The History of the Valley of the Boars
is a small village with an ancient history. The true extent of this
history was demonstrated by the archaeological work undertaken by 'Time Team'
for their Bank Holiday weekend dig in August 1997. This represented the
first time that an archaeological dig was broadcast live (on the UK's 'Channel
4') and against the clock.
Time Team's work partially revealed the remains of a large Roman villa dating
from the 3rd or 4th centuries (A.D.). At the time the programme was originally broadcast the
location of the dig was only specified as 'a village somewhere in the heart of
England' in order to prevent freelance digging. In order to save the
farm owner from persistent disturbance and in deference to his wishes, we will
not indicate the precise location of the dig site, but for further information
about Turkdean's Roman Villa check out the Channel
4 - Time Team website archive.
Saxon Life in the Valley of the Boars
Signs of Turkdean's existence and occupancy after the Roman withdrawal are now few
and far between, but the current Norman-origin church may have been built
on the site of a previous, Saxon, possibly 8th century, foundation - although
evidence of this is scant.
However, in the
days of Edward the Confessor (ie 1042-1066), the village already consisted of two
manorial estates: 'Upper Dean' and 'Lower Dean'. Saxon holders of the
Turkdean manorial estates at around this time included Osgot, Siward and
The village's name also derives from the
pre-Norman period, coming from the ancient
British, (ie Welsh) word 'Twrch', meaning 'boar' and the Saxon word 'dene' meaning 'valley'. So we live in the Valley of the Boars it seems.
In 1086 the Doomsday Book listed Turkdean, then 'Turchedene', in
the Hundred of Bradley.
The same Robert holds Turchedene.
There are 5 hides and 2½ virgates paying geld.
Siward held it.
In demesne are 4 ploughs and 12 villans with 6 ploughs.
All together there are 8 slaves and female slaves.
It was worth 6l.; now 100s.
Hide = Saxon measure of land area
capable of being cultivated by a single ploughman and which therefore varied
in size according to the terrain between 60-180acres (24-72hectares).
Standardised by the Normans as 120acres (48hectares).
Virgate (also known as a yardland, or yard of land) = a
quarter of a Hide, or 30acres (12hectares).
Geld = Tax levied from time to time at a number of pence per hide.
Demesne = Land retained in control of feudal lord.
Plough = A plough and the 8 oxen plough team.
Villan = A tenant, usually holding a yardland (see above).
Slave = An individual owing service to another and therefore unable to move
or sell their land or change employment.
At the time of Doomsday the Hundred of Bradley
included the manors of Northleach, Farmington (then 'Thormarton'), Stowell, Upper
Coberley, Compton (Abdale), Hampnett, Hazleton, Yanworth, Salperton, Winson,
Coln Rogers and, of course, Turkdean. The entire Hundred was assessed at
Thus, Turkdean was the Northerly outpost of the
Hundred, while the adjoining villages of Notgrove and Aston (now Cold Aston)
were assessed as part of the adjacent Hundred of Wacrescumbe. However, by
1220 the constituent parts of the smaller Wacrescumbe Hundred had been
incorporated into an enlarged Bradley Hundred.
Although Northleach would have been the largest
component of the Hundred throughout this period the official meeting
place at 'Bradley', the administrative seat for the Hundred, seems to have been
at the Stowell crossroads where the Fosse Way met an ancient 'Salt Way' that ran
from Lechlade north-west to Droitwich. However, all signs of 'Bradley' itself
have now disappeared.
After the Conquest one of the two Turkdean manors was enfeoffed to Robert d'Oilgi (alternatively Doilie, or Doyley) who had fought
with William at Hastings and was appointed Constable of Oxford and given significant estates across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and
Gloucestershire by his presumably grateful sovereign.
The second of the competing village naming
theories, as noted in the Church, is that the village's name might derive from the
family name of putative Norman residents, the 'La Torque' family. This sounds rather
romantic, but sadly there is no remaining evidence of the La Torque family's
existence and so, reluctantly, we will run with the pre-Norman
"Valley of the Boars" origin.
Landscape and Cultivation
The village of Turkdean sits at the centre of a parish of about 2,178acres
(881hectares) defined by the deep valley (of the Boars) to the West and the
Roman Fosse Way to the East. The siting of early Roman settlement and
subsequent village buildings was determined by the natural springs in the North
of the parish on the East side of the valley.
Before parliamentary inclosure in 1793 Turkdean's wolds consisted of
large open fields, with water meadows in the valley bottoms and precious little
woodland. Practically all this land was cultivated under the Saxon and
subsequent Norman systems of tenantry until the Black Death of 1348-50 and
its reoccurrences through the latter half of the 14th century cut the population
by around 30% and led to a widespread reduction in cultivation and economic
The whole area revived from the nadir of the Black Death through the
introduction of more intensive sheep-raising, for which the region became famed
and prosperous through the later Middle Ages. However, this sheep culture still
utilised the open fields gradually abandoned by the system of arable demesne farming
with a density of about 50 sheep in each yardland. From the late
14th century until the early 16th century woolmen based in Northleach collected
the wool from Turkdean for sale to London merchants and the agents of European
wool buyers whose appreciation of the quality of Cotswold wool percolated into
significantly increased prosperity for the Northleach merchants and the
sheep-based farmers of the surrounding parishes.
This pattern of exploitation continued as the wool trade declined in
significance through the 16th and 17th centuries, leaving a sheep tradition
which was continued after the inclosure of 1793 changed the landscape with the
construction of the Cotswold stone walls which are now such an emblematic
feature of the area. After inclosure, however, the significance of
cash crops became an ever more important part of the agricultural economy
with wheat, barley and oats being supplemented in the modern era with
subsidy-dependent crops including oil seed rape and linseed.
The size of the population of Turkdean has ebbed and flowed across the
centuries. Through Saxon and Norman times the population of about 25 was
split between 20 tenants in Upper Turkdean and 5 at Lower Dean and this grew
gradually through the 12th and 13th centuries so that by 1382 even in the midst
of the impact of the Black Death the village's population had swelled to 53.
The subsistence level of the community remained in the 40-60 inhabitants range
through the later Middle Ages as the local economy moved over to sheep. In
1551 the population still stood at 63, but had expanded to 84 in 1603 and to 120 by 1710. Numbers remained stable through
the 18th century, recorded at 113 in 1775, but then, like so much of England,
entered a period of accelerated growth in the early 19th century: the population of 143 recorded
in the 1801 census had grown to 228 in the 1821 census and to an astonishing 447
From this high watermark in 1861 however, a savage outflow set in over the
latter years of the 19th century as the effect of agricultural depression and
the transfer to industry and urban living saw the
population halved over the following 30 years - falling to just 145 in the 1901
census. The village also then lost 13 men during the years of the Great
War 1914-1919, as the Roll of Honour in the church attests.
This decline continued at a slower pace through
the 20th century, hitting 100 in 1991 and hovering today in 2004 at about 85-90
regularly resident inhabitants.
The signs of this demographic history are writ large in the village's
architecture. Literally - as many of the dwellings now in occupation
represent the amalgamation of a number of older, smaller buildings, or have been
constructed, enlarged or repaired with the materials of many of the older
cottages and buildings which fell into disrepair in the late 19th and early
20th centuries. Yew Tree Cottage itself is an amalgamation of two cottage
dwellings that were converted in to one house in the early 20th century.
Other clear signs of the village's previous size exist in the Church and, most
obviously, the School - which was opened in 1874 (with 34 pupils) and remained
open until 1950, by which time it had become impossible to find a cook to
produce lunch, although there were still 13 pupils in the school even in
1949. The school building has now been converted in to a cottage
although it's previous usage is still obvious because of the small bell niche and
the long side windows left over from its classroom use.
All Saints Church, Turkdean: Church
The Norman knight Robert d'Oilgi is usually credited with responsibility for the
building of the village's church, originally dedicated to St. Mary, much later
(probably in the later 18th century) rededicated to All Saints. However,
the oldest standing fabric of the church is probably the West end of the nave
which probably dates from the early 12th century and the time at which Ralph
Basset, a 'justiciar', held the Turkdean manor and gave the church (together
with the church at Little Rissington) to his son, another Ralph Basset.
Signs of the original 11th century building and
most of the remnants of Norman work were built back in to the walls of the church at the time that
the nave was rebuilt in the late 15th or early 16th centuries when a new South aisle
was constructed and the tower was added. Significant refurbishment
was carried out in the 19th century and again in the 1960s. It was during
the work carried out in 1967, sadly, that the 14th century wall-paintings were
renovated out of existence as described by John Edwards in his paper for the Bristol
& Gloucestershire Archaeological Society "Turkdean Church
Wall-Paintings: A Cautionary Tale."
It was the clerical son Ralph Basset who gave Turkdean's church to Oseney Abbey
in or before 1151. The Abbey added to its holdings in Turkdean through the
purchase of a part of the manorial estate from Paulinus of Theydon in 1232 and
used a portion of this acquisition to establish a vicarage which was recorded as
such by 1289. Oseney Abbey then farmed Turkdean's church lands together
with its manorial land in the parish and continued to hold the 'advowson' and to
appoint priests for the parish until the Dissolution.
After the Dissolution the Crown then granted the parish of Tukdean to the Dean and Chapter
of Christ Church, Oxford in 1542, re-confirming this and the college's right to
present to the living in 1546. This link remained intact through the next
four centuries, with the rectory land let to successive tenants until the late 19th
century. Christ Church finally sold the rectory estate in 1911 and the rectory (or
vicarage) house itself in 1948, but retained the right of presentation after this sale
until exchanging it (for the right of presentation to the parish of Upper Swell)
with the Bishop in 1964 which therefore marks the endpoint of the Christ Church era.
It was in 1947 that the lengthy tradition of a resident priest in the village came to an end.
From 1947 Turkdean's vicar simultaneously held the rectorship of the adjoining
parish of Farmington, where he also lived between 1947 and 1967. In 1967
Turkdean's link with Farmington was severed when the parish was united with Cold
Aston and Notgrove, an arrangement that lasted until these three parishes were
all merged with Northleach and four further parishes which were then served by
one (consequently rather overworked) Priest-in-Charge for the whole Benefice based
This organisation, under which Turkdean is
served as part of the 8 parish Benefice of Northleach subsists today. The other parishes served as part of this Benefice in
addition to Turkdean comprise: Northleach, Hampnett, Haselton, Farmington, Cold Aston, Compton Abdale
and Notgrove. Thus, by chance, the local ecclesiastical administration has re-formed about half of the ancient
lay administrative unit of
the Bradley Hundred.
of the Norman architectural remnants now seemingly
'marooned' in the Church walls.
Land and Buildings
From its earliest occupation the Turkdean community has been divided into two
parts, with the larger community at Turkdean and a smaller outpost in Lower
Dean. This division mirrored the development of the two manorial estates.
Robert d'Oilgie's Doomsday ownership linked Turkdean, alongside Little
Rissington, with the 'honour' of Wallingford and through this attachment
subsequently with Ewelme, but the manor lands had passed to
the de Tormions by the end of the 12th century and thence to the Bassets before moving on to the
Paulton family who
retained it through the 14th century until it was acquired by the college of
Westbury-on-Trymm sometime before 1509. Confiscated from the college at
Dissolution, the manor was then granted to Sir Ralph Sadler, later Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster, in 1544. However, ownership passed to the Baynstree ('Bannister') family
in 1586 when, most probably, reconstruction of the Manor house was undertaken.
The Bannisters remained owners of the Turkdean
manor through the 17th century and were among the longer-lasting families to own
the estate, but they sold their Turkdean and Hazleton lands to the Waller family
(from Beaconsfield) in 1725 who also acquired land in Farmington which they
retained when they sold their Turkdean land to the Willan family in 1799.
The manor estate was basically reassembled under the ownership of W.A. Rixon
(William Augustus), who bought much of Turkdean between 1902 and 1912. It was in 1905,
under Rixon's ownership, that the manor house was upgraded from the
farmhouse it had sturdily remained through successive ownerships into something
After Rixon's death in 1948 the manor house and
its estate were separated, with the land then farmed by Geoffrey Milne until
1958 when a large portion of the land was taken on by the Mustoe family who
continue to farm it today. Meanwhile the house passed through successive owners
until, in 1999, the Smedvig family acquired it and subsequently extensively
remodelled and upgraded the manor house.
The Lower Dean manor was held by Osgot before the Conquest and had been
enfeoffed to William Leuric by 1086. By 1165, however, this estate had
passed to Llanthony Priory which added substantial lands in Aylworth to this
holding in 1291 and continued in ownership of the estate until
Dissolution. Subsequently, in 1543, the Lower Dean manor was granted to
Richard Andrews and Nicholas Temple in two parts, but they quickly sold both
parts to the Priory's previous tenant, William Walter.
However, the Walters did not remain in occupation long before selling it to the
St Johns of Bletso, who owned the estate from 1575 to 1599. From the St
Johns the estate passed to the Spencers, then to the Comptons by marriage and to
the Duttons of nearby Sherborne by sale in 1613. After brief ownerships by
Robert Brereton and John Rich the bulk of the estate came in to the
ownership of John Coxwell in 1665, although the Duttons had retained some
of the more southerly lands, known as 'Leygore', when they sold the manor. The
Coxwells, subsequently by marriage the Nelthorpes, then held Lower Dean manor
for over a century until selling it to the Wallers in about 1790, thus uniting
the ownership of both Turkdean and Lower Dean manors. However, after passing to
the Willans in 1799, following Thomas Willan's death in 1828 the Lower Dean
manor passed to the Taylers who remained in possession until 1903, adding a
substantial rear wing to make the house something more than the farmhouse that
they had acquired in 1828.
Following a short interregnum, Lower Dean was also then acquired by W.A. Rixon in 1905
and he made further improvements
to the house which was then sold with the bulk of the land by Rixon's heirs to Geoffrey Milne in
1948. In 1968 the house and a portion of the former Lower Dean estate were
purchased by the Winwood family who remain owners to this day, while much of the
land which formed this estate gradually worked its way to the Mustoe family - who had already taken on much of the Turkdean manor
lands in 1958.
When John Dutton sold the bulk of the Lower Dean estate to Robert Brereton in
1648 he retained around 350 acres of land in the South of the parish which was
then kept by the Duttons' Sherborne estate and let to tenant farmers until 1813
when they sold this block to the Willan family which had bought the Turkdean
lands from the Wallers in 1799. It was under the ownership of the
Sherborne estate that the original Leygore farmhouse was built in 1797. So
in 1813 the Leygore land, which historically had been part of the Lower Dean
estate, became part of the more northerly Turkdean estate.
However, the Leygore block was then sold separately in 1831 to the Hewer family
and subsequently in 1900 to Arthur Edmund Moss, a brewer from Hampshire, who
substantially extended and upgraded the farmhouse into his country retreat in a
somewhat-ponderous 17th century style. Following Moss's death in 1943 Leygore was
sold to the Fleming family who acquired
further land from the church estates of Rectory Farm in the 1960s and who still
own Leygore today.
As noted above, the Church and its lands in the parish were held by Oseney Abbey
from the 12th century until the time of the Dissolution, when they were granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. The lease of the Rectory
Farm estate was sold to the Wallers in 1790 who thus united the lands of
the Turkdean and Lower Dean estates with Leygore and Rectory Farm and their
Farmington estate. This lease passed with the other lands to the Willans
in 1799, but on Thomas Willan's death in 1828 the lease was unsellable and it remained
in the hands of the Willans' heirs until the lease was extinguished in
1880. After some years during which these lands were let from year to
year, Christ Church sold the freehold of the Rectory Farm lands to W.A. Rixon in 1911, thus reuniting Rectory Farm with the Turkdean and Lower
Dean estates once again. Following Rixon's death in 1948 the land and
farmhouse were sold to Geoffrey Milne and subsequently passed to the Johnsons
and then in to the ownership of Peter & Jo England from 1961 until 1968 when the present owners purchased the farmhouse and about 400 acres of
the former Rectory lands. They have been nursing delusions of
grandeur ever since - to the vast amusement of the rest of the village.
Thus from the two original manorial estates of
Turkdean, four land blocks emerged. The houses that formed the centres of
these two manorial estates no longer farm the traditional estate lands with
which they were historically associated. Instead, these lands are now
farmed in large part by the Mustoe family, while some of the church lands
together with a rather smaller portion of the lands of the former manor estates
are now farmed by Rectory Farm.
Having travelled separate routes for most of the last millennium,
the lands of the two manors of Turkdean were briefly united by the Waller family
along with their Farmington possessions and then with the Church lands in the
parish by the Willan family for a brief period in the early nineteenth
century. These lands were brought back together once again by W.A. Rixon in the first half of the twentieth
century and then by the Milne family, before returning to the separate ownership pattern which has once again
The village otherwise consists of a number of
mostly 17th century cottages and barns. Many of these were gradually consolidated and enlarged in the years
after the mid-19th century, as the population of the village steadily declined -
allowing the demolition of many of the older, smaller cottages and the
improvement of the remaining buildings.
Verey & Brooks (eds.): Pevsner - Gloucestershire 1: The Cotswolds
If you have Adobe's Acrobat reader you might like to download this extract from Pevsner
(64KB pdf) on
Turkdean, detailing the architectural features of the Church as well as brief
mentions of subsequent domestic buildings including Turkdean Manor and Rectory
If you don't have a copy of Adobe's free Acrobat document reader click
here (or on the image).
This extract is taken from the most recent edition of Pevsner's Architectural Guides: The Buildings of England
"Gloucestershire 1: The Cotswolds" revised by the late and lamented
David Verey and Alan Brooks and published by Yale and Penguin on behalf of the Buildings
Books Trust. Available from dear
old amazon.co.uk for £29.95 by clicking on this link or the image on the
left and an extraordinary source for any architecturally-based tour of the
Kingsley: Country Houses of Gloucestershire
Brief descriptions of Turkdean Manor, Lower
Dean Manor and Leygore Manor are contained in Nicholas Kingsley's masterful
three-volume dictionary of the Country Houses of Gloucestershire, published in
the English Country House series by Phillimore & Co.
Although listed on amazon, the best source for these great volumes is Phillimore's
online bookshop. However, there are other routes to peruse these
books: most obviously, a long weekend at Yew Tree Cottage will gain you instant
access to them in pleasant surroundings including a pot of tea! However,
if your patience is already strained, download a pdf copy
(62KB pdf) of the brief descriptions of the three Turkdean buildings listed in
these volumes to whet your appetite for the full works.
Herbert (ed.): History of the County of
Volume IX: Bradley Hundred - The Northleach Area of the
The grand-daddy of all local history surveys is,
of course, the Victoria County History series, now published by Boydell &
Brewer. "Volume IX: Bradley Hundred - The Northleach Area of the
Cotswolds", edited by Nick Herbert covering Turkdean and all the adjacent
parishes within the Bradley Hundred is available from the
publishers for £85.00. The Assistant County Editor, Dr John Jurica,
wrote the Turkdean section.
For more general information about the Victoria County History of Gloucestershire review
the website of this ongoing
joint venture between the University of London's Institute of Historical Research, the University of
Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Record Office.
Clarke: History of Turkdean
Finally, an altogether chattier approach was taken by Turkdean resident John
Clarke, in his 1981 history of the parish
(135KB pdf) based on local reminiscence and reportage. Nicely
anecdotal and personal, this fills in a few of the gaps in the more scholarly
efforts. It was, it seems, his only foray into historical research, but
If after all this research you feel the need to get out and about
check out local events
and activities or return to our
Yew Tree Cottage |
Turkdean | Northleach | CHELTENHAM |
Gloucestershire | GL54 3NT