A Glimpse of a Farming Village in the Years 1900-2000

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Much of this record of Chaceley has been put together based on the recollections of Edward Lane who lived at Chaceley Hall, Chaceley Hole, from 1913 until 1930 and whose family is the longest established in Chaceley dating back to the early 1800s.

What’s in a Name?

"Chaceley" is referred to in Mills´ "English Place Names" on page 972 as formerly CEATEWESLEA ¯ possibly a derivative of Celtic "Ced" meaning wood and old English "Lea" meaning wood clearing.

The village lies 5 miles from Tewkesbury across the River Severn. At the turn of the century the farming community numbered 400 whilst by 2000 this had reduced to a quarter of the size. The landscape has changed little. Fields have changed hands between farms but the field patterns still remain. Whereas in 1900 everyone was employed locally and in one way or another serviced the land, today a number of the cottages and farm houses have been sold into private ownership and only 10 per cent of the population is now employed in farming.

The land is very fertile and in the past sustained many orchards as well as extensive crops though only scant remains of the former can be seen today.

The heart of the village lies around the church but its boundaries extend to Forthampton in the north, Chaceley Hole and Sandpits in the south, to the River Severn in the east, and to the Worcestershire border just before the B4211 in the west. The village was in Worcestershire until the county boundary was changed in 1931.

In the centre of the village is the Gravel Pit from which marl was extracted to provide floor surfaces and ballast for trow boats that plied the river towed by horse.

Little went to waste in Chaceley. All the verges together with the area around Carver’s Pool adjacent to the church were cut for hay and the willows were cut every 3-4 years for stakes for hedge laying.

The village is in the River Severn floodplain and regularly suffers flooding, the worst example being in 1947 when 18 houses were flooded. In 2000 ten families had to move out of their homes.

A feature of the Severn even today is fishing for elvers using large triangular nets. Elvers are baby eels from the Sargasso Sea that find their way to the rivers of Europe, including the Severn. “Gloucestershire Elvers” are cooked in bacon fat or lard briefly until they turn white then eggs are added and the dish is left to set into a flat omelette. Elvers were a speciality served at the Stock Inn as our history shows.

Civic Events

George Lane (Edward’s grandfather) became chairman of the parish council (established in 1894) in 1904.

In 1939, Catherine Lane, Edward’s mother was appointed assistant reception and billeting officer housing evacuees from Birmingham – the schoolroom, now the village hall, was the reception centre.

In 1942 the Defence Committee was formed. This special unit guarded the Hawbridge to Worcester section of the fuel line that runs from Avonmouth to the Midlands. Mr G W Yates was responsible for calling for assistance in the event of an emergency.

The parish council minutes of 1946 refer to an application for new houses being received and forwarded to the rural district council whilst the 1948 minutes refer to a scarcity of house thatchers and allotments. By 1949 new houses are again an issue.

1958 electricity came to Lower Chaceley.

1959 one hundred and ten acres of land and 15 houses were transferred to Eldersfield.

1959 the Avon Sailing Club was established.

1980 the former school became the village hall.


The village has never missed joining in the national celebrations and the village hall has been the centre piece for His Majesty’s Jubilee in 1935, the Victory celebrations in 1946, the Coronation in 1953, the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Millennium and Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.


The parish allotments, owned by the church, covered 21 acres behind Glebe Cottage (now Werth Cottage) which was owned by the parish charity and their rent was given to the needy of the parish. Each farmer had an allotment whilst the cottagers would have their gardens turned over to produce.

Behind Glebe Cottage was an open cattle shed tenanted by Tom Lewis, who also ran The Stock pub, and beyond towards Forthampton was the ruins of Beale’s Cottage, one of a row of 3. The cottages were bought from the Charity by Syd Lewis and were subsequently sold to George Wellon to become part of Werth Farm but all now completely gone.

old_ferry_inn_elvers old_ferry_inn

The Old Ferry Inn

Originally called The Stock, it was run by Tom Lewis who came from Sheffield with his brother, Harry and his son, Charley, who lived at Danter’s End (then New Hall Cottage).

A much smaller pub in those days, it nonetheless boasted a busy trade from workers who cut up hay on the river bank and trussed it into hayricks which would be loaded onto horse drawn trow boats and taken up river. The trows would pass through large sluice gates to moor at The Stock and would be said to be “stuck in the stock. The gates were so designed to allow the towropes to slip over them as the horse passed by.

The pub sold beer and cider from casks and its clients filled drinking pots direct from these. No food was offered but quoits could be played. Flooding has always been a problem, which could account for the regular turn over of landlord. Frank Stebbins took it over in the early 50s and it changed its name during his ownership to the Yew Tree Inn. He was followed by Brian Burnett and in the early 70s by Bill Bird. After Mr Bird’s retirement there was an even quicker turn over until the present owners arrived in 1996.

Chaceley Court

Cider Press 1Chaceley Court was until 1866 the homestead of Chaceley Court Farm which comprised over 200 acres of arable and pastoral land, orchard and meadow land. In the sale particulars of that year it was described as being close to the Church and adjoining the Grain House and there is reference to a new vicarage house about to be built on the opposite side of the road.

The main road through the village from Tirley to Forthampton was originally the lower road. Only a cobbled road spurred off around the church and straight ahead opposite the bell tower (where steps can be seen on the wall allowing access to the footpath) this was Cider Press 2the original driveway to Chaceley Court and its outbuildings.

Plans of Chaceley Court in the mid-19th century show several large buildings opposite where the public telephone now stands and these were described as Fold Yard and outbuildings. They have all since been demolished, possibly replaced by the outbuildings to the west of Chaceley Court that are used as a summerhouse today. They were built as cowsheds and the adjoining double storey buildings were for stabling and storage of hay and straw and the mangers in those buildings are still intact. A row of pigsties extended along the back of the house and today’s sunken lawn was part of the farm yard. In what was a single storey building adjoining the house there was a cider mill and cider press obviously built to service the orchards when they surrounded the property and both these features have been preserved in working order.

At the turn of the century a Mrs Chamberlain farmed the land. By the time that George Yates became tenant in 1921 an additional 40 acres of land including Glebeland and the field opposite together with several of the water meadows running down the right of Stock Lane and 4 acres of allotments had been added to the holding. The farm was purchased in 1953 by Godfrey Russell with George Yates continuing as tenant until his death in the late 50s. The house lay empty between 1960 and 1967 when Godfrey Russell’s son, Jeremy, moved in following his marriage. In 1988 all but two fields immediately adjoining the house were sold, five acres to Vicarage Field Farm.

The same year Chaceley Court was sold to Charles Wake who farmed the remaining land in conjunction with the Forthampton Estate as well as running a car dealership in Cheltenham as a result of which he was Chaceley’s first (and probably its last!) Rolls Royce owner. Mr Wake’s father, Sir Hereward, owned a large estate in Northamptonshire and when he fell ill only two years later Charles left to run the Northamptonshire estate selling Chaceley Court to its present owners.

Church Cottage (old Post Office)

At the turn of the century, Chaceley had its own post office in Church Cottage. As its name suggests, the cottage was originally owned by the church and at the turn of the last century its tenant was Ernie Porton who was the sextant. Mr Porton married Miss Pounds from Rose Cottage and in conjunction with his church duties they ran the post office and village telephone exchange together from the front room. The postman, Rowley Taylor, lived at Heronsfield and carried out his round by bicycle collecting mail from Tewkesbury via the ferry crossing at Lower Lode and delivering letters to Chaceley and then Tirley. On his return in the evening he would collect from post-boxes en route.

When the Portons left in the late 40s the post office business continued from the garden shed until the 70s, though the cottage itself had become a worker’s cottage for Chaceley Hall Farm in 1964.

Werth Farm

Listed Grade II the farmhouse is described as being from the C17, C18 and C19 and the adjoining barn being C15 or earlier and C17.

Both the house and barn were probably formerly thatched. At the turn of the century the farm covered 100 acres and was tenanted by Joseph Spires who remained at there until 1936 when George Bloxham became the tenant. The farm was owned by a Mr Sullivan who, reputedly, was mixed up with “ladies of the night” and who was implicated in a great scandal concerning a body found in the Severn in 1938. The head was discovered by Haw Bridge whilst the torso was found downstream but the crime was never solved….

In 1938 Werth Farm was bought by the Wellons who had 7 sons and 3 daughters. Father and sons farmed the land until 1993 when it was bought by the current owner and the land holding was increased to 120 acres.

Grain House Farm


Listed Grade II the farmhouse dates from the C18 and early C19. Internally one room contains finely painted late C18 wall paintings imitating framed pictures of landscapes and flowers. The ceiling was reputed to have been painted to give a cloudlike effect. The paintings are attributed a Dutch painter - many Dutch having worked in Chaceley in the late C18 constructing the drainage system.

The name derives from a large collecting barn (now gone) which stored grain on behalf of the farmers of the area prior to its being shipped by river to the Midlands.


The occupant at the turn of the century was Bill Spires, a tenant of the Burlingham Estate in Evesham, which was a big horticultural supplier. In 1928 Bill’s son Charlie took over the farm but sadly he died suddenly of a heart attack whilst at the cattle market buying a bull. As Charlie was unmarried the farm reverted to his mother. In 1932 Charlie’s sister, Molly, married Jack Eaton of Hill End Farm. In 1949 Jack Eaton bought Grain House Farm which his daughter, Brenda, and son in law, Syd, ran until Jack’s death in 1991. The Cutters continued to farm at the Grain House until 1993 when the house was sold together with 8 acres of land and Grain House Farm went out of farming. The remaining land was amalgamated into Werth Farm.

Grain House Cottage

Listed Grade II dates from C17 and C20 probably formerly thatched.

Originally the worker’s cottage for Grain House Farm, it was sold into private ownership in 1992.

Rye Court Farm,(Formerly Chaceley Rye)

Listed Grade II dates from C16, C17 and C18

Consisted of 120 acres at the turn of the century and was farmed by Jack Lord until 1926. Bill Cook then farmed the land, though the house was rented out, until his death in 1970 when the Pooles took over.

Lanagettes Farm (basket maker’s house}

The farm was a small holding of 5 acres. Until 1960 it was the home of HoraceVentfield, basket maker, who did the weaving in the brick building to be seen in the adjacent field. The willow was grown in pursh beds situated behind the pub and where the Avon Yacht Club house is now. The willow would grow to 4’ before being harvested annually for basket making. The baskets would be made mainly for local purchase for storing and sieving fruit grown locally.

Danter’s End (formerly New Farm Cottage)

Listed Grade II. Thatched cottage dating from C17 and C19.

Lawn Farm

Previously known as "The Sheds", the farm covered 140 acres and was owned by Mr Mence of Forthampton House. The tenant at the turn of the century was Charlie Spires who farmed until 1918. From 1930 it was farmed by a succession of people; Frank Benyon until 1936, a Mr Philips until 1938, Richard Edwards until 1942 and Arthur Cresswell until 1959. As a consequence it became know as "the farm where no one stayed" One reason for the high turn over of farmers was the large the number of springs which made the land too wet to farm successfully. However, the land has now been drained and improved though evidence of the springs can still be seen in the pond behind the barns.

Moores Farm

The Apperleys owned this 70 acre farm at the turn of the century and Mr Apperley was renowned as a great cider maker. Mr Apperley’s son had a bad accident and whilst being treated in hospital he fell in love with his nurse. When they married the house was divided between brother and sister and they continued the farm until their deaths around 1950. Two brothers, Ray and Geoff Griffiths, took over and farmed at Moores through the war though they never lived there. In the mid 50s Gordon Haynes bought the farm but when he sold it it was broken up into 30 acres, now a riding school, and the remainder of the land went to Sam Barr of Linberry Farm, Hartpury Whilst the house and farmland remains in Chaceley, the riding school is now in Worcestershire thanks to the boundary change of 1931.

New House Farm

Listed Grade II dates from C17, C18 C19 and C20. The house was the home of the Buckle family during C18 and C19 whose monuments are in the church.

The only farm in Chaceley that belongs to the Yorke Estate at Forthampton. At the turn of the century it consisted of 180 acres and was farmed by the Jacksons - mother, son Tom and his sister Kathleen - until Tom married in 1930 and the family moved to Eldersfield. Horace Hartland then took over and he still farms it today helped by his son and grandson.

New Barn Farm

This small 60 acre farm belonged to the Mense at Forthampton and was farmed by Charlie Hawker until his death. Horace Venfield followed at the beginning of the war until it was taken over around 1950 by Walter Weston who lived in Lower Farm, Forthampton but farmed New Barn until 1968. It was then farmed “in hand” by the Russells of Chaceley Court and remains in the Russell’s ownership though they now live in Forthampton.

Hill End

At the turn of the century this 200 acre farm was owned by a Mr Baynon but was sold in 1928 to Fred Eaton who farmed there with his family until 1949. Hill End was then sold to a Mr Wilding who sold to one Col Braithwaite in 1957 by which time the holding had reduced to 150 acres. The current owner, Miss Winifred Mills, bought it in 1964.

Cobbler’s Cottage

Cobbler, Tommy Davies, traded making and repairing shoes in the village from 1938 until the mid 60s. The cottage together with its neighbours Yew Tree and Heronsfield were originally owned by the Turberville Trust and were rented to Chaceley Hall Farm as cottages for its workers. All are now in private ownership.

Chaceley Hall

Chaceley Hall (originally Chaceley Hole Farm)
Listed Grade II* dates from C15, C16, C17 and C18-mid C19
The hall is reported to have been a hunting lodge for hunting wild boar.  The farm has been in the Lane family for 20 generations with the hall as the farm house until it was sold in 1997.  (The farm is still run from Chaceley Hall Farm across the road). In addition to its own 100 acres, the Lanes also farmed land at Coombes Hill on the Forthampton Estate and Glebelands in the heart of the village.

The life on the Farm


The Lane family of 3 brothers William, Jack and Edward, was employed on the farm and the children were roped in too including the young schoolboy Edward Lane (aged 87 in 2000). Some of Edward’s recollections are recorded here to illustrate the day to day life of Chaceley inhabitants in the first 30 years of the century.

Edward went to school in Chaceley from the age of 5 until 10. He used to drive a herd of 14 cows to Glebelands in the morning on his way to school bringing them back in the evening. Edward’s travel to school throughout his education would be inconvenienced by the flooding. When he was at Chaceley School the owner of The Croft had a boat which he would use to ferry the children into the village. School days in Chaceley ended in 1923 when the school closed and Edward then went to Forthampton a half hour walk across the fields, unless a horse needed shoeing in which case he would ride it to the blacksmith in Forthampton and collect it again in the evening. Later Edward was awarded £5.10s.0d by the Turberville Trust to buy a bicycle to take him to Tewkesbury School. Often he would travel there via the Lower Lode Ferry though he maintains he could cycle via the Mythe quicker! The ferry was primarily for horses and carts and was hauled across the river on chains. It was used for sheep washing too. The flock would be loaded onto the ferry and then pushed off mid-river to swim back to shore! When the floods came he would cycle to the Mythe waterworks, at times riding through a foot of water on the approach to the Mythe. There he would leave his bike at the works before walking the remaining distance along the elevated railway track avoiding the steam trains as he went. He recalls taking cattle to the Christmas Market through floods when he would hitch a lift on a horse and cart, the water coming up to the underside of the cart whilst the cattle simply waded through.

Chaceley Hall Farm had sheep, hens, pigs, cows and a few acres of corn, as did the majority of Chaceley farms all centring on the small field pattern that is still evident today. Farm hands were hired at the Mop Fair always held, as it is today, on 10th October. Most farms had tithe cottages for the local workers but those hired at the fair would live in the farmhouse.

Chaceley Hall had 4 working carthorses and the bridleways around the village enabled these and others to pull their load on a relatively flat surface as not even the cart’s wheel locks could cope with the steep hills when the horses were pulling three or four threshing drums, bailers and cutters. Chaceley Hall had two other horses used to drive carts to the market in Tewkesbury. The farm owner would spend days at a time at market selling the produce.

The Hall had extensive cider orchards producing twenty barrels each containing 100 gallons from each harvest. The barrels were kept in the cellars – one was always open to callers, the other, where the best cider was kept, was kept locked! Edward recalls a hedge cutter who would collect his 5 pint jar as he went off to work at 0730 only to collect another jar at lunchtime to see him through the rest of the day. All the tradesmen called at Chaceley Hall to sample the brew!

Hay from Chaceley Hall was taken to the Stock and built into hayricks that were trussed for shipping up river to Wolverhampton. In the season, fruit went to Tewkesbury 4 times a week to be taken by rail to Birmingham, Chesterfield, Liverpool and Leeds. This was potting fruit, eating apples and cooking fruit – all the cider apples stayed in the village. The merchants from these cities would send a circular to farmers asking for a certain quantity of fruit and a contract would be drawn up. The fruit would travel in baskets, pots or barrels and the empties would come back to the farm.

The farm families were largely self sufficient consuming their own bacon and home produced bread, jam, pickles etc the only bought in provisions being sugar and flour. In common with this, most of the village’s cottage gardens were large and entirely given over to vegetables.

Social life too was largely centred on the farm playing tennis but there were excellent cricket teams at Corse Lawn and Lower Lode.

Prior to the war, with the exception of milking, no work was done on Sunday. Edward’s Sunday included morning service, Sunday school and evensong. When war came the farm was requisitioned, all the land was ploughed (as was all common ground including Corse Lawn) and the farmers were instructed on what to plant. Children from towns were billeted in Chaceley and Edward’s mother, Catherine, was the billeting officer working from the village hall. Edward’s father owned the first car in the village, a 2-seater bull nosed Hampton in which the children would ride in the “dicky” seat in the boot holding onto the back of the car for safety! The telephone came to Chaceley in 1930. The first 3 numbers were allocated in Tirley, New Hall Farm was No4 and Chaceley Hall No5.

By the 1960s life was changing and a greater variety of fruit and vegetables were available at competitive prices in the shops in town. Tewkesbury was growing with the coming of firms like Dowty’s and Blackwell’s which offered better wages taking workers off the land. Co-incidently and, luckily, farming became more mechanised too.

Edward’s grandfather, George Lane, was the first recorded chairman of the parish council in 1904.

Church of St John the Baptist

Listed Grade II*, C12 and C13 general rebuilding C14 and C15, rebuilding of nave north wall early-mid C19

The War Memorial

Base of cross shaft Listed Grade II, probably medieval in date. Remnants of the original cross shaft inside church.

In August 1919, the Rev L Page proposed that a notice be put in the post office asking for subscriptions for the provision of a war memorial and that a committee should be formed to supervise its construction.

At the committee’s first meeting it was found that if the memorial was erected in the churchyard a fee would be payable to the vicar and therefore it was suggested that the memorial instead should be sited in the schoolyard. It was also proposed "That a dinner be given to those men who returned from the army and that silver medals suitably engraved be presented to them at the dinner".

There was some dissension in the village regarding the memorial’s being placed in the school grounds and so a further collection was taken to raise the fee of £2.12.6d for the vicar and a proposal was put to him that the Parish Cross should be restored as a War Memorial.

Mr Fry of Cheltenham, a sculptor, supplied a design costing £55 and his work was commissioned. The project was completed in 1921 at which time the vicar applied for the payment of his fee. The fund was at this point in debt by 5 shillings and 3 pence and surprise was expressed by the committee that the vicar should be asking for the fee as he had announced to a meeting of parishioners in November 1919 that he would waive it. There is no record of the resolution!

Chaceley men who served in the Great War 1914-1918

War Memorial Inscription
    Rank Regiment Date of enlistment etc
  Bullock, Leonard + LeCor: ix Gloucester Reg ix.14 Killed in action. S Salonika, 9 May 1916
  Davis, Alfred Pte: Royal Army Medical Corps ii.15
  Hawker, Albert + Pte: i Gloucester Regt viii.14 Reservist. Killed in action. France 1916
  Jackson, William Pte: Durham Light Inft ix.16 Served in France and Italy
  Lewis, Albert + Pte: ix Worcester Regt ii.16 Died in Norton Barracks. Buried at Chaceley 1916
  Porton, Ermest Pte vii Gloucester Regt vi.16 Served in Mesopotamia, Persia Russia and Salonika
  Pounds, George South Pte ix Gloucester Regt ix.14 Served in France and Salonika
  Reed, John Arthur Wemyss LtCol ix Gloucester Regt Army xi.14. Twice mentioned. Service Corps Appointed CBE mid.div
War Memorial
  South, Hope Harold Pte: Monmouth Regt xii.15. Served in France
  South, Percy Pte: Royal Engineers v.16. Served in England and Ireland. A carpenter
  South, Ralph Pte: Somerset Light Inft xii.15 Served in France
  Spiers, Charles Pte: vii Worcester Regt iii.18 Served in Ireland
  Spragg, William Thomas Pte Guernsey Artillery v.18 Served in Guernsey
  Turner, Eric Mark Sergt v Gloucester Regt ix.14 Served in France and Italy. Awarded MM
  Turner, Ronald + 2nd Lieut xxviii London (Artists ix.14 Killed in action, Riffles). V Essex Sulva Plain 15 August 1915
  Webb Tom Pte: i Gloucester Regt ix.14 Reservist. Discharged. Mons Medal
  Webb, Walter Lional Pte: ix Gloucester Regt x.14. Discharged. Wounded

The School


The School was provided by a legacy from Thomas Turberville and a plaque recording his bequest can be seen in the church. It opened in 1857 and continued to provide facilities for the basic education of local children up to the age of 10 until it closed in 1923. Edward Lane whose recollections of village life are recorded under Chaceley Hall was in the last class of pupils to be taught there. There was one teacher to around 14 pupils. Over its life 3 teachers had the post and they lodged in the village. In 1980 the school became the village hall.

Sparrow Row

Listed grade II dating from C17, C18 and C20

Formerly the Three Pigeons Inn, the house then became one cottage and subsequently four, then two and now is one again.

Rose and Willow Cotttages

Listed Grade II dating from C17 and C20

Once a single detached house and formerly thatched, the L shaped early core of the house was extended in C20 with a timber framed extension set back and extending right of the main body. The house was owned by the church until 1949 when it was “partitioned” and told to Henry Charles Healey and Rowland Taylor. Rose cottage was the village shop. However, the majority of shopping was provided by suppliers from Tewkesbury. Each person would collect milk from the farm on their way to work; the grocer would collect orders to be delivered once a month whilst the baker came twice a week by horse and cart. As now, market day in Tewkesbury was Wednesday.

history page - old vicarage - eirene with gardener and governess Eirene Authy, the first baby to be born at the vicarage

The Old Vicarage

Strangely, very little information is available about the Old Vicarage and its inhabitants. Some old photographs have come to light which show the Rev Authy with his daughter, Eirene, who was the cousin of Barbara Cartland. Miss Cartland would visit when she was in Tewkesbury and according to her cousin “was always “prissy” and much preferred the company of her own brother and other male cousins”. Barbara was not allowed to play with the village children but envied them particularly during the floods when some would come to school by boat.