Book Reviews

Frampton on Severn: An Illustrated History
Authors: Rose Hewlett and Jean Speed

Frampton on Severn can trace its history back to the Jurassic fossils that are often found in the villagers’ gardens and this book carefully details Frampton’s records until the year 2000. Illustrated throughout, it is written as a chronology. The authors have approached local history in a somewhat different way to most and the result is an amazing collection of facts about a village that boasts one of the most comprehensive and complete set of records from any community. Using the ecclesiastical records and the Clifford archives housed at Gloucestershire Archives, research has been a pleasure for local historians Rose Hewlett and Jean Speed. For those tracing their family history in the villages of the Severn Vale it gives a marvellous insight into life from the very earliest periods of history through to modern times. If you are lucky enough to have ancestors from Frampton or the surrounding villages this book is a must for the Christmas list! Frampton on Severn: An Illustrated History has been published in hardback by Hathaway Press of Nailsworth and has 192 printed pages. All proceeds are being given to maintain Frampton Village Hall which celebrated its centenary this year. Copies can be bought for £20 from the GFHS Resource Centre. Otherwise copies may be obtained from Jean Speed ( 01452 740660 01452 740660 ), Roe’s Pool House, The Green, Frampton on Severn, Gloucester GL2 7DY.


Bermuda Dick
The True Story of Forest of Dean Convicts
By Averil Kear

If you thought that transportation inevitably meant a voyage to Australia or Van Diemen’s Land, then this book will come as a surprise. Charting the story of a group of young men from the Forest of Dean who were sent to Bermuda for a serious crime against an Irish woman called Mary McCarthy, Averil has researched and written the story of her husband’s ancestor, Richard Kear, and his friends. From a will which left money to a son ‘now residing in Bermuda’, Averil begins the story with a brief history of the Kear family in the Forest of Dean from the 13th century, and then develops it with a view of life in the forest around 1850, the background of the men involved in the crime, their imprisonment and trial, life in British gaols before transportation, the sea voyage, imprisonment in Bermuda and the eventual return to Britain of some of the men.

The book is well illustrated with many photographs and drawings of places as diverse as the original Whitecroft Chapel to the Nag’s Head Inn in Yorkley, from Littledean Prison to the convict hulks and the fortifications and dockyard at Ireland Island in Bermuda; it also has plenty of maps, plans and copies of original documents to illustrate the text.

Averil’s knowledge of the Forest of Dean, the way of life of its inhabitants and their religious persuasion is evident throughout this very readable book which is highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in the people of the Forest in general, even if they are not related to the offenders, Kear, Charles, Archer, Shapcott, James, Stephens.

But to anyone tracing a criminal ancestor, the real beauty of this book lies in the multitude of sources that have been used to understand what happened once the words ‘to be transported across the sea’ had been uttered. Averil has carefully recorded every document she accessed in her research which will enable others to follow in her footsteps, whether studying Gloucestershire prisoners or those from elsewhere. I was amazed at just how much detail could be found! Family history is all about putting flesh on the bare bones of a family tree. If you have a criminal ancestor on your tree, this book will act as an excellent standard for you to follow – this book is for you!

Bermuda Dick by Averil Kear, published by Lightmoor Press, ISBN 1 899889 08 6, price £12.95, (sterling cheques payable to BDL, please) can be obtained from:
BDL, 120 Farmers Close, Witney, Oxfordshire or by phoning +44 (0)1993 773 927 +44 (0)1993 773 927 with credit card details or via a secure ordering service online. Email: for details. Please add postage and packing of £2.00 (UK), £5.00 (Airmail US), £2.50 (Surface US), £5.50 (Airmail Australia), £2.50 (Surface Australia).


Leckhampton Court
Manor House to Hospice
By Eric Miller

One of the oldest medieval houses in Gloucestershire, Leckhampton Court has had a rich and varied history. It dominated village life for some 600 years until the estate was sold at the end of the 19th century. The Lords of the Manor included members of important local families – the Giffards, Norwoods and Tryes – and the book relates some of their more interesting achievements. During the First World War, the Court housed a Red Cross hospital and in the Second World War a camp was set up in the grounds, occupied in turn by British and US troops and then by German Prisoners of War. After the War, the Court was for a time used as a school.

Today the Court is best known as a Sue Ryder Hospice, noted for its atmosphere of love, compassion, unhurried care and understanding of patients’ needs.

The book, copiously illustrated, is being sold entirely in aid of the Hospice’s running costs. The price is £6.99 plus £1 for postage and packing. Please make cheques payable to ‘Sue Ryder Care – Leckhampton’ and send with your order to Eric Miller, 20 Collum End Rise, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 0PB.


A Boy in Tetbury
by Frank Peters

Frank Peters began to recount the story of his life when he was ninety and died when he was ninety-five. He lived in Tetbury from his birth in 1905 until he moved to Yorkshire in 1930 and the early years are in the most detail. He tells of his family and friends; his school (Tetbury National); the shopkeepers in Tetbury; his employers; the churches and some of the large estates in the area. As he was a journeyman baker, he had greater mobility than most people at the time. After his work took him to Yorkshire, he still retained a great affection and interest in Tetbury and returned to visit at least twice a year His book does not pretend to be a completely accurate historical account, but tells Frank’s story in his own words and is very entertaining.

It is illustrated with photographs of people and places and contains references to 184 surnames, together with anecdotes about many people. You may find some surprising details about your ancestors! Many of us regret that we did not have the opportunity to ask our parents and grandparents about their early life. The family of Frank Peters feel very privileged.

The book is available from bookshops and from John Peters, The Woodcock Press, 8 Woodcock Lane, Stonehouse, Glos. GL10 2EE, cost £12.99, p&p free in Great Britain. Total price for Europe 20.00 euros, USA $20.00, Canada $33, Australia $40.00, New Zealand $45. ISBN 0-9542334-0-9

Index to Names in “A Boy in Tetbury” by Frank Peters
Abbott Apperton Baker Ball Barnes Barrett Beale Beard Benge Best Bignell Bird Boulton Box Braine Braybrooke Bristow Britton Brodie Broom Brown Butler Calcott Carrick Clancy Clark Cleaver Coldrick Compton Constable Cook Cooley Cox Crew Cull Dance Davis Day Dickens Drissell Eddels Elliott Eisey Evans Ewlands Fawkes Ford Fowler Fowles Fry Gale Gearing Gething Gillott Gipps Godwin Golightly Goodrich Goulding Hall Handoll Harding Harmer Harris Harvey Hayes Hearling Heath Heathcote Hedges Henry Herbert Herring Hills Hodges Holborow Holford Holland Horton Houghton Hudd Hudson Hussey Ives Jackson Jeffcutt Jenkins Jones Keevil Kidd Kitcat Lamb Lawn Lea Lewis Little Long Lowsley-Williams Mann Macdonald Maisey Major Mattick McCracken Medcroft Mellish Metcalfe Miller Milward Montgomery Morrison-Bell Munday Murray Newman Ormandy Parsons Paull Pay ton Peglar Pelly Peters Phillips Pike Pill Pitman Pockett Poole Pontin Preston Price Pride Pritchard Prosser Prout Pulley Purdue Purnell Rich Riddick Roseblade Ruddle Seal Scurr Selby Sharpe Sheppard Slade Smith Sparrow Spencer Spurling Street Tanner Taylor Thompson Topps Tovey Townsend Tugwell Underhill Upton Vaizey Vick Vizor Walker Walton Warne Warner Watts Webb Weare West Wheeler White Wickham Wilkins Williams Wills Wiltshire Witchell Wood Woodley Woolford Wright. Review & Index by Patricia Maybrey.


Gloucester’s Asylums, 1794 – 2002.
by Ian Hollingsbee

This new book (an updated version of his earlier booklet produced in 1988) is a fascinating documentary of Gloucester’s Asylums from 1794 to the present date. It is A5 size, 60 pages, written by Ian M C Hollingsbee who is the local expert on the subject have spent many years working in and running both Horton Road and Coney Hill hospitals. His experiences within Gloucester’s Psychiatric services and a love of social history have enabled him to look in depth at the county’s part in the development of the early Asylum system through to today’s modern practise.

Beginning with an account of the founding of Gloucester’s first Asylum at Horton Road, it continues with the construction of the building, extracts from annual report books, the appointment of various physicians, matrons and medical supervisors to the founding of the Coney Hill Hospital. The report for 1910 includes an interesting list of the moral and physical causes of insanity. Whether your ancestor worked in one of Gloucester’s Asylums or was a patient there, although the book does not contain specific details of the latter, it will make excellent background reading to help you understand this aspect of their life.

The book, with over 7 pages of photographs of buildings and personnel costs £2.50 plus postage of £1.00 (UK), £1.50 (Europe), £2.50 (Rest of the world). It can be purchased from the author at: Mr I M C Hollingsbee, J.P., M.A., 89 Swift Road, Abbeydale, Gloucester, GL4 4XJ.


The 150th Anniversary of Holy Trinity Church Watermoor
by Tony Clack

Published 2001, R J L Smith & Associates, Much Wenlock, Shropshire. ISBN 1 872665 29 2. Available from The Corner Stone, 3 Dollar Street, Cirencester, Glos GL7 2AJ Price £3.00 + p&p(£1 UK, £1.50 EUR, £2 RoW)

After World War II, it was very fashionable to deride the Victorian age, its works and achievements. Magnificent mansions were demolished, large furniture was adapted to suit smaller houses or scrapped and ceramics were smashed as mark of turning backs on an old-fashioned past. But with the passing of time many of us are now much wiser.

In 1841 the population of Cirencester was around 6000 and had outgrown the ministry of the fine, ancient parish church of St. John the Baptist. Thus, inspired by the Rev. William Powell, the idea of a new church was born. A public subscription was raised resulting in the consecration of Holy Trinity Watermoor in 1851 which was subject to later additions of a south aisle and tower and bells. The church, little more than a quarter of a mile from the centre of Cirencester, undoubtedly suffered from dismissive attitudes but its rightful place is now restored. It is lovingly described in this inexpensive booklet as are its furnishings and stained glass windows – generously illustrated with nine colour and other photographs. Containing many names, it provides useful information for all family historians, especially those whose interests lie in Watermoor and the town of Cirencester and around.

Altogether, an admirable history of the church’s origins and progress this past century and a half. Review by Alan Merryweather.


By Jeff Smallcombe

‘Joseph’ is a biographical account of the life of an illegitimate Chipping Sodbury workhouse boy and farm servant, born in 1850, who moved to Bristol and then on to Cardiff in 1872. His life in Gloucestershire is covered in the first chapter with interesting background information on life as a child in a workhouse. During his time in Bristol, Joseph Smallcombe married Harriet Dyer, a domestic servant from Iron Acton whom he met whilst working at the White Hart Inn in Old Market Street, Bristol. Joseph then progressed from a labourer to cab driver, barman, licensee, mineral water manufacturer, wine and spirit merchant and pickle merchant. When he died in 1932, he described himself as a ‘Gentleman’. The book is privately published as a limited edition of 100 copies and if anyone is interested in purchasing a copy, they are available from Dr. Jeff Smallcombe, St Rumons, Romansleigh, South Molton, North Devon, EX36 4JP at a price of 6 pounds including p&p.


‘Retrieving Wenty’s Sturty Bird’
The Story of Bream Cenotaph 1921-2001
By Ian Hendy

The intriguing title of this book leads to the first of many stories relating to those who lived in and around the village of Bream in the Forest of Dean and who gave their lives for their country – and, no, I do not intend to reveal here the story behind the title! I hope you will buy your own copy or request your local library to purchase one for you and others to read as all proceeds from the sale of the book will be going to the Bream Cenotaph Restoration Fund.

At first glance, a book about a Cenotaph would seem a little dull but this is far from the case. By taking the names recorded on the monument, of the local men and women, not all necessarily born within the village of Bream, who died in the First or Second World Wars, and discovering details about them and their families, Ian Hendy has produced a fascinating study of life in the Forest of Dean during wartime together with glimpses of life on the war front. He explains how men were recruited to join the new Forest of Dean Pioneer (13th Battalion) of the Gloucestershire Regiment with over one thousand men joining in the first three months of the advertising campaign. Those considered too small for this unit were allowed to join the Bantam Battalion, later to become the 14th Glosters.

Letters home from the front are used to reflect ‘a mixture of a longing for home, a feeling of revulsion at the reality of war, and, underlying all, the humanity and sense of humour’ of one who was fated not to return; letters from the front reporting on the death of a pal show the horrors they suffered.

Packed with photographs of the young men and women involved in the war effort, memorial cards for them, poems to the soldiers, sailors or airmen excerpts from newspapers, pictures of tombstones, this book is a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in the families of the Forest during the war years of the twentieth century – even if your family was lucky enough not to lose anyone, you will find this an interesting read with reference to many local names. Ian Hendy has brought the parish of Bream and its inhabitants to life with his record of the soldiers who, as the memorial states, ‘grow not old as we who are left grow old’.

Those who would like to contribute to the restoration of the Bream Cenotaph are asked to forward donations to Mrs Joan Edey, Treasurer of the Bream Cenotaph Restoration Committee, 1 Hill Tops, High Beech Road, Bream, Gloucestershire. The book itself can be purchased in local bookshops or is available from Black Dwarf Publications, 47-49 High Street, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 5DD at the price of £11.99 plus postage and packing of £2(UK), £3 (Europe), £4 (World Zone 1) and £5 (World Zone 2). ISBN 1 903599 03 2


Taming The Phoenix – Cirencester & the Quakers 1642-1686
by Brian Hawkins
William Sessions Ltd, York, England. 1998 ISBN 1 85072 205 6

This book deserves to be better known as it is a mine of fully-referenced information about Siddington in particular, and Cirencester, Nailsworth and other parts of Gloucestershire.

It deals with Quakers and other dissident groups in great and very interesting detail. At the heart of the story is the Roberts (alias Hayward) family of Siddington and the problems the authorities were faced with when dealing with them and their fellow Quakers, Muggletonians, Anabaptists, Levellers and the like who refused to pay tithes, rent or even to doff hats in church. They were cruelly punished for the disobedience their faith demanded and they suffered dreadfully for it.

Descriptions such as, ‘threatened with execution and stripped by the common soldiers … beaten … two days and nights they were kept herded in the parish church without food or water … before being roped together … to march to Oxford.’ … ‘without stockings on our legs or shoes or hats, many having no doublets and some … without Breeches’ in cold weather. Chilling – and all depressingly familiar.

But it was to stop – according to the Declaration of Breda which promised religious tolerance, a prelude to the 1660 restoration of King Charles II. Alas, the persecution continued. A fascinating read.

Charles Roberts’ fine house still stands at Siddington and at its rear, the Quaker burial ground, (now closed), which has recently had its Cotswold stone wall finely restored. Unfortunately, though packed with names, the book does not have an index but it is hoped to produce one ere long. Review by Alan Merryweather.


WINCHCOMBE: A history of the Cotswold Borough
by D.N. Donaldson

Every generation or so, a new book about historical Winchcombe hits the bookshops, and this one exceeds the standards set by David Donaldson’s illustrious predecessors, including Emma Dent, Eleanor Adlard and David Royce. The purist might point out that Donaldson’s latest publication is not really new and is simply an update of his first effort (“A Portrait of Winchcombe”, published in 1978, and long out of print). However, although he has used many similar topics, the new book is such a substantial revision that it is almost a complete re-write – and about twice as long.

In the intervening 24 years, new sources have become available, which have been woven into the main themes of the narrative, and this will delight students of Winchcombe’s history, and will also be of interest to the general reader. The broad scope of the book ranges from evidence of Roman occupation to the late 20th century, including several chapters about medieval times when the town’s economy was dominated by Winchcomb abbey, plus lengthy sections on Victorian times. Some interesting pen pictures of prominent citizens are included (for example, Richard Kidderminster – the penultimate Abbot – plus Edmund Thomas Browne, Dennis Trenfield, and Rev JR Harvey), and there are full references at the end of each chapter, plus a much improved index and bibliography.

I was hoping the book might shed a little more light on 18th century Winchcombe, which appears to have been a time of comparatively little change, but source material for this period is admittedly thin on the ground. However, despite this minor quibble the book is a very welcome addition to the (admittedly small) library of books about Winchcombe’s history, and is highly recommended. Review by Rob White.

Copies of the book (ISBN: 1-902279-12-3) (229 pages) can be obtained from the Phoenix Bookshop, North Street, Winchcombe for £14.95 – and presumably other bookshops in the area. Alternatively, orders can be placed with the publisher (post free) at The Wychwood Press, Alder House, Market Street, Charlbury, OX7 3PH ( 01608-811969 01608-811969 ).


Four into One
By Beryl A. Kingan

This is the story of four schools from Wotton under Edge which made up the Blue Coat Church of England Primary School; they were the Blue Coat Boys School, the Blue Coat Infants School, The Chipping School and the Church Infants School. The period covered by the book is the three hundred years from the foundation of the Blue Coat School in 1693 until its move to the new site in Symn Lane in the year 2000.

Documentary evidence used in the book was taken from school records, legal documents and official correspondence held in Gloucestershire Archives, the Church of England Record Centre, Christ Church Oxford, Wotton Heritage Centre and the Blue Coat Primary School, together with personal communications.

The book includes many photographs, some of which are in colour, but the main section contains the extracts from the school log books. These are always of interest to family historians because they give a glimpse of the lives of children otherwise not seen. Two examples are:

1879 June 16th
There are two girls who are gone half time to service without a Magistrate’s leave – and as they have not passed the 4th Standard the Attendance Committee ought to take notice of it; but after frequently sending word to the Clerk concerning such faults and no notice being taken of it, it seems of little use in the Mistress trying to do any thing in the matter.
1880 December 19th
Jane R- a half-timer in the 5th Standard has gone on full time, this will throw her back in her needlework and Arithmetic although she can be presented at the examination, it would be a benefit to the School if the Mill owners would not take them on full time just at the close of the School year.

The book can be purchased from the various centres in Wotton under Edge, price £14.00. It is also available for an additional £2.50 postage and packing from: Wotton Heritage Centre, The Chipping, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, GL12 7AD. Cheques payable to ‘Wotton Heritage Trading Company’.