A Brief History of Quenington
The Knight Hospitallers
Quenington was a thriving community in 1066; the Domesday Book records that there were three Manors in the parish at that time. These later passed as one estate to the de Lacy family, who in the mid twelfth century gave it to the Knights Hospitallers who established a community called a preceptory at Quenington in 1193. The Knights Hospitallers were the military order of the hospital of St John at Jerusalem, devoted to giving protection and hospitality to pilgrims to the Holy Land.
The preceptory at Quenington would probably have been mainly concerned with the administration of the estate to provide revenue for the Order and possibly recruitment for service abroad. It was a small establishment consisting of a Commander, two other knights and secular servants.
Nothing remains above ground of the original preceptory building but the Knights Hospitallers remained at Quenington for nearly 450 years and several buildings – the gatehouse, medieval barns and possibly the dovecote at Court Farm date from this period.
The preceptory was closed at the Dissolution in 1540, opened briefly during Mary’s reign and then passed into private hands. For some time afterwards, the village seems to have gone into decline with only 10 households in 1563.
Over the next 100 years, the estate now called Quenington Manor, passed down through several hands until it was purchased by William Powle of Coln St Aldwyns, who left it to his nephew Henry Powle, owner of the Williamstrip estate in 1657.
Under the Enclosure Act of 1754, the Lord of the Manor received 360 acres; there were 5 others who received significant amounts and 10 landowners who shared 74 acres between them. There were about 200 residents at the time. Farms and land changed hands several times but by 1900, Williamstrip owned about half the acreage of the parish.
Although ownership and farming methods changed over the centuries, there is a basic continuity in the produce of the land. Sheep farming varied in importance; grass leys as part of the general rotation of crops provided grazing for the fluctuating sheep population. There were few areas of permanent grasslands, which are often associated with the Cotswolds.
One of the two corn mills in the parish became a fulling mill in 1086 and was used for the cleaning of wool. Later the site, now Knight’s Mill, included a gig mill (for treating cloth) and a dye house. By 1738 paper was being made there – good quality paper made from rags, which gives the name ‘Rag Hill’ to the steep hill nearby. Paper making continued until about 1880.
The village smithy was at the top of Quenington Hill and was first recorded in 1678; it is in the ownership of the Collett family who have been in the village for over 250 years.
The largest business in Quenington is Xylem (previously HJ Godwin Ltd). Harold Godwin started it from modest beginnings making water pumps behind his house on Coneygar Road and by 1939 there were 100 employees. In 1999, the business became known as Godwin Pumps, which in 2012 was taken over by Xylem, making it part of an international company that exports the pumps worldwide.
The following website has information on historical residents of Quenington: http://www.queningtonpeople.co.uk