Bracelands to Symonds Yat

Bracelands to Symonds Yat

The Forest of Dean.

It is time to write up a walk Eva, myself and a special guest did a little while ago. We were staying in the Forest of dean at a place called Bracelands. It is close enough to Symonds Yat to walk, so we did.

Bracelands to Symonds Yat walk.

Bracelands; some history and people around there first, the Gloucestershire Archive holds a lease dated 10th February in the 18th year of James I, which was 1620-21. “The Lease by BENEDICT HALL of High Meadow in Newland, esq., to WILLIAM WYNTOUR of Collford, esq., of All those his lands, pasture and wood grounds called Bracelands, with all woods and underwoods thereupon growing; Except Iron Bynders, which the said Benedict might take at his pleasure, in the forest of Deane or in Newland, Staunton and Bicknor, between the coppice wood called the Copes of Sir Wm. Thockmorton, knt. and bart., and late of Thos Baynham of Clowerwall, esq. decd, and the said forest on all parts, containing in the whole 60 acres. Term, 99 years; if William Wyntour gent, son of the said Wm. Wyntour and Richard Carpenter, son of Wm. Carpenter of Collford, gent., and William Redgyn, son of John Redgyn senr. of Collford, or one of them should so long live. Yearly rent, £8. Signature, Benedict Hall, and sea. A Memo. endorsed, 20 March, 1627 (-8) of Surrender of the Lease by Margaret Wintoure, widow, late the wife of the said Wm. Winto and sole executrix of his Will, to the said Benedict, in consideration of £50.”[1]

Thus, names of people associated with the start of our walk if we had been there in 1620 would have been: Benedict Hall, William Wyntour deceased by 1627 and his wife Margaret his executrix. Sir William Throckmorton and the deceased Thomas Bayham.

Sir William Thockmorton looks to be an interesting character, in the state papers of Charles II September 1660, he is identified as “Sir William Thockmorton, Knight Marshal, and Henry Wynn, Solicitor General to the Queen [Mother], and Steward of the Marshalsea Court. For a lease of the contingent reversion of Sutton and Cullesdon Manors, Surrey, granted to Edward, son and heir of the late Sir Rob. Darcy, and his heirs male, with reversion in the Crown.”[2]

We’ve barely set off and there are families we can find.

We waked into Mailscot woods, wherein Mailscot lodge lies, investigating this shows it is/ was part of English Bicknor:

“West of English Bicknor village the principal house in the mid-16th century was Bicknor Court. In the early 17th century, there was a ruined farmhouse nearby. A later farmhouse standing south-west of the Court was rebuilt in 1862. In the late 18th century there was an old house lower down to the north-east. To the north at Common grove, where encroachments on common land began before 1774, (fn. 143) there was a single cottage in 1792. By the 1840s six or seven dwellings had been built there, (fn. 145) some of them on Rosemary Topping, the hill to the west. Several fell into ruin and were demolished in the early 20th century and three or four remained in 1993.

In the north-west a number of scattered cottages to the east of Redinhorne, including a timber-framed dwelling of c. 1610 and several older buildings, have disappeared. In 1993 a barn was a camping centre for young people. Cottages were built on extraparochial land adjoining the Coleford-Goodrich road both at Redinhorne and, to the south, at Hillersland. Hillersland Farm, within English Bicknor, was built in the 17th century. To the south-east at Blackthorns Farm, which belonged to the Wyrall family in 1608 and became part of the Eastbach estate in 1735, a bungalow was built southwest of the farmhouse in the later 20th century. Within Mailscot cabiners resident in 1628 were expelled. A woodman’s lodge was built northwest of Hillersland before 1748.”[3]

With a bit of lateral thinking because a simple search for Mailscot Lodge didn’t work in the usual places, FindMyPast, Ancestry etc. I found it by searching for Hillersland, in 1939 at Mailscot Lodge, Hillersland was Frank Short born 20th December 1903 a Married man, a Labourer with [the] Forestry Commission, his wife Nora K. Short born 30th March 1897 and their son Gordon F. Short born 6th February 1930.[4]

Following the route, we walked on to Symonds Yat rock and the views over the Wye. 2000+ years ago the views served a defensive purpose, there is an Iron, possibly even earlier Bronze age hill or promontory fort. Triangular, with its base to the south, overall pointing north. It is nearly 150m above sea level, with steep cliffs on its north, west and east sides, with banks and ditches on the south side. It was popularly and erroneously attributed to Offa, who reigned between 784-796 AD, because archeology points to at least the Iron if not Bronze age.[5] The only name for me here for me to conjure with is Offa. So here goes…

“Offa’s ancestry is given in the Anglian collection, a set of genealogies that include lines of descent for four Mercian kings. All four lines descend from Pybba, who ruled Mercia early in the 7th century. Offa’s line descends through Pybba’s son Eowa and then through three more generations: Osmod, Eanwulf and Offa’s father, Thingfrith. Æthelbald, who ruled Mercia for most of the forty years before Offa, was also descended from Eowa according to the genealogies: Offa’s grandfather, Eanwulf, was Æthelbald’s first cousin.[16] Æthelbald granted land to Eanwulf in the territory of the Hwicce, and it is possible that Offa and Æthelbald were from the same branch of the family. In one charter Offa refers to Æthelbald as his kinsman, and Headbert, Æthelbald’s brother, continued to witness charters after Offa rose to power.Offa’s wife was Cynethryth, whose ancestry is unknown. The couple had a son, Ecgfrith, and at least three daughters: Ælfflæd, Eadburh and Æthelburh.[19] It has been speculated that Æthelburh was the abbess who was a kinswoman of King Ealdred of the Hwicce, but there are other prominent women named Æthelburh during that period.”[6]

Offa’s family tree.

 This would be an interesting tree to link back to.

Iron grip at a Iron Age Fort. Its a long way down.

Back to the walk, and down the defensive cliff to the river Wye. Past the Saracen’s Head. On the 2nd April 1871 it was in the care of the Goode family, they were William Goode Head of the household married aged 75 an Inn Keeper born Goodrich, Herefordshire, his wife Selina Goode aged 55 born St. Briavels, Gloucestershire, Selina Goode their Daughter, unmarried aged 19 born Monmouth she was a dressmaker, Emily Jane Goode Daughter aged 15, born Monmouth and Kate Victoria Goode the third Daughter, aged 13 also born Monmouth.[1]

Saracen’s Head. Ferry and cable through the trees.

I will close off this section of the walk story with an expansion of the Goode family, using the information in the census above. Here is the baptism record for Selina the daughter, she was baptized 21 March 1852 at the church of St. Mary in Monmouth, she was baptized Selina Louise, her parents William and Selina, William was a waterman[2]. Now Selina’s birth registration shows her mother’s maiden name was Williams.[3] Selina Goode nee Williams died 20 March 1890, her will was proved at Hereford on 16 April 1890, she was a widow, lived the Saracen’s Head, Symonds Yat. Her estate was about £190, the executrixes were her daughters, Martha Maria Jones (wife of Edward Jones) of Symonds Yat and Kate Victoria James (wife of Richard Jones James) of the Saracen’s Head.[4] This is the way of genealogy, William is dead by 1890, I can find his death record, he died in early 1877 and was registered at Ross, he was 81 when he died.[5] Modern day descendants may well be living nearby, or even in my fanciful notion reading this.

The walk took us now, along the River Wye back towards the start, not without noticing the hand-pulled ferry at the above mentioned Saracen’s head, and a little way up stream is the one from ‘Ye Olde Ferry Inn’. In 1905 the incumbent there was a Mr. Tom Moses Davies


At the previous Court, Mr. Tom Moses Davis, owner and occupier of “Ye Olde Ferrie Inne,” Symonds’ Yat, in the parish of Whitchurch, had applied for a full licence for his house in place of the beer and wine one. It had been decided to grant the application subject to terms of tenure and the fixing of the monopoly value of the licence. To obtain the particulars, the application had been adjourned to the present Court. Mr. I.C Williams (Monmouth) again appeared in support of the application. The Clerk produced the valuation made by Messrs. Meats and Meats, of Hereford, which assessed the monopoly value of the new licence at £8 Se. Bd. per annum. Continuing, the Clerk added that if the full licence was confirmed by the County Licensing Authority, the licence duty of ” Ye Olde Ferrie Inn would be increased by some £l3 per annum; and in the event of the licence being refused at any subsequent general annual licensing meeting, the applicant would lose his claim to any compensation he might now possess under the old licence. The Magistrates accepted the valuation of Messrs. Meats and Meats, and after hearing Mr. Williams, they decided that the tenure of the licence should be for one year only. Applicant would, therefore, have to pay the monopoly value of £8 6e. Bd. for each year the licence might be renewed, and pay all the expenses of the present valuation.”[6]

Ye Olde Ferry Inne, from ye new hand pulled ferry.

We hiked along the banks of the river until the next path back up to Bracelands, for a welcome drink outside the van to rest the legs.

If you would like a walk with history, your own history get in touch.


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[1] Census records. England. Saracen’s Head Inn, Goodrich, Ross, Herefordshire. 02 April 1871. GOODE, William (head). Enumeration district 18. Piece number 2687. Folio 130. Page 11. Schedule 65. Collection: 1871 England, Wales & Scotland Census. : accessed 19 August 2021.

[2] Baptisms (PR) Wales. St. Mary, Monmouth, Monmouthshire. GOODE, Selina Louise. P. 16 Entry 126. Collection: Monmouthshire, Wales, Anglican Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1551-1994. www.aNCESTRY.CO.UK : accessed 19 August 2021.

[3] Births index (CR). Wales. RD Monmouth [Monmouthshire]. 1st Q., 1852. GOODE, Selina Louise. Volume 11A. Page 40. : accessed 19 August 2021.

[4] Testamentary records. England. Hereford. 16 April 1890. GOODE, Selina. P. 422. Collection: England & Wales Government Probate Death Index 1858-2019. : accessed 19 August 2021.

[5] Deaths index (CR) England. RD Ross [Herefordshire]. 1st Q., 1877. GOODE, William. Volume 06A Page 332. : accessed 19 August 2021.

[6] Ross Gazette. 1905. Ye Olde Ferrie Inne Licence. 30 March. P3f. Collection: The British Newspaper Archive. : accessed 20 August 2021.

[1] Gloucestershire Archive. 1620-21. 10 Feb., 18 Jas.I.  Lease by BENEDICT HALL of High Meadow in Newland, esq., to WILLIAM WYNTOUR of Collford, esq. The National Archive. Discovery. D1677/GG/673. : accessed 18 August 2021.

[2] Charles II – volume 17: September 1660, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1660-1, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1860), pp. 287-303. British History Online [accessed 18 August 2021].

[3] A P Baggs and A R J Jurica, ‘English Bicknor’, in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5, Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, the Forest of Dean, ed. C R J Currie and N M Herbert (London, 1996), pp. 101-117. British History Online [accessed 18 August 2021].

[4] 1939 Register. England. 29 September 1939. SHORT, Frank. Piece 5136 Ledger Code ODZK. Collection: The 1939 Register, 1939 [database online]. 2021. : accessed 2021.

[5] Historic England. Symonds Yat Promontory Fort. : accessed 19 August 2021

[6] Wikipedia contributors, “Offa of Mercia,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, : accessed August 19, 2021.

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