Upleadon Social History


(Victoria History of Gloucestershire XIII, draft text by John Juřica: © University of London 2011)


The lordship of Upleadon passed to Gloucester abbey soon after the Norman Conquest.[1] The Keys family, of whom Robert Keys was witness to abbey charters relating to Upleadon before 1284,[2] had a dominant position among Upleadon’s population at the end of the Middle Ages. As tenants of the abbey’s demesne occupying the site of the manor at Upleadon Court[3] their service to the abbot had included holding a basin of water before dinner in the abbey on the feast day of its patron saint, Peter.[4] Richard Keys by will proved 1502 left money for the repair of the parish church and for a trental of masses to be celebrated by friars in Gloucester.[5] In 1522, when William Keys had goods valued at £10, three other parishioners had goods attracting a higher valuation, among them John Clark (£20) and James Williams (£12), the latter the curate holding the rectory estate. Nine of eighteen other men had goods valued at only £3 or less and for one man no value was offered.[6] In 1525 sixteen men were assessed for tax as having goods worth £3 or less.[7] William Keys (d. 1551) was succeeded as farmer of the demesne by his son Roger (d. 1595)[8] and Roger’s son and heir John,[9] who bought the demesne in 1602,[10] had at least four servants in 1608 when he was the sole parishioner described as a yeoman. Eight other heads of households were styled husbandman.[11] John was buried in 1622 in the church’s chancel, the resting place also of other members of his family.[12]

            Members of the Browne family, the principal landowners by the later 17th century, were the successors of a London clothworker and themselves nonconformists living in Gloucester, where Thomas (d. 1730) was for some years a member of the corporation.[13] Of Upleadon’s twenty residents assessed for tax in 1672 one had 4 hearths, two had 3 hearths each, and the rest, of whom five were excused payment, 2 or 1 hearths each.[14] In 1683 the curate described the small population as mostly rack renters and mean freeholders and credited the absence of ‘eminent persons of quality’ for a lack of charitable gifts.[15]

            The owners of Upleadon Court, of whom William Dowdeswell was briefly Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1760s, continued to be absentees  until well into the 20th century[16] but with the building of a new parsonage in 1845 there was again a resident clergyman. At first he was a stipendiary curate,[17] in 1851 a bachelor whose household included more domestic servants (4) than any of those of the farmers.[18]  From the later 1850s the incumbent was resident. Andrew Sayers (d. 1874), who supported Upleadon’s school, and C.R. Greaves (vicar 1887–1929), who built a mission church and a new schoolroom,[19] are the only persons commemorated on the walls inside the parish church. In the later 19th century the number of domestic servants in the few farming households employing them fell and at the vicarage Greaves lived on his own.[20] After the First World War J.D. Birchall, the owner of Upleadon Court, provided a site at the centre of the village for a memorial to parishioners killed on active service[21] and land for an extension to the churchyard, consecrated in 1925.[22]

charities for the poor

The parish remained without endowments to provide regular alms for its poor.


In 1818 eight children from Upleadon attended, with children from Pauntley and Oxenhall, a school taught by Thomas Davies, the perpetual curate, probably in his house in Newent, and a few small children learned reading from an old woman.[23] A church Sunday school started in Pauntley in 1824 at first taught many Upleadon children[24] and a Sunday school started in Upleadon the following year and funded by voluntary contributions taught 21 girls in 1833. Also in 1833 two day schools, one of which was begun that year, taught a total of 21 children, mostly girls, at their parent’s’ expense.[25]

A National school established in 1850 to teach boys and girls was held from 1851 in a new schoolhouse by the parsonage on the Gloucester road. Built with subscriptions and grants, the school was supported by voluntary contributions, including donations from the dean and chapter of Gloucester, and school pence. Any shortfall in income was supplied by the managers, primarily the incumbent Andrew Sayers.[26] Taught in an upper room with a gallery[27] at first by a married couple and by the early 1860s by a woman alone, it had average attendances of between 35 and 40 children in 1862[28] and of 50 in 1885.[29] In 1897 it moved to a new building built next to the house by the vicar, C.R. Greaves.[30] There the average attendance in mixed and infant departments was 51 in 1904[31] and slightly less after the First World War. It dipped to 33 in 1938.[32] The school, known from 1906 as Upleadon C. of E. school,[33] was among beneficiaries of the Lady Wedderburn Prize Fund established in 1910 to reward original work by children in the Newent area.[34] It took voluntary aided status in 1952 and closed in 1969.[35]


Eight people brewed ale in Upleadon in the early 1290s.[36] A publican lived at Upleadon Green in 1841[37] but there is no later record of a licensed public house in Upleadon.[38]

The church house that stood in the churchyard in the early 19th century was possibly an old meeting place.[39] In the village the upper room in the schoolhouse of 1851 was used for church meetings until its sale in 1971. The neighbouring school building of 1897 became the village hall in 1973[40] and as such was used by a number of local groups and for talks and social events in 2010. In the early 1970s the Ledbury hunt maintained a course in the south of Upleadon for point to point races[41] incorporating remains from a moated site as a water jump.[42]


[1]           Above, manor.

[2]           GA, D 1609.

[3]           Above, manor (Upleadon manor: Upleadon Ct.).

[4]           GA, D 326/E 1, f. 105 and v.

[5]           TNA, PROB 11/13, f. 96.

[6]           Military Surv. of Glos. 1522, 60. For Williams as curate, Glouc. Cath.

Libr., Reg. Abb. Malvern, II, ff. 69v.–70.

[7]           Bristol and Glos. Lay Subsidy of 1523–7, p. 253.

[8]           TNA, C 3/278/6; GA, P 346/IN 1/1.

[9]           TNA, PROB 11/87, f. 254v.

[10]         Above, manor (Upleadon manor: Upleadon Ct.).

[11]         Smith, Men and Armour, 64.

[12]         Bigland, Glos. III, no 282.

[13]         Above, manor (Upleadon manor: Upleadon Ct.); VCH Glos. IV, 332,

378. The nonconformity of Thomas Browne (d. c.1662) is attested by

the signature of Sampson Bacon on his will: GDR wills 1663/213; for

Bacon, see VCH Glos. IV, 323.

[14]         TNA, E 179/247/14, rot. 36.

[15]         GDR, V 5/320t 3.

[16]         Above, manor (Upleadon manor: Upleadon Ct.).

[17]         Below, religious hist. (patronage and endowment; religious life).

[18]         TNA, HO 107/1960.

[19]         Below (education); religious hist. (religious life); Kelly’s Dir. Glos.

(1863), 367.

[20]         TNA, RG 10/2607; RG 11/2527; RG 12/2008.

[21]         S. Martin, Upleadon: Memories of Times Past (1998: copy in GA, PA

364/4), 9.

[22]         The Church of St Mary, Upleadon: an historical sketch and appeal

(1931: copy in Glos. Colln. R 320.1), 12.

[23]         Educ. of Poor Abstract, 315. For Davies in Newent, Hockaday Abs.

cccviii, 1817, 1819.

[24]         Educ. Enq. Abstract, 324; GDR vol. 383, no cxxxvi.

[25]         Educ. Enq. Abstract, 330.

[26]          TNA, ED 7/35/339; GA, P 346/SC 1; OS Map 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1884


[27]         Martin, Upleadon: Memories of Times Past, 3; GDR, A 17/10/201.

[28]         TNA, ED 7/35/339; RG 9/1760; Kelly’s Dir. Glos. (1856), 380–1;

(1863), 367.

[29]         Kelly’s Dir. Glos. (1885), 610.

[30]         Ibid. (1906), 346; OS Map 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1903 edn).

[31]         Public Elem. Schs. 1906, 190.

[32]         List 21, 1922 (Board of Education), 108; 1931, 119; 1938, 130.

[33]         GA, P 346/SC 3.

[34]         Ibid. P 165/SC 4/3.

[35]         GDR, A 17/10/201.

[36]         GA, D 936A/M 1, rot. 6d.

[37]         TNA, HO 107/350/14.

[38]         Licensed Houses in Glos. 1891, 140; 1903, 124; Kelly’s Dir. Glos.

(1856–1939 edns).

[39]         GDR, V 5/320t 6.

[40]         Ibid A 17/10/201.

[41]         OS Map 1:2,500, SO 7625–7725 (1972 edn).

[42]         SMR Glos. no 20703.

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