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.
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Posenhall, a small extra-parochial place, represents part of a former chapelry and township in Much Wenlock parish; it lies between Barrow, Benthall, and Willey, c. 4 km. north-east of Much Wenlock. It was entirely agricultural save during the 18th and 19th centuries when there were extractive and pottery industries. (fn. 1) Anciently it probably included land which by 1844 formed the south-western excrescence of Benthall parish: (fn. 2) in 1618 land west of the road to Broseley (including Posenhall green) was reckoned part of Posenhall, but it was later in Benthall. (fn. 3) Part of the township, probably representing the former priory demesne, evidently owed no tithes, and the chapel disappeared before 1618. (fn. 4) The untithed part of the township became extra-parochial, and in the 19th century, maintaining its own poor, duly became a civil parish. (fn. 5) It then comprised 345 a. (140 ha.) including 51 a. (21 ha.) in a rectangular detachment to the south-east surrounded by Barrow parish. (fn. 6) The detachment, unpopulated, was transferred in 1883 to Barrow C.P., (fn. 7) which absorbed the rest of Posenhall C.P. in 1966. (fn. 8)
In the south-west the boundary touched the 213-m. contour, and in the north-east the land is over 180 m. From all parts the land falls to Hay (formerly Cheese) (fn. 9) brook which, rising in Benthall, drains through Posenhall into Dean brook in Willey. Between Posenhall hamlet and Marsh Head, Hay brook flows through Colley's dingle, narrow there but opening out to the south. (fn. 10) The name Posenhall perhaps means a hollow shaped like a bag (fn. 11) or purse. (fn. 12) The 19thcentury boundary followed the Broseley road in the north-west but elsewhere field edges, some coinciding with the line of the medieval park pale of Willey. (fn. 13) Posenhall lies almost entirely on boulder clay. (fn. 14)
Posenhall was larger in the Middle Ages than it was later and, to judge from the existence of a chapel there, (fn. 15) it was perhaps more populous, but there are no medieval figures. (fn. 16) As in 1618 settlement probably flanked the Broseley road, on whose east side stood the chapel, mentioned in the early 14th century. The settlement was probably largely surrounded by open-field land, although there was common around the township's northern edge and woodland probably in the south. (fn. 17) In 1618 four farms lay around Posenhall green, one to the west, the others to the east. Just to the north, in Benthall, was Purse well, a main water source. (fn. 18)
North and south of Posenhall green there were lanes out of the Broseley road north to Benthall and south-west to Arlescott (in Barrow). A little farther south the road forked, one way to Much Wenlock (via the Marsh), the other to Barrow. The Broseley-Wenlock road, whose width was set at 41 ft. in 1637, (fn. 19) was turnpiked in 1756 and disturnpiked in 1867. (fn. 20)
By the 1830s settlement had contracted; only two of the four farmhouses of 1618 remained and the green had been inclosed. The Benthall parish boundary then ran along the east side of the former green; Little Posenhall Farm, occupied in 1618 by Rowland Haynes, was thus in Benthall parish in the 1830s. It is a substantial T shaped building. One wing, of two storeys and an attic, is of stone and probably late 16th-century. Its large lateral stack is topped by elaborate brick chimneys of similar date. The abutting brick wing, c. 1750, probably replaced a timber framed predecessor. Abutting to the north-east is a brick malthouse and pigeon house, also c. 1750. To the east stood what in 1618 had been Roger Moane's farmhouse, a late 16th-century building much altered in the 18th century; its service end was burnt down in the mid 1960s. In the 1830s a few cottages were scattered around the farmhouses. (fn. 21) In the 19th and earlier 20th century the population was c. 20, as it had probably been from the 17th. (fn. 22)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1086 POSENHALL was probably part of Much Wenlock manor. (fn. 23) By the 1140s Uchtred held it of the prior, for 10s. a year. On his death c. 1150 Prior Reynold granted the estate in fee for 12s. a year to Uchtred's son Gregory. (fn. 24) Gregory had the whole of Posenhall, which was later divided between at least two estates.
One was evidently held by Alan son of Berengar, or of Buildwas (fl. 1176, d. by 1226), who was succeeded by another Alan of Buildwas (fl. 1228, d. by 1230) and he by another (fl. 1230- 67). (fn. 25) In 1255 Alan of Buildwas and Andrew of Willey were joint lords of Posenhall, holding of the prior of Wenlock and paying 22s. between them. (fn. 26) The third Alan also held land in Willey (fn. 27) and may have been related to its lords. (fn. 28)
In 1292 Alan of Buildwas's daughter and heir Alice apparently held his share of Posenhall, as she and her husband Edmund de Leynham did in 1302. (fn. 29) The later descent of the Leynhams' estate has not been traced, but it may have reverted to the priory. A farm at Posenhall owed suit by 1321 to the prior's demesne manor of Bradley, which was absorbed by Marsh manor in the 1380s. (fn. 30) In the 15th and 16th centuries two farms (Childe's and Haynes's) which had belonged to the priory's manor of Marsh also owed rent or suit to the Lacons and their court at Willey. (fn. 31)
In the early 17th century most of the land in Posenhall was acquired by John Weld. In 1618 John Slaney, lord of Marsh, and his brother Humphrey sold Haynes's and Childe's farms to Weld, (fn. 32) who was already the owner of the largest farm in Posenhall, Moane's farm, (fn. 33) and so the largest landowner in the township. Weld bought Willey manor in 1618 and Marsh manor in 1620, (fn. 34) and Posenhall descended with them, (fn. 35) remaining part of the Willey estate in 1984. (fn. 36)
In 1455 Isabel, widow of William Horseley of Posenhall, conveyed a small farm in Posenhall to William Bastard whose son and heir William conveyed it in 1475 to Joan Robinson, daughter of Walter Childe of Posenhall. (fn. 37) In 1518 Thomas Lacon leased the farm to Thomas Childe (fn. 38) and in 1618 it was sold, with Haynes's, to John Weld. (fn. 39)
Before 1518 John Robinson granted 16s. rent from the farm to Our Lady's service in Much Wenlock parish church. (fn. 40) The rent that Thomas Clarke of Posenhall paid to that service in 1547-8 (fn. 41) was probably the 16s. rent that the Crown leased in 1573 and sold (to London speculators) in 1576; (fn. 42) the tenant of Childe's farm paid 16s. 'chantry rent' to Thomas Lawley's heirs in 1631. (fn. 43)
In 1576 Stephen and Margaret Hadnall sold lands in Benthall, Posenhall, and Wyke to Lawrence Benthall. The property was probably incorporated into Benthall manor. (fn. 44)
In 1554 the Crown granted impropriate TITHES in Posenhall, formerly owned by Wenlock priory, to Stephen Hadnall for life, and in 1581 sold them to Edmund Downing and Peter Ashton. (fn. 45) They descended thereafter with the great tithes of Barrow until 1631 or later. (fn. 46) Like the Posenhall small tithes, they were afterwards added to the tithes of neighbouring parishes. (fn. 47)
Uchtred, who held Posenhall in the earlier 12th century, had Posenhall's share of a wood that evidently extended south towards Barrow and east into Willey. In a resolution of a dispute with Wenlock priory and its tenants in Barrow concerning part of the wood, Uchtred, with his son Gregory, partitioned the disputed part of the wood with them; the undisputed part, which lay partly in Willey and partly in Posenhall, remained in the respective hands of the priory and of Uchtred and Gregory. Gregory later allowed the priory's tenants in Barrow to have firebote and hedgebote and pannage and other pasture rights in his wood, though he reserved timber and the right to make assarts. (fn. 48) What was probably the wood retained by Gregory seems still to have been in existence in the mid 13th century. (fn. 49) Posenhall was in Shirlett forest until the disafforestation of 1301. (fn. 50)
In 1637 John Weld and Lawrence Benthall divided the extensive area of common along the Posenhall-Benthall boundary, Weld receiving Posenhall green and Marsh Head while Benthall took Posenhall common and Benthall Marsh. (fn. 51)
Much of medieval Posenhall was probably occupied by open fields. In 1455 selions lay in at least six separate fields and were being engrossed. (fn. 52) In 1517 William Childe was said to have inclosed 20 a. of arable and converted it to pasture. (fn. 53) By 1618, when no open fields were left, the main farms were Roger Moane's (155 a.), Rowland Haynes's (87 a.), and Richard Childe's (50 a.). By 1620 Rowland Haynes's farm and other land had apparently passed to Richard and Thomas Haynes who farmed 79 a. and 49 a. respectively. (fn. 54)
About 1585 leases for lives specified the maximum numbers of animals a farmer could keep, (fn. 55) and in the 16th and 17th centuries, as later, farming was mixed, perhaps with an emphasis on dairying. Some yeomen added other trades to farming, as did John (d. c. 1686) and Anne (d. c. 1691) Bowen, who were also skinners and glovers. (fn. 56) Richard Colley (d. c. 1684) was a particularly prosperous farmer. His livestock comprised a bull, 8 oxen and 33 other cattle, 2 mares, 72 sheep, and 13 pigs, altogether worth £128 5s. He had corn, grain, and malt (worth £70), hay (£30), and hemp and flax (£3). His farm's pastoral bias is clear from the presence in the farmhouse of a milk house, a cheese press room, two butteries, and what was probably over a ton of cheese, worth £17 10s. (fn. 57) Oxen were still used as draught animals in 1712. (fn. 58)
In the later 18th century there was just one farm, of 289 a.; in 1793 it was roughly half pastoral (118 a. pasture, 24 a. meadow), half arable (139 a. cereals, 7 a. turnips). There were also two smallholdings. (fn. 59)
In 1808 a windmill stood on the north-western edge of Posenhall hamlet. (fn. 60)
In 1631 John Weld noted coal and ironstone in Posenhall, (fn. 61) and in the 18th century Posenhall was one of the places where the tenants of Willey ironworks had the right to get ironstone. (fn. 62)
Clay was probably cut and sold from Posenhall in the mid 17th century. (fn. 63) In 1742 (fn. 64) or before (fn. 65) John Thursfield (d. 1760) established the Haybrook Pottery south of the road from Broseley to Much Wenlock on the northern boundary of Posenhall. (fn. 66) It produced earthenwares; unlike the Thursfield family's other works it did not later produce Jackfield ware. (fn. 67) Thursfield was succeeded by his son John (d. 1789) and perhaps also by his son William (also known as Morris, d. 1783). In 1770 the younger John leased four pothouses at Posenhall; two years later he built a new pottery on the north (Benthall) side of the road. (fn. 68) Soon afterwards John Thursfield probably gave up the Haybrook Pottery, for by 1776 it was leased to John Bell (d. 1799), who was succeeded by his son William, tenant until 1824 when Poole & Lloyd (or John Lloyd & Co.) became lessees. Until c. 1845 a series of partnerships held Haybrook: Poole & Lloyd 1824-33, Lloyd, Jones & Bathurst 1833-5, Jones & Bathurst 1835-7, Easthope, Jones & Bathurst 1837-43, and Jones & Bathurst who reunited the Haybrook and Benthall potteries c. 1845. Thenceforward the two works were always run together, although in the early 1850s W. T. Jones may have been responsible for the Haybrook works, which employed six men in 1851. (fn. 69)
In the 19th century a clay-pipe kiln stood south-east of Haybrook Pottery. (fn. 70)
What property Wenlock priory had in Posenhall (fn. 71) seems to have been administered through a court at Bradley grange by 1321 (fn. 72) and later through the court of Marsh manor.Posenhall was still presenting at the Marsh court when it ceased to be held in the late 19th century. (fn. 73) Posenhall tenants, however, also owed suit to Willey manor court in the Middle Ages and the later 17th century, (fn. 74) presumably in respect of lands outside the prior's demesne.
Posenhall had a highway surveyor in the 1720s (fn. 77) and remained a highway authority until 1889. (fn. 78) Posenhall's expenditure on its poor averaged c. £30 a year 1812-19, peaking at £40 in 1814-15 when there were 6 recipients of permanent out-relief and 10 relieved occasionally. Expenditure averaged c. £11 a year 1820-34. (fn. 79)
Posenhall was in Madeley poor-law union 1836-1930, (fn. 80) and Madeley rural sanitary district from 1872 until 1889 when it was transferred to the Barrow ward of Wenlock borough. (fn. 81) After the dissolution of Wenlock borough in 1966 Posenhall was transferred to Barrow civil parish, and was thus in Bridgnorth rural district 1966- 74 (fn. 82) and Bridgnorth district from 1974. (fn. 83)
CHAPEL OF EASE.
In 1331 Posenhall chapel was confirmed to Wenlock priory as a dependency of Holy Trinity parish church, Much Wenlock. (fn. 86) The chaplaincies of Posenhall and Barrow were then linked; indeed the chapel at Posenhall may have gone, for in 1321 Hamon Corn, chaplain, had been granted all the lands of Barrow chapel in Barrow and Posenhall and obliged to keep the glebe buildings in Posenhall (where no chapel was mentioned) and Barrow in repair. (fn. 87)
Certainly there was no chapel by 1618, only a site east of Posenhall green marked by fields called Chapel yard. (fn. 88) The extra-parochial status of part of Posenhall township by the 19th century suggests that that part had been the priory's demesne (the former Leynham fee), and was therefore tithe-free. (fn. 89) It was presumably the rest of Posenhall that owed tithes to the vicar of Much Wenlock in 1640, (fn. 90) and they presumably passed later to one or more of the parishes created out of Much Wenlock and adjoining Posenhall, namely Barrow, Benthall, and Willey. (fn. 91) By the 17th century Posenhall's inhabitants attended Barrow church and made payments to the minister there. (fn. 92)
Children went to school in Barrow. (fn. 93)