The History of the Valley of the Boars


Roman Origins


Turkdean 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 Goisfrid.

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.



Norman Cataloguing


In 1086 the Doomsday Book listed Turkdean, then 'Turchedene', in the Hundred of Bradley.

The same Robert holds Turchedene.
There are 5 hides and 2œ 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 94 hides.

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 activity.

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.


Population


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 in 1861.

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 and Parish




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 in Northleach.

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.

Some of the Norman architectural remnants now seemingly 'marooned' in the Church walls.

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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.


Turkdean


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 somewhat grander.

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.


Lower Dean


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.


Leygore
 

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.


Rectory Farm


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 overtaken them.

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.

Further reading

Verey & Brooks (eds.): Pevsner - Gloucestershire 1: The Cotswolds
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 Farm.

coverThis 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 £26.25 by clicking on this link or the image on the left and an extraordinary source for any architecturally-based tour of the Cotswolds.

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.

The Country Houses of Gloucestershire

Cotswold Country Houses vol 1 Cotswold Country Houses vol 2 Cotswold Country Houses vol 3
     
Vol. 1: 1500-1660< Vol. 2: 1660-1830 Vol.3: 1830-2000
ISBN : 1860771246 ISBN : 0850338069 ISBN : 1860771203
Turkdean Manor
Lower Dean Manor
  Leygore Manor

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 Gloucester 
Volume IX: Bradley Hundred - The Northleach Area of the Cotswolds

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 £90.00.  The Assistant County Editor, Dr John Jurica, wrote the Turkdean section.

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 rather fun.

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