A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 10, Munslow Hundred (Part), the Liberty and Borough of Wenlock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1998.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The heavily wooded rural parish of Barrow, as it was in the mid 20th century, centred on the small hamlet of Barrow just over 3 km. east of Much Wenlock and 2.5 km. south-west of Broseley. In the Middle Ages Shirlett forest's demesne woods occupied the southern part of that area, and between the 16th and 18th centuries its commons, wastes, and minerals attracted numerous smallholders and miners. In the 19th century population declined and J. G. W. WeldForester, Lord Forester (d. 1874), became virtually the sole landowner; much of the area south of Barrow hamlet was private woodland in the 1980s.
By the late 11th century there was a chapel, evidently a dependency of the church of Wenlock. By the late 13th century, and probably long before, the area served from Barrow chapel was within the parish of Holy Trinity, Much Wenlock, and its parochial independence was gained only in the early 17th century, probably the period when Caughley became dependent on it. (fn. 1) In the earlier 19th century the main part of Barrow parish comprised 911 ha. (2,250 a.) (fn. 2) and extended c. 6 km. from north to south and a maximum of c. 2.5 km. from east to west. The Caughley detachment contributed 332 ha. (821 a.) to the total parish area of 1,243 ha. (3,071 a.). In 1883 a detached part (21 ha., 51 a.) of Posenhall civil parish was added to Barrow C.P., and in 1934 Caughley was transferred to Linley C.P. In 1966 Linley, Posenhall, and Willey C.P.s were abolished and added to Barrow C.P., as was almost the whole of Benthall C.P. (fn. 3) This article deals with the main part of the earlier 19th-century parish, a separate account of Caughley following.
On the east Barrow was partly bounded by Linley brook, probably the Atherwell brook mentioned in 1620, (fn. 4) and on the south by a tributary of Linley brook; (fn. 5) it had no other natural boundaries. On the south-west the parish boundary followed boundaries of the medieval forest of Shirlett. (fn. 6) The angular notched boundary in the north and north-west suggests widespread inclosure at the time of its delineation.
Barrow hamlet stands on a slight rise in the Broseley-Wenlock road. Most of the land is over 180 m. and rises to c. 230 m. near White Mines in the south-west and Arlescott in the northwest. (fn. 7) Barrow hamlet and part of Shirlett lie on productive Upper Middle Coal Measures, the rest of the south on Downtonian Ledbury and Temeside shale beds. South-west and north-east of the Marsh are Upper Ludlow shales, north of which (though largely outside the parish) Aymestry limestone occurs. (fn. 8) A chalybeate spring rises at the north end of Shirlett Common; (fn. 9) no evidence of its use has been found.
In 1625, (fn. 10) as later, the parish's principal thoroughfare was the Wenlock-Broseley road on which Barrow hamlet and the Marsh stood. A road south-east from Barrow led via Hangstree Gate to Willey; it formed part of the WenlockBridgnorth road turnpiked in 1756. (fn. 11) Another road from Wenlock to Broseley ran north-east from Marsh green via Posenhall, where it was joined by a road from Hangstree Gate; that was part of the Wenlock-Broseley road turnpiked in 1756. North-west of the last mentioned road ran one from Posenhall to Arlescott which continued towards Much Wenlock, joining the BarrowWenlock road 750 m. west of the Marsh. (fn. 12) South-east of the Marsh roads and tracks bounded and crossed Marsh green whence a road ran south forking at White Mines, southwest to Rowmers corner and south-east towards Haughton (via the later Maypole Bank) (fn. 13) and Bridgnorth. In the south-east roads ran from Upper Smithies north to Willey via Harper's mill and south-west to the road to Haughton. From Barrow hamlet a road ran south-west to a group of houses, perhaps the hamlet of Prestenden. (fn. 14) The road north from Hangstree Gate was presumably closed when that settlement was cleared, c. 1818. (fn. 15) There was little later change in the road pattern, although several smaller roads had become tracks or footpaths by the 1980s.
The Saxon chapel was built at what was probably the northern edge of an extensive tract of woodland, the later Shirlett forest. (fn. 16) The name Barrow ('grove') sometimes occurs on the outskirts of a heavily wooded area. (fn. 17) The medieval landscape was apparently similar to that of the 17th century, when there was a clear division between the wooded southern half of the parish and the agricultural northern part, separated by the hamlet of Barrow and its open fields. (fn. 18) Arlescott was mentioned in the early 13th century, (fn. 19) the Marsh in 1291; (fn. 20) both were probably hamlets. (fn. 21) On the eastern edge of the parish the hamlet of 'Hanesty', whose name perhaps refers to a high, climbing track, probably existed by 1262; from the 17th century it was usually called Hangstree Gate. (fn. 22)
There was mining and ironworking in Shirlett in the Middle Ages. Economic activity, increasing in the early 17th century (as in Broseley), led to an agreement to divide Shirlett in 1625. (fn. 23) Although, by 1625, the parish was populous, Barrow hamlet, perhaps never large, then consisted only of Barrow Farm and two or three other houses. (fn. 24) There were several loose clusters of houses in the northern part of the parish. To the east of Barrow hamlet was Barrow Hill where, in 1618, John Slaney, lord of Marsh, had built almshouses and a school (fn. 25) among c. 10 squatters' cottages. The more nucleated settlement of Hangstree Gate, where a cottage was mentioned in 1540, stood immediately to their east. (fn. 26) East of the Marsh lay Marsh green, around whose edge were several cottages and Marsh manorial pound. South-east of Marsh green was a hamlet of c. 5 houses, already suggested as the hamlet of Prestenden noted in that area between the 12th and 17th centuries: in the 14th and 16th centuries Prestenden was near 'Gonninghford' or 'Guynyfordes yate', presumably the 'Winneford yate' owned in 1797 by Samuel Yate of the Marsh. (fn. 27) In the southern half of the parish there were cottages at Waltons Eaves, the coal works, the Black Moors, and Upper Smithies. The last named settlement, about a dozen houses, at least some inhabited by furnacemen, was partly in Willey parish. (fn. 28) In all there were perhaps 50-60 squatters' and miners' cottages c. 1620 in the part of Shirlett that was in Barrow. (fn. 29)
In 1327 Barrow was taxed with Benthall and Posenhall, and 17 paid. (fn. 30) Nine Barrow men were mustered in 1542, 2 fewer than the combined Benthall and Posenhall roll. (fn. 31) Barrow's population probably reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1642 the Protestation was taken by 67 adult men in the parish. (fn. 32) About 24 householders, excluding those in Caughley, paid hearth tax in 1672, (fn. 33) and there were 123 adult parishioners in 1676. (fn. 34) In 1729 there were 65 cottages 'about the furnace and Shirlett', and 11 at Barrow Hill and Hangstree Gate; some of those would have been in Willey parish. (fn. 35) In 1784 it was said that 82 cottages had been erected in Shirlett since 1625. (fn. 36) In 1721 three or four farms flanked the road around Barrow church; just north of the church were Barrow green and pound. (fn. 37)
The population of 1801-21, at c. 470, was perhaps already slightly below its peak. In the 1820s it fell to 351; (fn. 38) coal had begun to run out around Broseley, and Caughley porcelain works had closed. (fn. 39) Population then stabilized until it fell again, in the 1880s and 1890s, to 242. (fn. 40) In the 1920s and 1930s it recovered towards late 19th-century levels. (fn. 41)
About 1818, to improve the prospect from the new Willey Hall, Barrow Hill was cleared, part of the area being taken into the new park, and the school and almshouses were moved nearer to the church. (fn. 42) At the same time Hangstree Gate was cleared away. (fn. 43) Thereafter only gradual shrinkage altered the settlement pattern. By 1838 the hamlet of Barrow had dwindled to a farmhouse (Barrow House) and, to the east, the new almshouses, school, and school house. (fn. 44) Marsh green had been inclosed in the preceding 20 years. (fn. 45) By 1941 gas and electricity were available and water supplied by the Wenlock Corporation. (fn. 46) Nevertheless in the 1980s much of what settlement existed was scattered and isolated: in the southern woodland cottages were accessible only by minor roads and tracks.
There is no evidence of organized social life in Barrow outside the alehouse, perhaps because of the nearness of towns at Much Wenlock and, from the 17th century, Broseley. Between the later 15th and the 19th centuries the number of alesellers fluctuated between one and eight, averaging half a dozen. (fn. 47) Drink played a part in bannering in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 48) A friendly society was founded in 1797. (fn. 49)
Perhaps by 1803 (fn. 50) a chimney-like obelisk had been built in Shirlett, reputedly by George Forester (d. 1811), squire of Willey, either to mark the spot where a dog fell to its death or as the plinth of a pole from which a flag flew when Forester was at home. (fn. 51)
The King Edward VII Memorial Sanatorium was opened in Shirlett in 1910 by the Association for the Prevention of Consumption. Initially for 36 patients it was extended in 1913 to provide 60 places. It was improved in 1923 (fn. 52) and closed c. 1961. (fn. 53)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
BARROW, probably part of the Domesday manor of Much Wenlock, remained part of Wenlock priory's demesnes, probably by 1291 a member of Marsh manor, until they were surrendered to the Crown in 1540. (fn. 54)
In 1544 the manorial rights of BARROW, ATTERLEY, and WALTON, which thenceforward descended as one manor, were sold by the Crown to the attorney general William Whorwood. (fn. 55) On Whorwood's death in 1546 his estates, subject to his widow's dower, passed to his daughters Anne, wife of Ambrose Dudley (cr. earl of Warwick 1561), and Margaret, a minor, later the wife of Thomas Throckmorton. (fn. 56) Anne died without surviving issue in 1552, and on Warwick's death in 1590 her property passed to her cousin's son Thomas Whorwood (kt. 1604, d. 1616) of Compton (Staffs.), who had already acquired Margaret Throckmorton's interest. (fn. 57)
In 1613 Sir Thomas Whorwood sold the manor to Walter Acton (fn. 58) of Aldenham. Acton (d. 1641) was succeeded by his son Edward (cr. bt. 1644, d. 1659), and the manor subsequently descended with the baronetcy. (fn. 59) In an exchange of 1814 Sir Ferdinand Acton conveyed much of his Barrow land, with the manorial rights over that part, to Cecil Weld-Forester, (fn. 60) whose son J. G. W. Weld-Forester, Lord Forester, seems to have acquired the rest of the manorial rights c. 1855. (fn. 61) Barrow remained part of the Willey estate in 1984. (fn. 62)
In 1602 Thomas Whorwood sold BARROW FARM to its tenant Thomas Ruckley. (fn. 63) In 1622 Ruckley sold it to his brother and sister-in-law Edward and Anne Ruckley. Edward Ruckley (d. 1638) (fn. 64) was succeeded by his son William (fl. 1672) whose daughter and heir Judith married Francis Tarver. In 1743 the Tarvers' son William sold the 130-a. farm to the Revd. R. C. Hartshorne (d. 1752). (fn. 65) Hartshorne entailed it on members of the Garrett family of Weston-under-Lizard (Staffs.). In 1765 the farm belonged to Elizabeth Garrett who then married Jonathan Key (d. 1805). Elizabeth and her son John Key sold the farm to George Forester's trustees in 1812, and it remained part of the Willey estate in 1984. (fn. 66)
Barrow Farm or House, south-west of the church, is a big brick building incorporating early 17th-century fabric. (fn. 67)
ARLESCOTT, perhaps part of Much Wenlock manor in 1086, was said in 1484 to be held of the prior of Wenlock. (fn. 68) A mesne lordship was said in 1377 to belong to Fulk FitzWarin, (fn. 69) perhaps as heir to Warin of Metz or his male descendants, lords of Broseley until the 13th century. (fn. 70)
In the 13th century Arlescott was held by the Beysins, lords of Broseley. Philip of Broseley (d. c. 1240) held Arlescott in 1230. (fn. 71) He was apparently succeeded in Arlescott, as in Broseley, first by his brother Roger (d. 1243) then by their three sisters. About 1244 Mabel, widow of Adam de Beysin (d. 1238), granted her interest there to her younger son Warin (fl. 1244 × 1262). He in turn granted half of his land in Arlescott to his daughter Margaret. Robert of Arlescott, perhaps her brother, may also have had an interest. (fn. 72) In 1255 Robert de Beysin (d. 1267), son of Adam de Beysin, Mabel's eldest son and lord of Broseley, was lord of Arlescott. Alice, one of Mabel's sisters, granted all her interest in Arlescott to her daughter Amice between 1244 and 1249. (fn. 73)
By 1313 Arlescott belonged to Richard Burnell and it seems to have descended with his manor of Oaks (in Pontesbury), (fn. 74) coming by 1478 into the possession of Hugh Stapleton (d. 1484). Stapleton's heirs were Sir Richard Corbet of Moreton Corbet, Robert Coyney (or Coyne), and Richard Lee, the last two presumably by virtue of their descent from the coheirs of Sir Edward Burnell (d. 1377). (fn. 75) Corbet died in 1492 and the coparceners of Arlescott c. 1497 were Coyney and Fulk Lee, Richard's son. (fn. 76) Lee conveyed his portion to Coyney c. 1505 (fn. 77) and by 1509 Arlescott belonged to Richard Forster of Evelith (in Shifnal). Forster's son Thomas (d. by 1560), M.P. for Wenlock, owned Arlescott, as did Thomas's grandson Richard Forster (d. 1605). In 1610, when Richard's son and heir Walter died, Arlescott comprised a house and 252 a. Walter Forster left an infant son and heir George. (fn. 78) In 1681 Charles Forster of Vernhams Dean (Hants) sold Arlescott to the tenant, his kinsman Samuel Bowdler, and in 1691 Bowdler settled it on his daughter and heir, Joyce, on her marriage to Thomas Sprott (d. 1710). The Sprotts' son Henry succeeded to Arlescott and in 1721 came into possession of the Marsh house and demesnes, with which Arlescott thereafter descended. (fn. 79)
Arlescott Farm, taxed on seven hearths in 1672, (fn. 80) is probably late 16th- or early 17th-century. It stands on the east side of a small brick walled courtyard which in part may be late 16th-century. The courtyard is bounded on the west by an 18th-century stable and granary.
After Wenlock priory's surrender in 1540 its manor of MARSH remained with the Crown until 1554 (fn. 81) when it was granted for life to Stephen Hadnall, a courtier. (fn. 82) Hadnall bought the reversion in fee in 1558, (fn. 83) died in 1580, and was survived by his wife Margaret who later married Serjeant Richard Lewkenor (kt. 1600). (fn. 84) In 1600 Hadnall's daughter and son-in-law Ann and Hampden Powlett sold Marsh to John Slaney, a London merchant tailor. (fn. 85) In 1620 Slaney sold Marsh to John Weld (fn. 86) (kt. 1642, d. 1666). In 1658-9 Weld evidently settled a joint life interest in the manor on his daughters Dorothy Weld (d. 1674) and Mary Saltonstall (d. probably in 1674), widow. Thereafter it descended with Willey. (fn. 87)
In 1540 the manor house of Marsh, with the demesne lands, was separated from the manor and sold to Thomas Lokier, a Bristol merchant. (fn. 88) Lokier (d. 1546) was succeeded by his son Thomas, on whose death in 1603 the house with 300 a. (fn. 89) passed to Thomas's son Francis (d. 1636). (fn. 90) Francis was succeeded by his son Thomas (d. 1676), (fn. 91) followed by Thomas's daughter Ann (d. 1721), relict of Henry Sprott of Ashmore Brook (Staffs.). At Ann's death the house and demesnes passed to her grandson, the Revd. Henry Sprott (d. 1744). He was succeeded by his brother Dr. Samuel Sprott (d. 1760), who left the estate to a nephew Thomas Yate (d. 1772). Yate was succeeded by a cousin Mrs. Elizabeth Toldervey (d. 1797) and she by Yate's son Samuel. Samuel, having taken the additional surname of Sprott, died in 1802, leaving the estate to a cousin's son William Moseley, (fn. 92) who sold it in 1816 to Cecil Weld-Forester (fn. 93) (cr. Baron Forester 1821). (fn. 94) It remained in the Willey estate in 1984.
The Marsh is an early 19th-century red brick house. Apparently incorporating rubble walls of an earlier building, it stands on the south side of a walled court which is in part 18th-century. In 1672 the Marsh had thirteen hearths. (fn. 95) A stone building, used as a barn and forming the west side of the court, is probably late 16th-century. It has three low storeys, and the east elevation has, besides several windows, three identical doorways which may imply that it was once a lodging. To the north of the buildings earthworks and ponds are probably the relics of a small 17th- or 18th-century garden.
PRESTENDEN, a member of Marsh manor c. 1523, (fn. 96) was among the lands of Wenlock priory held in the early 16th century by Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle (d. 1542) and may thus have passed to Sir John Smith; (fn. 97) in 1550 another John Smith, perhaps a son or grandson of that name, was lord of Prestenden. (fn. 98) In 1636 Francis Lokier of the Marsh died seised of Prestenden, and his son Thomas was given seisin in 1637, when Prestenden was said to be held of Walter Acton's manor of Barrow. (fn. 99) No later mention of Prestenden is known.
In 1446 Richard Lacon, lord of Willey, had a pasture called Prestenden. (fn. 100)
In 1554 the Crown granted the great tithes of Arlescott and of Barrow to Stephen Hadnall (d. 1580) for life, and in 1581 sold them to two speculators. (fn. 103) Not long before 1631 John Clarke sold them (without the tithes of Barrow farm) to John Weld, lord of the manor of Marsh, (fn. 104) with which they seem to have descended thereafter. (fn. 105)
The great tithes of the Marsh demesnes descended from 1540 with that estate (fn. 106) but passed before 1773 to the lord of Marsh manor. Those of Barrow farm were sold in 1622 by Edward and Anne Littleton to Thomas Ruckley and descended with that estate until 1743 or later. They too belonged to the lord of Marsh by 1773. (fn. 107)
In an exchange of 1814 Cecil Weld-Forester conveyed the impropriate tithes of 162 a. to Sir Ferdinand Acton. (fn. 108)
Lord Forester's impropriate tithes were commuted to £283 2s. in 1839. The only other impropriator was Sir John Dalberg-Acton, whose tithes were then merged and extinguished. (fn. 109)
In the Middle Ages the southern half of Barrow was wooded, the core of the royal forest of Shirlett, while the northern half was farm land. Between them lay Barrow's open fields and, north of them, the large freeholds of Arlescott and the Marsh.
Until 1301 Shirlett forest extended c. 20 km. from Buildwas in the north to Aston Botterell in the south, and c. 9 km. west from the Severn. That year the forest charter reduced it to two hays, one of which, Shirlett, (fn. 110) occupied the southern half of Barrow and the northern ends of Acton Round and Morville. (fn. 111) Over a century before, in 1190, the prior of Wenlock had paid 20 marks to remove his demesne wood in Shirlett from the royal forest. (fn. 112) Presumably that was the later Prior's wood covering most of the southwestern part of what eventually became Barrow parish. (fn. 113) In the 13th century the priory was assarting there; (fn. 114) in the 14th century it had a woodward whose duties included allotting housebote and hedgebote. (fn. 115) In 1379-80 18 people paid pannage for 178 pigs; peat was cut and probably bees yielded honey. Browsing of goats was restricted, if not banned altogether. (fn. 116) The Crown exploited its woodland in the normal way, selling underwood (fn. 117) and, in the 13th century at least, granting oaks to local people and local religious houses. (fn. 118) In 1557 the woodward general authorized the sale of 100 old trees from Shirlett to the poor for fuel. (fn. 119)
At the Dissolution Wenlock priory's part of Shirlett covered c. 910 a. and was said to contain only oaks and to be without deer, although pigs were pannaged by commoners. Some income also came from the sale of dead oaks. (fn. 120) Priory tenants still received wood from the woodward. (fn. 121) Bounding Prior's wood were the other divisions of Shirlett: Willey Heald or Hill (c. 340 a.), a ½-km.-wide strip down the east side of Barrow; King's Hay (c. 698 a.) in the northern part of Morville; and Earl's wood (c. 411 a.) in the northern part of Acton Round. (fn. 122) With the breakup of the priory estate ancient common rights were frequently the subject of litigation. In 1554 the Crown ordered a recently inclosed wood on Barrow hill to be thrown open. (fn. 123) Stephen Hadnall, who bought Marsh manor from the Crown later that year, sought to clarify the bounds of Shirlett in 1562 and 1568, and throughout the 1570s and 1580s he was involved in a series of disputes over Shirlett, particularly Prior's wood, and the extent of his manorial jurisdiction there. (fn. 124) Hadnall's successors as lords of Marsh, Hampden Powlett and John Slaney, were similarly embroiled in the late 1590s, early 1600s, and 1609-11. (fn. 125) Common rights nevertheless survived. In the late 16th and early 17th century the inhabitants of Barrow, Atterley, Walton, and Willey were entitled to wood from Shirlett and could pannage ringed swine there; food offerings were due to the lord of Marsh at certain times of year in return for wood, and cash in respect of each pig killed or sold. (fn. 126) In 1618 tenants of the manor owed the carting of 140 loads of wood from Shirlett to Willey Hall. (fn. 127) Possibly there were then few standards, for in 1619 John Weld, the new lord of Willey, intended to sow acorns. (fn. 128) Certainly there was some clearance about then, and 50 a. were inclosed as small plots for tillage. (fn. 129)
In 1625 Shirlett, 2,300 a. of waste and commons, was divided between the surrounding manors. (fn. 130) In Barrow John Weld, lord of Willey and Marsh, received 410 a., i.e. almost all of Willey Heald and part of Prior's wood; the Willey commoners (including those of the Bold and Dean) obtained 300 a., i.e. the rest of Willey Heald and a large central area of Prior's wood; Francis Lokier of the Marsh received 102 a., the northern tip of Prior's wood. The Barrow commoners received 100 a. at the northern ends of Prior's wood and Willey Heald, the Atterley and Walton commoners 100 a. for each vill on the western edge of Barrow (Prior's wood). The commons at the south end of Barrow were divided between the commoners of Astley Abbots (fn. 131) and those of Haughton Croft and Kingsley in Morville parish. (fn. 132) Walter Acton (inter alia as lord of Barrow, Atterley, and Walton) (fn. 133) received an allotment of 350 a. in King's Hay where Aldenham Park was later made. Nevertheless only land allotted to the manorial lords (Weld and Acton) and to Francis Lokier and freeholders in Barrow, in all c. 1,112 a., could be inclosed; the rest were to remain open. Lokier and the Barrow freeholders apparently soon inclosed their allotments, as did Weld who largely incorporated his in his new park at Willey. All Weld's portions were bounded with a pale. (fn. 134) Abuses continued: in 1631 the inhabitants of Barrow still put cattle on others' commons. (fn. 135) In 1775 the remaining Shirlett commons in Barrow and Morville parishes, perhaps some 662 a., (fn. 136) were inclosed by Act, (fn. 137) most of the new inclosures there going to Sir Richard Acton (201 a.), George Forester (155 a.), and Thomas Whitmore (90 a.) in respect of common rights belonging to their properties in Walton and Atterley, Willey, Haughton Croft and Kinsley, and Astley Abbots.
Barrow's open-field land was mentioned in 1262 and 1321-2. (fn. 138) In 1340 it was said that corn was deficient after an unfavourable season, that there were no sheep, and that several peasants were too poor to till their lands. (fn. 139) In the 16th and early 17th century Shirlett and Cross fields were mentioned; (fn. 140) Shirlett field lay west of Barrow church, (fn. 141) and other open-field land lay north, east, and perhaps south-west of the church. Final inclosure probably occurred in the 17th century. (fn. 142)
The Marsh demesne was cultivated separately in the Middle Ages and later. In 1369 and 1379 it was estimated as 2 carucates (c. 240 a.) and was cropped in a three-course rotation. (fn. 143) In 1468 Wenlock priory leased the Marsh to William Clerk, Wenlock's first known M.P.; the lease was renewed in 1475. (fn. 144) Arlescott too had its own land: 2 carucates in 1229. (fn. 145) Lynchets lie northeast of Arlescott Farm. (fn. 146) In the later 17th century Arlescott was a rich farm, with cattle worth £150, horses (£60), sheep (£29), and corn (£26) in 1677. (fn. 147)
By 1608 leases for three lives were being granted in Barrow. The lord exacted terciary and heriot. One condition of a lease of 1769 required the tenant to be ready to keep a hound or spaniel for Sir Richard Acton. (fn. 148) In 1785 leases for three lives were introduced for all Shirlett cottagers on the Forester estate. The uniformity did not last long and in the early 19th century, as before 1785, various short-term leases were created. (fn. 149)
In the 1720s most land (348 a.) around Barrow hamlet, apart from Barrow farm, was owned by Sir Whitmore Acton and was divided into four scattered farms, two of c. 110 a., and two of c. 60 a. Acton also owned six smallholdings on c. 13 a. (fn. 150) In 1814 much of Sir Ferdinand Acton's land in Barrow passed to Cecil Weld-Forester by exchange, (fn. 151) and by 1828, following the acquisition of the Marsh and Arlescott farms (in all 736 a.) from William Moseley and of Barrow farm (112 a.) from the Keys, J. G. W. WeldForester, Lord Forester, was virtually the sole landowner in Barrow. (fn. 152) The former Acton land had been taken into Barrow farm, then 440 a.; the Marsh extended to 412 a., Arlescott to 312 a., and two Shirlett farms to 141 a. and 54 a. There were three smallholdings of 14-24 a. and c. 25 of under 10 a.; most of the last were west of Shirlett where commons had been inclosed by Act of 1773. (fn. 153)
By 1910 Arlescott, Barrow, and the Marsh farms had been reduced to 264 a., 346 a., and 290 a. respectively. Smallholding land had increased correspondingly: there were 5 holdings of 20-30 a., 12 of 10-20 a., and 20 under 10 a. (fn. 154) Later the number of smallholdings fell, and by 1965 only six agricultural holdings had fewer than 30 a. (fn. 155)
In 1801 twice as much wheat as barley and oats was grown. (fn. 156) In 1838 48 per cent of Barrow was arable, 32 per cent meadow and pasture, and 20 per cent woodland. (fn. 157) By 1867 three times as much grassland as arable was recorded, and only after the Second World War did the amount of arable again approach its early 19th-century level. Between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries barley replaced wheat as the main cereal. The proportion of cattle among livestock remained fairly constant, while pigs became more numerous than sheep or cattle.
A smithy in Shirlett was occupied by John Myston and Thomas Venymer c. 1532; they paid £13 rent to Wenlock priory, and the priory also received £5 13s. from the quarrying of stone, presumably ironstone. (fn. 158) In 1532 the priory let a smithy in Shirlett, near the house of Thomas Ellestone, in Marsh manor, to the Caughley ironmaster Thomas Munslow. The furnace was to be supplied with ironstone from Shirlett and wood from Willey and Caughley. (fn. 159)
The works, called a forge, was leased by the Crown to Reginald and Thomas Ridley in 1541 and in 1554 Stephen Hadnall was granted the reversion. At the same time the Crown granted Hadnall a second Shirlett forge, occupied by Alexander Wood; (fn. 160) that was perhaps the 'new smithy' noted in 1552. (fn. 161) In the 1550s ironstone was mined at Barrow hill and Willey Heald. (fn. 162)
Mineral rights passed with Marsh manor to John Weld in 1620. (fn. 163) Weld intended to sell ironstone and to let a coalpit, both probably in Shirlett. The Shirlett agreement of 1625 gave the manorial lords sole rights to dig for coal, ironstone, and 'slate', though obliging them to repair damaged roads and fill worked-out pits. (fn. 164) The main coal-producing area, worked by William Porter, then lay on the south-western boundary of Barrow and extended into Acton Round. An area called White Mines lay 0.5 km. north, with a 'footrid' nearby. (fn. 165)
By 1630 Weld, as lord of Marsh, had increased the ironstone yield and installed a sough to drain the coal delph. (fn. 166) His annual income from the Marsh then included £50 a year from coal and c. £40 from ironstone. (fn. 167) Weld was aware that unexploited reserves of coal and ironstone, the latter saleable to Sir Richard Newport, (fn. 168) lay under Barrow hill, Atterley, and Francis Lokier's Marsh demesne. (fn. 169) Cottagers were digging coal at Barrow green by 1639, and small pits proliferated in Shirlett in the 1670s. (fn. 170) As in other coalfield parishes, (fn. 171) smallholders combined mining or coal carrying with agriculture. Anthony Jenks (d. 1663), of Barrow, left personalty worth £27 3s. 6d., including 4 horses, 2 pigs, 6 lambs, 3 hens, hay, fodder, and clover, coalworking tools (including three picks), coal sacks, and four pack saddles. (fn. 172)
Limited coal and ironstone mining probably continued in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1702 George Weld obtained the right to make a sough draining on to Edward Acton's land at Aldenham from a prospective coal and ironstone mine in Shirlett. (fn. 173) A month later Weld leased mining rights in Shirlett to William Daughton of Willey, Joseph Read of Atterley, and Nicholas Harrison of Broseley on condition that they supplied reasonably priced ironstone to Willey furnace. (fn. 174) In 1711 the tenant of Willey furnace was allowed to mine ironstone in Willey new park. (fn. 175) Agreements of 1757 and 1759 between George Forester and the New Willey Co. allowed the company to dig coal and ironstone in Barrow. (fn. 176) Furnacemen and colliers were among the parish's cottagers in 1785, (fn. 177) and some coal was still got in Barrow c. 1800. (fn. 178)
There was a quarry south of Maypole Bank in the late 19th century. (fn. 179)
Marsh manor court existed by 1291. (fn. 180) In the Middle Ages its jurisdiction evidently coincided with the area of Wenlock priory's Marsh grange, (fn. 181) which originally consisted of Atterley, Walton, and Barrow and was enlarged between 1379 and 1390 to include Bradley grange (Wyke, Bradley, Posenhall, Benthall, Wigwig, and part of Harley) and at some time between 1379 and 1540 to include the Broseley 'Priory land' and probably Caughley. The demesne part of Presthope was apparently in Marsh manor by 1540. (fn. 182) Records survive for 1334, 1344-5, 1379-80, 1403, 1411- 12, 1420-1, 1431, 1449, 1477, 1482, and 1530. Several Marsh court rolls survive from most decades after 1540 and large numbers from the years 1620-1840. (fn. 183)
It seems likely that the one court had originally both 'baron' jurisdiction (withdrawn from Much Wenlock manor after 1255) (fn. 184) and some limited 'leet' jurisdiction, which did not involve more than hearing breaches of the assize of ale (e.g. in 1403) (fn. 185) and electing constables for the member townships (e.g. for Barrow in 1477). (fn. 186) Most business concerned agricultural matters such as encroachment and making waste, and many presentments were made of vert and pannaging offences in Shirlett. (fn. 187) The court often met at Wyke (in Much Wenlock) in the later 16th and early 17th century, (fn. 188) and surviving records of the 1580s call the manor Wyke. (fn. 189)
In 1554 Marsh manor was deemed to have leet jurisdiction over every place that had been in the manor at any time before the Dissolution; in 1568, however, there was some uncertainty as to Marsh's former constituents. (fn. 190)
The court's interests and ambitions widened in the early 17th century: regular presentments began to be made of breaches of the assize of ale. (fn. 191) In 1619 John Weld intended to 'keep a leet' for Shirlett (fn. 192) and in 1620 started to call Marsh court a 'court leet and court baron'. (fn. 193) In 1622-3 only Posenhall, Shirlett, the Smithies (in Willey), and Wyke and Bradley presented, (fn. 194) but from 1634, evidently under an agreement that year between Weld and Charles Baldwyn, lord of Bourton hundred, (fn. 195) Barrow (probably including Caughley), (fn. 196) Atterley and Walton, Broseley (probably the 'Priory land' only), (fn. 197) Wigwig and Harley, and Willey also began to make regular presentments to Marsh court leet. (fn. 198) In effect Weld bought Baldwyn's claim to those places as parts of Bourton hundred. Presthope and properties in Benthall and Broseley had also been discussed, (fn. 199) but Presthope stayed under the jurisdiction of Bourton hundred (fn. 200) despite Weld's attempts until 1640 (unsuccessfully except in 1635) to exact the suit of its inhabitants, (fn. 201) and relations between Marsh and Benthall manors, whereby Benthall was held in socage of Marsh manor for 4s. 6d. a year and suit to Marsh leet, were agreed in 1637. (fn. 202)
The court's main concerns were the assize of ale, pannaging, taking in lodgers, and the appointment of constables; it also dealt with the reservation of minor game and bees to the lord, with failures to keep up shooting butts, bows and arrows, and with minor breaches of the peace. In 1624 Phoebe Coulton was presented as a scold and for cursing a man and his cattle. (fn. 203) The court met in Broseley in the 1640s and earlier 1650s, but Hangstree Gate was the usual meeting place from 1655 or 1656. (fn. 204) By the early 18th century two Coalbrookdale farms also did suit to the court. Presentments by then were few, apart from cottage encroachments on the waste. (fn. 205) A separate constable was elected for Caughley from 1792. (fn. 206) The court last met at Hangstree Gate in 1811, shortly before the settlement was cleared away; thereafter it met in Broseley again. (fn. 207) After 1816 the court met once a year; previously, since at least the 1590s, it had met twice yearly. (fn. 208) Records cease in 1840, (fn. 209) though the court still met at the Lion in Broseley c. 1879. It appointed 31 constables but neither they nor the court retained any function. (fn. 210)
In 1619 John Weld planned to erect a pound for Shirlett, (fn. 211) and there was a pound at Marsh Green c. 1625. (fn. 212) There was a pound for the manor of Barrow, Atterley, and Walton north of the church in 1721. (fn. 213)
A separate court baron for Barrow, Atterley, and Walton probably began to be held following their acquisition by William Whorwood in 1544, (fn. 214) although the three places presented at Marsh leet from 1634. (fn. 215) In 1602 the court baron was being held twice yearly. (fn. 216) In the late 17th century presentments were mainly agricultural. In the late 18th century the few presentments at the twice yearly court were for encroachment. Presentment ceased in the early 19th century although suit continued to be exacted until 1836 or later. (fn. 217) Sir Ferdinand Acton retained the right to hold a court baron for Barrow after the 1814 exchange of lands with Cecil Weld-Forester. (fn. 218)
Two churchwardens were apparently appointed (from 1629) by rotation, and there was a highway surveyor in 1635. By the 1650s two surveyors and two overseers of the poor were appointed annually. (fn. 219) Barrow vestry remained a highway authority until 1889. (fn. 220)
In the years 1812-15 c. 45 people usually received permanent out-relief and another 30 or so occasional relief. Expenditure on the poor after 1816, when it was £320 10s., was almost always over £400 and sometimes over £500. (fn. 221) In 1822 the Barrow overseers occupied part of Caughley Place (formerly Thomas Turner's house), presumably as a poor house. (fn. 222)
Barrow was in Madeley poor-law union 1836- 1930 (fn. 223) and in Madeley rural sanitary district from 1872 (fn. 224) until 1889, when it was included in the Barrow ward and sanitary division of the borough of Wenlock, (fn. 225) under a largely autonomous district committee. (fn. 226) After the dissolution of Wenlock M.B. in 1966 Barrow C.P. (fn. 227) was in Bridgnorth rural district until 1974 (fn. 228) and Bridgnorth district thereafter. (fn. 229)
Barrow was part of the large parish of Holy Trinity, Much Wenlock. Probably by the mid 11th century the minster at Much Wenlock had built a chapel at Barrow. (fn. 232) By 1277 Wenlock priory was presenting a rector of Barrow chapel (fn. 233) who presumably received the tithes of Barrow. In 1283 the priory reasserted Wenlock's ancient parochial rights and the rector was reduced to the status of chaplain, owing dues to the vicar of Much Wenlock, who was declared to have cure of souls in Barrow. (fn. 234) In 1321 the prior appointed a chaplain to serve Barrow and evidently Posenhall, either personally or through another, demising to him all the chapel's lands and the altarages and offerings. (fn. 235) That arrangement may have been encouraged by the Crown in 1349-50, exercising the alien priory's patronage of Barrow chapel. By 1540 the priory seems to have conceived of Marsh manor as also a parish, centred on Barrow church. (fn. 236) Nevertheless Barrow chapel reverted to being, or remained, a dependency of Holy Trinity, Much Wenlock, until the early 17th century. (fn. 237) It had a graveyard in 1568 and burial rights by 1611. (fn. 238) At that time Barrow was still occasionally said to be in 'Marsh' parish. (fn. 239)
Patronage of the chaplaincy remained with Wenlock priory until it surrendered in 1540, although Wenlock's alien status allowed the Crown to present. (fn. 240) After 1540 officiating ministers were apparently appointed by the vicar of Much Wenlock. (fn. 241) In the mid 17th century the inhabitants of Posenhall attended Barrow church and made payments to the minister there, and by then Barrow was frequently under the care of the rector of Willey; the two livings were formally united in 1822. (fn. 242) In 1835 Barrow was described as a perpetual curacy annexed to the rectory of Willey. (fn. 243) The united benefice of Linley with Willey and Barrow was created in 1976. (fn. 244)
In 1601 the minister received an income from small tithes and Easter offerings, (fn. 245) and between 1611, or earlier, and 1616 he received burial fees by consent of Much Wenlock vestry. (fn. 246) A commission of inquiry into Shropshire livings and parishes, probably that appointed in 1649, (fn. 247) found that the church had little value and no glebe or tithes. The minister's income comprised Easter offerings and money given by some parishioners in lieu of small tithes; it came to some £7 or £8 a year and was augmented by parishioners' money gifts. Proposals to combine Barrow with other livings came to nothing. Between 1671 and 1734 communicants (other than the principal ratepayers and the poor) paid the churchwardens church pence of 2d. towards church expenses; between 7s. and £1 a year was usually raised, (fn. 248) payments which presumably explain the statement in 1668 that the minister was paid 'by custom'. (fn. 249) The importance of church pence declined after 1709, when they produced 7s. 6d. while the nine ratepayers contributed £4 5s. 4d. In 1716 the living was said to be worth £5. (fn. 250) It was augmented five times between 1745 and 1810 by Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 251) In 1783 a 43-a. farm in Clee Stanton was bought, and the living was worth c. £28 a year c. 1790. (fn. 252) In 1839 the minister's income from customary payments (including 18s. from Caughley and 8s. from Swinney) was commuted to a rent charge of £3 15s. 2d. on certain lands, (fn. 253) and in 1851 his total income in respect of Barrow parish was £56. (fn. 254) The Clee Stanton farm was sold in 1855. (fn. 255)
There may have been a chaplain's house in 1321, when the chaplain was required to build a new barn in the rectory close at Barrow and to maintain other 'buildings' there. (fn. 256) In 1716, 1819, and probably at other times the minister lived in the school house at Barrow school, where he was the master. (fn. 257) In 1740, on his arrival as incumbent, John Fayle bought a house in Barrow. (fn. 258) The 'old clergyman's house' on the bank between Barrow and Willey was demolished in 1816, apparently because it was visible from the new Willey Hall. (fn. 259)
The first known incumbent, John de Wicumbe, was not in holy orders and his living was sequestrated. (fn. 260) James de Tyceford, deprived in 1284, was perhaps related to the prior of Wenlock. (fn. 261) Richard, who had died or resigned by 1321, appears to have officiated at Barrow as an appointee of the prior. (fn. 262) In 1321 Hamon Corn became incumbent by an agreement made in the prior's court. He, or another priest, and a clerk were to serve the chapel, Hamon receiving all lands and tenements belonging to it there and in Posenhall, with altarages and offerings; he was to maintain all the glebe buildings in Barrow and Posenhall, receiving housebote and hedgebote from the prior's woodward and firebote when resident, and was to pay the prior a rent of twelve capons a year. (fn. 263)
In or before the 1520s a boy fell into St. Mildburg's well in Much Wenlock. Among the actions taken to revive him was a barefoot pilgrimage by his father and monks from Wenlock to Barrow. (fn. 264) In 1547 an image of the Blessed Virgin from Barrow was burnt in Much Wenlock market place. (fn. 265) Thomas Acton alias Doughtie (d. 1551), a former monk of Wenlock, conducted a wedding at Barrow in 1549 perhaps as the regular minister. (fn. 266) Randal Massey (d. 1592), schooled in Much Wenlock in his youth, was curate at Barrow in 1563. (fn. 267)
In the 1630s communion was celebrated four times a year. (fn. 268) Richard Knott, curate in 1642, signed the Shropshire presbyterian ministers' Testimony (1648) but conformed in 1662. (fn. 269) In 1649 he preached once a Sunday at Barrow and Willey. (fn. 270) From the 1680s the rector of Willey served Barrow. (fn. 271) In the 1670s communion began to be celebrated five times a year, increasing to six times (though not invariably) in the late 1690s. Large amounts of wine were bought, 8 qt. for Easter 1692. At Christmas 1695 the borough bailiff and a magistrate received communion at Barrow separately from the parishioners. (fn. 272) In 1716 there was a morning service every Sunday and an afternoon service every other Sunday, with communion six times a year. (fn. 273)
In 1756 the parishioners proceeded against John Fayle, minister 1740-71 and rector of Beckbury from 1754, for neglecting to read prayers; proceedings were later dropped, (fn. 274) but Fayle began to employ curates. (fn. 275) In 1778-9 a psalm teacher was employed. (fn. 276) In 1851 55 adults and 95 children attended the fortnightly service. (fn. 277)
The church of St. Giles, so dedicated by c. 1740, (fn. 278) comprises chancel, nave, north chapel, south porch, and west tower. The chancel, 5.74 by 3.88 m. internally, may date from the early or mid 11th century. It is built of good quality dressed and coursed stone and originally had a steeply pitched gable roof. Externally the walls rest upon a triple plinth visible on the north, south, and east sides. A defaced pilaster strip with a possible naturalistic capital runs up the lower part of the centre of the north wall. Perhaps also original are a double-splayed window high in the east part of the north wall, and the chancel arch with through-stone jambs, originally flat-faced imposts, and a square-sectioned hood moulding on the west face. The visible former gable suggests that the original nave was probably of wood. If so, it was rebuilt in rubble, perhaps in the mid or late 11th century. Internally the nave measures 15.38 m. by 6.45 m., and was entered by a tall west door (later the tower arch) surmounted by a tympanum decorated with diaper-type work and by a similar south door, also with tympanum. The south door was set between windows piercing the centre and west end of the side wall, an arrangement probably mirrored in the north wall. There may also originally have been a third, easternmost, window on each side. (fn. 279) In the earlier 12th century a rubble west tower of at least three low stages was built. It had a west door and lancet windows. About the same time a single-splayed window was inserted in the south wall of the chancel. That was soon half cut away by the insertion of a priest's door. It was perhaps also at that time that a north door, opposite the south one, was added to the nave.
The only major addition to the church in the Middle Ages was a north chapel. (fn. 280) In the 15th century the west window in the south wall was renewed. In the 1520s work was undertaken on the cancellum, (fn. 281) probably the chancel; (fn. 282) the east wall of the latter was certainly rebuilt in or after the late Middle Ages. (fn. 283)
By 1618 the church had a south porch and the tower a pyramidal roof. (fn. 284) Perhaps about then tall rectangular windows were inserted in the north wall of the chancel and the south wall of the nave. The north chapel was rebuilt in brick in 1688 by Samuel Bowdler of Arlescott. The south porch was rebuilt in brick with stone details and with an iron gate in 1705. (fn. 285) About the same time an upper stage in brick was added to the tower. Much was spent c. 1778 inserting a ceiling. (fn. 286) About 1800 there was talk of adding two pews to one which Edward Ruckley had built in the chancel c. 1634; the patron George Forester threatened to pull down the chancel were that to happen. (fn. 287)
The east wall of the chancel was rebuilt in 1844. During G. E. Street's restoration in 1852 medieval wall paintings, including a life-sized mounted knight, were briefly revealed as the plaster was stripped. (fn. 288) At the same time the decoration on the south door's tympanum was cut off, the chancel arch imposts were chamfered, a two-light window replaced the rectangular one in the south nave wall, squints were made into the chancel, and oak benches were installed. (fn. 289) In Ewan Christian's more sympathetic restoration of 1894-5 the east wall of the chancel was again rebuilt and the porch restored. It was probably then that the north chapel was rebuilt in stone. Before 1937 the west tympanum was pierced for electric cable. (fn. 290)
The churchyard, which contains several cast iron memorials, was closed in 1882 and a new burial ground opened nearby on land given by Lord Forester. (fn. 291) The burial ground was extended in 1935. (fn. 292)
One of the two bells is dated 1661. (fn. 293) The plate includes a chalice of 1625 and a paten of 1700. (fn. 294) Parts of the register survive for 1611-15 and 1633-7 and from 1727 it is complete. (fn. 295)
Mrs. Mary Twyne was a recusant in 1680, (fn. 296) and in 1716 a Roman Catholic gentlewoman and her two maids lived in the parish. (fn. 297) In 1811 a house was licensed for Particular Baptists. (fn. 298)
In 1618 (fn. 299) John Slaney, lord of Marsh, (fn. 300) built a school on Barrow hill, which he maintained during his life and endowed by will proved in 1632: he left the school a £30 rent charge (bought from John Weld) on Willey manor and left lands in Astley Abbots and at the Hem (in Linley) to Slaney's nephew John Slaney (d. c. 1654), (fn. 301) charged in perpetuity with a rent to maintain the school. The master, preferably to be a 'preaching minister', was to have £10 a year and the school house; a great part of 6 a. nearby and free coals were also assigned to the school. The master might take private pupils, but to earn his full salary he was to teach, free of charge, 20 poor boys to read and write, fitting them for apprenticeship. The stone schoolroom had a brick floor. (fn. 302)
In 1671 the master was a clergyman (fn. 303) and in 1716 and 1819 minister of Barrow; in 1819 he received the £10 but an usher taught the boys. The owners of the Hem continued to maintain the school until, in 1816, John Stephens gave it and adjoining land to Cecil Weld-Forester in exchange for a site near the church where WeldForester built a new school c. 1819. Pupils from Barrow and Willey, chosen by the master under Weld-Forester's 'sanction', usually left before they were 11. (fn. 304) Weld-Forester thus probably became the school's trustee, and his heirs, the Lords Forester, were its patrons and later rebuilt it again. (fn. 305)
By 1837 the school was mixed on the National system. (fn. 306) Its endowment continued, but pupils also paid fees until 1891 and the patron met any annual deficit. With a new classroom built in 1877 the school had 65 places. (fn. 307) By 1887 it was overcrowded (fn. 308) and in 1891 was rebuilt on the same site, two rooms providing 58 places. (fn. 309) Closely associated with the church, the school was known as Barrow-cum-Willey C.E. school. (fn. 310) Exceptionally irregular attendance helped to mar pupils' progress. (fn. 311)
During the Second World War the school admitted evacuees from London, Liverpool, and Chingford. (fn. 312) Boys aged 13 attended woodwork centres at Broseley 1936-40 and Much Wenlock 1947-9, girls aged 13 attended Much Wenlock cookery centre 1946-9. (fn. 313) Thirteen-year-olds transferred to Much Wenlock C.E. school in 1949, 11-year-olds to Much Wenlock Modern school opened in 1952. (fn. 314)
The school became aided in 1957 (fn. 315) and was improved in 1958. (fn. 316) The roll was 32 in 1967 but 63 in 1973, an increase due entirely to extra-parochial admissions: by 1972 half of the pupils came from Broseley and its neighbourhood. (fn. 317) The roll was falling in the earlier 1980s. (fn. 318)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1618 John Slaney built almshouses along with the school on Barrow hill. He maintained them during his life and endowed them by will proved in 1632. They formed a row of two-storeyed houses with three chimneys and three side entrances, each probably admitting to a lower and an upper apartment. They housed six local almspeople who received money, clothing, and coal. Cecil Weld-Forester demolished them c. 1818 and built a single-storeyed row of six near the church. In 1819 allowances remained the same those in the founder's will. Lord Forester (d. 1874) and his widow (d. 1894) (fn. 319) each left £500 to provide income for the almspeople. The charity's income was £510 in 1975. (fn. 320)
In 1788 £9 of poor's money was applied to church repairs. In return the parish was to pay 10s. yearly for ever to the poor. It was still paid in 1899. (fn. 321)
J. M. Howells, by will proved 1868, left £50, the interest to be spent on bread. Distribution began in 1878 and continued in 1905. (fn. 322)