Pauntley in 1086
The first documentary reference to Pauntley and the other areas which make up the later parish is in Domesday Book in 1086. There are no Anglo-Saxon charters surviving for this part of Gloucestershire and no other surviving records before this time. However, place-names in the parish indicate earlier settlement here. The name “Pauntley” or “Pantelie” comes from the Welsh pant(valley) and Old English leah (normally a clearing in woodland). Much of the West Midlands was well-wooded in the Anglo -Saxon period following woodland regeneration at the end of the Roman period and it seems likely that, in this part of the country, leah indicated an area that was predominantly wooded when the place name first evolved. At the time of Domesday, “leah” as a parish name seems to indicate an area which was not undeveloped and may already have been a settled . References to enclosures (“haga”, as in Hayes and Harridge), together with this leah element in Pauntley, suggest a wooded landscape with clearings for pasture and fencing for control of stock.
The topographical nature of this place-name also suggests an early naming of Pauntley, perhaps between AD 400 and 700. This and other place names in the area also show that British influence was strong here during this period. The River Leadon (or Ledene) probably derives from Welsh llydan, meaning broad. Many other place-names in the surrounding area are of Welsh origin. Dymock, probably from the Welsh ty moch, meaning swineherd’s hut or cottage (again suggesting this originated as a clearing in a wooded area) and Compton Green, just outside Pauntley parish boundary, from the Welsh cwm (valley) and OE tun (farmstead). The Saxons may not have reached this part of Gloucestershire until around the 7th century and a British enclosure may have continued to survive during this period in the Newent/Dymock area. Welsh may therefore have been spoken in this area well into the Saxon period.
In the 7th and 8th centuries AD, the area west of the Severn and the Leadon was in Herefordshire and Pauntley would have been part of the territory of the Magonsaetan, extending from the Severn in the north to the Wye in the south, with the Wyre Forest, the Malverns and the River Leadon as the eastern boundary. The Magonsaetan had a strong British element in their identity, strengthening the view that this part of Gloucestershire retained its British identity into the Saxon period.
Several of the other place-names in the parish have their origins in Old English, many from personal names, such as Kilcot (Cylla’s Cottage), Payford (Paega’s Ford), Ketford (possibly Cydda’s Ford), Botloes Farm (from the hlaw or burial mound of Bota), Aylesmore (personal name Aegel and mor or barren waste land) and Rylas or Rhyle House, first recorded in 1317 (ryge leah or rye clearing). On the parish boundary with Redmarley, Durbridge derives from OE deor brycg or deer bridge (possibly also an early ford name). The frequency of Old English personal names, particularly attached to boundary points, indicates a man-made landscape at the time of naming and therefore an already settled and farmed landscape. These elements are present in Pauntley on the boundaries at Payford, Ketford and Botloes’ Green. The use of personal names to name fords at Payford and Ketford also suggests that the individuals who owned these fords also owned the estates in which they lay and therefore that there was settlement nearby.
In addition to place-name evidence, there are records of a chapel at Pauntley by AD 1060, when the Benedictine Abbey of Cormeilles was founded by William FitzOsbern and he granted to it (amongst other lands and church property) the chapel at Pauntley. Nothing now remains of this chapel and the later Norman church was presumably built on its site.
The Domesday record itself provides useful information about the nature of the area in the period before the arrival of the Normans, and confirmation that the area was settled by late Saxon times. In 1086, Pauntley lay in Botloes Hundred. In the west of Gloucestershire, hundred meeting places were commonly within the bounds of a royal manor. Of the two royal manors in Botloes, Dymock was by far the larger and more important. However, it was on the boundary of Newent and Pauntley that the moot, or meeting place of the Hundred, was located, at Botloes Green. One of the fields in Pauntley adjoining Botloes Green is named Hundred Field and projects into Newent parish in a prominent dog-leg pattern. A number of lanes and paths also converge on this point, suggesting that there may have been some major routeways here in the past, some of which may be quite ancient. There is now little in the way of a burial mound to be seen here except a gentle slope on what remains of the green, although the site has a prominent position in the landscape. A large black poplar pollard also stands here, showing that this continued to be regarded as an important place during medieval times. Many hlaw place-names were associated with pagan Anglo-Saxon burials, particularly where these are close to parish boundaries, although no burial has been found at Botloes Green.
Ansfrid of Cormeilles held Pauntley at the time of Domesday. The entry is brief:
“Pauntley, 1½ hides; Kilcot, 1 hide; Ketford, 1 hide; Hayes, 1 hide; total 4 ½ hides. Wulfhelm, Alfward and Wiga held them as four manors.
1½ hides are free from tax. In lordship 2 ploughs; 7 villagers and 3 smallholders with 7 ploughs. 2 slaves; a mill at 7s 6d.
The value was £3 10s; now £4.
The holders of these lands could go where they would.”
The fact that Wulfhelm, Alfward and Wiga could “go where they would” implies that they had no lord but the king; they were therefore Saxon thegns and free men. This suggests a non-manorial system with settlement based on individual farmsteads each farming their own land, rather than nucleated villages working common fields together. All those who held manors in Botloes Hundred, apart from those manors owned by the King or by Earl Harold, were free to go where they would, suggesting that the manors in Botloes Hundred may not have been controlled by a large estate in Saxon times as was common in the rest of Gloucestershire.
The parochial system was to a large extent established by AD 1200 AD and it is possible therefore that the small estates of these Saxon thegns at Pauntley, Kilcot, Ketford and Hayes were joined together at the time of Domesday to form a larger territory, which may have been the origin of the later parish. Certainly the three manors of Pauntley, Ketford and Kilcot formed at least part of the later parish of Pauntley, although Hayes Farm itself (but not much of its land) was by 1840 outside the parish boundary in Newent. With no charters surviving from the Saxon period it is difficult to be sure that the boundaries of the parish as it emerged in the earliest records were the same as those of the earlier manors.
These four manors were small – only 1½ hides for Pauntley and 1 hide for the remainder – holdings which were probably only enough to support a family. There would probably therefore only have been one settlement in each manor, which may have comprised a hall and perhaps a few farmsteads. The recorded population of the four manors at the time of Domesday was only 12 in total, perhaps giving a total population of around 70 which, at around 17 for each manor is very small. On a total area of 979 ha (1,967 acres), the area of the later parish, the population at Domesday would have been sparse at around 7 per square kilometre (23 per square mile). The acreage under cultivation for the four manors is estimated at 437 hectares (1,080 acres) and this suggests that only around half of the actual land was in cultivation, with a considerable proportion probably being woodland, although this is not recorded. There was at this time a woodland region extending from the true Forest of Dean to the area between Newent and Herefordshire, where Domesday records 2611 ha (6446 acres) of woodland in total. The absence of recorded woodland for the four manors may simply be an error in recording, or the woodland may have been owned by another manor at some distance, or the wood may have been wood pasture (of which there is a long tradition in the parish).
The mill recorded in Domesday, at 7s 6d, was reasonably valuable and more so than others in Botloes Hundred; the value of mills in West Gloucestershire generally ranged from 6d to around 35s. The site of this mill is not certain as the dates of origin of the mills in the parish cannot all be clearly established and it is likely that later buildings may have replaced some earlier mills on the same sites. Gloucestershire Sites and Monuments Record records the mill at Pauntley Court as being 11th century in date (SMR 7363) although this is unlikely and cannot be confirmed from the Domesday record. It is more likely that the Domesday mill was at Payford, where a later mill operated until the last century.