Our other house and its mill in the Slad Valley

I plan to write about all the Slad Valley mills, the censuses for the road, weavers' poverty and the local Poor Rate, and the man who built and occupied the elegant Georgian house we lived in when we first moved to Stroud in 1980.

For now, here is what I know about the house we bought, with friends, when we moved to Stroud.

Who built Woodlands?

In 1980, the Hearfields and another family, long-time friends, sold their separate houses in London and moved to Stroud to share the large house in the Slad Road, then known as Woodlands, on the outskirts of Stroud.

An 1820 parish map shows that N DRIVER was the owner of plot #416, where Lower Woodlands was later labelled and, although plot 416a was labelled 'arable' on the 1820 map, a second house had been added (the ink is a different colour) to the 1820 map, and that house was Upper Woodlands.

This suggests that Nathan DRIVER Senior, at Steanbridge in 1784, moved wife and family down to Peghouse where Nathan Jnr had bought Peghouse Mill from William HODGES in 1814. Nathan Snr was shown in Piggott's 1830 directory as being a woollen manufacturer at Hazel Mills, which is just up the road. Nathan Jnr might well be the Nathan DRIVER who married Eliza INNELL in Bisley in 1812 - I will need to see the actual parish register to be certain. So he would need a house too.

It also suggests that Nathan Snr, living in Peghouse House (Lower Woodlands) might have built the house now known as Slad Valley House (as at Jan 2009) but known to us as Woodlands, and to the map makers as Upper Woodlands.

Woodlands area map

The 1885 large-scale OS map (on fiche in Stroud library) name the two houses as Lower and Upper Woodlands, which also suggests a common owner at one time. The lodge cottage of Upper Woodlands is at the bottom of the carriage drive. I have re-labelled the Rope Walk because the map image is not very clear and because it crops up again in this story.

I don't know when Nathan Snr died. A rate assessment of 1822 for Peghouse names Nathan Jnr, so it must have been after that. In 1846 Hannah, relict of Nathan, died in Slad and the person who entered that death date on the IGI also said Nathan Snr died/was buried 30 November 1824. Which left Nathan Jnr clear to go bankrupt in 1828. There had been an attempted bankruptcy in 1821 for Nathan Driver, clothier, of Steanbridge, but this was superseded later the same year.

Until we know where Nathan Jnr was living in 1821 there is no confirmation of which one it was. His name does appear in the 1821 census of Stroud held in the Gloucester Archives but unfortunately that census did not give any addresses. It surprisingly describes him as a farmer, with a household of 4 males and 5 females. The next household belonged to Jno NEEMS, also a farmer, but the other neighbours were described as cloth workers . Five houses away was gentleman Richard SANDYS, who later lived at Bowbridge House on the outskirts of my subsequent research project. I shall follow these clues up sometime.

After his bankruptcy there is no trace of Nathan and Eliza(beth) in the 1841 census. They may be the couple living in Eastington in 1851 and 61 where that Nathan was a surveyor of canals. There are other fragmentary mentions of him too, but I have not yet written up those research notes.

Piggott's 1830 directory lists Mrs KELSON of Woodlands, together with Peter LEVEASAGE Esq also of Woodlands. They could be the occupants of the two houses and local historian Ian Mackintosh has an 1826 (Conygre) note of P LEVERSEDGE "of the Woodlands". So maybe LEVERSEDGE rented/bought the house occupied by Nathan Snr when he died in 1824. Hannah must have moved back to Slad village at some point because she died there. Mrs KELSON later took on the other house.

Maybe Peter LEVERSEDGE saw the following advert:

Stroud Journal 2 Jan 1826 (from Ian Mackintosh's archives)

To LET a new house fit for a genteel family, situated within thirty yards of the Turnpike road Stroud to Birdlip; entrance hall, with dining room and drawing room 16' x 16' each. Eight bedrooms, with dressing rooms, water closet, two kitchens, excellent underground cellar, coach house and stables and saddle rooms &c &c. Within three miles of Stroud, commands a beautiful prospect and lie [sic] perfectly dry. Apply Mr Nathan Driver, Peghouse. "[this is an exact description of 203 Slad Road]

The following photographs are taken from the estate agent details produced when we sold Woodlands in 1988, and show the house itself, and the coachhouse that was such an exciting (and forbidden) place for the children in wet weather.

Woodlands front Woodlands side view

Here is the site plan, which clearly still shows the lodge cottage and the remains of the tree circle shown on Ian Mackintosh's 1820 map. The Rope Walk on that map now goes through the living room of the house our daughter and her husband bought years later, when she returned to Stroud, although those houses were not built when we move across town to the house that started off a whole new research project!

site plan

And this is as far as I have got with my Slad Road story. More will follow.

Copyright © Marion Hearfield 2012