A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Belbroughton has an area of 4,748 acres, comprising, in 1905, 2,012¾ acres of arable land, 2,195½ acres of permanent grass and 321½ acres of woodland. (fn. 1) It occupies the lower slopes of the Clent range, its height varying from 332 ft. on the western border to 700 ft. in the extreme northeast. The village is situated close to the western border of the parish. The church stands on high ground on the west side of the by-road running south out of the settlement. Immediately opposite is the rectory, a plain three-story red brick building of the late 18th century, to the north of which stands the old tithe-barn, now in a very dilapidated condition and shortly to be pulled down to make room for a parish hall. The cottages are of no great antiquity and are mostly of red brick, although half-timber construction is also to be seen; they are generally roofed with tiles. At the northern extremity of the village, at the junction of the roads from Holy Cross and Bell End, is the 'Talbot,' a small late 17th or early 18th-century inn built of red brick and having a tiled roof. It is of no architectural interest, but the stables which are attached to the building on the east, and are of the same date (though built of stone), merit attention on account of the attempt at symmetry displayed in the design of their elevations.
The greater part of the Bell Inn at Bell End was rebuilt late in the 17th or early 18th century, though parts are of much earlier date. It is of L-shaped plan, two stories high, and is built of red brick with a tile roof; the older walls are, however, of half-timber construction. The interior has been completely modernized. The windows are divided into lights by wooden transoms and mullions. This is one of the many inns in which King Charles is incorrectly said to have rested in his flight from Worcester.
Moor Hall, now a farm-house, is situated a little way off the east side of the Bromsgrove and Stourbridge road. It was surrounded by a moat, now filled in on the north and east sides. The house, which was erected late in the 17th century, is of two stories and built of red brick with a tiled roof. It is of little architectural interest, having been added to on the north-east and completely modernized in the 19th century. Over the entrance doorway is a small stone panel inscribed with the following: 'Non Domus Dominum sed Dominus Domum Honestat, I[.] T[.] [E ? / L ?] 1680.'
Fairfield Court stands back on the west side of the Bromsgrove and Stourbridge road, about 5 miles north of the latter town. It is now a farm-house, and until recent years was entirely surrounded by a moat, access to the house being obtained by a drawbridge, but all traces of this have now disappeared and the moat along the north side of the building has been filled in. The principal front of the house, with the porch, faces north and two wings project southward from the rear of the building. To the original house, probably erected early in the 16th century, belong the whole of the east end of the building and the central chimney stack in the middle of the western portion, but most of the remainder of the structure was entirely rebuilt in the early part of the following century and remains in a good state of preservation. In the 18th century the ends of the east wall of the eastern wing were refaced with red brickwork and about the same time the dairy (adjoining the south-west corner of the house) was erected, while the modern work consists of the outhouse at the end of the dairy and various minor alterations.
The plan of the original house is now a matter of conjecture, but from the disposition of the chimneys it does not seem to have been very dissimilar from the existing arrangement. The projecting porch in the middle of the Jacobean part of the north front opens into a large hall extending in length entirely across the building with windows at both ends. In the centre of the west wall is the old chimney stack, against the south side of which, rising to the first floor and the attics in the roof, is a fine Jacobean staircase of oak. The strings and handrail of the stair are moulded and the balusters turned, while the square newel posts are surmounted by shaped finials of a pleasing design. In an irregular-shaped room on the west of the hall is an original square-headed doorway, still retaining its 17th-century nail-studded door and a blocked-up three-light window. The east wall of the hall marks the division between the 16th and 17th-century work, and to the former belong the two original stacks, built against the external east wall. Round the walls of a room to the east of the hall, known as the 'oak room,' is some late 16th or early 17thcentury panelling, but this is not in situ, though it was no doubt taken from some other part of the house. A partition on the west of the room is likewise made up of 16th-century panelling. It screens off a passage from which the hall is entered. The bedrooms are of little interest; they generally communicate with a passage running along the south side of the building.
The exterior of the house is picturesque. The oldest part is of half-timber and brick construction, though this on the south is covered by an 18th-century brick facing. The whole of the old framing is built with horizontal and vertical timbers, the panels being tall and narrow. The first floor on the south side of the east wing overhangs, and is carried on long curved braces projecting from the main uprights at the end of the side walls. The east block is gabled towards the north and south. The northern stack on the east wall is built of stone up to the eaves, but above this point are two square brick chimneys, carried up independently of one another, but joined by an oversailing brick coping at the top. Both chimneys have an angular rib of brickwork carried up each face. The central stack, above the roof, is of the same design, but the coping is modern. The walls of the 17th-century addition are built of red sandstone up to the level of the first floor, while the upper part is of red brick with red sandstone quoins and dressings to the windows. Round the base of the walls is a slightly projecting plinth. All the original windows in this addition are low and divided into lights by sandstone mullions. The windows lighting the hall are, however, higher than the others and transomed. The porch is carried up two stories high and finishes with a pointed gable. The entrance archway is roundheaded, with a slightly projecting keystone and impost blocks. The west end of the house has a pointed gable of half-timber construction, and the south front of the west wing is also gabled. All the roofs are tiled.
The Ram Alley Brook flows through the parish westward. At intervals it has been widened into ponds, which furnish the motive power for several mills, as in the 17th and 18th centuries all the small streams in this part of the county were utilized for forges. As early as the 16th century we have a reference to a Blade Mill in Brian's Bell in this parish. (fn. 2)
Nash states that the parish was in the forests of Feckenham and Piperode (fn. 3) and some of the large woodlands, the survival of the forest in Chaddesley Corbett and Bromsgrove, run into this parish. In the 17th century Morehall Bell and Brian's Bell were looked upon as being 'in the King's Holt.' (fn. 4)
One industry of the neighbourhood is the manufacture of scythes, hay and chaff knives and edge tools of all kinds for agricultural purposes. This industry was carried on at Belbroughton at least as early as 1564, when 'John Smythe, sythesmythe,' was the defendant in a suit respecting a messuage called 'Hollies.' (fn. 5) There used to be a good deal of nailmaking, but this has died out.
Agriculture, especially on allotments and small holdings, furnishes employment for a number of the inhabitants. Wheat, barley and oats are the chief crops raised on the farms, while vegetables and fruit are grown on the small holdings. Part of the land is under pasture.
Fairs, at which horned cattle, horses and cheese were sold, were held at Belbroughton in the 19th century on the first Monday in April and the Monday before St. Luke's Day. (fn. 6)
Wildmoor, Bromeheath and Madley Heath were commons belonging to the manor of Belbroughton, (fn. 7) Bell Heath to Brian's Bell, and Hollis Hill, Gosty Green and the Sling to Morehall Bell. The commons all adjoined and had no hedges or fences between. (fn. 8) In 1799, when an Act was passed for their inclosure, (fn. 9) the commons at Belbroughton contained about 500 acres. Under the award the lords of Brian's Bell were always to have the use of the pools on the common belonging to that manor and of the brook running from Shuts Mill and Farely Coppice over the common to Lower Fen Pool and to the Bell Inn, where there was a mill. (fn. 10) At this time the Earl of Shrewsbury owned 240 acres of woodland in Belbroughton which he was entitled to inclose for seven years after each 'fall' of timber. (fn. 11)
A Roman urn with over 100 coins of various emperors was found near Fairfield in 1833. (fn. 12)
King Coenwulf in 817 exempted the Bishop of Worcester's estate at 'Beolne, Broctun and Forfeld' from all secular services except military service and the maintenance of bridges and strongholds. (fn. 13) His charter implies that the bishop was already in possession of these lands; the means by which he acquired them are unknown. Subsequently the monastery lost these manors and they passed to Earl Leofwin, but his son Leofric promised to restore them to the monks after his death. (fn. 14) He died in 1057 (fn. 15) 'in a good old age, a man of no less virtue than power in his time— religious, prudent and faithful to his country, happily wedded to Godiva, a woman of great praise.' (fn. 16) She, on the death of her husband, requested to be allowed to retain the manors for her life, with reversion to the priory, on payment of a money rent. To this the monks agreed, (fn. 17) but it is doubtful whether they ever obtained possession of the manors, for shortly afterwards the land was ravaged by Edwin and Morcar, who occupied these manors. (fn. 18) Godiva seems, however, to have retained possession of BROUGHTON, for in 1086 2 hides there which she had held belonged to Urse the sheriff. (fn. 19) A hide which was held under Urse by Robert in Clent Hundred, (fn. 20) following as it does in the Domesday Survey immediately after the entry for Broughton, may refer to land in this neighbourhood. FAIRFIELD (Forteld, ix cent.; Fornelde, xiv cent.) is not separately mentioned in Domesday, but was evidently then included in Broughton, which subsequently became known as the manor of Fairfield or Belbroughton or Belbroughton and Fairfield. (fn. 21) To it were appurtenant five salt-pans at Droitwich, which rendered 100 mits of salt and 5 ounces of silver.
This manor passed with Urse's other possessions to the Beauchamps and the overlordship followed the descent of the barony of Elmley. (fn. 22) In 1572–3 the manor was said to be held of the queen as of her hundred of Halfshire. (fn. 23)
The Beauchamps probably held the manor in demesne until the reign of Henry II, when on the marriage of Emma daughter of William de Beauchamp with Ralph de Sudeley (fn. 24) the manor was apparently given to Ralph, for his great-grandson Bartholomew de Sudeley, who died in 1280, was said to be holding the manor of William de Beauchamp without service because it was given in free marriage to his ancestors. (fn. 25)
The manor passed at Bartholomew's death to his son John, (fn. 26) who died in 1336 (fn. 27) and was succeeded by his grandson John son of Bartholomew de Sudeley. (fn. 28) John died in 1340–1, (fn. 29) leaving a son John, but his widow Eleanor held the manor until her death in 1361, (fn. 30) when it passed to John. On his death in February 1366–7 he left as his heirs his nephew Thomas Boteler, aged ten years, son of his eldest sister Joan, and his younger sister Margery, aged thirty years. (fn. 31) In the following year a partition was made of John de Sudeley's lands, (fn. 32) and Fairfield seems to have been assigned to Thomas Boteler. John and William, the two elder sons of Sir Thomas Boteler, died without issue, (fn. 33) and Alice wife of Edmund Chesney, who was holding the manor in 1431 (fn. 34) and presented to the church in 1422, (fn. 35) may have been William's widow, the manor having been settled on William and his wife Alice in 1417–18. (fn. 36) The manor afterwards passed to Sir Ralph Boteler of Sudeley, third son of Sir Thomas, who dealt with it in 1464 and 1467–8. (fn. 37) Sir Ralph Boteler had an only son Thomas, who died during his father's lifetime, probably between 1449 and 1460, without issue. (fn. 38) Sir Ralph died on 2 May 1473 seised of the manor, and, as he left no surviving issue, John Norbury, grandson of his sister Elizabeth, and William Belknap, son of his sister Joan, became joint heirs to his possessions. (fn. 39) His wife Alice survived him, dying 10 February 1473–4. (fn. 40) On 11 February 1477 Sir John Norbury and William Belknap had licence to enter into possession of the lands of Ralph Boteler of Sudeley, (fn. 41) but it does not appear to which of the two Fairfield passed. Probably Sir John Norbury held it, as it is not mentioned in the inquisition taken on the death of William Belknap in 1484. (fn. 42) In 1496 a partition took place between Edward Belknap, William's nephew, and Sir John Norbury, and it is interesting to note that the manor which for over two centuries had been known as 'Forfeld' was then called Belbroughton. (fn. 43) By this partition it was agreed that Sir John Norbury should hold Belbroughton. (fn. 44) In 1500 the manor was secured to Sir John Norbury's daughter and heir Anne wife of Richard Halliwell. (fn. 45) From Anne it passed to her daughter Jane, who married Sir Edmund Bray, (fn. 46) created Lord Bray in 1529. (fn. 47) Lord Bray died in 1539, and Fairfield was held by Jane Lady Bray until her death on 24 October 1558. (fn. 48) Her only son John Lord Bray having died without issue in the previous year, her six daughters became her heirs. In 1560–1 they agreed that Edmund Lord Chandos and Dorothy his wife, the fifth daughter, should have the manors of Fairfield, Belbroughton and Broomhill. (fn. 49) In 1574 Dorothy, then a widow, jointly with her son Giles Lord Chandos conveyed the manors of Fairfield and Belbroughton to Ann Petre, (fn. 50) widow of Sir William Petre, kt., Secretary of State to Henry VIII and Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. Anne left the manors to her daughter Catherine, who married John Talbot of Grafton. (fn. 51) John conveyed them in 1595 to Richard Leveson and John Brooke. (fn. 52) In 1609 Jane Watson, widow, and Sarah Watson conveyed these manors to Sir Richard Greaves, (fn. 53) who held them until his death on 10 July 1632, when his son Thomas Greaves succeeded. (fn. 54) In 1641–2 the latter, with Martha his wife, conveyed them to Thomas Rant and Thomas Hammond, (fn. 55) who were evidently trustees for William Ward, a wealthy goldsmith of London. (fn. 56) Fairfield and Belbroughton were probably included in certain manors unnamed which were conveyed by Thomas Rant and others to William's son Humble, Lord Ward of Birmingham, in 1649. (fn. 57) Lord Ward married Frances Lady Dudley, and seems to have settled Fairfield and Belbroughton on his third son William Ward, who was in possession in 1700. (fn. 58) John Ward, grandson of William, succeeded to the barony of Ward in 1740 on the death of his cousin, (fn. 59) and the manors from that time followed the descent of Dudley Castle (fn. 60) (q.v.), William Humble Ward, Earl of Dudley, being the present owner.
In the 16th century a 'manor or capital messuage' called Fairfield Court belonged to Henry James, who left four daughters—Elizabeth wife of Humphrey Perrott, Dorothy wife of Henry Greswolde, Martha wife of John Perrott, and Anne. It was agreed in 1596 that the capital messuage should belong to Humphrey Perrott and Elizabeth, and the former was still holding it in 1610. (fn. 61)
Tradition says there was once a chapel at Fairfield Court. (fn. 62)
The manor of BELNE (Beolne, ix cent.; Bellem, Belna, xi cent.), afterwards BRIAN'S BELL (Broynsbelne, Brunesbell, xvi cent.) and BELL HALL, between 817 and 1057 appears to have followed the same descent as Fairfield (q.v.). The Danes probably deprived either Godiva or the monks of Worcester of this manor, for it was held before the Conquest by Leofnoth, a thegn of King Edward the Confessor. It afterwards passed to Ralf Fitz Hubert, who held it for more than five years. The Domesday Survey states that he was wrongfully dispossessed of it by William Fitz Osbern. (fn. 63) William Fitz Ansculf was in possession of it at the time of the Survey. (fn. 64) The overlordship passed with Dudley to Fulk Paynel, (fn. 65) and afterwards descended with the manor of Northfield (fn. 66) (q.v.). This overlordship is last mentioned in 1428. (fn. 67) In 1491–2 the manor was said to be held of the Duke of Buckingham. (fn. 68)
The 3 hides which the manor comprised in 1086 were held of these overlords by Robert, (fn. 69) who, from the fact of Belbroughton being afterwards held by the Beauchamps, may have been Robert le Despenser, brother of Urse D'Abitot. (fn. 70) A survey of a later date than Domesday states that William de Beauchamp held 8 hides at Belne of the fief of Fulk Paynel. (fn. 71) The large increase of 5 hides in its extent is not explained, but possibly the 2 or 3 hides contained in Belbroughton and Fairfield, also held by William de Beauchamp, were included in this return, though they were not of Fulk Paynel's fee.
Brian's Bell was held by the Beauchamps under the Paynels for the service of one knight, and descended with the barony of Elmley, (fn. 72) this mesne lordship being mentioned for the last time in 1546. (fn. 73)
Under the lords of Elmley, Brian's Bell was held by the family of Belne. The earliest mention of these under-tenants in connexion with land in Belbroughton occurs early in the 13th century, when Hugh de Belne was holding a knight's fee in Belne. (fn. 74) Hugh was succeeded by a son Simon before 1254–5, (fn. 75) and at that date made an agreement with William le Bruyn as to estovers in William's wood of Belne. (fn. 76) The Bruyns seem afterwards to have acquired this manor, (fn. 77) as in 1280 Simon le Bruyn and Margery widow of William Bruyn contributed to the subsidy for the tithing of Belne Bruyn, (fn. 78) and Simon le Bruyn was holding the manor in 1299–1300. (fn. 79) From this date Brian's Bell followed the same descent as the manor of Ab Lench (fn. 80) in Fladbury (q.v.) until the death of Edward Conway in 1546. (fn. 81) Sir John Conway, son and successor of Edward, and his son Edward conveyed it in 1592 to Humphrey Perrott. (fn. 82) It descended in this family from father to son (fn. 83) until 1776, when John Perrott died, leaving a daughter Katherine. (fn. 84) By her marriage with Walter Noel of Hilcote the manor of Brian's Bell passed to the Noel family, in whose possession it remained until the death of Charles Perrott Noel in 1908. (fn. 85) He left this manor by will to his widow for life, with reversion to Sir Neville Lyttelton and remainder in default of heirs male to Lord Cobham. (fn. 86) Mrs. Noel is the present owner of the estate.
The manor of MOREHALBENE or MOORHALL BELL was held of the manor of Brian's Bell for scutage and suit of court and rent of 20s. (fn. 89) The earliest tenant of the manor whose name is known is Richard Rugge, who held it at the end of the 15th century. (fn. 90) It passed from him to his daughter Joan wife of Sir William Molyneux, (fn. 91) who in 1539 gave the manor to his son Richard. (fn. 92) Richard and his mother Joan sold it in 1539 to Humphrey Pakington and Rowland Hill, (fn. 93) who transferred it in 1540 to John Pakington. (fn. 94) It then descended with the manor of Chaddesley Corbett (q.v.) until 1723. (fn. 95) In that year Sir Robert Throckmorton sold it to Joseph Cox, (fn. 96) who some years later purchased the manor of Stone, and seems to have settled both manors on his daughter Mary and her husband Stephen Beckingham. (fn. 97) The latter in 1738 conveyed Moorhall to Robert Aglionby Slaney (fn. 98) and others, apparently for settlement on his son Stephen who was holding it with him in 1751. (fn. 99) The manor shortly afterwards passed to the Tristrams, (fn. 100) who seem to have resided there at the beginning of the 18th century. (fn. 101) John Tristram was in possession in 1771–2, (fn. 102) and the manor still belonged to this family in 1780, (fn. 103) but after this date there is a difficulty in tracing its descent. It had passed before 1814 to William Hooper, (fn. 104) and belonged in 1868 to Miss Durant of Clent. (fn. 105)
The inhabitants of Moorhall and Brian's Bell owed suit at the hundred court held at Churchill for part of Halfshire Hundred. (fn. 106) The two villages of Moorhall and Brian's Bell formed one constablewick, and the constable was chosen one year in Moorhall Bell and the next in Brian's Bell, and was elected at the king's leet at Churchill. (fn. 107)
An estate at BRADFORD is first mentioned in the 13th century. In 1274–5 William de Hurst brought an action against John son of Simon de Bradford and Christine his wife for obstructing a road at Belbroughton. (fn. 108) Roger Lord of la More paid a subsidy of 4s. 8d. at Belne Simonis in 1280, (fn. 109) while William de la Hurst paid 10s. at Belne Bruyn, (fn. 110) and John and Christine de Bradford paid subsidy at Belbroughton. (fn. 111) Robert and Ellen de la Hurst recovered seisin of a carucate of land at Belne Bruyn against William de la Hurst in 1292–3. (fn. 112)
Margaret the wife of Henry de Bradford, sen., died in 1379 seised of tenements in Belbroughton, which she held of Thomas le Boteler by knight's service. Her son and heir William de Bradford died three years later, and was succeeded by a sister Margaret. (fn. 113) Possibly the land at Belbroughton held in 1431 by Edmund Shyne of Droitwich for a sixth of a knight's fee may refer to this property. (fn. 114) Nothing further is known of the estate until 1650, when William Penn of Bradford begged to compound, his estate being discharged five years later. (fn. 115)
In 1795 Elizabeth Mariana Harris, eldest daughter of Aston and Mary Harris, both deceased, conveyed to William Morland and others the capital messuage or mansion-house called Bradford and lands, &c., in Belbroughton parish, (fn. 116) as trustees for its sale. The property had been settled by John Harris on the said Aston and Mary, and Aston by his will dated 1 March 1794 had left it to Elizabeth in trust that she should sell it and give £1,000 to each of her sisters Anne, Harriet and Penelope. (fn. 117) The house was put up for sale in February 1818. (fn. 118)
The origin of the manor of BROMHILL (fn. 119) is not known. In 1473 Sir Ralph Boteler of Sudeley died seised of land at Bromhill, (fn. 120) which subsequently followed the descent of Fairfield. (fn. 121) The estate, called a manor since 1574, (fn. 122) now belongs to the Earl of Dudley.
The church of the HOLYTRINITY is built of stone and consists of a modern chancel and nave 88 ft. long and 21 ft. wide, to the south of which are the old chancel and nave, 90 ft. long and about 19 ft. wide, with a west tower 10 ft. deep and 9 ft. wide, and a south aisle 8½ ft. wide. These measurements are all internal.
The existence of a 12th-century church is clear from the portions of the south door, the window west of it, and from various carved fragments at the rectory of the same or earlier date. The earliest part of the existing building is the south aisle, which dates from the 13th century. The old chancel, which is of the 14th century, would therefore occupy the position of the 12th-century chancel, to which the south aisle was added. The modern chancel and nave are mainly in the 14th-century style, but parts of the north door of the modern nave, including its ogee head, are old. Preparations have been made to add a north aisle and western porch to this part of the church. The old 14th-century chancel has a threelight window with modern geometric tracery and old jambs. In the north wall is a large ogee-headed, moulded recess and on the south are 15th-century sedilia, a piscina and three 14th-century windows of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over. Here also is a door, probably of the same date. In the south-west angle is the entrance to the rood stair, to which there is a small trefoil-headed window. The chancel arch is probably of the 16th century, but has been much restored. It is of two chamfered orders, two-centred, with moulded capitals and semi-octagonal responds. The north arcade of the old nave is of three bays. It is of a curious design, of two unbroken chamfered orders, and has been reconstructed from the remains of a similar arcade, dating probably from the 15th century, which were found in the wall when pierced for the modern part of the church. The south arcade, the greater part of which is modern, is similar to the chancel arch and has concave octagonal piers with moulded capitals, but the label appears to be of an earlier date, though much restored, and the stops in some cases renewed. The tower arch is of the 15th century. The windows in the south aisle are modern, but in the south wall is a 13th-century piscina. The south door has been restored from some 12th-century fragments, and has a round head, double-shafted jambs and two roll mouldings to the head. The porch and external doorway are modern. West of the porch is a round-headed single-light window, partly old and dating from the 12th century. This window and the fragments of the south door appear to have been recently discovered and inserted in this wall.
The 15th-century tower is of three stages, with a stair turret in the south-east angle, and has angle buttresses. It has an embattled parapet and the octagonal spire has ogee-headed lights, with the remains of crocketed gables.
The 14th-century chancel has a 17th-century roof inscribed on the western beam 'Laus Deo This roofe was new built at the charge of Richard Tristram Rector 1660.' A part of the nave roof is also old, the eastern beam being inscribed 'W.T. 1654 G.W.' On the eastern respond of the south aisle are remains of a painting showing a female figure with a floral pattern. The font is of the 15th century with octagonal bowl and quatrefoiled panels, a stem and moulded base.
On the eastern exterior of the south aisle is a monument to Richard Tristram, 1691. Preserved at the rectory are various fragments of 12th and 13th-century work, including a grotesque animal, dog-tooth moulding, etc. There is also a piece of a pre-Conquest cross, with interlacing ornament.
There is a peal of six bells. The first five are by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester, 1781, and the tenor recast by Thomas Mears, 1840. The treble is inscribed 'The Rev.d Mr. John Wylde gave LS/5 : 5 : 0 1781'; the second, 'The Rev.d M.r Tho.s Tristram gave LS/5:5:0 1781'; the third, 'Aston Harris Esq.r gave LS/7:7:0 1781'; the fourth, 'John Tristram junr. Esq.r gave LS/10:10:0 1781'; and the fifth, 'John Tristram senr. Esq.r gave L/50:0:0 1781.' The tenor is inscribed 'I to the Church the living call and to the grave do summon all ./. . ./. T.M. 1840: W.m Clinton Gent. gave LSD/5:5:0.'
The plate consists of a silver cup of the Restoration period, the date letter being illegible; an 1809 silver cup on which is engraved a monogram of the initials 'E.B.'; a 1701 silver salver standing on a foot, and a modern silver paten and chalice presented to the parish by the present rector.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1540 to 1649; (ii) 1650 to 1738; (iii) baptisms and burials 1739 to 1800, marriages 1739 to 1753; (iv) baptisms and burials 1801 to 1812; (v) marriages 1754 to 1812.
BELL END CHAPEL
BELL END CHAPEL stands in the grounds of Bell Hall. It is a small early chapel, now disused, overgrown by ivy and in a very dilapidated condition. It was erected circa 1200, and apart from the insertion of mullioned windows in the east and west walls, the addition of buttresses to the west wall and the re-roofing at a later period, it has been left much in its original state. It is rectangular on plan, and is built of red sandstone, the roof being tiled.
The east window is of 16th-century date and was divided by mullions into three square-headed lights, but these are now blocked up with brickwork. In the north wall are two small round-headed windows with splayed inner jambs, and to the west of these is a blocked-up semicircular doorway with an external double-chamfered hood mould. The openings in the south wall correspond in size and position to those in the wall opposite, though the windows have external rebates for shutters and the doorway is far more ornate. This doorway is of two orders; the inner one, the edge of which has been rounded off, is continuous, while the outer, which is stopped at the springing by moulded abaci now much decayed, is elaborately moulded, and the jambs below are worked in a sunk quarter round. The west window is similar to the east, being of three square-headed lights.
The building has an external plinth, but through the raising of the ground this is now only visible at the north end of the east wall. The north and south walls have been continued westward (probably at the same time as the insertion of the east and west windows) to form buttresses. These are now greatly damaged, and only portions of them remain in situ.
There were a church and priest at Belbroughton in 1086, (fn. 123) and the advowson was annexed to the manor of Belbroughton and Fairfield until about 1595, (fn. 124) when the manor was sold by John Talbot. He retained the advowson and died in 1607, when it passed to his son John, (fn. 125) by whom it was sold in 1624 to Thomas Tristram, clerk. (fn. 126) Between this date and 1731 the presentations were made by various people, (fn. 127) who were probably feoffees of the Tristrams, for in 1731 Bridget Tristram presented to the church, (fn. 128) and in 1733 she sold the advowson to the President and scholars of St. John's College, Oxford, (fn. 129) with whom it has since remained. (fn. 130) Dr. Gibbons, of St. John's College, gave £1,000 and his widow £300 of the purchase money. The advowson is subject to the condition that 'the person to be presented from time to time shall be one of the fellows of the college who has been or is at such time Dean of Divinity in the said college.' (fn. 131)
Joseph Smith—as appeared from the Church Table—by will (date not stated) demised an annuity of £5, issuing out of the Clock House Estate at Fockbury, to be expended in woollen material for garments for poor widows, fatherless children and other poor.
In 1832 Benjamin Brecknell, by will proved in the P.C.C. 26 January, bequeathed £1,000, now £1,134 11s. 2d. consols in the names of administering trustees, producing £28 7s. yearly, to be distributed in money, bread and other articles in kind.
In 1883 Miss Elizabeth Hunt by deed declared the trusts of a sum of £497 10s. 3d. consols, producing £12 8s. 8d. yearly, to be distributed in sums of not less than 5s. each to poor widows, irrespective of age, and to men of not less than seventy years of age on 24 December yearly. The income of the several charities is applied for the benefit of the poor in accordance with their respective trusts.
The several sums of stock, unless otherwise stated, are held by the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £132 18s. consols arising from a legacy of £100 to the Free School by will of George Garbett above mentioned, and a legacy of £20 to the same school by will of Thomas Griffen in 1758. The dividends, amounting to £3 6s. 4d., are applied for educational purposes.
In 1903 Miss Phoebe Lucy Baker by deed conveyed to trustees three cottages in Wood Lane to be used as almshouses for aged and infirm women, and by a deed of trust 18 January 1904 a sum of £1,045 7s. 7d. consols was transferred to trustees, the dividends, amounting to £26 2s. 6d. yearly, to be applied in insurance and keeping the almshouses in repair.