A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 5, East Cuttlestone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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Economic history, churches, schools and charities
The common fields within the manor of Penkridge between 1548 and 1598 seem to have been Clay Field, Prince Field, 'Manstonshill', Mill Field, Wood Field, and 'Lowtherne' Field, (fn. 1) all of which are still found in 1654 with 'Lantern' presumably as an alternative form of 'Lowtherne' and with the addition of 'Fyland', Old Field, and 'Whotcroft'. (fn. 2) All had been inclosed by 1754. (fn. 3) Stretton Meadow and Hay Meadow seem still to have been held in common in 1548 (fn. 4) and 'Overwoolgaston', 'Netherwoolgaston', and Stretton Meadows in 1654. (fn. 5) What was called Hay Meadow in 1754 lay on the right bank of the Penk, between Cuttlestone and Bull bridges, with Holmford Meadow across the river, below Bull Bridge. (fn. 6) In 1718 an agreement was secured by the inhabitants of the neighbouring townships of Acton Trussell, Bednall, and Huntington that the tenants of Penkridge, Wolgarston, Drayton, and Lynehill should plough and sow only that part of Teddesley Hay called Penkridge Field. (fn. 7)
By 1543 inclosure of fields was taking place within the deanery manor of Penkridge, when two fields or closes in Penkridge called 'Heyfelde' and 'Kylnfeld' occur. (fn. 8) Open fields still existed at this date, there being mention of Longfurlong and 'Cleyfeld super Heyfurlong'. (fn. 9) Clay Field and Hogstones Field may have been common fields in 1654, (fn. 10) but these had been inclosed by 1754. (fn. 11) An inclosed meadow called 'More Orciarde' is mentioned in 1543, (fn. 12) but in 1654 there were still common meadows within the deanery manor (fn. 13) which had, however, been inclosed by 1754. (fn. 14)
An agreement was made in 1662 between the lords of Gailey Hay and the freeholders and commoners there for the cultivation of the common of Gailey Hay for 5 years. (fn. 19) The commoners were to pay a seventh part of the corn grown to the lords, who were to erect and maintain a fence round the common while it was under cultivation. (fn. 20)
'Wollefordelfeld' seems to have been a common field in Levedale in 1294. (fn. 21) Clay Field occurs in 1548, (fn. 22) and by 1654 there were at least three common fields in the manor, namely 'Helsmatch', 'Priest Moore', and 'Clayless' fields, (fn. 23) all of which had been inclosed by 1754. (fn. 24)
Tenants of the lord of Otherton had been making assarts within the bounds of Cannock Forest before 1286. (fn. 25) The common fields of Otherton, including 'Waterbrooke' Field, Middle Field, and Yondermore (otherwise Rendermore) Field, were inclosed in 1617 by agreement between the owners and occupiers. (fn. 26)
Tenants of the lord of Pillaton also had been making assarts within the bounds of Cannock Forest before 1286. (fn. 27) A field in Pillaton called 'Crofthull' which is mentioned at some time between 1342 and 1349 seems to have been a common field, (fn. 28) but by 1754 there were no common fields in Pillaton. (fn. 29)
Low Field within the manor of Rodbaston was a common field in 1554. (fn. 30) It was recorded in 1674 that two common fields, 'Overhighfield' and 'Netherfield', in which part of Rodbaston lay, had been inclosed beyond living memory, at which time the first had been divided into 'Aspeheathe', Highfield, and Hamptonway, and the second into Overgallows, Nethergallows, Crane Pit Leasow (otherwise Campe Pit or Oxe Leasow), Hambreeth or Hembreeth, and Ballbyrch. (fn. 31)
Congreve Field within the manor of Water Eaton seems to have been a common field in 1589. (fn. 32)
Tenants and inhabitants of the township of Penkridge, of the hamlets of Wolgarston, Preston, Bitham, Lyne Hill, and Moor Hall within Penkridge manor and of the manor of Drayton had common rights for all cattle in Teddesley Hay, with 'stray common' thence into 'Cannock Wood'. (fn. 33) They also had common on Penkridge Heath adjoining Dunston and Drayton, with 'stray common' thence into the common fields of Dunston and Drayton, sharing these rights on intercommoning with the tenants of Dunston. (fn. 34) They had further common rights on The Marsh, Quarry Heath, Broad Moor, 'Williford', Bowes Moor, Hazel Mill Green, Wood Brook, Little Home, and 'Lomfordes' Brook. (fn. 35) All these rights were shared by the tenants of the deanery manor also. (fn. 36) The tenants of Congreve had common in their own fields and on the part of Whiston Common that lay within Penkridge manor; the tenants of Whiston had common on their side of Whiston Common and in their own fields. (fn. 37)
In 1775 the 600 or so acres of common or waste land known as Gailey Common, lying on the north side of the Watling Street to the south-east of Rodbaston within the manor or lordship of Gailey, were inclosed under an Act of 1773. (fn. 38) One-seventh of the common was assigned to the owners of the manorial rights. (fn. 39) The remaining six sevenths were divided proportionately among the landowners of the townships of Hatherton (in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton), Otherton, Rodbaston, Water Eaton, and Kinvaston (in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton), who were entitled to common in Gailey, and, so divided, these six sevenths became part and parcel of the particular township and parish to which they were assigned. (fn. 40)
Some 626 acres of common land and waste within the manor of Water Eaton and situated on Calf Heath were inclosed in 1813 under an Act of 1799 and passed mainly to Edward Monckton. (fn. 41)
Penkridge Heath, lying to the east of Longridge within Penkridge manor and the deanery manor, Hay meadow and other common land within Penkridge manor, common land within the deanery manor, Lyne Hill Green, common land in Otherton and Pillaton and common land in Drayton were inclosed in 1827 under an Act of 1814. (fn. 42) In Drayton certain lanes were stopped up at this date and allotted as small plots of land. (fn. 43)
When the manor of Penkridge passed back into the king's hands in 1172 it was restocked with sixteen oxen and a cow (50s. 8d.), sixteen pigs (12s. 6d.), oats seed (16s.), and a draught animal (3s.). (fn. 44) In 1801 the ancient parish (excluding Coppenhall) contained 2,481 acres, 1,173 sown with wheat, 395 with barley, 375 with oats, 10 with potatoes, 100 with peas, 320 with beans, and 108 with turnips or rape. (fn. 45) The present parish, still agricultural, continues to grow grains, roots, and pulses and also has some sheep farms. (fn. 46) Some dairy and stock-farming is also carried on in the parish. (fn. 47)
By 1860 Rodbaston Hall farm, then the property of Thomas Shaw Hellier, was devoted to dairyfarming and stock-farming and steam machinery was being used while the outbuildings and labourers' cottages were 'replete with conveniences rarely met with'. (fn. 48) In 1871 it was described as a model farm. (fn. 49) In 1919 Rodbaston Hall, the Hall Farm, and the Grange were bought by the County Council which in 1921 opened the Staffordshire Farm Institute there; there were 30 students in 1940. (fn. 50) The farm then covered 315 acres, one-third of which was arable land. (fn. 51)
In 1919 the County Council acquired 242 acres of the Stables farm and the Old farm, Rodbaston, and established 13 smallholdings there, adapting the 2 existing houses and building 11 new ones. (fn. 52) In 1933 it established 5 smallholdings each with its own house on 160 acres in Levedale adding a further 28 acres in 1935. (fn. 53) These are spaced out along the roads from Penkridge to Levedale and Coppenhall. A further 4 smallholdings were established on the 14 acres of Preston Barns in 1935, using the existing house and building 3 new ones, and in 1937 9 new homesteads and 3 cottage holdings were set up on the 351 acres of the Deanery farm, the farmhouse being demolished. (fn. 54)
In 1086 there was a mill attached to Penkridge manor valued at 5s. (fn. 55) Two mills here were repaired in 1172 at a cost of 20s., (fn. 56) and 'broc' mill, apparently within the manor, was mentioned at some time between about 1225 and 1259. (fn. 57) By 1598 three water-mills called Penkridge Mills had been leased by the lord of the manor to a James Southall. (fn. 58) Robert Lord Brooke granted the mill of Penkridge in 1626 or 1627, as part of her jointure, to Lady Katherine Russell who married Robert, his cousin and heir, and this latter Robert was holding the mill at his death in 1643. (fn. 59) His son Francis was suing a Richard Tomlinson and his wife Ellen for suit and service belonging to the ancient mills of the manor in 1658, (fn. 60) and Francis's brother and heir held two mills in Penkridge in 1662. (fn. 61) By 1754 there was a mill to the east of Bull Bridge on the site of the present mill. (fn. 62) Estimates for rebuilding Penkridge Mill were submitted in 1764. (fn. 63) It was in use as a rolling-mill between at least 1827 and 1832 (fn. 64) but seems to have been a corn-mill from at least 1834. (fn. 65) It was sold by the 4th Lord Hatherton in 1938, (fn. 66) the owner in 1956 being Mr. Bottomley. Penkridge Mill is a three-story brick building of the late 18th century. The undershot wheel was removed in 1939, and the mill pool was filled in during the Second World War with waste soil from the army camp in The Marsh. By 1956 electrical plant had replaced the older gear. (fn. 67) The Mill House, about 100 yds. to the south, is a small double-fronted brick house dating from c. 1830. It has a trellis porch and ornamental glazing to the casement windows.
A mill in Penkridge, held by John de la More in 1293, (fn. 68) was granted with his other lands there to the Archbishop of Dublin in 1298. (fn. 69) In 1342 the archbishop granted to Thomas More of Penkridge a pond called 'Mooremille Poole' by 'Millehull' in the fee of Penkridge to hold of the dean and chapter of Penkridge for 1d. a year. (fn. 70)
Between at least 1775 and 1820 there was a windmill in Penkridge situated to the east of the road to Water Eaton shortly before it passes Cuttlestone Bridge. (fn. 71)
A mill in Congreve had passed by 1227 from Alditha de Congreve to John de Teveray, (fn. 72) and in 1236 Edith, one of Alditha's nieces, sued John and his wife Alice for a quarter of it. (fn. 73) One Richard 'ad molendinum de Congreve' occurs in 1260. (fn. 74) Congreve Mill was leased with the Hall by Thomas Congreve to his son Thomas at some time before 1620 and secured by Francis Congreve in 1622. (fn. 75) Richard Congreve held two water corn-mills in the manor in 1660. (fn. 76) South-west of Manor Farm farmyard a diversion of the river indicates a mill site. The building now occupying the site was at one time a blacksmith's shop. (fn. 77)
Hervey Bagot's grant of Drayton manor to St. Thomas's Priory in 1194 included the mill of Drayton, with suit of mill, maintenance of the mill pool, and haulage of the mill-stone. (fn. 78) The mill was worth £1 a year in 1291 (fn. 79) and 40s. in 1535. (fn. 80) About 1643 the tenant was paying Walter Fowler £3 for the mill and 10s. for the mill-house, (fn. 81) but by 1754 the mill no longer existed. (fn. 82) A small brick bridge over the Penk at Lower Drayton, where there was formerly a ford and a track leading to Teddesley, probably marks its site. (fn. 83) A partly timber-framed building nearby has exposed close studding and is of late-16th-century origin. This and the cottage adjoining it may have formed part of the mill-house.
There was a water-mill in Mitton in 1417 or 1418, part of which was then assigned as dower to Thomasine, widow of Richard Chetwynd. (fn. 84) The mill of Mitton occurs again c. 1489. (fn. 85) Depressions in the field north-west of Mitton Bridge suggest that this was the site of the former mill pool.
A mill in Pillaton is mentioned c. 1280. (fn. 86) Juliana, widow of Stephen de Elmedon, and her husband Reynold de Charnes were claiming a share in a watermill here, apparently situated on the boundary between Pillaton and Huntington (in Cannock), in 1304 when a third part of it was held by Robert, son of Adam Acton, of William de Elmedon for a rent of 5s. (fn. 87) A mill in Pillaton was included in the grant made in 1310 by William son of William de Wrottesley to William de Elmedon, (fn. 88) who himself settled a mill called 'le Haselnemulne' with the manor of Pillaton on his son William and daughter-in-law Joan in 1342. (fn. 89) The 'Hasyll' Mill occurs in 1598, when there was also mention of 'Hasill' Mill Pool on the boundary between Penkridge and Teddesley Hay. (fn. 90) There has been no building in existence since at least 1754, (fn. 91) but the pool was in the hands of the lord of Pillaton c. 1841. (fn. 92) The site of Hazel Mill lies north of Quarry Heath about 200 yds. south-east of Bangley Park, and the position of the pool and causeway can still be seen.
A water-mill in Rodbaston, worth 40d. a year, was held by Richard de Loges in 1300. (fn. 93)
In 1086 there was a mill at Water Eaton valued at 3s. (fn. 94) The water-mill there in 1310 was worth 13s. 4d. a year, (fn. 95) and when Walter Beysin died in 1345 he was holding, in addition to the water-mill, a fullingmill which was worth only 8s. because of its dilapidated state. (fn. 96)
There was a water-mill in Whiston in 1370 valued at 30s. a year. (fn. 97) In 1652 a mill situated on the Whiston Brook within the manor was held by Stephen Cotton at a rent of £1, (fn. 98) and a mill there, owned by T. W. Giffard c. 1841, (fn. 99) remained in operation until shortly before the Second World War. (fn. 100) The building, of red brick, is partly two and partly three stories in height and probably dates from the later 18th century.
There are remains of two large mill pools southeast of Wolgarston. Two water-mills were held by William Hussey in 1532, one of them, a walk or fulling-mill, being situated in Wolgarston and in the tenure of Edward Littleton, and the other being part of Hussey's estate in Penkridge and Wolgarston. (fn. 101) The tithes of Wolgarston mill were being farmed by Sir Edward Littleton in 1548 for 6d. a year, (fn. 102) and his estate in Penkridge and Wolgarston included a water-mill at his death in 1558. (fn. 103) His grandson was holding the mill when he died in 1610. (fn. 104) A John Boyden was holding a corn-mill in Wolgarston as tenant of Edward John Littleton in 1834, (fn. 105) and by 1851 the mill was held by Henry Wood of Wolgarston, farmer, bone crusher, and manure manufacturer. (fn. 106) It had become a grist mill again before its final disuse c. 1912. (fn. 107) It was sold with Wolgarston Farm in 1947 by Lord Hatherton (fn. 108) and by 1956 was derelict, most of the gear having been dismantled. (fn. 109) The mill, which is built against a stone dam surmounted by a causeway, is a long red-brick building on a stone base and is partly of two and partly of three stories. It appears to be of the 18th and 19th centuries, but some of the masonry may be older.
Markets and Fairs
A market every Thursday within the manor of Penkridge was granted to Andrew le Blund by the king in 1244. (fn. 110) The right was upheld by Andrew's son Hugh in 1293 (fn. 111) and confirmed to John de Beverley in 1364. (fn. 112) In 1381 it was found that Robert Bardolf, husband of Amice the widow of John de Beverley, was holding a market in Penkridge as Hugh Blount had done before him, without the king's licence and to the injury of the burgesses of Stafford. (fn. 113) Amice died in 1416 seised of the market (fn. 114) which then descended with the manor until at least 1521, (fn. 115) both having been mortgaged to George Monoux in 1519. (fn. 116) By 1584 Penkridge was described as 'no market town', (fn. 117) but Sir Fulke Greville was granted a market there in 1617. (fn. 118) This was evidently held on Tuesday; it had been discontinued by 1680 (fn. 119) but had been resumed by 1747. (fn. 120) Market day was still Tuesday in 1817. (fn. 121) In 1834, however, this market was said to have been long obsolete although the spacious market-place was still in existence. (fn. 122) By 1868 a cattle-market was held on each alternate Monday (fn. 123) and by 1924 every Monday. (fn. 124) This stock market was still held in 1940, (fn. 125) and by 1955 a general market was held on Monday.
A fair in the vill of Penkridge was granted with the manor by Hugh Hose to the Archbishop of Dublin in 1215. (fn. 126) A fair on 28 and 29 September and the three days following was granted to Hugh le Blund by the king in 1278, (fn. 127) and in 1293 Hugh claimed the fair as annexed to the manor time out of mind. (fn. 128) The grant was confirmed to Hugh and his heirs in 1312 (fn. 129) and to John de Beverley in 1364, (fn. 130) and the fair descended with the manor until at least 1617. (fn. 131) It was held from 26 September to 2 October by 1598, (fn. 132) and in 1617 the king granted that it should be held from 23 to 30 September. (fn. 133) By 1674 there was confusion over the starting date, (fn. 134) but by 1680 it was held from 23 to 29 September. (fn. 135) The date was fixed in 1756, apparently after further confusion, for the first Monday and Tuesday in September. (fn. 136)
Three additional fairs were granted to the lord of the manor in 1617, (fn. 137) and by 1680 these were held on May Day, Midsummer Day, and 28 October. (fn. 138) By 1817 there were only two fairs at Penkridge, held on 30 April and 10 October, (fn. 139) but by 1834 a fair on 2 September had been added. (fn. 140) All three were still held in 1912, (fn. 141) but had been discontinued by 1924. (fn. 142)
By 1522 horses were being dealt in at the fair. (fn. 143) By 1598 they were the sole merchandise, (fn. 144) and Penkridge was described about this time as 'a small village famous for a horse fair'. (fn. 145) The two fairs were stated in 1817 to be among the best in England for saddle and draught horses. (fn. 146) By 1834 all three fairs were devoted to cattle as well as horses. (fn. 147) The horse fairs seem to have been held in the area of The Marsh to the east of the town by 1754, (fn. 148) and the name Horse Fair still attaches to land there.
It was stated in 1598 that the court of pie powder held during the Michaelmas fair determined all actions under 40s. and exercised jurisdiction over waif and stray, felons' goods, toll, 'picage', stallage, and other incidents belonging to the fair within the manor of Penkridge and also the deanery liberty. (fn. 149) The lord had the use of all commons and grounds adjoining the place where the fair was held during fair time. (fn. 150)
In 1373 or 1374 Geoffrey de Congreve, lord of Congreve, granted to a Thomas Mountfort a messuage in Congreve, to hold for 12s. a year with the duty of supervising the fairs of Penkridge. (fn. 151)
The church of Penkridge was reputedly founded by King Eadred (946–55) (fn. 152) and was certainly in existence c. 1006. (fn. 153) King Stephen gave it in 1136 to the bishop and churches of Coventry and Lichfield subject to the life interest of Jordan, a clerk of Roger de Fecamp, (fn. 154) but it had returned to the Crown by 1182 when it was a collegiate church with a dean and prebendaries. (fn. 155) The deanery was held from 1215 by the archbishops of Dublin, (fn. 156) and the parish was served presumably by the prebendaries of the church or by their vicars choral. The college was dissolved in 1547, (fn. 157) but its peculiar jurisdiction over the parish survived until the 19th century. (fn. 158)
In 1548, after the dissolution of the college, a vicar and an assistant priest were appointed to serve the cure by the Chantry Commissioners, (fn. 159) and the advowson seems to have remained with the Crown until it was granted in 1581 to Edmund Downynge and Peter Aysheton. (fn. 160) These seem to have granted it in 1583 to John Morley and Thomas Crompton (fn. 161) who with John's wife Elizabeth conveyed it in 1585 to Edward Littleton. (fn. 162) The advowson has since descended in the Littleton family with Pillaton manor, the present patron being Lord Hatherton. (fn. 163) The living seems to have been a perpetual curacy by the 18th century (fn. 164) and has been styled a titular vicarage since 1868. (fn. 165)
In 1548 the first Vicar of Penkridge, Thomas Bolt, formerly prebendary of Blurton in St. Mary's, Stafford, and the first assistant minister, William Graunger, formerly vicar-choral of the last prebendary of Penkridge, were appointed at salaries of £16 and £8 respectively, paid out of the Court of Augmentations. (fn. 166) There were still two clerks or ministers here between 1600 and 1604 (fn. 167) and between 1634 and 1643. (fn. 168) In 1646 the Committee for Plundered Ministers increased the salary of £24 paid to Nathaniel Hinde, vicar from at least 1636, by a grant of £50 a year out of the impropriate rectory, and in 1652 the Committee raised his salary to £100 a year out of the tithes of Hilton and Featherstone (in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton). (fn. 169) The incumbent still benefits under the charities of William and Eleanor Alport on condition of attending an annual service in Cannock parish church on the Feast of St. Barnabas (11 June), preaching a sermon at this service in annual rotation with seven other beneficiaries and residing in his benefice for at least ten months a year. (fn. 170) The Misses R. A. and S. E. Warner (d. 1936) devised land and a house in trust to be used as a residence for the assistant curate or the income thereof to be used to augment his stipend or to be applied for the spiritual or bodily welfare of Anglican members of Penkridge parish. (fn. 171) The property was sold in 1937, and the profits were invested in £359 11s. 2d. stock, the interest still being applied to the original aims of the charity. (fn. 172)
By 1321 there were two chantries in the church, the King's chantry and the chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary, each served by one priest. (fn. 173) The two priests were among the prebendaries of Penkridge in 1365, (fn. 174) and in 1380 these 'prebendaries' of St. Mary and the King, by custom resident and supporting the burdens of hospitality in the church, were each receiving 10½d. a week from the common rents of the college. (fn. 175) As this was then inadequate to support the burdens as hitherto, it was ordered that the resident priests should each receive 3½d. a week more from the common fund, and the king confirmed this in 1387. (fn. 176) In 1533 Thomas Webbe occurs as resident canon, paying tax of 5s. 4d., and he remained at Penkridge with a salary of £6 11s. 2¼d. until 1548. (fn. 177) William Yates occurs as the other resident canon between 1535 and 1548 with a salary of £6 16s. 4¼d. and in 1548 a pension of £6. (fn. 178) The canons lived in a house which was worth 2s. a year by 1546. (fn. 179)
By 1548 there was a Morrow Mass priest in the church appointed by the inhabitants of Penkridge and endowed with 3s. 4d. rent from a cottage in Whiston. (fn. 180)
By 1552 there was a Trinity Guild in the church, endowed with a messuage and lands in Whiston leased to John Butler for 7s. and with 15 kine and £20. (fn. 181) The Trinity priest had a salary of 8 marks paid from the profits on the cattle. (fn. 182)
Also by 1552 the organ player in Penkridge church was supported from lands in the parish of Brewood leased to John Bickford for 4 marks. (fn. 183) These may be identical with the lands in Chillington (in Brewood) given by Richard Littleton for the support of the Penkridge organ player, as well as for obits and lamps in the church, and granted by the Crown in 1562 to Cecily Pickerell, widow. (fn. 184)
Before the Dissolution the church of Penkridge served a large area and had four prebendal chapels at Coppenhall, Dunston, Stretton, and Shareshill. A fifth, at Pillaton, occurs only in 1272. (fn. 185) The church at Shareshill secured parochial status soon after the Dissolution, (fn. 186) but those at Coppenhall, Dunston, and Stretton remained dependent on Penkridge until the 19th century. (fn. 187)
There was a dependent chapel at Levedale, dedicated apparently to St. Laurence and endowed with a meadow in Bradley, in 1552 and 1553, but it was no longer in use in 1563. (fn. 188) There seems also to have been a chapel at Bickford in 1553. (fn. 189) There was a chapel at Preston, apparently 200 yds. south-east of the present Preston Vale Farm, (fn. 190) before 1732, by which year it had been converted into a small house. (fn. 191) In the 19th century missions were established at Whiston (1880) (fn. 192) and Levedale (c. 1881) (fn. 193) and in the former oratory chapel at Pillaton Hall (1888). (fn. 194) A chapel of ease was opened at Gailey in 1850 (fn. 195) and the consolidated chapelry of Gailey-withHatherton attached to it in 1869, (fn. 196) the patronage being in the hands of Lord Hatherton and trustees. (fn. 197)
The church of ST. MICHAEL is a fine building of local red sandstone standing to the west of the village. It has a total length of 142 ft. and consists of an aisled chancel, aisled nave, west tower, south porch, and north-west vestry. The existing building was begun early in the 13th century and was completed on approximately its present plan by c. 1300. There are no traces of the earlier church. The porch and tower were in the first instance 14th-century additions. In the 16th century the tower was raised, clerestories were added and new windows inserted, so that the exterior is now almost entirely of Perpendicular character. The church has a fine set of 16thand early-17th-century monuments.
The aisled chancel of four bays was built during the earlier 13th century. Masonry of this date occurs in the north and east walls and in the spandrels above the arcades. The piers of the arcades are circular with moulded capitals and 'water-holding' bases. The abaci are undercut and have an unusual subsidiary roll moulding. (fn. 198) Each eastern respond consists of a cluster of shafts, three engaged and two detached, the capitals of the latter being carved with foliage reminiscent of 12th-century 'water-leaf' ornament. The pointed arches have heavy filleted rolls and on their inner faces are hood-moulds ending in headstops. Here as elsewhere the stonework was largely recut in the 19th century. The original chancel had no clerestory, a single gabled roof of steep pitch being carried down over the aisles; the 13th-century roof line, visible above the chancel arch and on the east wall, shows that the external aisle walls were about a third of their present height. The outline of a single pointed lancet can be seen internally at the east end of the north aisle and its sill is retained externally. No other 13th-century window survives.
The nave of the earlier church was probably in use during the rebuilding of the chancel, but on its completion c. 1250 the reconstruction of the nave began. The four-bay arcades follow the same pattern but the water-holding bases have been replaced by a double-roll moulding, a clear indication of the later date. The aisles are wider than those of the chancel, probably because room was required for altars to stand beside the arches connecting with the chancel aisles. The extra widening of the south aisle is not of this period. The overall width of nave and aisles did not allow of a single gabled roof; the aisles had separate pent roofs, the lines of which can still be traced, and the external walls could therefore be higher than those of the chancel.
In the 14th century a single-story porch was added; the stoup inside its east wall has a typical ogee head. The lowest stage of the tower is of the same period. The arch mouldings of the west doorway are continued without a break down the jambs, and there is a scroll drip-stone above it. Also in the 14th century the chancel was altered to give additional height and better lighting. The aisle walls were raised to two-thirds of their present height, bringing them into line with those of the nave. The roof pitch was flattened and buttresses, still preserved on the north side, were added externally. A large fivelight window with flowing tracery was inserted in the east wall, and an arcaded reredos, now destroyed, was probably of the same date. (fn. 199)
Alterations on a large scale were made during the 16th century, some at least after the dissolution of the college in 1547 and the destruction which accompanied it. Early in the century many of the Staffordshire towers were rebuilt to a uniform pattern, but among them the Penkridge tower is outstanding for its handsome proportions. On the west face the middle stage has a very large Perpendicular window and there are four windows of similar style to the belfry stage. The embattled parapet has angle and median pinnacles; below the parapet an ornamental band is carved with shields in square frames, a departure from the more usual lozenge design. There are also individual shields above the belfry windows. The widening of the south nave aisle at its east end to form a chapel is probably the earliest of the 16th-century alterations to the body of the church. On the south side a recessed table tomb is an integral part of the wall and forms a projection externally. The tomb, which is covered by a cusped arch, bears an alabaster slab on which are incised the figures of Richard Littleton (fn. 200) (d. 1518) and his wife Alice, formerly Wynnesbury (d. 1529). The fact that other family monuments were originally near at hand (fn. 201) suggests that the chapel was built at about this date and used by the Littletons while the church was still collegiate. The new walls were made about half as high again as the original nave walls and have external buttresses and an embattled parapet with pinnacles. On the south side are three tall windows with central transoms and pointed heads. The curious geometrical tracery may have been suggested by the 13th-century windows which these replaced. The large east window formerly contained Perpendicular tracery similar to that in the tower windows. (fn. 202) The chapel appears to have served as a prototype for a general remodelling of the nave, the walls being raised and new windows inserted. At the same time a room was added above the porch so that the high parapet line became continuous externally. A clerestory, consisting of a pair of square-headed two-light windows to each bay, was built above the arcades.
Alterations on the same lines, probably dating from 1578 and later, were made to the chancel. An inscription of this date together with the name of James Riddings, vicar, appears outside the priest's door. The south wall, which includes this door, was refaced or rebuilt. The existing north wall was raised in height and on its external face masonry of three dates can now be distinguished: the lowest third is of the 13th and the middle third of the 14th century, while the 16th-century walling occurs above the 14th-century buttresses. In general the alterations to the chancel are inferior to those of the nave. The tall pointed windows have less elaborate tracery, and the clerestory windows are not paired. Externally the east walls of the two chancel aisles have blind square-headed windows of Perpendicular type, but there is no sign that these ever penetrated the walls. A single window of the same design, in this case glazed, occurs on the north side of the nave, possibly replacing a north doorway. The original church contained several altars, one of which was dedicated to St. John the Baptist by 1403 (fn. 203) and some of which were destroyed at the dissolution of the college. The eastern respond of the south chancel arcade is pierced to accommodate a double piscina, one to serve the high altar and the other an altar in the south aisle. The stonework has been renewed, but a fragment of original moulding survives on the north face. A small doorway through the east wall of the aisle was probably inserted late in the 16th century after the subsidiary altar had been removed. The doorway is now blocked with modern masonry. Traces of piscinae or credence tables can be seen in the other aisles, and the priest's doorway has a holywater stoup on its eastern jamb.
A buttress at the corner of the south chapel is dated 1677, probably indicating repairs to the stonework. In 1799 over £250 was spent on the church. (fn. 204) The building was restored and re-seated in 1831 (fn. 205) when a new gallery in the north aisle, together with existing galleries at the west end, brought the total number of sittings to 1,200. During this restoration the alabaster monuments were recut and probably moved to their present positions. The vestry at the north-west corner of the church, built of stone and in the Tudor style, may also be of this period. Mid-19th-century drawings and photographs of the interior (fn. 206) show a flat plaster ceiling to the nave, box pews, a three-decker pulpit, and an arcaded reredos. The west end was then dominated by galleries and by a large organ placed in the blocked arch of the tower. In 1881 the church was very thoroughly restored by J. A. Chatwin (fn. 207) of Birmingham. The nave floor was lowered and the chancel arch, originally of the same height as the arcades, was raised 8 ft. The impressive proportions of the interior owe much to these alterations. New pews were installed, all the galleries were removed, the tower arch was opened up, and the organ was moved to its present position north of the chancel. The nave was given an elaborate new roof of late medieval design, its carved devices illustrating the history of the church and of the Littleton family. Six oak angels, which had survived from the corbels of the 16th-century roof, (fn. 208) were incorporated. A dilapidated staircase giving access to the room over the porch was cleared away. The porch itself and the arches connecting nave and chancel aisles were altered and restored. While work was in progress several inscribed floor-slabs and a Littleton vault were discovered. The marble pavement of the sanctuary, incorporating a memorial slab to the 2nd Lord Hatherton (d. 1888) dates from 1888 and the stone pulpit from 1890. (fn. 209) In 1948 the east end of the south nave aisle was reinstated as a chapel to commemorate those who died in both world wars. (fn. 210)
The octagonal font dates from 1668. It has a reeded base and the bowl is carved with various devices including the initials 'C.R.' After a period of disuse the stonework was recut in 1864 and the font restored to the church. (fn. 211) Eight late-15th-century misericords survive from the collegiate church, (fn. 212) and some original carving is preserved in front of the choir stalls and in the screens behind them. The wrought-iron gates which form the chancel screen are dated 1778 and are of Dutch origin. They were obtained by the Hon. William Littleton from a Dutch settler in South Africa. (fn. 213)
There is now no ancient glass in the church. In 1680 Gregory King (fn. 214) records several shields of arms, including those of England and France in the east window and those of Congreve, Fitzherbert, and Willoughby de Broke elsewhere. The east window now contains memorial glass to the 1st Lord Hatherton (d. 1863). (fn. 215) Other windows commemorate members of the Littleton, Croydon, and Keeling families (1864–1931). (fn. 216)
An incised alabaster floor slab, now in the south chancel aisle, bears the figures of William Wynnesbury and his wife with the small figure of their daughter between them. William Wynnesbury died in 1502, but the date inscribed is not clear and has been variously interpreted. (fn. 217) This slab was formerly near the tomb of Richard Littleton in the south chapel. (fn. 218) Also at one time in the south chapel (fn. 219) but now in the chancel is a fine alabaster monument bearing effigies of Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1558) and his two wives Helen (Swynnerton) and Isabel (Wood). On the north side of the chancel is a somewhat similar tomb with effigies of Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1574) and his wife Alice (Cockayne). Both these monuments are thought to be the work of the Royleys of Burton. (fn. 220) Against the east wall of the north chancel aisle is an elaborate two-tier monument, (fn. 221) the lower stage bearing the effigies of Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1610) and his wife Margaret (Devereux), (fn. 222) the upper those of their son, also Sir Edward (d. 1629), and his wife Mary (Fisher). This monument was formerly against the north wall of the aisle (fn. 223) where additional spacing between two of the windows suggests that it was already contemplated when the wall was altered. An incised alabaster slab has been mounted on the aisle wall: it shows the kneeling figures of a Littleton family in mid-17thcentury dress. At the east end of the south chancel aisle, now the vicar's vestry, is a marble wall monument with a carved sarcophagus commemorating Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1742). Elsewhere are wall tablets to Alexander Ward (1729), Thomas Perry, curate (1743), John Eginton (1752), John Herbert (1769), and to several vicars of the parish. There are also tablets to members of the Littleton family dated 1888, 1897, 1917, 1923, and 1930. In the south nave aisle is a tablet to Commander Sir Geoffrey C. Congreve, killed in 1941. The east wall of the churchyard incorporates a carved stone obelisk, designed by Sir Charles Nicholson as a memorial of the First World War. (fn. 224)
In 1956 the plate included two silver chalices, one set with four mother-of-pearl medallions; three silver patens, one dated 1802 and one set with four amethysts, given by Herbert Mansfield Whitehead, 1911; a silver flagon and lid, given by the parishioners in memory of J. Bolders (d. 1914); and a wood and silver wafer box. (fn. 225)
In 1553 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 226) The five bells here at the time of the church restoration in 1831 were sold and replaced by a new peal of eight, by W. and J. Taylor of Oxford. (fn. 227) This peal was rehung in an iron frame by Taylor, in 1894, and again rehung, with ball bearings, by J. Taylor, in 1953. (fn. 228)
The registers of marriages and burials start in 1572 and those of baptisms in 1575. Those from 1572 to 1735 have been printed. (fn. 229)
Over £60 was spent on a house and garden occupied by Thomas Perry, the incumbent, in 1728. (fn. 230) At a later date the vicars lived at Ivy House, (fn. 231) a Georgian building in Church Lane which still stands. In 1804 and 1814 it was stated that there was no parsonage house in the parish. (fn. 232) In 1831 E. J. Littleton (Lord Hatherton in 1835) gave £8, Colonel Walhouse £100, the Revd. J. C. Stafford, the vicar, £20, and the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty £200, the whole being spent on the building of a vicarage house on an acre of land given by Mr. Littleton, who also gave 3,300 bricks for a stable and other buildings. (fn. 233) A further £50, paid as compensation by the railway company before 1851 for laying the railway between the vicarage house and the church, was used to make improvements to the house. (fn. 234)
The house, about 300 yds. south-west of the church, is approached from the churchyard by a tunnel passing under the railway. It is a dignified square stucco house, with a low-pitched slate roof and wide eaves. The north-east corner in the same style is a later addition. (fn. 235)
In 1754 a large tithe barn was still standing about 150 yds. south of the church. (fn. 236)
The small chapel of ST. MODWENA occupies the east end of the existing range of buildings at Pillaton Hall. Before the greater part of the Hall was demolished in the 18th century it formed the northeast corner of the quadrangular plan, abutting on the moat on two sides. The present building dates from the earlier 16th century, being contemporary with the rebuilding of the Hall at that period. After the removal of the Littleton family to Teddesley it became ruinous, (fn. 237) but during the 19th century it was converted into a cottage by the insertion of an upper floor. (fn. 238) In 1888 it was thoroughly restored and reinstated for use as a chapel. (fn. 239)
The building is of stone and is rectangular on plan with a gallery at the west end. It has a fourlight window in the east wall and a three-light window at the east end of the north wall. Both have central transoms and internal four-centred arches. Farther west in the north wall are two three-light windows, one above and one below gallery level. A doorway in the west wall gives access to the gallery from the existing north range of buildings. The south wall, part of which formerly abutted on the demolished east range, has two doorways, one on the ground floor and the other at gallery level. The former is the original entrance to the chapel from the courtyard and has a stoup outside it. The upper doorway is approached by a carved oak stair dating from 1888. Farther east in this wall are two oblique squints, one above the other, giving a view of the altar from former ground- and first-floor rooms in the east range. Internally in the south wall is a pointed niche, probably representing an original piscina. The gallery, incorporating original oak panels, was reconstructed in 1888, and the present low-pitched roof is of the same date. The stone font forms a projection in the middle of the west wall, its faces carved with trefoil-headed panels. Seventeenthcentury balusters have been used for altar rails, and the sanctuary is paved with old tiles. The stone altar is modern. Stained glass in the windows dates from the 19th century. (fn. 240) The representation of St. Modwena in the large north window was suggested by pictorial glass which still survived at Pillaton Hall in 1789 (fn. 241) but has now disappeared. Mounted on the south wall is a curious wooden figure, traditionally said to represent King Herod, wearing a crown and large gauntlets. The face is grotesquely carved and has projecting teeth. The figure, which may date from the 13th or early 14th century, was found hidden at Pillaton and remained for many years at Teddesley Hall. (fn. 242)
In 1956 the plate included a silver-gilt chalice and paten, copies of those, dated 1525, found in the walls of Pillaton Hall in the reign of George II. Round the bottom of the chalice stand is inscribed 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis', and round the rim, 'Pater de celis Deus miserere nobis'. Round the rim of the paten is inscribed 'Sancta Trinitas unus Deus miserere nobis'. There are also wine and water cruets of crystal and silver. (fn. 243)
CHRISTCHURCH, Gailey, dating from 1850, is built of stone rubble in the Early English style and consists of nave, shallow transepts, chancel, and north vestry. In the nave the stone is left exposed, and there is a steeply pitched open roof. The windows are single and grouped lancets. In 1876 the chancel was extended, the north vestry built, and a small south vestry converted into an organ chamber, the cost being defrayed by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ward of Rodbaston Hall. (fn. 244) There are stained-glass windows and memorial tablets to members of the Ward family and others.
The widening of the cross-roads at Gailey in 1929 caused the removal of 153 sq. yds. from the churchyard. (fn. 245) The war memorial was moved and new walls and fences erected. A further 280 sq. yds. was taken in 1937. (fn. 246)
In 1956 the plate included a silver-gilt chalice and paten, given in 1915 by Anne, Caroline, Mabel, and Margaret Ward, in memory of their mother, Jane Ward of Rodbaston Hall; a silver ciborium, 1946; a Sheffield plate paten on foot; and two wine and water cruets. (fn. 247) There is one bell. (fn. 248) The register dates from 1870.
The vicarage house dating from 1870–1 is at Hatherton (in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton).
The mission church at Whiston is of red brick and consists of nave, small chancel, and south porch. It has pointed windows and a bell-cote above the west gable. In 1956 the plate included a silver chalice and paten. (fn. 249)
The mission church at Levedale stands on the east side of the road and is a small weather-boarded building with leaded windows. In 1956 the plate included a silver chalice and silver paten, formerly the property of the late Revd. J. H. Kenysson, Vicar of Penkridge, who presented them to Levedale church. (fn. 250)
William Vincent who was summoned before the Consistory court of Lichfield in 1668 for teaching without licence may have been a dissenter. (fn. 251) John Wesley preached in the parish in November 1745 when travelling from Macclesfield to Wednesbury (Seisdon hundred). (fn. 252) In 1777 the house of William Robinson (fn. 253) and in 1817 the house of John Yates were registered as meeting-houses. (fn. 254) A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was opened in 1828 (fn. 255) and is a plain red-brick building standing in New Road. A new stone chapel with Gothic windows was built on to this in 1934 (fn. 256) with a frontage on the newly widened Clay Street.
In October 1811 Hugh Bourne, the leader of the Primitive Methodists, after preaching for the first time at Penkridge, noted that 'it would be difficult to raise a work here though it might be done'. (fn. 257) In March 1813 he was again at Penkridge and noted, 'The people are going on well and can hold meetings themselves and I think John Cheadle will be a preacher.' (fn. 258) A regular Primitive Methodist preaching place had already been established at Whiston by 1812 (fn. 259) and by 1834 a chapel had been opened there. (fn. 260) No regular Primitive Methodist preaching place was established at Penkridge, however, until about 1849. (fn. 261) The Penkridge meeting continued until at least 1892 (fn. 262) and Whiston chapel until at least 1896. (fn. 263) Both have since been closed. The latter is a small brick building, adjoining a cottage opposite Ivy Farm and in 1956 was partly derelict and used as an outhouse.
In 1851 there was an Independent chapel at Gailey Wharf, opened in 1844. (fn. 266) This chapel has since disappeared.
At some date before May 1553 the salary of a young man to teach in the writing school at Penkridge had been raised from part of the proceeds of the sale of a church bell. (fn. 267) This school, which was possibly held in the room over the south porch of the church, (fn. 268) appears to have had a continuous existence until at least 1668. (fn. 269) In 1695 a charity school, planned in 1693 by Edward Littleton, Edward James, John Eginton, and others, (fn. 270) was built in the churchyard due west of the church. (fn. 271) Its aim was to teach poor children to read and to instruct them in Anglican doctrine. (fn. 272) By 1730 this school was decaying through the death and falling off of subscribers. (fn. 273) It was agreed, however, that it should be continued with the purpose of clothing and instructing 12 boys in reading, writing, and accounts and 8 girls in these subjects and in knitting and sewing. (fn. 274) For this the master and mistress should receive £8 a year. (fn. 275)
Apparently the earliest endowment, apart from subscriptions, was a rent-charge of 10s. on land in Penkridge left by Thomas Stevens by his will dated 1730. (fn. 276) Francis Sherratt (d. Dec. 1773), (fn. 277) by will dated 1732, left land in Penkridge to Sir Edward Littleton of Pillaton in trust 'to provide a schoolmaster in Penkridge to teach eight poor boys, born in Penkridge, in reading the bible and writing'. (fn. 278) Of these, four were to be elected by the churchwardens and four by Sir Edward Littleton and his heirs; they were normally to stay for four years, and each was to be provided with a blue 'bonnet'. (fn. 279) Further endowments were £50 by will of Sir Edward Littleton, invested in 1742 and yielding £1 14s. 6d. dividend; (fn. 280) 10s. rent-charge (on land in Wheaton Aston) left by will of John Smart (d. 1751); (fn. 281) a sum of £44 10s. from an unspecified source, on which by at least 1753 or 1754 interest of £2 4s. 6d. was due to be paid through the Littleton trustee of the time, (fn. 282) and £500 in stock left by Thomas Clarke by will dated 1799, and transferred to Littleton in trust in 1804. (fn. 283)
Already by about 1730 part of the revenues had been paid to a schoolmistress for teaching the girls, and in 1806 the trustees decided that she should receive one-fifth of the interest on Clarke's legacy. (fn. 284) By 1824 the annual income from endowments was £36 3s. of which the master received £5 8s. from rents, four-fifths of Clarke's interest and all the interest on money benefactions, while the mistress had £2 16s. and the rest of the interest from the Clarke bequest. (fn. 285) The remaining endowments were used for the upkeep of the buildings and the provision of books and of blue caps for the boys, though no further clothing had been provided since 1821, owing to the falling-off in subscriptions. (fn. 286) The master was then teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic free to 12 boys, aged 7 to 11, and English, grammar, and geography to the 'advanced' ones; the mistress taught reading, knitting, and sewing free, to 8 girls who, like the boys, came at the age of 7 and stayed four years. (fn. 287) The master also took 'a great number' of paying pupils, some of them boarders. (fn. 288)
Meanwhile by 1818 Edward Littleton had built and endowed another school in Penkridge, providing a house for master and mistress and a salary of £100, the school to be opened in 1819 on Dr. Bell's plan. (fn. 289) The charity school seems to have continued for some little time longer in the old buildings in the churchyard but these were pulled down in 1831 and pupils and endowments were transferred to this new National school in the Market Place, now School Square. (fn. 290) By 1834 the school was educating about 260 children, some of whom were also clothed by Lord Hatherton and from the charity funds. (fn. 291) At this date there seem to have been a master and a mistress, (fn. 292) and the whole school continued to be free until 1854 when, because of the proposed enlargement of the building and appointment of assistant teachers, fees amounting to 2d. or 4d. a week or 6s. a quarter were charged for each child and the school received an annual parliamentary grant. (fn. 293) Lord Hatherton, although the Trust required him, so he said, to instruct 8 boys free and provide them with blue bonnets, now proposed to admit 12 boys and 12 girls free, and provide them respectively with caps and bonnets. (fn. 294) By 1855 two assistants teachers for the boys had been appointed. (fn. 295)
In 1858 the number of pupils averaged 126 boys and 106 girls; in October 1867 there were 114 boys, 92 girls, and 100 infants on the books. (fn. 296) In this latter year there were said to be 12 free pupils, (fn. 297) and the endowment was £36 a year. (fn. 298) Average attendance in 1892 was 120 boys, 140 girls, and 70 infants. (fn. 299) By 1951 the boys' and girls' departments were organized as separate schools, Penkridge Voluntary Primary Schools, Church of England, for Boys and Girls. (fn. 300) In 1954 they became aided (fn. 301) and in 1955 had average attendances of 143 and 135 respectively. The schools still cater for senior children. (fn. 302)
For the 1818 school building the architect, Joseph Potter, submitted both classical and Gothic designs, (fn. 305) the latter, probably, being the one accepted. The existing schoolhouse is of the same date and has a symmetrical red-brick front with pointed casements and a Gothic fanlight to the central doorway. The old school building was replaced in 1889 (fn. 306) by the present long single-story range. It has stone windowframes and two gabled porches. The east porch has carving in the gable and a tablet commemorating the erection of the building by public subscription in memory of the 2nd Lord Hatherton. There have been later alterations and additions.
A council school, a long red-brick range dated 1909 which lies east of the National school and faces Bellbrook, was opened in 1910 to take 150 infants. (fn. 307) Attendance in 1937 numbered 51. (fn. 308) The school still caters only for infants and is designated Penkridge County Primary School. (fn. 309)
By 1860 there was a parochial school for boys and girls in Gailey supported by voluntary contributions and small weekly payments by scholars. (fn. 310) By 1862 there were 62 children attending the school, and the master, who received a salary of £35 as well as the 'school pence' amounting to £18 8s. 1d., had a house provided. (fn. 311) This may have been the origin of the National school, dated 1865, and enlarged in 1881, average attendance in 1892 being 75. (fn. 312) The school was largely rebuilt in 1894 at a cost of £325, for 110 children, and by 1912 the average attendance was 96, under a schoolmistress. (fn. 313) In 1904 it was scheduled by the Board of Education as overcrowded and was reorganized to take only junior pupils. (fn. 314) In 1937 there were 41 pupils. (fn. 315) In 1956 it was still 'transitionally assisted' and was Gailey Voluntary Primary Church of England School for Junior Boys and Girls and Infants, (fn. 316) and average attendance in 1955 was 70, under a mistress. (fn. 317) The school stands immediately east of the church.
By 1818 there were three dame schools in Penkridge, taking 110 children. (fn. 318)
A Wesleyan day-school was opened in the parish in 1846. (fn. 319)
A school-church at Levedale, which was used for a day-school, was built in 1881, average attendances c. 1884 being 25 boys and girls and 65 infants. (fn. 320) The land was given by Lord Hatherton who paid for the building. (fn. 321) This was still existing as a school-church down to 1900 (fn. 322) but by 1912 was described as a mission church. (fn. 323)
A similar school at Whiston is said to have been built in 1880 on land leased to the Vicar of Penkridge by Captain Congreve. (fn. 324) It was for 30 children and the average attendance c. 1884 was 25. (fn. 325) It still existed in this form until at least 1900 (fn. 326) but by 1912 was solely a mission church. (fn. 327)
Charities for the Poor
Edward Littleton (d. 1705), bequeathed to the poor of Penkridge £40 which was producing £2 a year in 1786. (fn. 328)
John Smart (d. 1751), besides his bequest to the charity school, (fn. 329) left a rent-charge of 10s. on his house and land in Wheaton Aston (Lapley parish) to the poor of Penkridge. (fn. 330) The income had risen to £1 by 1939. (fn. 331)
Thomas Stevens, by will dated 1730, left, in addition to his educational bequest, (fn. 332) a rent of 10s. charged on his barns and lands in Clay Street, Penkridge, to the poor of the parish. (fn. 333) By 1823 this and Smart's Charity were distributed to the poorest persons on St. Thomas's Day (21 Dec.). (fn. 334) In 1930 the rent-charge was redeemed since the property was due to be demolished under the road-widening scheme, and the proceeds were invested in £20 stock. (fn. 335)
Elizabeth Rudge, by will dated 1804 with a codicil of 1805, left £50 to be invested and the income distributed among the most deserving poor women of Penkridge township every Christmas Eve. (fn. 336) The money was invested in stock in 1818, and by 1823 the income was £1 14s., distributed among the poorest old women at the rate of 2s. 6d. each. (fn. 337)
Mary Reynolds bequeathed £50, and her sister, Elizabeth Potts, by will dated 1818, left a similar sum, directing that the interest on both amounts should be distributed among poor persons of Penkridge on Candlemas Day (2 February) in the parish church. (fn. 338) In 1821 the money was invested in stock which by 1882 was producing an income of £3 0s. 6d. (fn. 339)
Mary Shawe's Charity, founded before 1873, (fn. 340) consisted by 1935 of £107 18s. 3d. stock producing an income of £2 13s. 8d. which was distributed among 12 poor widows on St. Thomas's Day. (fn. 341)
Ann Price, by will proved in 1868, left £100 to be invested and the interest distributed on 1 March among poor widows of Penkridge. (fn. 342)
Under a Scheme of 1939 these seven charities are applied to the poor of the whole civil parish as constituted before 1934. (fn. 343) The income, apart from that of the Price Charity, which is exclusively for poor widows, may be used for grants to hospitals and provident societies, aid to the sick, grants of relief in kind, and temporary financial assistance in emergencies. (fn. 344) The total income in 1955 was £12 4s., which was distributed in kind. (fn. 345)
Sir Stephen Slaney, by deed of 1622, gave £40 for the poor and for the marriage of poor maids in Penkridge, and the sum was used to secure a rentcharge of £3 on a messuage and lands in the parish. (fn. 346) A rent of £2 10s. was being collected by 1743 from William Byrch, owner of the estate, but payments then lapsed, although an attempt was made in 1756 to recover the money. (fn. 347) When Miles Moor, part of the endowment, was subsequently bought by Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1812), the heir of William Byrch gave him an indemnity against this charge. (fn. 348) In 1823 the Charity Commissioners decided against any attempt at its recovery. (fn. 349)
Gifts of money to the use of the poor consisting of £10 from Henry and Joan Duncalfe in 1624, the interest to be distributed upon Good Friday, £5 from John Langford in 1626, £10 from Margaret Littleton (d. 1627), £10 from Thomas Malkin by will of 1628, £40 from Sir Edward Littleton (d. 1629), £20 from William Littleton in 1652, a rentcharge of 20s. on land in Penkridge left by Robert Phillips by will of 1656, £10 from John Tonke by will c. 1657, £5 from Elizabeth Aston at an unspecified date, £6 from Randulph Thorley in 1628 for loans to young tradesmen of Penkridge for three years at a time, and £20 from Mary Littleton c. 1642 for poor widows of the parish, were all still effective in 1662, although some of the money was found to have been lent without adequate security. (fn. 350) All seem to have lapsed by 1823. (fn. 351) The interest on £10 given by Margaret Bott, at an unknown date, for the poor, had ceased to be paid by 1643. (fn. 352)
Thomas Whitby of Dunston, by will dated 1650, left £17 2s. 9d. to Ann Webb of Otherton, who settled it in 1666 on trustees to the use of the poor, (fn. 353) but payment seems to have been stopped by 1786. (fn. 354) Alexander Wood (or Ward) (d. 1729), (fn. 355) left £40, the interest to be distributed on St. Thomas's Day to the poor of the parish who most frequented the prayers of the Church and the Sacrament. (fn. 356) Thomas Houghton (or Haughton) of Mitton, at an unknown date, left £10, the interest to be paid on St. Thomas's Day to such poor of Penkridge as his trustees thought deserving. (fn. 357) The Widow Ingram, also at an unknown date, left £20 for ever to the poor of Penkridge. (fn. 358) These four charities seem likewise to have lapsed by 1823. (fn. 359)
Ann Littleton (d. 1728) (fn. 360) bequeathed the interest on £50 to the poor, to be paid each Candlemas Day by the heir of the Littletons of Pillaton. (fn. 361) The income was £2 10s. in 1786, (fn. 362) but in 1824 this was recognized as having been merged in the general benefactions of the Littleton family and to be no longer a specific charge. (fn. 363)
Thomas Clarke of London, by will dated 1799, left, in addition to his educational charity, (fn. 364) £10 a year 'long annuities' to be distributed on St. Thomas's and Candlemas Days by the incumbent and churchwardens among the poor of the town not already receiving alms or relief out of the rates. (fn. 365) This annuity was distributed until at least 1823. (fn. 366)
Other bequests, apparently of temporary duration, were made to the poor between 1599 and 1750. (fn. 367)
Almshouses in New Road were built in 1866 by the Dowager Lady Hatherton as a memorial to her husband. (fn. 368) They consisted of five tenements for superannuated labourers from the Teddesley estate. (fn. 369) They form a red-brick range of single-story dwellings with a higher central block. The houses have gabled porches with ornamental barge-boards.