An Indian tea planter in Charlton Kings

Looking through the Charlton Kings 1909 survey material the other day, I was intrigued by the name of a house in Sandy Lane – ‘Multrapore’. Searching on the ever helpful Google reveals that Multrapore is an Indian tea plantation still in operation and involved in some legal disputes of which the details are not available to the ordinary googler. The other reference which Google produced was to glos1909survey, and clicking on it brought one to the complete Charlton Kings data on the website! The Gloucestershire Archives file is classified at D2428/2/38.

In 1909 Multrapore was owned and occupied by Montague Douglas (or Donald) Seaton. The house occupied a quarter acre plot, valued at £120. The house was valued at £1050, clearly a substantial building when it is compared with the many houses and cottages valued at less than £100.

One Montagu Donald Seaton was a pupil at Christ’s Hospital Schook, Hertford, in 1881, and was aged 11. He had been born in Lichfield. Was this our man?

The Guild of Craftsmen – gentlemen and players

Some members of the Guild of Handicrafts were gentlemen, and some players. This is the conclusion which seems to emerge from the Gloucestershire records of the 1909 Lloyd George survey of land values. Volunteers transcribing the records have recently finished Broad Campden and Chipping Campden, and the information below is drawn from this source – Gloucestershire Archives D2428/2/43.

C R Ashbee himself had the resources of a wealthy family behind him when he embarked on the craft experiment. His and his wife’s property in Campden was valued at £3150, and the Guild’s property at another £2660. The house and Craftsmen’s Club was rented from E P Jones Esq. Another gentleman craftsman was Paul Woodroffe, who was living in Westington in 1909. He has been described as a beaky, austere Roman Catholic, and was a glass artist. He owned his valuable house with ½ acre of garden, worth £700, a large amount for a single house at this period, and when also there were few owner occupiers.

Frederick Griggs, illustrator, was less well founded. He was commissioned by Macmillan to illustrate Highways and Byways in Hertfordshire. He fell in love with Campden when he visited in 1903 to prepare drawings for Highways and Byways in Oxford and the Cotswolds (published in 1905). The following year he lodged at the guild hostel, before renting Dover’s House in High Street, where he was in 1909 and indeed until 1930, when he impoverished himself building Dover’s Court. Dover’s House was owned by Henry J Hands. Hands also owned the house in Back Lane occupied in 1909 by Alec Miller, carver and sculptor.

The romantic-sounding Wentworth Huyshe lived at Box Hedge Cottage in Westington, one of the Earl of Gainsborough’s many properties in Campden. So too did Bill Thornton, in a cottage in High Street. Huyshe was a journalist, collector of arms and armour, heraldic artist, and medievalist generally; Thornton was an ornamental iron worker; his business partner, Charley Downer, is not named in 1909, but he purchased a modest house in Park Road, Campden, in 1912, as information added to form 37 after the date of the survey records.

Of course there were other Guildsmen, and supporters of the Campden Guild of Handicraft Trust will be able to add much more.

The pleasure of finding familiar names

People get pleasure from finding a familiar name – or indeed a different kind of item, such as a type of building or any other feature being collected. Recently the volunteer team has been working on the Chipping Campden 1909 survey material (form 37s in Gloucestershire Archives, see D2428/2/43) and had this spark of pleasure when we spotted the well-known name of Ashbee.

Several interesting facts emerged from the data about the group of handicaft workers who arrived in Campden in 1902. C R Ashbee is named as the owner of three properties and his wife of one: notable was Woolstapler’s Hall, where he and his wife Janet moved originally, and ‘house including ancient building (formerly chapel) cottage & land’ at Broad Campden now known as the Norman Chapel. However, he does not appear anywhere as an occupier. Woolstapler’s Hall was occupied by someone surnamed Walford, and it was owned by Janet Ashbee; she gave her address as the Norman Chapel. The Norman Chapel at Broad Campden was occupied by A K Coomaraswamy; the clerk in the Inland Revenue Office who recorded this information first entered the owner’s name as Dr Coomaraswamy, crossed it out and put Rt Hon the Earl of Gainsborough, and finally settled on C R Ashbee.

Ashbee also owned 3 cottages in Broad Campden, occupied by Mrs Horwood and others, and 3 houses and land occupied by Miss Harewood and others. These were probably occupied by workmen in the Guild of Handicrafts, and the ladies called Horwood or Harewood were supervisors, as it were. The Guild of Handicrafts was stated to own a house, 2 cottages, buildings & land at Broad Campden; Mr C R Ashbee was a trustee and acted for his co-trustees, giving his address as 37 Cheyne Walk, London SW. The Craftsmen’s Club and a house, in High Street, were also owned by the Guild and the occupier of the house was Mr Blanco White. This was probably Braithwaite House, the ‘hotel’ used by the Ashbees when they were living at Woolstapler’s Hall.

Other Guildsmen are named in the survey, and they will be the subject of another post.

Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to one and all.

Whilst browsing through the Gloucestershire Archives catalogue on the topic of New Year, I came across the letters written by Maynard W. Colchester-Wemyss of Westbury on Severn to the King of Siam, in the early part of the 20th century.  I found one which began:

“30th Dec. 1919


The day after tomorrow is New Year’s Day and I am reminded by the girls that the 1st January is your birthday, so I take the opportunity of wishing you many happy returns of it, and I sincerely hope the coming year will be a happy and pleasant year to yourself and a peaceful and prosperous one for Siam. “

He went on to discuss the state of Europe after the ending of the First World War.  Unfortunately, the response of the King of Siam is not included in the collection but the letters contain many interesting comments on local life as well as world affairs.  G.A. Ref:  D37/1.


Maps are a wonderful historical resource, as anyone who researches a place or a property appreciates. Having just finished writing about Prestbury Park, better known as Cheltenham race course, for the Gloucestershire Gardens & Landscape Trust, this was in my mind. The park is nearly 900 years old. Of course, there are no maps to show us its boundaries at that date, though we do know where the bishop’s Prestbury manor house was situated; parts of the moats which inclosed the house and its suporting buildings, gatehouse and so on, still exist and the site was excavated by Helen E. O’Neil in 1951 (see Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society vol 75).

A survey of the estate in 1623 (Glos. Arch. D184/M24) states that the park was 291 acres. In 1762 the Rt Hon William Craven added the manor house site to his Prestbury Park estate which had been separated from it in the early seventeenth century. Following this, he commissioned a survey of his Gloucestershire estates in Pamington [Ashchurch], Gotherington, Great Washbourne, Elkstone, Pirton and Elmbridge [Churchdown], Prestbury, Twyning, Withybridge [Boddington] and Tredington. The surveys were bound into a beautiful volume, each block of land accompanied by a map (Glos Arch. D184/P1). The Prestbury Park map is dated 1768. The accompanying survey suggests that the park was 299 acres, and the map shows a very distinctive oval boundary which also extended up to the old Prestbury manor house. Much of the boundary still exists, as Beryl Elliott has shown in her article in Cheltenham Local History Society Journal vol 16.

A lucky find on Westcote Hill

No, not a golden idol or even an Anglo-Saxon ornament! But an interesting find, nonetheless. Today the last set of form 37s for the Lloyd George survey were transcribed, for the parish of Westcote (Glos. Arch. D2428/2/171). Far Westcote, Nether Westcote and Church Westcote are named. Nineteen forms at the end were for ‘allotment land’ on Westcote Hill. Seven plots measured 27 perches, one was 24, one 22, two 21, one 17, one 16, two 14, three 8 and one only 3 perches. So they were rather various in size. All were occupied by their owners, and all had different owners,  though there were obviously several members of the same families owning strips.

‘Strips’ is the clue to the origin of these allotments on Westcote Hill. They are survivals of the ancient open-field holdings of medieval farmers. It appears that part of Westcote Hill had been enclosed in 1842, but not all. The strips were said to be farmed in the traditional way in 1905. There had been a demand for small holdings in the parish in 1895, and it may be that these strips were allocated as allotments in response to the agricultural depression being suffered at that time. The Victoria County History volume 6 page 176 ( notes  that they were called ‘allotments’ on the Ordnance survey map of 1922. We know they were called that in 1909.

A few years ago the strips could still be seen running up the hill and separated by grass balks or banks. The separate ownership of the strips ensured that they survived for many years. Can any still be seen?



Christmas @ the Archives: house sales, a flaming santa and reindeers!

On Christmas day in 1347 John Baker sold a house in Mitcheldean to Thomas Wodeward. He was able to gather seven people to witness the sale of the property – they must have received enough food and drink to make it worth their while!

The first reference to Christmas in its shortened form Xmas appears in 1647. In a lease of a ‘messuage and appurtenances’ made between Arthur Weaver and John Bowyer the rent for the property included ‘a fat goose and a couple of capons at Xmas’ (D2153/3/61).

The first reference we have to a Christmas tree is in 1868, when the wife of the Rector of Edgeworth gave a tree to the church (P133 VE 2/1), while the first Christmas carol reference occurs in 1847 when a songwriter (thought to be E. Hodges of Stretton on Fosse) wrote a special carol for Christmas. 

As for Christmas presents, the earliest reference that hints at presents being bought comes from the archive of the Clifford Family of Frampton-on-Severn in 1678, when John Clifford, in his personal account book, lists ‘payments at Christmas’ (D149/A26). By coincidence this volume also gives us the earliest direct reference to another Christmas tradition, that of mumming and mummer’s plays. The same John Clifford also records making payments to mummers and a trumpeter, at New Year, 1677.

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Father Christmas however and, within the remarkable diaries and notebooks of W T Swift (schoolmaster of Churchdown School in the latter half of the 1800s), is a somewhat bittersweet reference to the great man.  In his diary entry for the 4th February 1885, Mr Swift records that he had “Met Mr. Webb who had been severely burnt about the face and hands while playing Old Father Christmas at Sunday school tea party.” (D3981/14)

Finally as for the creatures that Santa could not do without on Christmas Eve – his reindeers – we have just one reference; the sale of the ‘Reindeer Inn and adjoining house, at Bearland’ in Gloucester in 1884 (GBR/L/6/4/7).

Merry Christmas, and happy New Year!

The Lloyd George survey of land values

Thanks to many volunteers, a mass of material on property values, owners and occupiers for the whole county is being transcribed and loaded onto a website:

Numerous points of interest arise at every session in the Archives Office.

Particularly needed are volunteers to visit The National Archives and photograph the Field Books for parts of the county around Stroud which are missing from the Gloucestershire Archives collection. If anyone thought of doing some photography, please contact either John Loosley (see post on turkish bath) or Anthea, writing here, in order not to duplicate work already done.


Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

Filled with thousands of cardboard boxes and hundreds of filing cabinets, the galleries of Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum hardly looked ready for a party of visitors, but twenty-seven Friends of Gloucestershire Archives were greeted warmly and given a three-part tour by three enthusiastic museum staff. They work tucked into corners amidst the boxes, and in a corner of the upstairs landing is the  tea and coffee-making facilities. Also tucked into corners of the ‘storage galleries’ were small tables with exhibits put out for our interest. To find material was a triumph, but of course they know where everything is stored.

There were examples of Archives files relating to items in the museum, full of interest, but almost completely unknown to visitors; there were fascinating books of William Morris’s writings from the nationally significant but little known Emery Walker collection of books which he published; and there were photographs and papers relating to Cheltenham shops.

Gloucestershire Archives staff walk miles each day collecting and returning material to the storeooms, and they can certainly appreciate the organised chaos of packing everything up and moving it elsewhere. No need to ask if the Museum staff are looking forward to taking possession of their new building  –  after this really interesting glimpse of ‘behind the scenes’, we can now all appreciate the work which will be involved in moving and unpacking.

The afternoon was brought to a warm and hospitable conclusion for the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives with tea and cake in the Well Walk Tea Room.