A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Kemerton lies 4 miles north-east of Tewkesbury on the south-west slopes of Bredon Hill. It projected from the northern boundary of Gloucestershire, and in 1931 was transferred to Worcestershire. (fn. 1) The parish, which contains 1,590 a., is long and narrow in shape, being about 4 miles long and 1 mile across at its widest part. In 1882 a detached part of Ashchurch parish containing Aston Mill with 10 a. of land was transferred to Kemerton. (fn. 2) The north and south boundaries of Kemerton have remained those given in an 8th-century charter, the summit of Bredon Hill and the Carrant brook. (fn. 3)
The southern part of the parish is low-lying at c. 100 ft., there is a gradual rise to the foot of Merecombe Hill, and from there the land slopes steeply to the summit of Bredon Hill at 961 ft. The Waterlet brook, (fn. 4) which provided power for 4 cornmills in the parish, enters the village from Overbury on the east and then flows south to join the Carrant. Below the 250 ft. contour the parish lies on the Lower Lias, with a small area on the Upper Lias above; the high ground is formed by the Inferior Oolite. (fn. 5) There are several disused quarries on the hill; the lower quarry near the boundary with Overbury was that allotted as a public stone-quarry at inclosure. (fn. 6) The land of the parish has been used almost entirely for tillage and pasture. Until inclosure in 1772 the lower and more gently sloping land lay mainly in open fields, and the Bredon Hill area of the parish was a large sheep-pasture. (fn. 7)
Bredon Hill is surmounted by an Iron Age hillfort, just inside the northern boundary of Kemerton parish, where occupation is thought to have ceased abruptly as the result of a considerable battle. (fn. 8) On the north-west the ground falls steeply away providing a natural defence, but on the east and south the fort is defended by a double line of ditch and rampart. In a gully on the north-west side lies a large mass of limestone known as the Banbury Stone from 'Baenintesburg', the name given to the fort in the 8th century. (fn. 9) On the inner rampart on the south side is a square stone tower, probably built c. 1765 by John Parsons (d. c. 1805). (fn. 10) In 1791 it was described as a summer-house, (fn. 11) and it was known as such in 1966, but earlier it was called Parsons's Folly. (fn. 12) In 1966 the tower housed equipment of the Midlands Electricity Board.
The village is strung-out from north to south following the shape of the parish. Perhaps the original settlement was the southern grouping, which contained the two manor-houses, the church, and two mills, but the northern extension of the village is also ancient. At inclosure in 1772 the old inclosures around the houses stretched up to near the Priory. (fn. 13) The two parts of the village perhaps corresponded with the division of the manor after the 13th century into Upper and Lower Court: Wing Lane, which links the two chief roads in the northern part, apparently took its name from one of the tenants of Upper Court in the late 15th century. (fn. 14) The shape of the village was presumably determined by the need for access to its fields and pastures; otherwise it might have been expected to have developed along its main thoroughfare, the Tewkesbury-Overbury road. That road was, indeed, the focus of the village in the 19th century. The Crown Inn was in existence by 1836, (fn. 15) the blacksmith's shop and the common pound were there in the 1880's, (fn. 16) and there was a fair-sized village green, later reduced by roadwidening and the building of a war-memorial. (fn. 17) Inclosure brought little change in the grouping of the houses: only two outlying farmsteads had to be built — Aston Mill Farm in the south, and the farm buildings on the manorial land on the hill. (fn. 18)
The village contains cottages of all periods from the 17th century. There are several 17th-century cottages mainly timber-framed and brick, but the earliest house in the village that is dated is of stone, although much rebuilt. (fn. 19) The only large early 17thcentury house surviving is the house called the Old Manor near Kemerton Court. It is a timber-framed and brick structure with a tiled roof. There is no evidence that it was formerly the manor-house of Nether Court manor, although it was almost certainly the home farm-house of the manor in the late 18th century, (fn. 20) and until the diversion of the road in 1825 it stood on the same side of the road and in the same group of buildings as Kemerton Court. (fn. 21) The general character of the village is set by the stone, timber-framed, and brick cottages and farm-buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries. The council houses in Bayliss Road in Upper Kemerton were built by the Evesham Rural District Council just after the Second World War. (fn. 22)
Apart from the 17th-century Old Rectory (fn. 23) and the two 18th-century manor-houses, (fn. 24) there are several other large houses in the village. Bell's Castle is a Gothic house with mock ramparts standing in a prominent position on Merecombe Hill. It was built between 1825 and 1838 by Edmund Bell, a retired sailor whose supposed exploits as a pirate and smuggler form the subject of many village legends. (fn. 25) The house has three embattled towers — the one on the west possibly an 18th-century folly already in position — and incorporates on the east side two earlier cottages, one reputed to have been a shepherd's house in the 17th century. (fn. 26) The Priory appears to have been an 18th-century house enlarged by William Prior in the early 19th century; it has a stone front with a pedimented doorway. In the garden are the ruins of a smaller 17th-century stone house, preserved as a garden feature, and on the south-east of the Priory are the probable foundations of a stocking-factory. (fn. 27) Northwood was built by the rector in c. 1890, and Merecombe just before the First World War. (fn. 28) There are two large 20thcentury houses, one at the south of the village, and the other north of the Roman Catholic church.
The Tewkesbury-Overbury road was turnpiked in 1755–6. (fn. 29) The road running south from the village to the Bredon-Cheltenham road was designated only as a private waggon-road at inclosure. (fn. 30) The BredonCheltenham road crossing the south-west of the parish was turnpiked in 1826. (fn. 31) The road through the lower village past the church formerly ran west of Kemerton Court and was joined north-west of the house by a road which crossed the meadow in front of the house. (fn. 32) In 1825 the road across the meadow was stopped up and the road past the church diverted round the east side of Kemerton Court. (fn. 33) A road in the north of the parish which followed the line of the track from Westmancote across Bredon Hill was a public road in 1772 and was described as the road from Tewkesbury to Evesham. (fn. 34) It was probably the ancient ridgeway running over Bredon Hill mentioned in Saxon times and used when the valley was flooded. (fn. 35)
Twenty-two inhabitants of Kemerton were enumerated in 1086, (fn. 36) and there were 33 taxpayers in 1327. (fn. 37) In 1551 there were c. 113 communicants, (fn. 38) and 127 in 1603. (fn. 39) In 1650 there were said to be 46 families in the village, (fn. 40) and in 1712 150 persons. (fn. 41) In 1743 the population was estimated at 200; (fn. 42) in 1779 at 225; (fn. 43) and in 1801 at 427. (fn. 44) By 1831 there had been a further increase to 599, (fn. 45) but then a slight decline in population began. Houses in the village were being pulled down in the 1840's, (fn. 46) and in 1851, when the population was down to 521, 9 were unoccupied. (fn. 47) There was a slight rise by 1861 but then a gradual fall to 434 in 1921. The population then remained steady and was 426 in 1961. (fn. 48)
In the late 19th century a water-supply was brought to the village from a spring on Bredon Hill in pipes laid down by John Hopton (d. 1891). (fn. 49) The Hopton family leased the right to draw from this supply to other large houses in the village, (fn. 50) and taps were placed at intervals for the use of the villagers. (fn. 51) In 1902 the water-supply was taken over by the Tewkesbury Rural District Council, (fn. 52) but the supply never completely met the needs of the village, (fn. 53) and in 1965 the East Worcestershire Water Company agreed to build a larger reservoir. (fn. 54) A sewerage scheme was started in the village in 1905. (fn. 55)
There was an alehouse in the village in the 16th century. (fn. 56) In the mid-19th century there were 4 public houses in Kemerton, (fn. 57) and of these the 'Crown' on the village green had been in existence in 1836, (fn. 58) and the 'Waggon and Horses', north of the Roman Catholic church, in 1838. (fn. 59) In 1903 there was also the 'Gardeners' Arms'. (fn. 60)
The life of the village was greatly influenced by the Parsons (later Hopton) family, resident landlords from the early 17th century. (fn. 61) In the 19th century village life was apparently affected even more by the local incumbents, particularly Archdeacon Thomas Thorp, rector 1839–79, who rebuilt the church and helped to found the school. (fn. 62) By 1966 the village had become largely a residential area for retired people, many of whom lived in converted cottages. There were few children in the village, the village school had closed, and a Youth Club and Guide company were kept going only with members from neighbouring villages. (fn. 63) The Victoria Hall was built in 1902 on land given by the Hopton family. (fn. 64)
Part of a manuscript of Wycliffe's De Ecclesia was transcribed at Kemerton in the early 15th century by two Bohemians. (fn. 65) The writer John Moore, many of whose books have a local background, lived in Kemerton in 1966. Whitsun games were held on the summit of Bredon Hill until c. 1876. (fn. 66)
Manors and Other Estates.
About 760 Uhtred, under-king of the Hwicce, granted to the thegn Ceolmund 8 hides at a place called 'Habene Homme' which, from the evidence of the boundaries given, was the equivalent of the later manor of KEMERTON. (fn. 67) In 840 lands in Kemerton were among those restored to the church of Worcester by Beorhtwulf, King of the Mercians. (fn. 68) In 1066 8 hides in Kemerton, presumably the 'Habene Homme' estate, were held by Let, one of the landowners who had commended themselves to Brictric, son of Algar, and the estate was held in 1086 by Girard the chamberlain, who transferred it from Deerhurst to Tewkesbury hundred. (fn. 69) Three other small, half-hide estates were mentioned in 1086, two held from the abbey of Westminster, and one from St. Denis, Paris. (fn. 70) The overlordship of the estate held by Girard the chamberlain passed from Brictric to the Crown, and from the Crown to the Earls of Gloucester, (fn. 71) and in the mid-14th century on the division of the honor of Gloucester Kemerton was assigned to Hugh de Audley and his wife. (fn. 72) During the 14th century an intermediate lordship between the tenants-in-demesne and the lords of honor seems to have been held by John of Dixton and his heirs. (fn. 73)
In 1190 John de Bonville held 2 knight's fees in Kemerton, presumably the whole of Girard's former estate, (fn. 74) but by the early 13th century the manor seems to have been divided between two branches of the Fécamp family. One part, described as half the manor and 1 knight's fee, was held by Nicholas de Fécamp. (fn. 75) It passed to the Crown by reason of the escheat of the Normans, (fn. 76) and in 1240 was granted to Robert de Mucegros, lord of Boddington, (fn. 77) who in 1235 had held the land at farm from Nicholas de Fécamp, (fn. 78) and later from the Crown during the minority of Nicholas's heirs. (fn. 79) Robert died in 1254 (fn. 80) and his half of the manor passed to his son, John (d. c. 1275), (fn. 81) and then to John's son, Robert who died in 1280, (fn. 82) leaving as his heir a daughter Hawise aged 4 years. Hawise married three times: first William de Mortimer (d. c. 1297), (fn. 83) then John de Ferrers, who held the fee in 1303, (fn. 84) and thirdly, before 1316, John de Bures. (fn. 85) Hawise's inheritance was later disputed between the children of her second and third marriages, and although John de Bures (d. 1350) (fn. 86) was recorded as holding the Mucegros half of Kemerton manor, (fn. 87) the fact that in 1346 John de Ferrers, grandson of Hawise and her second husband, was given as the holder of the fee (fn. 88) suggests that the title was even then in dispute. In 1357 an agreement was reached by which the Mucegros manors were divided between the two families, Kemerton being confirmed to the daughter and son-in-law of Hawise and John de Bures, Katherine and Giles Beauchamp (d. 1361), son of Walter Beauchamp of Powicke. (fn. 89)
The other half of the manor was held in the early 13th century by Henry FitzGerald. In 1218 he was granted a market at Kemerton, (fn. 90) and in 1229 disputed the advowson of the church with Nicholas de Fécamp. (fn. 91) Henry had acquired the estate by marriage with Ermentrude Talbot, whose interest may have stemmed from an earlier division of the manor between members of the Fécamp family. Henry died c. 1231 and his lands reverted to the Talbots. (fn. 92) Euphemia Talbot, presumably the daughter of Robert de Fécamp, (fn. 93) who was probably the Euphemia of Kemerton mentioned in 1210, (fn. 94) held the estate at her death in 1240 when she was succeeded by her son, Gerard Talbot. (fn. 95) Earlier, in 1237, Gerard's brother William Talbot had had an interest in the advowson of Kemerton church. (fn. 96) In 1263 Robert de Stuteville held the fee, (fn. 97) and in 1281 rights in it were exercised by Nicholas of Mitton, who was described as the partner of Robert de Mucegros in the town. (fn. 98) By the end of the century, however, the Talbot inheritance seems to have been divided between the two sons of William Beauchamp, who was lord of the near-by manor of Elmley Castle (Worcs.). The elder son, William Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, held lands in demesne in Kemerton as early as 1287 when his claim to free warren in them was upheld, (fn. 99) and at his death in 1297 he was seised of a quarter of the manor. (fn. 100) The other quarter of the manor was held by his brother, Walter Beauchamp of Powicke, in 1303; (fn. 101) it was later claimed that Walter had been granted his lands in Kemerton by his father, (fn. 102) but part at least was granted by Simon the chamberlain c. 1300. (fn. 103) After Walter's death his estate was held in dower by his wife, Alice, (fn. 104) and after her death it presumably passed to their son, Giles Beauchamp, who through his wife, Katherine de Bures, had acquired the Mucegros half of the manor. (fn. 105)
The estate of the Earl of Warwick, later known as UPPER COURT, (fn. 106) passed by direct descent to his great-grandson, Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (d. 1401), (fn. 107) but was held after 1401 by Thomas's younger brother, William Beauchamp, lord of Bergavenny, and after William's death in 1411 by his wife Joan in dower. (fn. 108) On Joan's death in 1435 it reverted to the Earl of Warwick's descendants and was held in dower in 1447 by Cecily, late wife of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick. (fn. 109) It presumably passed to Henry's niece, Isabel, whose husband, George, Duke of Clarence, presented to Kemerton church in 1471. (fn. 110) On Clarence's death in 1478 his lands passed to the Crown, and Henry VII on his accession reinstated Anne, Countess of Warwick, Isabel's mother. (fn. 111) In 1488 Anne granted the lands back to the king, (fn. 112) who next year re-granted them to her for life. (fn. 113) In 1489 William Cole farmed the estate, (fn. 114) and in 1542 the Crown leased the demesne to John Cole. (fn. 115) In 1557 the Crown granted the manor to Thomas Hughes for his service as one of the royal physicians. (fn. 116) In 1605 Thomas's son, also Thomas, obtained a grant of the reversion of the manor, (fn. 117) which he leased in the same year to John Pace, William Pace, and Nicholas Dance. (fn. 118) Hughes was recorded as joint lord of Kemerton in 1608, (fn. 119) but by 1614 he had granted his half of the manor to George Horniold of Bredon. (fn. 120) In 1684 another George Horniold sold the estate to John Parsons, who already held the other half of the manor. (fn. 121)
The manor-house, which had been leased separately since 1606, was purchased by John Parsons (d. 1757) in 1723. (fn. 122) His son, also John Parsons, completely rebuilt Upper Court house some time between 1757 and 1773. (fn. 123) The house remains a mainly 18th-century stone building, with a bow window added to the east wing in the late 19th century. The stable block, with a central archway surmounted by a pediment, is probably contemporary with the rebuilding of the house.
The Mucegros estate, later known as the manor of NETHER COURT, passed from Giles Beauchamp and his wife to their descendants, the Beauchamps of Powicke. (fn. 124) Giles's son, John Beauchamp of Powicke (d. by 1401), presented to the church in 1383, (fn. 125) and his son, William Beauchamp (d. by 1431) in 1414. (fn. 126) The next heir John Beauchamp, lord of Powicke, held this part of Kemerton manor in 1451, (fn. 127) and at his death in 1475 was succeeded by his son, Richard, Lord Beauchamp of Powicke. At Richard's death in 1503 his lands were divided among three coheirs, his daughter Anne, the widow of Richard Lygon, and his grandsons Edward Willoughby and Richard Read, the sons of his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. (fn. 128) The Kemerton estate passed to Anne's son, Richard Lygon (d. 1556). (fn. 129) Richard's son William died in 1567 having settled the manor on his wife Mary and his son and heir Richard. (fn. 130) Richard died in 1584 having settled the manor on his wife Margaret and his second son Henry, (fn. 131) whose son, Sir Arnold Lygon, was recorded as lord in 1608. (fn. 132) Henry Lygon's elder brother, Sir William, however, in 1589 conveyed the manor and advowson to Conan Parsons. (fn. 133) Conan Parsons, who was acquiring land in Kemerton during the last decade of the 16th century, (fn. 134) and lived at Kemerton and had 4 servants there in 1608, (fn. 135) was in possession of Nether Court manor by 1616, (fn. 136) and the manor was later described as having earlier been in the possession of Sir William Lygon. (fn. 137)
Nether Court remained in the possession of the descendants of Conan Parsons for the next three hundred years. (fn. 138) Conan's son, John Parsons, died c. 1632 leaving an infant son, also John. (fn. 139) The younger John, who died in 1704, (fn. 140) purchased the other manor or part of the manor from George Horniold. (fn. 141) The united manor then descended to successive sons: John Parsons (d. 1721), (fn. 142) John (d. 1757), (fn. 143) and John (d. c. 1805). (fn. 144) The last John's brother and heir, (fn. 145) the Revd. William Parsons, inherited the Canon Frome estate (Herefs.) from his cousin, Richard Cope Hopton, and in 1817 assumed the surname and arms of Hopton. (fn. 146) He died in 1841, his son, the Revd. John Hopton, in 1870, and John's son John in 1891. (fn. 147) The last John Hopton's daughter Bertha and her husband, Walter Mynors-Baskerville, then held the estate. (fn. 148) Bertha died in 1892, and her husband in 1897, when he was succeeded by his daughter, Sybil Maud. Sybil married Col. John Dutton Hunt, who assumed the name of Hopton, (fn. 149) and after his death, in 1918, his widow put the estate up for sale. Some 300 a., about half of the estate, were purchased by the Holland-Martin family of Overbury, who had acquired the hill land of the estate in 1903. In 1919 the former glebe land of Kemerton rectory and in 1925 another farm in the parish were added to the Overbury estate, which comprised 1,215 a. in Kemerton in 1966. (fn. 150) Kemerton Court, with which went the manorial rights, and the remainder of the estate were purchased in 1918 by John Till, who had been tenant of the house for several years previously, (fn. 151) and he was succeeded by his son, Mr. J. G. W. Till. (fn. 152) In 1949 Col. C. G. Darby bought Kemerton Court and its land, and in 1964 made it over to his son Adrian Darby, who also purchased one of the other farms in Kemerton. (fn. 153)
The house called Kemerton Court, formerly known as Lower Court, is a rectangular stone building. In 1662 it had 5 hearths. (fn. 154) The house was largely rebuilt in the early 18th century, when the elaborate west front with its parapets surmounted by ball finials was added. (fn. 155) The porch on the east side may survive from the earlier 16th- or 17th-century house.
From the early 16th century an estate in Kemerton was owned by Brasenose College, Oxford. In 1535 the principal was said to be a free tenant owing suit to Tewkesbury hundred court. (fn. 156) During the late 17th century the land was leased to Thomas Farmer for a rent in cash and kind, (fn. 157) in 1717 to William Lanman, (fn. 158) and from 1724 to members of the Parsons family. (fn. 159) At inclosure the college received an allotment of 98 a., (fn. 160) which continued to be leased to the Parsons family during the 19th century. (fn. 161) In 1939 it was purchased by the Overbury estate. (fn. 162)
Although agriculture has been predominant in Kemerton, the parish had 4 mills and the village served as a minor centre of industry and trade. No later record has been found, however, of the market granted in 1218. (fn. 163)
Agriculture. In 1086 the demesne of Girard the chamberlain's 8-hide estate was cultivated by 8 servi with 3 teams, and 14 villani had 5 teams. (fn. 164) In 1274 the demesne of the Nether Court manor was described as 2 plough-lands, (fn. 165) and in 1297 as 30 a. of arable with pasture. (fn. 166) In the early 16th century the Nether Court demesne included 2 yardlands of arable with another yardland leased, 200 sheeppastures, meadow and pasture land, and extensive closes. (fn. 167) In 1682 the demesne on that part of the manor included 65 a. in the open fields, 3 yardlands in the common meadow, and other meadows and closes. (fn. 168) The demesne of the Upper Court manor comprised 54 a. and some pasture in 1298; (fn. 169) in the mid-16th century it comprised 2 yardlands of arable, 16 a. of meadow, and a few closes. (fn. 170)
The rent of the free tenants of Nether Court was almost the same in the late 13th century (fn. 171) as that of 5 tenants in the early 16th century. (fn. 172) In 1682 there were 6 freehold tenants. (fn. 173) The Upper Court estate had 2 free tenants in 1298 (fn. 174) and in 1490 there were 6: (fn. 175) only two of those freeholds were of any size, and the largest — a house and 2 yardlands — and one of the others formed the estate held by Brasenose College in the mid-16th century. (fn. 176)
In 1297 5 yardlands and 27 half-yardlands were held in villeinage of Nether Court manor at rents of 12s. a yardland and 6s. a half-yardland. The total of the rents with those of 4 cottagers was just under £12. (fn. 177) In the early 16th century, in spite of the probable addition in the 14th century of Walter Beauchamp's lands to that part of the manor, (fn. 178) both the number of yardlands and the rent of the customary lands had fallen. There were then 11 copyholds, 3 of 1½ yardland, 6 of 1 yardland, and 2 of ¼ yardland, at a total rent of £7 6s. 4d. (fn. 179) Some of the former customary land may be represented by the large number of closes enumerated with the demesne at the time, one of which was later said to contain 71 a. and another 20 a. (fn. 180) By 1682 there had been little change in the number and size of holdings: 2 of the 1½yardland farms were then held by a widow, Mary Cole, and one of them leased by her to an undertenant. Nine of the farms were still copyholds for terms of up to 4 lives, but two were held on leases for lives determinable after a period of years. (fn. 181) Some labour-services were apparently still owed by the Nether Court tenants in the 16th century when they had to be done on warning given overnight and on pain of forfeiture of the tenants' copyholds. The services then consisted of a day's ploughing at wheat-sowing, a day's harrowing at barley-sowing, and the provision of two labourers and carriage of a load of the crop at the hay and corn harvests. At that time a customary tenant holding two messuages — as most did at the time — on the Nether Court manor was liable to two heriots. (fn. 182) In 1659 a former copyhold estate was leased on condition that a cash heriot should be paid and suit performed at the manor court. (fn. 183)
On Upper Court in 1298 there were 14 customary tenants and there also the usual rent for a yardland was 12s. (fn. 184) In 1490 22 customary tenants held 14½ yardlands and all the farms were a yardland or halfyardland. (fn. 185) About 1555 there were 16 tenants holding 11½ yardlands. (fn. 186) At that time all were copyholds, but at the beginning of the 17th century the lord of the manor, Thomas Hughes, converted some, and probably all, of the copyholds to leaseholds. (fn. 187) A 16th-century copyholder of the manor claimed that all the copyholds were heritable and that, although he had been presented in the manor court as the next heir to his father's holding, by the influence of the deputy of the steward of the manor it had been awarded to one of the steward's servants. Widow's freebench was also the custom. (fn. 188)
Before inclosure the main arable land in Kemerton lay on the south of the village in three large fields and two smaller ones, and two more fields flanked the village on the east and west. The common meadow land lay in the south-west corner of the parish bordered by the Carrant brook, and the common pasture in the Hog-pasture in the southeast, the Moors on the east of the village, the three Lower Hills (in the 18th century), and, stretching up to the summit of Bredon Hill, the great sheeppasture known as the Green Hill. (fn. 189) A large freehold estate owned by James Mumford in 1772 comprised 2 yardlands of arable in the common fields, 2 yardlands of meadow in the common meadow, pasture for 5 cows and 20 young sheep in the Hog-pasture and the Moors, 5 cow-pastures on the Lower Hills, 82 sheep-pastures on the Green and Upper Hills, and lots of hedge and green ground. (fn. 190)
Agreements made in 1692 and 1736 to convert the Lower Hills — called Tueswell (later Seven Acres), Middle, and Merecombe Hills — from arable to a cow-pasture for four-year periods provide the main information about the communal organization of the open fields and pastures. Under the 1692 agreement the conversion was to take the place of an old pasture in the south of the parish called the Herd, and those who formerly held both common in the Herd and land on the Lower Hills were allotted pasture on the hills at the rate of 2 cows and 4 yearlings to the yardland, those with either land only or common only at half that stint. The Herd was to be stocked during the four years with sheep at the rate of 8 to a yardland, and 2 beasts to the yardland were to be allowed on the Moors and the Cow-Pasture. (fn. 191) The later agreement was similar except that the Herd was to be sown with turnips, (fn. 192) and after the period of the later agreement the Lower Hills appear to have remained pasture until inclosure. (fn. 193) The agreements also provided for the appointment of a communal shepherd, husbandman, and hayward, and laid down penalties for overstocking and failure to maintain fencing. The four-year periods of these agreements indicate that a four-course rotation was followed in the open fields, probably with the crops mentioned in the 16th century — wheat, barley, and peas and beans. (fn. 194)
Sheep played an important part in the preinclosure economy of the village partly because of the large amount of suitable pasture available on Bredon Hill. The earliest known reference to sheep at Kemerton concerns a dispute in 1312 when the men of Kemerton were accused of driving off and impounding 400 sheep belonging to the tenants of the Bishop of Worcester at Bredon. (fn. 195) The importance of sheep in the 16th century is reflected by presentments at the Tewkesbury hundred court for overburdening the common, (fn. 196) and by the detailed customs for tithing their purchase, sale, and summering. (fn. 197) The demesne of Nether Court in the 15th century included pasture for 200 sheep on the hill, (fn. 198) and c. 1490 the farmer of Upper Court built a new sheepfold. (fn. 199) The allowance on the Green Hill in 1736 was 30 sheep to the yardland, (fn. 200) but c. 1772 a larger stint was allowed. (fn. 201)
Fruit-growing benefited from the position of the village at the foot of a southward-facing slope. Apples, pears, and crabs were mentioned in 1579, (fn. 202) and cherries in 1680. (fn. 203) Two houses mentioned in 1624 each had orchards, (fn. 204) in 1682 there were 12 orchards on the Nether Court estate, (fn. 205) and at inclosure 14 houses in the village all had orchards adjoining. (fn. 206) A new orchard was planted on the Nether Court demesne in the late 17th century. (fn. 207) Other crops grown in the 16th century included hemp and hops. (fn. 208) A hemp-plot adjoined one of the houses in the village in 1739. (fn. 209) There were hopyards on the Upper Court demesne in the early 17th century, (fn. 210) and a hopyard gave its name to one of the large open fields in the south of the parish. (fn. 211)
There is little evidence of early inclosure at Kemerton and in the late 17th century the arable land of the various farms lay scattered in the fields. The 199 strips of the Brasenose College estate lay in 33 separate parcels, (fn. 212) and Mary Cole's land at the same time was scattered among at least 23 furlongs. (fn. 213) The 65 a. arable in the open fields belonging to Nether Court demesne, however, had been consolidated into very few parcels by 1678. (fn. 214) Ample pasture on Bredon Hill made unnecessary any large-scale inclosure of arable for increased sheep-farming in the 16th century, although some of the Nether Court closes may represent inclosure from that time. A few small inclosures in the south of the parish away from the demesne and home closes were mentioned in the award of 1772, perhaps indicating some private inclosure, and one of them, in Hopyard Field, was elsewhere stated to have been inclosed by exchange by John Parsons (d. 1757). (fn. 215)
Inclosure in 1772 affected c. 1,300 a. — almost all the agricultural land in the parish — leaving untouched only the central belt of houses and ancient closes running from Merecombe Hill to c. 500 yards south of the lower village. John Parsons, the lord of the manor, and his mother were allotted c. 400 a., and the rector c. 300 a. There were three other large allotments of c. 100 a.: the Brasenose College land which was leased to John Parsons, James Mumford's land on the west and north-west of the village, and William Cole's on the east and north-east. Two other allotments were c. 60 a., two were c. 30 a., and the allotments of the other 16 proprietors ranged from 20 a. to 2 roods. (fn. 216)
The manorial estate, although farmed by one tenant, was made into two farms after inclosure. The hill land, with the Brasenose College allotment, occupied almost the whole of the parish north of Hopton's Buildings and this made a farm of over 300 a., which was all arable in 1791, although the upper 140 a. were said to be stony and subject to furze. The vale land of the estate, comprising the old demesne closes and the common meadow in the south of the parish, was half orchards and pasture at the time. (fn. 217) In 1819 the Hill farm was growing barley, wheat, oats, and turnips, the Vale farm was still largely meadow with some barley, wheat, and beans. (fn. 218) The rectory land, leased as a single farm, had 80 a. of meadow in 1822, the rest of the land growing mainly barley and wheat. (fn. 219) Twenty years after the inclosure it was said that the produce of the land of the parish was more than doubled. (fn. 220) Wheat and barley were the main crops grown in the parish in 1801, and turnips and oats, peas, and beans were also grown; about half of the land inclosed in 1772 was arable. (fn. 221) The land in the valley was badly drained and liable to flooding in the late 18th century. After inclosure the rector is said to have complained of the commissioners' treatment of him because all his allotment lay in that area of the parish. (fn. 222) By 1791 some drainage had been done on the Vale farm of the manorial estate, (fn. 223) and by the late 19th century the rectory land had been well drained. (fn. 224) Drainage may account for the increase by c. 200 a. in the arable land during the 19th century. (fn. 225)
In the late 19th century there were 6 farms in Kemerton, including the rectory farm and the manorial estate, then divided into 4 farms. (fn. 226) In 1923 there were 8 farms in the village, 5 of over 150 a., (fn. 227) and in 1940 there were 3 large farms, 5 smaller ones, 2 market-gardens, and a poultry farm. (fn. 228) In 1908 37 a. of the manorial estate were acquired by the Gloucestershire County Council and let as smallholdings. (fn. 229) In 1966 farming was mainly arable, with cereals, roots, and green vegetables. There was also some stock-rearing and two farms had dairy herds.
Mills. There were 3 mills on Girard the chamberlain's estate in 1086, (fn. 230) and all three probably had a continuous working existence until the late 19th century. At the division of the manor in the 13th century two mills went with Nether Court manor, (fn. 231) and they can be identified as Aston Mill in the south of the parish, (fn. 232) and Lower Mill at the south end of the village. There was a bakehouse adjoining Aston Mill in 1838, (fn. 233) and in 1918 the miller of Lower Mill was also a baker and farmed 34 a. belonging to Lower Mill. (fn. 234) The two mills were both said to be in good working condition when sold with the manorial estate in 1918. (fn. 235) Lower Mill, a stone building with a bakehouse, was working until c. 1936, (fn. 236) but later was incorporated into a private house. Aston Mill, a 19th-century brick structure with an earlier timber-frame building adjoining, continued working until the early 1960's. (fn. 237) The third medieval mill was part of Upper Court manor; there was a miller among the tenants of that manor in 1298, (fn. 238) and in 1490 timber was purchased for the repair of the mill. (fn. 239) It can be identified with Middle Mill just south of Upper Court manor-house. By 1822 Middle Mill had been sold away from the manorial estate; (fn. 240) in 1838 it was owned by William Baylis, (fn. 241) and his son Caleb was the miller in 1856. (fn. 242) Middle Mill continued working until c. 1939. (fn. 243) In 1966 a low ruined wall and the mill-wheel remained. A fourth mill, Upper Mill, near the end of Overbury village, may have been the mill sold in 1583. (fn. 244) It is not marked as a working mill on two maps of 1824, (fn. 245) but in 1838 it was apparently working and was owned by the Tidmarsh family. (fn. 246) It was working in the late 19th century and until c. 1945. (fn. 247)
Industry and trade. One of the free tenants of Upper Court in 1298 was Adam the smith, (fn. 248) and he may have held the Redgrove in that manor from which a rent of 10d. or 10 horseshoes was owed in the 16th century. (fn. 249) In 1608 there were two smiths of the same name, probably free tenants of Nether Court. (fn. 250) In the 19th century a smithy stood at the western corner of the central triangle of roads, (fn. 251) and the village had a blacksmith in 1940. (fn. 252)
There were brewers at Kemerton in the late 15th century. (fn. 253) In the early 19th century there were at least three malt-houses in the village. (fn. 254) One had probably been working in 1783, (fn. 255) and seems to have gone out of use in 1822. (fn. 256) Another had been converted into cottages by 1840, (fn. 257) but a third, owned by William Baylis, (fn. 258) was still working in 1856. (fn. 259)
In the early 19th century a branch of the Tewkesbury stocking industry was located at Kemerton in a small factory adjoining the house called the Priory. A letter of 1801 asked the name of the London agent of the manufacturer of 'Kemerton stockings', (fn. 260) and in 1821 the occupant of the Priory, William Prior, sold two stocking-frames at Tewkesbury. (fn. 261) In 1827 Prior's possessions, including apparently much of the factory's equipment, were sold, (fn. 262) but he was still living at the Priory in 1838 (fn. 263) and the factory was still employing women of the village c. 1840. (fn. 264) Silkbleaching is also associated with the Priory, (fn. 265) and Henry Franklin, who in 1832 was a lessee from the owner of the Priory, (fn. 266) was described as a bleacher in 1856 and 1863. (fn. 267) In the late 13th century one of the mills in the village was being used as a fulling-mill, (fn. 268) and a John the walker lived at Kemerton in 1327. (fn. 269) In the mid-19th century many of the labourers' wives in Kemerton supplemented the family income by stitching gloves for Worcester firms. (fn. 270)
In 1608 there were 4 tailors and 2 collar-makers in the village. (fn. 271) There was a shoemaker in 1772 (fn. 272) and 1834, (fn. 273) and 4 in 1863. (fn. 274) In the late 18th century a family of masons called Peart lived in the village, (fn. 275) and there was one mason in 1863. (fn. 276) There was a carpenter in the village c. 1800, (fn. 277) and in the mid-19th century 3 wheelwrights and a cooper were mentioned. (fn. 278) A wheelwright was working in the village in the late 1920's. (fn. 279) A grocer's shop was recorded in 1822. (fn. 280) In 1831 40 families were supported by trades compared with 65 by agriculture. (fn. 281) By 1966 only c. 12 villagers were employed on the land. About 20 worked at Dowty's and Smith's factories. (fn. 282)
The two manors or parts of the manor had their separate courts from the 13th century. Records of four courts held for the Upper Court manor in 1531–3 survive. (fn. 283) The courts dealt with copyholds, the neglect of houses, and agricultural offences. The court of Nether Court manor was mentioned in 1297, and as the yearly profits were then put at only 12d. it presumably dealt, like the court of Upper Court, only with matters of tenure and the organization of agriculture. (fn. 284) In 1659 a lease was granted on condition that the lessee performed suit at the court of Nether Court manor and paid any fines imposed by it, which suggests that the court was still active in matters other than tenure. (fn. 285) In the 13th century frankpledge jurisdiction over the whole of Kemerton was exercised by the Earls of Gloucester at their court at Tewkesbury, (fn. 286) and Kemerton appears in the Tewkesbury hundred court rolls for the late 15th and early 16th centuries. (fn. 287) A constable is mentioned at Kemerton in 1381, (fn. 288) and a tithingman was elected in the court of Upper Court manor in 1532. (fn. 289) In 1640 the constable of Kemerton was cited to appear before the Council. (fn. 290)
The division of the manor until the late 17th century probably hastened the decline in the agricultural functions of the manor courts, and in 1736 the organization of agriculture was being decided at the parish meeting; it was probably there that the shepherd, husbandman, and hayward mentioned in the agreement of that year were appointed. (fn. 291)
No records of parish government before 1836 are known to have survived. At the 1540 episcopal visitation 4 men were sworn, (fn. 292) and in 1572 there were 3 churchwardens and one sidesman, (fn. 293) but later there were always only 2 churchwardens. (fn. 294) Overseers are not recorded until inclosure when an allotment for the poor was given in trust for them. (fn. 295) In the late 18th and early 19th century Kemerton had roughly the same rise in expenditure on the poor as neighbouring parishes, but in 1815 an unusually large amount was expended on law-suits. (fn. 296) In 1835 Kemerton became part of the Tewkesbury Union. (fn. 297) In the early 19th century the opponents of a church-rate for rebuilding the church claimed that some of the rector's supporters were unqualified to vote, so there was presumably some property qualification. (fn. 298) Although Kemerton had a parish council under the Act of 1894, in 1899 it was stated that no parish councillors had been elected for the last two years and an order was made for holding a parish meeting, presided over by the rector. (fn. 299) In 1966 the parish council usually held four meetings a year. (fn. 300) Kemerton was then in the Evesham Rural District.
Whereas no documentary reference to a church at Kemerton has been found earlier than a mid-12th century mention of demesne tithes held by Tewkesbury Abbey, (fn. 301) part of the fabric of the church before restoration was said to be early Norman. (fn. 302) Kemerton church has remained a rectory from the time of the earliest references to incumbents. (fn. 303)
The advowson passed with the lordship of the manor, and from the early 13th century was shared by the owners of the two parts of the manor. In 1281 the Mucegros family and Nicholas of Mitton were said to present alternately; (fn. 304) in the 14th and 15th centuries members of the family of Beauchamp of Powicke and the Earls of Warwick and their heirs took turns, (fn. 305) and in the mid-16th century, the Crown and the Lygons. (fn. 306) The division of the advowson caused frequent uncertainty and dispute. In 1229 the advowson was disputed by Nicholas de Fécamp and Henry FitzGerald, (fn. 307) and two later agreements were necessary between the 13th-century owners of the two halves of the manor. (fn. 308) In 1313 Hawise de Mucegros and Alice, widow of Walter Beauchamp, were disputing the advowson, (fn. 309) and in the course of the next two centuries two inquiries into the right of presentation were ordered. (fn. 310) Further uncertainties in the 16th century culminated in 1597 in a double presentation by members of the Hughes and Lygon families. (fn. 311) In 1627 Godfrey Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, obtained a grant of the patronage from the Crown, (fn. 312) and he granted it in 1637 to the Mayor and Corporation of Gloucester as trustees of the Hospital of St. Bartholomew in that city on condition that the corporation presented members of the Goodman family or, failing that, the eldest son of the mayor or senior alderman. (fn. 313) During the next two hundred years presentations were made by the corporation, (fn. 314) but their right to present when a vacancy occurred in 1839 was contested by the bishop under a provision of the Municipal Corporations Act. (fn. 315) It is perhaps also significant that the dispute followed the incumbency of a very old and infirm absentee member of the Goodman family. (fn. 316) Although the bishop's right was upheld in the first instance, (fn. 317) the dispute continued until at least 1856, (fn. 318) and evidently a distinction was finally made between the right of the corporation and the right of the trustees of St. Bartholomew's, since the trustees of the hospital presented in 1877 and 1901. (fn. 319) In 1902 the advowson was purchased from the trustees by Mrs. J. J. Mercier, and in 1929 her son, the Revd. J. A. B. Mercier, Rector of Kemerton, gave it to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. (fn. 320)
The rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 321) and Tewkesbury Abbey's portion of the tithes, for which a composition had been made from at least the early 13th century, (fn. 322) at £1 6s. 8d. In 1535 the total value was assessed at £17 13s. (fn. 323) In 1650 its value was put at £140, (fn. 324) but in 1712 at £130, (fn. 325) and in the mid-18th century at £100. (fn. 326) In 1863 the living was worth £600. (fn. 327) In the late 13th century the rector had one plough-land of glebe. (fn. 328) In 1579 a wide variety of produce was tithable including hemp, hops, and fruit, and a composition was paid for milk and garden produce. (fn. 329) In 1680 the rector collected personal tithes on servants in the village. (fn. 330) In the same year he challenged the parishioners' statement of several of the tithing customs and also their claim that he had to provide a bull and boar. He also claimed to be entitled to a payment called 'smockpay' from each house in the village. (fn. 331) At inclosure in 1772 the rector was allotted 1/5 of the arable and 1/9 of the common — 187 a. in all — for his tithes, 83 a. for his glebe, 22 a. for the tithes of cottages in the village, and various money rents for the tithes from certain cottages and orchards for which compositions in land could not be made. (fn. 332) In 1540 the rectory was being farmed by William Cole who paid the salary of a curate, (fn. 333) and in the late 16th century the parishioners complained that the farmer, Christopher Modie, had introduced by intimidation the custom of paying mortuary fees. (fn. 334) In 1597 the rectory was leased to Thomas Hughes and in 1612 sub-let to Nicholas Dance, one of the lessees of Hughes's half of the manor. (fn. 335) In 1807 the tenant of the rectory lived at the rectory house, which was divided into two tenements. (fn. 336) Since c. 1890, when the rector of the day built Northwood, (fn. 337) the old rectory has been a private house. (fn. 338) In the mid-20th century a new rectory was built.
The rectory, which had 5 hearths in 1662, (fn. 339) was almost entirely rebuilt in 1678 by the rector, Nathaniel Lye. (fn. 340) It is a two-storied L-shaped building of stone faced with roughcast, and has a shell porch and some of the original sash-windows. The east wing incorporates part of an earlier building.
The first known incumbent of Kemerton mentioned was Geoffrey de Erlegh in 1237, (fn. 341) and the next was Richard de Mucegros, probably the cousin and presentee of Robert de Mucegros. (fn. 342) Gerbert de St. Clare was perhaps presented by Nicholas of Mitton since he acted as one of the executors of Nicholas's will. (fn. 343) It was probably the same Gerbert who in 1270 was given leave of absence for study for two years; (fn. 344) in 1313 and 1314 John King, Rector of Kemerton, was licensed to study at an English school. (fn. 345) In 1378 John Strech, the parson, was said to abet malefactors. (fn. 346) Three 16th-century rectors were pluralists. William Clinton, who was said to be non-resident in 1563 and to have let the parsonage became ruinous, (fn. 347) was later declared contumacious and his living sequestrated. (fn. 348) George Swett (c. 1568–82), who held another cure in Worcestershire, was said to neglect reading the homilies and teaching the young. (fn. 349) Ralph Ecton, who was residing at Wick Rissington in 1584, was stated to conform, (fn. 350) but in the same year 'papist books' and a 'massing cake' were found at his parsonage house at Kemerton. (fn. 351) Bishop Goodman presented himself to the benefice in 1627, at the same time as he obtained the patronage, on the grounds of the simony of the then incumbent, John Fownes, but Fownes successfully prevented the bishop from taking possession, and he seems not to have been admitted until 1631. (fn. 352) In 1650 the rector, John Hinman, was described as a preaching minister. (fn. 353) In 1675 Nathaniel Lye was presented to the living, which he held together with the rectory of Cowley; (fn. 354) he was rector of Kemerton for 62 years. (fn. 355) The six incumbents between 1738 and 1839 were all members of Bishop Goodman's family, in accordance with the terms of his grant to Gloucester corporation. (fn. 356) In 1839 the corporation presented another Goodman descendant, (fn. 357) but Thomas Thorp, Archdeacon of Bristol, was collated by the bishop. Because of the dispute over the advowson, Thorp did not reside until 1844. (fn. 358) Backed by his churchwardens, he promoted the complete rebuilding of Kemerton church in the 1840's, but his aim aroused the opposition of some of his parishioners who, fearing a burdensome rate, wanted only repair. In 1845 the churchwardens began the demolition of the nave and south aisle without obtaining a faculty. Their action, (fn. 359) and the fact that the main opponents of the rebuilding were Charles Tidmarsh and George Mumford of the leading Roman Catholic and Wesleyan families of the village, (fn. 360) aggravated the controversy. After it seemed that a compromise had been reached, the discovery that the north aisle and tower also needed repair prolonged the dispute. (fn. 361)
Archdeacon Thorp, a supporter of the Oxford Movement, established a high-church tradition at Kemerton. He was a friend of John Keble, who is said to have preached in the church several times, and the choir at Kemerton is said to have been one of the first in the country to wear surplices. (fn. 362) The high-church tradition was continued by the archdeacon's successor as rector, J. J. Mercier, but in 1901 the trustees of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Gloucester, presented one of the hospital chaplains, a low churchman, George Mallet. His views were disliked by many of the parishioners, and that was one of the reasons that caused Mrs. J. J. Mercier, the wife of the previous rector, to buy the advowson in 1902. On Mallet's death in the same year, Mrs. Mercier's son, the Revd. J. A. B. Mercier, became rector and held the living for the next 30 years. (fn. 363)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS comprises aisled nave, chancel, south porch, and west tower. It was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1840's in the Decorated style by R. C. Carpenter. (fn. 364) The rebuilt church follows the basic plan of the original building but is higher and slightly larger. The south aisle is said to have been widened 8 ft. at rebuilding, (fn. 365) and the number of sittings was increased from 300 to 374. (fn. 366)
A description of the original church made just before the rebuilding shows that it dated from various periods. (fn. 367) The north arcade was early Norman, the south arcade and the tower arch 14th century. The windows on the south were of the 13th and 14th centuries (fn. 368) with a 15th-century window at the west. The south porch added in the 15th or early 16th century had fan-vaulting. Above the porch was a small chamber used for vestry meetings and the Sunday school. (fn. 369) The piscina, of which a fragment survives, was of the 14th century. (fn. 370) A small chapel formerly stood at the east end of the north aisle over the vault of the Parsons family. There was a staircase turret at the north-east angle of the tower. (fn. 371) The two lower stages of the tower, which was not rebuilt, are of the 12th or early 13th century; in the 15th or 16th century buttresses and an upper stage with embattled parapet and angle pinnacles were added.
The church was said to be in a state of decay in 1572, (fn. 372) but in 1807 to be in very good repair. (fn. 373) At the time of the rebuilding, however, it was said to be ruinous, (fn. 374) and some of the mullions of the windows had been destroyed. (fn. 375) The rebuilding was carried out in a piecemeal fashion because of the opposition mentioned above. At the time of the reconsecration of the church in 1847 the nave, south aisle, and chancel had been completely rebuilt. (fn. 376) The cost, over £4,000, was said by the rector to have been swollen by legal expenses resulting from his dispute with the parishioners. (fn. 377) About 1/10 of the cost came from the church-rate, the rest from other sources including donations by friends of the rector, who paid for the rebuilding of the chancel. (fn. 378) The rebuilding of the north aisle was completed in 1849 and paid for by the Hopton family. (fn. 379) A plan to pull down the tower and rebuild it with a spire, which it was hoped would overtop that of Bredon church, was never carried out, and the existing tower was restored in 1879. (fn. 380)
Six new bells were cast by Rudhall in 1754; one was replaced in 1844. (fn. 381) The original plate had vanished by the early 19th century, (fn. 382) and was replaced by a new set dated 1843, one of the earliest manufactured under a scheme of the Cambridge Camden Society. (fn. 383) The registers are complete from 1572 except for the period 1589–95. (fn. 384) In the late 17th century the church possessed 8 a. granted for its upkeep, (fn. 385) and the 9½ a. allotted for the 8 a. at inclosure (fn. 386) were sold in 1885 and the money invested. (fn. 387)
In both 1603 (fn. 388) and 1676 (fn. 389) it was reported that there were no recusants at Kemerton, and in the early 18th century only 2 reputed papists were recorded. (fn. 390) St. Benet's Roman Catholic church was built in 1843. (fn. 391) The cost of the church and a priest's house was met by subscription among local Roman Catholic families, which included the Eystons, of whom Ferdinand Eyston signed the certificate for the new church, (fn. 392) and the Tidmarshes, important landowners in Kemerton, who gave the land on which the church was built. (fn. 393) The morning congregation in 1851 was said to number 140. (fn. 394) The priest who was appointed in 1844 remained for 51 years and his successor resigned in 1944 after a ministry of almost the same length. The church, designed by a partner of Weightman & Hadfield of Sheffield, (fn. 395) is a stone building in the Gothic style consisting of nave, chancel, and porch, with a bellcot over the east end of the nave. The priest's house is attached to the church and a school building stands on the northwest.
There was a community of 9 Presbyterian dissenters at Kemerton in the early 18th century. (fn. 396) In 1800 the house of an apothecary in Wing Lane was being used by a Quaker meeting. (fn. 397) During the first twenty years of the 19th century a community of Wesleyan Methodists held meetings in private houses, including that of Thomas Mumford. (fn. 398) The Mumfords, who had lived at Kemerton since the 16th century, from the late 18th to the mid-19th century were the largest landowners in Kemerton after the rector and lord of the manor, (fn. 399) and they retained the leadership of the Methodist community. In 1819 a Wesleyan chapel was built on a plot adjacent to the house of William Mumford, (fn. 400) and presumably at his expense, (fn. 401) and in 1851 George Mumford was the local Methodist preacher and class leader. (fn. 402) The chapel, the original structure of 1819, is a small stone building with a tiled roof; the schoolroom adjoining is of brick. In 1851 it served an evening congregation of 83, (fn. 403) and by that date had its separate burial ground. (fn. 404) Since 1836 the chapel has been served by a minister from Tewkesbury. (fn. 405)
In 1818 there were two schools in the parish: a Sunday school on the National plan, supported by the rector and with an attendance of 40 children, and a dame school attended by 12 children. (fn. 406) It was stated at the time that more schools were needed, and by 1833 there were four schools besides the Sunday school, teaching a total of 99 children. All were supported partly by private charity and partly by payments from the parents. (fn. 407) By the late 1840's the Sunday school had been expanded to be a day school also and was supported by a small endowment of land, school pence, and a subscription from the Hopton family, members of which visited the school daily. A new building was erected in 1847, (fn. 408) and an infants' department was started in 1850 when it was held in a near-by cottage. (fn. 409) The school was run by the local clergy and the rector met the deficiency in costs. The average attendance in 1847 was 71, (fn. 410) and 65 at the beginning of the next century. (fn. 411) In 1965, when attendance was down to 15, the school was closed and the children transferred to Overbury school. (fn. 412) A Roman Catholic school was built near the chapel in 1851 and supported by pence and voluntary contributions. In 1857 it taught children from the surrounding parishes, (fn. 413) and in 1906–7 had an average attendance of 49, (fn. 414) but the school was closed in 1943 when only 2 children were attending. (fn. 415) The Wesleyans also had a day school, started in 1843 in a room built on to the Wesleyan chapel, and with an income from school pence. It had an attendance of c. 26 children in 1864, (fn. 416) but later record of the school has not been found.
Charities. (fn. 417)
John Wright by deed of 1635 gave a rent-charge of 10s. for bread. (fn. 418) The charity was not recorded in 1683, when there was a different rent-charge of 6s. 8d. for the poor and the rent of ½ a. given by Richard Buston. (fn. 419) Charles Parsons by will dated 1735 gave a rent-charge of £1 for bread. (fn. 420) Only Buston's and Wright's charities were recorded in 1828. (fn. 421) In 1864 the 6s. 8d. rent-charge was thought to be Wright's; it had earlier been distributed in bread in the church, but the distribution then took place elsewhere, in accordance with the wishes of George Mumford, a Wesleyan (fn. 422) and the owner of the land charged. In the late 19th century Wright's charity was again identified as the 10s. rent-charge, but in 1902 it was said to be the £1 rent-charge that was in fact Parsons's charity, of which knowledge was denied. By 1931 Wright's charity was lost, (fn. 423) and nothing is recorded of the 6s. 8d. rent-charge after 1918. (fn. 424) In 1930 Buston's charity, called the Poor's Piece and yielding £1 5s. from stock, and Parsons's charity were together distributed in cash doles of 5s. A charity founded by the rector Thomas Thorp (d. 1879) (fn. 425) then produced £5 15s., distributed in cash to 10 people over 70, from £230 stock, and a charity founded by Caleb Baylis by will dated 1884 produced £2 10s., distributed in bread, from £100 stock. (fn. 426) The Baylis charity was distributed in the form of vouchers in 1966. (fn. 427)