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HAWKESBURY HISTORY

A Brief history of Hawkesbury

Hawkesbury or rather the land that was going to be Hawkesbury one day, was once occupied by Tribes in the Neolithic age approximately 5000 years ago when the nomadic tribes had settled and formed a more structured existence based on village life and early farming rather than hunter gathering only as was previously done

It’s about this time that we see the land start to change from virgin forest to small clearings ploughed fields and the emergence of elaborate burials evidence of which are the long barrows as on the knoll overlooking the church at Hawkesbury and tumuli such as Nan Tows Tump located between Starveal and Saddlewood in the parish, there are quite a lot that surround the parish today, as we are in the stone age the forests were cleared with stone axes these can sometimes be found along with flint tools in the local fields.

Around 4500 years ago we see the start of the arrival of the Beaker people (named after a storage vessel shape a favorite of their potters) from Europe and  also the Battle Axe people they are said to have introduced metal working into Britain these combined peoples produced such monuments as Stone Henge, Avebury Circle and Silbury Hill just over the present day border in Wiltshire they are probably responsible for the Bronze Age Forts that spread along the escarpment clearly seen today from Hawkesbury to Bath the probable purpose they served was to defend against the Welsh Britain's we may never know exactly, what we can say is they are positioned perfectly to defend upper level land of the Cotswold's against attack from the Severn Estuary below so we can presume the peoples across the river Severn (10 miles East in clear view) were rivals.

One of these Forts is located at the end of Sandpits Lane its round enclosing the area of a small stadium and made up of a series of ditches and earthworks with very steep natural defenses toward Horton, another which in sight of the first is behind the Roman Camp garage on the A46 just South of Hawkesbury it was indeed a Roman Camp but it was 1000 years old when the Romans arrived so they transformed the round earth works into an oblong which was their standard format and more familiar to them.

Next came the Celts with them came the Iron age about 2750 years ago these are the first people in our area that we can still see and understand their culture and their language survives to this day in Cornwall Wales Scotland and Ireland they were extremely skilled in metal working and their social structure gave rise to the familiar village where we find horses, chickens, pigs, goats, cattle and crops such as wheat and barley being cultivated they introduced the first coins they traded extensively with Rome and Gaul with Livestock Corn Slaves and Metals such as lead, tin, iron and bronze it was probably at this time the seeds of Hawkesbury were planted although we had sometime to go before we can find the first recorded mention of a settlement its likely these people were the Dobunni tribe encountered by the Romans.

As time went by probably due to their trade with Rome they must have seemed an attractive prize for an ambitious Roman General eager to expand the Roman Empire from recently conquered Gaul into Britain which by this time was quite wealthy the country had been producing large amounts of tin and copper.   

The Roman period from 55 years BC to 500 AD it started when first Julius Caesar landed in Kent with an small army and was fought off of by the Britons who Caesar described as being fearsome naked warriors who paint them selves with woad (a dye derived from a flowering plant) which gives them a dreadful blue colour in battle, he returned a year later but again they fought him off, it was a further 100 years before Claudius sent an army of 40,000 men headed by his favoured General Aulus Plautius to do the job, he again landed his army in Kent this time the organised professional army succeeded almost certainly with local help (not all tribes were against Rome) and after claiming Kent made his way inland fighting as they went, it took about 40 years to conquer what is now England almost entirely,

It was not long before the Roman army came our way it was easy to navigate the Severn and set up a Town called Glevium now Gloucester our now county town, they built a Roman town around a hot spring Aquae Sulis we now call it Bath some 15 miles south of Hawkesbury and they also founded very important town called Corinium or present day Cirencester some 20 miles north east it was the second most important town in Roman Britania we know they must have walked through Hawkesbury fields and byways as they had forts along the escarpment and an old road exists that links the Roman Camps to Hawkesbury  its still called Bath lane but its only a track today it passes by Farm Pool which has a natural spring and on past the monument there are many Roman Villas nearby the land being so fertile and no doubt the beautiful scenery was an attraction, we often think of Romans living the grand life in their centrally heated Villas with hot baths but in fact a lot were Romanized Britons who knew a good thing when they saw it, these converted Britons were building villas from at least 50AD they were built with under floor heating and heated walls and sunken baths these, farms flourished and were as complex as any found in Rome we have some of the best villas locally Roman buildings have now been found in Hawkesbury Horton and Badminton, also a road and town at Wickwar, no doubt the Dobunni tribe who lived in our area were keen to share in the increased wealth being generated by the Romans its very likely they quickly adopted the Roman culture where it was an advantage its also very likely they converted to Christians along with the Romans so could Hawkesbury have been an early center for Christianity.   

The Romans stayed on for another 400 years many of their buildings survived their language latin lived on in the church as the language of law and scholars while the common peoples spoke the native British language which can still be found only 20 miles west in Wales.

The decline of the Roman influence started in 383 AD when the Military Commander of Britain Magnus Maximus left Britain to form a revolt against the Emperor and took a large portion of the garrisons with him. In the year 410 Rome had had its own serious problems and given up on Britain, in a letter to Rome when the British town's asked for help Rome instructed the town's to defend them selves against the Saxon Hordes that took advantage of the Roman's weak position.

It was not long before the Saxons duly arrived in ever increasing numbers and along with the Angles to fill the vacuum left by the Romans shortly after climatic conditions changed dramaticly and plunged us into the Dark ages and Arthurian legend very little is known except for the writings of the venerable Bede  Jeffrey of Monmouth and a handful of other scribes we would know hardly anything of this period. Certainly the complexity of society of the 4th century was not to be seen again for a long time.

To the left is a map which shows the area roughly occupied by the Dobunni tribe as encountered by the Romans ,The Romans had found Britain full of warring tribes, among them the Dobunni  the people of the Severn valley and the Cotswold's. The territory of the Dobunni can be estimated from the spread of their coins through North Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and part of Warwickshire. Differences in pottery may be a clue that those south of the Bristol Avon had formed a splinter group Under Roman administration, tribal areas became civitates. A schism between the northern and southern Dobunni would make the Bristol Avon the natural southern boundary of the Dobunnic civitas. That territory looks remarkably similar to the old diocese of Worcester, created for the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the Hwicce - strong evidence of the continuity of a territorial unit from Roman to Anglo-Saxon. Probably after Britannia seceded from the empire in 409, it dissolved once more into local kingdoms, based on the Roman civitate's.

Within decades Saxons swept over the lowlands. The fifth-century Gallic Chronicle reports that the Saxons were in control of a large part of Britain in 441. Debate has raged over this source, while Gildas, our native source for the events of this period, is frustratingly imprecise.

After a period in which the Britons fought the Saxons victories were divided between them, the Saxons eventually achieved dominance and could impose treaty terms in 441. This left the highland zone as free British kingdoms and the east under Saxon control. The buffer zone between, including the Dobunni, seems to have remained British, but demilitarized, relying on Anglo-Saxon protection and paying tribute in return. 

Gildas describes the siege of Mount Badon as almost the last of the British victories. Mount Badon was identified as surrounding Bath by that weaver of fables Geoffrey of Monmouth,

In the latter part of the sixth century the Anglo-Saxons began to expand their territory. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, compiled so long after these events, may not be reliable on the details. It describes a battle at Dyrham (5 miles to the south of Hawkesbury) in 577 in which the West Saxons killed three British kings and captured three towns: Gloucester, Cirencester and Bath. We can picture the British leaders retreating beyond the Severn in 577.

A sixth to seventh-century Anglo-Saxon spearhead and knives tossed into a Roman ditch at Tormarton 4 miles south from Hawkesbury suggests a small band of Anglo-Saxons were captured and disarmed, but if they lost that skirmish, they certainly won the war. Even before 577, it would have been difficult for demilitarized British authorities to resist Anglo-Saxon settlement. Angles appear to have drifted into Dobunnic territory from the north-east in the fifth and sixth centuries, leaving their mark in pagan burials and a sprinkling of pagan place-names. Anglian settlers might well have resented the West Saxon advance just as much as the British. If the Angles were indeed mercenaries or exacting tribute, then the West Saxon victory would have usurped their position. It was some 60 years before the tide turned. In 628, says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the West Saxons fought the Anglian King Penda of Mercia at Cirencester and afterwards came to terms. It is clear from the subsequent history of the area that Penda won, but he had probably forged an alliance with local leaders, for the former Dobunnic tribe, the Dobunni were not amalgamated with Mercia. Instead it became the client kingdom of the Hwicce. The West Saxons, their expansion to the west and north blocked, overran the free British territory of the South-west from 658, so the Bristol Avon became a boundary between Wessex and the Hwicce.

Its with the Hwicce Kingdom we have our link to the earliest mention of Hawkesbury, The Hwicce Kingdom match's the area on the map above and the former territory of the Dobunni so Who were the Hwicce? The earliest surviving document to record the Hwicce name is the Tribal Hidage, now thought to date from 626. Bede tells us that the South Saxon queen Eafe had been baptised in her own country, the kingdom of the Hwicce. She was the daughter of Eanfrith, brother of  Eanhere the first known leader of the Hwicce, both brothers were Christians, as were their people.

The implication is that Eanfrith and Eanhere were of the royal family of the Hwicce the context places them in the mid-seventh century. Their names and those of subsequent Hwiccian royalty were Anglo-Saxon. Place names show that Anglo-Saxon settlement was widespread in the Hwiccian area, Anglian in the north, Saxon in the south. however pagan burials seem to cluster to the north- east.

Bede, whose aim was to provide a detailed account of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, fails to tell us how the Hwicce became Christian. So the British Church was probably responsible, rather than Pope Gregory's mission to the Anglo Saxons, the details of which Bede carefully researched. Incoming settlers could have been converted by Christian neighbour's. Alternatively the royal family may have sprung from intermarriage between a British ruling dynasty and an Anglo Saxon military aristocracy. Bede shows that elsewhere such marriages could pave the way for the conversion of a whole people. place-names within the kingdom indicate the survival of Christian communities into the period of Anglo-Saxon incursion. There are also scattered clues to continuity of worship from sub-Roman to Anglo-Saxon. Probable British Christian burials have been found beneath Worcester Cathedral and St Mary de Lode, Gloucester.

After the death of Eanhere and his brother Eanfrith  Osric became king or leader of the Hwicce  perhaps reigning jointly with his presumed brother Oshere, Osric was buried at Gloucester cathedral Osric was probably a son of Enhere by Osthryth, daughter of  King Oswiu of Northumbria. The only marriage recorded for Ostryth is that to Æthelred of Mercia, but an earlier marriage to Eanhere would explain why Osric and his brother Oswald are described as Æthelred's nepotes  usually translated as nephews or grandsons, but here probably meaning stepsons.

Osric is claimed as the founder of two monastic houses, Bath Abbey the other Gloucester cathedral. In 676 Osric granted lands to Abbess Bertana to found a convent at Bath.

The foundation charter of Gloucester Abbey survives in a medieval register of the abbey. It is not straightforward, but is considered to be authentic. The charter was apparently issued in the 670s by Æthelred, king of Mercia, and records his grant of lands at Gloucester and Pershore to two of his thegns, noblemen of the Hwicce, Osric and his brother Oswald. Osric's share was at Gloucester and he sought permission from Æthelred to found a monastery there.

Pershore Abbey was said to be founded Oswald nephew of Æthelred of Mercia and brother of Osric King of the Hwicce he grants lands to Pershore including the manor of Hawkesbury, being some 40 hides being by far the largest in the grant which must have presumably been in his possession.

From the above we can see a Christian continuity from Roman times and the Dobunni who were a Christian Romano British tribe who fought the invading Anglo Saxons and after defeat in 577 at the battle of Dyrham became the Hwicce peoples living in the same area (see map) who Bede say's looked upon Worcester as there capital town they inter married with the Kings of Mercia and Northumberland the Hwicce kingdom was subservient to Mercia.

Oswald brother of Osric and a prince of the Hwicce founded Pershore Abbey around the same time his brother founded Bath and Gloucester it was in Oswald's power to grant the manor of Hawkesbury to the Abbey to help support it, so it is probably around the year 680 although the original charter has been lost the grant is later confirmed by King Edgar in a charter of 972.  So we see it is this tribal connection that links Hawkesbury to Worcester and Pershore, so we can see that a probable Romano British building could have existed on the present site and may explain the foundations under St Mary's found by William Wood Bethell in 1886.   

 The first church built at Hawkesbury on the site of the present church we know of today was built around 700 AD some small stone work survives, the earliest documentary evidence so far found is a Charter of 972 granted by King Edgar reconfirming earlier grants of lands and privileges to the Abbey of Pershore  these include Suthstoce (South Stoke the present Hawkesbury) Hilleahe (Hillesley),  Tresham,  Ealdanbyri (Oldbury on Hill),  Dydmeretune (Didmarton) , Badimyncgtun (Badminton) and Uptun ( Hawkesbury Upton ) it is thought these may have been a Royal estate previously probably Prince Oswald of the Hwicce.

The original building may have been an Anglo Saxon Minster church where secular clergy would have provided care for this large parish. During alterations in 1886 the floor of the nave was dug and foundations were found, a ditch for drainage was dug around the church and these same foundations continued under the present foundation wall and into the north churchyard just to the right of the north porch on inspection William Wood Bethell the architect responsible for the restoration of the church said he thought them to be early Saxon or Roman, a number of large sculls were also found.

We must also mention Wulfstan born about 1008 and ordained in Worcester he refused the relatively easy life to become vicar of Hawkesbury it was during this time he became a vegetarian after the temptation of a well fattened goose, he turned to monasticism he later became prior of Worcester Cathedral and was one of the few English men to keep his position after the Norman conquest he succeeded in almost stopping the slave trade between Bristol and Ireland, after his death in 1095 he was canonized, in 1203 St Wufstans remains were re-entered in Worcester cathedral in the presence of King Henry the III.  

After the defeat of King Harold and his Saxon army by Duke William of Normandy in 1066 the Normans quickly started to make their presence felt and for taxation purposes they subsequently ordered the Doomsday book, the entry for Hawkesbury confirms the Abbey of Pershore held the Manor of Hawkesbury at the time of Edward the Confessor but by this time Oldbury on Hill and Didmarton had separated the Chapel of ease at Oldbury becoming a Parish Church of St Arlyds.

After the Norman conquest Hawkesbury may have fared somewhat better than most other Manors before the conquest Wufstan was vicar of Hawkesbury and had been confessor to King Harold and his brother Ulf who held the manor of Horton, Wulfstan was the only Bishop from before the conquest to retain his position afterwards, William Duke of Normandy was so impressed with him Wulfstan became his confessor also. Wulfstan may have been in a position of influence we will probably never know.

After the Conquest the whole country changed the Normans imposed a severe feudal system, the villagers life changed there were new laws, a  new "official" language although Latin was still the language of Law, Church and medicine.

In 1086 after a Christmas visit to Gloucester the year before William introduced the Doomsday book not the official name but fitting for its purpose of taxation, it was extremely thorough, it confirmed Hawkesbury Manor and its Hamlets were held by Pershore Abbey and that it was taxed for 17 Hides (a hide was thought to be sufficient to support a free family about 120 acres but varied according to soil terrain and climate) there were 20 plough teams, 5 were owed by the Lord of the manor and 15 by the tenants, there were 18 Villeins (tenant farmers) 7 Colberti (serfs who had been freed), 25 Bordars (small holders), and 2 Serfs (servants who were owned by their master) a total of 52 males.

There were 3 Mills worth 19 shillings and 2 pennies in rent, 10 acres of meadow or pasture land and a wood 2 miles long by 1 mile broad, the whole at the time of King Edward the Confessor was worth £16 but had now fallen to £10. 

The land was basically divided in two, one part was for the Lord of the Manor (the Abbott of Pershore) called the demesne the rest was divided among the tenants. We see from the land deeds that our ancestors held land all over the parish this was due to a very inefficient method of leasing whereby small strips of land the two portions were inter mixed each strip was about 220 feet (210 meters) long by 11 or 22 yards (10 or 20 meters) wide forming acre or half acre area's each strip was divided by an un ploughed area of a few feet 30 acres formed a virgate or land yard, this virgate was the usual amount of land held by a Villein or tenant, The system was extremely wasteful not only in un ploughed land but the tenant had to travel miles to tend small areas.

The three year system of tillage was used whereby one year fallow, then wheat rye, and spring crops such as barley oats beans and peas, the usual length of a furrow was a furlong (a furrow long) considered to be the distance a team of eight oxen could plough four a breast without stopping.

Pasture land was in most part common land the lord of the manor's beasts and his tenants grazed together under strict rules a tenant was not allowed to graze more beasts than he could support through the winter months meaning they must have sufficient hay or feed so the more land you had the more cattle you grazed, any pigs must have rings through the nose to prevent damage to the land and no timber must be felled without express permission from the lord of the manor who in reality was the Abbot of Pershore so a steward was appointed to deal with such matters, and a court leet was held regularly to deal with offenders, also any beasts from neighbouring manors that strayed were impounded in the pound there was one at Pound farm in Hawkesbury and another on the plain at Upton very severe fines were made before beasts were retrieved by their owners.     

Life in Hawkesbury revolved around the Church and its various festivals and we must not forget that our Ancestors were all Catholics at this time, there is evidence of some friction between the Saxons and Normans who spoke a different language a form of French and Nordic mix  which blended with the Saxon and Latin over the next couple of hundred years gave us our English Language, It was at this time our law system was formed as we know it today although the Saxons had a very ordered system and was democratic in the way they chose their leaders, the Normans gave us a new system more recognizable today especially the terminology of law although for a long time there was one law for Normans and another for the local's .

Much building was done presumably the Saxon church was leveled and the stone used for the new one we know this because Saxon stonework can be found  there was much remodeling the old manor house would have been undergoing the same changes, plagues were common place, life revolved around the church and its many festivals, the early Norman period was very unsettled with civil wars but eventually things settled down and we fought the Scots, French, Welsh and Irish instead of each other, the English link to France was lost and we became a true Island nation Bristol became a very important port, it was around this period many fortunes were made in our area especially with the wool trade, this had increased dramatically as after the black death labour was in short supply and sheep farming was less labour intensive also our links with France and the low countries who we had previously supplied wool to via our staple ports now lost meant the Flemish weavers come to our area and we produced not only the wool but also the finished product so important was the wool trade some members of the house of Lords still sit on wool sacks to this day.

Hawkesbury church members around 1450 formed a fraternity a common thing to do in this period they were the sheep farmers and land owners they gave land and money and were grated a licence to form a gild or fraternity dedicated to the virgin Mary they purchased land to the value of £10's a year in Chalkley for its endowment members were expected to devote a portion of their time and money to set up an alter to commemorate a saint its known that this fraternity supplied candles for the rood loft which spanned the nave north to south from where the priest would give his sermon, the reverent Mack said in his book "off the beaten track" that a member of the Stinchcombe family built the Chalkley Chancel or Chapel in 1477 this date is too early for that family but they later married into the Martyn family that held the sub manor of Chalkley in Hawkesbury who must have been the true builders we know from wills and other documents that they were deeply connected to the church, this fraternity was a self help group that promoted business among them selves and helped the local community, monies from the land would pay for a priest dedicated to the spiritual needs of the locals and also the welfare both in monetary form and hospitalization we know from a later letter to the star chamber in London from Nicholas Martyn and others that the Grange building opposite and slightly north west of St Mary's was being used to care for the sick needy and infirm parishioners. it was also the place the Abbott would annually visit to collect his due's from the vicar, the letter to the Star chamber mentioned above was written at a time of huge turmoil during the biggest change in English history we have seen it certainly affected Hawkesbury. 

The Reformation of the Church in England by King Henry the VIII caused probably the biggest change the area had seen, the Manor of Hawkesbury for 900 years had been  in the hands of the monks of Pershore Abbey and were seized by the Crown and the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, meant that there was no Abbey, both the Manor and the rectory were now in the hands of his majesty’s receivers the Manor had a yearly value of £159 15s 1d in old money, the King granted the manor and tithes of Hawkesbury to John Botelier of Badminton by letters of Patent in 1546 he had in fact been the steward for the Abbott prior to the dissolution he rigorously exerted his control and entered the church house and forcibly ejected the parishioners and church wardens ripped up the floor boards and widow boards and threw them into the street and threatened to kill the church wardens if they returned the church was later striped of all references of catholic worship such as the rood loft and screen the priests were no longer employed and the richly painted walls and pillars were white washed over, the manor remained in the Botelier family hands untill 1609 when for about £5000 they passed to Arthur Crewe of Hillesley in 1620 it again changed hands this time to Sir Robert Jenkinson Knt of Walcot Oxfordshire who’s ancester one Anthony Jenkinson was the companion of Sebastian Cabot and in who’s family the Manor has remained to the present day.

 Life in the village was based on farming and the woolen cloth industry you will find a lot of the large houses in the village are placed next to streams apart from the need for drinking water for the inhabitants and their animals much water was needed for mills and wool washing and dying and water was the limiting factor for growth of a farm.

 The production of cloth in this way had gone on unchanged for centuries but two events were going to change this firstly the enclosures, what had been previously open land farmed in strips scattered around the Parish was consolidated by the land owners and fenced off the lands around Badminton now became Badminton Great Park the home of the Dukes of Beaufort who had a great influence over the village the amount of land registry activity for Hawkesbury reflects this at was also from this time we see the Cotswold stone walling so familiar today.

 The second was the Industrial Revolution until then local houses often had a third floor or weavers loft where a family would prepare by washing and combing it then spinning into yarn and then weave it into cloth on hand looms with the invention of mechanical devices the single family of weavers had to become specialist or fail and many did, the government tried to help by passing a law that all burials should be done in wool and the vicar had to sign the register to this effect.

Housed in Large Mills mechanically driven high speed looms grew up along the Valleys, obtaining their mechanical power from the water wheel the landscape changed again, the now familiar Cotswold walled fields and quaint valleys with water mills and ponds came from this time also the increased de-forestation needed for charcoal and fire wood gave us this idyllic scene which in fact hid the true turmoil of the now redundant labour force and many had to travel in search of work the Parish poor laws started to help families who could not support themselves, things once again settled and as life became more and more urban the increase in mechanization of farming fewer men were required to run a farm and for many hard times had arrived but many started to work on services the railway was coming and the age of travel and exploration was about to happen.         

The Industrial revolution continued at a great pace and the once distant lands of the America’s were now calling out for settlers many thought this was the chance of a new life and emigrated some stole a chicken or two and were transported to Australia, North America or the West Indies to serve put a sentence, as we have found many took the chance of a new start and as we have found there was a large exodus at this time, we have also found a huge amount of people were sent by the parishes on assisted passage to relieve the burden on the poor relief in the long term.

  The Lord of the Manor Charles Jenkinson 7th Baronet became successively Lord of the Admiralty, Lord of the treasury in 1767, and in 1778 Secretary of War under Lord North in 1786 he was made a Peer as Baron Hawkesbury of Hawkesbury and in 1796 was made Earl of Liverpool he died in 1808 and was buried in St Mary’s.

His son the second Earl Hawkesbury’s most famous son was appointed Prime Minister after the assassination of Mr Percival in 1812 he held this office until 1827 making him the longest serving Prime Minister in British History only retiring after a serious stoke from which he never recovered he was also buried in Hawkesbury Church with great pomp and ceremony during his time as Prime Minister the Duke of Beaufort’s son General Lord Robert Edward Henry Somerset GCB KTS  who was one of Wellingtons commanders at Waterloo later his father built a monument not as a memorial for he was not killed at Waterloo but died many years later in his bed, the old village Bowling green the highest point around was purchased and a Monument was built in his memory in 1846 now a well known landmark and a symbol of Hawkesbury it was for many years possible to climb the 144 steps to see a fantastic view but sadly due to its state of repair this is no longer possible. This was a time of increased opportunity and much building was done villagers were still mainly agricultural labourers and farmers, on the commons of Hawkesbury and Inglestone many made a living from Hurdle making (a type of fence panel resembling a gate) a vast amount of these were produced since enclosure and the woodland was managed with great skill many products were produced wood lathes, spinning wheels, chairs. Lumber. Indeed if it was made of wood it was made there the village had its Carpenter’s Mason’s and tradesmen of all types many worked on the monument they usually had their own small holding or allotment and kept pigs and chickens its for this reason we get our traditional breakfast of Bacon and Eggs, a couple of times a year the pigs were taken to a specialist for slaughter and the families had a supply of meat for a while, all sorts of vegetables were grown in the gardens few had money to buy much nothing went to waist nuts were gathered and salted fruit was preserved rabbits were hunted for Sunday lunch the pubs were full drunkenness was a way of life for many a labourer, and cider often made up part of a mans wages it was drunk all day, it was a time of large families and high child mortality, under Queen Victoria Britain became the most powerfull nation on earth, but events in an obscure Austro-Hungarian town was going to change the lives of Hawkesbury folk for ever and many a man would not see 1920 the year was 1914.     

The First world war 1914/1918 saw the formation of the biggest army Britain had ever mobilized the men of  Hawkesbury  enlisted thinking it was going to be a short war no one had quite grasped the concept of what the industrial revolution could do for war and in the fields of Flanders and the oceans and lands around the world many Hawkesbury men now lie, but it was not just the men who went to war the women of Hawkesbury took over the traditional jobs the men had done, many became nurses needed to nurse the ever increasing stream of casualties returning from France the new village hall was now renamed the Hospital Hall and housed many wounded soldiers.

There was probably not a single family in the village that didn’t lose a loved one and after the war things were very different people who had only lived a modest life in a small Gloucestershire village had seen the world, fought in France the deserts of Egypt and sailed the seven sea’s the world had again shrunk and again many either left for far off shores or moved within the British Isles, women now able to vote used to being independent due to the absence of the men had become individuals, the village had changed also with the lack of men many women could not marry for the same reason traditional life styles had changed the men that had managed the woodland had been decimated either killed or wounded and we see the  final decline of Hawkesbury and the domination of Upton the village center has moved, a war memorial was unveiled in the 1920’s on the plain at Upton the ceremony was attended by the whole population, we now see the formation of roads fit to carry motor cars and trucks which are now beginning to dominate the horse, only a few of the richer land owners could afford a car but they were here to stay, for the first time leisure starts to become an activity and trips to the seaside by coach and train are enjoyed by the village children, for a few years life settles again poverty was as always around child mortality had improved and these same children were about to be called to arms yet again, the lose of life was not as great as it was in 1914-18 and many returned to their families, the villagers now had free national health service, transportation links, the old class system was in decline.

People left the village to seek work further away in Listers factory in Dursley or Parnalls at Yate due to regular reliable transport many villagers moved further a field knowing they could return easily.

In resent times we see an intake of strangers (a stranger is one who has not lived in the village for fifty year’s) high demand for village houses has increased the purchase price so much that villagers cannot buy houses easily so they have been bought by outsiders who are keen to preserve the structure of the houses, but may not be so concerned about the past history of the peoples who once lived in them or for the centuries old name of the house or farm.

As the village expands many new houses spring up many new faces appear hopefully they will form the long term Hawkesbury families of the future, it is vital we do our best to record OUR families history along side the material aspect of the villages history, who knows perhaps we have another prime minister in the pipeline.


Hawkesbry Family History

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