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Maurice Atkinson

Colonel Massey in the Siege of Gloucester

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Due to the current situation with the Coronavirus outbreak, Highnam Heritage have postponed the talk on Colonel Massey that was due to take place at the end of the month. We felt it was inappropriate to put a group event on under the current circumstances. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and look forward to seeing you later in the year. 


Talk by Richard Graham on Colonel Edward Massey and his roll in the siege of Gloucester.

In the Siege of Gloucester during the English Civil War in 1643 Colonel Massey, as a 23 year old, commanded a parliamentary garrison which successfully defended the city from the overwhelming forces of King Charles I. He went on to become MP for Gloucester and Governor of Jamaica.

Talk to be held at Highnam Court in the Orangery.

Highnam Heritage AGM

By | Events

The annual AGM of Highnam Heritage will be held on Wednesday 22nd January at Highnam Court.

The AGM is open to anyone who wishes to come. This will include members and non members.

It will start at 7.00pm for 7.30pm and Roger Head will be giving a talk on the Lord of Lassington.

Lassington Oak

By | Highnam Heritage News

In Lassington Wood, less than 100 yards from the playing field, was a famous, very old and enormous oak tree. It came down in a gale in 1960, but the trunk is still very visible.

Its history.  (with thanks to the Records Office for letters and old photographs, Janet Frost and Hugh Worsnip).

It’s thought to date from around 1100, making it 850 years old when it fell. It was marked on a 1777 map of Gloucestershire, and said to be biggest in the County – and probably much further afield.

Up to 1900 it was quite hollow, but still standing and producing acorns. On a sunny day people from Gloucester would walk up to the tree for a family picnic. The ground around it was probably grass, maybe grazed, and the wood was much less overgrown and dense, to the extent that Gloucester Cathedral could be seen from the base of the tree. Totally impossible now, following years of no serious management.

By the turn of the 20th century it was in poor shape, and the enormous side branches were in danger of falling. The branches were propped up with giant baulks of timber. In 1920 the Gloucestershire Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids collected its acorns and raised twelve seedlings, and then planted them near the ancient oak.

In 1948 a fire was started inside the hollow trunk, but it still stood until 1960. Vandalism is not new!

A  letter, dated 1926 from Frank Smith, Head Forester, describes it as being ”around 800 years old, standing on comparatively high ground in a small grove of broadleaved timber on a gentle slope facing east”.

If you want a sense of the size, look in the wood for some concrete pillars, about one metre tall. There are three – see if you can find them – and they mark the breadth , the span if you like, of the canopy. Massive!

Copy provided by Geoff Gidley

St. Oswald’s church, Lassington

By | Highnam Heritage News

St. Oswald’s church was originally built by Saxons who lived in the settlement in Lassington. Their village was near Atman’s Farm on the opposite side of the lane. As well as the church there was a small moated rectory for the rector. The stone for building would have been brought by boat and landed on the banks of the Leadon. Travel at that time was easier by water than by road. St. Oswald’s church was closely linked with St. Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester. The Crown and the Church owned most of the land in the country and lassington was owned by the Archbishop of York.

Discover more about Lassington and Severn Vale

By | Events

A mysterious tower stands alone in Lassington Lane. Where are the houses that once stood there? Who lived there?

What happened there? Why did the River Severn draw people to this area?

COME AND FIND OUT – Find us in the Highnam Parish Room.

Wednesday 13th November – 7.30pm         Doors open at 7.00pm for a glass of wine?

An illustrated talk on Lassington and The Severn Vale by historian Dr. Simon Draper.

Everyone very welcome. Non-members £3.00

Dr. Simon Draper Resume.

Dr Simon Draper is Assistant Editor of the Oxfordshire Victoria County History (VCH), having previously worked for the VCH in Gloucestershire (2007-10), and for the University of the West of England’s ‘Family Names of the United Kingdom’ research project, which resulted in the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (2016). A landscape archaeologist by training, his primary research interests lie in the Anglo-Saxon period and with the relationship between place-names and archaeology. He is the author of Landscape, Settlement, and Society in Roman and Early Medieval Wiltshire (2006), and also edits the annual Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

Highnam Heritage Exhibition – Highnam Church

By | Events

Highnam Heritage Exhibition

How much do you really know about Highnam?

Come and find out about your village’s fascinating history. Buildings, battles and characters!

21st – 22nd September at Holy Innocents church, Highnam.  12.00 – 5.00

Delicious Cakes + Drinks

FREE ENTRY – Donations Welcome

This is part of the Gloucester History Festival


Future Events

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Highnam Heritage – Future Events

September 21st & 22nd – History Exhibition to be held at Highnam Church from 12.00 – 5.00pm

November 13th – Talk on Lassington and Severn Vale to be held at the parish rooms.

Mrs. Baldwin’s Memories

By | Highnam Heritage News

I was only six when at Lassington Oak, that was 73 years ago. In those days there were very few houses in Highnam. We lived in a cottage by “The Oak” when my father was the game keeper for the Lassington and Highnam estates. His covets, as they were called, were spread over a wide area. I believe his employers were Sir Gambier Parry and Sir William Guise. They lived at Highnam Park. There used to be a big lake there with swans on it and I was fortunate enough as a little girl to be given an egg by Sir Gambier Parry (who used to carry me around sometimes). We often had shooting parties at our house and mother worked hard to prepare and cook the dinners. The drinks flowed freely too on those occasions.

Lassington Woods were beautiful and at the vicarage there were soup kitchens, where all the poor and needy could get cans of soup for (I believe) a penny or halfpenny. Peacocks also paraded the lawns – it was beautiful. The church and schoolwork also much loved. We had to go regularly and “behave”. As children we had to curtsy to the genteel people always, “girls curtsy, boys salute”. Concerts were held at the vicarage at Highnam opposite the school.

There were no buses of course. Mother had to walk to town. A Mr. Trotman kept the Post Office. I often stayed at Highnam Park stables with a Mr. and Mrs. Glover who looked after the coaches and horses so I had a good view of the gentle folk going in and out. Mr. and Mrs. Glover afterwards moved to a lovely old thatched cottage in Two Mile Lane where bats and swallows often fascinated us at night in the thatched roof.

Well, I think this is just a few rambling memories. You may get and idea of a little of the lovely old place Highnam held for me. At least you may get a smile from these rambling memories if nothing more.

This is an extract of a letter received from Mrs. R. Baldwin of Barnwood, Gloucester for Claire Tovey in 1986.

Highnam wins Bledisloe Cup

By | Highnam Heritage News

John Gough’s stirling efforts earned Highnam the coverted Bledisloe Cup for the best kept large village in Gloucestershire.

John was out mowing the lawns and making repairs around the village every day during the three month spell between June and August when the Bledisloe Cup judges came to make their assessments.

“They visited us three times in all, each time meaning we had made it through another round and were one step closer to winning.” John said.

“They looked at the state of the gardens, church, parish hall, primary school, and even the public telephone box before coming to their decision.”

He added: “Winning the accolade for the first time makes all the hard effort worthwhile and gives the whole village something to be proud of.”

Parish Clerk Peter Higgins (73) added, “It is the oldest best kept village competition in the country and to come out on top is fantastic.

“We were runners up two years ago, and had been commended before that, but to actually win is a great tonic for the whole community.

(Article published in the Gloucester Citizen in August 1996)

The Daffodil Line

By | Highnam Heritage News

Daffodil Sunday thirty years ago meant an expedition on the Gloucester – Ledbury railway, through the woods and valleys of the Ryeland countryside; it was one of those pastoral routes that were such a distinctive feature of the Great Western Railway.


The line itself was a delight. From 1940 it was worked by G.W.R. diesel rail-cars, in which children could happily look over the driver’s shoulder. There were few straight lengths of track, and the curving rails were always leading on to new sights and mysteries. These included jthe original brick-built stations at Barber’s Bridge, Newent and Dymock, as well as the primitive platform-and-hut halts apparently isolated in the fields.


When the line was opened in 1885 Gloucester station was decorated with bunting and Chinese lanterns. At first business was good but by the 1940’s, there were only five trips a day even though additional halts had ben opened at Ledbury Town, Greenway, Four Oaks – the nearest to the daffodil woods –and Malswick.

The last passenger train left Dymock on 11thSeptember 1059, its departure witnessed by a few old people with dim childhood memories of the first journey seventy four years previously.


(Extract taken from Brian Smith’s article in the Gloucestershire and Avon Life in March 1977) The attached image shows the line passing Lassington Lane near Over.