A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Hagley was at one time part of the forest of Kinver, but was disafforested in 1300–1, as it had only been included in the forest 'since the Coronation of King Henry.' (fn. 1)
It comprises an area of 2,431 acres, including 24 acres of inland water, 856 acres of arable land, 1,104 acres of pasture and 271 of wood. (fn. 2) The land rises gradually from the western border, where it varies from 270 ft. to 395 ft. above the ordnance datum, to the Clent Hills, just beyond the south-eastern border, where it rises to about 700 ft. Wychbury Hill, a detached hill partly in the parish of Pedmore, attains a height of 700 ft.
The main roads from Stourbridge to Bromsgrove and from Kidderminster to Halesowen pass through the parish, the village of Hagley being situated at the intersection of these roads. Hagley Hall and the church and rectory standing in Hagley Park are to the east of the village.
The old hall at Hagley which is described in 1601 as 'a convenient house built for the most part of wood,' (fn. 3) was the scene of the capture of Stephen Lyttelton and Robert Winter, two of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. They had escaped from Holbeach House, and, after wandering about the country for some time, came to Hagley, where a man called Peck concealed them in his house. During the absence of Mrs. Lyttelton they were taken to Hagley Hall, where they were betrayed by one of the servants. (fn. 4) Sir Charles Lyttelton made additions to the house in the reign of William III, but it was taken down in 1760, when the present hall was built by George first Lord Lyttelton.
It stands in the fine park, facing the south-west, with a magnificent view over the undulating and well-wooded country which stretches away from the Clent Hills. The house, which is three stories high, with one in the roof, is built of sandstone, and is symmetrically designed both in plan and elevation. The kitchen and domestic offices occupy the ground floor, the principal apartments being placed on the floor above. The entrance or 'White' hall is reached from the park by two stone staircases, which meet on a wide landing or terrace in front. In the north-west wall of this apartment is a carved stone mantelpiece with a male figure on either side supporting a projecting shelf, above which is a carved panel of satyrs offering sacrifice to Diana. The cornice and ceiling are of elaborate design. Leading out of the hall on the south-east is the Van Dyck drawing room and on the north-west the library, both richly decorated. Occupying the whole of the southeast side of the house on this floor is the gallery, a finely-proportioned room, divided by fluted wooden columns of the Corinthian order into three bays. Behind the hall, in the middle of the north-east front, is the large dining room, and between this and the gallery the drawing room. The walls of the former are decorated with plaster swags and trophies, and the latter is hung with tapestry. The two main staircases are situated in the middle of the building and are top lighted. The northernmost is of stone with a simple iron balustrade, but the southern or front staircase is of painted wood, with double-bellied balusters supporting a heavily moulded handrail. In the housekeeper's sitting room, which is on the ground floor, is a Jacobean fireplace—a relic of the former hall—the upper part only being original. The three panels, divided by Corinthian columns, bear coats of arms, that in the middle being Lyttelton impaling Bromley; the dexter shield is Lyttelton surmounted by the crest of a blackamoor's head, while the sinister is a lozenge with the arms of Bromley, surmounted by the crest of a pheasant charged with a crescent. These are the achievements of John Lyttelton, esquire, and Muriel Bromley his wife, whom he married in 1590. The elevations are restrained and dignified. The ground stage is rusticated, and at the corners are carried up four square towers, each roofed with a low pyramidal roof of slate. The principal front has a slightly projecting façade in the centre, finished with a pediment and the main cornice, running round the building, is surmounted by an open balustrade. All the windows are square-headed, and those to the first floor have entablatures. In the centre of the ground floor on the north-west front are three semicircular rusticated arches which give access to the servants' quarters and offices. The other elevations are of similar character to the front, and the whole building makes an imposing block.
Among the architectural features erected about the park is 'the castle,' a sham Gothic ruin into which have been built pieces of mediaeval masonry, which are said to have been taken from the remains of the abbey at Halesowen.
Samuel Johnson visited William Henry Lyttelton, afterwards Lord Westcote, at Little Hagley in September 1774, (fn. 5) and describes Lord Lyttelton's new house and the park as equalling his expectations, but states that the church is 'externally very mean, and is therefore diligently hidden by a plantation.' (fn. 6) The house he describes as 'one square mass,' with the offices below, and the rooms of elegance on the first floor, with two stories of bedchambers very well disposed above it. 'The bedchambers have low windows, which abates the dignity of the house. The Park has an artificial ruin, and wants water; there is, however, one temporary cascade.' (fn. 7)
'The invitation was universal to all ranks and all parties, and the plan was really magnificent. . . . . Some untoward accidents happened in the execution: for in the first place my lord forgot to have the beds aired; in the second, he classed the company according to their birth and reputed estates into three divisions, and in the last Mr. Lyttelton, destined to have opened the ball with the first person of the first class, mutinied, and would only dance with a smart girl he had brought in the morning from a neighbouring village. . . . . Before the dinner was ended, everybody was talking of their private affairs and pedigree; Bacchus's Hall was turned into the Herald's Office; and the whole company became jealous and sulky. At the end of the three days my Lord's new palace was filled with disgust and complaints, and he is said to have confessed at last that distinctions are not prudent.' (fn. 8)
Stakenbridge, Harborough and Blakedown form an almost detached portion of the parish in the south-west, near the Great Western railway station. This district was assigned in 1888 for ecclesiastical purposes to the parish of Churchill, but it is still for civil purposes in Hagley. Harborough Hall stands to the east of the high road from Kidderminster to Halesowen. The gabled front is of half-timber, and the porch, which projects from the centre, extends the whole height of the house. Over the doorway are the date 1635 and the initials W.A.P., probably referring to William and Anne Penn, the house having been long connected with that family. The inner door is plain and nail studded. To the right and left of this door are the two chief rooms of the ground floor, the chimneys forming a block opposite the entrance with the fireplaces back to back. In the centre room of the first floor is a remarkable set of 17th-century furniture, including a bedstead with a carved wood canopy and two chairs, one inscribed 'IH RH 1666.' The ceiling of this room is elaborately decorated in plaster-work, the two beams being enriched with a pattern of fir cones and roses.
There are many villa residences in the parish, but the population is mainly agricultural, wheat and barley being the chief crops raised. The surface soil varies from a stiff clay to a sandy loam, and the subsoil is breccia and sandstone.
An Act was passed in 1830 for the inclosure of the Brake and Warren lands in Hagley, (fn. 9) and the award for these commons is dated 10 November 1831. (fn. 10) In 1832 another Act legalized the inclosure of Harborough and Blakedown Commons, (fn. 11) the award for which is dated 16 October 1834. (fn. 12) In both cases arrangements were made for certain plots to be reserved for gravel-pits and quarries for the repair of the roads in the parish.
Wychbury Hill is the site of an early camp. (fn. 13) Several coins have been found here, (fn. 14) and in 1738 an iron chain in which was a 'large round Stone about the Size of a Man's head.' (fn. 15) A ball of baked clay, supposed to have been a weight for a fishing net, was found in Hagley Park about 1774. (fn. 16)
Before the Conquest HAGLEY was held by Godric, a thegn of King Edward the Confessor. (fn. 20) It appears in the Domesday Survey as the property of William Fitz Ansculf, (fn. 21) and was afterwards held as a knight's fee of the barony of Dudley. (fn. 22)
In 1086 it was held under William Fitz Ansculf by Roger. (fn. 23) The William de Hagley who was pardoned 3s. for danegeld in 1130–1, in the county of Stafford, (fn. 24) probably held this manor, for either he or a successor of the same name held a knight's fee here of Gervase Paynel in 1166. (fn. 25) Philip de Hagley occurs in 1187 as a witness to a charter of Gervase Paynel to the priory of Tickford, co. Bucks. (fn. 26) Robert de Hagley appears to have been lord of the manor early in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 27) and was possibly succeeded by Henry de Hagley, (fn. 28) who was in 1255 exempted for life from being put on assizes or from serving in any office against his will. (fn. 29) Henry son of Henry de Hagley in 1259 had seisin of the lands of his wife Lecia, daughter and heir of Henry de Linguire, in the county of Oxford. (fn. 30) About 1280 Henry de Hagley paid a mark towards the subsidy and 4s. was paid by the lady of Hagley, probably the widow of the last owner. (fn. 31) In 1286 Henry de Hagley presented to the church, (fn. 32) and he was holding the manor in 1292. (fn. 33) He appears towards the end of the 13th century as the grantor of land in Harborough in Hagley Manor. (fn. 34) He was probably succeeded by Edmund de Hagley, who occurs in 1304 (fn. 35) and held Hagley in 1322. (fn. 36) Edmund appears to have died at about this time, (fn. 37) and to have been followed by another Edmund de Hagley, who held the manor in 1349 (fn. 38) and surrendered it and the advowson two years later to Sir John de Botetourt, his overlord. (fn. 39)
Sir John de Botetourt (fn. 40) held the manor until 1370 or later, and Nash states that in 1373–4 Henry Hagley, heir of Edmund Hagley above mentioned, recovered the manor and advowson by a writ of right (fn. 41); but, though this statement appears to be correct, no confirmation of it has been found. Henry Hagley certainly presented to the church in 1380, 1382 and 1389. (fn. 42) A grant of protection for one year, which had been given him in December 1391 as staying on the king's service with Thomas Earl of Nottingham, Captain of Calais, was revoked in 1392 because he tarried in England on his own affairs. (fn. 43) Not long after he seems to have forfeited all his possessions on account of being concerned in the death of a certain Simon Cokkes. He was pardoned in 1397 and his goods to the value of £20 were restored to him. (fn. 44) He seems to have been a man of some standing in Worcestershire, for he was sheriff in 1397, (fn. 45) and in the early 15th century was on the commission of the peace. (fn. 46)
In 1412 he with Alice his wife sold the manor to Thomas Walwyn of Much Marcle, William Biryton and Richard Peper, (fn. 47) who afterwards conveyed it to Joan Lady Bergavenny and to Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Earl of Arundel, Walter Keble and others, (fn. 48) who were trustees for Joan and executors of her will. She was holding the manor in 1431, (fn. 49) and died in 1435, (fn. 50) having bequeathed Hagley to her grandson James Butler or Ormond, son of the Earl of Ormond.
On 20 November 1445 Walter Keble, apparently the only survivor of this settlement, conveyed Hagley to Sir James Butler with remainder to his brothers John and Thomas in succession, in default of issue. (fn. 51) Sir James Butler was created Earl of Wiltshire on 8 July 1449, (fn. 52) and succeeded his father as Earl of Ormond in 1452. Having been taken prisoner after the battle of Towton, he was attainted and beheaded in 1461, and his lands were forfeited. (fn. 53)
On 20 January 1462 Edward IV granted Hagley to Fulk Stafford and his heirs male. (fn. 54) He died shortly afterwards, leaving no male issue; his widow Margaret was allowed to retain one-third of the manor in dower, (fn. 55) and on 27 January 1463 the remaining two-thirds were granted to Thomas Prout, the king's servant, and his heirs male, with the reversion of the share held by Margaret Stafford on her death. (fn. 56) Apparently Thomas Prout died without issue male shortly after receiving this grant, as early in 1474 his share of Hagley had reverted to the king. On 10 February Edward IV granted it to his consort, Queen Elizabeth, with the reversion of the third held by Margaret Stafford. (fn. 57) On 13 January 1479, at the request of the queen, the king granted the two-thirds held by her, with the reversion of the remaining third, to Westminster Abbey, on condition that the abbot should find two monks to celebrate daily in the chapel of St. Erasmus at Westminster, for the health of the king and queen. (fn. 58) The monastery does not appear to have long retained possession of Hagley; on 4 July 1486, the attainder of James Earl of Ormond having been reversed the year before in favour of his brother Thomas, seventh earl, (fn. 59) the latter received a grant of various liberties within his manor of Hagley. (fn. 60)
Thomas Earl of Ormond died in 1515, leaving as co-heirs his two daughters—Anne, widow of Sir James St. Leger, and Margaret, widow of Sir William Boleyn. (fn. 61) Hagley passed to the former, who died in 1532, her heir being her son Sir George St. Leger. (fn. 62) The latter was followed by a son John, (fn. 63) who in 1565 sold Hagley to John Lyttelton. (fn. 64) From John, then Sir John Lyttelton, Hagley passed in 1590 to his son Gilbert, (fn. 65) who was succeeded in 1599 by his son John. (fn. 66) The latter was afterwards concerned in Essex's plot, (fn. 67) and condemned to death for treason, but died in prison in 1601. His lands were forfeited to the Crown, but on the appeal of his widow Muriel were restored to her 17 June 1603, (fn. 68) and his children were restored in blood in the same year. (fn. 69)
After John Lyttelton's death a survey was taken of Hagley and his other property. There was at Hagley a fishpool called 'Brodford Poole, lately broken by flood,' and a rabbit warren on 'Hagley Brak.' (fn. 70) Hagley was afterwards held by Thomas son of John and Muriel, who was created a baronet in 1618. (fn. 71) He was a noted Royalist, and colonel of the king's forces in Worcestershire. He was taken prisoner at Bewdley, and died in 1649–50. (fn. 72) His eldest son Henry was imprisoned in the Tower from 1651 to 1653 on a charge of supplying arms without licence to the Scottish army, but was finally released, since there was only 'one witness against him.' (fn. 73) In 1659 he was implicated, with two of his brothers, in General Booth's insurrection, and again sent to the Tower, where he seems to have remained until the Restoration. As before no one could be found to witness against him, his two servants who were in the rising and one Wright, a schoolmaster of Halesowen, who could have done so, having disappeared. (fn. 74) He died in 1693, and was succeeded by his brother Charles Lyttelton, (fn. 75) who was at one time Governor of Jamaica, and died in 1716. His son, Sir Thomas Lyttelton, was the father of Sir George Lyttelton, known as the 'good Lord Lyttelton,' who was an author of some repute, and the patron of James Thomson, who describes him in 'The Castle of Indolence.' (fn. 76) He was created Lord Lyttelton of Frankley in 1756, (fn. 77) but the barony became extinct in 1779 on the death of his only son Thomas without issue, (fn. 78) being revived, however, in 1794 in favour of his brother, William Henry Lyttelton Lord Westcote, who had succeeded to many of his estates. (fn. 79) Charles George Lyttelton Viscount Cobham and Lord Lyttelton, great-grandson of the above, (fn. 80) is now lord of Hagley.
There has apparently never been a mill belonging to the manor of Hagley. Churchill Mill was in Hagley parish in the 16th century, and still lies on the border between Hagley and Churchill. (fn. 81)
Customs, called Beolawe and Bodelsilver, namely, the payment to the lord of 2s. or one sheep, (fn. 82) existed in the manor in the 14th century. There is a list of the customs of the manor in 1817 in the Prattinton MSS. (fn. 83)
A list of Lord Lyttelton's MSS. at Hagley is printed by the Historical MSS. Commission, (fn. 84) and a catalogue has been published.
HARBOROUGH belonged to the family of Penn from the reign of Edward III until the middle of the 18th century, (fn. 85) when William Penn left it to his two daughters. Anne, the elder, married Thomas Shenstone, and was the mother of William Shenstone the poet, and Mary, the younger, married Thomas Dolman, rector of Broom. (fn. 86) Sir Edward Dolman Scott, bart., owned an estate in the parish in 1832, when Harborough Common was inclosed. (fn. 87)
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST consists of a chancel with a north vestry and organ chamber, a nave with north and south aisles, west tower and spire, and south porch. The church was almost completely rebuilt and considerably enlarged in 1860, the county doing the work in recognition of the great services Lord Lyttelton, who was Lord Lieutenant of the county for many years, had rendered to it. Sufficient fragments remain to indicate the existence of a late 13th-century building apparently consisting of chancel, nave and south aisle. The north aisle and arcade were added in 1826 by Rickman. (fn. 88) His original plan shows the church without a tower (though the thickness of the western wall of the nave rather suggests that one originally existed), and also one bay shorter than at present. The chancel is stated by Nash to have been rebuilt in 1754 by George Lord Lyttelton.
The cup was sold some time ago, bought again at the sale of Prince Demidoff's effects at Florence by a London silversmith, and sold back to the parish. There are also two cups, a paten and a flagon in plated ware, and a brass almsdish.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1538 to 1631, burials 1538 to 1630, marriages 1538 to 1631; (ii) fragments of four leaves only; (iii) baptisms and burials 1731 to 1781, marriages 1731 to 1754; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812; (v) baptisms and burials 1782 to 1812.
ST. JAMES THE GREAT, Blakedown, a chapel of ease to St. James, Churchill, is a building of stone, consisting of a chancel aisle, organ chamber, vestry and a western turret, the aisle, organ chamber and vestry having been added in 1905.
From the fact that a priest is mentioned in the Domesday Survey at Hagley (fn. 89) it is probable that there was a church here in 1086. The first record of a presentation to the church occurs in 1286 when Henry de Hagley was patron. (fn. 90) From that time the advowson followed the descent of the manor (fn. 91) and is now held by Viscount Cobham.
In 1339 an altar in the church of Hagley was dedicated by the bishop. (fn. 92)
On 6 February 1562–3 a messuage and land and pasture called Lamp Close, formerly 'given to superstitious uses,' were granted to Cicely Pickerell, widow, and her heirs. (fn. 93)
An Act was passed in 1868 to render valid marriages formerly solemnized in the chapel of St. James the Great, Blakedown, then in the parish of Hagley. (fn. 94)
The house of Richard Serjeant at Hagley was licensed for Presbyterian worship in 1672, (fn. 95) but there are no Nonconformist chapels in the parish at the present day.
Margaret Goodyer, as stated in the table of benefactions placed in the church in 1792, by her will gave a rent-charge of 6s. yearly, issuing out of land in Hay Meadow and Summergate Meadow, to be distributed to the poor.
It is also stated in the same table that Samuel Hill by will bequeathed £20, the interest to be distributed to the poor on St. James's Day, and that Elizabeth Hollier by will left £100 for the poor at Christmas. These legacies are now represented by £129 11s. 1d. consols.
Thomas Webb Hodgett by his will (date not stated) bequeathed £333 6s. 8d. consols, the dividends to be applied in clothing and food at Christmas. The legacy, less duty, is represented by £301 4s. 2d. consols.
The income from the foregoing charities was in 1908–9 thus applied: £7 18s. 3d. in the relief of eighteen poor persons in Blakedown, £10 16s. in pensions to four widows, and the balance in gifts of meat at Christmas, and in medical relief to three persons.
In 1896 James Foster Bradley, by his will proved on 6 February, bequeathed £100, now represented by £100 Birmingham Corporation 3 per cent. stock, the income of £3 a year, subject to repair of the family vault in the churchyard, to be applied for such charitable purposes as the rector and churchwardens should think fit. The testator further directed that, if the vault be neglected, the legacy should go over to the parish of Cheveley.
In 1884 the Hon. and Rev. William Henry Lyttelton, by his will proved 29 October, established a fund, to be called 'The Emily Lyttelton Fund,' for providing a nurse in midwifery cases and cases of non-infectious diseases. The endowment consists of £1,500 Worcester County Council 4 per cent. debentures, producing £60 a year.