A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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'Meethincketh,' wrote Habington, 'I see our Shyre as mounted on a Pegasus flyinge over the neighbouring counties, and coming to the confines of Oxfordshire … he caryethe the authority of our county about and over Coteswould … as at Evenlode (fn. 1) … which altho' seperated with parishes not attending our county yet is wholy ours. It joynethe on Morten Henmarsh heath on the stone which touches four sheeres,' (fn. 2) and marks the northern limit of the parish. The boundary thence runs along field edges and the green path by Stuphill Covert till it reaches the Chastleton road, whence it turns south along the fields by Horn Farm and Evenlode Grounds to the little river which winds gently about the western border of the parish—
'The tender Evenlode, that makes
Her meadows hush to hear the sound
Of waters mingling in the brakes
And binds my heart to English ground.' (fn. 3)
The village of Evenlode stands on the hillslope looking across to Crowthorn Wood, close to the left bank of the stream from which it is locally said to derive its name. (fn. 4) The road here forms a rough triangle inclosing a wide space now largely given up to orchards; this is crossed by several footpaths connecting the southern part of the village with the main street, which climbs in a north-easterly direction up the slope from the river. On the right-hand side is a stately row of poplars known locally as the Eleven Apostles, the representative of Judas Iscariot being a twisted tree of later growth which stands back from the straight rank formed by the others. The village for the most part is built like its neighbours of the warm grey Cotswold stone; but a black and white house in the lower street and an outlying half-timbered farm show a Worcestershire influence. At the bottom of the hill is the church of St. Edward with the rectory, a pleasant stone house of the 18th century, much modernized and added to during the 19th century, to which a verandah, now covered with creepers, has been added. Close to the church is the old manor-house now the property of Mr. R.E.B. Yelf. The house is of L-shaped plan and has two stories and an attic. The west wing containing the kitchen dates from the 17th century and appears to be the earliest part of the building. The main limb of the plan, containing a central hall and stairway with a room on either side, is of the early 18th century. The contemporary stairs, which are of oak, and rise from the hall to the attics, are of the open well type with moulded handrails and turned balusters. At the stairway to the cellar in the earlier part of the house is some re-used 17th-century panelling. The garden at the back of the house stretches almost down to the Worcester branch of the Great Western railway, which runs along the river bank close to the village; the nearest station is, however, at Adlestrop, 2 miles away.
Evenlode Farm, at the north end of the village, is an L-shaped house of about 1600. The west front with its central entrance has been modernized, but the house still retains its original fittings and stone mullioned windows on the east and north; the southern part of the house was probably added later in the same century. In one of the windows is some leaded glass with a glazier's name and the date 1727 inscribed upon it. At the south end are two oval blocked lights. The Home Farm on the west side of the road to the north of the church is a house of similar date and type, two stories in height with an attic. The original stone mullioned windows and oak stairs still remain. The latter has a moulded handrail and flat balusters in the form of twisted columns.
Evenlode House is a stone building of about the middle of the 16th century with mullioned windows and stone shingle roofs. In the centre of the main block is the hall, with a room on the north, and the main entrance, modern stairs, and another room on the south; the kitchen is contained in a wing projecting towards the east. The west front appears to have been altered early in the 17th century, when timber bays were added; these have been repaired and the front and north walls covered with rough-cast. The original stairs were probably contained in the gabled projection on the north-east. On this side of the house is a stone barn probably of the 16th century with original rough roof timbers. Fletcher's Farm is a good example of a small 16th-century house which has retained its original character practically unaltered, with stone mullioned windows, oak floors, stairs and beams. The entrance, a little to the east of the south front, admits to a passage which has the principal rooms on the west, the kitchen on the east and the staircase at the back on the west. A wing on the north, completing the plan, has an external stone stair. Another farm to the east of this, a rectangular two-story house, is probably of the early 17th century, and has a central hall with the parlour on the west and the kitchen on the east. Some of the rooms have been cut up by modern partitions, but much of its original character is retained. There is a row of seven slate-roofed cottages rebuilt by Evenlode parish in 1834, on the east side of the green, an open space connected with the southern end of the village by a footpath. The pasturage here together with that on the wide strips of turf by the roadsides, amounting to 5 acres, is let every year and the rent applied in providing fuel for the poor. (fn. 5) There is much excellent pasture land in the parish; of 1,619 acres no fewer than 1,108½ are under permanent grass. (fn. 6) The arable land amounts to 322 acres, the chief crops being cereals and beans, and there are only 20½ acres of woodland, (fn. 7) for, though the village of Evenlode is well shaded and the hedgerows are thickly set with trees, there are no woods except Brookend and Evenlode Mane within the boundaries of the parish. The common lands were inclosed under a Private Act of Parliament in 1765, (fn. 8) in which provision was made of the above charitable application of the rents for roadside pasturage. (fn. 9) The subsoil is chiefly Lower Lias, but the bed of Middle Lias at Chastleton (co. Oxon.) extends slightly into the eastern corner of Evenlode parish near Harcomb Wood.
The following place-names occur in local records: Heortwelle and Mules Hlaewe (fn. 10) (viii cent.); Sealtstrete, Gildbeorh, Grenanstige, (fn. 11) Lafercan beorh, and Brocenan beorh (fn. 12) (x cent.); Typedale Foss (fn. 13) and Heth Ynd (fn. 14) (xv cent.); Salley meade, Broades Leyes, Mill Holme Close, and Langett or Northfeild Slade (fn. 15) (xvii cent.).
The early history of EVENLODE, like that of Daylesford, depends almost entirely on the charters produced in support of their respective claims by the monks of Worcester and Evesham at the close of the 11th century. According to the house of Worcester the land had been granted for three lives by King Offa to his thegn Ridda in 772 with reversion to the monastery at Bredon, (fn. 16) but Evesham stated that the gift had been made in 784 to Earl Esne (Esme) with reversion in default of heirs male to their own church. (fn. 17) The Worcester account is probably nearer the truth, for in 969 St. Oswald was in possession of land at Evenlode, which he granted to Ealhstan, (fn. 18) and a charter of Bishop Lyfing (1038–44) concerning the same property is also mentioned in the chartulary. (fn. 19) Possibly it was by a grant from this bishop that Wulfgeat of Donnington came into possession of this land, which he left in his will to his wife. (fn. 20) It passed shortly afterwards to Eamer, from whom it was bought between 1044 and 1053 by Manning, Abbot of Evesham, and his monks. (fn. 21) They continued to hold it of the Bishop of Worcester until it was taken from them by Odo of Bayeux, (fn. 22) and it was perhaps under them that it was held by Hereward, who is mentioned in 1086 as the former tenant. (fn. 23)
At this date Evenlode was one of the members of the great episcopal manor of Blockley, (fn. 24) and the overlordship long remained in the hands of the bishop. The holding at Evenlode, assessed at 5 hides, was, however, granted by Bishop John of Pageham (1151–8) to Hugh Poer, who married his niece. (fn. 25) After this enfeoffment the overlordship is rarely mentioned, though the tenant of Evenlode was still supposed to pay suit of court at Blockley. (fn. 26) This was commuted during the life of Bishop Giffard for the payment of 40s. in 1288, (fn. 27) and during the 14th century it is possible that the episcopal rights fell somewhat into disuse. They were revived in 1455 by John Carpenter, at whose request an inquiry was made 'touching the persons of whom the manor of Evenlode was held.' (fn. 28) Probably he considered that the wardship of Thomas Petyt ought to have belonged to him, but this was in the possession of the Prior and convent of Worcester, who had succeeded the Poers in the mesne lordship, and the bishop contented himself with confirming their grant to John Gloucester. (fn. 29) There seems to be no mention of the overlordship after this date.
The tenancy of Evenlode belonged for over a century to a branch of the Deyvile family, who were also known by the name of the manor. Before 1182 Hugh Poer had enfeoffed Matthew of Evenlode (fn. 32), who was succeeded by Nicholas of Evenlode, possibly his son. (fn. 33) The estate passed about 1288 to Richard of Evenlode, also called Richard Deyvile, (fn. 34) who was still living in 1309, in which year he settled the manor on himself and his wife Eugenie for life with reversion to their son William. (fn. 35) This William took part against the Despensers in the troubles of the reign of Edward II, and in 1327, 'at the request of Roger Mortimer,' he received as his reward a pardon of 'the fine which he was compelled to make by procurement of Hugh le Despenser and others of his confederacy for a certain trespass maliciously charged upon him by the said Hugh.' (fn. 36)
William Deyvile died about 1348 seised of the manor of Evenlode, which he left to his eldest son Piers. (fn. 37) Piers was still living in 1398, (fn. 38) but probably died shortly afterwards; he seems to have left a widow, Amice, who subsequently married William Lisle. (fn. 39) In 1415 John Petyt and Philippa his wife, the heir of Piers Deyvile, settled certain lands in Evenlode on William Lisle and Amice with reversion to Philippa and her heirs, (fn. 40) and a little later a life grant of the manor seems to have been made to Amice and her husband, for William Lisle was described as lord of Evenlode in 1416. (fn. 41) He seems to have died about 1421, (fn. 42) and by 1425 Amice had probably married a third husband, Richard Eton, (fn. 43) who, held the manor until 1431, (fn. 44) in which year it reverted to John Petyt and Philippa. (fn. 45) In 1441 they settled it on themselves and the heirs of the body of Philippa, with contingent remainder to her right heirs. (fn. 46) John Petyt survived his wife and died about 1455, leaving as his heir his grandson Thomas Petyt, a minor, whose wardship was granted by the Prior and convent of Worcester to John Gloucester. (fn. 47) Thomas Petyt died young, and in 1473 the manor was held by William Petyt, probably his brother, who conveyed it for one year to William Rollesley with reversion to himself and his wife Eleanor and their heirs. (fn. 48) William Petyt supported the Yorkist cause during the Wars of the Roses, and was in some favour with Edward IV. (fn. 49) He was not mentioned in any of the Acts of Attainder passed by Parliament during the reign of Henry VII, but for some reason he lost his property at Evenlode about this time. After an unsuccessful attempt to recover it against Lawrence Albrighton and William Leicester, (fn. 50) he, named as William Petyt of Knowle, co. Warw., conveyed his interest to Robert Tate, (fn. 51) and between 1501 and 1509 John Tate and Richard Petyt were concerned in more than one cattle-driving expedition to the estate of which they had been dispossessed. (fn. 52)
Before 1528, however, Evenlode had passed to Sir William Compton of Compton Wyniates (co. Warw.), who died seised of it in that year, leaving as his heir his son Peter. (fn. 53) In 1539 Peter was succeeded by his infant son Henry, (fn. 54) afterwards created Lord Compton, who made a settlement of the manor on himself and his wife Frances in 1568. (fn. 55) He took part as a peer in the trial of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587, and was subsequently one of the four chief attendants at her funeral. (fn. 56) He died in November 1589, and was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 57) who sold the manor of Evenlode in 1601 to John Croker, (fn. 58) from whom it was bought in 1605 by Edward Freeman. (fn. 59)
In 1618, on the marriage of his son Coningsby with Beatrice the daughter of Thomas Cludd, Edward Freeman made a settlement of the manor to his own use with remainder to the young couple and their heirs in tail-male. (fn. 60) Coningsby Freeman succeeded his father in 1631 (fn. 61) and died in 1639 (fn. 62); his wife survived him, and was seised of the manor for her life. (fn. 63) She obtained a grant of the wardship of her son Edward Freeman, which John Riley afterwards tried to get annulled on the ground that she had concealed some of the lands. (fn. 64) Edward Freeman seems to have died before 1675, in which year his sister and co-heir Joyce the wife of Thomas Owen was dealing with part of the manor, (fn. 65) probably for the purpose of a settlement. By 1682 the whole estate had come into the hands of Ursula Poer, another of Edward's sister, and Robert Lawrence, who was perhaps the son of the third sister Eleanor. (fn. 66) Robert Lawrence was still living in 1702, when he was co-vouchee in a recovery with Thomas Karver and his wife Beatrice Katherine. (fn. 67) The manor subsequently passed to Mrs. Ellen Biggs, (fn. 68) and from her to her kinswoman Ellen the wife of Thomas Fothergill. (fn. 69) In 1786 it was bought from Thomas Fothergill by Mr. John Jones of Chastleton (co. Oxon.), (fn. 70) who bequeathed it in 1827 to his cousin Mr. John Henry Whitmore-Jones, the grandfather of the present owner. (fn. 71) In 1900 Miss Mary Elizabeth Whitmore-Jones, who had succeeded to the estates in accordance with a settlement of 1872, (fn. 72) surrendered them to her nephew Mr. Thomas Whitmore Harris, who then assumed the name Whitmore-Jones and is now the lord of the manor. (fn. 73)
A holding containing 2½ virgates of land and 14 acres of meadow was granted in 1431 by John Petyt and his wife Philippa to William Haynes and the heirs of his body for a yearly rent of 13s. 4d. with remainder in default to John and Philippa and their heirs. (fn. 74) It is possible that this was the same holding as that of which Richard Haynes died seised in 1633 (fn. 75); it was occupied after his death by his widow Frances (fn. 76) and his son Richard, who died in 1650, (fn. 77) but its subsequent history is obscure.
There was a water-mill at Evenlode in the 11th century, which had perished by the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 78) and after this date there is no mention of any mill in the parish until 1568, when another water-mill had been built, possibly on the site of the old one. (fn. 79) This building has also perished, and there is now no mill in Evenlode, but its site has been commemorated in the name 'Mill Holme Close' borne by one of the fields on the river bank near the Manor Farm.
The church of ST. EDWARD consists of a chancel 23½ ft. by 14¼ ft., a nave 39 ft. by 17 ft., a short south aisle 24 ft. by 12¼ ft., a western tower about 11½ ft. square, and a modern porch and north organ chamber. These measurements are all internal. Late in the 12th century the church consisted of a nave with a narrower chancel, but towards the end of the 14th century the church was largely rebuilt, the south aisle added and windows inserted, the western tower being erected a few years later about the year 1400. The various 19th-century restorations account for the organ chamber, south porch and much of the window tracery. It is probable that work was done between the two earlier dates, as the lancet window in the nave and the dog-tooth ornament built into the chancel wall imply alterations in the 13th century.
The modern east window of the chancel is of three lights and of early 14th-century detail. The north wall is of three bays, the two western being filled with a modern arcade, of 14th-century detail, opening to the organ chamber. In the south wall are two two-light windows with original jambs and modern tracery of 14th-century type. Between them is a modern priest's door, and in the external wall is a fragment of 13th-century dog-tooth ornament. The chancel arch is of late 12th-century date, but has evidently been rebuilt at some later period, perhaps in the 14th century when the chancel itself may have been reconstructed.. The arch is now pointed, but the mutilated condition of the two crowning voussoirs shows that it was originally of greater span. The outer of the two orders is decorated with a boldly executed cheveron ornament. The responds have square pilasters, and at their western angles are engaged shafts with moulded bases mitred around the pilasters, which both have scalloped capitals of slightly varied design on the north and south. In the eastern face of the north respond is a small square rough niche. Externally the chancel has been considerably repaired and restored.
The north wall of the nave has two windows of two lights each, of which the jambs are old, the tracery and rear arch being modern, in 14th-century style. Below the western window are the chamfered jambs of the blocked-up north door, and further west again is a lancet window of 13th-century detail, the jambs of which are old but the head modern. In the eastern respond of the south arcade is a square door to the rood-loft opening into the south aisle. The 14th-century arcade is of two bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders, dying into a plain chamfered pier of lozenge form. The third bay of the nave beyond the aisle contains a crude two-light window of 15th-century date.
The south aisle is lighted by two 14th-century windows in the south wall, each of two lights with flowing tracery and a quatrefoil over. In the sill of the first is a projecting circular piscina drain and beneath it a sedile constructed of slabs of stone, which is probably as old as the aisle. West of these windows is the contemporary south door with a two-centred head and an external label, above which is a small niche with a cusped head. Externally the aisle has diagonal buttresses.
The late 14th-century western tower has a tower arch of two chamfered orders, and is three stages high with an embattled parapet and diagonal buttresses reaching to the second stage. In the south-west angle is a newel staircase to the belfry. Above the small west door is a two-light window with a quatrefoil in the head and the belfry lights are of similar detail. There is also a two-light window on the south side of the second stage with a small trefoil-headed light above it. The south porch is entirely modern.
The roofs and seating are all modern, but the pulpit is an interesting example of 15th-century work, with tracery cut from the solid in low relief and trefoil panelling with trefoils and quatrefoils over. The 15th-century octagonal font has quatrefoil panels on its faces, and beneath these, on the chamfered undercutting, are floral bosses, alternating with shields, one of which is charged with two ragged staves set upright.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1604 to 1721, burials 1561 to 1721, marriages 1562 to 1721 with a gap 1631 to 1666; (ii) baptisms 1722 to 1789, burials 1722 to 1792, marriages 1722 to 1754; (iii) baptisms 1788 to 1812, burials 1792 to 1812; (iv) a marriage book 1754 to 1812.
The church of Evenlode is first mentioned in 1270, when Bishop Giffard committed the custody of it to William de Saltmarsh (fn. 80); it was valued in 1291 at £4 yearly. (fn. 81) In 1301 the advowson belonged to Richard Deyvile, (fn. 82) and it continued to follow the descent of the manor until 1601. (fn. 83) In 1541 it was in the possession of Sir Philip Hoby, (fn. 84) who had married Elizabeth widow of Sir William Compton. (fn. 85) William Lord Compton sold it in 1601 to John Croker, (fn. 86) from whom it was bought in the following year by Margaret Farre, widow. (fn. 87) She sold it to John Smyth in 1637, (fn. 88) but after this date the history of its descent becomes obscure. King Charles presented in 1661, (fn. 89) and the advowson afterwards passed to Henry Hurst, who sold it in 1665 to Richard Cocks. Cocks conveyed it to Charles Nevill for £110 in 1680, and subsequently mortgaged it to Thomas Greenwood of Chastleton, who presented in 1696. (fn. 90) Charles Nevill, (fn. 91) the rector of the parish, settled it in 1716 on his second son Ralph Nevill, the trustee for the settlement being Philip Woodman, (fn. 92) who presented in 1717. (fn. 93) Ralph Nevill presented in 1727 (fn. 94) and subsequently sold his right to George Pye, the patron in 1735. (fn. 95) In 1744 the patronage was conveyed by Pye to Mrs. Mary Hughes, who exercised the right in 1767 (fn. 96); she granted it to her daughter Miss Mary Hughes, who presented until 1817. (fn. 97) She had, however, conveyed the advowson in 1786 to Richard and Mary Davis in trust for Mary Davis and William Horton: they sold it in 1801 to Mr. George Perrott, who released it in 1809 to Mr. Joseph Pitt. (fn. 98) Mr. Pitt presented in 1825 (fn. 99) and Mr. Perrott in 1829. (fn. 100) Mr. Pitt released it in 1825 to Mrs. Ann James, patron until 1857, (fn. 101) when she sold it to Mr. John Hambrough, who presented in the following year. (fn. 102) In 1867 it was the property of Mr. Meaburn Staniland, (fn. 103) from whom it was bought in 1869 by the Rev. T. E. Buckworth, (fn. 104) after whose death it passed in 1878 to the Rev. Charles Peach. (fn. 105) The Rev. Henry James Kelsall, who has been rector of the parish since 1895, is now the patron. (fn. 106)
The Congregational chapel at Evenlode was opened in October 1865. (fn. 107) It is a mission chapel worked from Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.
—Upon the inclosure of the parish in 1765 an allotment of 5 a. 0 r. 16 p. was awarded for the use of the poor in lieu of certain rights of cutting fuel on the common. The allotment produces £7 10s. a year; a sum of about £6 is also received yearly for the right of pasturing on the roadsides and village green.