St Mary Magdalene, Elmstone Hardwicke
The centrepiece of the village is its church, St Mary Magdalene. The church has a remarkable 9th-century carved stone head which is ornamented like the font at Deerhurst.
Elmstone Hardwicke shares a village hall with Uckington.
The first mention of Elmstone is in a charter dated 889, the name apparently derived from the Old English Almundingatun ('Almund's people's estate / village'). Hardwicke is noted as a manor in the Domesday Book of 1086, and the two parishes were first noted together in 1378.
Elmstone-Hardwicke is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Almundeston. The manor was noted as land of the Abbey of St Peter (Westminster Abbey) with several landownrers holding from the Abbey of whom just one, Alfrith, was a landowner before the Norman Conquest, the others having been dispossessed.
The National Gazetteer of 1868 reported:
ELMSTONE-HARDWICKE, a parish partly in the hundred of Westminster, and partly in the lower division of the hundred of Deerhurst, county Gloucester, 5 miles S. of Tewkesbury. Cheltenham is its post town and railway station, from which it is distant about 4 miles to the N.W. The parish, which is situated on the high road to Worcester, contains the hamlets of Uckington and Hardwicke. The tithes have been commuted in two separate portions for each of these hamlets. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £233, in the patronage of the lord chancellor. The church is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. It has a battlemented tower, and the exterior of the edifice is adorned with some curious figures in bas-relief. There are some small charities. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster are the lords of the manor. Springs similar to those at Cheltenham are met with in this parish.
The Inclosures Acts of the 19th century proposed the inclosure of Elmstone-Hardwicke in 1899. However, many fields remained unfenced until 1918, which villagers believe make it the last village in England to be inclosed. Following the Inclosure, many poor farmers lost their common grazing rights, so in Elmstone-Hardwicke, a ten-acre plot was set aside as a recreation ground for grazing of their animals, and a further ten acres for allotments.
These fields still exist, and although no current residents graze or cultivate the land as individuals, and instead the Parish Council leases the land to a local farmer, and the money is reinvested into the community.
The land in Elmstone-Hardwicke has been mainly used for arable farming over the years, and has had some interesting crops grown there including tobacco in the 17th Century.
More recently, from the early 20th century, teasel growing was established in the village, it continued until the 1960s, and is well remembered by some of the older inhabitants. The teasels were used in the textile industry to raise the nap on the cloth, but were superseded by nylon brushes.
Interesting place-names about the village
There are other interesting names in the locality:
Low-di-low Lane is a No Through Road, which runs through the heart of the Village and marks the boundary between the parishes of Uckington and Elmstone-Hardwicke.
Dog Bark Lane is a Restricted Byway which connects Elmstone-Hardwicke and its neighbour Swindon Village, and is regularly used by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. It is believed to be named after the call of the male foxes who live along the route.
Murder Meadow (or Murder Ground) belongs to one of the small-holdings in Elmstone-Hardwicke, but is in fact just over the boundary in Stoke Orchard. Although the name appears on the deeds from the early 19th century, no evidence has been found to substantiate the origins of the name: local folklore fills in grisly ideas where fact supplies none.
- Information on Elmstone Hardwicke from GENUKI
- Elmstone Hardwicke Parish Church - includes a number of photos.