Smithfield Gate

This property can first be seen at the time the Inclosure Act came to Norton in 1806 when it was Plot No 113, was owned by William Vick, was 1 rod 21 perches in size and was described as a house, garden and orchard.

There seems to have been a property here for many years prior to 1806, however, and at one time it was known as Emmetts.  The name suggests that it was named after an early owner/occupant and this would appear to be the case here. The earliest reference I have found to the property is an indenture dated 27th January 1707/08 which details a settlement of messuages and lands on marriage between John Hyett, an alderman of Gloucester, and Mrs Anne Litten, a widow of Dursley. Amongst the many properties recorded is the following;

“… One messuage called Emmetts in Norton sometime in tenure of Richard Emmetts since of John Butt late of John Milton and Elizabeth his wife now of John Hyett … formerly part of the Manor of Norton alias Bishops Norton and formerly reputed copyhold.”

The Emmett family had been at Norton for many years already by this time and it can be presumed had always lived here.  The following deposition relating to a Gloucester Diocese case of 8 March 1595 tells us that Richard Emmett had come to Norton from Weston, Hereford, in September 1594, was married to Joan, and was a man of some standing employing at least 2 servants.  The deposition had John Butt accusing Elizabeth Bound of defaming him. The deponents were Elizabeth Hawlinge, wife of Thomas Hawlinge of Norton who had lived here for 10 years. Roger Simondes, weaver, of Norton who had lived here 3 years, and Joan Swayne, servant of Richard Emmett of Norton who had lived here since Michaelmas, having previously been at Weston, Hereford. An abstract of the depositions read;

"Elizabeth Hawlinge said that about a month before Christmas Elizabeth Bound came to her husband's house in Norton. Elizabeth told her that John Butt and Joan Emmett were naughty together by which she thought Bound meant that they lived in adultery together. No one else was present.  Last Ash Wednesday Roger Simondes had some business with Joan Emmett. He found her and Elizabeth Bound speaking very hardly together. He heard Bound say she had spoken it to one body but not to whom nor what words had been used. Joan Swayne and goodwife Emmett were present.  On the night of Tewkesbury Fair Day Joan Swayne heard Elizabeth Bound and her mistress, Joan Emmett, talking very hardly together in Richard Emmett's house. Bound said she had to confess that she had spoken of it to one body and that, call it in question as you will, my nay is as good as her yea. Roger Simondes, Joan Emmett and she were present. She did not think the credit of John Butt was impaired by the words".

William Vick, who had owned Plot No 113 in 1806, died in 1835 and left a Will of which the following is an extract; “…William Vick of Hardwick … Gentleman … I give and devise unto my son Richard Vick all and singular my messuages lands and hereditaments in the parishes of Norton and Sandhurst”. Apart from Plot No 113 William owned other properties at Norton as well as many other properties beyond the village leaving a total value of <£6000.

From 1838 we have the “terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton”. This terrier describes Plot No 113 as cottages and gardens at Smithfield Gate, still 1 rod 21 perches in size, now owned by Richard Vick.  It is no longer a single house but two cottages and in the occupation of Daniel Juggins and Thomas Oakley.

This is the first mention I have found of the name ‘Smithfield Gate’.  With fields open across tracks such as these some measures were needed to keep livestock off the highways as they became more busy.  Often this meant gates being erected and that is likely what happened here.

The 1841 Census confirms that Daniel Juggins was a 45 year old agricultural labourer living at ? Grounds with his wife, Jane, and daughter Mary. Daniel remained at Norton, living elsewhere, until his death in 1862.  At the same time Thomas Oakley was a 30 year old agricultural labourer also living at ? Grounds with his wife, Ann, and children Charles, George, John, William, Ann, Eliza and Richard. Thomas Oakley had married Ann Hawker at Tredington in 1827 and their third son, John, was the first baptised at Norton, in 1829, indicating their arrival in the village. It is believed that sometime in the few years following 1841 the Oakleys moved to live near Norton Green, possibly at No 16a, one of the thatched cottages.

In December 1857 we find the Will of Richard Vick who still owned Plot No 113. “… Last Will and Testament of me Richard Vick of Norton … farmer. I devise and bequeath unto my three nephews Richard Martin Vick of the City of Gloucester saddler William Gingell of Maisemore … farmer and Henry Butt of Sandhurst … farmer … all my real and personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever …”. The Will makes no specific mention of the property at Smithfield, however, on 29 March 1862 there was a conveyance from the trustees of Richard Vick to William Simmons “…of the two cottages then in the occupation of Henry Marston and Richard Padgett and containing inclusive of sites of the cottages 1 rod and 21 perches which messuages were then formerly in one and called Emmetts”. We know that Richard Vick owned Plot No 113 prior to his death and the size of this plot agrees with that recorded in 1806 and 1838.

The Padgetts had arrived at Norton in approximately 1845 and had been living here since with father Joseph, wife Elizabeth and a number of children including Richard.  The 1861 Census tells us that Richard was still living with his parents although with four sons in their twenties the house must have been cramped.  Richard didn’t marry until 1869 so perhaps he lived here alone or with another brother to make room for his parents.  Richard married at Down Hatherley and left the village afterwards.  Perhaps Richard Vick’s Will should have referred to Jospeh Padgett and not Richard.  Henry Marston had been born at Norton, just along the lane in an area known as The Horse Shoes, where there were many of his extended family living at this time.  In 1855 he married Caroline White and by 1861 was living here with his wife, two young children and a niece also in residence.

William Simmons still owned the cottages in 1871 at which time it appears that Joseph Padgett and Henry Marston were still in residence.  On 25 March 1878 a conveyance from William Simmons transferred his two messuages at Plot No 113 to Charles Betteridge Walker and it likely that around this time they were demolished.  Joseph Padgett isn’t listed at Norton and Henry Marston was living near The Green.

The physical gate was still here in March 1895 when the Gloucester Highway Board met to consider, amongst other things, a request from Capt Walker to make an alteration to the bridle road that runs through Smithfield from Yew Tree Farm to Sandhurst. At that time the road came to a dead end where there was a gate that was often kept locked (likely the Smithfield Gate that gave its name to the place where these two cottages were located) and then continued to Sandhurst as just a bridle track. Capt Walker wanted to straighten the road, fence it, and widen it to make the lane possibly an important route. It was also suggested that a board be erected near the gate stating ‘bridle-road to Sandhurst’. The proposed changes were adopted and agreed to. Looking at a plan of the track from 1807 and walking it today, however, it can’t really be seen where the track was straightened so it may possibly never have happened.

Just a few years later there is a memorandum included in the Parish Council Minute Book of 1898, written by Rev Marks who was both the Chairman of the Parish Council and parish vicar at that time.  “A memorandum about the bridle road from Yew Tree Farm to Sandhurst Lane.  Old Mr Charles Healing who lived in the parish about 60 years and was some time assistant overseer told me that old people when he was young had told him that the path from Yew Tree Farm to Sandhurst Lane was the usual bridle road to Gloucester from Norton Green; that there were formerly several houses along that way and that one sold liquor to travellers.  Ann Padgett who lives in the last cottage remaining along that road told me that her father in law said that the farmers and others from Tewkesbury district always rode to Gloucester with their wares along that road and that he as a boy had earned many a coin by opening gates for them.  She said also that her own house was then a public house”.  It is believed that Ann Padgett was living at Plot No 115, now Smithfield Cottage, at this time.

In 1923 a Norton Court Estate document records that Plot No 113 was then an orchard in the occupation of Walter James, the buildings on that site having disappeared.  Walter James was living just along the lane at Mead Croft.

Aerial photo of Plot No 113, central bottom, from 1946, with Yew Tree Farm above