The Old Vicarage

[For details of the vicars who occupied the house see article; ]

At the time the Inclosures came to Norton in 1806 there was no vicarage on the current site and the vicar was usually resident out of the parish.  The site where the Vicarage was later to be built was then Plot No 173, a large area of farmland known by the name of Wharfield, and owned as part of the Norton Court Estate by Edward Webb.

On 7 August 1843 Marmaduke Cockin was licenced to the perpetual curacy of Norton and in 1846 he issued an appeal for money to build a vicarage at Norton.  He generously donated £200 from his own pocket and a further £400 from the endowment of the living of the parish.  Much of the £1,200 required had already been raised by the time that he left the parish to take over as incumbent at Dunton Bassett, Leicestershire, on 15 July 1847. 

Although his successor, George Cox, actually resided at Norton in 1851, it was not in the house that we now think of as having been the village vicarage.

In 1856 the plan to build moved forward and on 29th April 1856, Josiah Castree of Gloucester, compiled the following description of the proposed site for the vicarage;

“A Particular of the Piece of Arable Land situate in the Parish of Norton, in the County of Gloucester, and Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, proposed as a Benefaction for the Living of Norton, in the said County and Diocese, as delineated in the map hereto annexed.  The Land adjoins the Turnpike Road and is conveniently situated in point of distance from the Parish Church and the Village (lying between both) for a site for a Vicarage house.  It is a clay soil, has been well drained, and newly fenced on the North-east side by a quickset hedge and ditch.  A road has been formed and stoned from the Turnpike Road to the site for a House.  It is free from Tithe Rent Charge and free from Land tax.  I estimate the Net Annual Value of the 1.2.14 [a.r.p] of Land at Five Pounds and the Value in Fee at 30 years Purchase, which comes to One Hundred and Fifty Pounds”.

Unfortunately the plan does not copy well but has still been included here.  It shows the land where we know the Vicarage sits today, bounded to the south by land owned by Mr John Weston and to the north by land owned by Miss Elizabeth Francis Webb.  It also records the proposed position of a house, front right, a yard to the rear of the house, and stables at the back of the plot.

On 17 June 1856 the Church Commissioners responded;

“Having laid before Her Majesty’s Commissioners for building new churches your letter of 27th ulto enclosing a certificate of title to and draft conveyance and plan of a piece of land as a site for a new Parsonage house at Norton in the County of Gloucester, I am directed to inform you that under all the circumstances of the case the Board will be willing to accept a Conveyance of such site on the evidence as to the title contained in your Certificate dated 27th May 1856 but on the understanding that the Board are not thereby to incur any responsibility whatever as to the validity of the vendor’s title to the land in question”.

Everything then went ahead and the house, set back from the old road north of and opposite the King’s Head Inn, was built later in 1856, to a brick Gothic design by Francis Niblett, and in 1861 it had become known as The Vicarage. 

In 1871 Rev Thomas Turner was here with his wife Sophy and two domestic servants; Eliza Bolingbroke and Eunice Bird.

On 4 December 1874 Rev Francis John Attwood took over the curacy at Norton.  Rev Attwood was married with four young children and in 1875 the vicarage was described as being very small, containing about six small rooms, kitchen and scullery, and no proper drainage or water supply.  The vicarage was enlarged by F.W. Waller with six further rooms and a new well with windpump in 1876–7, in conjunction with the renovation of the church at St Mary’s and the building of the village school, at a cost of £1,763.

The Gloucester Journal newspaper of 30 September 1876 reported a story about the new well and windpump under the heading ‘The Fatal Accident At Norton’;

“On Saturday Mr J Lovegrove held an inquest at The Infirmary respecting the death of a man named John Lamb, who met with a fatal accident at Norton Vicarage, as recorded last week.  Deceased was a plumber in the employ of a Liverpool firm, and was on Wednesday week engaged with other men in fitting a windmill pump in a well at Norton Vicarage.  The well was about 70 feet deep, and the deceased and a man named Brassington were working on a platform about half way down the well.  A labourer was descending the well in a bucket and it is supposed that the bucket knocked a brick off the top of the wall, for hardly had the bucket began to descend when Brassington called out, ‘Come down quickly, this poor man is killed’.  It appeared that the falling brick struck the deceased just over the right eye, and he fell senseless into his companion’s arms.  He was at once removed to the Gloucester Infirmary, where he died on Friday afternoon.  The jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidental death’, and gave their fees to the widow”.

By this time the vicarage had a coach house and stables and The Times newspaper of 2nd November 1876 included the following item amongst the ‘for sale’ section indicating that Rev Attwood had been using that building; “Stylish, nearly new Pony Victoria, built for invalid, Collinge’s axles, spring seats, morocco leather, newly painted; £50. Also Siamese, for pony or pair, in good condition, newly painted, - very easy, lamps, pole and shafts; £30 – Rev F Attwood”. The cart was built for an invalid but which member of his family was in need of it I dont know.

In 1881 Rev Francis Witts had arrived here and was making good use of the extra rooms at the vicarage.  He was living with his wife Margaret, 4 young children and six servants.  Beatrice Thorpe, nurse, Eliza Hancock, under nurse, Sarah Merriman, cook, Ellen Miffing, parlourmaid, Thomas Gardner, groom, and George Hunt, page.

In 1891 Rev Robert Marks had slimmed down the occupants, living with his wife Jane, an adult daughter Emily, his mother Margaret, and one domestic servant Alice Selwyn.  Mother Margaret died later in 89 and by 90 the residents were Rev Marks, wife and daughter and one servant, Rose Grosmith.

In 1911 Rev Arthur Maclean was in residence of the 12 roomed property.  He employed 3 servants; Louisa Finch, cook and housekeeper, Rose Brain, parloumaid, and Thomas Baylis, a gardener.

The well of 1876/77 did not prove to be very successful and had ceased to be in use prior to 1927 when the Rev Congdon, who took the post in 1924, raised the matter with the Ecclesiastical Commission who sent the following reply to Rev Congdon dated 7 November 1927;

“I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 3rd instant with reference to the proposed new well at the Parsonage House of the above-mentioned Benefice {Norton).  The Commission’s Architects, to whom the particulars have been shown, state that there should be no difficulty in arriving at a definite estimate of the cost of the well.  They also suggest that the use of cast concrete sections for the well instead of a brick lining would probably effect a reduction in cost.  I shall therefore be glad to receive a definite estimate of cost in due course”.

Nothing seems to have been accomplished at this time and the next vicar was Rev Evans Prosser who arrived in 1934.  In the Norton Parish Magazine of July 1971 the then Canon Evans Prosser wrote;

“To crown all, we had no source of drinking water.  There used to be a well at the bottom of the garden [of the Vicarage] worked by a windmill but this had been filled up with rubbish long before we got here as the wall of the well had caved in”.

In another Parish Magazine from the mid-1970s Canon Evans Prosser included a piece describing his appointment as vicar of Norton and his arrival in the village. The following describes his first arrival at The Vicarage in March 1934;

“Anyway, on March 3rd I got a letter from them asking me to become Vicar of Norton and saying that they hoped I would at least go and see it before turning it down. That was a Saturday and on the following Monday, March 5th, we came to see it, after a thorough study of road maps to find out where it was. We arrived outside what was then called Fairview, now Old Lane Cottage, where the Barnes family then lived. Enquiries were made as to where the Vicarage and Church were and we duly got to the Vicarage. Mr Congdon was out and the family was in the throes of getting ready to move out. I remember seeing a pram in the kitchen and a child’s toy cinemagraph in the passage leading to what was afterwards the drawing room. We quite liked what we saw of the house and so we made our way to the church”.

Norton CofE School once had a garden that was used to teach the children appropriate skills.  The Log Books from the  school contain many references to the garden which tell us when it was first started and the sort of crops that were grown.  The first entry is on 25th March 1925 so it is assumed that it was about this date that it was introduced. For a time it was at the School House, Elm House and Court Hay Farm but with the arrival of Evans Prosser it was relocated to the Vicarage.  I was once told that the garden could be found half way up the road to the rectory on the right hand side.  The soil was poor here being mainly heavy clay and holes were dug in the corner of each plot to help encourage drainage. The garden fell into disuse about 1939 when quite a few of the senior boys moved to secondary school at Longlevens.

Harry Wilks, late of The Leigh, once told me the following; "Now a house occupies its space [Hawkesbury House] on the right hand side of the vicarage drive, where there was a lovely Beauty of Bath apple tree.  These apples were a treat and could only be eaten if Boss [Boss Perrott was headmaster] gave his consent.  Ted Simms, a local man from Broadclose Road, first dug the garden for the children under the supervision of Mr Pymont who was head of department at Hartpury College.  Harry enjoyed the gardening better than lessons in school.  The garden was square with a point at one end.  Each boy had his own patch.  When the crops were grown they were sold (those that had not been eaten by the boys !).  The school cleaner, Florrie Teakle, bought a lot, also Elsie Mealing’s auntie.  Mrs Bradshaw also bought from the boys.  The money raised was used to buy more seed and potatoes.  Harry cleaned out the fowls for the headmaster for which he used to give him 6d on a Friday afternoon.  The fowls were Wilcima, which produced brown eggs, and White Leghorns.  Although the White Leghorns were good layers they were very active and always flying around !  Going home Harry stopped at Tess Hughes’ shop and spent his 6d".

In 1939 Canon Evans Prosser was living here with James Patmore Peters, an 86 year old widower living off private means, and a houseboy, Archibald Newton.

Canon Kendall Frederick Evans Prosser was vicar at Norton from 1934 and The Leigh from 1947 until a car crash in 1980 forced his retirement.  He lived for a time at the Bredon View home in Cheltenham and died in December 1991 at the Greenlands Nursing Home in Gloucester.  When he left Norton Vicarage Bruton Knowles & Co held an auction on the premises on 12 March 1981 to sell his antiques, furniture and effects, that he wasn’t able to take with him into the nursing home.  The sale was quite extensive consisting of 469 separate items broken down in the sale catalogue, which included several photos, by room; outside effects, kitchens, attics, bedrooms, reception room and by category; glassware, porcelain and pottery, silver, plate, pictures, books, and miscellaneous items.  Bruton Knowles & Co included a comment that might be indicative of the condition of the vicarage at that time; “the auctioneers wish to point out that much of the furniture has suffered from damp”.

It was at this time that The Vicarage was sold into private hands in c.1981 with the incoming vicar moving to live at Twigworth. 

The Gloucester Journal newspaper of 2 October 1986 reported; “Norton: Change of use from stable block to residential (renewal) stable block adjoining Norton Vicarage”

In 1985 The Vicarage was owned by Andrew J and Philippa Walker and in 2002 by Graham and Shirley L Hodges.


In 2020/21 the property was marketed by Savills at £1,350,000 and was described as follows in the sale brochure;

“Situation.  The Old Vicarage is a handsome and imposing former rectory situated in a private edge of village location, set at the end of a long private drive. The property is believed to have been built in the mid 19th century and provides three stories of well-presented and flexible accommodation. There is also the benefit of a detached former coach house providing an exciting project to create detached ancillary accommodation subject to planning.

Day to day shopping is found in Twigworth, Churchdown and Longford with regional shopping found in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. High Speed trains from Gloucester reach Paddington in under 2 hours and M5 Junction 11 is about 6 miles away. The A38 provides fast access to Gloucester, Tewkesbury and the A4019 across to Cheltenham and the M5.

Description.  The Old Vicarage is believed to have been built circa 1843 and features predominantly Victorian architecture with mellow brick elevations under imposing pitched tiled roofs. Cotswold stone mullioned windows are featured throughout the property and provide an attractive contrast. There is an impressive bay window and a series of full height windows at ground floor level. The house has a wealth of period features including working shutters; window seats and Gothic arch stonework.  The ground floor has three impressive reception rooms, a superb recently extended kitchen breakfast and family room providing sumptuous informal accommodation with bi-fold windows giving access to the entertainment terrace and garden. The current owners have also added a useful utility wing.  The first floor provides five bedrooms, two of which have en suite facilities and there are two further bathrooms. The second floor has a further bedroom, shower room and a good space for storage.  

The property is accessed via a long private driveway with the detached former coach house set at the head with the Old Vicarage adjacent. The coach house is an exciting renovation project and has the ability for good detached ancillary conversion subject to planning consent.  The property is surrounded by delightful mature formal gardens with an outstanding croquet lawn to the south west side of the house and an expansive orchard area”.