The parish of Down Hatherley lies in the Hundred of Dudston and Kings Barton, five miles from Tewkesbury, three miles from Cheltenham and four miles north east of Gloucester.
Detailed investigation relating to the chronological descent of this ancient holding has revealed that in the year 1022, it delighted in the name ‘Hegberleo’. At the general survey of 1086 (Domesday), it was found that Edmar, a thane, had held the land of Hatherley during the reign of Edward the Confessor. The holding then being designated ‘Athelai’. We are informed of certain hostilities towards the family of Godwine. (The family name of Harold, of Hastings fame.)
It would appear that after the death of Edward the Confessor, the land of ‘Athelai’ was stolen by Harold. Obviously this didn’t endear him to the locals.
It is uncertain how long this manor continued under crown control, but Robert Mussgross died, seized of Down Hatherley during the reign of Henry III. (1216 – 1272) In 1311 it was held by Sir John de Willington, and passed by marriage to Sir John Willoughby in 1389. His descendents, namely Sir John Willoughby de Broke, while aiding the cause of Henry Tudor on the Battlefield of Bosworth, was subsequently advanced to the peerage by the new monach. The estate was now in the hands of Lord Willoughby de Broke. (1491)
Sir Fulke Greville, High sheriff (1543) MP (1547) married the greatest heiress then in England (heiress to the estate of Lord Willoughby de Broke). Once again by way of marriage, Hatherley Manor found itself under baronial stewardship.
There followed an uneventful period whereby the manor passed by various means through several families, until it was purchased by George Brett Esq. The Bretts were persona grata with Cromwell because of their support for the parliament cause. Rumour has it that the manor house was originally built for one of Oliver Cromwell’s illegitimate sons. However, this piece of 17th century scandal remains uncorroborated by the evidence.
Surviving both shot and sequestrians, Hatherley found itself in the possession of Sir Matthew Wood, (Twice Lord Mayor of London) bequeathed as a portion of an estate by virtue of his executor status. Burkes peerage confirms the connection with this family: William Page Wood. His love for Hatherley still remains for he and his lady wife are buried in the grounds of the parish church.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the manor was in the possession of Anthony Gilbert Jones, who was thrice mayor of Gloucester. (1875 – 6, 1876 – 7 and 1881 – 2) and father of nine children. It was Charles Allen Jones, seventh and youngest son, who patented the now well known Hatherley ‘Lattisteps’, forerunner of the modern stepladder. It was Jones and Co who also drew up plans for the mass production of Deckchairs!
During the Jones occupation and later that of the De Winton family, the manor was subjected to extensive refurbishment which to some degree has violated the sites archaeological integrity, with such things as the moat. The seventeenth century house despite having been submerged by additions of the late eighteenth century and by enlargement of 1983-6 when it first took on the form of a hotel, still retains the imposing grandeur of a substantial gentry’s court house.