Pucklechurch is a historic village with an incredibly rich past, from the Bronze Age with its tumulus on Shortwood Hill, up to the siting of a barrage balloon depot in World War II. Not many Parishes in England can point to the former existence of a Royal building within their boundaries - Pucklechurch is an exception. Not only that, as the Anglo Saxon Chronicle tells us, King Edmund I was in fact murdered here, at his hunting lodge, in 946: "A.D. 946 . This year King Edmund died, on St. Augustine's mass day. That was widely known, how he ended his days: that Leof stabbed him at Pucklechurch."
Located near the Bristol Ring Road (A4174), the quaint village of Pucklechurch is at the top of an escarpment, with fine views towards the Cotswolds, about four miles (6 km) east. It is renowned for its village garden competitions, which take place during the summer each year. It is near both the cities of Bristol and Bath in south-west England, and around 100 miles (160 km) west of London.
Pucklechurch is within the parliamentary constituency Thornbury and Yate.
Population and amenities
Its population is approximately 3,000 and contains a church, a primary school, shops including a small bakery, a small hairdresser, a local convenience store and a newsagent used by both locals as well as passing trade, and a small post office.
There is a recreational ground in the centre of this historic village, called the "Rec". It is near the village hall. Many events are hosted on the Rec throughout the year, including the "Pucklechurch Revel". Attendance of this event has declined considerably in recent years.
Pucklechurch School is the local school. The old school building was sold off to become a private dwelling house.
There is also a crematorium on the Westerleigh Road, a tip on the Shortwood Hill (southbound near Emerson's Green) and a "water processing facility" in the Log's Bottom area of the village.
Behind Pucklechurch's Star Inn is the site of an ancient royal villa, where King Edmund I of England was murdered by exiled robber Liofa on May 26, 946AD. In 950 King Eadred gave 25 hide (unit)s of land (at Pucelancyrcan) to the Abbey of Glastonbury.
"St Mary of Glastonbury holds Pucklechurch. There are twenty hides. In demesne are six ploughs and twenty three villans and eight bordars with eighteen ploughs. There are ten slaves and six men render 100 ingots of iron less ten and in Gloucester one burgess pays 5d and two coliberts pay 34d and there are 3 Frenchmen and two mills rendering 100d. There are sixty acres of meadow and woodland half a league long and a half broad. It was worth £20, now £30".
Held by see of Bath & Wells
The manor of Pucklechurch was held by the Bishop of Bath & Wells since 1275, when he had received it from Glastonbury Abbey, as a document in the Calendar of Bishops of Bath & Wells, dated April 1275 records:
"Accord between Robert Bishop of Bath & Wells and John Abbot of Glastonbury, namely that whereas Robert late Abbot of Glastonbury and the convent quitclaimed to Walter late Bishop of Bath & Wells the manor and advowson of Pokeleschyrch..."
Farmed to Denys family
To save his see from the administrative burden of collecting all the rents within the manor, the Bishop farmed the manor to Sir Gilbert Denys(d.1422), of nearby Siston, that is to say they gave him the right to keep all the rents he could collect in exchange for an annual one-off payment of £40. One must assume that Denys would have been willing to pay more than anyone else for the privilege, as he already held the next-door manor of Siston, making for convenient administration. In the Communar's Accounts of the See of Bath and Wells the following entries are recorded:
- 1400-01 Received from Gilbert Denys, knt, for farm of Pokelchurch £40
- 1400-01 Paid to servant of Sir Gilbert Denys for venison from Pokelchurch for the canons 2s
- 1407/8 Received from Sir Gilbert Denys, farmer of the church at Pucklechurch £40
- 1407/9 Expenses of the steward about the agreement with Sir Gilbert Denys and on other occasions £1 3s 2d.
- 1407/9 Received from Gilbert Denys for wood at Crotesmor £5 13s 4d
- 1408/9 Received from Sir Gilbert Denys for the farm of Pucklechurch, £5 being remitted for the first term £35
- 1414-18 Expenses of holding a court at Pucklechurch and treating with Gilbert Denys at Sixton (Siston) and Olvyston (Olveston) and with Abbatiston (Abson?) parish £1 1s 5½d
- 1414-18 Expenses: Sir Gilbert Denys £2 and his bailiff 3s 4d and his entertainment for horses and men at Simon Bayly's (11s 8d) £2 15s
- 1414-18 Expenses hire of 2 horses at Wells and holding a court at Pucklechurch 1s 11d
- 1414-18 Rec'd from the bailiff of Pucklechurch, rent and perquisites of court £1 7s 5d
- 1417-18 Received from Sir Gilbert Denys for the farm of Pucklechurch £40
- 1417-18 Expenses at Pucklechurch, with horse hire, about tithes in Pucklechurch, Abbatiston (Abson?) and Westleigh (Westerleigh?) and arranging with Gilbert Denys £1 8s 1d
It would seem that it was a pleasant day out for a couple of the canons or friars of Wells to hire horses and ride over to talk business with Denys, perhaps an excuse to enjoy some all-expenses paid entertainment. It appears that Denys held the farm until his death in 1422, although records are not available to confirm this. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor was granted to William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke from whom it was acquired by Sir Maurice Denys(d.1561), Treasurer of Calais and builder of Siston Court. From him the manor passed to his cousin Hugh Denys, and a cadet branch of the Denys family became lords of the manor of Pucklechurch until the death of William Dennis in 1701, last of the male line. The Heralds' Visitation of Gloucestershire in 1623 records John Denys(d.1559) as "of Pucklechurch", High Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1551. He was the youngest son of Sir Walter Denys(d.1505) of Alveston, buried in Olveston Church, and the youngest brother of Sir William Denys(d.1535) of the adjacent manor of Dyrham. In St. Thomas a Becket Church is a memorial to Henry Dennis(d.1638), Squire of Pucklechurch, son of John "Dennys", fisherman and poet who wrote the earliest English poetical treatise on fishing "The Secrets of Angling" published in 1613.
Parkfield Colliery operated near Pucklechurch from 1851 to 1936. Bristol Archives hold several documents detailing the leases & sale of the coal mining rights by Mary and Elizabeth Dennis, the co-heiresses of William Dennis(d.1701). A deed dated 2 Feb. 1719 reads thus:
"Articles of Agreement - 1) Mary Dennis of Westminster, Middx. singlewoman 2) John Whitewood of Mangotsfield, Glos., coalminer and Daniell Alsopp of Pucklechurch, Glos. yeo. - granting licence to dig for coals upon farm in or near Shortwood in Pucklechurch rented from her by Daniell Alsopp and to carry away and sell the same. Term 120 years. Whitewood and Alsopp to pay her 3s. for every 20s. worth of coal. Covenants re.making good of damage, appointment of clerk to keep accounts, etc."
World War II and RAF Pucklechurch
During World War II the No.11 Balloon Centre, a barrage balloon depot, was built on the outskirts of Pucklechurch. After the war it became a non-flying Royal Air Force station called RAF Pucklechurch until 1959. In 1962 the site was transferred to HM Prison Service.
The site became Ashfield Young Offender Institution, which opened in 1999. In 1990, there was a big riot at the prison which made headline national news (http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1990/apr/23/pucklechurch-remand-centre-disturbances). In 2013 it was closed for young offenders following a critical inspection report that concluded offenders were "exposed to unacceptable levels of violence". It will become an adult prison for sex offenders.
Now the centre for open-air recreation for the village. The Recreation Ground was formerly the great central enclosure for the village, called "The Burrell" on the tithe map of 1843, which may mean "a defended site set on a hill". Evidence suggests that Pucklechurch was a place of great importance, even before the tenth century. This was a royal centre, a "burh", with a minster church closely associated with it and eventually came into the hands of Glastonbury Abbey. The Burrell must have retained its royal functions as a meeting place for the hundred the administrative unit in early times and has been an open area for over 1,000 years.
Pucklechurch is twinned with Pringy, Seine-et-Marne in France. Local community groups often organise trips and short stays with a similar community group from Pringy.
- "Here King Edmund died on St Augustine’s Day [26 May]. It was widely known how he ended his days, that Liofa stabbed him at Pucklechurch. And Æthelflæd of Damerham, daughter of Ealdorman Ælfgar, was then his queen." Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, MS D, tr. Michael Swanton.
- Glastonbury Abbey at Brittania History
- Domesday Book: A Complete Transliteration. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.454
- Bristol Archives AC/AS/62/1
- John Penny. "A short history of No.11 Balloon Centre at Pucklechurch 1939 to 1945 and R.A.F. Station Pucklechurch 1945 to 1959". Fishponds Local History Society. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Sex offenders' prison will open near Bristol in July". Bristol Post Online. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Pucklechurch Remand Centre: Disturbances". Hansard. 23 April 1990. HL Deb vol 518 cc318-26. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Ashfield YOI inmates 'had bones broken by staff'". BBC. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
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