The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015




THIS name is considered, by many, to be derived from the Greek word MvQos, which is supposed to signify remotely a station - the place being formed by nature for a strong military position. Rudge, in his History of Gloucestershire, says, "possibly the Saxon Myrtha, which signifies the boundary, the limit, or the termination of a place, may lead to a more easy solution, since the reference is simple and obvious to a tract of land gradually lessening between two large rivers, and at length completely inclosed at a point by their conflux".

That the Mythe was a Roman station, there can be no doubt: from this spot, the Roman troops could not only perceive any signals which might be given from their encampments on the hills of Malvern, Bredon, &c. but here they were within view of a portion of the country peopled by the Silures, who occupied the banks and heights on the opposite side of the river. No situations indeed could have been so well selected as the Mythe and Towbury, for checking the incursions, and occasionally invading the territories, of that enterprising and valiant race, who for many years maintained the independence of a part of Britain against the skill and bravery of one of the most experienced of the Roman generals.

The tumulus, on the south side of the Mythe, was probably thrown up by the Danes, for the purpose of obtaining a more


extensive view of the country, and guarding against a surprise. There can be no doubt, however, that the different powers who invaded Britain, subsequently to the abandonment of it by the Romans, occasionally entrenched themselves at the Mythe; for, in the infancy of war, a small army might have defended itself against the attack of almost any number of forces, if they approached this post by any other route than from the north.

This delightful eminence, which is popularly called the Tute or Toot,[387] derives an additional interest from the repeated visits made to it by our late revered monarch, George the third, during his abode at Cheltenham in the year 1788.

A public footpath to Shuthonger Common anciently ran over the summit of this tumulus, and continued along the edge of the field to Paget's-lane; but for many years this road had been disused, and the right of way was exercised only as far as to the mount. When the turnpike-road was widened, in the year 1825, the path which led to the tute was destroyed, and the public were for a while deprived of their accustomed access to this charming eminence. The townspeople, at length, determined to assert their right of road from the foot of the Mythe Hill over the tumulus into Paget's-lane; upon which, the proprietor of the orchard, on the south side of the tute, agreed to yield up for ever a convenient footway; and the owner of the land, on which the mount is situate, stipulated that the public should continue to have access to it at all times. The inhabitants of the borough consented that the portion of the road, which led from the tumulus into the lane on the north, should be stopped up, and this was effected by an order of the magistrates, at the borough sessions in 1827. The expense of making the gravelled footway, and erecting stiles, steps and railing, was defrayed by a private subscription.


From this mount, which is gradually diminishing, from some portions of it occasionally rolling into the Severn, are some of the finest views imaginable:

"Beneath us, in the soft and silent light,
"Spread the fair valleys; mead, and flowery lawn,
"With their calm verdure interspers'd, allay
"The forest's ponderous blackness, or retire
"Under the chequering umbrage of deep groves,
"Whose shadows almost slumber; far beyond
"Huge mountains, brightening in their secret glens,
"Their cold peaks bathe in the rich setting sun.
"Sweeps through the midst broad Severn, deep and dark,
"His monarchy of waters, its full flow
"Still widening, as he scorn'd to bear the main
"Less tribute than a sea".[388]

The manor of the Mythe belonged to the proprietors of the great lordship of Tewkesbury, until it passed from George Duke of Clarence and Anne Countess of Warwick to the crown. It was granted, by the name of Warwick's Lands, to Thomas Lord Seymour of Sudely, 1 Edw. VI. After his attainder, it again reverted to the crown; and was granted, together with the Mythe Hook, a meadow called Kingsmead, a fishery in the Severn and another in the Avon, to Daniel and Alexander Perte, 7 Edw. VI. The Mythe Wood, which was part of the possessions of the abbey of Tewkesbury, was granted to Sir H. Jerningham, shortly after the dissolution of the monastery. The lands at the Mythe are now divided among a number of proprietors; and the manor is vested in the corporation of Tewkesbury.

The Mythe is situate about half a mile to the north of the town, on the road leading to Worcester and Malvern; it is ornamented with the delightful seats of William Dillon, esq. Thomas Taylor, esq. Joseph Longmore, esq. Charles Porter, esq. Mrs. Piatt, and Miss Taylor.

In this hamlet, there is a curious ancient stone structure, called "the castle", the property of J.H. Hampton, esq.


which is traditionally said to have been one of the residences of King John, and from this circumstance some persons have erroneously called it Holme Castle. It is not improbable that the house was erected by one of the noble proprietors of the Tewkesbury estate; or by one of the abbots, as an occasional country residence. A late respectable antiquary[389] observes, "there is a similarity in the architecture to the abbot of Winchcomb's house; which leads to the supposition that the place in question might be the country lodging, or farm, of the superior of Tewkesbury". Some portions of the building are much more ancient than its exterior would lead a casual observer to imagine: the gable ends are comparatively modern; and it is evident that the structure was originally of far greater extent than it is at present.

There was formerly a chapel at the Mythe, but no traces of it remain. It might have been attached to the old dwelling-house above-mentioned.


Southwick was parcel of the great manor of Tewkesbury in the time of William the Conqueror, and was taxed at three hides. Sir John Tracy was seized of the manor of Southwick, 37 Edw. III. at which period Robert le Pearl held lands there, and also at Gupshill. The manor subsequently belonged to the abbey of Tewkesbury; and at the dissolution was granted, together with lands called Gosebuts, to Thomas Stroud, Walter Erie and James Pagett. A close of land, in Southwick, called Panters, was granted to William Compton; and other lands, in the tenure of John Jones, were granted to John Pope, 36 Hen. VIII. Lands, called Culverhouse, in Southwick, were granted to Edward Cooper and Valentine Fairweather; other lands there, called Deerhurst Place, were granted to William and John Read; and lands called Walton Field, were granted to William Fitz-Williams and Arthur Hilton, 7 Edw. VI.


Tewkesbury Park and lands belonged to the Earls of Gloucester;[390] from them it passed to the crown, with the other possessions of the manor of Tewkesbury, and was long held under the king by the abbot and convent. From the time of the dissolution of the monastery, it remained attached to the crown until Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign, granted it to Sir Henry Jerningham and his heirs, under the title of "Tewxbury Park with its members", on payment of twenty shillings per annum to the crown for the tenths thereof,[391] The Jerningham family disposed of it to Richard Harford, esq. who sold it to Rowland Bartlett, esq. from whom it was purchased by Sir John Popham, knight, chief justice of the common pleas. From the Pophams it descended to the late John Wall, esq. lieutenant-colonel of the South Gloucester Militia, who was allied to the Pophams; at his death, it devolved to his eldest son, the present Robert Martin Popham Wall, esq. who, after serving under the Duke of York, in Flanders, was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Oxfordshire Militia. Colonel Wall sold it to the Rev. Joseph Shapland, the present proprietor.


The mansion, which is now denominated Tewkesbury Lodge, is, in Leland's Itinerary, called the "manor-place": it is most delightfully situate on an eminence, about a mile from the town.

There was an ancient estate, called Gupshill, in this hamlet: it is now divided into two estates, each of which has a house of some antiquity upon it. One portion belongs to Edward Ransford, esq. and the other to the widow of John Wintle, esq. both of Bristol. In old documents this place is sometimes called Gopishull or Guppishill, and has frequently been confounded, from its similarity of name, with Gubberhill, an old house, surrounded by a moat, in the parish of Twyning. It evidently took its name from an early proprietor; and in the reign of Edward the first it is described as Gobe's Hall, and a manor within the manor of Tewkesbury.

A good estate, in this hamlet, is held by Mr. Edward Barnes, in right of his wife, the widow of Mr. John Dipper; and which, at her decease, will devolve to Sarah the wife of William Brown, esq. of Gloucester, niece and heiress of Mr. Dipper. Mr. Moses Yearsley has also a considerable estate, with a pleasant residence, at Southwick. Rudgway Farm is the property of John Cocks Bower, esq. of Newent. The other principal proprietors of land, in Southwick, are the Right Hon. the Earl of Essex, the Rev. William Boughton of Blockley, John Gardner, esq. of Cheltenham, John Allis Hartland, esq. John Terrett, esq. Samuel Barnes, esq. and Miss Hartelbury.

It is said, that there was formerly a hermitage in the Windmill Hill, on the Lodge estate, but no particulars of it are preserved, nor is its precise situation remembered. Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, thus beautifully describes one of those humble retreats:-

"A little lowly hermitage it was,
"Down in a dale hard by a forest's side,
"Far from resort of peojile that did pass
"In travel to and fro".


In this hamlet stood Holme Castle, and here also was fought the memorable battle of Tewkesbury. There is a remarkably fine echo in the field called the Vineyard, to the southward of the abbey church.

It is recorded, that Walton-Cardiff was once a portion of the parish of Tewkesbury; and though we have no record to shew when or how they became disunited, there are certainly some reasons for concluding that the two parishes originally formed but one. From the early parish registers, it would appear that the inhabitants of Walton claimed right of sepulture at Tewkesbury; here their children were also christened, and their marriages solemnized. It is indeed probable that, until their present chapel was built by Foulk Read, esq. the then lord of the manor, in 1658, there was no religious edifice whatever at Walton. Sir Robert Atkyns, in his History of Gloucestershire, published in 1712, treats Walton as a distinct parish, and makes no allusion to its having ever been joined to Tewkesbury. It is however certain, when a parliamentary troop of horse was quartered upon "the parish of Tewkesbury", in 1648, that the hamlet of Walton-Cardiff maintained its quota, jointly with the town, Southwick, the Park, and the Mythe and Mythe Hook.[392] In the register of burials, belonging to Tewkesbury, is the following entry, made in 1681: "Elizabeth, the wife of William Newman, of Walton-Cardiff, in this parish, buried in nothing made of or mingled with any material but sheep's wool, as appears by the oath of Susanna the wife of Richard Hall, of Walton aforesaid, and sworn before


William Jennings, gent, junior bailiff". In the charter of King James the second, in 1686, Walton-Cardiff is expressly included within the borough of Tewkesbury, with this observation:- "be the same within or without the said parish". This would clearly imply that it had been at some time considered as forming a part of Tewkesbury. On similar grounds, the whole of the Mythe and the Mythe Hook, the former of which is attached to Tewkesbury and the latter to Twyning, is also supposed to have been formerly included in this parish.

In Parsons's manuscripts, in the Bodleian Library, it is said, "On an old roll, I find Forthampton, Tredington and Fiddington, to be in the parish of Tewkesbury".

[387] Probably from Teutates, the Scandinavian Mercury, who was worshipped on the loftiest eminences. - Mr. Bovdes, in his History of Bremhill, observes, "almost every British hill, whose steep declivities rather resemble the shape of an artificial mound than of an abrupt and natural hill, is called toot or tout, and tout-hill, quasi teut".
[388] Milman's Samor.
[389] James Poller Malcolm, esq. See Gentleman's Mag. June, 1818.
[390] "There is a parke bytwixt the old plotte of Holme Castelle and it [Deerhurst], but it longgid to Holme, the Erles of Glocester's house, and not to it. There is a fair maner-place of tymbre and stone yn this Theokesbyri Parke, wher the Lord Edward Spensar lay, and late my Lady Mary". - (Leland, vol. 6. p.75. edit. 1769.) "The manor-place in Tewkesbury Park, with the park, was let by Henry the seventh to the abbot of Tewkesbury in fee farm, with the Holme where the castle was". - Gough.
[391] In Archdeacon Furney's MS. Extracts from the Records in the Registry of Gloucester, it is stated, that " John Wakeman, last abbot of Tewkesbury, being seised as in fee in right of his abbey of a close called Horn Hill, alias Wardun Hill, containing eight acres of pasture, lying in Tewkesbury parish, and belonging to that rectory, which, together with the abbey, on 20 Apr. 31 Hen. VIII. were surrendered to the king, and which continuing to the crown 'till the reign of Queen Mary, was by her, 20 Feb. regni primo, granted to Francis ------ and Henry ----- by virtue whereof it came to Henry Jerningham and John Popham, knight, chief justice of the common pleas. I believe this was sold by the crown to Henry Jerningham and Francis -----, and Henry being the survivor, sold the same to Popham; but the record is unintelligible. Popham possessor, 44 Eliz. All which, being part of the abbey possessions, were free from the payment of tithes".
[392] In 1647, a cause was entered at Gloucester assizes, respecting the refusal of the inhabitants of Walton-Cardiff to pay rates to Tewkesbury. In 1649, the bailiffs and some of the other members of the corporation, agreed to indemnify the church-wardens and overseers, if they should distrain upon any of the inhabitants of Walton-Cardiff for non-payment of the taxations to the poor of Tewkesbury. The dispute appears not to have been then finally set at rest, for, on the 30th of March, 1683, it was ordered by the common council, that the chamberlain should take the charter to the next Gloucester assizes, to be produced on a trial between Tewkesbury and Walton-Cardiff respecting payment to the relief of the poor".- Corp. Rec.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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