History Introduction

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


The parish of Upleadon, situated 10.5 km north-west of Gloucester, extends southwards for 5 km beside the river Leadon and was represented in the Domesday survey by an estate of Gloucester abbey called Leadon.[1] On the parish’s north-eastern side the river marked the ancient boundary between Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Where on the east side it followed the course of the Glynch brook flowing into the Leadon from the north-east, the parish boundary[2] underwent some adjustment after the river’s course was adapted as a mill leat;[3] in 1605 Sir Thomas Lucy, the lord of Upleadon, and William Horton exchanged meadow land upstream of the mill on the boundary between Upleadon and Staunton (Worcs., later Glos.).[4] Upleadon’s shorter southern boundary followed the tributary Newent or Ell brook,[5] known in the early 21st century as the Leachford brook.[6]

            A chapelry of Rudford in the Middle Ages,[7] Upleadon contained 1,230 a. (498 ha) in the later 19th century.[8] It was enlarged to 645.5 ha in 1992 by the addition from Newent and Pauntley of settled farmland to the west in an area extending northwards from Okle green to Eden’s hill and of land in Madam’s and Collin Park woods to the north-west.[9] The following account deals with the parish as constituted until 1992.[10]


Above the valley of the Leadon the land lies mainly at below 40 m but in the north-western corner it rises more steeply to 70 m on Eden’s hill. The parish lies mainly on the mudstones and other sediments formerly known as the Keuper Marl with a broad bed of alluvium beside the river Leadon on the east and the Ell brook on the south.[11]

            On the east side of the parish part of the river was embanked and adapted as a leat to the site of Upleadon mill.[12] In the Middle Ages to guarantee the mill’s supply of water and to facilitate repairs after flooding Gloucester abbey made several agreements about the course of the river and of the Glynch brook with landholders immediately upstream in Staunton.[13] Flooding continued beside the river in Upleadon and commissioners appointed in 1861 to improve drainage lower down the Leadon valley enlarged the channel of the Ell brook where it met the river on the parish’s southern boundary.[14] In the early 16th century the holder of Upleadon mill had the fishery in its watercourses by grant from Gloucester abbey[15] and in the early 1880s fishing rights in the Leadon belonging to J.D. Birchall (d. 1897) were delegated to his farm manager at Upleadon Court.[16]

            Although Upleadon contains little woodland, Gloucester abbey’s estate in 1086 had a wood measuring two leagues by two quarters.[17] Woodland in an area of 84½ a. in Upleadon that the abbey was licensed to impark in 1333[18] included parts of the manorial demesne known as Corn grove and Elm grove. They were used as pastures in the early 16th century[19] and together with Park field lay beside the river Leadon north of Upleadon mill.[20] In the mid 19th century Upleadon’s woodland covered 31 a. in small areas on the west side of the parish including Eden’s hill[21] where in 1919 the landowner J.D. Birchall gave a small plantation of firs to the National Trust.[22] Price grove, further south on the Newent boundary,[23] was under the name of Priest grove (4 a.) part of the rectory estate sold off in 1862.[24]

 Roads and Bridges

Upleadon’s road plan is based on two routes that cross one another on Eden’s hill on the parish’s western boundary with Newent. That from Newent to Tewkesbury runs eastwards across the north of the parish to a crossing of the river Leadon and is known within Upleadon as Forge Lane. That from Gloucester, by way of Highleadon green, enters Upleadon on its southern boundary, the Ell brook, and continues northwards along the line of Upleadon green[25] towards Pauntley. In the late 14th century Gloucester abbey, as lord of both Upleadon and Hartpury, had sole responsibility for the upkeep of the bridge at the crossing of the Leadon and it shared with the lord of Newent the maintenance of Lydenford bridge, the crossing of the Ell brook on Upleadon’s southern boundary.[26] In 1622 Thomas Keys made a bequest for the repair of the causeway carrying the Newent–Tewkesbury road over the Leadon’s flood plain[27] Neither of the principal roads, which were described in 1769 as very bad,[28] was ever turnpiked.[29]


Eight tenant households were recorded in Upleadon in 1086[30]  and fourteen   people were assessed for tax there in 1327.[31] While thirty men from the parish were named in a muster in 1542,[32] the estimated number of communicants in 1551 at 80 was perhaps too high[33] for 20 households were recorded for the parish in 1563[34] and 60 communicants in 1603.[35] Twenty four families were recorded in 1650[36] and 44 conformists were reported in 1676.[37] The population was estimated at 100 c.1710[38] and, although supposed to be smaller c.1775,[39] stood at 183 in 1811. In 1851 it was 275. From the late 19th century it fell to below 200 but from 175 in 1931 it rose to 236 in 1981 and to 285 in 2001, the enlargement of the parish in 1992 accounting for part of the increase.[40]

 Settlement and Buildings

Upleadon’s village is located high up in the west of the parish some distance from the parish church which stands on the east side close to the river Leadon. Until the growth of the village in the 19th century[41] the pattern of settlement was small scattered farmsteads some of which were abandoned before the late 18th century.[42]

            The church, which is set back from the Tewkesbury road above the Leadon, dates from the late 11th or early 12th century. A church house stood in the churchyard until at least the early 19th century[43] and to the north towards the road are the remains of building platforms and of at least two tracks or hollow ways.[44] Upleadon Court, south-west of the church, is a farmstead occupying the site of the manor, formerly a possession of Gloucester abbey[45] which under the rule of John de Gamages (1284–1306) built new houses in Upleadon.[46] At the Court the main part of the farmhouse is a large two-storeyed range with attics and is one room deep. Built of brick in the 18th century, the asymmetry of its north front suggests that it encases an older house. The lower west wing, also of two storeys, is timber-framed and dates from the 16th or 17th century. Among the outbuildings one to the north-west has a cruck farmed raised in the 15th century perhaps primarily for a threshing barn which has been enlarged, the additions including a fifth bay on its western end. A five-bayed brick barn facing eastwards to the house dates probably from the mid or late 18th century.[47]

East of the church Upleadon mill on the north side of the Tewkesbury road by the river is the place where a forge operated in the 17th and 18th centuries.[48] Some way west on the road (Forge Lane) the Parsonage, standing east of the lane leading southwards to Middletown, was a small timber-framed house that belonged to the impropriate rectory until 1862.[49] Considered part of the glebe of Upleadon’s curate in the early 17th century but long used as a labourer’s cottage, it contained four rooms, probably two to a floor, and had a barn of three bays in 1698.[50]

In the centre of parish Middletown and Bayton’s Farm stand close together  on the east side of an area known in the 17th century as Hind Town.[51] The house at Middletown is a timber-framed farmhouse that dates perhaps from before the late 16th century[52] and was in 1700 the centre of a freehold estate with closes to the east called Coney Pit orchard and Coney Pit field.[53] Its outbuildings include a barn dating from the 16th or early 17th century.[54] To the south the farmstead at Bayton’s Farm is named perhaps after the family of John Bayton, a farmer in the parish in 1705[55] and it includes a barn raised on a stone plinth in the early 16th century.[56] To the west of Hind Town a horseshoe-shaped moat south of the lane leading westwards from Middletown[57] marked the site of Wheeler’s, a house that was part of Middletown farm in 1700[58] and had been demolished by the mid 19th century.[59] Drew’s Farm, set back north of the lane, is at another moated site[60] and was known in the early 19th century as the Moat Farm.[61] Its two-storeyed brick house has attics and was built c.1807 with marble chimney pieces among its fittings.[62]

Early settlement in the south of parish included a moated site east of the Gloucester road next to which in the mid 19th century were fields called Upper and Lower Old House ground.[63] West of the Gloucester road the farmstead at Lower House was known as Upleadon Farm in the mid 19th century when, as part of Revd J.E. de Visme’s estate, it was one of the parish’s main farmsteads.[64] Its house has a smart brick north front of two storeys and  four bays dating from the early 19th century with a pedimented attic window over the central two bays. Upper House, slightly higher up to the north-west,[65] was used as two cottages on Lower House farm in the mid 19th century and until at least the First Word War.[66] To the west Hay Farm, presumably part of the holding of Walter of the hay in the mid 13th century,[67] was occupied by William Clark in 1522[68] and owned by Beale family in the 18th century.[69]

In the north-west of the parish Hill Farm stands back from Forge Lane presumably on the spot inhabited in 1522 by William Clark of the hill.[70] Its small house forms part of a range that was enlarged in the 17th century[71] and with its outbuildings was used by the mid 19th century as labourers’ accommodation on Upleadon Court farm.[72] The timber-framed house which with its adjacent barn was converted as two cottages in the mid 20th century[73]  retains a thatch roof. Further west towards Eden’s hill the farmstead at Alfords, on the north side of Forge Lane,[74] had an old and small two-storeyed house that was replaced by a new building in the late 1950s.[75]

Little early building took place on Upleadon green[76] but in 1840, by which time it had been inclosed, a few cottages stood at irregular intervals along the road from Gloucester.[77] In 1840 there were also two dwellings on the north side on the lane that leads from the road westwards to Okle green in Newent. They occupied a building close to the Upleadon boundary next to orchards at a place known in 1861 as Golden Valley,[78] a name later used for the lane itself. Further north in Hook’s Lane, which leads from the Gloucester road to the north-west end of Okle green, there were in 1840 a pair of plain brick cottages just off the Gloucester road and a small cottage further along the lane within Upleadon.[79]

            Further north a number of cottages were built randomly on Eden’s hill on former waste or common land within Upleadon.[80] Eden’s Hill Farm (sometimes Birche’s Farm), the principal farmstead there, stands on the Newent side of the parish boundary south-west of the crossroads formed by the Gloucester and Tewkesbury roads[81] and has a house and outbuildings dating from the 17th century.[82] In the 19th and 20th centuries the crossroads became the focus of a small village. Most of the new building took place within Upleadon[83] where in the mid 19th century a vicarage and a schoolhouse were built east of the Gloucester road.[84] In the 1880s a Methodist chapel was erected north of Forge Lane and later in the century a mission church and a new school (in 2010 the village hall) were added to the buildings on the Gloucester road site.[85] As a memorial to parishioners killed on active service during the First World War a cross was erected at the crossroads by 1921.[86]

In the late 1930s Newent Rural District Council built six houses east of the village lower down on the north side of Forge Lane in front of Hill Farm. The first two pairs, completed by 1937, faced the road and the third pair stood behind them.[87] More houses were built in the village after the Second World War. They included six council houses, two pairs completed in 1952 east of the Gloucester road just beyond the mission church and one pair completed in 1961 south of Forge Lane.[88] A farmhouse (Glebe Farm) was erected east of the Gloucester road, just north of entrance to Hook’s Lane, in 1957 or soon afterwards,[89] and other houses were built privately later in the 20th century.[90] The mission church and the Methodist chapel were both pulled down c.1970.[91]

In the later 20th century more houses were also built outside the village. Several were on the Gloucester road and in the Golden Valley area. One of the last was on the lane between Forge Lane and Middletown.

[1]           Below, manor.

[2]           GDR, T 1/188; OS Maps 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1884 edn); NE (1888 edn).

[3]           See below (landscape).

[4]           Warws. RO, L 6/936.

[5]           GDR, T 1/188; OS Maps 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1884 edn); NE (1888 edn).

[6]           R. and P. Palmer, Secret River: an exploration of the Leadon Valley (2004), 55.

[7]           Below, religious hist. (early hist.). In 1356 Upleadon manor was said to be in Rudford parish: Reg. Trillek, 228–9.

[8]           OS Area Book (1883).

[9]           VCH Glos. XII, 8, 282; OS Map 1:25,000, OL 14 (2005 edn). See The Forest of Dean (Parishes) Order 1991 (unpublished Statutory Instrument 1992 no 2283).

[10]         The research for this history was conducted by Dr Carrie Smith and Dr John Juřica.

[11]         See Geol. Surv. Map 1:50,000, solid and drift, sheet 216 (1988 edn).

[12]         S. Mills and P. Riemer, The Mills of Gloucestershire (1989), 90.

[13]         Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. I, 375; III, 29–31.

[14]         Drainage of the Leadon Valley, near Gloucester (1868: copy in Glos. Colln. M 5.2).

[15]         Glouc. Cath. Libr., Reg. Abb.Malvern, I, ff. 196v.–197v.; II, f. 150 and v.

[16]         Diary of a Victorian Squire, ed. D. Verey (1983), 137, 139. For the Birchalls, below, manor (Upleadon manor: Upleadon Ct.).

[17]         Domesday Book (Rec. Com.), I, 165v.

[18]         Cal. Pat. 1330–4, 478.

[19]         Glouc. Cath. Libr., Reg. Abb. Malvern, I, ff. 108–9, 196v.–197v.; II, f. 150 and v.

[20]         GA, D 2957/320/2; GDR, T 1/188 (nos 26, 28, 30).

[21]         GDR, T 1/188.

[22]         S. Martin, Upleadon: Memories of Times Past (1998: copy in GA, PA             364/4), 12. See R. and P. Palmer, Secret River, 49.

[23]         OS Map 1:25,000, OL 14 (2005 edn).

[24]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 180); GA, D 936/T 20. See below, manor (other estates).

[25]         See Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).

[26]         Public Works in Medieval Law I, ed. C.T. Flower (Selden Soc. 32), 104–5, 151.

[27]         GDR wills 1624/146.

[28]         GA, D 963/E 193.

[29]         The Newent–Tewkesbury road is mistakenly described as a turnpike in Kelly’s Dir. Glos. (1856), 380.

[30]         Domesday Book  (Rec. Com.), I, 165v.

[31]         Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 34.

[32]         L&P Hen. VIII, XVII, p. 499.

[33]         J. Gairdner, ‘Bishop Hooper’s Visitation of Gloucester’, EHR 19 (1904), 120.

[34]         Bodleian, Rawl. C. 790, f. 28v.

[35]         Eccl. Misc. 101.

[36]         C.R. Elrington, ‘The Survey of Church Livings in Gloucestershire, 1650’, Trans. BGAS 83 (1964), 98.

[37]         Compton Census, ed. Whiteman, 544.

[38]         Atkyns, Glos. 792.

[39]         Rudder, Glos. 785.

[40]         Census, 1801–2001.

[41]         Below (this section).

[42]         According to GA, D 602, buildings at a place called the Hill, probably in the centre of the parish, were no longer standing in 1793.

[43]         GDR, V 5/320t 6.

[44]         SMR Glos. no 30011.

[45]         Below, manor.

[46]         Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. I, 40. For John’s abbacy, VCH Glos. II, 56, 61.

[47]         D. James, ‘An Architectural and Archaeological Analysis of Twenty Buildings…north of the City of Gloucester’ (2010), 101–5. See DoE List, Upleadon (1985), 4/269–71.

[48]         Below, econ. hist. (corn mill and ironworks).

[49]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 4); below, manor (other estates: Upleadon rectory).

[50]         GDR, V 5/320t 1, 3–6; GA, D 936/Y 56; below, religious hist. (patronage and endowment).

[51]         GA, D 6/P 1; GDR, T 1/188 (nos 215, 230–2).

[52]          See DoE List, Upleadon, 4/275.

[53]         GA, D 6/P 1.

[54]         DoE List, Upleadon, 4/276.

[55]         GA, D 936/E 193.

[56]         DoE List, Upleadon, 4/265.

[57]         SMR Glos. no 4652.

[58]         GA, D 6/P 1.

[59]         GDR, T 1/188 (nos 212–13)

[60]         SMR Glos. no 5316.

[61]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 96); see Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).

[62]         Glouc. J. 13 June 1814; DoE List, Upleadon, 4/274, which dates the house to the late 18th century.

[63]         SMR Glos. no 20703; GDR, T 1/188 (nos 249–51).

[64]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 287); TNA, RG 9/1760. See below, manor (other estates).

[65]         OS Map 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1884 edn).

[66]         GA, D 2299/1557; TNA, RG 11/2527; RG 13/2421.

[67]         GA, D 1609.

[68]         Military Surv. of Glos. 1522, 60.

[69]         Below, manor (other estates).

[70]         Military Surv. of Glos. 1522, 60.

[71]         DoE List, Upleadon, 4/272.

[72]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 81); TNA, HO 107/1960; RG 9/1760; RG 12/2008; RG 13/2421.

[73]         GA, DA 30/100/25, p. 248.

[74]         GDR, T 1/188 (no 123); OS Map 6”, Glos. XVII.SE (1884 edn).

[75]         GA, DA 30/100/27, pp. 50, 168.

[76]         Ibid. D 6/E 4, no 3; Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).

[77]         GDR, T 1/188.

[78]         Ibid. (nos 194–7); TNA, RG 9/1760.

[79]         GDR, T 1/188 (nos 176, 183A).

[80]         GA, D 1297, Upleadon deeds 1808–58, deed 3 Dec. 1841.

[81]         OS Map 1:2,500, Glos. XVII.11 (1903, 1923 edns).

[82]         DoE List, Newent, 4/179–80.

[83]         The few buildings in Newent included an octagonal brick cottage erected at the crossroads by 1840: GDR, T 1/126 (no 261); see Verey and Brooks, Glos. II, 788.

[84]         Below, religious hist. (patronage and endowment); social hist. (education).

[85]         Below, religious hist. (religious life); social hist. (education).

[86]         OS Map 1:2,500, Glos. XVII.11 (1923 edn); Martin, Upleadon: Memories of Times Past, 9.

[87]         GA, DA 30/100/14, pp. 236, 244; 100/20, p. 193; OS Map 1:2,500, SO 7427–7527 (1972 edn).

[88]         GA, DA 30/100/21, pp.6, 26, 55; 100/30, pp. 33, 111, 142, 163; OS Maps 1:2,500, SO 7426–7526 and 7427–7527 (1972 edns).

[89]         GA, DA 30/100/26, p. 128; OS Map 1:2,500, SO 7426–7526 (1972 edn).

[90]         See GA, DA 30/100/33, pp. 247. 250.

[91]         Below, religious hist. (religious life).