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History Of Wick Court

Thanks again to David Wicks for this excellent description and history. David also supplied the pictures.

The village of Arlingham lies about eight miles to the south west of Gloucester, in the horseshoe of the Severn estuary. It is a lovely sleepy area - very narrow lanes, the river and the Sharpness to Gloucester Canal all evoking a bygone age. The local Ordnance Survey map shows a moated manor house which is referred to in several old documents about Wykeses.

The house, Wick Court (Wyke Court or The Wyck in old records) is in a quiet narrow lane, secluded and very rural. It is a very fine 17th century gabled farmhouse with a very distinctive brick barn and outbuildings and a moat.

Wick Court
Wick Court. (Wyke Court or 'The Wyck' in early documents.)

The court is on a site which has evidence of habitation for at least 800 years. The earliest excavated building was a square stone tower base, possibly a watch-tower, with a small timbered hall-house having a separate kitchen building possibly dating to the 12th. century. Pottery supporting that date was found in excavation outside the kitchen door. The large moat may date from the earliest house or perhaps the 13th century. It had a gatehouse and perhaps a drawbridge at one stage.

A more substantial stone-built hall was erected in the 13th. century, with an area of 26m x 7.2m divided into eight 'bays', a hall, solar and parlour, and 'service area'. Some of the original wooden interior screens still exist.

Wick Court
The rear of the house

There were changes in the 15th and 16th centuries with wings added, floors changed and walls torn down.

A rebuilding took place in the 17th. century, a new front increasing the size of the building considerably. The new front was in a new fashion with five gables and a two-storey porch. Inside new fire-places were built with elaborate strapwork plaster decoration . The top floor had a walk along the length of the house with views out to the river Severn.

There are records in the Berkeley castle muniments room of the land deeds of the Berkeley family, who were granted the lands at Arlingham and much of the Vale of Berkeley in 1145, by Henry II , an old friend of Robert Fitzharding, the first Lord Berkeley. The original 'de Berkeley' family were deposed and moved to Dursley. There was a union of the two families and the Dursley Berkeley line ended in an heiress who married Thomas Wykes in the 15th.century from whom descended the Wykes of Dursley and Dodington, Gloucestershire and Chew Magna, and Compton Martin, Somerset, and Newport, Essex. From this line Leonard Weeks of Greenland, New Hampshire was descended . The early Berkeley deeds mention Hugh de Wike, in 1190 , and his son Peter de Wika or de Wike in 1220. in 1243 he was granted a lease of land in Berkeley and possibly gave up the land at Wick, he continued to be called 'de Wyke' as did his descendants. It is possible that the Wyke family of Thomas Wyke are his descendants. Work on this story is continuing.

The house has been very sensitively restored using traditional materials and techniques. It is full of character and there are two wonderful oak trees in the grounds which are thought to be at least five hundred years old.

It has some wonderful original features, and some research has been and is being done into the archaeology of the site. The local story is that it was named after a Viking camp. (That sounds familiar!). Local historians are however dismissive of this.

There was an early medieval fishing lodge there, salmon and lampreys were especially favoured, and several of the De Wyke family feature large in the history of the estate.

The house is currently occupied by the charity Farms For City Children which introduces children under 11 years to a week in the country with all the real sights and smells and the chance to work with real animals.

The whole place is alive with chickens and ducks, Gloucester Old Spot pigs and Gloucester cattle, just like something out of a turn of the century children's illustration of a farm!

Wick Court
The front of the house

There is an open access policy in place for the surrounding fields, the National trust and English heritage have been involved and Prince Charles is interested in supporting the organic farming which is going on there, as well as the rare breeds represented by the Gloster Old Spot pigs and Gloucester cattle . The farm is the only one able to make authentic 'Single Gloucester' cheese as the herd is a survival of the last of only two original herds. Cheese cannot be classed as 'Single Gloucester' unless produced in the Vale of Gloucester from Gloucester cattle. They also have some rare apple species in the two cider orchards.

The farm takes primary school groups of 34-36 children and 4-5 teachers for a week . They have other farms at Lower Tregennis in Pembrokeshire, and Nethercott, Devon.

Ted Hughes, the late Poet Laureate was a patron and wrote a poem for Wick Court which is on a colourful ceramic panel in the house.

More information about Farms For City Children can be obtained from:-

Clare Morpurgo
Nethercott House
EX19 8BG

Tel 01837 810573

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