried out until 1877. (fn. 618) A further programme of restoration work, mainly on the roofs, was done between 1958 and 1964. (fn. 619)
The south transeptal chapel became attached to the Cassey Compton estate, (fn. 620) possibly appropriated to it by John Howe in the Commonwealth period when he was lord of Withington manor. In 1651 he put up a monument there to his wife Bridget (d. 1642): sculpted by Edward Marshall, (fn. 621) it includes halfeffigies of Howe and his wife and, in relief, the kneeling figures of their children, the whole in a style which is old-fashioned for the period. The monument was moved from the chapel (fn. 622) to the west end of the nave at the restoration in the 1870s. Three Lords Chedworth, who died in 1742, 1762, and 1781 respectively, were among the Howes buried at Withington, (fn. 623) presumably in the chapel, but if they had any memorials they were removed or destroyed at the restoration. The former Howe chapel was refurnished for use as a chapel in 1942 in memory of members of the Abell family of Foxcote. (fn. 624)
The plain vase-shaped font apparently dates from the 17th century. In the chancel is the effigy of a priest with a dog at his feet; it lay in the churchyard in the early 18th century and until c. 1930 and is very weathered. (fn. 625) In the south wall of the nave is a 14th-century tomb recess, much restored. A wall monument in a rustic style to the rector Gilbert Osborne (d. 1657) was moved to the west end of the nave at the restoration in the 1870s.
A new peal of six bells was cast for the church in 1738 and 1739 by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester, apparently at the cost of the rector John Hayward and John Howe (later Lord Chedworth). (fn. 626) The plate includes an Elizabethan paten cover, probably of 1571, a chalice of the same period, and a credence paten dated 1688; there is also a set of plate, comprising a chalice, two patens, and a tankard flagon, given in 1731 by Mary, widow of Sir Richard Howe. (fn. 627) A cross and candlesticks were given to the church in 1923 by Emma Abell of Foxcote Manor in gratitude for the safe return of her five sons from service in the First World War. (fn. 628) The parish registers survive from 1609. (fn. 629) Among the monuments in the churchyard are four late 18thcentury or early 19th-century pedestal tombs, including one of the circular 'tea caddy' type, and some 18th-century carved headstones, reset as a row east of the chancel.
Cottages registered at Withington by dissenting groups from 1818 included that of John Perrin (fn. 630) (d. 1863), who established the Methodist cause in the village. He began with open-air preaching before starting meetings and a Sunday school in his cottage. By 1822 Withington was a regular preaching place of ministers of the Cheltenham circuit and by 1831 its meeting had 11 members. In 1841 a chapel, called Ebenezer, was built on part of Perrin's garden in Brockwell End on the lane (later King's Head Lane) leading to Cassey Compton. The chapel was enlarged in 1848 after its membership had risen to 24, (fn. 631) and on the Sunday of the ecclesiastical census in 1851 it had an attendance of 32 at the afternoon service and 80 in the evening. (fn. 632) After 1880 attendance fell but there was a revival in the 1890s when the Sunday school, which had lapsed, was re-established. The meeting declined again in the early 20th century (fn. 633) and the chapel was disused by 1932. It was converted to form two cottages c. 1936. (fn. 634)
At Foxcote a chapel for Particular Baptists was built in 1830 at the entrance to the drive to Foxcote Manor, whose owners, Ann Sylvester, Sarah Ansell, and John and Maria Fegan, gave the site. (fn. 635) In 1851 the chapel had average Sunday attendances of 45 in the afternoon and 60 in the evening. (fn. 636) In 1901, presumably because of declining local support, the trustees agreed to hand the chapel over for a provisional period to the evangelical society of Cambray Baptist chapel in Cheltenham. (fn. 637) It remained in use under the auspices of the Cambray chapel until c. 1985 but in its last years there were only occasional services, attended by one or two villagers together with members from Cheltenham. In 1998 the building was being used as a store by the gamekeeper of the Foxcote Manor estate. (fn. 638)
Dr. Robert Fielding (d. 1709) left 20 to be used for teaching poor children of the parish to read (fn. 639) and his son Charles (d. 1737) made a similar bequest. (fn. 640) Those two sums were administered with other funds of the Withington charities, and from 1720 2 a year was paid to a master for teaching poor boys of the parish. In 1736 the charity trustees raised the salary to 10 and from that period clothes were provided for the children; 11 boys were clothed in 1741, and in 1763 20 boys were given blue coats and breeches. The charity funds also supplied writing materials, primers, bibles, and prayer books, and the master was required to bring the children to church on Sundays. He apparently held the school in the church house. In 1759 the parish decided to try to raise the master's salary by subscription, only using the charity funds to supplement it when necessary; in 1774 the charities were providing only 5 16s. (fn. 641) but by 1818 they were again providing the whole 10. At the latter date the master took private scholars and a Sunday school was held in conjunction with the day school. (fn. 642)
From 1774 the charity trustees also paid four women small annual salaries for teaching knitting and sewing and the principles of religion to young girls, those too young to spin. In 1823 there was just one schoolmistress, who was paid 2 guineas and also taught the girls to read. (fn. 643) In 1847 the master of the charity school, still paid 10 a year, taught 30 boys, and the mistress, then receiving 6 guineas a year, taught 20 girls; some additional expense in running the two schools was provided by subscriptions and payments by the children. (fn. 644)
In 1856 the Withington charity schools were replaced by a new National school, built on the site of the church house, (fn. 645) and from then the Withington charities helped to support it by a grant of 30 a year. (fn. 646) In 1857 the National school had an average attendance of 45 boys and 42 girls (fn. 647) and in 1885 60 children. (fn. 648) In 1886 following a decrease in the income from subscriptions the parish vestry, hoping to avert the imposition of a school board, authorized the charities to increase their contribution by up to 6 a year, and in 1894 it agreed to a voluntary rate to pay for repairs and alterations demanded by the Education Department. (fn. 649) In 1910, as the Withington C. of E. school, the school had an average attendance of 53, which by 1938 had fallen to 24. (fn. 650) In 1997 the school had 46 children on its roll. (fn. 651)
By 1820 the parish charities were also paying a mistress 5 a year to teach children at Foxcote. (fn. 652) In 1847 she taught 16 girls there, and subscriptions and payments gave her a total annual salary of 6 and met other expenses of the school. (fn. 653) In 1880 the school continued, in association with the Withington National school, but it was still taught by an uncertificated mistress in her cottage; it was attended by 16 infants. (fn. 654) The school was awarded a government grant in 1883, when the annual payment of 5 from the charity trustees ceased. (fn. 655) The Foxcote school's average attendance had risen to 30 by 1894 (fn. 656) but it apparently closed soon afterwards.
The Wesleyan Methodists in Withington village ran a small day school for a few years from 1819. (fn. 657)
Charities for the Poor.
William Osborne (d. 1646), formerly rector of Withington, (fn. 658) left 100 for apprenticing poor children; it was used in 1648 to buy land in Charlton Kings which yielded a rent of 5. John Rich in 1677 left 100 for the same purpose; it was lent out at interest and half the principal was lost by the failure of a tradesman, but it was made up again from an accumulation of the funds. In 1690 the land in Charlton Kings was sold and the proceeds together with the principal of the Rich charity, a total of 221, were used to buy a copyhold estate in Arle, Cheltenham. That estate produced a rental of 8 15s. a year in 1694. (fn. 659)
The rector John Gilman (d. 1716) gave 20 to the poor, which in 1726 was used with other charity funds to buy 200 stock. In 1780 the rector John Hayward gave 100 stock for bread to be distributed in March and September; the two doles were to be called Carswell bread and Guiting bread in memory of his wives who came from Carswell (Berks.) and Temple Guiting respectively. (fn. 660) Further purchases of stock were made with accumulations of the parish charity funds in 1809, 1821, and 1835, the last with 200 given by a Mrs. Rogers of Foxcote to provide clothes for the poor. The last purchase brought the total holding of stock to 700, and the charities also received a rent of 29 a year from the land in Arle. (fn. 661) Later another 100 was received, a legacy from John Smith (d. 1834) of Owdeswell to provide coal for the poor. (fn. 662)
The funds of the various Withington charities, including those given by the Fieldings for educational purposes, (fn. 663) were administered together by the rector and leading parishioners and, though carefully husbanded, were used fairly unspecifically. Under the Osborne and Rich bequests apprenticeships were made in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, usually at the rate of one a year to masters in a wide area of the Cotswolds; later, until the mid 19th century, they were made only intermittently. From 1720, as recorded above, part of the proceeds was devoted in various ways to charity schooling, and from 1773 a subscription to the Gloucester Infirmary was made on behalf of the poor parishioners. Under John Hayward's gift 3 a year was applied from 1781 for the two doles of bread, and from the 1820s doles in cash were also made from the charity funds and blankets were bought. In the late 19th century some of the funds were assigned to a coal club, presumably in respect of John Smith's gift. (fn. 664)
By a Scheme of 1899 all the Withington charities (though Mrs. Rogers ceased to be credited as a donor) were put under a new body of trustees with the title of the United Charities of Osborne and Others. The proceeds of the Osborne and Rich charities were assigned specifically to apprenticeships or else to exhibitions of up to 10 for those in education above elementary level, while the proceeeds of the other charities were assigned to provide eleemosynary aid in the form of subscriptions to a hospital, to a provident club, or in other ways. The total annual income of the charities, all then drawn from stock, was 59; from 1906 a third of the assets of the Osborne and Rich charities (433 in stock) was applied as a separate educational charity. (fn. 665) During the early 20th century the non-educational income of the Osborne and Rich charities provided clothes for children, nursing for the sick, and subscriptions to a provident club, while the income of the Fieldings' charities was distributed in small cash doles, and that of the Smith and Hayward charities continued to provide coal and bread; (fn. 666) the Hayward charity was still distributed at the church door in loaves in the 1950s. (fn. 667) In 1971 the non-educational charities were regulated by a new Scheme and, under the title of the Withington Welfare Trust, applied to the general benefit of the poor in cash and kind. (fn. 668)