A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Tardebigge, formerly a large parish situated on the borders of Warwickshire, included in 1831 the now separate civil parishes of Redditch, Bentley Pauncefoot, and Webheath and the township of Tutnall and Cobley, which now includes the ancient village of Tardebigge. (fn. 1)
Tardebigge some time after 1086 was annexed to Staffordshire, and paid its fee-farm rent through the sheriff of that county, (fn. 2) but in 1266 the king granted that the Abbot and convent of Bordesley and their men of Tardebigge should in future answer to the Sheriff of Warwickshire instead of to the Sheriff of Staffordshire. (fn. 3) In 1292–3 the jurors of Seisdon Hundred in Staffordshire presented that the manor of Tardebigge, which was in Warwickshire and used to appear twice annually at the sheriff's tourn at Seisdon Hundred in the time of Henry III, had been withdrawn fifteen years before by the Abbot of Bordesley from Staffordshire and put into Warwickshire. (fn. 4)
Nash says: 'The line which divides the counties ran between the old church and the two chancels, the former being supposed to be in Worcestershire, the latter in Warwickshire; from hence to Lord Plymouth's house the country runs in an irregular line; the house itself is divided into nearly two equal parts; the southern part in our county, the northern part in Warwickshire; which county runs like a peninsula, or rather an island, from Hipsley eastward, having on the north Beoly, and on the south Tardebigge, in Worcestershire.' (fn. 5)
Until 1831 the hamlet of Tutnall and Cobley was in Warwickshire, but by the Acts of 1832 and 1844 (fn. 6) it was transferred to the county of Worcester.
Tutnall and Cobley cover an area of 3,511 acres, of which 839½ acres are arable land, 2,255 grass, and 335¾ woods. (fn. 7) Redditch was divided in 1894 into the two civil parishes of Redditch, containing 657 acres, 307 acres being permanent grass, and North Redditch, containing 1,408 acres, (fn. 8) of which 235¼ acres are arable land, 787½ acres permanent grass, and 273 acres woodland. The area of Bentley Pauncefoot is 1,688 acres, including 511¼ acres of arable land, 1,532½ acres of permanent grass, and 63¼ acres of woods; and that of Webheath 2,185 acres, including 438 acres of arable land and 1,174 acres of permanent grass. The soil varies in different parts of the ancient parish. In Tutnall and Cobley it is mixed, on a subsoil of Keuper Sandstone; in Bentley the soil is the same and the subsoil marl; and in Webheath the soil is stiff loam and the subsoil Keuper Marl.
Agriculture is the chief industry except in Redditch, which from an insignificant hamlet has become a large manufacturing town, where the manufacture of needles, fish-hooks and fishing tackle is extensively carried on. This industry, for which Redditch is the most famous town in England, was introduced towards the end of the 18th century by needle-makers from Birmingham, who settled at Redditch on account of the water-power facilities given by the River Arrow. From that date the industry and consequent importance of the town have increased enormously. Some four hundred people were employed in the manufacture of needles and fish-hooks about 1782, (fn. 9) and this number by 1868 had increased to 10,000. (fn. 10) In 1901 the population of the town was 9,438, an increase of almost 1,000 on that of 1891.
The site of Bordesley Abbey is situated to the north-west of the town. It was excavated towards the middle of the 19th century, and a great part of the foundations were discovered. (fn. 11) Encaustic tiles found on the site are now preserved in the vestry of the church of Redditch. In the middle of the 17th century a 'greate owlde gate' still remained. (fn. 12)
A fair is said to have been held at Redditch on St. Stephen's Day in the 16th century, (fn. 13) and Habington mentions two on St. Stephen's Day, and on the Sunday after the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, (fn. 14) but in the middle of the 19th century there were two fairs, held on the first Monday in August, and on the third Monday in September for cattle. (fn. 15) At present the fairs are held on the Saturday preceding the August Bank Holiday and on the third Monday in September. The town is not chartered to hold a market, but one is virtually held in the principal streets every Saturday. Petty sessions are held every Wednesday at Redditch, the county court district having been formed in 1847. (fn. 16) The town was formerly governed by a local board formed in 1859. (fn. 17) Under the Local Government Act of 1894 it is governed by an urban district council.
The village of Tardebigge is situated about 2¼ miles south-east of Bromsgrove and 7 miles north-east of Droitwich. The church stands in a picturesque position on the brow of a small hill overlooking the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, which here enters a tunnel. The village itself contains little of interest, with the exception of a fine red brick house with stone dressings of the early 18th century at its western extremity. Hewell Grange, the residence of the Earl of Plymouth, stands in a large park at the east end of the village, bounded on the west by the Bromsgrove and Alcester Road. It was erected during the years 1885 and 1892, and is a very elaborate building. The old house, designed by Thomas Cundy, was situated near the lake. The Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria visited Hewell Grange on 5 November 1832. The park is about 850 acres in extent, and contains a large piece of ornamental water on the east side of the house. The grounds were laid out by Humphrey Repton in the early years of the 19th century.
The River Arrow divides Tutnall and Cobley from Alvechurch and then flows south past Redditch to Alcester, where it is joined by the Alne. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal also passes through Tutnall and Cobley and near the village of Tardebigge. The commons were inclosed in 1772. (fn. 18)
Among the place-names are Himmingehale, (fn. 19) Rodeley, Bertefeld, a tenement called Wysamusplace, (fn. 20) Lukesfield, Colborn, Poersheye, (fn. 21) Lynewoode, Brokhyll, Foxenhale, Hentelows, (fn. 22) Lie Lane (fn. 23) and Rashill. (fn. 24).
The history of TARDEBIGGE begins in the later 10th century. The will of Wulfgeat of Donnington, co. Salop, accounts for 2 hides there. One hide was bestowed by Wulfgeat as 'soul scot' upon what religious body is not stated. The other hide was left by Wulfgeat to his daughter Wilflaed. (fn. 25) Tardebigge is said to have been purchased from King Ethelred in the 10th century by Ethelsige, a Dean of Worcester, for his church, but after the death of the latter it was seized by Ævic, Sheriff of Staffordshire, during the war between Edmund Ironside and Cnut (c. 1016). (fn. 26) It belonged to the king before the Conquest, and in 1086 paid a farm of '11 pounds of pennies at 20 to the ounce' through the Sheriff of Staffordshire at Kingswinford Manor. (fn. 27) Tardebigge is said to have been included in the endowment of Bordesley Abbey, founded in 1138 by Waleran de Beaumont (fn. 28) Count of Mellent and Earl of Worcester. (fn. 29) The foundation of the abbey has also been attributed to Queen Maud, who granted another charter similar to that of 1138, and who with Henry II is recognized as the founder of the abbey. (fn. 30) These charters gave the Abbot of Bordesley and his men of Tardebigge freedom from toll in cities, boroughs and market towns throughout England, but in the reign of Edward I Robert de Mortimer exacted passage and toll from the abbot and his men passing by the town of Wychbold. The dispute was eventually settled in favour of the abbot. (fn. 31) The abbot and convent paid a farm of £10 through the Sheriff of Staffordshire for their possessions in Tardebigge throughout the 12th century. (fn. 32) In 1266 Henry III granted that the abbot and convent should not be distrained by their sheep as long as they had other animals and goods whereby they could be distrained, (fn. 33) the grant being of special importance to them, since wool-growing was the chief source of their revenue. (fn. 34)
The manor or grange of Tardebigge remained in the possession of the Abbot and convent of Bordesley (fn. 35) until the abbey was surrendered to the king in 1538, (fn. 36) and in 1542 Andrew Lord Windsor was obliged, much against his will, to exchange his manor of Stanwell, near Windsor, for the possessions of the abbey, including the manor of Tardebigge. (fn. 37)
Sir Andrew was succeeded in 1543 by his son William, (fn. 38) who was one of the twenty-six peers who signed the settlement of the Crown on Lady Jane Grey. He was, however, active in the proclamation of Queen Mary, at whose coronation he acted as Pantler. (fn. 39) On his death in 1558 Tardebigge passed to his son Edward, who was succeeded in 1574–5 by his son Frederick. (fn. 40) He died unmarried in 1585, when his brother Henry succeeded. (fn. 41) Thomas son of Henry, who followed his father in 1605, was Rear-Admiral of the Fleet sent in 1623 to bring Prince Charles from Spain, and is said to have spent £15,000 in entertainments on that occasion. He, having no children, settled the manor in 1641 upon Thomas Windsor Hickman, son of his sister Elizabeth, on condition that he assumed the name Windsor instead of Hickman. (fn. 42) Thomas, who succeeded to the estate in the same year, distinguished himself at the battle of Naseby in 1645 and relieved the king's garrison at High Ercall. Charles I is said to have ordered a patent to be prepared to grant him the title of Lord Windsor, which had fallen into abeyance on the death of his uncle, but the dignity was not conferred upon him until the accession of Charles II. (fn. 43) He was created Earl of Plymouth in 1682, (fn. 44) and died in 1687, when his grandson Other succeeded. (fn. 45) From Other son and successor of Other, the second earl, the manor passed in 1732 to his son Other Lewis. (fn. 46) Other Hickman, son of the latter, was succeeded in 1799 by his son Other Archer, on whose death without issue in 1833 the barony of Windsor again fell into abeyance. (fn. 47) The abeyance was terminated in 1855 in favour of Lady Harriet Clive, younger sister of the last lord, (fn. 48) and her grandson Robert George Windsor-Clive, who succeeded to the title and estates on her death in 1869, (fn. 49) was created Earl of Plymouth in 1905, (fn. 50) and is the present owner of the manor.
Lands at Bordesley formed part of the endowment of the abbey there, (fn. 51) and were granted in 1542 by the name of the manor of BORDESLEY to Andrew Lord Windsor, with the site of the abbey. (fn. 52) The site and manor of Bordesley followed the same descent as Tardebigge (q.v.).
Edward Lord Windsor obtained licence in 1561 to impark 1,000 acres of land in Bordesley and Tardebigge. (fn. 53) According to Nash, Bordesley Park was sold before his time to Lord Foley. (fn. 54) In the middle of the 18th century Bordesley Park was owned or occupied by the Taylors of Moseley. John Taylor, who died in 1814, and his son John both lived there. (fn. 55) The estate now known as Bordesley Hall, which stands in a park of about 200 acres, is in the parish of Alvechurch and belongs to Mr. Charles John Geast Dugdale.
REDDITCH (Le Rededych, le Redyche, xv cent.), which was held at the Dissolution by the Abbot of Bordesley, is not mentioned in the foundation charters of the abbey, and it is not known how or when it was acquired. It may have been originally included in the manor of Bordesley. The vill of Redditch is mentioned in the 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 56) and it is first called a manor at the time of the Dissolution, (fn. 57) when it contributed £17 11s. 10d. yearly to the revenues of the abbot and convent. (fn. 58) It was granted with Tardebigge Manor to Lord Windsor, and has since followed the same descent as that manor (q.v.).
The manor of BENTLEY PAUNCEFOOT (Beneslei, xi cent.; Benetlega Pancevot, Benetleye in Feckenham Forest, xiii cent.), which was held before the Conquest by Leofric of Earl Edwin of Mercia, had passed before 1086 to William, who held it of Urse D'Abitot. (fn. 59)
The overlordship followed the descent of Elmley Castle (q.v.) until it lapsed in the 16th century. (fn. 60) William, the Domesday tenant, was succeeded by the family of Pauncefoot, from whom the manor derives the second part of its name. Richard Pauncefoot held half a hide of land at Bentley in 1198, (fn. 61) and his son Richard had succeeded to Bentley before 1220. (fn. 62) It was perhaps this Richard who obtained a grant of free warren there in 1255. (fn. 63) His son and heir Grimbald Pauncefoot (fn. 64) was lord of the manor in 1275–6, (fn. 65) and is probably the Grimbald Pauncefoot who fought in the barons' war in the reign of Henry III, at first on the side of the barons and afterwards on that of the king, being knighted by Prince Edward. (fn. 66) His manor at Bentley was within the bounds of the forest of Feckenham, and in 1281 he obtained licence to have a rabbit warren there and to 'enclose places for the dwellings of the rabbits with a little dike and low hedge so that the king's deer may have entrance and exit.' (fn. 67) He had been succeeded before 1293–4 by a son of the same name, who in that year was going to Gascony on the king's service. He was apparently in want of money for the expedition, and tried to obtain licence to cut down and sell timber in his wood of Bentley to the value of 200 marks. It was found that pannage in the wood was due to the king and his tenants, and, as the wood was part of the royal forest of Feckenham, waste would prejudice the king's hunting. Further, as Sybil, mother of Grimbald, held one-third in dower and Richard Pauncefoot ought to have twelve good oaks there by charter of his father, timber to the value of 200 marks could not be cut down without loss to them. (fn. 68) In 1294, however, Grimbald received licence to sell wood to the value of 100 marks. (fn. 69) He died about 1313–14, being succeeded by his brother Emery, (fn. 70) or Aymer, whose name was included in 1321 in a list of those receiving pardons for joining in the rising against the Despensers. (fn. 71) In the following year he was fined 200 marks as one of the followers of the Earl of Lancaster and released from prison upon payment of the same. (fn. 72) In 1325 he was summoned to perform military service in Guienne, (fn. 73) but in 1326 he is spoken of as an enemy of the king. At the same time William de Montagu, who was 'in the king's service pursuing the rebels,' was accused of taking stock and goods from the manor of Bentley, and he justified his action on the ground that no one pursuing the rebels should be molested for the possession of any of their goods. (fn. 74) In 1333, shortly before his death, (fn. 75) Emery Pauncefoot settled the manor on his son Grimbald, with contingent remainder to another son Hugh. (fn. 76) The former died childless in 1375, (fn. 77) and his brother Hugh, who succeeded him, died before 1379, when his widow Katherine was in possession. (fn. 78) Sir John Pauncefoot, son and heir of Hugh, settled the manor in 1417–18 on his son William and Margaret his wife and their issue, (fn. 79) but they evidently died childless, since Thomas, brother of William, was lord of the manor some years later. (fn. 80) John Pauncefoot, grandson of Thomas, died in 1516, (fn. 81) leaving a son Richard, then aged three. Richard was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 82) who sold the site of the manor to Thomas Jeffreys in 1556 (fn. 83) and the rest to Ralph Sheldon and William Childe in 1560. (fn. 84)
It appears that the Jeffreys had before this time been tenants of the manor-house. As early as 1512 John Pauncefoot let it to William Jeffreys for forty years, and in 1544 Richard Pauncefoot let to Elizabeth Jeffreys 'the demesne lands of Bentley as held by her late husband William Jeffreys' at a yearly rent of £50 on condition that she would find 'house-room' for Richard, his steward, and servants when they came twice a year to hold courts. (fn. 85) The site remained in the Jeffreys family until 1606, when Edward Jeffreys and his eldest son Humphrey sold it to Henry Cookes. (fn. 86)
Before 1577 the manor of Bentley had been sold by Ralph Sheldon and William Childe to Henry Field, (fn. 87) through whose niece it passed to Sir William Whorwood. (fn. 88) He settled it in 1603 on his son Thomas and the latter's wife Ursula, daughter of George Brome. (fn. 89) Thomas Whorwood died in October 1634, leaving a son Brome, (fn. 90) who had been married the month before to Jane Ryder or Ryther, afterwards noted for her attempts to arrange the escape of Charles I. (fn. 91) They had one son and one daughter, but it is doubtful whether the former (who was drowned in 1657) (fn. 92) ever succeeded to Bentley, since it appears to have been sold before 1651 to Thomas Cookes, (fn. 93) grandson of the Henry Cookes who had purchased the site from Edward Jeffreys. He was made one of the commissioners for 'reducing co. Worcester to the obedience of Parliament' and afterwards sheriff of the county. (fn. 94) On his death without issue the manor seems to have passed to his nephew William Cookes, who was created a baronet in 1664 and died in 1672. (fn. 95) His son Sir Thomas Cookes, (fn. 96) the founder of Worcester College, Oxford, died without issue in 1701, leaving most of his property to his nephew Thomas Winford and his heirs male with contingent remainders to John and Harry Winford, his brothers, and to John Cookes, cousin of the testator, on condition that whoever inherited the manor should take the name of Cookes. (fn. 97) Thomas Winford, afterwards Sir Thomas Cookes Winford, and his two brothers died without issue and the manor passed to John Cookes, eldest son of the John Cookes mentioned in the will, (fn. 98) who was holding it in 1744. (fn. 99) He was succeeded in 1747 (fn. 100) by his nephew the Rev. Thomas Cookes, rector of Notgrove, co. Gloucester, (fn. 101) whose grandson Thomas Henry Cookes appears to have been lord of the manor in 1826, (fn. 102) though his father did not die until 1829.
Bentley was purchased before 1850 by Walter Chamberlain Hemming, and had passed before 1860 to Richard Hemming, to whose daughter Maud, widow of Major George C. Cheape of Wellfield, co. Fife, the manor now belongs. (fn. 103)
The hamlets of TUTNALL and COBLEY (Tothehal and Comble) are mentioned in the Domesday Survey as berewicks of the manor of Bromsgrove and belonged before the Conquest to Earl Edwin of Mercia and in 1086 to the king. (fn. 104) Tutnall was later known as Totinhill. (fn. 105) 'Cobesleie' is included in the foundation charter of Bordesley Abbey as transcribed by Dugdale from deeds belonging to Sir Clement Throckmorton of Haseley, co. Warwick. (fn. 106) Both have since then followed the same descent as Tardebigge (q.v.).
STRECHE BENTLEY, so called after a family of the name of Streche or Estrech, probably belonged to Richard Streche, who is mentioned as rendering half a mark in Worcestershire on the Pipe Roll of 1167. (fn. 107) Another Richard Streche died seised of the bailiwick of the forest of Bentley in 1270–1. (fn. 108) His son, also called Richard, held Streche Bentley in 1274, (fn. 109) and in 1275–6 Robert Streche of Bentley held a virgate of land of the king without doing service for it. (fn. 110) Robert seems, however, to have held the land only under a ten years' lease granted by Richard Streche. (fn. 111) He was still called Robert Streche of Bentley in 1283–4, (fn. 112) but the manor seems afterwards to have passed to Walter de Aylesbury, who is called lord of Streche Bentley in an undated charter by which he granted to Robert Gest lands in Bentley Pauncefoot, holding by a rent of 4s. 6d. and by suit of court to the lord of Bentley Pauncefoot. (fn. 113) It was perhaps this property which John de Wysham and Hawise his wife held of Emery Pauncefoot at the time of John's death, c. 1332, and which passed to his son John. (fn. 114) By undated charters John the cook of Bentley and Reginald Long of Bentley granted rent and land at Bentley to Bordesley Abbey. (fn. 115) At the time of the Dissolution the so-called manor belonged to Bordesley Abbey, (fn. 116) and was granted in 1542 to Andrew Lord Windsor, (fn. 117) afterwards following the descent of Tardebigge (q.v.).
HEWELL GRANGE, now the Worcestershire seat of the Earl of Plymouth, was granted to his ancestor Andrew Lord Windsor with the other possessions of Bordesley Abbey. (fn. 118) Hewell Grange is not mentioned in the foundation charter of the abbey, but it was stated at the Hundred Court in 1275–6 that it had been granted to the abbey by the Empress Maud, and in 1291 the abbot held 7 carucates of land at Hewell cum Lega. (fn. 119) The present house was built on a new site in the park between 1885 and 1891.
SHELTWOOD (Saltwod, Syltwode, xiii cent.; Scheltewodde, xvi cent.), though not mentioned in the foundation charter, was granted to Bordesley Abbey by the Empress Maud. (fn. 120) In 1291 the abbot held 3 carucates of land and a dovecot there, (fn. 121) and about 1388–9 he granted 'Shiltewode Grange' to William de Buyton for life without obtaining the king's licence. (fn. 122) The estate remained in the possession of the abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 123) It was not granted with the site of the abbey to Lord Windsor, but appears to have remained a Crown possession until 1551, when it was granted to Edward Lord Clinton. (fn. 124) It had passed before 1571 to Edward Lord Windsor, (fn. 125) but its further descent has not been traced. It probably became merged in the manor of Tardebigge.
A mill called Lea Mill, possibly in the parish of Tardebigge, (fn. 126) was given in 1180–1 by William the Baker to the abbey of Bordesley in consideration of an annuity of 12 quarters of wheat and 12 quarters of rye. William had received the mill some twenty years before from Walter Bishop of Chester. (fn. 127) The mill was confirmed to the abbey by Richard I, and is then said to have been given by Roger de Sandford. (fn. 128) A mill at Bordesley belonged to the abbey at the Dissolution, (fn. 129) and four water-mills were annexed to the manors of Tardebigge and Bordesley in 1589. (fn. 130) In 1752 Lord Windsor had a water grist-mill and a water paper-mill in Bordesley and Tardebigge. (fn. 131) Lea Mill may perhaps be identified with the old mill to the south of Hewell Grange. In 1678 there were two water corn-mills and three fullingmills at Bentley Pauncefoot belonging to Sir Thomas Cookes, then lord of the manor, (fn. 132) and in 1826 Thomas Henry Cookes had three corn-mills there. (fn. 133) There is no mill at Bentley Pauncefoot at the present day, but Perrymill Farm may mark the site of a former one. There are numerous mills at Redditch on the Arrow and its tributaries. In the 14th century Robert, Abbot of Bordesley, had fishing rights in Tardebigge. (fn. 134)
The present church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW, erected about 1777, is a stone building, and consists of a chancel 18 ft. by 33 ft. with an apsidal east end, a nave 58½ ft. by 34½ ft., and a west tower 9 ft. square with side vestries, all in the Renaissance style. These measurements are all internal. The chancel has three semicircular-headed windows in the apse and a doorway on the south side. The nave is lit by four roundheaded windows on each side, and at the west end is a gallery. The west door enters the tower, which is octagonal internally and forms a narthex with a vestry on each side. The arched doorway is flanked by columns carrying an entablature and pediment. The tower is of three stages, the two lower being square, with round-headed windows in the ringing chamber. The third has two columns standing free at each angle and carrying an entablature convex on plan, above which rises a tall octagonal spire having vases at each broach.
In the narthex is a mutilated kneeling effigy of a man in 16th-century armour. In the nave is a mural monument to Maria wife of Thomas Cookes of Bentley, daughter of Thomas Lord Windsor and his wife, the sister of George Marquess of Halifax, who died in 1694.
There are three bells: the first is inscribed 'Wm Callow, Saml Harris, Churchwardens 1774,' with Thomas Rudhall's mark; second, 'Jno Rudhall fect, Saml Harris, Churchwarden, 1796'; and a third, 'Goodwin Nash, John Parke, Churchwardens, Henry Bagley made me, 1746.'
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1566 to 1647, burials 1579 to 1647, marriages 1566 to 1647; (ii) baptisms and burials 1654 to 1671, marriages 1653 to 1671; (iii) all entries 1672 to 1692; (iv) 1693 to 1730; (v) baptisms and burials 1731 to 1770, marriages 1731 to 1751 (there is a gap in the marriages between 1751 and 1754); (vi) marriages 1754 to 1770; (vii) baptisms and burials 1770 to 1809; (viii) marriages 1770 to 1812; (ix) baptims and burials 1809 to 1812.
From the description in Nash's History of Worcestershire (fn. 135) it would appear that the former church dated back to the Norman period. The tower of this church fell in 1774, and so damaged the remainder of the building that the whole had to be taken down. A brief was issued in 1777 for building a new church on a slightly different site wholly in Worcestershire. (fn. 136) In pulling down the old church the monuments of the Windsor family were so much damaged that they were not replaced in the new building. Some are described in Dugdale's History of Warwickshire. (fn. 137) Nash gives the following account of the old church: 'The church was dedicated to St. Bartholomew, and is supposed to have been built soon after the Conquest. The most ancient part was a circular arch over the south door with hatched mouldings, and the supporting columns had the common rude Saxon capitals. The tower was partly octagonal, but from the style of the arch over the door at the west end of the tower, and the thin taper columns, one may conjecture it was built after the reign of Henry I. In the highest north window of the north side of the body of the church was a man with eight children, praying, and in the next pane a woman with three daughters in the same attitude, with the inscription, 'Seward and Agent de Bedford,' the rest broken. In the lowest window of the same side a man and his wife praying, inscribed, 'Uxor ejus,' with eight sons and one daughter. (fn. 138)
The advowson of the church of Tardebigge was included in the foundation charter of Bordesley Abbey. (fn. 139) The church had been appropriated to the abbey and the vicarage ordained before 1245. To the vicar were assigned all obventions of the altar and of the chapel of St. Stephen, and all small tithes, but it was found that this endowment was insufficient, and in 1245 the bishop ordained that the vicar should receive in addition a mark yearly from the abbot and convent as rectors. (fn. 140)
In 1259 the advowson was claimed by Henry III on the ground that Richard I had presented, but he finally gave up his claim, 'having preceived that the said house was founded out of the said advowson.' (fn. 141) In 1291 the church of Tardebigge was worth £15 6s. 8d., (fn. 142) but by the time of the Dissolution the rectory was only worth £4 1s. 5¼d. (fn. 143) The advowson with the rectory and tithes has followed the same descent as the manor (fn. 144) (q.v.).
There was formerly a chapel at Bentley Pauncefoot Manor, which at the beginning of the 14th century was served by the monks of Bordesley, who were obliged to find a priest to celebrate divine service every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and on all feast days. In 1332 Emery Pauncefoot granted the monks 2 marks yearly to find a chaplain for the remaining days of the week. (fn. 145)
There was also a chapel at Bordesley dedicated to St. Stephen, (fn. 146) the advowson of which was granted in 1542 to Andrew Lord Windsor. (fn. 147) There seems to have been a district assigned to this chapel which was in existence at least as early as 1245. (fn. 148) Nash gives the boundaries of this district as they existed in 1645. (fn. 149) The advowson belonged to the lords of the manor, (fn. 150) but the chapel was deserted after the Dissolution and used as a barn until 1687, when, upon the application of the inhabitants of Redditch to the Earl of Plymouth, it was endowed and used as a church. (fn. 151) The chapel was restored and further endowed in 1712 by Nathaniel Mugg. A tablet recording this gift was the only one which had escaped destruction at the time of the demolition of the chapel in 1805. (fn. 152) An Act for building a new chapel at Redditch was obtained in 1805, (fn. 153) and the old one was taken down. Illustrations of the old chapel and the new one as it existed in 1807 are given in Woodward's History of Bordesley Abbey. (fn. 154) The present church of St. Stephen was built in 1854–5, and the ecclesiastical parish was formed from Tardebigge in 1855. (fn. 155) It is of stone in 14th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, chapel, south porch, and tower with spire at the west end of the north aisle.
On 13 August 1902 part of the ecclesiastical parish of St. Stephen, Redditch, was constituted the new parish of St. George, Redditch. (fn. 156) The church, built in 1876, is of stone in 14th-century style, consisting of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and eastern bell-turret. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the vicar of St. Stephen, Redditch.
Parts of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Tardebigge were assigned in 1850 to the new ecclesiastical parish of Headless Cross, (fn. 157) which was constituted from this parish and Feckenham in Worcestershire and Ipsley in Warwickshire. It is now comprised in the new civil parish of Upper Ipsley, which was formed from Ipsley in 1894. (fn. 158)
There is a Baptist chapel at Webheath. At Redditch there are numerous Nonconformist places of worship. The Baptist chapel in Ipsley Street was built in 1862 and rebuilt in 1897, the United Methodist in Mount Pleasant was built in 1833 and rebuilt in 1899, and the Wesleyan chapel in Bates Hill, built in 1842, has since been enlarged.
Endymion Canning—as appeared from an ancient table of benefactions in the church—by his will (dated in 1631) left £50 for the poor to be disposed of to such charitable uses as the Earl of Plymouth should think fit. In performance of the said will the Earl of Plymouth by deeds of lease and release granted a house and land in Redditch, the rents and profits to be applied in the distribution of bread. The trust property now consists of 3 r. 35 p., producing £2 13s. yearly, £1, 208 16s. 5d. consols with the official trustees, arising from the sale in 1873 of a portion of the property, and also a sum of £102 18s. 9d. consols in the names of trustees. The annual dividends, amounting together to £32 17s. 11d., are, with the net rents, applied in moieties in the distribution of bread among the poor of Tardebigge and Redditch.
In 1859 James Holyoake by his will bequeathed £2,000 for the benefit of the poor. The legacy, less duty, is represented by £520 Birmingham Corporation 3 per cent. stock, £870 on mortgage, and £143 invested with the Land Securities Company. The income, amounting to about £65 a year, is distributed in blankets, sheets and other articles in kind to about seventy recipients.
—In 1715 John Allen, by his will proved at Worcester, charged his customary lands at Foxlydiate with an annuity of £15 4s., of which £10 is receivable by the vicar and £5 4s. is applied to the National schools as John Allen's Educational Foundation.
In 1826 Benjamin Sarson, by his will, left £30, now represented by £32 14s. 1d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to 16s. 4d., to be distributed in bread on Easter Day, Trinity Sunday, Sunday after Michaelmas Day and Christmas Day among the oldest communicants.
In 1844 William Henry Boulton, by his will proved at Worcester 4 December, left £20, now £20 0s. 6d. consols, the annual dividends of 10s. to be distributed on New Year's Day to twelve poor widows, regular attendants at church and sacrament.
In 1856 William Field, by his will proved in the P.C.C. 22 January, left £100, invested in £108 5s. 1d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 14s., to be applied for the benefit of the aged and infirm poor.
In 1869 Mary Aston, by her will proved at Worcester 18 August, left £100, which, less duty, was invested in £95 14s. 11d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 7s. 8d., to be distributed after the Feast of the Epiphany to poor old men and women, constant attendants at service and Holy Communion, in bread, clothing, or money.
In 1870 Alfred Smallwood, by his will proved at Worcester in October, bequeathed £200, which was invested in £216 16s. 1d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £5 8s. 4d., to be applied in clothing, blankets, linen, bread, or coal about St. Thomas's Day.
In 1882 William Wild, by his will proved at Worcester 25 September, bequeathed £50 to the vicar and churchwardens, the interest to be applied in equal proportions between the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the British and Foreign Bible Society. The legacy was invested in £49 6s. 2d. consols, producing £1 4s. 8d. yearly.
In 1887 Benjamin Sarson, by his will proved at Worcester 7 June, left £450, which was invested in £436 7s. 3d. consols, the dividends, amounting to £10 18s., to be applied in the purchase of tickets or in subscriptions to any hospital or charitable institution of a medical or surgical character in Birmingham or elsewhere, for securing benefits for the poor.
In 1909 Caroline Swann, by her will proved with a codicil at Worcester 4 May, bequeathed £160 4s. 9d. consols, the annual dividends of £4 to be applied in pursuance of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 15 March 1910, for the general benefit of the poor in one or more of the ways therein specified.
The Milward Memorial Charity, comprised in deed 19 April 1880, was founded by the children of Henry Milward in memory of their father and mother. It consists of a freehold building used as a mission room, with a sum of £100 consols, the dividends to be applied in keeping the same in repair.
The Smallwood Hospital was founded and endowed by the will of Edwin Smallwood, proved at London 8 August 1892, and by gifts of William Smallwood, the residuary legatee, at a cost exceeding £10,000, leaving a sum of £11,260 available for investment in the names of the trustees, who also hold a sum of £551 10s. 1d. India 2½ per cent. stock as a special endowment fund by will of Edwin Smallwood, and £575 19s. 9d. like stock, arising from the sale of houses in Britten Street, conveyed in 1897 by Joseph Fessey for the benefit of the hospital. The official trustees also hold £104 11s. 6d. consols left by will of Richard Bennett, proved in 1891, and £107 4s. 9d. like stock given in 1902 by Walter Lewis towards the endowment of a bed in the women's ward in memory of his sister Elizabeth Clayton.
—In 1841 Joseph John Freeman, by deed, conveyed to trustees a dwellinghouse with the shopping and other premises situate at Redditch upon trust that a moiety of the rents should be paid to the minister of the Congregational church, and the other moiety applied in upholding and keeping the said church in repair. The trust property produces £138 yearly.
In 1910 Miss Harriet Smith, by her will, left £50, the interest to be applied for the general purposes of the Dorcas Society in connexion with the Wesleyan chapel. The legacy was invested in £59 8s. 2d. India 3 per cent. stock with the official trustees, producing £1 15s. 8d. yearly.
—In 1880 Henry Smallwood, by his will proved at Worcester 26 June, left £50, the interest to be distributed at Christmas in coal to poor members of St. Stephen's Church. The legacy, less duty, was invested in £45 1s. 8d. consols, producing £1 2s. 4d. yearly.
In 1888 the Rev. George Frederick Fessey, by his will proved at Gloucester 27 December, left a legacy, now represented by £392 14s. 8d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £9 16s. 4d., to be distributed on 28 November among poor members of St. Stephen's Church, with a preference to communicants.
—In 1888 the Rev. George Frederick Fessey, by his will proved at Gloucester 27 December, left a legacy, now represented by £671 0s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £16 15s. 4d., to be distributed in bread among needy members of the congregation of St. George's Church. The distribution is made monthly to about twenty recipients.