Posts Tagged ‘history’

Call to preserve historic Harry Stoke ‘moat’

Posted on Monday 22nd April 2019 at 10:33 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Adrian Kerton (right) and local resident David Shore at the ‘moat’.

As Crest Nicholson prepares to begin construction of a 763-home development in Harry Stoke (subject to final planning approval), a local history enthusiast is calling on the developer to preserve a historic water feature…

By Adrian Kerton

The ‘moat’ at Harry Stoke has always been regarded as an insignificant small pond, but now the surrounding scrub has been cleared, it can be seen to be a large, well engineered water feature, with an extensive dry stone wall. It is connected by an underground stone lined drain to the Stonelands pond, which is a breeding pond for the great crested newt, and as the two ponds are connected, it is probable that the moat is also a breeding pond.

So what is the purpose of the feature? A map of 1951 shows the designation as a ‘moat’, but the surrounding terrain suggests it never encompassed the early medieval settlement.

So what was it? We know that in 1304 John le White of Bristol sold a plot of land and a mill to Margaret Gifford, so was it the mill pond? Previous excavations haven’t shown the presence of a mill, but South Gloucestershire Council archaeologist Paul Driscoll has requested some exploratory trenches.

The other explanation is that the moat is a medieval fishpond.

“Like field-ponds, fishponds have not been seriously studied. Popular legend links them exclusively with monasteries and monastic properties, but in fact the fishpond was a useful adjunct to any village.” – B. K. Roberts, Medieval Fishponds, 1966

“Period fishponds are very representative of large scale animal husbandry during the medieval and post medieval period. As such they have considerable historic interest.” – Historic England (which lists more than 50 medieval fishponds as scheduled monuments)

More: Medieval fishponds are usually rectangular »

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Local history uncovered: Stoke Gifford’s medieval barn

Posted on Saturday 1st December 2018 at 6:52 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of excavations on the site of Court Farm.

By local history enthusiast Adrian Kerton.

In 2014, an archaeological investigation was carried out by Absolute Archaeology on behalf of the Trustees of the Old School Rooms prior to the construction of the new St Michael’s Centre which was designed to serve the communities of Stoke Gifford, Bristol and beyond. It was opened in 2015 as part of the audacious Heart of the Community project at St Michael’s Church, Stoke Gifford. What was discovered surprised and delighted the archaeologists as the foundations of a medieval barn which had disappeared from the minds of the good folks of Stoke Gifford was uncovered. Beneath the old engineering works was evidence of a 19th century planned farm which had sealed the masonry of a probable medieval tithe barn.

That such a barn existed was not surprising, considering that Stoke Gifford was primarily an agricultural community which continued into the 1970s. Indeed, when one looks at the older maps, one can see little change until the arrival of the Bovis ‘Royal Estate’ off Sandringham Road in 1978. Tithe barns were the repository of the produce required from the farmers of the rural community when, in medieval times, the church took a tenth of everyone’s income in addition to any taxes they paid to the crown, and this barn would have been an essential part of the life of Stoke Gifford.

The site had previously formed part of Court Farm, which was a planned farmstead founded in 1862 as part of the Beaufort Estate programme of modernisation. This was the year when the Beauforts constructed the school, the Court Farm farmhouse and the two cottages around the green which form such an iconic representation of Stoke Gifford.

The Terrier of 1757 (a record of farms) cites a number with a barn, stables, an orchard and garden, perhaps ours belonged to Widow Millet who also owned Court Paddock. The 1842 valuation shows the farm had grown but the farm was very unproductive and run down and the surveyor suggested bringing ‘Bristol dung’ to the farm to improve its productivity. No doubt the farm was improved when it was taken over by the Beaufort Estate.

More: Early 18th centrury map shows sketch of a barn-like structure »

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Local historian remembered through naming of new street

Posted on Sunday 18th November 2018 at 5:26 pm by Laura Mortimore

Sharon Ubank.

A local resident who passed away earlier this year is to be remembered by having a new street named after her. Sharon Ubank Close will be a new road in Little Stoke and will serve as a reminder of the work that Sharon did for the local community.

Many residents of Stoke Gifford will remember the Stokes Standard, a series of booklets about the local history, in and around the area, produced by local historian Sharon Ubank in the early 1990s, capturing the oral history of the area from older residents.  The Standard not only covered historical matters, but articles about the local flora and fauna, helping residents to understand more about the local trees, plants and insects, and of course the obligatory ghost, Hugo who, in the 1920s rode his phantom horse along Worral’s lane.

The Stokes Standard.

Sharon also celebrated the area’s history in her books ‘A Ring of Rooks, stories from Little Stoke Farm’ and ‘Landscapes of the Past’. She arrived in Stoke Gifford in 1983 from Fishponds and was an enthusiastic conservationist. Local resident and fellow historian, Adrian Kerton, spoke of her ability to discuss local history with a passion and fervour rarely seen:

“Sharon once delivered a fascinating talk on the Saxon Path running from Bradley Stoke into Stoke Gifford. What was amazing was how Sharon was able to captivate her audience without any slides or illustrations, her power of description and enthusiasm were all that was required.”

Sharon is sadly no longer with us, having passed away at the age of 57 in July, but her memory will be retained as South Gloucestershire Council, with the agreement of her family, will be naming a new road in Little Stoke, off Collins Avenue, as Sharon Ubank Close. The idea originated from Adrian, who has been consulted on suitable new street names in the past.

More: Book planned by Sharon to be published posthumously »

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A short history of Stoke Gifford

Posted on Monday 5th November 2018 at 11:46 pm by SH (Editor)

View of The Green in Stoke Gifford ‘village’. The old post office can be seen in the left of the picture

By local history enthusiast Adrian Kerton.

From the coins spilling from a pot in a stream, that was broken by a lad throwing a stone, and from excavations around the parish, particularly on the Royal Estate at Sandringham Road, we know the Romans had a presence here. The coins were reported as those of Constantine the Great.

We know from the Domesday book that the population of Stoch was 8 villagers, 3 smallholders, 4 slaves and one priest. Its value to the lord in 1066 was £6 and in 1086 £8. As Stoch had a priest, it may have had a wooden Saxon church, perhaps on the site of the present day St Michael’s.

In Saxon times, Stoke Gifford was held by the thegn (a Saxon nobleman) Dunnne, (Dunne tenuit) until William the Conqueror invaded in 1066 who then gave lands to those who had helped him. Osbern Giffard, from the Normandy town of Longueville-le-Giffard, was given Stoch, hence we have Stoke Gifford. The three manors of Stoke Gifford were Stoke, Walls and Harry Stoke, though Harry Stoke was owned by the Lords of Filton and wasn’t part of the current parish until the 16th century when the Berkeleys bought it.

The Giffards moved away from the parish to Brimsfield where they built a castle, were notorious, and finally Sir John rebelled against King Edward and was hung, drawn and quartered at Gloucester when his lands passed to the Berkeleys and eventually by marriage to the Beaufort family who sold the village in 1915 to pay death duties.

More: Arrival of the railways brought new housing »

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