Posts Tagged ‘history’

Local historian remembered as new development opens in Little Stoke

Posted on Wednesday 20th November 2019 at 9:44 pm by SH (Editor)

A crowd gathered around the road sign for Sharon Ubnak Close at the official opening.

A new housing development named after a local historian has been officially opened in Little Stoke.

Housing association Bromford has completed work to its regeneration scheme in Collins Avenue, which has seen ten old properties demolished and replaced with 15 modern, energy-efficient homes. Delivered in partnership with United Living, the project, which began last year, has now been shortlisted for a prestigious Inside Housing development award.

Sharon Ubank.

The new road has been named Sharon Ubank Close, after the local historian, who died last year. Sharon was the editor of The Stokes Standard booklets for many years which covered topics on local history, flora and fauna. An active member of Christ the King church in Bradley Stoke, Sharon would visit local schools to take part in assemblies and loved reading stories to the children. She also wrote books about the history of the local area and had finished her final book, ‘Saxonpath’, just before she died in July 2018. It was published online by her family to coincide with the opening of the road.

Many of Sharon’s family and close friends joined staff from Bromford, United Living, South Gloucestershire Council and local residents to celebrate the official opening of the road on Friday 27th September.

Speaking at the opening of the road, her brother, Andy Stafford, said:

“We are so honoured to have the road named after Sharon; it’s quite hard to put into words what this means for us. To see something like having Sharon’s name on a street sign, it’s quite amazing to see her remembered in this way. She did an awful lot for the local community, especially anything to do with the environment.”

“It’s very unusual to have the full name on a street, but it means people can look her up and find out about her. I think she would be pleased to have a road named after her but may have wondered what all the fuss was about.”

More: Sharon’s book ‘Saxonpath’ is available for free download »

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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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