SHURDINGTON - A BIT OF ITS HISTORY

Anyone interested in the history of Shurdington will be indebted to Mr Ron Maltby, Parish Councillor in Shurdington in the 60's, for his tremendous contribution by publishing his researches into the village in January 1965. This was in the form of a photocopied spiral bound booklet of some 30 A4 pages which included researched history, conversations with some local people, hand drawn maps, and some photographs.  Mr Alan Pilbeam was appointed in 1979 to attempt to consolidate the writings into a publishable form.  Only 10 copies of the original Maltby bound work were distributed, 4 copies to the Parish Council, 1 for Mrs Maltby, 1 for Alderman F Holiday, 2 copies for Mr Pilbeam, 1 for Shurdington Primary School, and 1 for Chosen Hill School.
I am grateful to the Vicar, Rev David Primrose for the loan of a copy in the church's library.  Much, but not all, of the following pages are transcripts from Maltby's publication.  
Disclaimer: Any facts entered on these pages, correct or otherwise, are published as read.

Paul Calleja-Gera

See Potted History - Small Booklet and History of Social Centre

CONTENTS
Earliest Times
Early history
First Century AD
Origins of the name
Around 1700
Quiz

Ron Maltby's Conversation with Pat Hitch in 1965
Ron Maltby's Conversation with Mr W Bevan
Ron Maltby's Conversation with Mr H Joynes

 

FootpathsTh.jpg (11010 bytes)
A Water Colour by Ron Maltby
now in the Century Hall
"Footpaths around Shurdington"

EARLIEST TIMES  (back to top)
There is much local evidence of the habitation of the hills around Shurdington by Stone Age Man. The great number of camps on the spurs of the Cotswolds, overlooking the Severn, between Stroud and Cheltenham, must have served some special purpose, possibly for defence against danger from the river, or perhaps raids from beyond the river. Whatever the danger, it appears to have lasted into Roman times, and may account for their great camp at Dowdeswell. Stone Age man had his home on all the notable hill-tops in the vicinity, including Cleeve, Leckhampton, Birdlip, Cranham, Painswick and Churchdown, with a burial ground on the top of Shurdingtion Hill amongst other places, with linking trackways such as the Green Street of Brockworth and the Greenway of our own neighbourhood.    (back to top)

EARLY HISTORY  (back to top)
In the far-off days, when Britain was densely forested, and large areas were covered by swamps and marshes, the ancient tribes that lived here made good use of higher ground, and the tracks or ways that they trod were later used by the Romans, developed and continued, becoming a remarkable network, linking the great towns built by these enterprising invaders.

There is much local evidence of the habitations of our hills by these early tribes, the Ancient Britons; the camps, the burial-places and the communicating tracks.

When the Saxon tribes eventually defeated the Romano-British forces, groups of men, or even individuals, settled in places already to be found, or created new settlements. These settlements which may have been single farmsteads or villages were called tuns, hams or worths, and by prefixing either a personal name, or a descriptive name, place-names were created, and so much did these names become part of our old English language, that the subsequent Norman invasion, in many cases had little or no influence on them, and indeed they remain to this day. So it is with Shurdington, and our neighbouring parishes.

The foundations of our English Society were laid in these early days, with the growth of the village and local election procedures, with the addition of the manorial system, and the 'grading' of men relative to their degree of freedom and ownership.

In the absence of great Revolutions in England, life as we find it, is the logical development from life as it was, and in an English village, this whole fascinating story can be traced.

FIRST CENTURY A.D. and on...   (back to top)
During the first century AD, Roman settlements were over-run and Roman armies defeated by invading Angles and Saxons from Northern Europe, but not before the Christian religion had been introduced. Central England became part of the Kingdom of Mercia. These invaders tended to form small settlements of their own rather than take over the Roman towns. By the time the Danish invaders arrived, the earlier tribes had managed to create a system of government, based on local agreement, and a system of justice, based on local courts, and a form of monarchy, with King Alfred crowned at Winchester, as the best known of our early Kings.

An English nationality began to emerge. Most of our English villages were established and named at this time, Shurdington amongst them, and while authorities differ as to the significance of the first part of the name, the ending 'ton’ or ‘tun’, certainly meant a farmstead or dwelling. Shurdington was established as a parish and manor, in the Hundred of Cheltenham, by the time of the Norman Invasion in the 11th century. Great Shurdington and Little Shurdington were quite separate then, Little Shurdington being in the Parish of Badgeworth, which Parish was of much greater significance and population until comparatively recently. Many village churches and most cathedrals were founded during the Saxon times but Shurdington church was founded before Norman times.

The Norman invasion was the last great invasion of this land and with it came a strong influence in languages, building and a system of Government, which became more central with local officers appointed by the Crown. The Norman Manorial system of local government was not as democratic as the earlier system, which it replaced. With the Norman Kings came great changes in land ownership based on rewards for support of the Monarch. Shurdington features in the Doomsday Book as of having no great value.

During the 400 years of the Dark and Middle Ages, there would have been little change in the appearance of things in Great Shurdington. Farming would have been operating on the 3-field system, the craft of the weaver would probably be as important as the work of the farmer. Ownership of the Manor would have changed families from time to time, the simple Norman church would have been enlarged and improved. Except for possible changes in ownership, the effects of the court intrigue which vitally affected places like Gloucester and Warwick, would have had little influence here.

In the 17th Century, we began to have records of the names of the significant families that lived in Shurdington and Little Shurdington. A Gwinnet family from Wales and a Lawrence family with holdings in other parts of the country lived here, the first family presumably in the manor house, and the other at Greenway - then called simply Shurdington. There was some intermarriage; eventually we hear nothing more of the manor house but only of the Greenway, where members of the Lawrence family continued to live for many generations.

In this century, the influence of the church would have been increasingly felt and the paying of tithes to the church would have affected landowners. Charitable trusts were set up, and parishes were obliged to support their poor. The earliest local trusts dated to this time.

Life in the 17th and 18th Centuries would seem to have been relatively undisturbed. Farming developed on the strip system and the invention of new methods of farming, being tried out in other parts of the country, including the enclosure of lands, had no influence here. Local prosperity and misery depended on the vagaries of the weather and people were concerned only with local needs.

But the end of the l8th Century saw the development of the Industrial Revolution, and the sudden growth of town populations with the need to feed the people in them. Faced with the problem of finding cheap food for the workers at the new machines, the Governments of the day, sensing perhaps that future voting strength lay more with the new industrial employers than with the dwindling land-owning aristocracy, supported the Repeal of Corn Laws which supported home growers and brought grain and meat from the newly-developing Empire countries. The affect on British farming was disastrous and Shurdington, in common with most parishes, had a very high proportion of inhabitants dependent on the Poor Rate, and sent people to the Union Workhouse.

The most significant change during this period was the construction of the new turnpike road on the Shurdington road in 1820. Gradually along this road, houses were built.

Near businesses for instance, doubtless to serve the growing population of Cheltenham; there were blacksmiths, wheelwrights and coach painters, an undertaker, a button-maker, a laundress, a boot mender, market-gardeners, brewery of perry and cider, fruit growers, with a few grander houses built purely for grander living.

By 1846, it was felt at last that land enclosure would be an asset to local farming and an award was made in that year. Train services had been established by this time, which made the sale of fruit possible to places as far as Manchester.

ORIGINS OF THE NAME  (back to top)
The origin of the name Shurdington is obscure, but may derive from the Saxon meaning "the farm of the sons of Scirheard".  The village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, as being "in the Hundred of Chintinham (Cheltenham), but having no great value."  So we can be sure the village has pre-Norman roots.

William Caxton, the first printer in England, began work in 1476.  But another couple of centuries passed before there was any semblance of standard spelling.  Consequently, Shurdington - like every other settlement in the country - appeared in a variety of written forms, as this selection from The place names of Gloucestershire - Book 3, published by the English Place Names Society illustrates.

 

AROUND 1700  (back to top)
In 1712, when Sir Robert Atkyns published his weighty tome The ancient and present state of Gloucestershire, the spelling he chose was:

"Shernton - this parish lies in the Hundred of Dudston and King's Barton, 2 miles distant south from Cheltenham, 8 miles south east from Tewkesbury and 4 miles east from Gloster.  It is generally writ Shurdington.  The church is in the Deanery of Winchcombe (Ed. should read Witcombe?), and is annexed to Badgeworth.  The tithes of Shurdington did anciently belong to the Benedictine nunnery at Usk in Monmouthshire.  The parish is 4 miles in compass and consists of pasture and arable.   A small brook runs from hence into the Severn at Sandhurst.   There are 15 houses in this parish and about 70 inhabitants."

(At this time Badgeworth boasted 25 houses, Little Shurdington 11 and Bentham 24.)

We also learn from Robert Atkyns that the population had been in balance for a good while with two birth and two burials a year.  Villagers in 1694 paid 42 2s 4d. in land tax, plus 3 4s. in poll tax.

 

QUIZ (back to top)

All about Shurdington kindly devised by John Smart
How well do you know Shurdington?

A. If you ran out of bread in 1930's to 1950's where would you go for a loaf of bread?

B. In 1870 Shurdington had its first Post Office. Who was the first Post Mater? and where was the Post Office based?

C. Until late 1930's the village had no mains water supply, but just a well and pump. Where was this pump based?

D. What year was Shurdington school built? - (That is the original school by the church).

E. There is a date carved in the beam at Poplar Farm, west porch. What is it?

F. In Cowlsmead there is a plaque built in the first two houses. What is the date and does CRDC stand for?

G. What is the old name of Shurdington House farm?

H. In 1940 to 1950 where did the doctors hold their surgery? 

ANSWERS

 

1148 Shurdentone

1456 Shrydyngton
1150 Surditona 1475 Shiryngton
1157 Scerdintonam 1511 Shurneton
1220 Shurdinton 1523 Shoryndon
1221 Schirdinton 1544 Sharnton Magna
1282 Schurdington 1551 Sherrington
1292 Chirdyngton 1557 Shernton
1318 Sherdynton 1574 Shureton
1327 Shardington 1691 Shurnton
1397 Magna Shrudyngton  

A GROWING POPULATION

Year

Total Male Female
1801 63 35 28
1891 442 206 236
1951 725 357 368
1971 1890 900 990
1981 1814 841 973 

AT THE 2001 CENSUS

POPULATION SIZE Shurdington Average UK Town
 

Population 1,900 12,200
Households 840 5,100
Population per Household 2.26

2.39

 

ANSWERS (back to Quiz)

A. The Bell Inn Bakery.

B. Baynham Newmarch Coopey. - At Wentworth House. Originally family Wheelwrights.

C. Muddy Lane - Now part of Farm Lane.

D. 1839.

E. 1661.

F. 1949 - Cheltenham Rural District Council.

G. Pool Farm.

H. Shurdington Garage.

 

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...If anyone has any relevant information or photographs I will be grateful to include them here.

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