The History

The wood in time and place

Within the parish of Stoke Gifford, there were originally three manors. Manors predate parishes and often reach back to the days of the first English-speaking settlers. This is why there are sometimes several manors in a parish or why manors can overlap parish boundaries.

Splatts Abbey Wood lay in the manor of WALLS at the southern edge of the parish. It shared its borders with Filton. Within this manor, lay Wallscourt Farm, Stanley Farm, Barnwood Farm and Coldharbour Farm. A large ancient wood known as WALLSHUT WOOD lay close to Splatts Abbey Wood.

Let us now look at the manor of Walls using old maps, documents and field names. Field names are of particular interest. They are often very, very old, hinting at stories that have been long since forgotten.

WALLS- implies a place protected by a bank made of earth or stone. The original Wallscourt Farm was probably the manor house.

WALLSHUT WOOD- ‘Shut’ may derive from ‘sciete’ which implies a corner of land. Wallshut Wood lay on the corner of the manor and extended into Filton.

STANLEY FARM- from ‘Stony clearing’. ‘Leah’ implies an enclosed clearing in woodland. Certainly, the area seems to have been well wooded for many centuries. Other place names may suggest why. A field called SOURMEAD implies poor, waterlogged soil. Many tenants referred to Wallscourt as ‘Starve-all Farm’ because its soil was so infertile. FILTON may derive from ‘Hayfield’, the land being too difficult to plough so more suitable for pastoral use. A glance at the map will show that the Walls area is riddled with small streams following indirect routes to the Frome. They would have made the land very marshy and difficult to work. So it may have been more economic to have kept much of the area as woodland as this could be a profitable, low maintenance way of exploiting the land.

Because Walls was at the corner of the parish, boundaries often seem quite muddled. In the Domesday records, we see that two small parcels of land surrounding the original Stanley Farm site seem to belong to a different area - perhaps Frenchay. In the 18th century, Stanley Farm is described as belonging to Winterbourne. The border between Stoke Gifford and Filton was described as meeting in the fields belonging to Stanley Farm, and several of the fields associated with this farm were glebelands, used as a source of income by the priest at Filton. Wallshut Wood also, of course, fell partly in Filton as may have other lands connected with Wallscourt Farm. And, as we shall now see, this was not the only example of unexpected ownership in this manor.

History : Why 'Splatts Abbey' Wood? →