A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Hill Croome, covering an area of 993 acres, lies in the south of the county near the Gloucestershire border. The Horse Brook, crossing the western side of the parish, flows south from Baughton and enters the parish of Ripple near Naunton. A small stream which falls into Bourne Brook forms the eastern boundary of the parish and the main road from Pershore to Upton-on-Severn that on the north.
The land is low-lying for the most part, being about 50 ft. above the ordnance datum, but rising to 100 ft. at Baughton Hill. In 1905 573¼ acres were laid down as permanent grass, 275¾ acres were arable land, (fn. 1) the chief crops being wheat and beans, and 13¾ were covered by woods and plantations. The parish lies partly on the Lower Lias and partly on the Keuper Marls, the soil being clay and loam.
The village is small and scattered, containing, besides the church, but two farm-houses and one or two cottages. Opposite the church, and separated from it by the by-road about which the few houses are grouped, is the house formerly known as the 'Glebe Farm.' It is of half-timber, two stories in height, and of L-shaped plan. The main limb is the earliest part of the house and appears to date from the 14th century. The insertion of the floors and fireplaces and the addition of the western wing appear to have taken place at the end of the 16th century; the main timbers of the older portion have been much cut about by the later alterations. A little distance to the north of the church are the remains of the moat of the former manor-house. The Manor Farm, formerly known as the Court House, upon the west side of the road about a quarter of a mile to the north of the church, is a modernized building of little interest. The hamlet of Baughton, about half a mile again to the north of the Manor Farm, contains some interesting half-timber work, and is considerably larger than the parent village. Here is a good half-timber farm-house of L plan with the date 1540 upon it. The chimney stacks are of stone and are surmounted by brick shafts of the intersecting diagonal plan so common to the county and the period.
Among former place-names in this parish were Mylles or Myboards and Golds or Goldwynes (fn. 4) (xvi cent.); Cow Leasow, Nuns Close, Cooks Close, Fryer's Acre, the Eleven Lands, the Fiddle (fn. 5) (xviii cent.).
A grant of 972, by which King Edgar confirmed to the abbey of Pershore land in 'Cromban,' (fn. 6) may perhaps refer to HILL CROOME, but there is no further evidence that the abbey ever held land in this parish, and in 1038 Lyfing, Bishop of Worcester, granted 5 mansae at Hill Croome and Baughton to his faithful servant Ethelred for three lives. (fn. 7)
In 1086 Hill Croome was a member of the manor of Ripple, (fn. 8) and continued to be held of that manor until the 17th century. (fn. 9) In 1480 a chief rent of 7s. from the manor of Hill Croome was paid to the Master of Balsall Preceptory. (fn. 10)
In 1086 Roger de Lacy was tenant under the bishop of 3 hides at Hill Croome, (fn. 11) and his descendant Hugh de Lacy held it early in the 12th century. (fn. 12) This manor was evidently one of those which Hugh Poer took from the Lacys and gave to Walter de Meduana (see Himbleton), for Walter de 'Marine' is mentioned as an owner in the Red Book of the Bishopric of Worcester, (fn. 13) and the overlordship afterwards apparently passed to the Monchenseys with Walter's other estates (see Spetchley), for Denise daughter of William son of Warin de Monchensey, wife of Hugh de Veer, who succeeded William in 1289, (fn. 14) was mesne lady of the manor. (fn. 15) On her death in 1313 without issue her interest in Hill Croome passed to her cousin (fn. 16) Aymer de Valence Earl of Pembroke, who died in 1324. Among the fees held of him was half a fee in Hulle, probably to be identified with Hill Croome. (fn. 17) It was assigned to his niece and co-heir Elizabeth Comyn, and became annexed to Goodrich Castle, which also fell to her share. (fn. 18) She afterwards married Sir Richard Talbot, and died about 1372, when her son Sir Gilbert succeeded as lord of this fee. (fn. 19) The manor was still held of the Talbots of Goodrich Castle in 1410, (fn. 20) but a fourth part of it was said in 1461 to be held of Richard Earl of Warwick for a twentieth part of a fee, (fn. 21) and in 1542 it was held of the king as of Elmley Castle. (fn. 22)
Under the Lacys the manor was held about 1182 by William son of Hereman. (fn. 23) A later owner was Almeric son of William. (fn. 24) In 1194 William de la Hulle handed over the manor for six years to Richard Hagernier as surety for a debt for 40 marks. (fn. 25) This William or a successor known as William de Hill Croome demised the manor for ten years to Nicholas de Wilington, whose ward he had been and whose daughter he had married. (fn. 26) This feoffment evidently took place before 1203, when Nicholas sued William for not keeping the agreement made between them as to this land. (fn. 27) Later William gave the manor to Eudes de Beauchamp. William de Hill Croome was succeeded before 1220 by his son Richard, who in that year claimed a third of the manor against Ivo de Beauchamp. (fn. 28) In 1232 Richard disputed the right of Eudes de Beauchamp to the manor, but he lost his case. (fn. 29) Eudes died about 1241–2, (fn. 30) and was succeeded by Robert de Beauchamp, against whom Maud widow of Eudes recovered a third of the manor in 1242. (fn. 31) Robert must have been succeeded shortly after by William de Beauchamp, for in 1243 he and Maud gave land and wood in the manor of Hill Croome to Richard de Hill Croome. (fn. 32) In 1255 Maud, then the wife of Odo 'de Monte,' released all her dower in Hill Croome to Margery widow of Richard de Hill Croome and her son John, (fn. 33) and in the following year William de Beauchamp of Eaton sold the manor to the same John for a rent of 1d. yearly and foreign service. (fn. 34)
It was possibly this mesne lordship which was sold in 1276 by Ralph de Beauchamp to William son of Warin de Monchensey, as the wardship of the land and heir of John de Hill Croome and of his heirs for ever. (fn. 35)
Amy widow of John de Hill Croome married William de Monchensey in 1279, and thus for a short time the mesne lordship and tenancy of the manor were vested in the same owners. Amy's marriage was the subject of a celebrated decision of Bishop Giffard, who declared it to have been legal, although the service was performed at the church door. The ceremony took place, we are told, in the morning before sunrise at the church of Hill Croome, 'the same William being then dressed in a robe of black camlet, and the lady Amy in a robe of murry colour.' (fn. 36)
The heir of John de Hill Croome was apparently Nicholas de Hill Croome (Hulle), who held the manor in 1299. (fn. 37) He was succeeded before 1324 by a son John, (fn. 38) who obtained in 1347 a charter of free warren at Hill Croome. (fn. 39) The next owner appears to have been William Wilcote, who held the manor in 1406 (fn. 40) in right of his wife Elizabeth, who was a daughter of Sir John Trillow of Chastleton, co. Oxford. (fn. 41) William Wilcote died in 1410, leaving two sons Thomas and John. (fn. 42) They both died without issue before their mother, (fn. 43) who continued to hold the manor until her death in 1445. (fn. 44) As a second husband she had married Sir John Blaket, and as Elizabeth Blaket had granted certain annuities from the manor of Hill Croome to Thomas Pope and Thomas Boteler. (fn. 45) The heirs of Elizabeth Blaket were her grandchildren William Wykeham, Richard Beaufo, Thomas Conyers, Elizabeth wife of Thomas Palmer, Philippa wife of William Catesby, and her daughter Isabel Burton. (fn. 46) In 1480 land in Hill Croome which had belonged to William Catesby, son of Philippa and William Catesby, was apparently in the king's hands. (fn. 47) Three years later, however, property described as the manor of Hill Croome was settled on William Catesby and his heirs by Roger Townesend. (fn. 48) William forfeited all his estates on the accession of Henry VII, (fn. 49) and after this time all trace of this portion of the manor is lost.
In 1453 William Wykeham and his wife Joan quitclaimed 'the manor of Hill Croome' to William Brown, (fn. 50) to whom two years later Margaret the daughter of William Wykeham, and her husband Sir William Fiennes, also released their right in the manor, (fn. 51) but after this time the descent of this estate is lost.
Richard Beaufo, (fn. 52) a third co-heir of Elizabeth Blaket, died in 1460 holding a quarter of the manor, (fn. 53) his son Humphrey being then a minor in the custody of Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and Anne Duchess of Buckingham. (fn. 54) Humphrey was succeeded in 1485 by his son John, (fn. 55) on whose death in 1516 his son John inherited this portion of the manor of Hill Croome. (fn. 56) This John Beaufo died in 1583, leaving a son Thomas, (fn. 57) but this portion of the manor also disappears after this date.
In 1521 Edmund Lee and his wife Ellen granted to Edward Saxilby, Henry White, Thomas Bountayn and others the so-called manor of Hill Croome. (fn. 58) Saxilby and the others were probably acting for Thomas Walshe and his wife Katherine, Saxilby's sister, (fn. 59) for Thomas died seised of the manor in 1542. (fn. 60) His widow held the manor during her life, and after her death it passed to her son Thomas. In 1591 Thomas Walshe bargained with his greatnephew Thomas Lambert (fn. 61) for the sale of this manor for £1,900. (fn. 62) After paying the first instalment of £100, Lambert found that he had made a bad bargain on account of a lease to Joan Tusten, which was still running, and instituted Chancery proceedings against his uncle for release from his bargain and recovery of the £100. (fn. 63) He was apparently successful, the manor returning into the possession of Thomas Walshe, as had been agreed in 1591, if Lambert failed to pay the £1,900. Thomas Walshe died in 1593, (fn. 64) apparently leaving co-heirs.
Before 1615 the manor had been divided into three parts, one part being in the possession of the above-mentioned Thomas Lambert and his wife Margaret. (fn. 65) Another third was held by Sir Thomas Jervoise and his wife Lucy, and Sir William Young and his wife Anne. (fn. 66) No connexion can be traced between Thomas Walshe and these holders. Thomas Bromley and his wife Anne, one of the heirs at law of Thomas Walshe, held the remaining third. (fn. 67) All three portions were bought between 1615 and 1618 by Thomas Trevor, Richard Shilton and others, trustees for Thomas Coventry, (fn. 68) who as Lord Coventry obtained in 1630 a confirmation of a third of the manor from Henry Bromley, son of Thomas and Anne. (fn. 69) From that time until the present day the manor has remained in the Coventry family, (fn. 70) the present owner being the Earl of Coventry.
The manor of BAUGHTON (Bocctun, xi cent.; Boctun, Broctona, xiii cent.; Brocton, xiv cent.; Boghton, xv cent.) was held of the manor of Ripple. (fn. 71) Land there was given by Bishop Lyfing in 1038 with Hill Croome to Ethelred. (fn. 72) It was probably included in the 3 hides at Hill Croome in 1086. It seems to have followed the same descent as Hill Croome to the Beauchamps, Ivo de Beauchamp holding 3 hides there in the beginning of the 13th century. (fn. 73) It has apparently since followed the same descent as Hill Croome. (fn. 74)
Another estate at Baughton was held in 1319–20 by the Croome family of Earl's Croome. Simon de Croome and his wife Christine held 6 marks of rent in Baughton at that date, (fn. 75) and the estate seems to have followed the descent of the manor of Earl's Croome, being granted as the manor of Baughton to John Russell in 1397. (fn. 76) Sir John Burgh died about 1471 holding three messuages and 2 carucates of land at Earl's Croome and Baughton, (fn. 77) but it is not certain whether this was the same estate, for a manor of Baughton passed with Earl's Croome to the Jeffery family, (fn. 78) and afterwards Baughton Court became the seat of the Welles family. (fn. 79)
Prattinton gives the following account of Baughton: 'It was the property of the Turbervilles, whose ancestors, according to their pedigree, lent to Dr. Nash, came over with the Conqueror. Their heiress married Captain Roger Brooke, whose son James Brooke, rector of Hill Croome, died, leaving the property (but not the manor of Baughton) to two daughters, who married James Skey and Mr. Wells.' (fn. 80)
This account probably refers to a capital messuage called Turvills Place in Hill Croome, mentioned in 1640 as belonging to Lord Coventry. (fn. 81) This was probably the land for which Thomas Turberville sued Richard Turberville of Baughton in 1468, the latter claiming the estate by descent from his grandfather Richard Turberville. (fn. 82) A messuage and close in Baughton were held in 1591 by John Turberville and his wife Joan and their daughter Margaret under a lease from Thomas Walshe, lord of Hill Croome. (fn. 83)
The earliest details are of the 14th century, to which date the whole building probably belongs. In the year 1907 a thorough restoration and repair was entered upon, when part of the north wall of the nave was rebuilt and the north porch was added. At the same time the chancel roof was ceiled with oak, in place of the former plaster ceiling, and the nave roof was entirely renewed. The east window of the chancel is of two lights with a lozenge opening above and probably dates from the 14th century. The other chancel windows are square-headed and fitted with wood lintels and mullions. In the south nave wall are two square-headed two-light windows with a lancet opening in the west tower wall. This last, together with the tower, is of 14th-century date. The font is circular with a tapering bowl.
The bells are three in number: the first inscribed 'Ave Maria' with a flowered cross stop; the second without inscription or mark; the third having RI divided by a bell and 'Peace and Good Neighbourhood.'
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1721 to 1812, marriages 1721 to 1753; (ii) marriages 1754 to 1807. Very much earlier books are known to have been recently in existence. (fn. 84)
About 1235 Eudes de Beauchamp granted to Roger, Abbot of Pershore, the advowson of the church of Hill Croome, 'together with his own body.' (fn. 85) This grant was evidently acknowledged by his widow Maud, who after his death claimed the manor but not the advowson. (fn. 86) In 1246 William de Beauchamp of Eaton confirmed the grant. (fn. 87) The abbot and convent appear to have held it until the Dissolution, (fn. 88) when it passed into the king's hands, and it has remained in the gift of the Crown ever since. (fn. 89)
In 1274 the Abbot of Pershore granted licence to Sir John de Hill Croome to have divine service celebrated in his chapel in the court of Hill Croome. (fn. 90)
A terrier of 1714 found in the small parish chest by Prattinton in 1820 records that 'there is a prescription of 6d. per house for dovehouses and 1s. for a double house. A pigeon loft lately erected upon a small estate of William Cotterill's pays pigeons in kind.' An old pear tree between Fryers Acre and the Eleven Lands was a 'parting tree,' and the fruit (when any) was to be divided. (fn. 91)
This parish has long been in possession of certain lands supposed to have been the gift of one Cotterill for relief of the poor. The property consists of three closes of land containing about 5a., producing £13 5s. yearly. The net rents are distributed in coal.
The charity of Mrs. Harriet Welles, founded by will proved at Gloucester 18 August 1864, is endowed with £192 15s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, producing £4 16s. 4d. yearly. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 1 October 1907, which directs that the income shall be applied primarily in keeping in repair a tablet and windows in the church, put in since the decease of testatrix's husband, and subject thereto in maintaining and keeping in repair the churchyard and fabric of the church.