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02.03.2021

Tidenham Hoard

The latest coins in the Tidenham hoard are the six half-crowns and four shillings of the triangle- in-circle initial mark (1641-3), and the two royalist mint pieces dated 1642. The Shrewsbury shilling would have been struck between the opening of the mint in early October, and before the end of December 1642, when Thomas Bushell's mint left the city, though, as the coin is one of those with an Aberystwyth obverse die, it was presumably earlier rather than later within this period. The Oxford half-crown would have been struck between the arrival of Bushell at Oxford in January 1643 and the change of year from 1642 to 1643 in March. It would seem a reasonable supposition, therefore, that the Tidenham hoard was concealed in the course of 1643. Tidenham is a village 3 km north-east of Chepstow, about 1 km from the west bank of the Severn. It lies only about 7-8 km from Bristol, south of Chepstow and across the river, but was part of a very different world. In the winter of 1642-3 central  loucestershire was dominated by the parliamentary interest, focused on Gloucester itself and the Vales.

However, the county was very divided, and Tidenham lay in the Forest Division, dominated by the Forest of Dean. This area, mostly royal forest, was controlled by royalist gentry for most of the period. However, it had been marked by tensions in the 1630s, since its burgeoning iron industry provided an opportunity during the time of Charles I's personal rule for the king's agents to use ancient forest laws to squeeze money from the new industry. There were periodic clashes and riots, until an agreement was reached in 1640, whereby the attempts to enforce the forest laws were abandoned in exchange for an initial payment and subsequent annual income from the leading (though very unpopular) figure in the area, Sir John Wintour of Lydney, a Catholic courtier, who was in effect farming the Forest and local industry from the king.

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