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Over Court, Gloucestershire :


OVER COURT is situated in the vale of Berkeley and parish of Almondsbury, in the lower division of Berkeley Hundred, about eight miles north from Bristol, and twenty-four south-west from Gloucester. The Mansion is of brick, and of the Elizabethean character, but the Stables seen on the right of our View have been recently rebuilt. This residence is situated in the midst of

at and well-wooded Park, in which the traces of a large round Camp, of Danish or Roman construction, are visible: the estate is large, and greatly diversified.

The view from the summit of Almondsbury Hill of the river Severn, studded with sails, and winding through a most beautiful country, with the distant mountains of Wales rising beyond it, together with the varied and delightful scenery on both sides the water, has been often admired and praised. It certainly constitutes one of the most interesting prospects any where to be found.

The Manor and Estate of Over, in the reign of Edward I., and previously, belonged to the family of Gourney, until Elizabeth, the only daughter, and sole heiress of John Gourney, who died in the year 1290, married John ap Adam; when her son, Thomas ap Adam, sold the property to Thomas, Lord Berkeley, and Margaret his wife, daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, in 1330. The Lord Berkeley, at the same time, purchased the Manor of Beverstone, and afterwards rebuilt the Castle there, out of the ransoms of the many prisoners he took at the battle of Poictiers, where the English obtained immortal honour, and at which he was one of the chief commanders. After the death of his first wife, in 1337, he married, secondly, Catharine, the daughter of Sir John Clivedon, of Charfield, in this county, and widow of Sir Peter Veel, of Tortworth, and by her had several children, the survivor of whom, Sir John Berkeley, Knt., held Beverstone, Tockington, Over; Compton-Greenfield, and King's Weston, his mother's jointure, and was ancestor of Sir Maurice Berkeley, of Beverstone, who possessed this estate in 1474. His son, Sir William Berkeley, Knt., was attainted for treason in 1484, the second year of the reign of Richard III., when the Manor of Over was granted to Thomas Brian, Esq., who sold it to John Pointz, Esq., in whose family it did not remain long; for Alice, the daughter and heiress of Robert Pointz, Esq., the son of the above John, married Sir Edward Berkeley, Knt., when the estate reverted to the family of Berkeley. John Berkeley, Esq., sold the Manor, in 1608, to John Dowel, Esq., who was sheriff of this county in 1624; his descendant, John Dowel, Esq., of Over Court, was also sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1673.

Almondsbury Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary: in a chapel or aisle on the south side, are several monuments of the hereditary lords of this Manor, and of the former proprietors of the Mansion.

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Oddington House, Gloucestershire ;



Tais Mansion is two miles and a half from Stow in the Wold. It is well situated, and the grounds, which are varied by gentle undulations, and pleasantly wooded, were greatly improved by the late Sir John Reade. The east front of the House faces a fine piece of water, supplied from springs within the grounds, and from a rivulet, which, descending from the hills, runs through the village; the whole afterwards discharges itself into the little river Evenlode, which separates this county from Oxfordshire. The Mansion, rebuilt by the present Baronet, is irregular in its plan, but is entered by a handsome Doric portico.

In February, 1787, an Act of Parliament having been obtained for enclosing the parish, a small barrow upon the estate was levelled : when cut perpendicularly, it had the appearance of a stone quarry, with which the country abounds, being formed of layers of large flat stones, thinly interspersed with earth. At a small depth from the surface, and about the level of the field, were found many human bones, together with several remains of the habiliments of war and personal ornaments.-Vide Gent. Mag. 1787, where is an engraving of the curiosities found.

This estate was originally purchased by Sir John Reade, the father of the present Baronet, of Loraine Smith, Esq., merely as an occasional residence, it being within an hour's ride of his principal seat at Shipton Court, in Oxfordshire ; but, upon his premature death, it was settled upon Lady Reade, whose partiality to the situation has induced the present Baronet to increase the property by the addition of two other estates, one purchased of — Pigott, Esq., of Bath, is the Manor, which, from the Conquest until the Reformation, belonged to the Archbishop of York, to whom it was given by William the Conqueror. In the sixth year of the reign of Edward VI., 1552, it was granted to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, of the family of the Chamberlaynes, of Maugersbury, and who were formerly of Preston. The other adjoins Oddington on the south, but is within the parish of Bledington; the whole is now extensive.

The Church of Oddington is large, with a handsome tower on the south side; it stands at some distance from the House. The parish, eight miles in circumference, is in Slaughter Hundred, on the borders of Oxfordshire, about four miles from Chipping Norton. Of the ancient family, now possessors of this Manor and Estate, who were originally of Morpeth in Northumberland, was John Reade, Esq., Sergeant at Law in 1402, and Sir Robert Reade, Knight, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, in 1507; their lineal descendant was William Reade, Esq., of Barton Court, near Abingdon, in Berkshire, an ancient seat, demolished in the Civil Wars; part of the walls however still remain. Thomas Reade, Esq., his son, living in 1575, married Anne, daughter of Thomas Hoo, of the Hoo, in Hertfordshire, whose son, Sir Thomas Reade, left issue, by Mary, the daughter and coheiress of Sir John Brocket, of Brocket Hall, Thomas, his eldest son and heir, who married Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Cornwall, Baron of Burford, in Shropshire, and died in 1637, leaving Compton Reade, Esq., advanced to the dignity of a Baronet by King Charles II., March 4, 1660, who resided at Shipton Court in Oxfordshire, which he had purchased of Rowland Lacy, Esq., November 17, 1663. Sir Compton Reade married Mary, the daughter of Sir Gilbert Cornwall, Baron of Burford, by whom he had Sir Edward Reade, the second Baronet, only surviving son and successor, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Harvey, Esq., of Adston, in Northamptonshire, by whom he had four sons: Sir Thomas Reade, the eldest surviving son, succeeded as third Baronet; he was one of the Clerks of the Household to his Majesty George II., and was Member in five Parliaments for Cricklade in Wiltshire: he married Mary, daughter of Sir Ralph Dutton, Bart. of Sherbourne in Gloucestershire. On his death in 1752, he was succeeded by Sir John Reade, the fourth Baronet, who married Harriet, the daughter and sole heiress of William Barker, Esq., of Sunning in Berkshire, by whom he had two sons, John and Thomas : he died in 1773, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John Reade, the fifth Baronet, who married Jane, the daughter of Sir Hungerford Hoskyns, Bart.: he died November 18, 1789, æt. 28, when Sir John Chandos Reade, the present Baronet, succeeded to the title, and to the estates of Oddington and Shipton Court. Arms, Gules, a saltier between four garbs, or. Crest, on the stump of a tree, a falcon rising, proper, belled and jessed, or.

Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire ;



This ancient Baronial Residence is supposed, from its structure, to be of Norman origin. It was granted by King Henry II. to Robert Fitzhardinge, with power to enlarge and strengthen it, about the year 1150. The ground-plan of the Castle is very compact, consisting of an irregular court, surrounded on the south and east sides by an extensive range of building. The walls are high and massive, with towers and buttresses at unequal distances, and an arched entrance apparently of Norman construction. The Donjon Keep is built on a mount, and rises above the rest of the building ; it is flanked by three semicircular towers, and a square one of later date, all embattled ; on the top of the Keep is a walk fifty-eight feet long for the Warder, which office in this Castle was anciently maintained by the family of Thorpe, who for that service held their lands of the Lords of Berkeley.

The Chapel, the oldest private chapel known, the Great Hall, the Kitchen of curious workmanship, the Great Dining Chamber, &c. have remained upwards of six hundred and seventy years in use for the purposes for which they were originally constructed.

King Edward II. was here most barbarously murdered, after his resignation of the crown, which has made this Castle remarkable in history; the very place where the cruel deed was perpetrated is still shewn. It is a detached dismal chamber, now called the Dungeon Room, situated over the steps leading to the Keep; a plaster cast is also exhibited, said to have been moulded from the king's face after death, which is more probably a cast subsequently taken from the figure on his tomb in Gloucester Cathedral. For this murder, Adam, Bishop of Hereford, is rendered infamous in history, from the ambiguous instructions given by him to the King's keepers, “Edvardum occidere nolite timere bonum est ;' without the points, so that by the double sense and construction of the words, they might be encouraged to commit the murder, and the Bishop plausibly vindicate himself to the people from giving any directions in it. Thomas, Lord Berkeley, then owner of the Castle, was thought to treat the King too courteously, and had been therefore commanded to deliver his Castle and royal prisoner to John Lord Maltravers and Thomas Gourney, which he accordingly did, and retired to his Manor House of Bradley; he was therefore acquitted of any connivance in the murder, but was allowed 100 shillings a day for the King's maintenance, whilst he was a prisoner.-In 1645 this Castle surrendered to the Parliamentary forces, after a defence of nine days.

In the numerous apartments, besides an extensive series of family portraits, are the following : Queen of Bohemia, by C. Jansen; James I. and his Queen Anne of Denmark, Queen Mary I., Queen Elizabeth, the Princess Anne afterwards Queen Anne, by Sir Peter Lely in his best style, a curious portrait of Henry Prince of Wales, a fine portrait of James Duke of York in armour, another of him when King James II., of Charles II., and of King William and Queen Mary; several ancient miniatures of the Berkeley family, of Queen Elizabeth, of Mary Queen of Scots playing on a guitar, of Oliver Cromwell, of Cardinal Ragbine, Thomas Hobbess, &c.

The family of Berkeley is one of the most ancient noble houses in England, tracing its origin to Hardinge, son of Sueno, King of Denmark. He came into England with William the Conqueror and settled in Bristol, when he obtained large possessions from that monarch; his eldest son, Robert Fitzhardinge, founded the monastery of St. Augustine in Bristol, and obtained from Henry II. the Castle and Honor of Berkeley ; Maurice, the eldest son of Robert Fitzhardinge, contracted a marriage with Alice, the daughter of Roger de Berkeley, Lord of Dursley, who was also of royal descent; according to the custom of the times, this Lord assumed the name of de Berkeley from his Castle. From him it has passed through twenty-four generations to the present owner, and may be mentioned as almost the only instance of a family in the male line still possessing their ancient baronial residence.

William Berkeley was created Masquess Berkeley by King Henry VII., but dying without issue, that title, as well as the Earldom of Nottingham, became extinct, and the Castle and Honor of Berkeley appear to have been vested by his will in Henry VII.: but it afterwards came into the possession of the original heirs, on the demise of King Edward VI.

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