HISTORICAL RAMBLE ROUND TYTHERINGTON

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TAKE A HISTORICAL RAMBLE ROUND TYTHERINGTON

 

Start on Tytherington Hill and finish for a drink in the Swan Inn!

 

1         The picnic site is on Tytherington Hill, a ridge of tilted carboniferous limestone, which extends from Cromhall to the Clifton Gorge. At Cromhall it meets a similar ridge extending southeast­wards through Wickwar, Chipping Sodbury, Pucklechurch and Wick. Between the two ridges lies the north end of the Bristol coalfield. On the eastern horizon the Cotswold edge can be seen swinging round from North Nibley to Hawkesbury and Bath. Most of Tythering­ton Hill is common and the cottages just to the east of the Old Gloucester Rd were originally seven, one up one down, poor law cottages built in the 18th century. In the Middle Ages the Old Gloucester Rd was the main road from Bristol to Gloucester and ran through Stapleton, Hambrook, Earthcote and Itchington over Tytherington Hill to Falfield.  For a longer ramble continue in a northeasterly direction along the ridge, for a shorter ramble return to the line of the Old Gloucester Rd and down the 40 steps

2          At Tower Hill farm continue straight ahead through the wooden gate.  Note the fine stone stile on the left over which a footpath to the hamlet of Baden Hill passes. Continue over the tops of the old limestone quarries with fine views towards the Cotswolds, down to Combe Lane and turn back into Baden Hill Road/which passes along under the limestone ridge.

3.        Note the old lime kiln on the right. This was recently restored, thanks mainly to the indefatigable efforts of the late Ted Oakey, a much loved member of the Baptist community and sorely missed by everyone in Tytherington. Lime was extensively used earlier, as a constituent of mortar in building; as a moderator of acidity in fields that had been over-grazed; as whitewash in keeping farms and cottages, and especially dairies, clean and hygienic; as a sweet­ener for privies, in ridding hides of unwanted fur and as quicklime for burying dead animals. It was probably as a source of building stone and lime that the quarries were first developed in Tytherington on a small local scale in the Middle Ages. Continue along the road past two small quarries, the second of which, opp­osite the entrance to Townsend Orchard on the left, was used in the earlier part of the century as a tip by the Rural District Council.

4          The next quarry, opposite Bishop's Farm was used for making stone sets used in cobbling street surfaces. The history of Bishop's Farm goes back to the 17th century but its name comes from the Bishop family resident there in the second half of the 19th cent­ury. Further on, on the right, are the remains of two ruined cot­tages and their walled gardens. Next on the right is a flight of steps up to the hill. When Squire Hardwicke extended the Church Quarry across the line of the Old Gloucester Rd in 1900 he had the New Road made to take traffic down to Stowell Hill Road and the steps constructed as a short cut for pedestrians. These, from their number, were always known as t the Forty Steps, though 8 more concrete steps were added to the lower end after W.W. II.  Just beyond, on the left, is Boyt's Farm part of which dates to the 16th century. Its name comes from a tenant in the late 19th century. The beautiful Italianate garden there was created in the 1950's and 60's by Mr. and Mrs. Gibbon. Mr. Gibbon was director of the Southmead Lime Co, which moved to Itchington from Southmead in 1950.

7          Between the entrance to Boyt's Farm and Rock Cottage is a stone stile, before crossing the stile notice the fork in the road, The left hand fork now ends at the back entrance to the Grange but originally it ran on past the west end of the Grange and out where its front gate now stands. This was part of the old Gloucester Road. When the squire had the forty steps made he had the new stretch of road which forms the right hand fork constructed taking the line of the road further away from his dwelling. Cross the stile and continue down the lane across two wooden stiles at the bottom and straight ahead across the field to the Ha Ha constructed by the Gibbons. After the stone stile in the Ha Ha cross the next field diagonally to the farm gate by the Malt House on the right. Pass through the gate and turn right into Duck Street.

8          At the bottom of Duck Street, to the left, can be seen the former Mill Farm and the entrance to Newhouse Farm, two old buildings that were homes of wealthy clothiers in the 17th century.In1608 there were 15 weavers living in the village. There are traces of the old mill ponds behind Mill Farm and the leet runs down the opposite side of Duck Street from the Malt House. In the fields behind Mill Farm there was a Roman Villa. Further signs of Roman occupation occur at Stidcote on the east side of the village. The Old Malthouse has a history stretching back to the 17th century and was once a farm. Malt was probably made in the Malt Cottages behind the Malthouse. There was also a cider mill here and an old petrol pump used to stand in front of the Malthouse. Notice the old village pump on the side of the road opposite the Malt Cottages. There is another further up the road opposite the Manor. It is thought that the typhoid epidemic of 1898, in which sev­eral people died, resulted from the contamination of these water sources by burials in the churchyard.

9          The large building on the right, now called the Manor, was formerly the vicarage. It was renamed in 1930 when a new vicarage was built on Stowell Hill and the squire moved here from the Grange. It was built in 1663 and has been altered several times in the present century.

10        Opposite the Manor is Edwards Farm which dates back to the 16th century. It is named after tenants of the early 18th century. The original Swan Inn lay behind it.

11        The present Swan Inn, which lies next to Edwards Farm, was orig­inally a farmhouse. It became the village Inn in about 1840.

12        To the right of the Inn is the entrance to the Grange. The present building was probably first erected in the 16th century but has been altered and added to since. In the Middle Ages it was the site of a grange belonging the Llanthony Priory near Gloucester. After the Hardwicke family purchased the Manor of Tytherington from Lord Willoughby de Broke in 1728 they made it their home until the last squire Hardwicke died in 1935. The Hardwicke family originated in northwest Somerset but was domiciled in Chipping Sodbury in the late 17th century.

13        The two church cottages next to the church were possibly built on the site of the original vicarage. The one next to the Grange was for a long time the village smithy and also served as the first village post office. The other was a 'Dame School ' for a short while in the last century, before the village school opened in 1876.

14        The village church, dedicated to St James the Greater, like most village churches, is an amalgam of styles of different periods. The first stone structure, consisting of the nave and chancel was constructed in the Norman period c.1260. In the Early English period aisles were added on the north and south and the tower at the west end constructed. Windows in the Decorated style were inserted in the east walls of the north aisle and the chancel and elsewhere in the north and south aisles. In the Perpendicular per­iod a Lady Chapel was added at the east end of the south aisle and the tower was completed. Various alterations and rebuilding has taken place since, in 1953 the pennant sandstone roof tiles were replaced by clay tiles and recently the beautiful yellow 'rap stone', a local variant of the predominantly grey carboniferous limestone, in the west face of the tower was replaced by the more pedestrian grey which is thought to be more durable. The rap stone can still be seen in the other faces of the tower as well as in some of the older farm houses in the village. Lighter yellow than Cotswold stone it has a unique glow, particularly in the winter months, that lend great charm to the old west face of the tower. Note the one handed clock in the south face of the tower. The remains of this ancient clock which dates to 1500 or earlier were found in the tower in 1947. The clock was restored and reset in the tower wall as a war memorial for the Second World War. The principal war memorial, a block of Tytherington stone, lies in the corner of the churchyard near the road.

15        A short excursion up Stowell Hill Road is of especial interest to Baptists. The first house on the left hand side of the road was built as a Baptist Chapel in 1842. When the new chapel was built in 1885 the old one was converted to a house. Just to the church side of the house there used to be a level crossing where trains from the main line could enter the Church Quarry, in fact, all the stone from that quarry was taken out by train. The Old Forge, next to the old chapel was formerly a carpenter's shop and smithy.

16        Further up the road, on the left) Yew Tree Cottage is part of the building which was once Yew Tree Farm. This building has a long history going back to the 16th century. William Pullen, the farmer living here in 1790, obtained a licence from the Bishop of Glouc­ester in that year, to hold a meeting of Dissenters in his house. Further licences for such meetings were issued in 1811,1832 and 1839. The last was for a meeting in the house of Henry Curtis, which was an old cottage near the old Baptist Chapel that was later demolished. The old yew tree which grew in front of Yew Tree Farm was, unfortunately, cut down a few years ago. 

17       Further up the road, also on the left, is The Old Manor House. This is a cottage on the site of the medieval manor house which had been pulled down by the end of the 17th century.

18        Returning to the church, turn right into West Street. Facing the church is Liberty House, built in 1900 by Frederick Humphries.  Humphries had married Florence Tratman, daughter of the smith and his wife, the sub-post mistress who lived in the church cottage next to the Grange.  This cottage belonged to the squire so when Humphries, who was a Baptist and a Liberal, quarreled with the squire he was obliged to leave the cottage. (The squire was Church of England and Tory). He obtained a plot of land from his uncle George Boyt, a leading member of the Baptist community in the village, and erected the house which he called Liberty House in defiance of the squire. For many years it housed the village shop and post office. In front of it had stood the old village pound which was demolished when the house was built.

19        Continuing up West Street, which was part of the old Gloucester road, we come to the old house known as Porch House on the left. It was here that the Boyt family for many years had a pork butch­er's shop. The Boyt's appear to have been descended from Francis Boye, a Quaker who sought refuge in the village in the time of Charles II when the Quakers were being persecuted. In 1672 Edward Horwood, a butcher, lived in this house. His descendants inter­married with the Boyes and became Quakers. One of them established a bank in Thornbury in the building which is now the National Westminster Bank. Another descendant, Basil Harwood was a well known musician and organist at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, who wrote the hymn tunes Thornbury and Luckington, named after places his family had been associated with.

20        Passing under the railway bridge, The Villa on the left, was home to the works managers of the quarry and the bungalow on the right was the old quarry offices.

21        Further on, West Street Farm on the left was the home, in the 19th century of the Tyler family. On the other side of the road they had a small quarry which expanded greatly after the Midland Railway established the branch line from Yate to Thornbury in 1872. When John Hawkins Tyler died in 1877 his widow Mary continued to run the farm and the quarry. In 1882 when the young Hardwicke Lloyd Hardwicke came into his inheritance as Lord of the Manor, he noticed how flourishing the Tyler's quarry was and resolved to start his own quarry on common land behind the church. This proved successful and eventually he bought out the Tyler's quarry The success of the quarries depended on the coming of the railway and also the fact that there is no hard stone suitable for road surfacing between the southeastern tip of England and the carboniferous limestone ridges of south Gloucestershire. In 1902 the Grovesend quarries were opened up to provide stone for the construction of Avonmouth Docks. Since then the Grovesend Quarry has gone from strength to strength. The quarry in West Street, known as the Main Quarry, closed in 1910 and the Church Quarry in 1920.

22        Next to West Street Farm, on the same side of the road is Brook Farm a typical farmhouse of the first half of the 17th century. Its name probably derives from the fact that it was owned by Lord Willoughby de Broke, Lord of the manor of Itchington.  Originally the manors of Itchington and Tytherington were held separately, but from the early 13th century they were held together by the same Lord. In 1728, when Lord Willoughby de Broke decided to sell the manor of Tytherington no one could remember where the boundary between the two manors lay so a committee of local worthies was set up to establish a boundary. Brook Farm was adjudicated as belonging to Itchington. In the 1890's squire Hardwicke expanded the West Street quarry by demolishing the houses on the north side of West Street and incorporating part of the road, which at this point was quite wide. The main entrance to Brook Farm, which un61 then was through a porch on the West Street side of the house, was altered; the porch was taken down and re-erected on the other side of the house. The line of the road to Itchington was altered at the same time, previously it had continued past Brook Farm before turning down to the left. It was now made to run straight through the farmyard.

Time permitting, a detour may be made by those feeling energetic, to visit the Iron Age fortress above West Street Quarry. Continue along the road past Brook Farm past the site of the old village workhouse which was demolished in the 1890’s, though it had long

ceased functioning as a workhouse by then. At the end of the lane there is a gate on the right opposite a modern bungalow. Climb up the hill, keeping to the right hand side of the field. Near the top the ramparts, with trees growing on them, can be seen to the right.   At least a third of the fortress has been quarried away by the West Street Quarry. Antiquities were said to have been discovered but nothing now remains in the village.  It is not clear where the entrance to the fortress was, the cutting through the ramparts on the northwest is modern. On the east spoil from the railway cutting has been dumped over the ramparts. Return the same way to Brook Farm.

24        Pass through the farmyard of Brook Farm, noticing the cider press on your right which is still in use. Much of it came from the Old Malthouse in Duck Street. Continue down the lane to Itchington which used to be known as the Upper Lane and was part of the old Gloucester Road. It has recently been concreted over with the aid of subsidies from the EEC, Continue down the lane until you come to a gate with another concrete lane leading off to the left this is the old Summergate Lane which may have been on the line of the original boundary between Itchington and Tytherington. Turn down Summergate Lane and continue through to the Lower Lane to Itchington which is now the main thoroughfare between Tytherington and Itchington and is known as Itchington Road. Before leaving Summergate Lane turn and look back along it to the hill behind, known as Ramoaks. Until the early part of the last century the hill was heavily wooded. In the First World War an aliens internment camp was set up there and members of German Royalty are said to have been held in it.

25        Turn left into Itchington Road. The lane across the road from Summergate Lane leads to Moorleaze Farm, now in ruins. After the first row of houses on the right a road leads into Southlands, a council estate built after the last war. It is worth taking a diversion down this road to see the pretty gardens for which the estate is renowned. At the bottom of the road you can and at the end of that road continue along a path into Station Lane, running along under the railway embankment. Turn left into the lane and left again at the end of it into Itchington Road, which will bring you back to the Baptist Chapel.

26    If you don't make the diversion continue along Itchington Road past the Old Bakehouse to the Baptist Chapel. The Chapel was built in 1885 to replace the old chapel in Stowell Hill Road. It incorporated a schoolroom at the back and the whole chapel was used as a school in the last war when the Bathside Infants School was evacuated to Tytherington in 1940. Continuing along Itchington Road, the house on the right, just before the railway bridge, was the schoolmaster’s house built in 1877.

27        After the bridge the house on the right was the stationmaster's house. In front of it a road led up to the station on the embank­ment. The station, built in 1872 ceased to function as a passenger station in 1942. The station building was later demolished. Trains still use the line, on occasion, to haul stone from Grovesend Quarry. Until recently there was a plant nursery behind Station House. On the site is now a small housing estate called The Nurseries.

28        Just past this is the former Council School 1876 -1984, which now serves as the Village Hall. Continue past the School back to the Swan Inn and the Church.