|The powers conferred on various local bodies during the past few years having removed the custody of all records from the vicar and churchwardens it seems that there will be no continuous history of the parish (of Chedworth) to which my successors will be able to refer. I have therefore taken in hand to set down facts that may or may not be of interest to them, and have invested many items that are of such apparently trivial importance as not to merit being recorded in order that they may be able to form an idea of the circumstances of the parish in the last years of the 19th century.
Sackett Hope resigned the vicarage in September 1898. John Hewtson MA formerly of Eglesfield, scholar of Queen’s College Oxford was presented by the college and inducted in October the same year. The population at the last census was 776. There were two dissenting chapels in the parish at the time. About one half of the land in the parish was in the ownership of Lord Eldon. The Midland and South Western Junction Railway had established a station in the parish about 5 years before but carriers continued to trail between Chedworth and Cheltenham and Chedworth and Cirencester. The value of land was rapidly decreasing. In 1898 103 acres of glebe were let for £30 pa. 26 houses were unoccupied. There was a school vested in the vicar and three other trustees under a deed of the National Society. A charity of 13s/4d per annum to be divided among poor widows was in existence and in the hands of the vicar under the will of Hugh Westwood payable by the govenors of Northleach Grammar School. There was no resident gentry in the parish in 1898. The Manor House Farm adjoining the church yard was occupied by Mr. Dancer Lord Eldon’s bailiff.
There was a peel of six bells in the church tower and much enthusiasm for ringing and chiming them was to be observed among the young men. The average morning congregation was about 40 evening from 70 to 100 this not counting choir or children.
A voluntary school was in existence head teacher F.G. Mills funds only sufficient to supply assistants under article 68 of the code.
People from Foss Bridge commonly attend Coln Rogers or Coln Dennis church but come to Chedworth to be baptised, married or buried.
There were in 1899 many old people who remembered the village containing more than 1000 inhabitants. Apparently weaving had been a village industry, the cloth being to Gloucester on pack horses. Many of the cottagers were still in the habit of brewing their own beer. At Easter 1899 the number of communicants was 39. In 1903 it was 52. In 1902 the coronation festivities were carried out as follows:
A procession formed at Blakemoor and marched to Church headed by the village band and brought up by triumphal car with escort. The car was a waggonette decorated with red white and blue paper, poles and an awning. Two children were dressed in fancy costume and wore paper crowns: the escort was a young man in sailors uniform wearing a cavalry sabre riding on a cart horse. After church there was a dinner of cold meat, bread and cheese on the Beech walk. Sports in the afternoon, including a tug of war for women, tea for women and children and unlimited beer for everyone. No one was drunk until a late period in the evening. The rejoicings were carried on on the day originally appointed for the coronation in accordance with the Kings expressed wish. A school treat and dancing on the Vicarage lawn was held on the day the coronation took place.
The work on the railway and the quarry opened in the cutting near Foss Cross caused farmers to have difficulty in obtaining agricultural labourers in 1902 and 1903 as men could earn 20/- per week on the works and 13/- was considered high wages on the land.
The girls of the village mostly go away to service but very few make any attempt to rise higher than general servants in lower middle class houses and they change their situations very frequently.
The new education act came into effect on March 31. In the early part of 1903 a prominent dissenter died and his family asked that he should be buried with Methodist service. I attended the funeral but the body was borne straight to the grave side: hymns were sung and various pastors gave addresses and offered prayer. The family thanked me for my presence.
The behaviour of young men in church was very irreverent and the habit of lounging in the porch before service apparently ineradicable.
The parish council for some six or more years had had a monopoly of the parish meeting and had re-elected themselves from time to time as necessary. In 1903 Lord Eldon put a hydraulic ram into the water fall opposite the Vicarage gate to supply his new cow houses above the church. The parish council questioned his right to do so and claimed the triangular portion of land between the upper road, the hill down past the Vicarage gate and the path up to the church as being under their administration. The result was that Lord Eldon built up the old pound and cut down a row of fine elm trees which stood along the upper road by way of showing that the land was his own. In 1904 a number of inhabitants who had previously taken no interest in the matter attended the parish meeting and ejected the parish council.
Mr. John Peachey who had been church warden since 1852 continuously died in March 1904 at the age of 83. In the preceding January an old man J Gaze, a native of Norwich, who was born in the Waterloo year died.
The number of the congregation was increasing. During the summer of this year there were frequently 100 present in the morning and 150 in the evening.
A large amount of feeling was developed in the parish on the subject of the dismissal of the Schoolmaster by the new Education Committee. The causes of their directing Managers to take this step are set out in their Minute Book. But the dispute was unnecessarily protracted lasting from November 1903 to May 1905. During a portion of this time the master attended church and read a book during the sermon. Some of the sympathisers gave up coming to church altogether.
The village Benefit Club, formed on rules originally set out by Rev. A. Gibson found it impossible to carry on business their base not being broad enough to withstand the drawing on the part of old members. It was wound up in 1904-05. A Conservative Working Men Club in the same degree took its place, but the expected access of Conservative voters was not realised at the Election of 1906. Mr. Bathurst being rejected by a majority of over 500. There were no disturbances or even quarrels in Chedworth during the election
The Rev Hewitson died in February 1908 and was succeeded in May by the Rev George Edward Mackie MA of Queen’s College Oxford.
In 1910 the Church Bells were found to be in a dangerous condition by the generosity of Lord Eldon who gave £150 for the purpose the Bells were quarter turned and entirely rehung (all at the same level) during the summer by Messrs Bond of Burford.