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News & Features - March 2009

Roll out the Burrell?
A Magical History Tour
Pucklechurch Revel 2009!
Save the Greenbelt campaign fundraiser
Safer & Stronger
Crime Watch
The Lessons of History
Pucklechurch Big Spring Clean 2009
YOI Ashfield Annual Report
Mobile Library
Pucklechurch NSPCC - Frocks to Socks!
Great Cheese & Wine Quiz

Roll Out the Burrell?

At recent Parish Council meeting, councillors discussed renaming the Recreation Ground (or the "Rec"). The reason this came up is a matter of history. Early records show the open space at the centre of the village as "the Burrell". Here is an extract from Puckleweb on South Gloucestershire Council’s website:

    The layout of Pucklechurch today is the result of decisions taken hundreds of years ago. TheAut16473 position of the Church in the centre of the village is very important, the manor house looking straight up the central street towards it, houses positioned along the edges of the main roads into the village (Parkfield, Shortwood and Westerleigh roads). All three of these roads run into Pucklechurch from different angles and meet at the corners of the great enclosure called the Burrell on the 1843 tithe map, now the Recreation Ground and the Church. Where these roads meet the Burrell they have small open areas which are probably the vestiges of village greens. This suggests that the medieval and later village plan was three small street hamlets each abutting the Burrell. This may all sound very familiar to you, but everything was positioned in a particular way and for a particular reason during a period when villages were being built up and developed between the AD850s and 1150s all over Europe. In this Anglo-Saxon period, the word 'burh' is also associated with royal administrative centres and important residences, and the road around it may be in its ditch. The church, perhaps on the site of the early minster church, is inserted into one corner of this enclosure to be in close association with the royal manor.

Councillors felt that a return to the old name would reflect the rich history of our area. We would welcome comments from local residents on the proposal. If you have a view on this, please write to Diane Bailey, Clerk to the Council, at The Vale, Cattybrook Lane, Shortwood BS16 9NJ, or email


A Magical History Tour

The history of Pucklechurch has something to interest just about everyone. I’ve been spending some of my time recently researching a variety of documents and websites -- there are so many great many places to get information that it’s hard to know where to start! Gail

Without a doubt documents held at local record offices yield vast quantities of information -- the only drawback is that being located where we are means that some records are held in Bristol and others in Gloucester. There’s an excellent online catalogue, but sometimes catalogue entries can be less than revealing. I was particularly intrigued to find one collection labelled as “Barnard Papers -- A collection of items, mostly ms notes, relating to Puckle-church (sic). They were apparently collected by Lionel Barnard”. These papers are kept at the Bristol Record Office (BRO), and with my appetite for a mystery whetted, I decided to investigate.

The manila folder that appeared on the desk at the BRO was about an inch thick, tied with white cotton tape. There were a variety of papers enclosed; some seemed to be pages from an exercise book covered with handwritten notes, whilst others were copies of a small printed magazine. A letter from Lionel Barnard explained they were documents found amongst the effects of his relative, the Reverend H.J. Barnard, who had been Vicar of Pucklechurch.

Reverend Barnard was clearly a man much interested in history. He’d been through some of the earliest church registers and listed births, deaths and marriages, in doing so providing snapshots of the lives of ordinary people who lived and worked here. I discovered, amongst many things, that in 1703 Robert, the son of William Chambers, was baptised on November 26th, having been born on a “tempestuous night”, whilst Robert King was buried on 9th February 1707, having been “killed by a fall from his horse”. Small pox was “raging in the parish and very infectious” in 1714, and in 1723 there were 12 burials from the small pox over the summer months. Tragedy was also recorded: “William the son of James & Mary Dunscomb was found drown’d in Lypyates Well in the parish, July 11th 1773”. 

Other documents included a comprehensive list of local field names and an almost complete set of the Pucklechurch & Abson Parish Magazine for the years 1890/91. The following is an extract from July 1890:

    Flower Mission

    It is proposed to start a Flower Mission on Pucklechurch and we trust all who have gardens will kindly assist us in the endeavour. Once every fortnight a hamper of flowers will be sent up to the parish of St. Alphege, Southwark, which is one of the most miserable parts of London. Flowers are rarely seen there and we are told that they are valued by the poor almost more than money, especially by the sick. The first hamper will be despatched by Monday, July 14th, and if all those kindly disposed to help us in the matter will send their flowers made up into small bunches to the Vicarage, before 12 o’clock, Miss Alice Barnard will undertake to pack them, and send them off. The bunches should not be very large, as there will be so many to distribute them amongst: also they must be quite fresh as they so soon fade. Flowers cost so little to give and are an immense pleasure to those in poorer parts of London, many of whom have never seen the country in their lives. If those sending flowers have really not time to tie them in bunches, it can be done at the Vicarage.

It’s intriguing to know that flowers grown here were obviously shipped up to London for others to enjoy!

One set of Barnard’s notes appear to have been made from a transcription of a Bishop’s Register for the early 1300s. John de Drokensford was Bishop of Bath & Wells from 1309 to1329, and the notes relate to the oldest surviving register -- the Manor of Pucklechurch was held by Bath & Wells at this time. Registers like this recorded, amongst other things, administrative decisions and had entries relating to the clergy and a wide variety of other business, some of it secular rather than religious. Pucklechurch is mentioned on several occasions -- in June 1313 Drokensford wrote to Thomas Alway, his bailiff in Wells:

    Political troubles having hindered our residence hitherto and so withdrawn our almsgiving and other duties, we now ordain for the rest of our episcopate that 40 of the poorest persons of Wells and Pucklechurch Bailiwicks, shall receive daily a silver farthing or its value in food. Worn out priests to be admitted and preference given to such of our serfs or widows as have been driven by poverty to throw up holdings and to beg. At Michaelmas to such of the 40 as survive 4s to be given for a cloak, hood and shoes...

Edward IIPutting this into a historical context, this was written during the reign of Edward II,

a time of great conflict between the King and his nobles -- the Battle of Bannockburn just a year away. Edward was eventually overthrown by his wife Isabella in favour of his son. Some of you will recall the story of his imprisonment at Berkeley Castle and how he was reputedly murdered. It’s little wonder that Bishop Drokensford had been preoccupied! Unfortunately we’ll never know the names of the people who received the silver farthings, but we do learn of some of the men whose lives the Bishop changed in another way. The notes for the year 1315 relate to two serfs being made free to take holy orders including Thomas, son of W. Colman, serf of the Manor of Pucklechurch, “Both of these tonsured for the sake of ordination and ordained by Bp at Chew soon afterwards”. Medieval serfs were peasants who worked a lord's land and paid him certain dues in return for the use of land for themselves -- they were not freemen. Those chosen had no means of education but may have been picked out as youths with promise. The “tonsure” was what resulted from the practice of having the head shaved before entering the priesthood -- leaving a surrounding fringe.

In November 1890 the parish magazine contained a note from the Rev. Barnard that he had been unwell. He had been Vicar for six years by then and wrote, “but had it been a lifetime I could scarcely have received greater sympathy”. I have since discovered that he died the following year and is commemorated by a stained glass window in the church at Yatton, where he served for many years. The papers he left behind and the notes that he made certainly gave me a truly magical history tour of Pucklechurch – I certainly didn’t expect to find the name of residents who lived here 700 years ago!

Gail Boyle



Safer & StrongerSafer-Stronger

The next Boyd Valley Safer & Stronger Community Group meeting will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, 6th  May, at Doynton Village Hall. Come and have your say on any issues you have about the community. The group's aim is to:

  • Give local people a greater voice and influence over local decision making
  • Improve the quality of life of people in the local area by identifying community needs and local priorities
  • Promote pride in the local area as a safe, thriving and pleasant place to live

We really want you to attend, as we want a cross-section of the community at these meetings. However, if you cannot attend and have some burning issues and concerns, please contact the Community Safety Officer Jacqui Ward on 01454 864625 or email

We look forward to seeing you at Doynton.

Sarah Turley, Chair

       Malcolm Watson, Vice Chair


Crime Watch

In November, the Boyd Valley area experienced a spate of burglaries targeting detached houses in rural locations and a distraction burglary in Pucklechurch. South Gloucestershire Trading Standards are aware of numerous incidents in this region involving bogus gas and water board officials or persons claiming to have noticed a broken window on your house. If you do receive a visit from an official, verify their claims by carefully checking their ID before you allow them into your house.

If a doorstep caller asks you to leave your property to view a problem with your house from your garden, for example, be very suspicious and always secure your property before leaving it for even the shortest period of time.

If you think you have been targeted by a bogus caller or you suspect they are operating in your area, please call 999 immediately.

Our beat manager Chris Skelton advises us to check the Avon and Somerset Constabulary website ( for the latest crime incidents and trends. Put your post code into the box under the "In your area" heading to go to the Boyd Valley section. The website provides crime statistics (our area rates as average for the district), contact information for our local police team, a form to report a crime online, and news about the district and our area.



The Lessons of History

Pucklechurch Primary School's History Week in February involved the children in a range of activities that gave them the opportunity to think carefully about the importance of history skills and also the value of understanding more about the community in which they live. They'll be creating a history timeline, using the paintings, drawings, and collected objects from History Week to create a huge 3D collage.

On Saturday, 28th March, we will be taking the timeline to the Community Centre, along with other work completed during History Week. It will be an opportunity for the community to contribute to the timeline as well seeing what the children have learned. If you would like to add to the 3D collage, please bring photos, drawings, letters, stamps, old newspapers, doodles, sketches, fabric, buttons, memorabilia or anything you can think of from any period in time. There will be people to help you glue things on. Come and contribute, socialise, and discover things you might not know about the village and its history.

The Community Centre will be open from 9.00am-5.00pm. Come along and have a cup of tea or coffee, a slice of cake, a look at the children’s work, and a dialogue with those people involved in History Week.  

Thank you for your support.

Rachel Goodchild


Pucklechurch Big Spring Clean 2009

Volunteer groups across the Parish of Pucklechurch are urged to spring into action and clean up their neighbourhoods and open spaces, helping to transform Pucklechurch as part of the South Gloucestershire Big Spring Clean 2009.

Meet outside the Chapel
10am on Saturday, 18th April

Meet Outside the Scout Hut
 10am on Sunday 19th April
Refreshments Available

The Parish Council is running the Pucklechurch Big Spring Clean 2009 in Shortwood on Saturday, 18th April, and in Pucklechurch on Sunday, 19th April. Everyone is encouraged to join in. Friends, families, neighbours, community and voluntary groups, church groups, the schools and students, youth clubs, Scouts, Guides, and businesses are all invited to take action against litter. Fresh air and exercise are two benefits of the Big Spring Clean, but the best part is that residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy the Parish looking its best.

Many groups and individuals already do their bit during the year; however, the Big Spring Clean provides the opportunity to clean up before the 'good' weather arrives. It is an ideal occasion for anyone who cares about their local environment to venture out to a nearby open space, woodland, river, verge or public space and take some positive action for the community.

Gloves and refuse sacks will be provided, and a skip will be available for the rubbish.



YOI Ashfield Annual Report

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) released its annual report on HMP/YOI Ashfield in December, commending Director Wendy Sinclair and her staff on providing a safe and positive environment. Almost 400 young people between the ages of 15 and 17 are housed in Ashfield's two housing blocks, making it the largest juvenile establishment in Europe.

Over the last year, Director Sinclair and her staff have enhanced the learning opportunities Ashfield offers to the young people in their care. In July 2008 Ashfield College was launched in partnership with Keith Elliott, Principal of City of Bristol College. Because of their often bad experiences with school, the young men in Ashfield prefer the idea that they have moved on to a college where they can learn skills and obtain qualifications in a more grown-up environment. Ashfield can help them achieve GCSE, AS, NVQ, City & Guilds, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince's Trust qualifications. There's also an "Art Village" that includes provisions for learning music, a horticultural programme, and a library. The focus is on literacy and numeracy, but there are also many vocational opportunities that involve partnerships with businesses in the community. The IMB commended Ashfield's staff on their education and training programmes, particularly the business partnerships which can lead to post-release placements.

The IMB's report on YOI Ashfield was very positive overall. The only major problems were not of Ashfield's making. There are concerns about the high number of late arrivals from court appearances. Ashfield's staff believe this is unsafe and inhumane. They have also complained that no progress is being made to provide halfway houses or other support for young offenders upon release, which contributes to the 80% recidivism rate.



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