Ashleworth History Project and book - Work being done by the Victoria County History Organisation

Website - Victoria County History

The Victoria County History, a national organisation administered by the University of London, was formed in 1899 to write the history of every English county and every parish within each county. Work on parish histories in Gloucestershire began in 1960, and nine volumes have been published during the last fifty years, the most recent (in 2010) covering Newent, Dymock and neighbouring villages. Traditionally the work has been funded by local academic institutions and local authorities, but this ended in 2010, leaving the next volume unfinished. Seven of the thirteen parishes to be included had by then been written in draft, but six others, including Ashleworth and some of its neighbours, remained to be done. A charitable body, the Gloucestershire County History Trust, began fundraising, with the aim of completing the volume and beginning others in the series, and in October 2011 the Trust was able to appoint a part-time researcher to continue the work.

I (John Chandler) have now written a draft history of Ashleworth, which has been circulated for consultation, and I shall shortly post a revised version of this draft on the VCH website. Parish histories in the VCH series are written to a uniform style, providing a succinct account of a wide range of historical topics relating to a parish, such as landscape, ownership, economy, government, religion and social life, from earliest times to the present day. By referring all facts and figures back to the historical sources from which they are derived, VCH histories provide the starting point for more detailed work on specific topics, at both academic and popular levels. I hope to interest and engage local people in this project, which aims to celebrate Ashleworth's history, and I would also like feedback (including corrections and criticisms) about the online draft. Please have a look at the VCH website, where you can see draft histories of nearby parishes and find out more about the project in general, and look out for my work on Ashleworth, which will arrive shortly. Needless to say, as the VCH in Gloucestershire is now dependent on charitable donations, the Trust would welcome financial help to further our work, and details of this are on our website also.

John Chandler

County Editor, Victoria County
History, Gloucestershire 

This is the original text associated with this website page - This may be superceeded by the work being done by the Victoria County History Organisation - See the deatils above

The origins of the settlement go back at least to the Roman occupation; in recent years a number of Romano-British artefacts have been excavated in the area around the Quay dating from A.D.69 to A.D.390.

An ancient ferry, which used to link Ashleworth Quay to Sandhurst village on the east bank of the river closed in the 1950s. In medieval times the Quay was a major crossing point for the river as the flood meadows here are narrower than they are for many miles upstream. Consequently, Ashleworth would have been the last place from which to cross before reaching the outskirts of Tewkesbury, nearly eight miles upstream.

Near the Quay is the ancient parish church of Saints Andrew and Bartholomew, the Manor, the Court, the historic Tithe Barn and the Boat Inn which has been run by the Jelf family for nearly 400 years.
The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), at which time it was called Escelesworde, which translates loosely as Aescel's farmstead, or enclosure. After the Norman Conquest the manor was held by the Earls of Berkeley, but in the 12th century Robert Fitzharding, the earl at that time, gifted Ashleworth to the Abbey of Bristol. Henry VIII later gave the manor to the Bishop of Gloucester.

The larger, more modern, part of the village spreads out from the attractive village green situated on higher ground about half a mile to the Northwest. Near the Green is the village school and the Queens Arms public house with the centre of the village with its Memorial Hall and Post Office shop being a couple of hundred yards further up the hill.

Sts Andrew and Bartholomew Church The church is primarily 12th and 13th century, with later remodelling, but the origins are pure Saxon. Much of the north wall is built of striking Saxon herringbone stonework. The interior features one of the earliest known examples of a royal coat of arms (featuring a lion and a dragon) over the south chapel; this dates from the reign of Edward VI or, possibly, Elizabeth I.

Ashleworth Tithe Barn Adjacent to the court and church is a huge medieval tithe barn, now in the care of the National Trust. The barn was built in the period 1481 - 1515 by Abbot Newland of Bristol Abbey, and consists of ten bays. The interior roofing is a wonderful example of medieval timber framing.

The Preaching Cross A 14th century preaching cross stands upon a three-step plinth on the village green. Preaching crosses were put up to designate a place where travelling monks or other religious officials would preach. They are often found at crossroads or other open spaces providing good access to local inhabitants in the late Saxon and medieval periods. Though the Ashleworth example is called a 'cross', it is really more of a simple column with a four sided top which has been carved with religious scenes. The cross was lost for many years until it was found hidden in a chimney in one of the cottages that line the green. The scenes carved upon the cross are thought to represent Mary and John, a Virgin and Child, St Augustine, and Robert Fitzharding, founder of Bristol Abbey.

Other Historic Buildings Apart from the church and tithe barn, Ashleworth has a number of interesting older buildings, which are, unfortunately, not generally open to the public. These include Ashleworth Court, built in 1460, and still retaining its great hall, Ashleworth Manor (1460), a half-timbered manor house once owned by the Abbot of Bristol, and Foscombe House, a Victorian Gothic fantasy constructed by Thomas Fulljames.

Community Web Kit provided free by BT