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History of ownership

monk field names map

Ast Wood seems to have belonged to William de Grey of Aylton, who when he died in 1293, owned 30 acres of wood worth five shillings a year. It also belonged to the Little Malvern Priory of Benedictine monks (founded 1171), who owned the Manor of Aylton-cum-Pixley. Hedges still survive today next to Ast Wood around fields called Far Monk Redding, Great Monks Redding and Little Monk Redding. ‘Redding’ means cleared woodland, so these field names, and the clearance of woodland from them, presumably date back to the time when the monks owned it, as does the nearby farm name Prior’s Court. When the monasteries were dissolved, a valuation tells us that 1s 4d was received annually from the wood at that time.
Map © Geoff Gwatkin

Ast Wood rental documents

Later, it is said to have belonged to the Barres, or de la Barres, from whom it descended to Sir Roger Bodenham of Rotherwas, who was lord of its Manor in 1600. From the Bodenhams it passed to the Hanburys, who eventually sold it to Lord Somers of Eastnor Castle, so that by the early nineteenth century Ast Wood was part of the Eastnor Estate. But in 1916 it was sold at auction, along with the rest of the Castle's 1600 acre Little Marcle estate.

Ast Wood was Lot 6, described as an enclosure of thriving woodland and an excellent game covert, situate adjoining Priors Court (Lot 5), [...] 62 acres 2 rods and 19 perches, it consists of mixed coppice wood with a large number of well grown oak trees and poles. Mr. T.E. Davies bought it for 875, and also Pixley Court, of which he was the tenant. From 1918 to 1939, Ast Wood belonged to the owners of Mainstone Court, Munsley, who planted some of the oaks remaining today. Later it mostly belonged to the then owners of Knapp Farm in Pixley; followed by suffering clear felling for agriculture and a change of ownership of the southern portion; then belonged briefly to a golf course construction company; and now most of the wood belongs to the owners of Lower House Farm, Little Marcle, apart from the south west piece which has been owned by the Watkins family since 1976.

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