A brief history of Bishop's Cleeve

Bishop's Cleeve is a village in the Borough of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, North of Cheltenham. The village lies at the foot of Cleeve Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds and borders Woodmancote on the East side of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway line that splits the two parishes. According to the last National Census in 2011, Bishop's Cleeve had a population of 10,612. Today this is estimated to be over 17,000.

The earliest known origins of the village of Bishop's Cleeve date back to the 8th Century, although Iron Age and Roman remains have also been found locally. The name derives from the 9th Century when a monastery and surrounding land at the foot of what is now named Cleeve Hill was given to the Bishop of Worcester, and the village became the Bishop’s Cliffe.

The Domesday Book in 1086 recorded that: "There are 30 hides, 3 ploughs an demesne, 16 villagers and 19 smallholders with 16 ploughs. There are 8 slaves and 1 horse. A priest has 1 hide and 2 ploughs. A radknight with 1 hide and 2 ploughs. There is a very small wood."

A handful of buildings in the village date from the 12th and 13th Centuries, many others having been lost in a fire in 1445. The centrepiece, the Church of St Michael & All Angels, was built in the 12th Century on the site of a previous Saxon church and retains many Norman features. The Rectory (now Cleeve Hall) dates from about 1250, while the Tithe Barn opposite was built during the 15th Century and is now a Village Hall.

After the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th Century the land became the property of the King, and was eventually sold off to local manor lords, among them Richard De La Bere, Lord of the Manor of Southam, whose tomb lies in St Michael’s Church.

Schooling came to the village in the early 19th Century when the parish priest ran lessons in a small room above the church’s south porch. The later Victorian school on School Road served until 1981, for some years alongside the present Bishop's Cleeve Primary Academy. The former building is still in use as St Michael’s Hall.

The village saw rapid growth during the 20th century as a result of the construction of Smiths Aerospace factory near the village after the Second World War. Currently, population and residential growth is a contentious subject due to the vast expansion of the housing estates without increased amenities.

View the village photo gallery

Conservation area

A central section of the village lies within a conservation area, which is outlined on this map of Bishops Cleeve Conservation area.There are 31 listed buildings in the village, details of which can be downloaded here, while more specific information is available on the British Listed Buildings website.

Boundary Map

Bishop's Cleeve is part of Tewkesbury Borough,  with neighbouring parishes comprising Southam, Woodmancote, Gotherington and Stoke Orchard and Tredington. It borders Cheltenham District to the south.