A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Old Swinford is situated in the north-west of the county on the border of Staffordshire. The total area, including the hamlet of Amblecote, which is in Staffordshire, is 3,369 acres. In the Worcestershire part of the parish there were in 1905 615½ acres of arable, 966¾ of permanent grass and only 7 of woods and plantations, while Amblecote included 112½ acres of arable land and 304½ acres of grass. (fn. 1) The River Stour flows westward and then northward through the parish, separating it from Staffordshire. From its valley, which is about 200 ft. above the ordnance datum, the land gradually rises, especially towards the north-east of Amblecote, where heights of 400 ft. are reached. The south is undulating.
The subsoil of Old Swinford varies considerably; the eastern portion is situated on the South Staffordshire coalfield, in the west the subsoil consists of Bunter Pebble beds, and in the south of Keuper Sandstone. Coal and iron are found and a peculiarly rich fireclay is mined in the district.
The first settlement in Old Swinford may have been on the higher ground, as the church of St. Mary the Virgin was placed in the south of the parish at more than 100 ft. above the level of the river, but even in the later mediaeval period houses and a chapel were built on the site of the present town of Stourbridge, and little by little the houses stretched along that portion of the Bromsgrove and Wolverhampton road known as the High Street. In modern times a lateral extension of Stourbridge joined it to the older settlements of Wollaston on the west and Lye on the east, and Stamber Mill became of some industrial importance.
In the 16th century there are said to have been 700 'houselyng people' in the parish. (fn. 2)
Among buildings of interest in Stourbridge the Talbot Inn in the High Street dates from the early 17th century, when it was the residence of the Foleys. The present front appears to have been added in the 18th century. The principal stairs are of the earlier date and have turned balusters and massive newel posts. Original panelling and plasterwork remain in some of the rooms. The buildings, which are partly of half-timber, are grouped round two courtyards. The Vine Inn, adjoining the grammar school on the east side of the High Street, is a good specimen of late 16th-century half-timber work. In Smithfield, at the back of the modern Market Hall, are some early 17th-century brick houses, including the Bell Inn, which has been very much altered and modernized.
The buildings of the grammar school were almost entirely rebuilt in 1862. The head master's house, though much altered internally and re-fronted at the same period, appears to be the sole remnant of the original structure. No detail of any interest remains here with the exception of the stairs, which are of the 18th century. The present front, facing on the High Street, is in the Perpendicular manner, with white brick facings and stone dressings. Various additions were made in 1883 and 1893, and in 1899 the Science buildings on the south side of the playground were erected. Quite recently additional property has been acquired on the north side of the school, on which four new class rooms, an Art room, and the necessary cloak rooms were erected in 1910. The initials S. J. on some panelling still preserved are said to have been carved by Samuel Johnson when at school here.
The buildings of Old Swinford Hospital consist at present of a northern and a southern block, connected by a covered corridor. The southern block is the building of the original foundation of 1670, the northern block and connecting corridor having been added in 1882, by which the school accommodation has been practically doubled. The original building, which is of brick with stone dressings, is three stories in height and faces east. The attic story was rebuilt and heightened at the time of the additions above referred to. The plan is oblong and two rooms in depth. The eastern side of the ground floor is occupied by a large schoolroom, part of which is now used as a dining hall, and by the board room which opens out of it at the northern end. On the west, at the rear of the building, are the kitchen, staircase and the master's rooms. Some original wainscoting still remains in the large schoolroom, into which the main entrance opens directly. The board room, now used as the head master's study, has its original panelling in good preservation. Over the fireplace at the west end of the room hangs the portrait of the founder, Thomas Foley. The apartments at the north-west corner of the building seem to have originally formed the head master's house. The first and attic floors are occupied on the east side by large dormitories. The ground and first floors are lighted by small stone-mullioned windows, and the stories are marked externally by moulded string-courses of stone. The entrance doorway is in the centre of the east elevation, and has a moulded semicircular head springing from panelled pilasters, surmounted by an entablature, the centre of which is crowned by a curved pediment. The whole is flanked by large inverted consoles. In the head of the door itself, which is a fine piece of 17th-century joinery, is a small wooden figure of Charity. The walls of the attic floor have been entirely rebuilt. From the centre of the building rises a small brick turret, capped by a modern lantern. The roofs are tiled. At the rear of the main buildings is a small brick building of contemporary date, converted into class rooms about sixty years ago, and now utilized for play rooms. The modern northern block is designed in a style to correspond with the original southern block. In 1906 a new school hall, board room and head master's room were added.
At Wollaston, about a mile to the north-west of the centre of the town, is Wollaston Hall, a much modernized early 17th-century house of half-timber, L-shaped on plan, and two stories in height, facing north-west. The main limb of the L is two rooms in depth, and in the centre of the principal front is a recessed entrance porch, which probably opened in the first instance directly into the large room which occupies the southern end of this side of the building, out of which the present entrance corridor appears to have been taken. On the north side of the entrance are two large rooms en suite, making up the rest of the frontage, while to the rear of them are two narrower rooms of equal length. The stairs, which are of original date, are on the south side of the entrance corridor, at the back of the original entrance hall. The projecting wing on the east side of the house, containing the kitchen and offices, is of brick, and appears to be a later addition or rebuilding. With the exception of the stairs and some linen-pattern panelling in one of the rooms at the back, little original detail remains on the ground floor. In some of the first floor rooms the original roof-timbers are exposed, and the construction displays great ingenuity. The rooms to the south of the staircase are reached by a narrow and lofty central passage lighted by dormers. Generally the interior has been ruthlessly restored and modernized. The front elevation is crowned by a range of five gables, filled with ornamental half-timbering disposed in quatrefoil panels with flat baluster-shaped uprights above them. On one of the beams is carved the date 1617, and in the apex of the southern gable are the initials R. M. The barge-boards and finials appear to be modern, but the carved brackets at the intersection of the gables are probably original. The back elevation is also gabled, but the wall has been covered with rough-cast, so that the timbering is concealed. The windows have in nearly every case been renewed and enlarged. The original brick chimney shafts have for the most part survived. The roofs are tiled. The garden slopes down in a succession of terraces to the valley of the Stour.
From the town of Stourbridge main roads pass to Dudley, Wolverhampton, Kidderminster and Bromsgrove. The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton branch of the Great Western railway, opened to the town of Stourbridge in May 1852, (fn. 3) passes through the parish northward, with a station at Stourbridge Junction at the eastern end of the town. From this junction a branch known as the Stourbridge extension passes north-eastwards through the Black Country to Birmingham. There is a station at Lye on this line. Another branch known as the Town Extension passes through Stourbridge to the riverside, with a station at Foster Street.
Water communication is afforded by the River Stour and the Stourbridge Canal. An attempt was made, under the direction of Mr. Yarranton, towards the end of the 17th century, to make the River Stour navigable. It was made completely navigable from Stourbridge to Kidderminster, but the project then had to be given up for lack of funds. (fn. 4) In 1776 Acts were passed to make canals from Stourbridge to join the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal near Stourton, and from Dudley to join the first at Black Delph. (fn. 5) In 1785 this canal was extended to meet the Birmingham Canal. (fn. 6)
From the situation of a large part of the parish in the Black Country and the presence of minerals Old Swinford has become an important industrial centre. The clothing trade was once carried on in Stourbridge, but it died out at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 7) There are coal-mines and large ironworks; many of the inhabitants are employed in nail-making; chains, anvils, spades, shovels and scythes are also made. The district is especially noted for the manufacture of fire-bricks, made from the valuable fireclay which is mined here. The presence of this clay induced a number of refugees from Hungary and Lorraine, whose leader was Henzoil Henzey, (fn. 8) to take up their residence in 1556 on the piece of ground known as Lye Waste, and begin the manufacture of glass, which is still carried on, having increased greatly about 1845 owing to the abolition of the duties. The site of their first glass house is still known as Hungary Hill.
Lye Waste originally formed an uncultivated part of Lye, but became an irregular village on the settlement of the glass-workers. Their right of separate freehold was established on the passing of an Inclosure Act. (fn. 9)
Stourbridge is the head of a county court district. Petty sessions are held weekly at the court-house in Hagley Road. Acts were passed in 1777 and 1846 to expedite the recovery of small debts in Old Swinford. (fn. 10)
Under an Act passed in 1825–6 (fn. 11) Stourbridge was governed by a board of commissioners, who established there a town hall with a corn exchange and market. Another Act was passed in 1866 dividing the town into three wards—East, West, and South—and arranging for the inclusion of Lye, Wollaston, or Amblecote if the ratepayers of those hamlets should at any future time desire it. (fn. 12) This Act was amended in 1891, (fn. 13) and in 1894 the government of the town was vested in an urban district council. The town is now divided into five wards—East, South, West, Old Swinford, and Wollaston. An attempt is being made (1912) to have these wards incorporated into a borough. Lye is governed by a separate urban district council of nine members, formed in 1897.
During the Civil War Basil Earl of Denbigh retreated to Stourbridge after his victory at Dudley in 1644 to await the arrival of Sir William Waller. (fn. 14) Shortly afterwards Wollescote became the head quarters of Prince Rupert, who is said to have stayed at the house of a certain Edward Milward. He was defeated and almost taken prisoner in a battle fought on Stourbridge Common in 1645. (fn. 15) A Mr. Dovaston, clerk to Thomas Milward, grandson of the above Edward, gives the following account of the prince's escape: The prince 'riding very hard to get towards Wollescote was pursued very close by a Parliament Trooper with his sword drawn. When the Prince came to the Heath Gate leading off the Common to Old Swinford, the Gate being shut and the Trooper very near to him, and there being a Boy near the Gate, the Prince cried "Open the Gate," when the Boy opened it, and when he was through he said hastily "Shut the Gate," which the Boy immediately did. This stopped the Trooper and saved the Prince.' The defeat caused the prince to remove from Wollescote, and before his departure he gave a signet ring to Edward Milward, with the promise 'that when the King's affairs turned out prosperously he should have his loss repaired on presenting the Ring to the King and stating the circumstances.' (fn. 16) Stourbridge was the first place at which Charles II halted on his flight from Worcester after the battle. The 'Talbot' was in his line of march from Worcester to Staffordshire, but whether it was the inn where the king stopped to refresh is uncertain.
Among the MSS. relating to Old Swinford in the Prattinton Collection (fn. 17) are some extracts from the account books of the above-named Thomas Milward, who was an attorney at Stourbridge. These include the following:—
1717, 8 Mar.—To John Compton, junr., of Wollaston, which he paid me at last Worcester Assizes in order to have agreed with the Clerk of the Assizes for the indictment at the Riot and pulling down Meeting House etc. (He gave 3s. 9d. for my trouble), 14s. 9d.
Samuel Rogers the poet (1763–1855) was a native of Stourbridge, his paternal grandfather being a glass manufacturer of that town. (fn. 18)
Seventeenth-century place-names are Hillmans Close, Milwardes Meadow, Madewelles Meadow and Ardens Meadow. (fn. 19)
In the time of Edward the Confes or OLD SWINFORD was held by Wulfwine, but in 1086 William Fitz Ansculf was in possession. It was held of him by Acard, (fn. 20) probably the same who held the adjoining manor of Pedmore. (fn. 21) The overlordship of Old Swinford followed the descent of Dudley (q.v.) until it lapsed in 1320, when John de Somery acquired the manor in fee. (fn. 22)
In the 13th century Acard's successor as tenant was a certain Ralph de Merston, (fn. 23) from whom the manor passed before 1285 to Bernard de Bruys. (fn. 24) The latter was succeeded in 1300–1 (fn. 25) by his son of the same name, who in 1320–1 surrendered the manor to John de Somery, his overlord. (fn. 26) From that date the manor followed the same descent as Northfield (fn. 27) (q.v.) until the beginning of the 15th century, when a third of both manors belonged to Maurice Berkeley and the remaining two thirds to James Earl of Wiltshire, on whom they had been settled by his grandmother Joan Lady Bergavenny. (fn. 28) It was decided in settlement of the disputes which followed that the Earl of Wiltshire should have Old Swinford and pay 40s. yearly to Maurice Berkeley. (fn. 29) The manor then passed with Hagley until the death of Fulk Stafford about 1462. (fn. 30) Margaret, widow of Fulk, was given one third of the manor as her dower. (fn. 31) The remaining two thirds and the reversion of Margaret's share were granted on 22 January 1463 to Sir John Scott, (fn. 32) and confirmed to him in 1476. (fn. 33)
Sir John Scott appears to have held two thirds of Old Swinford until 1481; on 30 July of that year he had surrendered his grants and received another which did not include Old Swinford. (fn. 34) Margaret Stafford was then said to be dead, but on 21 November two thirds of the manor and the reversion of Margaret's third on her death were granted to the Dean and canons of St. George's Chapel, Windsor. (fn. 35) This grant was evidently cancelled, for in 1485 the Earl of Wiltshire's attainder was reversed in favour of his brother Thomas Earl of Ormond, (fn. 36) and this manor was restored to him. (fn. 37) It then followed the same descent as Hagley (fn. 38) (q.v.) until 1661, when Katherine Lady Lyttelton and her son Sir Henry Lyttelton, bart., sold Old Swinford to Thomas Foley. (fn. 39)
It passed in the same way as the advowson of the church of Pedmore (q.v.) to the Lords Foley, and remained in their possession (fn. 40) until 1844–5, when it was purchased by the trustees of William Lord Ward, (fn. 41) who was created Earl of Dudley in 1860. (fn. 42) The manor now belongs to his son William Humble Ward, the present earl, who succeeded to the peerage in 1885. (fn. 43)
On 14 November 1482 Edward IV granted to the Dean and canons of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, who then held the manor, a market weekly on Tuesdays at their town of Old Swinford and Stourbridge, and two fairs yearly, one on the feast of St. Edward the Confessor (18 March), and another on the feast of St. Augustine (28 August), with a court of pie-powder and all issues and tolls. (fn. 44) A similar grant was made in 1486 to Thomas Earl of Ormond. (fn. 45)
The right of a weekly market on Friday and two fairs yearly, as in 1482, was afterwards held by the Lytteltons. (fn. 46) The profits of the fairs belonged in the 17th century to the bailiff of the manor, who had no other fee. (fn. 47) In 1792 and 1888 the market day was Friday, (fn. 48) but markets are now held on Friday and Saturday. Fairs were held in 1792 on 29 March and 8 September, but since 1888 there has been only one fair on the last Monday in March. (fn. 49) The latter was formerly a noted horse fair. The market rights belong to the local authorities. (fn. 50)
The courts for the manor of Old Swinford were held in Sir John St. Leger's time at a house called the gate-house in Old Swinford, but Sir John Lyttelton instituted the practice of holding them in the town hall. (fn. 51) It was alleged in 1594 that the court for the manor of Old Swinford and Stourbridge used to be held at one end of the town hall of Stourbridge, and that for the manor of Bedcote at the other end. (fn. 52) No court for either manor has been held for many years. (fn. 53)
There was a mill in the manor of Old Swinford at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 54) In 1338 Joan Botetourt, lady of the manor, granted a water-mill called Rotherford Mill with a stank, stew and watercourse, with suit of multure by her tenants in Old Swinford at the mill, to be held at a yearly rent of 14s. (fn. 55)
A mill at Bedcote is mentioned in deeds of 1317 and 1338, (fn. 56) and a water-mill belonged to the manor of Amblecote in 1636. (fn. 57) A mill at Amblecote is mentioned in deeds of 1663, 1680 and 1688. (fn. 58) There were two water-mills built under one roof in the manor of Wollaston in 1592 and 1628. (fn. 59) Bedcote and Wollaston Mills still exist on the River Stour, and near the former is a corn-mill.
Before the Conquest AMBLECOTE (Elmelcote, xi cent.; Emelecot, Amelecot, xiii cent.; Hamelcote, xiv cent.) was in the hands of two men of Earl Algar, who held it 'without soke.' It had passed before 1086 to William Fitz Ansculf, of whom it was then held by Payn. (fn. 60) It was held of the lords of Dudley, at first apparently of the honour of Dudley, but afterwards, probably from the beginning of the 14th century, of the manor of Old Swinford, and the overlordship followed the same descent as that manor, (fn. 61) being last mentioned in 1636. (fn. 62)
Under the lords of Dudley the manor was held by the Birminghams, lords of Birmingham, (fn. 63) co. Warwick, during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, (fn. 64) but their interest seems to have lapsed shortly after 1322, as it is not mentioned after that date. (fn. 65)
Under the Birminghams the manor was held early in the 13th century for knight's service by Robert de Wavere. (fn. 66) Robert was probably succeeded by Cecily, who was 'lady of Amblecote' in 1255. (fn. 67) She appears to have married William de Stafford, and is alluded to as Cecily de Stafford in 1271. (fn. 68) The manor was held by tenants named William de Stafford in 1284–5, (fn. 69) 1290, (fn. 70) and in 1316. (fn. 71) In 1317 Sir William de Stafford gave it to his grandson James son of William de Stafford, (fn. 72) and James apparently held it until 1322, when he forfeited it as a rebel, and it was granted by the king to John de Somery, the overlord of the fee. (fn. 73) James de Stafford was pardoned in October 1322, and Sir William de Stafford, probably the grandfather of James mentioned above, was pardoned and released from prison in March 1323. (fn. 74) It does not appear that the manor of Amblecote was ever restored to James, for in 1338 his father, William de Stafford, who, according to statements made later on by the Erdeswicks, descendants of James, had ousted the latter from the manor on the death of James's grandfather, Sir William de Stafford, was in possession of the manor. (fn. 75) He granted it in that year to another son, John de Stafford, and his wife Margaret in tail, with remainder in default of their issue to James de Stafford and his heirs. (fn. 76) John de Stafford seems to have remained in peaceful possession of the manor during his life, but after his death his widow Margaret, and later their son Humphrey de Stafford, had to make good their claim in a prolonged suit brought against them by James de Stafford's daughter Margaret, wife of Sir John de Hardeshull, and continued after her death by her son Thomas de Erdeswick. (fn. 77) The matter was finally settled in 1377 in favour of Humphrey de Stafford. (fn. 78) From him the manor passed in 1413 to his son Sir Humphrey Stafford of Hook, (fn. 79) known as Humphrey with the silver hand.
Before his death in 1442 (fn. 80) Sir Humphrey settled (fn. 81) the manor of Amblecote upon Amice, afterwards Countess of Wiltshire, daughter of his eldest son Richard, with remainder to the heirs of his other sons John and William, and failing such heirs to the Staffords of Grafton. (fn. 82) Amice died without issue, and Humphrey son of John de Stafford succeeded to the manor. (fn. 83) He also died without issue in 1461, (fn. 84) and was succeeded by his cousin Humphrey, son of William de Stafford, the youngest son of Sir Humphrey. (fn. 85)
On 7 July 1461 he received a grant from the Crown of all the manors and lands of which Humphrey Stafford had been seised, (fn. 86) and Amblecote appears to have been included. Sir Humphrey Stafford was created Lord Stafford of Southwick in 1464 and Earl of Devon in 1469. Shortly afterwards he fell under the king's displeasure through having refused to assist the Earl of Pembroke in suppressing Sir John Conyers' rebellion, and was beheaded and attainted on 24 August 1469. His lands were forfeited, but on 9 November the king granted licence to his heirs to take possession of them. (fn. 87) As he died without issue, (fn. 88) these heirs were the daughters of his aunt Alice Stafford, namely, Elizabeth, who married Sir John Coleshill and died without issue, Anne, who married Sir John Willoughby, and Eleanor, who became the wife of Thomas Strangways. (fn. 89) On the death of the Earl of Devon Humphrey Stafford of Grafton had entered into the manor, claiming it as the heir male under the settlement made by Sir Humphrey with the silver hand, (fn. 90) and in spite of the grant of 1469 he apparently enjoyed possession of the manor until 1473, when he was ejected by Robert Willoughby de Broke, son of Anne Willoughby. (fn. 91) In the reign of Richard III, however, Humphrey, being 'in favour and conceit' with the king, was able to eject Robert and his coparceners, and seems to have remained in possession of the manor until the beginning of the reign of Henry VII. (fn. 92) In 1485, on the petition of Robert Willoughby, Elizabeth Coleshill and Eleanor Strangways, the property was restored to them by Henry VII. (fn. 93) The Erdeswicks seem to have renewed their claim to the manor at about this time, but gave up all their right in exchange for 1,000 marks in 1481–2. (fn. 94)
The manor of Amblecote seems to have fallen to the share of Eleanor Strangways, for in 1504 her son (fn. 95) Henry Strangways died seised of it, leaving a son and heir Giles, (fn. 96) who as Sir Giles Strangways, kt., sold the manor in 1540 to Rowland Shakerley, who conveyed it in the same year to Thomas Grey. (fn. 97) It passed from him in 1559 to his son John. (fn. 98) In 1591 it was arranged that, as John Grey had no children, Mary the daughter of his younger brother George should marry either Henry son of Sir George Grey of Pirgoe, co. Essex, or one of his brothers Ambrose and George. If this marriage did not take place the manor was to go to Henry, Ambrose and George in tail-male successively, and £1,000 was to be paid to Mary. (fn. 99) John conveyed the manor to Sir Henry Grey for the purposes of this trust in 1591–2, (fn. 100) and died in 1595. (fn. 101) Edward, his brother and heir, released all his right in the manor to Sir Henry Grey. (fn. 102) In March 1601 Mary, then aged about fourteen, expressed her determination not to marry any one of the three brothers. (fn. 103) Sir Henry Grey, who was created Lord Grey of Groby in 1603, probably held the manor until his death in 1614, (fn. 104) though Edward Grey was party to a fine dealing with it in 1606. (fn. 105) It passed on the death of Sir Henry to his son Ambrose Grey, (fn. 106) whose two brothers George and Henry had died without issue. (fn. 107) He died seised of it in 1636, when his son Henry succeeded. (fn. 108) In 1652 Henry Grey and his wife Mary conveyed the manor to Anne Gerrard, widow, for ninety-nine years, if she should live so long. (fn. 109)
Henry Grey died in 1686, and, his two children both having died unmarried, (fn. 110) the manor of Amblecote appears to have passed to his cousin John Grey of Enville, one of the grandsons of Sir John Grey, the eldest son of Sir Henry Grey, lord of Groby. (fn. 111) Harry Grey, son of this John, succeeded his cousin Thomas as Earl of Stamford in 1719–20. (fn. 112) The manor passed with the title (fn. 113) from that time until the death without issue of the seventh Earl of Stamford in 1883. It was held by his widow Catherine until her death in 1905, (fn. 114) and then passed under the will of the earl to his wife's grand-niece Catherine Sarah, wife of Sir Henry Foley Lambert, seventh baronet, daughter of the Rev. Alfred Payne, rector of Enville. (fn. 115) Sir Henry assumed the surname Grey in lieu of Lambert in 1905 in accordance with the terms of the earl's will, and his widow Lady Grey is now lady of the manor of Amblecote.
The manor of BEDCOTE (Bettecote, xiv cent.) was held of the manor of Old Swinford. (fn. 116) In 1289–90 William de Boys conveyed a messuage and land in Bedcote and Foxcote to Geoffrey de Kynsedele. (fn. 117) Early in the 14th century Sir William Stafford, who held the adjoining manor of Amblecote, appears to have held some property at Bedcote within the manor of Old Swinford. In 1317 he enfeoffed his grandson James Stafford of a mill, &c., there to hold in tail with reversion in default to himself. (fn. 118) This estate evidently descended with Amblecote (fn. 119) to Sir Humphrey Stafford of Hook, who granted it to his son Sir John Stafford and Anne his wife in tail, with remainder to William Stafford, another son. (fn. 120) From Sir John Stafford and Anne his wife it passed to their son Humphrey, who died seised of it on 6 August 1461. (fn. 121) From this time it followed the same descent as the manor of Amblecote, to the co-heirs of Humphrey Earl of Devon, (fn. 122) and was apparently also assigned to Eleanor Strangways, as in 1541 William Strangways (fn. 123) of Stockstrete alias Lockets, in Dorset, sold the manor to Richard Jervois, merchant. (fn. 124) Bedcote was sold in 1626 by Sir Thomas Jervois, (fn. 125) grandson of Richard, to Nicholas Sparry. (fn. 126) The manor seems afterwards to have passed to the Lytteltons, for in 1660–1 it was conveyed with the manor of Old Swinford to Thomas Foley. (fn. 127) From that date the manor followed the same descent as that of Old Swinford. (fn. 128)
Bedcote Manor is mentioned in 1868, when it belonged to the Earl of Dudley, and its boundaries are said to have been identical with those of Stourbridge. (fn. 129) There appears to be no manor at the present day.
The manor of STOURBRIDGE (Steresbridge, xiv cent.; Storebrige, Sturbrygge, xv cent.) is stated to have been dependent on the chief manor of Old Swinford, and to have been partly comprised within the manor of Bedcote. (fn. 130) It was probably this part which was granted with the manor of Bedcote by Sir Humphrey Stafford of Hook to Sir John Stafford and Anne his wife, from whom it descended to their son Humphrey, who died seised of it with Bedcote in 1461. (fn. 131) It passed with Bedcote to the co-heirs of Humphrey Stafford. (fn. 132) It seems to have become identical with the manor of Bedcote from this time, and no further mention of it occurs.
A second manor of Stourbridge followed the same descent as the manor of Old Swinford. The first mention of it occurs in 1482, when Edward IV granted to the Dean and Chapter of St. George's, Windsor, certain liberties in their manor of Old Swinford and Stourbridge. (fn. 133) It was restored with Old Swinford to Thomas Lord Ormond. (fn. 134) From that time it apparently followed the same descent as the manor of Old Swinford. (fn. 135) It still existed as a separate manor in 1866. (fn. 136)
The earliest mention of WOLLASTON (Wullaston, xiii cent.) is in 1240–1, when William de la Platte and his wife Hawise conveyed land and rent there to Peter de Prestwood. (fn. 137) The manor afterwards belonged to the family of Perrott. William Perrott of Wollaston and his son John are mentioned in a deed of 1442–3, (fn. 138) and it passed afterwards to Roger Perrott, who was succeeded by a son William and a grandson Humphrey. (fn. 139) Anne widow of William Perrott married John Persehowse, and in 1592 she and Humphrey, with Richard Persehowse, who then held the manor, but whose relationship to John does not appear, sold to George Liddeatt, a merchant tailor of London, the manor, with the capital messuage called Wollaston Hall. (fn. 140) It seems that George bought other property at Wollaston of John Taylor, sen., and John Taylor, jun. (fn. 141) George was succeeded by John Liddeatt of Cannock, co. Staff., who conveyed the manor in 1616 to Thomas Banneste, (fn. 142) probably for a settlement, as it was reconveyed to John in the same year. (fn. 143) He and his wife Jane mortgaged it in 1628 to Frances Manning, widow. (fn. 144)
John Liddeatt died in 1639, (fn. 145) and by his will, dated 19 June 1639, he bequeathed it to his son John for life, and then to 'such son of his said son as should be of best behaviour.' John was then eleven years of age. Edward Liddeatt was appointed executor of the will. (fn. 146) Edward Liddeatt and John Liddeatt and Elizabeth his wife dealt with the manor in 1672, (fn. 147) but after that date all trace of a manor here seems to have disappeared.
PIRCOTE GRANGE was held by the Abbot and convent of Halesowen in 1291; they had there a carucate of land, the value of which was 10s., and a fixed rent of 2s. 6d., (fn. 150) but it does not appear how they gained possession of it. The abbey retained this property until the Dissolution (fn. 151); it was then let out at farm at a rent of 42s. Pircote Grange is not mentioned in the conveyance of the abbey's property to the king, made in 1538 by William Taylor, the last abbot, (fn. 152) but it must have been included, as on 9 June the manor was granted with the other lands of the abbey to Sir John Dudley. (fn. 153). On his attainder in 1553 it reverted to the Crown, and so remained until 9 October 1557, when it was granted to Sir John Bourne, chief secretary to Queen Mary, and Dorothy his wife. (fn. 154) No further mention of this estate has been found.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel with north vestry and south chapel, a wide nave with north, south and west galleries and a western tower, the whole building being modern except the tower. The present chancel was built in 1898 and has a large seven-light transomed east window with tracery of the 'perpendicular' type. In the north and south walls are two three-light windows with flowing tracery, that on the south opening into the south chapel. Two arches to the west open into the chapel and organ chamber. Against the walls are clusters of shafting, supporting a wood barrel ceiling. The nave, built in 1842, is extremely wide and lofty, the roof having elaborately cusped and traceried queen post trusses. It is lit by fourteen two-light windows on either side, divided horizontally by the north and south galleries. On the north is a pinnacled porch of 14th-century style. In the westernmost window of the south chapel is preserved some heraldic glass taken from the older east window. Amongst the coats are those of Lyttelton, Foley and Dudley.
The western tower, the only ancient part of the church, is a fine example of late 14th-century work, and is of four stages with an embattled parapet, a stone spire and angle buttresses. The spire has small trefoil-headed lights at two levels and a little above the parapet four two-light openings. The belfry windows are of two lights with a quatrefoil over. There are also openings to the north and south of the second stage in which the tracery is modern. The west window is of three lights and below it is the modern west door.
The tower contains a ring of eight bells: the first and second cast in 1902, the third by Matthew Bagley, 1687, the fourth by Matthew or Henry Bagley in 1686, inscribed 'Cantate Dominum (sic) canticum novum,' the fifth by Henry Bagley, dated 1686, the sixth recast in 1902, the seventh by Matthew Bagley, 1686, and the eighth by Abel Rudhall, dated 1740, and inscribed 'I to the church the living call, and to the grave do summon all.'
The plate consists of a small chalice dated 1646 and inscribed H/PA with a shield, a bird in chief between three (?) acorns, a cup (Puritan pattern) with the letter R repeated four times, a standing paten made in 1780, a small modern paten, and a flagon given by John Wheeler in 1708.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1602 to 1692 (this is a large book enriched with elaborate capitals and pen work); (ii) 1693 to 1718; (iii) 1719 to 1735; (iv) 1736 to 1752; (v) baptisms and burials 1747 to 1783, marriages 1753 only; (vi) baptisms and burials 1768 to 1800; (vii) baptisms and burials 1800 to 1808; (viii) baptisms and burials 1808 to 1813; (ix) marriages 1754 to 1762; (x) marriages 1762 to 1774; (xi) marriages 1774 to 1780; (xii) marriages 1780 to 1795; (xiii) marriages 1795 to 1813 and three duplicate books; (xiv) baptisms, burials and marriages 1717 to 1746; (xv) baptisms and burials 1747 to 1783, marriages 1747 to 1753; (xvi) baptisms and burials 1783 to 1805.
The church of ST. THOMAS, Stourbridge, consists of a chancel with an apsidal end, a north vestry and south organ chamber, a nave, north and south aisles, and a west tower with gallery entrances on either side.
The church was erected in 1726 with a bequest of £300 from Mr. Biggs, a clothier of Stourbridge, augmented by subscriptions, and was enlarged in 1890, when the chancel was rebuilt, the original entrances at the east end of the aisles converted respectively into the organ chamber and vestry, and the present porches built.
The building is faced with red brick with stone dressings and the main cornice is carried round the building. The chancel is designed to harmonize with the older part of the building and is lighted by three large windows. The body of the church is divided into four bays by Doric columns raised on high plinths. The roof is a large plaster barrel vault, intersected on either side by similar vaults over each bay of the aisles, and continued eastward over the chancel, terminating in a semi-dome above the apse. The body of the building is lighted by large semicircular aisle windows, one to each bay, across which are carried the galleries. The oak fronts of the latter are original 18th-century work.
The tower is three stages high, finished with a balustraded parapet with stone vases at the angles. There is a peal of eight bells by Lester & Pack, 1759, of which the seventh was recast by Mears & Stainbank in 1901.
The plate consists of a silver salver probably of 1697, though the date letter is almost obliterated; a 1742 silver cup inscribed 'The Gift of Thomas Hill 1745'; a silver cup of 1749 inscribed 'Hanc Lagenam in Usum Capellae in Oppido de Stourbridge Dono dedit Johannes Cook de Stourton Generosus 1748'; a modern silver cup of the same pattern as the older one, and a modern electro-plated paten.
At the time of the Dissolution there was a chapel dedicated to the HOLY TRINITY at Stourbridge, which had been founded in 1430 by Philip Harely and Joan his wife and endowed by various other benefactors. (fn. 155) The priest who served in the chapel 'stood charged to teach the poor men's children of the same parish frely … to saye masse in the chapell there … to assist the curate of Old Swinford, ye parish beyng very large and brode.' (fn. 156) The chapel, which is said by Nash to have stood where the school now stands, (fn. 157) evidently disappeared soon after the Dissolution, the chantry priest's house being granted in 1550 to William Winlove and Richard Field. (fn. 158)
The ecclesiastical parish of HOLY TRINITY, Amblecote, was formed in 1842. (fn. 159) The church was erected on a site given by the Earl of Stamford and Warrington. It is built of brick in the 13th-century style, and consists of a chancel, nave, and west tower. The living is a vicarage in the gift of Lady Grey, the owner of the manor.
The ecclesiastical parish of CHIRIST CHURCH, Lye, was formed in 1843 (fn. 160) from the townships of Lye and Wollescote. The church was built and endowed by Thomas Hill of Dennis Park, co. Staffs. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester.
The building consists of a chancel, nave, north and south transepts, a west tower and vestries, and three porches, one on either side of the chancel opening into the transepts and one on the south side of the nave. The body of the church was built in 1843, but the transepts and east end were not added until later. It is a red brick building in the 'pointed' style and has a slate roof, while above the tower rises a light coloured brick spire, apparently a later addition.
The ecclesiastical parish of ST. JAMES, Wollaston, was formed in 1860, (fn. 161) and the living is in the gift of William Henry Foster of Apley Park.
The church consists of a chancel, with a north vestry and south organ chamber, north and south transepts, a nave and aisles, a south porch and a north-west tower. At the west end of the nave is a gallery. It was erected in 1860 in the 'decorated' style, and is built in purple-coloured bricks with stone dressings, while the open pitch pine roofs are covered with tiles.
The parish of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, Stourbridge, was formed in 1862, (fn. 162) the living being a vicarage in the gift of the Earl of Dudley.
The church consists of a chancel, a north vestry and south organ chamber, a nave, north and south aisles, and a south porch. Over the west end of the nave is a small flèche. It was built from the designs of George Street in 1860 in Early English Gothic, the material being mainly red sandstone.
The ecclesiastical parish of Stamber Mill was formed in 1873, the living being a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester. The church of ST. MARK was built in 1870 on a site given by F. T. Rufford.
It is a small red brick and timber building consisting of a chancel with an apsidal end, an organ chamber at the north and a vestry on the south, a nave, north and south aisles, and a north porch. The piers of the nave arcades are of cast-iron and support pitch pine arches, above which are clearstories of the same material. The roofs are slated.
A priest is mentioned in Domesday (fn. 163) and a church was in existence at Old Swinford at least as early as 1284–5, when the Abbot of Missenden conveyed the advowson, which had been granted to him by the bishop in the same year, (fn. 164) to Bernard de Bruys and Agatha his wife. (fn. 165) From that time the descent of the advowson has been identical with that of the manor. (fn. 166)
The vicar of St. Thomas's, Stourbridge, was at first elected by the parishioners by vote, but, since this led to very unseemly consequences, the church was brought under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 167) The building was claimed as a chapel of ease by the rector of Old Swinford, but it was arranged, on the petition of the inhabitants, that it should remain a free chapel vested in the townspeople. (fn. 168) The ecclesiastical parish of St. Thomas was formed in 1866, (fn. 169) the living being a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester.
The mission chapel at Chawnhill was registered for marriages in 1877. (fn. 170) There are also mission chapels in Union Street and at Lye.
The Roman Catholic church in Stourbridge was established in 1823. The present church, dedicated under the invocation of Our Lady and All Saints, was consecrated in 1891. (fn. 171) Attached is a convent of sisters of St. Paul and a school rebuilt in 1911.
There are also chapels for Baptists, Friends, Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Wesleyans, and Catholic Apostolic worshippers. At Amblecote there are Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels.
The Quakers erected a meeting-house at Stourbridge in 1680, (fn. 172) and in 1689 it was certified that a newly-built house at Stourbridge was set apart as a Quaker meeting-place. (fn. 173) Presbyterians were established at Old Swinford in 1672, when the houses of Richard Beckes and Jarvis Bryan were licensed for their worship. (fn. 174) In 1698 a place of worship for Presbyterians was erected in Coventry Street, Stourbridge. (fn. 175)
The Presbyterian chapel at Lye Waste was built at the beginning of the 19th century with money left by a certain William Scott of Birmingham in 1792. (fn. 176) Before that date services had been held in a private house, but were discontinued owing to the outbreak of the Priestley riots near Birmingham. There was at that time no other place of worship, and the inhabitants are said to have 'become proverbial for their ignorance and profaneness and their incivility to the passing stranger.' (fn. 177)
— For the Free Grammar School and Old Swinford Hospital, see 'Schools.' (fn. 178)
Wheeler's School— The educational charity of John Wheeler, founded by deed 1708, and further endowed by will of Henry Glover, proved in the P.C.C. 1717, is regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners, 1884 and 1900. The trust estate, which formerly consisted of house property, is now represented by £2,459 Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway 3 per cent. stock, producing £73 15s. 4d. yearly.
The Waste Bank School, founded in 1782 by will of Thomas Hill, is endowed with a sum of £200 consols, the annual dividends of £5 being applicable for the instruction of poor children of the Waste, the Lye and Carless Green.
In 1835 Francis Hill, by his will, proved in the P.C.C. 29 October, bequeathed £333 6s. 8d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £8 6s. 8d., to be applied for charitable purposes at Lye School.
The Scott School, founded in 1792 by will of William Scott, is regulated by scheme of the Charity Commissioners, 1871. The trust property consists of £1,970 Birmingham Canal Navigation stock and £200 Great Western Railway 5 per cent. stock, producing together £88 16s. yearly, which under the scheme is applicable towards instruction of poor children of Stourbridge, or support of any public elementary school, or in scholarships for children attending such schools. The several sums of stock above mentioned are held by the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £316 Great Western Railway 5 per cent. stock, arising under the will of Sarah Scott, dated in 1872, the dividends, amounting to £15 16s. yearly, being applicable for the benefit of the Wollaston Road schools. The original school was closed by order of the Board of Education in 1912.
The hospital founded and endowed by John Corbett. By deed dated 13 September 1892 (enrolled) John Corbett conveyed to the Rt. Hon. Charles George, Viscount Cobham and nine others as trustees the mansion-house and estates of 30 a. 2 r. 26 p. situate at the Hill, Amblecote, upon trust for the establishment of a hospital for poor persons, inhabitants of Stourbridge, Brierley Hill, Kingswinford, Pedmore, Hagley, Lye Waste and Wollescote, irrespective of their religious tenets. The said John Corbett, by his will proved at London 30 October 1902, bequeathed to the trustees £10,000 as an Endowment Fund, which legacy was in fact superseded by a gift of £10,000 in his lifetime. The invested funds in 1909 exceeded £20,000.
Palmer and Seabright's Charity consists of four houses erected on land in the street of Stourbridge, comprised in a deed of feoffment, 1632. They are held upon a lease for ninety-nine years from 24 June 1839 at £15 5s. yearly. The income is applied in outrelief of widows and orphans of Old Swinford and Stourbridge, Lye and Wollescote.
The charity, founded by will, of John Iddins, 1795, consists of £257 17s. 9d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £6 8s. 8d., are in pursuance of a declaration of trust, 13 May 1817, distributed in bread to the poor monthly, some at St. Thomas's Church, Stourbridge, and some by the vicar of Lye.
In 1832 Anne Iddins, by her will, proved in the P.C.C. 22 August, left a legacy, now represented by £167 12s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £4 3s. 8d., to be applied in bread in equal proportions at the churches above mentioned monthly to poor widows and infirm persons.
In 1620 William Seabright, by his will (among other things), gave a yearly rent-charge of £3 7s. 4d. out of property in Bethnal Green, London, £3 0s. 8d. thereof to be distributed weekly in bread to poor of Old Swinford and 6s. 8d. to the parish clerk for his pains in the distribution. See also under Wolverley.
Edward Archbould—as appears from an old tablet in the church—gave 40s. a year for the poorest housekeepers in Old Swinford and Stourbridge in equal portions. This is paid out of a house adjoining the Talbot Inn.
In 1720 Thomas Milward, by his will, gave £1 yearly to poor housekeepers of Old Swinford and £1 yearly to poor housekeepers of Stourbridge, to be distributed on St. Thomas's Day. The annuities are paid out of three houses in the High Street, Stourbridge.
In 1781 John Wells, by his will, directed that £420 should be invested in the public funds, and that out of the dividends £6 should be distributed among 120 poor of Old Swinford and the remainder in bread every Sunday among the poor of Stourbridge. The legacy is represented by £735 consols with the official trustees, producing £18 7s. 4d. yearly.
In 1820 Joseph Lea, by his will, bequeathed £1,000, the income to be applied preferentially for the benefit of the poor resident at the Lye and Lye Waste. The legacy is now represented by £573 South Eastern Railway 5 per cent. stock, producing £28 13s. yearly. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, 9 August 1910.
In 1843 John Harris, by his will, proved in the P.C.C., left a legacy, represented by £501 18s. 8d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £12 11s., to be applied during the winter in good warm clothing to destitute poor. The distribution is made in halfcrown clothing tickets, two-thirds in the parish of St. Thomas and one-third in St. John's.
In 1857 John Hopkins, by his will, proved in the P.C.C. 13 November, left a share in the Birmingham Canal Navigation, now represented by £93 8s. 4d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 6s. 8d., to be distributed on 14 February in every year to poor regularly attending divine service.
In 1862 Henry Bate, by a codicil to his will, proved at Worcester 14 November, left a legacy, now represented by £891 14s. 1d. India 3 per cent. stock, the annual dividends, amounting to £26 15s., to be applied for the benefit of necessitous poor of the ecclesiastical districts within the parish of Old Swinford.
In 1866 Joseph Cole, by his will, proved 20 September, bequeathed £300, the interest to be applied in wearing apparel, bed-clothes, or food to poor men and women. The legacy was invested in £309 5s. consols, producing £7 14s. 4d. yearly.
In 1871 Elizabeth Hopkins, by her will, proved at London 24 February, left a share in the Birmingham Canal Navigation, now represented by £96 12s. 5d. consols, the dividends, amounting to £2 8s. 4d., to be distributed on 14 February yearly in sums of not less than 5s. each to the poor.
In 1873 Charles Grove, by his will, proved at Worcester 24 January, bequeathed £100, the interest to be applied in bread on Christmas Day to the poor of St. Thomas, Stourbridge. The legacy was invested in £101 13s. consols, producing £2 10s. 8d. yearly.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £1,037 12s. 3d. consols, arising under the will of Elizabeth Hunt (date not stated), the dividends of which, amounting to £25 18s. 8d., are distributed in sums of not less than 5s. to widows and old men over seventy years of age.
The Presbyterian or Unitarian chapel at Stourbridge is endowed with £60 London and North Western Railway stock, purchased with a legacy by Miss Emma Evers; also with freehold ground rent in Tiverton Road, Smethwick, amounting to £20 8s. yearly, purchased with a legacy of £500, bequeathed by will of John Richards, proved in the P.C.C. 29 June 1847, for the maintenance of the Sunday schools in connexion with the chapel or for the promotion of psalmody.
In 1874 the Rev. Thomas Warren, by his will, proved at Worcester 15 September, bequeathed £200, the income—subject to keeping in order a tomb in the burial yard of the Presbyterian chapel—to be applied in the distribution of warm clothing for the poor of the Presbyterian congregation. The legacy was invested in £209 3s. consols with the official trustees, producing £5 4s. 4d. yearly.
In 1898 Charles Cochrane, by his will, proved at Worcester 5 July, bequeathed £2,000, the income to be applied towards payment of minister's stipend, or expenses of management, or repairs of the Unitarian chapel at Stourbridge. The legacy was invested in £1,850 London and South Western Railway 3 per cent. stock, in the name of the treasurer of the chapel, producing £55 10s. yearly.
The same testator bequeathed £2,000 for the same purposes in connexion with the Unitarian chapel at the Lye. The legacy has been lent on mortgage of freehold property in Redcliff Street, Swindon, at 3½ per cent. interest.
In 1900 Miss Ellen Frances Lee, by her will, proved at Lichfield 15 October, left £400, the interest to be applied in augmentation of the stipend of the minister of the Presbyterian chapel at Stourbridge. The legacy was invested in £250 London County 3 per cent. stock and £120 Birmingham Canal stock, in the name of Thomas Grosvenor Lee, producing together £12 6s. yearly.