Tuesday, 11 September 2018


                                           Our next meeting will be November 21st 
A guest speaker will be talking about
The Blind Schools of Bristol

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hanham Court Estate

Hanham Court Estate [From the Normans to the Creswickes]

[My understanding of the land records as quoted by Fosbroke, & Ellacombe]

1.  The Domesday Survey of 1086 established how the land that William had promised to his lords was now held, and what they owed him for it.  -  Yes they would owe him taxes, but more importantly, some of them were becoming uppity and fractious and William needed to have a firm grip over their entitlement to land and their fealty with a duty to military service.

2.   Once the Land Register was established, land and its owners’ duties to the King could not be transferred without his written permission. This permission was called Royal Licence. There are clear examples locally where, - when Royal Licence had not been granted, land was confiscated from the purchaser and re-allocated. Thus a Baron could not allow parts of his Barony to be sold beyond his control without the King’s permission.

3.   After a long time the operation of the Royal Licence system became cumbersome and ways were devised to avoid the legal rigmarole and expense.   However the Statute of Mortmain of 1279 was a specific ban on transferring property to religious orders without a Licence.

4.  One way that was devised to transfer ownership as a sale was to set up a fictitious legal case that would record an agreement of recompense to the previous owner.  The final Judgement was called a finé. - Written copies were made for the parties also a court record. [See following page]

          These court copies are called ‘feet of fines’. And so we see that a purchaser held land ‘by a fine’.

The Manor of West Hanham

          John of Saltmarsh was a very young baby when he inherited the Manor of West Hanham He was a descendant of the De Hanham family who held the manor from the Lords of Berkeley. Two neighbouring Lords, The Blounts of Bitton and De la More of Oldland wished to control the Estate and fought a court action [1272] as to who should acquire the wardship of the manor during his minority. De la More prevailed.

          In 1287 when Saltmarsh attained 15 years [the age of discretion] he took court action to oust the guardianship of De la More. However De la More proved that by his lineage Saltmarsh held the Manor by a Knight’s Fee, which was a military duty and he could not do so until he reached the age of 21.

          If he had held it under an ordinary tenancy called soccage he would have been able to sell the manor later without much trouble. But when he came to sell it in 1329 the Knight’s Fee was an obstacle to a regular sale. ~ It seems likely that he would have approached the ‘Superior Lord’ to see what could be done about it.   -   The Knight’s Fee was part of the Baron’s duty to the Crown which could not be removed without considerable trouble and expense. It was clear that the Berkeleys could not allow a sale that might let it fall into the hands of another Lord unless they sought the king’s permission.   ­-    They would have to specify the prospective new owner who would take on the Knight’s Fee.

          The Berkeleys had founded the Abbey of Keynsham and over time had given much to it.  -  It is recorded in Sir Robert Atkyns’ ‘History of Gloucestershire’ that William de la Grene held land in Marshfield for the Abbey of Keynsham [1326]. He and John de Bagworth would have been known to the Berkeleys as commissioners for the Abbey.

          When Saltmarsh wishes to sell the manor in 1329 there remains this obstacle to a sale in the open market. However the Berkeleys do have a way to help Saltmarsh by arranging the sale to William de la Grene and John de Bagworth who will apply for a Licence under the Statute of Mortmain to give it to the Abbey.  This will extinguish the ‘Knight’s Fee’.  -  It then seems obvious that the Berkeleys would have funded de la Grene and de Bagworth to make the purchase. Then the expected conveyance to the Abbey took place within a year.  It was in fact another gift to their favourite Religious Order.   A previous suspicion that the commissioners were a ‘front organization’ appears doubtful as they took the proper action by licence. Only the money source and amount are not vouchsafed to us. - I doubt there was any subterfuge involved.

     The estate transferred at this time is listed as: -

One Capital messuage, [Hanham Court]: One carucate [about 120 acres of arable]:

6 acres of mead & 4 acres of wood:  Estimated 60 acres tenanted @ 10 shillings from Wm. de la More;    a Water-Mill:  3 acres of mead and 6 acres of wood from Thomas de Berkeley:   and 1 virgate [30acres] at Beach [Upton House] from Bath Abbey.

After the dissolution of the Monasteries (Keynsham in 1539) the estate sold to John Lacey had grown to 1470 acres, and Ellacombe completes the story via T Colston to the Creswickes as follows: - Queen Mary In 1553 had sold West Hanham to Rowland Hayward. He in 1555, to John Reed and he in 1566 sold the manor house and 1470 acres to John Lacy of London and Bristol.

In 1633 The Laceys sold to T. Colston, who in 1638 sold it to Francis and Henry Creswicke, whose family held it until 1842

R. J. Williams 15.06.18

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

John Chiddy's Gravestone

Hanham Local History Society are pleased to confirm that they are funding the replacement of the missing and damaged memorial stones on the grave of John Chiddy at Christ Church, Hanham.  In 1876 John died while saving the express train, the Flying Dutchman, from disaster. The stones were replaced in 1976, one hundred years after Chiddy’s death, by C H Painter life long Church member, local undertaker and historian.  Every effort has been made by the society to contact all known descendants of John Chiddy and we are grateful that neither they nor the church have raised any objections to this replacement.  When the new stone is installed, a rededication service will take place, at which time children from several local schools will be in attendance.  The society acknowledges the valuable assistance of T M Broodrie of Summers Memorial Masons, St George in this venture.  We also register our thanks to our parish councils and the local councillors for their continued support, especially in respect of the research and documenting of local heritage issues carried out by the Society.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Hanham War Memorial gets it’s own Quick Response Code

South Gloucester council have teamed up with volunteers from South Gloucestershire museums, heritage centres and local history groups in an ongoing project to place QR codes next to each war memorial across South Gloucestershire.

By downloading a QR app to a mobile phone, information can be obtained from the website about the named people on the memorial  plaque, tablet or statue.

South Glos council have a list of war memorials which are open to the public across our area, and as the project continues more and more information about the named people will be available.

Hanham now has its own QR code sited on a post alongside the war memorial.
All the information was supplied by our society

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Bush Hill

Bush’s Hill
Report by R Williams. (Of joint investigation with Mary Antill & Roy Crew.)

Mary had asked “Does anyone know about Grotto House, apparently on Bush’s Hill?” and offered the story of John Creech Horse Dealer who lived there.
From Census and old newspapers Nos. 14 & 16 Chapel Rd were identified as the properties in question. Behind No 16 (Grotto House) was a yard with Stabling advertised for 50 horses.
This pair of houses appears on the 1st series OS Map, pre 1888,

It was confirmed that Bush’s Hill was a narrow lane running from Lower Hanham Rd to the Junction with Lower Chapel Rd. Roger said that he believed it originally ran through the narrow alley between ‘Curry Night’ & ‘Sticky Fingers’. In fact he said that before the High St was built as part of the Turnpike the lane could have joined with Anstey’s Rd
Roger Williams had spoken to the occupant of no 14 who confirmed that Albert Moss the last Horse-Dealer had lived at No. 16. The yard was cobbled then. She also said that her house had been called Coronation House, and that it had been the home of Cliff Britton the Rovers Everton & England footballer. Pictures of the Houses and of Cliff Britton were shown. Albert Moss had been enlisted as a Wheelwright in the Great War (document shown).

The Stables had been converted to 14 Garages when the yard was sold in 1938, as part of the estate of Robert Fussell, (Kingswood boot Manufacturing Family). Moss’s Mother was a Fussell.

Some time after WW2 the Yard became the property of G. Sampson’s Hardware business on the High St. and was used for Builder’s Merchants stocks.

Within a couple of weeks of the original enquiry Roger noticed that the yard had changed hands again and was now a building-site for 6 houses. The developer’s archaeology watch had reported a crudely built well of late Victorian date. We had noted this on the 1903 OS map.

We could not find a specific reason for the name ‘Bush’s’. There did not seem to have been any commercial operation to have given its name to the narrow lane. There were but 10 houses in the earliest map and census details we found, with no occupants of that name.

Roger adds this afterthought: -
In 1740 Methodist Preacher Cennick’s diary lists three, Peter, William & Aaron Bush who were of the Moravian Brotherhood. These could be the coalminers who held a mine called Bushes at the top of Stradbrook Vale by Kennard Close in the Map of Player’s Manors of 1750. That’s just over half a mile away.

Hanham House - The Mystery solved

The Story of Hanham House
A joint investigation; - Roger Windsor, Roy Crew, Mary Antill & Roger Williams

The Victorian mansion was set in a site of just over 2 acres in a corner north of the A431, and west of the old back lane (prehistoric Trackway). The corner is now occupied by the New Baptist Church, - a much smaller footprint.
The 2 acres previously extended west to the LIDL boundary and north to the line from LIDL to Wesley Avenue. The estate in 1898 included fields as far as Woodyleaze Drive to Lower Hanham Rd. and all of Wesley & Wilshire Avenues but excluding Tudor Rd / Holmwood and the old Baptist Church etc on the east.

The beginning (so far back as we know) is the site boundary on the east. This was an ancient Trackway before the Romans came. We can trace it from the Black Horse pub in Kingswood over Hanham Mount, through Hanham Hall and crossing at Riverside Cottages it appears again toward Queen Charlton. It was one of several routes between the Dobunni in the north and the Durotriges to the south. The Romans in about 79 AD created the southern boundary of the site (A431) when they built the ’Via Julia’ from Bath to Portus Abonae (Port of Avon).

The Norman Kings held the Forest of Kingswood and Filwood. What remained of the Kings Chase in 1610 had a southern boundary that passed down the back lane and along the high Street. That is, - the site was within the Forest of Kingswood.By 1652 the eastern and southern boundaries of the site were still the boundary line of Kingswood Chase in the Government Survey under Cromwell’s Commonwealth. However already in 1638 the main road frontage as far as the Community Centre had been split into a number of plots and leased by Lewis Evans for the building of cottages, but these were still officially within the Royal Forest.  
Lewis Evans was the grandson of the Vicar of St. Mary’s Bitton. He and his father Thomas are recorded as Taylors in Hanham. If they claimed title to a piece of the King’s Chase it is not clear how they had any right to do so.
By 1657 all that parcel of land between the A431 and Mounthill appears to have been in the possession of Arthur Farmer, Brewer and Alderman of Bristol. This is recorded as “Late Farmer’s Lands” in the Mapp of Kingswood Chace of 1672. Farmer had bought several parcels of land in the Parish of Bitton from the Read family.

The first record we have of there being a house on the site is in the Tythe map of the parish of Oldland of about 1840. The footprint of the House then is the same as that which persisted until its sale in 1898.
John Whittuck Palmer, JP (1809-1871) lived there in the 1871 census with some of his family and four servants. He died shortly after and we have not yet found a subsequent owner between him and Mrs Jones - the last occupant.   We feel there must be one.
By 1898 a number of improvements such as the 64 ft. long heated conservatory across the south elevation had been added.

Here is the Auction Offer handbill. It is the last record 
we have of the house, as it has disappeared in the O.S 2nd series Map published as 25‑inch in 1903.
The building of the New Baptist Church did not begin until 1905.

All that FREEHOLD substantially-built and conveniently-arranged RESIDENCE known as
With the Flower and Kitchen Gardens, Lawns and Orchard, Conservatory, Greenhouse, Stabling and Coach-House, Cowshed and other buildings, situate in the Parish of Hanham, and late in the occupation of Mrs J A S L Jones, deceased.
The house contains on the Ground-floor Large entrance Hall and Drawing-room and dining-room, both communicating with a Conservatory (heated by hot water) 64 feet by 7 feet, 9inches extending nearly the whole length of the front of the house. Panelled Morning-room, Smoking-room, two w.c.s, one fitted as a lavatory, Servant’s-hall, Kitchen, two China Pantries, Larder and Offices.   On the first floor, approached by two staircases are nine Bed and Dressing rooms, Fitted Bathroom and w.c. In the Basement is extensive Cellarage, the Wine Cellar being fitted with stone bins having lock-up fronts.

The STABLING comprises 3 large Loose-Boxes with capitally fitted Harness-room, Large Coach-house and Loft.   The OUTBUILDINGS comprise Cow-shed, Fowl-houses &c. The FLOWER and KITCHEN GARDENS and ORCHARD lie well to the sun and are plentifully stocked with Choice Fruit Trees.   There is a well-built GREENHOUSE, 26 feet by 13 feet.

We don’t have any pictures of Hanham House but the external features must have been similar to those of Oldland Hall
(Now Grade 2 listed)

 Picture dated 1938. 

                                                              R J Williams May 2017.