A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Elmley Lovett, situated 5 miles north-west of Droitwich, has an area of 2,365 acres, which includes 664 acres of arable land, 1,443 acres of pasture and 49 acres of wood. (fn. 1)
The land is undulating at a height of 150 ft. to 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. The soil is clay and the subsoil marl, except in the north of the parish, where it is sandstone, and the chief crops raised are wheat, beans, oats and barley. The population is almost entirely engaged in agriculture, but sandstone quarries near the church are worked. The Elmley Brook runs through the parish and forms part of the eastern boundary. The main road from Kidderminster to Droitwich, dividing Elmley from Stone on the north, passes through the east of the parish. The village lies a little west of the Kidderminster road on the Elmley Brook. It consists only of the rectory, a fine red brick house of the Queen Anne period, and a few cottages. Elmley Lovett Lodge, said to have been built in 1635 by one of the Townshends and afterwards the seat of the Forresters, formerly stood to the south-east of the church, but was pulled down about 1890. It was a half-timber gabled house approached by an avenue of elms. Part of the inclosing walls only remain. Between it and the church is an early 17th-century dovecote of red brick with stone dressings. It is rectangular in plan with a pedimented doorway on the south and has a pyramidal tiled roof crowned by a timber lantern. Below the cornice on the south, east and west sides are square stone sundials. To the north-east of the church is an early 17th-century stone cottage, while opposite the rectory is a good house of similar date and material with mullioned windows and diagonal brick chimney stacks. The elementary school and post office are both at Cutnall Green, a mile to the south-east of the village. A second early 17th-century dovecote remains at a farm at the junction of the Hartlebury Road with that from Elmley Lovett to Kidderminster. It is a half-timber building on a brick base. The nearest railway station is at Hartlebury, 2 miles north-west of the village.
The inclosure award for the commons of Cutnall Green, part of which is in Elmbridge and Hampton Lovett, Sneads Green and Broad Common, is dated 1874. (fn. 2) A detached part of the parish, consisting of about 5 acres of meadow land more than 2 miles from the nearest boundary of Elmley Lovett, was transferred to Hampton Lovett in 1884. (fn. 3)
Among the place-names are Appeloure, Boycote (fn. 4) (xiv cent.); Snede Blamorfield (fn. 5) (xv cent.); Polefield, Middil Rilande, Hynkesfield, le Stockyng, le Furriland, (fn. 6) Bawckryge, Jones Wodde, (fn. 7) Sapercotes (fn. 8) (xvi cent.).
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Alwold held ELMLEY LOVETT of Queen Edith, but by the time of the Domesday Survey the overlordship had passed to Ralph de Toeni, (fn. 9) standard-bearer of the Dukes of Normandy. He came over to England with the Conqueror, and, according to the Roman dc Rou, when called upon to bear the standard at the battle of Hastings, excused himself from doing so in order that he might take a full share in the actual fighting. (fn. 10) He died in 1101–2, and was succeeded by his son Ralph, his eldest son Roger having died unmarried in 1093. (fn. 11) Ralph died about 1125, (fn. 12) and his son and successor Roger was holding this manor in the time of King Stephen. (fn. 13) Ralph de Toeni, who was holding Elmley in 1210, (fn. 14) was probably grandson of this Roger. (fn. 15) Matthew Paris relates that when this Ralph heard that his brother Roger lay at the point of death at Reading he hastened there to see him for the last time, but arriving too late he called upon the dead man with such vehemence that he returned to life to warn his brother of judgement to come. Thereupon Ralph vowed to found a religious house for the safety of the souls of his ancestors and his brother. (fn. 16)
In 1239, on the eve of a journey to the Holy Land, (fn. 17) he granted the marriage of his eldest son Roger to Humphrey Earl of Hereford and Essex, who married the boy to his daughter Alice. (fn. 18) Ralph died before reaching his destination. (fn. 19) On the death of his son Roger in 1277 the latter's son Ralph succeeded, (fn. 20) and, dying in 1294–5, (fn. 21) left two children, Robert and Alice. Robert succeeded to the manor and came of age in 1297, when seisin was given to him of his father's lands, (fn. 22) but he died without issue in 1309, when the overlordship of Elmley Lovett with his other estates passed to his sister and heir Alice, widow of Thomas de Leybourne, (fn. 23) who afterwards married Guy de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick.
After the earl's death in 1315 (fn. 24) Alice married William la Zouche of Ashby, (fn. 25) and in 1318 during the absence of the latter at the Scotch wars the overlordship of Elmley Lovett seems to have been held by Hugh le Despenser Earl of Winchester. (fn. 26)
In 1321 Roger de Mortimer of Chirk seized the manor from William la Zouche and held it until the following year, when it was taken into the king's hands with his other property and restored to William. (fn. 27) In 1326 William la Zouche acquired from Eustace de Chapman and Alice his wife, the under-tenants, all their right in the manor, and his successors then held it of the king in chief, who is last mentioned as overlord in 1478. (fn. 28)
Walter, the tenant under Ralph de Toeni at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 29) was represented in the time of King Stephen by Richard de Portes, after whom the manor was called 'Almelega Ricardi de Portes,' (fn. 30) and who is probably to be identified with the Richard who held Elmley in 1166–7. (fn. 31) Although the Portes continued to hold property in Elmley at least as late as 1327, (fn. 32) the branch of the family who held Elmley Lovett failed in the male line early in the 13th century, possibly on the death of Walter de Portes (fn. 33) in 1201, when Simon de Ribbesford received seisin of Walter's Worcestershire estates, having married Walter's heir. (fn. 34)
It would seem that this heir was Agnes de Portes, and that she married secondly a member of the Lovett family, for Henry Lovett, who is described as son and heir of Agnes de Portes, apparently held the manor. (fn. 35) Henry died before 1254–5, (fn. 36) and his widow Joan afterwards married Robert Stocumbe. (fn. 37) Henry and Joan had two sons, John, who died young, apparently without issue, and Henry, who succeeded his father, (fn. 38) but died a minor before 1260–1, leaving a widow Isabel and a son John, a minor. (fn. 39)
In 1260–1 Robert Stocumbe and Joan his wife sued Roger de Toeni and others for two-thirds of the manor of Elmley, of which they claimed part as Joan's dower and the rest in compensation for a third part of the stewardship of Roger de Toeni's land, which had been settled on Joan at her marriage. (fn. 40) Roger de Toeni, however, pleaded that Joan merely held the manor as custodian of Henry son of Henry Lovett. The result of the suit is not known. John son and heir of the younger Henry Lovett was still a minor in 1266, when his wardship passed from Walter de Mucegros to Roger de Clifford. (fn. 41) John Lovett recovered seisin of twothirds of the manor against Roger de Clifford and the Prioress of Aconbury in 1274–5. (fn. 42) The other third was no doubt held by his mother Isabel, who, then the widow of William le Blount, presented to the church in 1316. (fn. 43)
John Lovett in 1285 obtained possession of a messuage and a virgate of land at Elmley Lovett, which had belonged to John le Ken, a felon. (fn. 44) He apparently died soon after. According to Habington, Nash and Betham he left two co-heirs, Cicely and Alice, (fn. 45) but no confirmation of this has been found, and it appears more probable that he died without issue. (fn. 46) After this date the descent of the manor becomes obscure. It seems to have passed to coheirs, (fn. 47) and in 1326 Alice wife of Eustace le Chapman made good her claim as great-great-grand-daughter of Agnes de Portes (fn. 48) against John de Wolrinton and Stephen de la Lee and Alice his wife to two-thirds of the manor, (fn. 49) and in the same year granted the manor to William la Zouche of Ashby and Robert his son, (fn. 50) Lucy wife of Richard de Hodinton releasing her claim to the manor at the same time. (fn. 51)
It is probable that this purchase was made by Lord Zouche on behalf of his stepson Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, who was then a minor, for the earl was holding land in Elmley Lovett in 1344–5, (fn. 52) and presented to the church in 1349. (fn. 53) In 1361 he settled the manor upon himself in tailmale. (fn. 54) His eldest son Guy predeceased him, and on his death in 1369 the manor passed to his second son Thomas. (fn. 55) From that time the descent of Elmley Lovett is identical with that of Elmley Castle (fn. 56) (q.v.) until 1487, when both were conveyed by Anne Countess of Warwick to Henry VII. (fn. 57)
Elmley Lovett remained in the Crown (fn. 58) until 1543, when it was sold to Sir Robert Acton, kt., (fn. 59) who settled it in 1557–8 on his younger son Charles. (fn. 60) Sir Robert Acton died seised of the manor in 1558, when Charles succeeded. (fn. 61) After the death of Sir John Acton, son and heir of Charles, (fn. 62) in 1621 the manor was divided between his four daughters, (fn. 63) Elizabeth wife of Henry Townshend, Anne wife of Walter Colles, Helen wife of Thomas Thornburgh, afterwards kt., and Penelope wife of John Lench. (fn. 64) From this date the descent of the manor becomes somewhat involved. According to Nash the whole manor came into the possession of Henry Townshend, who purchased the shares of the other co-heirs, but, although from certain fines levied in 1637–8 and 1639 (fn. 65) this would seem to be correct, in later documents relating to the manor he and his successors are said to have held only half, and the Lenches are known to have held an estate in the parish at least as late as 1672. (fn. 66)
Henry Townshend was one of the garrison of Worcester at the time of its surrender in 1646, and was in the city throughout the siege. He kept a regular diary, which Nash has partly printed in his History of Worcestershire. (fn. 67) Townshend was a commissioner for raising money for the king's forces and for the safeguarding of Worcestershire, but in 1646 he proved before the Parliamentary Commissioners that he had never borne arms in the was and had paid contributions to both sides. He was fined £285. (fn. 68) He survived his wife and died in 1663, (fn. 69) when his son Henry succeeded. He settled half the manor of Elmley Lovett in 1677 on his son and heir Henry on his marriage with Mary daughter of Thomas Vernon. (fn. 70) The younger Henry succeeded his father in 1685, (fn. 71) but his only child Ann died in infancy, (fn. 72) and on his death his property passed to his younger brother Robert Townshend, rector of Hanbury. The latter was succeeded by his eldest son Henry, and afterwards by a daughter Dorothy, who married Dr. Samuel Wanley, rector of Elmley Lovett, (fn. 73) and settled the moiety of the manor on him in 1744. (fn. 74) After Dorothy's death Dr. Wanley settled it on his second wife, Mary daughter of Sir Whitmore Acton of Aldenham, Shropshire, bart., but she also predeceased him by a few months. (fn. 75) He died in 1776, leaving this moiety to his friend the Rev. John Waldron, rector of Hampton Lovett, for life with reversion to his fourth and youngest son George Waldron. (fn. 76) The latter was holding it at the beginning of the 19th century, (fn. 77) but had sold it before 1809 to George Forrester. (fn. 78) Brooke Forrester was in possession in 1821 and 1828. (fn. 79) The Rev. Robert Thompson Forrester was lord of the manor in 1850, (fn. 80) and it was purchased of him in 1859 by William Orme Foster (fn. 81) of Apley Park, the great Stourbridge ironmaster, who left it to his second son, Captain James Foster, the present owner. (fn. 82)
The estate at Elmley Lovett which passed to the Lenches by the marriage of John Lench with Penelope Acton seems afterwards to have become known as SNEAD (fn. 83) or SNEAD'S GREEN. Habington states that it was added by the Lenches to their estate at Doverdale. (fn. 84) John Lench and Sarah his wife and William Lench were dealing with property described as a quarter of the manor of Elmley Lovett in 1655, (fn. 85) and in 1672 Elizabeth Lench conveyed 'the manor of Elme Lovett alias Snead' to Thomas Tyrer and Richard Avenant. (fn. 86) It was probably this estate which, under the name of the manor of Elmley Lovett or Snead's Green, belonged in 1802 to Thomas Lord Foley. (fn. 87) Three years later 'the manor of Snead's Green' was sold by Lord Foley to Francis Moule, (fn. 88) who in 1809 sold the manorial rights to George Forrester, then lord of the manor of Elmley Lovett. (fn. 89) Captain James Foster now receives the chief rents from the manor of Snead's Green. (fn. 90)
Snead's Green House, the seat of Francis Moule in 1809, had been in the possession of the family of Moule or Moyle since 1621, and was retained by Francis Moule when he sold the manorial rights of Snead's Green in 1809. On the death of his son, the last male heir of the family, the estate passed to his three sisters, and on their death to his niece Mrs. Stocks, the present owner. (fn. 91)
MERRINGTON lay in the parishes of Elmley Lovett, Hampton Lovett and Elmbridge. (fn. 92) The first mention of it occurs in 1375, when lands and tenements there and in several other places were settled by John Beauchamp of Holt in trust for the provision of a yearly payment of 12 marks to a chaplain to pray for the souls of the said John and his ancestors in Holt. (fn. 93)
John Beauchamp was attainted and forfeited all his possessions in 1387–8, (fn. 94) and in November 1389 the estate was granted by the king to Richard Wych, parson of Tredington, and others. (fn. 95) It subsequently, at some uncertain date, passed to the Cassy (fn. 96) family. It is first mentioned as a manor in 1530, when Robert Cassy appears to have conveyed it to William Brace. (fn. 97) In 1569 Henry Cassy and Francis Brace, who was probably the grandson of William mentioned above, were dealing with the manor of Merrington, (fn. 98) and in 1588 Francis Brace settled the manor on his son Thomas. (fn. 99) The manor then passed with the part of Doverdale held by the Braces to Ralph Taylor, (fn. 100) who was in possession in 1684. (fn. 101) In 1722 the messuage or farm called Merrington Farm in the tenure of Katherine Taylor was conveyed by Ralph Taylor to John Dovey, apparently for the purpose of settling an annuity from the estate upon Ralph and Katherine Taylor, his daughter by his first wife. By his second wife he had a son Hugh and a daughter Mary. (fn. 102) Merrington seems, however, to have passed to the lords of Elmley Lovett before this date, for in 1713 it was included in a conveyance of that manor made by Henry Townshend, (fn. 103) and it subsequently seems to have followed the same descent as Elmley Lovett. (fn. 104) The chief rents from the manor are now received by Captain James Foster, but the site of the manor is not known. As the rents are paid by the tenant of New House Farm, it may be concluded that Merrington was in that vicinity. (fn. 105)
It was stated in a deposition of 1684 that the waste grounds or commons called Cutnall Green and the Broad, which lay chiefly in Elmley Lovett parish, had always been owned by the lords of Merrington. Cutnall Green extended from a stone called Knaven Castle to a place called Black Lake. The two commons were divided by a ditch or bank, which formed the boundary between the parishes of Hampton Lovett and Elmley Lovett. Another deponent stated that he had never heard Merrington called a manor, but that it was formerly called Cutnall Green Farm. (fn. 106)
A park belonging to the manor is mentioned in 1395, when a certain William Porter paid 20s. yearly for its farm. (fn. 107) The office of parker was granted in 1446 to the king's servant Richard Frebody, page of the queen's chamber, (fn. 108) and in 1484 John Huddleston was made master of the game in the park. (fn. 109) The park, then containing 62½ acres, with its deer (fn. 110) was granted with the manor to Sir Robert Acton in 1543, (fn. 111) and belonged to his descendants until 1622, (fn. 112) after which all trace of it seems to have disappeared.
Three mills at Elmley Lovett rendering 109s. 4d. are mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 113) In 1260 a mill (fn. 114) passed with the manor, (fn. 115) and in 1543 was sold to Sir Robert Acton. (fn. 116) It still belonged to the lord of the manor in 1713, (fn. 117) but is no longer used. A mill-house and remains of a corn-mill with a stone dated 16— still exist at Elmley Lovett.
The church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a chancel, nave, west tower with spire, and south porch. It was rebuilt in 1840, and is of little architectural interest. The tower is square, with single round-headed belfry windows, an embattled parapet with corner pinnacles and an octagonal spire. A 17th-century oak chest yet remains, and on the interior of the tower walls are five types of masons' marks. On the south wall of the chancel is a monument to Dorothy wife of Sir Henry Townshend, kt., with an inscription to her husband, who died 9 May 1685, aged sixty-one.
In the churchyard to the south of the church are the remains of a 15th-century cross with a tapering octagonal stem, and a base of the same form standing on two square steps. The cross itself is a modern restoration.
There is a peal of six bells, inscribed as follows: treble, 'Heaven fix when you hear us six, John Hemus, 1697'; (2) 'William Ince Hugh Arden Churchwardens, Peace to the church, 1696'; (3) 'Sing ye pleasantly unto God. William Baggley made mee 1696'; (4) 'Edward Best Rector, Thomas Baskervile, Humphrey England C.W. 16(9)6. William Baggley made mee'; (5) 'Omnibus gratia sed Henricus Townshend Armiger dominus mareni (maneri?) ifact (facti?) causa 1696'; tenor, 'Attend with diligence and prepare for the service of God according to the usage of the Church of England 1696. William Baggley made mee.'
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1539 to 1730; (ii) baptisms and burials 1732 to 1804, marriages 1732 to 1753; (iii) baptisms and burials 1805 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812.
A priest is mentioned at Elmley in the Domesday Survey, and from this the existence of a church at that date may perhaps be inferred. The advowson of Elmley Lovett Church followed the same descent as the manor (fn. 118) until the middle of the 18th century, passing to the Townshends after the death of John Acton in 1621. (fn. 119) Ann Townshend presented Samuel Wanley to the living in 1742, (fn. 120) but in 1776 the presentation for that turn was made by Robert Burgis, who then became the incumbent, (fn. 121) and was said to be patron in 1808, (fn. 122) though George Waldron presented in 1800. (fn. 123) By 1829 the patronage had passed to John Lynes, (fn. 124) who sold it probably about 1837 to Christ's College, Cambridge, (fn. 125) to which it still belongs.
In 1316 a dispute as to the rights of patronage between Isabel widow of Henry Lovett, Richard de Hodington and Lucy his wife, and William le Mol and Lucy his wife, (fn. 126) seems to have been decided in favour of Isabel, who presented to the church in that year. (fn. 127)
There was a chapel of St. Nicholas at Elmley in which a chantry was founded by Sir John Lovett, kt., at the end of the 13th or early in the 14th century. (fn. 128) The advowson of the chapel was said in 1327 to belong to the priory of Dodford. (fn. 129) No further mention has been found of this chantry, which was apparently not in existence in the reign of Edward VI when the chantries were suppressed. In 1562–3 Cicely Pickerell, widow, received a grant of 'all those chapels and les chappell yardes and one called the Rood Chappell yard' in Elmley Lovett. (fn. 130) This was probably all that remained of the chapel of St. Nicholas.
The Charity Estate, the particulars of the foundation of which are unknown, was formerly regulated by a decree of Commissioners for Charitable Uses, 1631–2, and is now regulated by scheme of the Charity Commissioners, 1871. The trust estate consists of 92 a., or thereabouts, let at £163 15s., also of a rent-charge of 6s. 8d. and a sum of £84 2s. 9d. consols held by the official trustees. Under the scheme a sum of £70 is applied for educational purposes, £40 for church purposes, and the balance distributed in clothes, &c., for the poor.