A Brief History of Filnore Woods.

Acknowledgements to:  W. A. Caffall & P. Franklin.

References to Thornbury go back as far as 896. The Manor included Oldbury, Kington, Falfield and Buckover. It was within the Great Forest of Kingswood which stretched from the Bristol Avon to the Little Avon and from the Severn to the Cotswold edge. Much of it had been cultivated by the Norman Conquest. At this time Thornbury belonged to an Anglo-Saxon thane called Britric. Legend has it that he unwisely turned down a proposal of marriage from Matilda who later married William the Conqueror. Certainly after the Conquest the Manor was given by the King to Queen Matilda. Subsequently the Manor passed to the Clare family, Earls of Gloucester and later through marriage to the Stafford family until the 3rd Duke of Buckingham lost his head in 1521. It was reckoned to be a rich and thriving Manor. Marlwood and Eastwood deer parks were created in the late 13th. Century. On the death of the Earl of the time, an inquest in 1296 lists ... two parks and one foreign (i.e separate)wood ... Similarly in 1307 the estate of Joan, widow of Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, included two parks and a wood. The first mention by name of Filnore Wood was in 1322 when it was said to be of 40. acres. It is not possible to relate this to present day acres but in 1554 it was reckoned to be 100.acres. Even in 1322 there was a significant income from pasturing animals so some of the woodland may have become fields. Using Hooper`s Rule, hedges round the present site appear to be variously 500 - 800 years old so they may surround fields cut out of the woodland. In 1389 local officials stated there is no highway in the Lord`s wood Fulnouer except at the Lord`s will. After the Duke of Buckingham`s death, the Manor reverted to the Crown until 1554 when it was restored to the Stafford family. It seems likely that some of the estate was broken up in this period for the Stafford`s never lived there. The early Ordance Survey maps (1809 - 1840) show the whole site belonging to Filner Farm and this is confirmed by a subsequent Tithe Award. The Paddock and the Tree Nursery field were later sold. After the last War none of the fields belonged to Vilner Farm. The Pylon field and the Cowshed field were farmed from Thornbury Farm on the Bristol Road next to Vilner Lane. In 1983 Northavon brought all the fields. One became a Tree-Nursery, and the grass keep on the Pylon field and Cowshed fields was let to an adjacent farmer although the Cowshed field was rarely used. When the Forest of Avon was proposed it was realized that these fields lay within the boundary. Jerry Dicker and i (Allan Burberry) persuaded Thornbury Town Council to lobby South Gloucestershire Council for permission to turn them into the Community Woodland with the result you now know. In a sense we are turning the clock back some 400.years.






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