A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Berga (xii cent.); Bereg, Bergh, Berewe Gefrey subtus Maluern, La Berewe (xiii cent.); Barwe, La Barewe, Berewe, Barowe, Baruwe, Borghe, La Bergh (xiv cent.); Berowe (xv cent.); Le Barowe, Netherberowe, Netherbury (xvi cent.).
This parish, in the south-west of the county on its western border, covers an area of 2,207 acres. The eastern part of Berrow is low lying, being only 50 ft. above the ordnance datum on the south-eastern boundary, but the land rises to the western boundary, which passes along the top of the Malvern Hills. No railway line passes through this parish, though in the middle of the 19th century a projected railway from Monmouth through the Forest of Dean to Worcester was to pass through Berrow and have a station near Rye Cross on the border of the parish. (fn. 1) The nearest station is at Upton-on-Severn, 7 miles distant, on the Tewkesbury and Malvern branch of the Midland railway. The main road connecting Tewkesbury and Ledbury traverses the north side of the parish, and the little village of Berrow is on a branch road from it.
There are a large number of half-timber houses scattered throughout the parish. They are chiefly of the 17th century, but some are of a much earlier period. Berrow Court, near the church to the south-west, has been pulled down and a modern brick cottage now occupies part of the site. Part of the old garden wall remains on the east, and a long sheet of water at the north-east between the site of the court and the church may be part of a moat. Two barns, probably of the 16th century, stand to the east of the cottage, one of stone with a modern iron roof and the other of oak on a stone base, L-shaped on plan, and thatched. The vicarage, to the north of the church, is a 17th-century half-timber house with modern additions on both sides. A barn on the east side of the road between the church and the post office, constructed of heavy oak trusses with timbers about 15 in. by 8 in. forming pointed arches springing from the ground level, is probably of the 14th century. This barn, which is thatched and weather-boarded and stands on a stone base, is a fine example of its type. On the other side of the road a little farther north is another barn of somewhat similar character but not so perfect. Rye Court Farm, at the cross on the Ledbury road, is an carly 17th-century half-timber and plaster house with 18th-century and modern brick additions. A projecting chimney on the south, which has a rectangular stone base and two diagonal brick shafts, is of the original date. Hollybush Manor, on the Ledbury road at the extreme west boundary of the parish, is a red brick house of two stories and an attic with twin tiled roofs. The southern portion was built early in the 18th century and the northern fronting the road was added about 1750. The centre of this elevation is slightly broken forward and contains a semicircular-headed doorway, surmounted by a pediment carried upon consoles and a 'Venetian' window above. In the hall, which is entered from the main doorway, is a good 18th-century square well stairway of oak with slender turned balusters and square newels. The windows retain their original wood frames with leaded lights in small squares. The Duke of York Inn, on the south side of the Ledbury road about a mile and a half west of the church, is a half-timber house of about 1600, with a modern brick front and modern additions at the back. On the opposite side of the road is a picturesque half-timber house of the central chimney type of about the same date, now divided into two cottages. On the north side of the Ledbury road about a mile to the east of the church is a T-shaped farm-house, now divided into two cottages, probably of stone and dating from the early 16th century, but repaired in half-timber and plaster about 100 years later. The north wing is still of stone and the stonework is carried along the lower part of the west wall, including the base of the north-west chimney. The heavy ceiling beams are of the original date, while three rectangular brick chimneys on the north are of the 17th century. A stone barn near the road with two tiers of long, narrow loopholes is probably of the original date of the house, though the roof timbers have been much repaired.
The greater part of the land is pasture, 1,545 acres being laid down in permanent grass. Of woods and plantations there are some 80 acres, the largest wood being Berrow Wood. The chief crops are wheat, barley and beans, the amount of arable land being about 490 acres. (fn. 2) The soil is mixed and the subsoil Keuper Marl. Quarries of limestone and road stone were worked here in the middle of the 19th century, (fn. 3) and some are still worked.
In 1882 part of Pendock was transferred to Berrow. (fn. 4)
Among former place-names are Keysende and Keysendestrete (fn. 5) (xv cent.); Barne Close and Jackes (fn. 6) (xvii cent.); Mone Perry, Gibbert's Field, the Lynches, Billingsclose, Winning Leyes, Portnall, Organs, and the Conygree Hills (fn. 7) (xviii cent.). Berrow, which was formerly in Malvern Chase, was inclosed by an Act of 1855, (fn. 8) and the award is dated 1860. (fn. 9)
At the time of the Domesday Survey BERROW was evidently included in Overbury, of which parish it was a chapelry. (fn. 10) Overbury belonged to the Prior and convent of Worcester, and from an early date Berrow was held under the prior by suit and service at the prior's court of Overbury and the payment yearly of 40s. to the chamberlain and 3s. to the infirmarer of the monastery. (fn. 11) The overlordship of Berrow represented by this rent and service passed with the other possessions of the priory at the Dissolution to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 12) It was sold in 1651 with the rectory, which was also held by the dean and chapter, by the Parliamentary Trustees to Henry Perkins, as a quit-rent of 40s. due from Thomas Beale out of certain lands called Berrow Court. (fn. 13)
A Robert de Berrow was holding land in Worcestershire, probably this manor, in 1174–5, (fn. 14) and a Robert de Berrow, lord of the manor at the end of the 12th century, (fn. 15) was succeeded before 1224 by his son Roger. (fn. 16) Early in the reign of Edward I (fn. 17) the most wealthy resident in Berrow was Geoffrey de Berrow, who may have been son and heir of Roger. In an Assize Roll of this time Geoffrey's name is found attached distinctively to the name of the vill. In 1325 Edward II ordered that John de Berrow (atte Berghe), probably a descendant of Geoffrey, should have seisin of an acre of land in Berrow which had lately been held of him by William Rauwyn, hanged as a felon. (fn. 18) John died about three years later, leaving as his heir John, a boy twelve years old. (fn. 19) The custody and marriage of this minor, together with two parts of the manor, were granted to his mother Margaret. (fn. 20) In 1377, after the death of Simon de Berrow, perhaps the son of the last-mentioned John, (fn. 21) the prior and convent leased the manor, during the minority of Simon's son Thomas, to Robert Underhill and William Halliday at a yearly rent of 17 marks. (fn. 22) A dispute between Robert Whittington, lord of the manor of Staunton, and the Prior of St. Mary's, Worcester, concerning the overlordship of Berrow and the wardship and marriage of Simon's daughter Margaret (who had been forcibly taken away by the prior) was settled in favour of the latter, upon proof that Simon had done suit at his court at Overbury. (fn. 23) Thomas died without issue. (fn. 24) His sister Margaret then succeeded to the property and married William Golafre. In 1394 William and Margaret Golafre settled their property on the heirs of their bodies with remainder in default to Richard Ruyhale the younger. (fn. 25) William and Margaret appear to have died without issue, and the manor passed to the Ruyhales of Birtsmorton, (fn. 26) and has since followed the same descent as that manor (fn. 27) (q.v.), Mr. F. B. Bradley-Birt being the present owner.
RYE COURT in this parish was formerly a seat of the Thackwell family, (fn. 28) but is now a farm-house. The Thackwells had owned land in Berrow as early as 1651, when John Thackwell dealt with an estate there. (fn. 29) William Thackwell held land at Berrow in 1671, (fn. 30) and it was perhaps his daughter who as Catherine Thackwell of Rye Court married the Rev. Lewis Terry of Longdon. (fn. 31) Her daughter Catherine married Paul Thackwell, and their son Stephen, who died in 1729, (fn. 32) was the father of John Thackwell, (fn. 33) who afterwards bought the manors of Berrow and Birtsmorton. Nash, writing towards the end of the 18th century, remarks that 'the Thackwells have now a good estate in this parish.' (fn. 34)
The church of ST. FAITH consists of a chancel 23¾ ft. by 18½ ft., a nave 46 ft. by 18¾ ft., a south aisle 6¼ ft. wide, a west tower 10½ ft. square and a north porch. These measurements are all internal.
The mid-12th-century church consisted of an aisleless nave and chancel, but of this only the north nave wall remains. The present chancel replaced the earlier one in the 14th century, the chancel arch being removed. The tower dates from the 15th century, and the earlier west window was probably then reset in its present position. The south aisle with its curious arcade is a 15th-century addition, which was subsequently extended westwards and the last bay of the arcade inserted.
The traceried east window of the chancel is of three lights of 15th-century date. In the north and south walls are two-light 14th-century windows, the southern much restored. The north door is partly modern, and in the south wall is a modern credence table. There is no chancel arch.
At the east end of the north wall of the nave is a square-headed low-side window of the squint type. West of this is a lancet window largely restored. The round-headed north door has side shafts with modern scalloped capitals.
The south arcade is of four bays, the first three arches having two chamfered orders. The red and yellow sandstone capitals are of rough and unusual cutting, being either very late in date or earlier capitals recut; the piers are octagonal. The fourth bay is an extension, the narrow arch springing from the respond which now forms a third pier. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders, without capitals or bases.
The south aisle is lighted by windows of three lights with much restored tracery. The font is circular, with two rows of cable ornament encircling the bowl.
The embattled tower is two stages high, with large diagonal buttresses and a square turret for the newel stair at the north-east corner. The walls are of rubble and the roof is slated.
In 1818 there were four bells, two of which were mediaeval, but now there are only the treble, which is inscribed 'William Clark and William Morlee Churchwardens 1650,' and the tenor, by John Rudhall, 1825.
The plate consists of a standing paten, 1682, a flagon and almsdish given in 1750 and made in the preceding year, a knife engraved with the date 1750 and stamped with a lion passant, and a pewter plate dated 1750.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1698 to 1744; (ii) baptisms and burials 1745 to 1807, marriages 1745 to 1754; (iii) baptisms and burials 1808 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812.
The chapel of Berrow was probably built by one of the lords of the manor, as it was said, in the 12th century, to have been built on the land of Robert de Berrow. (fn. 37) It was recognized as a chapel of Overbury in 1194, when Bishop Henry assigned a yearly pension of half a mark from it to the monks of Worcester for the improvement of their diet on certain anniversaries. (fn. 38) The lords of Berrow seem to have disputed the subjection of the chapel to Overbury, and claimed the advowson for themselves, for Robert de Berrow, by a charter confirmed by King John, acknowledged that Berrow was a chapelry of Overbury. (fn. 39) This acknowledgement is perhaps referred to in the registers of Worcester Priory under date 1210, when it is stated that the prior received at farm the church of Berrow at a yearly rent of 18 marks. (fn. 40) This agreement was disputed by Robert's son Roger in 1224, but judgement was given in favour of the prior. At the same time the Prior of Little Malvern put in a claim to the advowson on the ground that it had been granted to his house by Robert de Berrow, but his claim was also quashed. (fn. 41) As a chapel of Overbury it was appropriated with that church in 1330 to the Prior and convent of Worcester. (fn. 42) After this time its connexion with Overbury seems to have been to a certain extent severed, and in 1535 the rectory of Berrow was returned as annexed to that of Stoke Prior. (fn. 43) At that time the whole of the tithes and glebe seem to have been held by the vicar or perpetual curate, who was appointed by the prior and convent, and made a payment of £7 yearly to them as impropriators. (fn. 44)
The rectory and advowson of the vicarage, having passed to the Crown at the Dissolution, were granted by Henry VIII in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 45) This grant was confirmed by James I, (fn. 46) and the dean and chapter still hold the patronage, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to whom their estates were transferred in 1859, being now impropriators of the tithes. (fn. 47)
The perpetual curacy of Berrow was a peculiar benefice, the Dean and Chapter of Worcester having concurrent jurisdiction with the chancellor in proving wills. It was visited by the bishop in his triennial visitation, and by the official of the dean and chapter in other years, but was exempt from archidiaconal jurisdiction. (fn. 48)
The Dean and Chapter of Worcester apparently claimed a rectorial manor at Berrow, for in the middle of the 17th century they held a court leet there. (fn. 49) The rectory and the mansion-house belonging to it were sold by the Parliamentary Trustees in 1651 to Henry Perkins. (fn. 50)
In 1656 a dispute came before the Court of Exchequer about the tithes and fee of the glebe lands in the parish which Henry Perkins had sold to John Woodley, yeoman, for three years. (fn. 51) Prattinton, writing about 1820, said that 'the late Mr. Boulter, of Welland, brother of the present, bought the great tithes.' (fn. 52) The tenant of the rectory, according to Nash, was bound to repair the chancel and the three bridges, Westbridge, Farley Bridge and Old Strike Bridge, (fn. 53) one of which was said to be out of repair in 1634. (fn. 54)
In 1743 Susannah Cocks Nanfan, by will, devised a rent-charge of 40s. yearly issuing out of Upper Summers in Berrow. The income is applied in accordance with the scheme of the Charity Commissioners 6 November 1906, as to 10s. yearly to the vicar for a sermon on the first Sunday in February in each year, and the residue in coal to the poor.
The parish has long been in possession of land known as the Poor's Land, consisting of 8 a., producing £10 8s. yearly, which is distributed in coal to the poor.
There are about 3½ acres belonging to the church, which produce £9 11s. 8d. yearly; £5 is paid as the salary of the church clerk and the remainder is applied to church expenses.