About Blockley

Here is the link to
The official web site of Blockley Heritage Society

PLEASE make one consideration, if you are mailing an order for a book or information, supply an SASE with international coupons for return letter's postage, as a courtesy to anyone in the village going out of their way to send you the said information. A person like John Malin for instance (mentioned above) when he receives payment for a book will end up paying shipping costs at more than 3 to send it to the person requesting it.

Available now a book on the Marshall Family
BLOCKLEY, a parish situated in a detached portion of the upper division of the hundred of Oswaldslow, county of Worcester surrounded by Gloucestershire and a small portion of Warwickshire, comprising the hamlets of Aston Magna, Blockley, Ditchford, Dorne, Draycot, Northwick, and Paxford, and containing 1890 inhabitants, of which number, 1158 are in the hamlet of Blockley, 31/4 miles (N. W. by W.) from Morton in the Marsh. The living is a vicarage, in the peculiar jurisdiction and patronage of the Bishop of Worcester, rated in the king's books at 54. The church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is partly Norman, and partly in the earIy style of English architecture : the tower was rebuilt in 1725, at the expense of the inhabitants. A neat chapel has recently been erected by the Baptists. The village, which is situated on elevated ground, contains several neat dwelling-houses, and presents a clean and pleasing appearance : here are several silk-mills, worked by small streams which rise in Dovedale, a short distance hence. Fairs are held on the Tuesday next after Easter-week, for cattle, and October 10th, for hiring servants. A charity school for twenty boys and girls is partly supported by subscription. Pursuant to a statute passed in the 9th of George IV., the magistrates for the county came to a resolution, at the general quarter sessions held at Worcester, in 0ctober 1829, to alter the divisions of the county making Blockley the head of one division, the petty sessions for which are held here. The Bishop of Worcester is lord of the manor, and, by his steward, occasionally holds a manorial court. Previouslyto the Reformation here was a palace, in which the prelates resided, but the only memorial of it is in the name of a hill opposite to the vicarage, called the Parks. In a charter of King Buhrred, dated in 855, mention is made of a monastery, which then existed, and which was subsequently annexed to the bishoprick of Worcester. The Roman Fosse-way passes between this village and Moreton in the Marsh, Urns and other Roman remains have been found on Moor hill ; and there are several chalybeate springs. - (1831 Typographical Index of England). Today Blockley is a part of Gloucestershire. The village name has changed over the centuries, In a charter of 855 in the days of the Mercian King Burgred it was referred to as Bloccanleeh. Before the Norman Conquest Blockley was referred to as Bloccelea and in the Doomsday Survey of 1086 as Blochelei in a survey of 1299 it was referred to as now, Blockley.

The Churches
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
8 bells, Tenor 16-0-27, Grid. Ref:SP165350. Access to the ringing chamber is by a spiral staircase in the north east corner of the tower, the entrance to which is through the west doors, not the main part of the church. The bells go well, and handle quite well. The frame is an interesting girder frame, and the bells are hung on ball bearings by Taylors in 1937. There is a record of the church in the Doomsday Book. This parish was in Worcestershire when H.B.Walters did his survey. The Vicarage. Dates from at least the 15th century renovations or improvements were made around 1500, housed a boarding school mid 17th century, the boys dormitories still remain in the attic.
Ebenezer Baptist Chapel Chapel Lane near Boveton Hill built in 1836 the chapel closed in 1971. The Baptist Meeting House on Bell Bank, disused, became derelict, was bought by a descendant of Elisha Smith in 1925, renovated, equipped and presented to Blockley as the Village Hall.

The Mills
at least 8 produced silk
The old Water Mills in Blockley are:
Dovedale Mill which ground flour and chaff. Site of Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill's first electric generator (about 1884) before it was moved to Mill Close. There was a Tithe award to James Beechey recorded in 1842
Chesher's Mill, grinding corn
The Malvern Mill (formerly Russell Mill then Lowe's Mill) was used to produce silk, cider and threshing, originally a flour mill then back to flour until 1920-30. Ran by Robert Strong until his death in 1780. Lucy Russell ran it c1800-1820, with Edwin Smith as tenant in 1854.
The Old Mill which in 1936 was still grinding flour by Mr. Chesher and at that time known as Chesher's Mill, an employee at that time was Harry Taylor. This mill dates back to 1675
Mill Dene, (also known as Blockley Mill) and Wagstaffs Mill grinding corn, grist and an iron foundry, with John Alcock producing iron piano frames around 1880 and complete pianos one was located at Park Farm.
Westmacott's, (now Blockley Court) Two large buildings each with its own wheel. Produced silk and then ramie (fibre). Was last used as a soap factory
The Waterworks (known as the Coneygree and Smith's Mill) used to produce silk, grind corn and a collar manufacturer. The mill was converted to silk in 1747. It was then used as a collar and shirt front factory. Probably a fulling mill before 1712. The dwelling house became the Bell Inn
Mill Close, used to produce silk, electricity (Astral Works) and the village institute (1914) Destroyed by fire 1931.
The Good Intent, (also known as The Limes) originally a corn mill rebuilt by Stanley in 1830 producing silk reverting to corn in 1851, around 1900 used for grinding bracken and furze for the Northwick deer and later paper.
Saw and Bone Mill, (also known as Blockley Mill) apparently built in 1843
Colebrook Mill, (also known as Stratton Mill, now Colebrook House) used to produce silk. Mentioned as a Mill in 1746 with the tenancy of Anthony Stratton. 1823 leased by Edward Banbury
Snugborough Mill, producing silk, grinding corn and fulling. Original Snugborough mill was the original Old Silk Mill. It is believed that this mill was originally the French Mill, one of two mills ascribed to Blockley in the survey initiated by Bishop Godrey Giffard in 1299. During 1500-1746 being used as a fulling mill,then corn
The Old Silk Mill, (untill recently known as Sleepy Hollow and before that Evans' Piano Factory other former names: Stanley's Mill and also Snugborough Mill) One of the largest to produce silk. Dates back to 1782 although the building dates further back. The name Sleepy Hollow comes from the Rip Van Winkle film was made there by Fred Storey and used many of the mill workers as extras, wearing their own clothes in the movie
Northwick Mill, grinding corn and animal fodder until 1943
Pye Mill, (Paxford) ground flour
Knee Brook, (also known as Bran Mill) documented in the 1299 Survey by Bishop Giffard then called Spina Mill
Ditchford Mill, Flour mill used until the 1930's. Mill was mentioned in 1376 will of John de Ditchford
Another mill just outside the Blockley parish boundary:
Pudlicott Mill, on Puddle Brook (which flows into the Knee Brookand Wagstaffs.
A good reference for the Silk and mills of Blockley see the book "Blockley and the Silk Trade" in the list of books at the top of this page.
1820's and Silk Throwsters
With problems in the French Silk industry due to the French Revolution and Napleon, English silk workers were to benefit. According to various sources there were in 1820 eight master silk-throwsters, the title given to the mill owners or tennants. They were Banbury & Taplin, H. Franklin, William Russell, C. Smith, J. Stratton, E. Taplin & Martin Westmacott. In 1824 there were 6 mills employing 350 hands mostly children. By the end of 1824 there were 300 hands in eight mills. 1826 records show 600 hands employed directly with as many again as outworkers. Most silk mill throwsters were Baptists. The factory act of 1845 forbade workers under the age of 8 and then only for half a day, the other half to be spent at school. So a school was opened at the rear of the Baptist Chapel in Blockley In 1847 the 'average' pay per person for a 50 hour week was 14 pence. In 1859 George Smith a Blockley Baptist mill owner went to the Bristol Union Workhouse and brought back 12 girls to satisfy the demand for cheap child labour in the Blockley Mills. In 1880 William de Morgan an artist-potter friend of William Morris came to Blockley looking for a workshop for manufature of pottery on a commercial scale. In his autobiography, this record "The mills are empty and decaying. Morris was very much in love with Blockley it was so delightful but there are so many people out of work there. On one mill door there is the last notice of a wage reduction of seven pence a day."
One benefit the children DID have as a result of working the mills was the fact that silk could not be "worked" at a low temperature so the buildings had to be heated, whereas the childrens homes were cold.
Inns of Blockley
The Pear Tree - Was in Lower Street ran by Jack Ellis.

The Crown Inn - First record in 1755 - In the High Street managed for many years by the Chainey family, by Alec "Tricky" Taylor (actual name as listed in census reports etc - Alfred Edward Tayor, do not understand how he became known as Alec Tricky) at the turn of the century and in recent times by the Champion family

The Great Western Arms - Station Road run by Jack Ellis for many years, Jack first having the Pear Tree before it closed. With the Dicks, Lawrence and Iris running it in the late 1950's. Present tenants - John and Liz Ferguson. With the brewery changing from Whitbread to Hooknorton.

The Bell - 16th century - In Bell Lane was a fully licensed Inn, probably the oldest in the village, run by Ernest and Kate Barrett then their daughter Molly and husband Bert Figgures. The club room at the rear was used by the Blockley Brass Band for practice. From February to July, 1944 occupied by the US Sixth armored Division. Now flats.

The Red Lion - Dovedale End run by the Hale family for years then by Fanny Keen. Now a private house.

The Royal Oak - in the High Street was a beer, cider & porter house - managed by Frederick Taylor 1870-1920 and four of his sons also held the same license in succession followed by William Hodgkins during the 1930s, it was closed in 1955 and became a greengrocer's run by the Worthington's, later became an Antique shop - now a private dwelling.

The Railway Inn - 1850 built to accommodate the needs of 'navvies' working on the new railway line known as the "Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Line" - Next to Porch House, was an Arkell House run for years by George and Olive Cox. Now a private dwelling called, "Puffers" *The reason the Inn was built was because of the disruptions caused by the 'navvies' the other Inns would not serve them.

Paxton House
During the 1939-45 war it was requisitioned and used by the War Department and in 1944 by the USA military as a command headquarters

Northwick Estate &
the U.S. 6th Armored Division

Played an important part in Blockley from the late 17th century until the passing of Captain Edward Spencer-Churchill in 1964. The Estate was used by the American 6th Armored Division during WWII, with the support of the 86th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (arrived Feb. 22, 1944) and the 15th Tank Battalion based at Moreton-in-Marsh (with 341 tanks). A web page about these forces located:
http://members.aol.com/super6th/
area directly related:
http://members.aol.com/super6th2/
cmbthist/cmbtpref.htm
http://www.mindspring.com/
~mr86recon/

US Army camp at Northwick
Located at the area known as the Cinquefoil on the Northwick Estate. Built during April of 1943, Nissen huts were built and filled with ammunition boxes along the A424 from Stow to Troopers lodge and then along the A44 near the cottage Gypsy Springs. Bombs for aircraft at three local airfields were stacked in similar sites, from Moreton along the A429 towards the Porta Bello crossing near Shipston.

US Army hospital at Northwick Park
Higgs & Hill were contracted at the end of May, 1943 to build, in six months a Field Hospital in Northwick Park (at the Cinquefoil). The first of the U.S. Medical Staff arrived on Monday 20th December 1943. The remainder arrived on Tuesday 4th of January, 1944 the Chapel and Mortuary were still being constructed. The unit was the 327th Station Hospital under the command of Colonel Benjamin Moxness. The status was changed on Thursday 1st June 1944 to an American Red Cross Unit Hospital working under the control of the International Red Cross who had absolute jurisdiction as Protecting Power over all injured POW's in England. Medical staff were entertained Christmas of 1944 with a magic show by John Malin, co-founder of the Blockley Antiquarian Society. The hospital was closed down during the third week of June 1945.

Arrival of the 86th Cavalry
Reconnaissance Squad
A US task force came to the area on Wednesday 23 February 1944, when the 86th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) arrived in force. They had light and assault guns supporting the Super Six Division. The 15th Tank Battalion was based in and around Moreton with part at Batsford Park known to the troops as Batsford Castle. The total number of tanks was 341, comprising 168 Mediums (M4A3s) 83 Lights (M5A5s), 54 assault guns of 75mm and 105mm howitzers, mounted on tank chassis (M7s), and 36 Tank Destroyers. Large numbers were stationed in Moreton High Street during which time all had extra toughened armour plates welded on in readiness for the D-Day landings.
The Squadron landed at Cardiff aboard the USS Anne Arrundel. It came to Moreton on a fleet of 2.5 ton low loaders. Squadron headquarters was in Blockley next to the Post Office then called Peyton House now called Paxton House. Forward Echelon took over the clubroom of the Bell Inn and many officers were billeted in private houses. A, B and C Companies were under canvas in tents in the Cinquefoil, until Nissen huts were built for them, those huts were taken over by 'squatters' after the war. D, E and F Companies were first under canvas in Batsford Park and then by invitation of Lord Dulverton, billeted in the stables at Batsford.
Tank training took place on open ground around Hornsleasow. The route from Moreton was indicated with red and yellow metal sheets nailed on the telephone posts on the left side of the road traveling from Moreton. The tanks came down Kennel Hill past Dingle Lodge daily. Lt. Colonel Albert E. Harris, a West Point Graduate was Commanding Officer of the 86th, a house guest at Malvern House owned by Mrs Myrtle Durrant. Major George M. Gaither was the senior executive officer, who together with Major C. Brindle as Operations Officer, were billeted in the clubroom of the Crown Hotel.

The U.S. Army Hospital at Blockley became the base for the Polish Refugee Camp. Polish families arrived at Northwick between 1948 and 1950. The peak period was during 1955 when there were 831 Poles living there, the only home that some knew for 25 years. Division Commander, General George S. Patton visited Blockley, March 10, 1944 for meetings, staying at Malvern House for two nights and again on Wednesday, 22nd April when he had dinner with his advisors, later in a conference at Peyton House until dawn, leaving the village just after 9am.
Captain Churchill's butler, C. J. Hull in 1912 won both the World Amateur and Professional Tennis Championships.
Some of the finest paintings from the London Art Gallery were stored in a secret chamber beneath the stable courtyard for security during WWII. Many "highly clandestine" meetings were held at Northwick which were attended by several of the official opposition leaders including Clem Attlee together with heads of services, diplomats, politicians and senior civil servants, often in the presence of Winston Churchill (cousin of the Captain)
**Note materials on the US armed forces in Blockley are extracts from cousin John Malin's book Magical Moments and Milestones published by the Blockley Antiquarian Society, address at top of page.
Population
1757 estimate 688
1801 census 1569
1811 census 1654
1821 census 1890
1831 census 2015
1841 census 2136
1851 census 2587
1861 census 2596
1871 census 2450
1881 census 2154
1891 census 2157
1901 census 1812
1911 census 1845
1921 census 1778
1931 census 1784
1939 census 1817
1951 census 2905
(inc Polish Refugees)
1961 census 2395 same
1971 census 1853

Bourton-on-the-Hill
POW camp
Located between Blockley and Moreton-in-Marsh, the camp housed prisoners mainly from the North African campaigns. Staffed by U.S. troops. A similar camp was located at Spring Hill. Captain Jack A Patino was in charge of the Military Police. When the Bourton camp was closed the American servicemen moved to a military camp in Wiltshire.

Telephone
Blockley's first telephone (early 1920's) exchange occupied part of the school that was built in 1826

Police House
Built on 'Collier's Close' Lower Street 1861 by Admiral Sir Edward Collier.

Tenant Farms - Northwick Estate
Park Farm Occupied by Charles H. Dee for 40 years
Draycott Farm Occupied by George Attwood
Land at Sedgecombe Occupied by Joe L. Albutt
Lapstone Farm Occupied by Fred Badger
Campden Hill Farm Occupied by Geoffrey Ball
Pye Mill Farm Occupied by Edward J Beacham
Northwick Hill Farm Occupied by Ralph Fisher
Dovedale Farm Occupied by John Kerr Galt
Sheaf House Farm Occupied by William Logan Galt
Greystone Farm Occupied by David Harrison
Oldborough Farm Occupied by Walter Hodgkins
Upton Wold Farm Occupied by A. W. Holder
Hailstone Farm Occupied by A. John Hundy
Bran Mill Farm Occupied by Fred Isles
Wellacres Farm Occupied by Ian Jackson
Land at Littleton Occupied by William H. T. Keyte
Land above Blockley Court Occupied by Tommy Kilminster
Land at Draycott Occupied by L. J. 'George' Ledbetter
Stapenhill Farm Occupied by Harry Millard
Downs Farm Occupied by Richard Morris
Home Farm Occupied by Howard H 'Tom' Organ
Briar Hill Farm Occupied by Leonard Levi
Holt Farm Occupied by Jack Righton
Lower Farm Occupied by Louis T. H. Smith
Hangmans Hall Farm Occupied by Harry Stewart
Land at Paxford Occupied by William E Tarplett
Northwick Mill Farm & Warren Farm Occupied by Jack Turvey
Mop Hale Farm Occupied by M. M. Webb
*Above were occupants in 1956 that gathered together May24, to celebrate Captain Edward Spencer-Churchill's 80th birthday. (cousin of Sir Winston Church)

Schools
In 1662 a private school for boarders was housed in the Vicarage with a Grammar school curriculum. In 1713 a village school was built alongside the churchyard. 1826 the building was restored and enlarged by the 2nd Lady Northwick. The boys' school occupied the large room downstairs and moved in 1887 to a new building on 'Colonel's Piece', at this time part of the downstairs area became a stable for the Bell Inn and part housed the fire engine until 1946. 1867 a new school was provided for girls and infants in New Lane. 1949 onwards boys and girls over the age of eleven completed their education outside of Blockley.

Almshouses
For six aged persons were founded and endowed by Richard Pates, Esq., in 1574. The dispensary and casualty ward, established in 1813, and lately (1831) enlarged.


The Earliest Post Office
Dates from 1871 which was in the High Street, later to become the bakehouse of Joe Powell later Duggans. The Post Office moved in 1915 to the present building then named Peyton House, by Joyner's. This building, was in 1890 lit by electricity from the Astral Electric Works (owned by Capt. Spencer-Churchill) in the basement of the Blockley Institute. Claimed to be the first in the country to be lit by electricity. Though Mary, Bearcroft is listed in census reports as Postmistress as far back as 1851.

First Newsagents
Was started by Mr & Mrs Wiggins in 1924 in the front room of their home in Park Road. They later moved to the building previously managed by A. Dyer which today is the Newsagents in the Square. Betty Stening bought the business letting Dr. Clark Nicholson use a room as his surgery

Transportation Business
Dennis Rouse ran the transport business - first with horses and carriages, then cars, then buses. At various times they had a Rolls Royce, a Studebaker and a Buick Their daughter Joyce (now Claydon) was the first female in Blockley to drive a car, she also drove buses. After he died in 1943 his nephew George Rouse carried on the business.

Blockley WorkhouseWas built in 1740 on the High Street next to the Vicarage. It was purchased by the Milton Bros. who rebuilt it to accommodate their expanding business. The workhouse became redundant after the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. At that point the poor were sent to Shipston-on-Stour.

Funeral Director
Donald Keyte living at "Wheelwrights," Paxford, is a third generation Funeral Director and Wheel-wright. His Grandfather founded the business, C. Keyte & Son in 1886 in Ebrington, but it was shortly moved to its present site in Paxford. On the death of the founder in 1911 his son Charles took over the business and made Donald a partner in 1956. Donalds father died in 1969. Donald's relative was the Keyte who kept the famous Trout at Fish Cottage, Blockley.

Roman Settlements
Several Roman settlements have been found, one at Upton Wold (to the west of Blockley) was still being examined in 1980. Another was found at Dorn.