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Old Frampton Court

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October 2019

The Thornbury Local History and Archaeology Society started its 2019/2020 programme with a fascinating talk on the history of Old Frampton Court by Rose Hewlett.

From 2000-2013 Rose worked as secretary to Frampton Court Estate and the Clifford family of Frampton on Severn, whose ancestry in the village can be traced back through the extensive family archive to the early days of the Norman Conquest. Rose has also undertaken extensive research on the area and in particular on the River Severn.

The subject of Rose’s talk was the predecessor to the current Georgian building which is known as “Frampton Court.” The current building was erected in the early 1730s and the building which Rose spoke about was built between 1650 and 1652.

The background to the building of Old Frampton Court took us back to the English Civil War. The Clifford family were Parliamentarians and the previous Court was commandeered by Parliamentary troops who were fighting the royalist troops at Berkeley Castle. The Court suffered damage and the then owner, Anthony Clifford put in a claim for damage to his property. After Anthony’s death the estate passed to a cousin, John Clifford, an attorney, who decided to rebuild the Court.

John kept meticulous records of the rebuilding and an accounts book and scale plan of the Court both survive to give fascinating detail about the building project. The Court was about half the size of the present Court and was a three storey building with cellars which were partially above ground.

The accounts book reveals that over 45,000 nails, 40,000 bricks and 16,000 tiles made in the Forest of Dean were purchased for the building project. It took 33 man days to saw four oaks for the roof trusses.

To celebrate the “topping out” of the Court John Clifford paid a trumpeter 2 shillings to perform.

One sad aspect of the story was that John Clifford’s wife died at the age of 30 before the building was complete leaving him with three daughters. However he remarried in 1652 and his new wife moved in to the Court with her children and stepchildren.

Not only did John Clifford leave an extensive record of the building of the Court, he also made an inventory of the house contents shortly before he died which gives a fascinating glimpse of life at the Court.

The Court had a parlour, a little parlour, a buttery, a hall and study as well as kitchens on the ground floor. John Clifford enjoyed playing games of chance in the hall and kept a record of his losses (but not his wins!). He kept valuables in the little parlour and explained in the inventory where they were hidden. He carried out his practice as an attorney from the study and regularly attended the Gloucester Assizes. The Court had six bedrooms on the first floor and the children slept in lofts on the second floor.

The grounds of the Court were not extensive but it was interesting to hear that a local mole catcher was employed and caught 87 moles in 2 months.

John Clifford died in 1684 and his eldest grandson William Clutterbuck inherited the Court. When he in turn died the Court passed to his son Richard who demolished Old Frampton Court and built the present Georgian Court in the early 1730s.

The Thornbury Local History and Archaeology Society always welcomes new and occasional members. Details of our programme can be found on this website, the library or the Town Hall. Our meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month, held at St Mary's Church Hall beginning at 7.30pm. Visitors are always welcome at the society for the small charge of £2.50.

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