Abenhall, Gloucestershire Family History Guide

Abenhall is an Ancient Parish in the county of Gloucestershire.

Alternative Names: Abbenhall, Abinghall

Parish Church: St. Michael

Parish registers begin: 1597

Abenhall parish includes: Gunn’s Mills

Parishes adjacent to Abenhall

Historical Overview


Engraving of Abbenhall church circa 1786

The ancient parish of Abenhall, formerly also called Abinghall, which lay 12 m. west of Gloucester, was flanked on the south-west by the extraparochial Forest of Dean and included part of the market town of Mitcheldean. Almost rectangular in shape, the parish covered only 770 acres (311.6 ha.) and was divided from Mitcheldean parish to the north-west mostly by the old course of the Gloucester-Monmouth road, following in 1620 the bed of a stream which ran only in the winter months; the road was lined in places with houses belonging to Mitcheldean town. The parish included a small peninsula of land containing the southern part of a high tract of land called the Wilderness west of the Monmouth road and three small detached pieces to the south-east within a peninsula of the Forest reaching to Shapridge. The detached pieces, containing 7 a., were tranferred to East Dean civil parish in 1885 and were in that part of East Dean acquired by Littledean in 1953. The main part of Abenhall was united with Mitcheldean parish in 1935.

Abbenhall derived its name from having been the residence of the abbots of Flaxley.

Local Government

By the mid 1460s a court met twice a year. It dealt with cases of assault, bloodshed, and illicit gaming and enforced the assize of ale. In 1482 it also heard pleas of debt and trespass. A court book survives for 1620-1, a court roll for 1642, and records of presentments and other court papers for 1581-1607, 1622-40, 1653, 1687, and 1691. During those years the court also dealt with tenurial and other estate matters including management of woodland, and with affrays, the assize of bread, and the maintenance of highways and watercourses. Much of its business related to Mitcheldean town appointing two clerks for the town’s market together with two constables, two aletasters. and two bread weighers.


The church, dedicated to St. Michael, has previously been dedicated to St. James in 1444 and St. Augustine in 1452 and 1580.

The church is built of sandstone rubble and comprises chancel, with north organ chamber, have with south aisle and porch, and a south-west tower. The nave and chancel are of the later 13th century and the aisle and tower were added in the early 14th century. In the 15th century a new west window was put into the tower and the upper part of the tower was remodelled or rebuilt. Round-headed south doorway and rear arch, similar to plain 12th century work, but probably of 1749 when the aisle was rebuilt with its roof to a lower pitch.

The church was restored to designs by A. W. Maberly in 1874 financed by a fund inaugurated by J. W. Gregg who was rector and patron. During the restoration the ceiling and a west gallery were removed from the nave and a vestry built. The organ chamber was created around 1885 by extending the vestry westwards.

The font dates from the 15th century, is of local workmanship, with octagonal bowl of six richly carved faces displaying family coats of arms and two the implements of miners and smiths.

There was a church recorded at Abenhall from 1291. The benefice was a rectory. Abenhall was united with Mitcheldean rectory in 1946.

In 1912 Shapridge and parts of Edge Hills and Plump Hill were transferred from Holy Trinity parish to Abenhall for ecclesiastical purposes.

The rector owned all the tithes of the parish. They were commuted from 1839 for a corn rent charge of £140.

In 1334 the rector, John Honsom, was imprisoned at St. Briavels for poaching in the Forest of Dean. William Budge, rector from 1529, was said, in 1548, to have been non-resident for three years.

Many of the rectors employed curates at Abenhall.

The surviving registers, which begin in 1596, include many entries for Mitcheldean during the incumbency of Richard Hall (1685-l723).

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Poor relief was administered in the late 18th century and the early 19th by one overseer. In the 1820s two overseers were appointed. In the early 1760s 5 people received regular payments jumping to 10 by the mid 1790s and by 1803 19 people were given regular help.

From 1786 the parish subscribed to the Gloucester Infirmary and between 1825 and 1827 the vestry retained a surgeon. The poor were farmed by the governor of Littledean workhouse, to which most of them were admitted.

The annual cost of relief in 1776 was £65 rising to £140 in 1803 and £278 in 1815. By 1825 it had fallen to £166 and remained at that level apart from 1832 and 1833 when the parish helped a woman and her children to emigrate to America and apprenticed a boy to a Mitcheldean nailer.

Abenhall was included in the Westbury-on-Severn poor-law union. In 1884 a detached part of Abinghall was amalgamated with East Dean. In 1895 it was included in the East Dean and United Parishes rural district, and as part of Mitcheldean civil parish, in the Forest of Dean district in 1974.


Date Population
1801 185 inhabitants and 38 houses.
1811 201
1831 235 inhabitants and 43 houses.
1841 239
1851 230
1861 228 inhabitants and 48 houses.
1871 307


A sunday school, supported by voluntary contributions was established in 1885.

In 1846 the parish had two dame schools.

In 1850 a school was built west of the church near the Littledean and Mitcheldean road. It Later became known as Abenhall C. of E. school.


  • 1875 30
  • 1885 50
  • 1902 23

In 1903 it was closed by the county education committee and the children were transferred to schools at Mitcheldean and Plump Hill.

In 1930 a senior school was opened for Mitcheldean and adjoining parishes in the north of Abenhall. The school later became a secondary modern school under the 1944 Education Act and in 1985 became a comprehensive school called Dene Magna School.

Historical Descriptions

Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales Circa 1870

Abinghall, or Abbenhall, a parish in Westbury-on-Severn district, Gloucester; in Dean forest, 1 ¾ mile SSW of Longhope r. station, and 5 N of Newnham. Post-town, Longhope under Newnham. Acres, 751. Real property, £1,718. Pop., 228. Houses, 48. The property is not much divided. There is a mineral spring. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol. Value, £142. Patron, J. F. Sevier, Esq. The church is an old Norman edifice, in good condition, and contains some ancient tombs.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72]

Lewis Topographical Dictionary of England 1845

Abinghall (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Westbury, hundred of St. Briavells, W. division of the county of Gloucester, 4 miles (N. by W.) from Newnham; containing 239 inhabitants. This place, formerly called Abbenhall, derived its name from having been the residence of the abbots of Flaxley. It contains 691 acres, of which 306 are arable, 238 pasture, and 121 woodland; the surface is hilly, and the soil in general sandy, but towards the east it is rich and fertile, and the scenery rurally picturesque. There are mines of coal and iron ore, and stone is quarried; and facilities of conveyance are afforded by tram-roads and the Severn. The manufacture of paper is carried on to a considerable extent at Gun’s mills, formerly an iron furnace; the machinery is worked by a stream issuing from St. Anthony’s well, the water of which is reputed to be efficacious in cutaneous diseases. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king’s books at £6 6. 8., and in the gift of the Dean of Llandaff: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £136 17., and there are 26 acres of glebe. The church is an old edifice, in the early English style.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis Fifth Edition Published London; by S. Lewis and Co., 13, Finsbury Place, South. M. DCCC. XLV.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1840

Abinghall, a parish in the hund. of St. Briavell, union of Westbury, Gloucestershire; 5 miles north-north-west of Newnham; and 3½ miles south of the post-road from Gloucester to Ross. Living, a discharged rectory, formerly in the archd. of Hereford, now in the archd. of Gloucester and dio. of Gloucester and Bristol; rated at £6 6s. 8d., and in the parliamentary returns at £118 5s. 9d. per annum; gross income £142. Patron, in 1835, the Rev. J. Probyn, archdeacon of Llandaff. Pop., in 1801, 185; in 1831, 235. Houses 43. Acres 860. A. P. £1,132. Poor rates, in 1837, £117.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1840.

Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland 1833

Abinghall, co. Gloucester.

Lond. 116 m. P.T. Newnham (120) 3¾m. NW. Pop. 215.

A parish in the hundred of St. Briavell; living, a dis. rectory in the archdeaconry of Hereford, in the diocese of Gloucester, valued in K. B. 6l. 6s. 8d.; ann. val. by P. R. 118l. 5s. 9d.; patron (1829) J. Howel, Esq.; church ded. to St. Michael.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland by John Gorton. The Irish and Welsh articles by G. N. Wright; Vol. I; London; Chapman and Hall, 186, Strand; 1833.

A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom 1808

Abbenhall, a parish in the hundred of St. Briavell’s, Gloucester, 3 miles from Newnham, 12 from the city of Gloucester, and 116 from London; containing 38 houses and 185 inhabitants; is a rectory, value 6l. 1s. 8d. Here is a spring of rock water, said to be efficacious in the cure of cutaneous eruptions.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom. Benjamin Pitts Capper. 1808.

Parish Records

Birth, Marriage, & Death

England and Wales Census Records


FreeREG – free

Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813 (Ancestry)

Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Records (Ancestry)

The Joiner Marriage Index

England, Boyd’s Marriage Indexes, 1538-1850 (FindMyPast) – free

National Burial Index (FindMyPast) – free


Abbenhall Kellys Gloucestershire Directory 1863

Abbenhall Kellys Gloucestershire Directory 1856

London Gazette

Jaspar Fowler – Newland, Westbury-upon-Severn & Abinghall Gloucestershire – London Gazette 1850

In the Matter of the Petition of Jaspar Fowler, at present and for six months and upwards last past, residing at Little Dean-hill, in the hamlet of the Lea Bailey, in the parish of Newland, in the county of Gloucester, Licensed victualler and Innkeeper, previously of Westbury-upon Severn, in the county of Gloucester, Master of the Union Workhouse, and previously of Abinghall, in the county of Gloucester, Police Serjeant in the Gloucestershire Constabulary Force. NOTICE is hereby given, that John Maurice Herbert, Esq. Judge of the County Court of Herefordshire, at Ross, acting in the matter of this Petition, will proceed to make a Final Order thereon, at the said Court, on the 18th day of May next, at ten of the clock in the forenoon precisely, unless cause be then and there shewn to the contrary.


  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Civil Registration District: Westbury on Severn
  • Probate Court: Pre-1541 – Court of the Bishop of Hereford, Post-1541 – Court of the Bishop of
  • Gloucester (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Post 1835 – Gloucester and Bristol, Pre 1836 – Gloucester
  • Rural Deanery: Forest
  • Poor Law Union: Westbury on Severn
  • Hundred: St Briavels
  • Province: Canterbury